Fallout 4 was easily one of the most anticipated releases of 2015, and it didn't disappoint. Without having to worry about squeezing its trademark open world formula onto last-gen consoles, Bethesda was able to craft a title that felt as though it wasn't limited by older hardware. Its latest vision of a post-apocalyptic North America is incredibly dense in its design, and an absolute joy to explore.
Offering literally hundreds of hours of gameplay, irradiated Boston becomes a location that you can easily lose yourself in as you comb its ruins for quests, loot, and secrets. It may be a cliché at this point, but as with other Bethesda role-playing games, you're constantly distracted by randomised events, optional tasks, and downright crazy happenings. Once again, the studio's managed to create a world that makes other sandboxes seem disappointingly static by comparison.
Like Fallout 3, the developer's 2008 rebirth of the franchise, there's an eerie beauty to Fallout 4 that's hard to describe. The Commonwealth is covered in abandoned buildings and countless other relics of a doomed age, but its melancholy tone can really strike a chord if you're in the mood for some sombre adventuring. Throw in some atmospheric lighting effects and a sublime original soundtrack and you've got the makings of a very memorable journey.
"There are few titles that can legitimately offer the same sense of open-ended choice"
It's not all depressingly dreary, though. Whether it's wacky lines of dialogue, quest lines that don't take themselves seriously, or utterly ridiculous weaponry, Fallout 4 has a streak of dark humour that'll make you crack a smile on a regular basis. If you've ever rampaged through a super mutant encampment while listening to The Wanderer on your Pip-Boy's radio then you'll know exactly what we mean.
It's the game's new combat systems that arguably take it to the next level, however. Completely reworked gunplay mechanics mean that you can actually tackle the release like a shooter, while slowing time with V.A.T.S. in order to carefully pick your shots gives each big battle a noticeable, unique rhythm. What's more, combat is supplemented by the expansive perk chart, which allows you to tinker with the specifics of your character's build. In short, Fallout 4 manages to merge its blood-splattered action with its traditional RPG elements especially well.
Offering a near unlimited amount of content when you take the all-new ability to build fully customisable settlements into account, we suppose that Fallout 4 can become a little overwhelming - but that's not really a flaw when the title's so good at pulling you into its world. The release is even able to do this without tying you down with specific goals, meaning that player freedom stays central to the game's overall design.
Indeed, there are few titles that can legitimately offer the same sense of open-ended choice. Everything that happens in Fallout 4 revolves around you, the player, and by putting your vault dweller right at the very heart of the main story and everything that surrounds it, Bethesda invokes a real feeling of importance. Nothing happens in the Commonwealth without you giving it the green light, and that's why everyone that plays Fallout 4 comes away from the experience with their own unique stories to tell. As far as open worlds go, post-apocalyptic Boston is one that'll remain fixed in our minds for some time to come.
Is your Geiger counter ticking, or do you think that the radiation rotted our brains? Shout like a super mutant in the comments section below.