Nearing a decade after its original release, Bethesda has ported Fallout 4 to PS5, promising the kind of improved technical performance that you'd expect from a generation-jumping upgrade. But does the once highly-rated, open world RPG still hold up in 2024?

That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Some would argue that Fallout 4 was never that good to begin with, but we've always enjoyed its addictive gameplay loop: the endless cycle of exploring, blasting mutants, and levelling up. Said loop has, in our opinion, stood the test of time, and Fallout 4 remains incredibly moreish with regards to character development, both through the acquisition of loot and the distribution of perk points.

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Bethesda's greatest strength has always been its ability to craft worlds that constantly distract from your destination, and Fallout 4's post-apocalyptic Boston is no different. It's an impressively dense map, offering adventure at every turn. It's an open world that you can easily get lost in for hours at a time, especially when you factor in all of the character progression systems that we mentioned above.

But this is where the game starts to fall apart a little — at least by more modern standards. Fallout 4 is often hamstrung by technical limitations — limitations that were already questionable all the way back in 2015. For example, hitting a loading screen every single time that you enter or exit an interior location feels so unbelievably archaic, and that's with the PS5 version's vastly superior load times.

What's more, the game's overall scope is held back by similar limitations. Now, obviously, you wouldn't expect a radiation-soaked wasteland to be teeming with life, but Boston can just feel so... unambitious. There's a general lack of action as you move from place to place, and established settlements like Diamond City and Goodneighbor — supposed hubs of activity and trade — feel like total facades when the combined population count caps at around 30 NPCs.

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It's an illusion that was almost acceptable in 2015, but nine years later, and the title's creaky old engine is at fault for a lot of its more noticeable flaws. Of course, no one in their right mind is playing the 2024 re-release of Fallout 4 and damning the developer for not having completely remade the game — but it's hard to overlook the more poorly aged aspects of its design, especially when the open world genre has evolved so much over the last decade or so.

Having said all of that, Fallout 4 does still boast an enticing atmosphere — a sense of eerie wonder that's become a hallmark of the series. There's nothing quite like climbing the ruins of an old skyscraper and gazing out across the wastes, soaking up the inherent loneliness as the game's brilliantly understated music tinkles in the background.

On the topic of immersion, we should probably discuss Fallout 4's approach to role-playing. Back when it released, many longtime Fallout fans were critical of the title's fully voiced protagonist, and the watered-down dialogue options that come with him or her. Indeed, there is a distinct lack of morally grey choices here, when compared to something like Fallout: New Vegas, or even Fallout 3. Side quests almost always funnel you down one of two obvious paths, where you're either a paragon of hope or a psychotic maniac — and the latter never feels genuine anyway, since the protagonist is handed such a defined, borderline heroic role in the narrative.

Awakening from a 200-year cryogenic slumber, the main character has to brave the horrors of post-apocalypse America in order to rescue their infant son, who was stolen away from the same cryogenic facility. It's one of those scenarios where straying from the main questline doesn't make much sense in terms of narrative cohesion — but in the story's defence, it does offer up some world-altering choices, particularly when it comes to siding with key factions.

Again, though, you're not given a whole lot of room to explore your character's personality and motivations, and so Fallout 4 does ultimately feel like a step back from previous efforts. It also doesn't help that side quests are, by and large, pretty forgettable. Fallout 3's main plot had its fair share of issues as well, but it could always fall back on its crazier misadventures to balance things out. Its sequel, however, suffers from a dearth of personality, with flat characters and disappointingly bland dialogue, to the point where it often crutches on immersion-breaking, self-referential storytelling.

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There are also a lot of 'radiant' filler quests to get through if you want to see faction plotlines conclude. These are the ones where the game basically plops a procedurally generated objective marker on your map and says "go here, do thing" with minimal context. Don't get us wrong, being given a reason to go out and explore is welcome when looting and levelling is part of the deal, but it's all just a bit soulless, and there's an argument to be made there's too much padding standing between you and key story moments.

But, as we keep alluding, the core strength of Fallout 4's gameplay loop is enough to keep you hooked — and combat is a crucial component of that. By today's standards it doesn't have the most refined shooting mechanics on the market, but it's still far and away the best-playing Fallout title. Whether you're sniping super mutants square between the eyes or hacking raiders to bits with modified chainsaws, there's a satisfying, borderline comical bloodlust to the action, as skulls pop and limbs fly.

V.A.T.S. is undoubtedly the star of the show, however, giving you the ability to slow time and line up cinematic attacks against body parts of your choosing. Even now, almost a full decade later, there's no other system like it, and Fallout 4's version of V.A.T.S. is unparalleled in providing moments of sheer insanity. Watching a deathclaw's head explode just seconds before its talons meet your face; staring in stunned silence as a mini nuke sails straight towards you; turning all manner of grossly mutated wildlife into goop with your favourite energy weapon, in perfect slow motion. It's fantastic.

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Unfortunately, not everything that Fallout 4 does is such a crowd-pleaser. And while it can be largely ignored, the game's settlement system remains divisive to this day. Throughout your journey, you'll discover tiny pockets of civilisation that you can develop, primarily by hoarding junk and then using select materials in order to build all kinds of stuff, from basic defences like walls and gates to fully-operational computer networks and mental mechanical contraptions.

The system itself is still quite impressive, offering a staggering amount of depth to those who really want to get stuck in. But if you just want to have a traditional Fallout adventure, settlements can feel like unnecessary baggage, weighing down an already heavy title that's packed with (sometimes enjoyable) busywork. What's worse, it can take a long time until settlements start showing their worth; the early process revolves around gathering a tedious number of resources — and that's only taking necessities into account, like shelter, food, and clean water.

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Okay, so some parts of Fallout 4 haven't exactly aged well, but at least this PS5 port delivers on its promises of technical improvements. The game's 60 frames-per-second performance mode is nearly flawless aside from some slightly annoying half-second hitches in busy areas. A smooth frame rate does a lot for the somewhat twitchy gunplay, and a dynamic 4K resolution helps the whole thing look better than ever.

That said, on an artistic level, this can be an ugly video game. Admittedly, it didn't look great in 2015, and now it looks rough. More specifically, the human character models are dreadful, all dough-faced and dead-eyed, complete with some terrible lip-syncing and facial animations.


Fallout 4's core gameplay loop is still enough to hold everything together, even if the surrounding adventure is really showing its age, almost a decade after its initial release. A smooth 60fps performance mode is exactly what a lot of returning players will have wanted, and there's still fun to be had in roaming post-apocalyptic Boston — especially with the timeless V.A.T.S. system at the ready. But there's no looking past the fact that open world games have come a long way since Fallout 4 — a title that arguably felt outdated even back in 2015.