An eerie stillness has fallen over the Boston Commons, once bustling and filled with life. Trash and debris litter the streets, and fill the hollowed out carcasses of buildings that used to stand proud and tall. The only sounds to be heard are the distant shouts of raiders and super mutants, or the muffled sound of Cole Porter as he sings “Anything Goes” over the radio. Signs surround the famous swan pond, warning wanderers to avoid the water at all costs. From its depths emerges a legendary mutant, wearing the husk of one of the iconic plastic swan-shaped boats that had at once floated serenely on its surface.
This is only the tip of the post-apocalyptic iceberg when it comes to the world of “Fallout 4.” Players who are familiar with the city of Boston, or Massachusetts in general, will be delighted at all of the historic and cultural references they will find while exploring the wastelands of the Commonwealth. Players who have little to no frame of reference for the area will still have plenty to enjoy: great music, intriguing characters and an endless supply of missions to complete and locations to discover make this game well worth a play.
Bethesda Game Studios seems to have found their niche in open-world RPG’s, and “Fallout 4” falls squarely into many of the tropes players have come to expect from this company’s products. An extremely detailed character-creation screen, coupled with a rushed yet still emotional backstory set the game off to a running start. As the story progresses, and players meet a number of colorful companion characters, including a fiercely loyal dog, a Buzz Lightyear-esque soldier, a drugged out ghoul in a John Hancock costume and many more.
The world of “Fallout 4” is immersive, to say the least. Though there are parts of it that seem barren and empty, there are plenty of other parts that are bustling and full of life. Almost from the very beginning, the player will have an option for a companion, making the world feel less lonely. Each companion has their own strict set of morals, and they will judge the character for their actions accordingly. Companions that approve of the players actions will have a better relationship with them, sometimes opening romantic options as well. Those who disapprove will vocalize their concerns and eventually leave if they are not appeased.
As is typical with the “Fallout” franchise, the player has the option to listen to old-timey tunes as they traverse the irradiated wasteland that they call home. Bing Crosby will sing about focusing on the positive things in life as the player is ambushed by a pack of feral ghouls on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Tex Beneke will declare her corny love for a man as the player furnishes a settlement and protects it from groups of raiders. Ella Fitzgerald will lament about her romantic woes as the player confronts the man who kidnapped their son and murdered their spouse.
Though not without its glitches, “Fallout 4” is, for the most part, a pretty polished game. Beautiful and haunting landscapes are filled with colorful characters. The ability to build settlements adds a personal touch to each location discovered, and the multitude of factions throughout that can be joined leave endless possibilities for entertainment.