From what we’ve heard, this game is under development at both Bethesda Game Studios’ main office in Maryland and at the Austin office formerly known as Battlecry Studios. That Austin office, which started in 2012, was making a hero shooter called Battlecry before Bethesda cancelled it.
We’ll here more at Bethesda’a Conference in a couple of weeks time.
Much like last year, Bethesda have gone and released a tantalising image to tease their E3 showcase this year.
The image tells us it’ll al kick off on June 11 at 1830 PT (0230 June 12 for us Brits), but otherwise the image doesn’t offer many hints. We see Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Prey, Quake, Doom and Dishonored amongst the cute art but nothing else. Oh well, we’ll have to wait for the inevitable E3 leaks then stay up way past our bed times to confirm it all when E3 comes around.
Coming out of nowhere, last year’s hit mobile management sim, Fallout Shelter, will be launching on Xbox One on February the 7th.
Like it’s mobile version, Fallout Shelter on Xbox One will be free-to-play, allowing you to build your dream Vault and protect a variety of citizens from the horrors and radioactive fallout of the wasteland above. Moreover, The Xbox One version will support Play Anywhere, allowing you to take your save and play between Xbox One and Windows 10 seamlessly.
If you played the mobile version around launch last year and since put it down, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the new additions, including pets, character from Fallout 4, crafting, and new quests. That and it’s re-worked controls for the Xbox One controller should make this management sim a tempting time sink when it hits digital shelves early next week.
There’s been a lot of these novelty pinball tables for Zen Pinball 2. Game, TV and film franchises have seen their unique traits pinball-ised and gathered together on tables that faithfully represent the source material yet still function relatively realistically as far as pinball goes. However, it’s still a delightful treat to see some of these creations come to digital life, and the Bethesda set are some of the very best.
All three tables look, sound, and play splendidly. They are gorgeously rendered with aesthetic trimmings from their source games, realised in the semi-realistic style of Zen Pinball. Animated figures adorn the sides, top and bottom of the tables, interacting with other animated figures or the table directly. Meanwhile, the traditional pinball hazards are replaced with theme appropriate ones from the games they represent. In the Doom table a Cyberdemon fills the top right corner, the Lone Wanderer ducks and dodges at the bottom of the Fallout table whilst a super mutant wreaks havoc at the top, and the Skyrim table is teaming with dragons whilst a lone Dragon Born means to fight them from the left side. They all look terrific, sporting smooth animations and detailed textures, and some excellent sound effects. In some cases these details outshine their source, thanks to the wonderful Zen Pinball engine.
Every inch of each table has a little surprise for you, whether it’s the dragon that launches the ball on the Skyrim table, the bumpers on the Doom table unleashing the shotgun sound effect when hit, or the mini games played on a Pip Boy on the Fallout table. It’s all so charming, authentic, and in utter service of the games they’re based on.
It goes even further with their dedication to the games that inspired them with the tropes they invoke that have no right to be in a pinball table but gives these particular tables all the more depth. Both the Fallout and Skyrim tables have you generate a character, picking SPECIAL stats and your combat class respectively. In the Fallout table, trapping the ball in certain pits is analogous to entering stores allowing you to purchase Rad-X, Stimpacks, and gear with earned caps. Meanwhile, the Skyrim table allows you to equip your character with new armour and weapons, which are shown on your character’s figure. Losing all your balls isn’t the end either, as you can choose to continue as the same character in further play-throughs, amassing more gear and weapons. Additionally, both RPG tables lets you choose different companions and factions; it’s very much the core o the original experiences recreated in pinball form.
However, the RPG features do break up the otherwise fast pace of pinball, with frequent stops and starts. Fans of the source material may still find these trappings amusing and interesting, but the pinball enthusiasts that simply want the table setting may find it frustrating.
The Doom table is more pinball friendly. There’s weapon swapping on the character figure but it keeps to the fast paced action of pinball, which incidentally fits the FPS. Copious multi-balls, the super-heating of the ball to cause more destruction, and a heavy metal sound track represent the game wonderfully and add some extra aggression to the pinball.
The tradition of missions on Zen Pinball tables continues here, with things like shutting down the reactor on the Mars research station for the Doom table, completing jobs for the Railroad in the Fallout one, and even sleeping at the inn during the Skyrim table, which in turn advances the clock to give you a night-time version of the table. The mini-games are here too, tasking you with navigating a tiny dungeon with a ball by tipping the table, or bursting demonic sacks by bouncing the ball around a small arena with floating stones, or playing little games on your Pip Boy.
Indeed, the Doom table feels the most cohesive, melding the Doom FPS with the pinball mechanics harmoniously and creating a fast table that’s visually interesting but mechanically familiar. The Fallout table skews more towards the Fallout RPG experience than pinball but is tight enough to allow the pinball shenanigans to work in-between the stops and starts. The Skyrim table suffers from a harsh design that can easily cause the ball to tumble straight down the middle and in-between your flippers, making it more frustrating than fun.
These tables based on Bethesda games are remarkably clever. They take the two experiences – the source game and pinball – and attempt to meld them, and they are mostly successful. However, some annoyances, especially to the Skyrim and Fallout tables, do hurt the pinball action a bit. But, my word, are they visually spectacular.
Teeming with new monsters, quests, NPCs and loot, with an offering of 15 hours or more of adventuring, Far Harbor is indeed the expansion Fallout 4 fans have been waiting for. Better yet it’s also fantastic.
With a radio signal informing you of a new case at Valentine’s Detective Agency, you’re soon heading to the North West coast to jump on a boat and journey to a mysterious island drenched in an eerie, radioactive fog. What starts off as an investigation into a missing person soon develops into a fascinating set of mysteries about the island’s denizens, the fog, and the huge mutated creatures that call it home.
Three faction live on the island and soon seek your aid, conversion, or destruction: The Children of Atom, a colony of escaped synths, and the human settlers. It doesn’t take long for you to find yourself in the middle of them, with choices of brokering peaceful existence, annihilation, or something in-between.
The options available to you are even broader here than during the main game, allowing you a great deal of flexibility on how you deal with the three factions. Meanwhile, dialogue has seen a significant improvement, helping to develop the characters into people and synths that you can care about and truly get to know. This also makes your decisions more meaningful and interesting, encouraging you to create a few extra saves in order to see the multiple outcomes.
The new fog effects, meanwhile, adds a fantastic sense of atmosphere to the island that makes it feel and look very different to the mainland. Moreover, the fog helps conceal enemies, making your adventuring more treacherous and far scarier. Having a bandit jump out from nowhere is enough to send you several feet up from your couch, but having a ghoul of super mutant do it can send you into orbit. However, it’s the new creatures that will really get you flying.
Giant frogs, praying mantises, crabs and other sea creatures, all plague the residents of this island, and they are truly a sight to see. Hermit crabs using trucks as shells, and praying mantises that can give a deathclaw a run for their money. These are wonderfully unique, intimidating, and powerful creatures for you engage that test your skills thoroughly.
The Far Harbor story alone can take a good 15 hours to complete, however, there’s plenty of island to explore and get caught up in your own adventures. The terrain is also very different from that of the mainland, with a more rugged feel and a terrifyingly eerie mountain path to ascend.
New equipment is also strewn across the island for you to find and use, including nautically themed weapons to add to your collection. Unfortunately the new companion is a bit of a let-down; he can help guide you around the island but his fisherman backstory doesn’t yield much interest. However, some new puzzles you come across during the expansion’s story are a welcome break from the norm.
Far Harbor’s new and fascinating setting, menacing monsters, more in-depth characters, and well-paced story, all make for a superb expansion. The eerier atmosphere is a welcome change that helps make the new location feel very different to what we’ve encountered before, and the abundance of content finally delivers the expansion we’ve been craving. You’re not going to want to miss this boat.
The first of the three recently revealed DLCs for Fallout 4, Automatron, has hit digital shelves, offering some new story missions and a new crafting option. However, is this mini-expansion worth purchasing?
Bethesda mentioned before release that Automatron wasn’t going to be a large expansion to Fallout 4, and indeed that’s the case. The DLC brings with it the new ability to craft robotic companions and a mere handful of story missions. In all it only really offers a couple of hours of additional wasteland shenanigans, however, the quality is superb.
With the DLC installed, upon loading up a save you’ll receive a new radio broadcast that points you in the direction of the new missions. Action is the crux of the new quest line, with it starting off strong with a small skirmish and the combat scenarios escalating wonderfully from there. You’ll be facing off against peculiar looking robots led by The Mechanist – who may sound familiar to the Silver Shroud enthusiasts amongst you. These are a fearsome and aggressive cabal that truly test your might. Moreover, seeing these cobbled together robots unleashing lasers, steam, tesla arcs or good old fashioned metal fists, swords and saws, is a delightfully menacing and different look to what you’ve fought before. It absolutely feels like something new yet thematically harmonious.
Two hours later and the quest line is over with, however, it’s hard fought from start to end. The robotic foes put up tough fight, one that teaches you the importance of quick saving. You’re also thrust into some particularly frantic combat scenarios with multiple foes mixing it up with melee and projectile weaponry. It’s awesome fun and hugely satisfying.
In addition to the new enemies comes a few new friends and the potential for many more. You’ll meet two robotic companions with their own, unique personalities, one of which is particularly reminiscent of GLaDOS, and with the new robot crafting, you can build yourself an army of new metal friends. This is also pleasantly deep; allowing you to create some aesthetically interesting robots from the many parts you can scavenge and then kit them out with an assortment of devastating weapons and helpful mods. Fortunately the new quest line also gives you plenty of opportunity to collect the resources you’ll need to create your very own robot companions. Indeed this DLC is very well implemented and thought-out so to provide a fun set of new and challenging missions and a new crafting option that doesn’t provide busy work despite its crafting flexibility.
Automatron doesn’t offer enough to reengage you with the Commonwealth wasteland for any longer than a single play session, but the quality of the experience is excellent. The new enemies are interesting and challenging to fight and the new crafting options are deep and entertaining. Roll on April when the next DLC hits.
Speculation has been rife about when the inevitable Fallout 4 DLC/expansions would be announced and we finally have some info. The first piece of DLC will hit digital stores as early as March. Moreover, two more are due in the following months of April and May.
First up in March we’ve got Automatron, which will cost £7.99 and is described by Bethesda as:
The mysterious Mechanist has unleashed a horde of evil robots into the Commonwealth, including the devious Robobrain. Hunt them down and harvest their parts to build and mod your own custom robot companions. Choose from hundreds of mods; mixing limbs, armor, abilities, and weapons like the all-new lightning chain gun. Even customize their paint schemes and choose their voices!
Then there’s the £3.99 Wasteland Workshop:
With the Wasteland Workshop, design and set cages to capture live creatures – from raiders to Deathclaws! Tame them or have them face off in battle, even against your fellow settlers. The Wasteland Workshop also includes a suite of new design options for your settlements like nixi tube lighting, letter kits, taxidermy and more!
And in May comes Far Harbor for £19.99:
A new case from Valentine’s Detective Agency leads you on a search for a young woman and a secret colony of synths. Travel off the coast of Maine to the mysterious island of Far Harbor, where higher levels of radiation have created a more feral world. Navigate through the growing conflict between the synths, the Children of Atom, and the local townspeople. Will you work towards bringing peace to Far Harbor, and at what cost? Far Harbor features the largest landmass for an add-on that we’ve ever created, filled with new faction quests, settlements, lethal creatures and dungeons. Become more powerful with new, higher-level armor and weapons. The choices are all yours.
Furthermore, according to Bethesda these are just a few of the many DLC packs coming to Fallout 4 in 2016. Because of this, Bethesda are also going to be changing the price of the Fallout 4 Season Pass:
Given the expanded DLC plan, the price of the season pass will increase from the current $29.99 to $49.99 USD (£24.99 to £39.99 GBP; $49.95 to $79.95 AUD) on March 1, 2016. However, if you already purchased the season pass for $29.99, nothing changes – you still get everything at no additional cost— the full $60 offering of add-on content for the original price of $29.99. In addition, if you didn’t buy the season pass yet, there is still time: anyone who buys the Season Pass for $29.99 before March 1st will get all $60 worth of content. This is our way of saying thanks to all our loyal fans who have believed in us and supported us over the years.
Can’t wait for these add-ons to come out? Well they’ll also be closed beta tests for them, which you can sign up for here.
Of course Bethesda have also said they will continue updating the game with improvements and optimizations, and even gameplay additions.
Indeed the wasteland is very much beckoning again.
The wasteland is full of dangers, wonders and mystery. It’s powerfully compelling, practically longing to be explored. Moreover, exploration is profusely rewarding. Every nook and cranny hides ammo, medical supplies, crafting and building resources, wasteland lore, easter eggs, enemies, missions and general adventure. It’s meticulously crafted to look lived-in as well as match aesthetically with every other aspect of the title. It’s truly a delight to roam this nuclear wasteland.
This does, however, make it a daunting experience for the uninitiated. Indeed those who haven’t played previous Bethesda titles of this ilk – Elder Scrolls and Fallout – are in for an open world brimming with life; a fully functioning ecosystem that brings with it a common set of rules and limitations fit for a world where mosquitoes have mutated to the size of eagles, and it’s considered completely logical to eat canned good hundreds of years past their sell by date. Welcome to Fallout 4.
200 years after a devastating nuclear war you emerge from vault 111 and into a vast, decimated wasteland. Your home is in ruins, as are the majority of the structures littered around the Boston area. Plant life is largely dead, water sources are irradiated and the local wildlife is horribly mutated. The surface dwelling human population is now scattered amongst small, ramshackle settlements with many having turned to crime and forming raiding parties. Meanwhile mutations have taken hold of the less fortunate and desiccated their flesh, where it’s only a matter of time before their mind goes and they turn feral, wondering the wasteland looking to savagely tear apart any passer-by. The nuclear powered, 1950s style pre-war technology offers minimal computing power and robot assistance in its dilapidated form, and society reverts back to a more selfish, insular time; a new Wild West where slavery, raiding and self-preservation are rife and the vestige of community, selflessness and decency barely hangs on. It’s an ideal environment for adventure and provides plenty of it.
A main questline is laid before you, a personal quest that embroils you in something much bigger, but the wasteland is abundant with additional tales and side objectives. There’s well over a hundred hours of content waiting for you to uncover, whether that’s joining up with the military faction the Brotherhood of Steel, pickpocketing and stealing your way to wealth to live pretty in Diamond City, or leading the Minutemen and building your own settlements. There’s plenty to keep you busy.
Superbly there’s something interesting to see and do every few steps. Simply walking from one quest marker to another can be tricky due to multiple distractions tempting you towards something else. Uncovering a settlement under attack from super mutants can throw you into a large and difficult battle before embroiling you in a town mystery that puts you miles off track from your original objectives and eats away hours of time. It’s wonderfully entertaining from one moment to the next.
What helps with this is the improved shooting mechanics. Accuracy and recoil have been dialled in, meanwhile, VATs returns and continues the compellingly gruesome task of slow motion framing of your shots with the added element of luck helping to achieve critical hits that cause ridiculously gory explosions of blood to erupt from your enemies as a bullet or laser tears through their head, limbs or centre mass. It simply never gets old, and continues to provide a crucial link to Fallout’s RPG roots with random number generation, as well slow things down to aid with focusing on a fast moving or difficult to see foe.
Meanwhile, the levelling system has been expanded and enhanced to provide you with a wealth of options each time you level up. You can either pick new perks that aids you in specific ways, such as increasing your accuracy with particular weapon types, or you can increase the effectiveness of a perk you already have, or further still you can increase one of your base stats, which in turn will provide you with additional perk option the next time you level up. It’s a vast table of perk with great scope for creating precisely the kind of character you want to pay as. Moreover, thanks to the poster style of the UI it’s very easy to see what options lie before you and map your progress, making levelling simple yet highly effective at shaping your character ready to take on the wasteland.
But Fallout 4 is so much more than just combat and exploration, deep dialogue trees allow for flowing conversations between yourself and NPCs, even to the point where gaining a new companion to join you on your journey is so seamless you don’t even know it’s happening until they trot along behind you. This is much more lifelike version of the wasteland than in previous Fallout titles and the protagonist’s own voice aids with this immersion significantly without compromising your ability to roleplay.
The immersion is further enhanced by superb presentation. The soundtrack is powerful with nostalgic nods to music from previous entries and plenty of new, grander compositions to compliment your need for adventure. Colours are vibrant and the details mostly sharp. Muddy textures do plague clothing and character faces but it all fits together under a unique Fallout aesthetic identity and looks terrific overall. During particularly busy sections the framerate takes a dip but it jumps back up once a few enemies are felled or a few explosions have run their course. It’s a wonderfully stable and attractive package that brings the Fallout experience forwards without losing any of its charm.
The new settlement building experience is introduced early on in your adventure and proves remarkably intuitive once you commit to it. Certain areas of the wasteland can be torn down and rebuilt to your whim, allowing you to create spectacular structures and features with a robust set of building options. Much like every other aspect of Fallout 4 this is another pit that can easily consume tens of hours of your time and is thoroughly enjoyable throughout.
Eventually, however, you will wish to push on with the story and this is perhaps the weakest part of the package. Despite the improved conversational flow and the new location of Boston, the story hits familiar beats from previous titles and never quite becomes the engrossing tale you hope that it might. Of course Fallout titles have never been about that; the emergent storytelling of experiencing the wasteland has always been the more compelling and interesting aspect and Fallout 4’s wasteland is absolutely ideal at providing this experience. It takes the phenomenal achievements of Fallout 3 and enhances it all. Ammo is scarcer and the AI more savvy resulting in a more challenging adventure, with more intense combat and exploration that feeds brilliantly into the survival experience. Moreover, the new dynamic weather makes the wasteland feel more natural and ominous, especial when a nuclear storm rolls through, reducing visibility and deafening you with the sound of thunder. It looks incredible and encourages you to seek cover, least you wander into unseen danger.
Indeed Fallout 4 is a remarkably immersive adventure game. It once again melds first-person shooting with RPG levelling and exploration superbly and allows you to explore a world rich with adventure. Furthermore, the experience it offers is different from one player to the next. Depending on the stats you start with and the perks you pick up as you level, your character is going to excel and struggle with different challenges found in the wasteland. And depending on where you go and the choices you make the overall experience is going to be completely different for each player. That kind of emergent storytelling is a remarkable thing to experience, and the modern Fallout titles provide exceptional game-worlds for this to occur. Fallout 4 is the greatest of these worlds so far.
With Fallout 4 a mere couple of days away from release, fans are getting in the mood for exploring the wasteland by listening to the OST and even drinking Fallout branded beer. I’ve been preparing for the wasteland with the latter. So, how did the Fallout Beer turn out?
Rather well, it turns out. A pleasant flavour of hops, grains, pine needles, sorrel and Danish summer apples floods your senses as you take a gulp, with the bitterness of the hops harmoniously balanced by the apple-like sweetness.
The singleplayer experience is a well-paced one, quickly leading to a dizzying sensation, slurred speech and blurred visuals. I did encounter a couple of game-breaking bugs, such as highly inappropriate phrases spewing from my mouth as well as a powerful urge to hump anything that moved – team mates included.
The multiplayer experience differs depending on how many players get involved. It supports a maximum of 12 local players, providing a single level of inebriation with a thirst for more. Unfortunately, t’s all over very quickly and is therefore better suited to two player cooperative play.
The big let-down comes from the bottle’s aesthetics. The labels are crudely stuck on and sport a fairly austere design. Meanwhile the bottle caps have no artwork at all, feeling like a massive missed opportunity.
In the end it’s fairly over-priced, re-labelled set of 12 bottles of Carlsberg Pilsner larger.
You don’t need a wearable Pip-Boy to use the app either, although it does look pretty badass with the app running on your own personal Pip-Boy strapped to your arm. The app taps into your Fallout 4 progress displaying your stats, inventory, map, radio and holotape games – yes games – you can use your smartphone to play any one of the mini games found within the game.