Feature

Everything We Know About Fallout 4 So Far

by Joe Juba on Jul 29, 2015 at 11:30 AM

When it was revealed at this year’s E3, Fallout 4 instantly became one of the most anticipated games of 2015. Through various demonstrations and announcements, we’re gradually learning more and more about the post-apocalyptic, open-world RPG.

This list is your one-stop shop for all of the big news about Bethesda’s blockbuster; we’ll keep it updated with the latest info and features leading up to Fallout 4’s big release on November 10.

General Tidbits

  • Due to the size and scale of Fallout 4, not even game director Todd Howard has seen everything in the game.
  • Initial work on Fallout 4 began as soon as Fallout 3 launched.
  • The game is “essentially done” as of late July, according to Bethesda’s Pete Hines. The team is using the remaining time to polish and fix bugs.
  • The team behind Fallout 4 has about 100 people.
  • According to an interview with Howard for The Guardian, Fallout 4 has not been focus tested (and neither were previous Bethesda titles).
  • Actor Ron Perlman (of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy fame) has a long history with the series, and he returns to narrate Fallout 4, speaking his classic line: “War. War never changes.”
  • Mister Handy is voiced by Stephen Russell, the same man who provided the voice of Garrett in the original Thief games.
  • Players can call in a Vertibird (an aircraft) to carry them between locations.
  • It has a full weather system (including radiation storms).
  • The development team builds the insides of robots in addition to paying attention to their outward appearances. That means players can blow pieces off.
  • You aren’t locked into conversations after they start, and the camera angles are more cinematic, which should make dialogue feel more dynamic.
  • Hacking, safe-cracking, and lock-picking (with bobby pins) are ways to gain access to things that weren’t intended for you.

Story

  • It’s set in Boston and the surrounding areas. Players will see familiar landmarks like the U.S.S. Constitution and the Paul Revere Monument.
  • The narrative is built to have more branching paths and outcomes, and “failing” the quest doesn’t mean you need to reload old saves.
  • While you may not be able to do completely non-lethal runs, the team wants to accommodate many play styles, include those that don’t focus on killing.
  • The game begins in the pre-apocalypse era, showing the idyllic world that is inevitably ravaged by nuclear war.
  • Part of the reasoning behind the beginning is to establish a sense of loss for the player character. Instead of growing up in a post-apocalyptic world, the protagonist is one of the only people who remembers what life used to be like before the war.
  • Players eventually end up back in their hometown, and reunite with their Mister Handy robot named Codsworth.
  • One area is called Lexington, which has been overrun with ghouls.
  • The Brotherhood of Steel once again plays a role in the story.
  • The Institute (an organization that rose from the remains of M.I.T.) has been mentioned in previous Fallout games, and its scientists specialize in A.I. and robotics. Given Fallout 4’s Boston backdrop, there’s a good chance players might finally see The Institute in person.

Your Character

  • You customize your character using an intuitive face-sculpting system – all as the character is standing in front of a bathroom mirror.
  • The player character can be male or female, and both options are fully voiced. This is the first time the Fallout series has used a voiced protagonist.
  • Of the new vault suit, creative director Todd Howard says: "We want back to more of a sci-fi flight suit look. It's a tighter look like they had in the earlier Fallouts."
  • Bethesda recorded 1,000 popular names, so you will hear other characters refer to you by the name you select, like “Mr. Matthews.” It’s not all serious, since “Mr. F---face” is also an option.
  • You are apparently the sole survivor of Vault 111.
  • You emerge 200 years after the world-ending Great War, but how you survive that long (cryogenic sleep?) is a detail that has not yet been explained. 

Next: How perks and combat work.

Progression

  • Your stats are still determined by the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, luck).
  • Every time you level up, you get to pick a perk.
  • Examples of available perks are: intimidation, attack dog, something called “V.A.N.S.,” sneak, bloody mess, and more.
  • Skills and perks were different in previous games, but they have been folded together to form a single progression system. While skills don’t exist as a separate category, some traditional examples (like “science”) are now perks.
  • Most perks have multiple ranks, so they get better the more you invest.
  • Some actions require a perk to be raised to a certain level, like “gun nut” for repairing or modifying advanced weapons.

Pip-Boy

  • The iconic, arm-mounted Pip-Boy once again serves as your info center and menu interface.
  • You can play old-school games on your Pip-Boy inspired by classics like Donkey Kong and Missile Command.
  • A Pip-Boy companion app is being released alongside the game, allowing you to use your mobile device to navigate the menus. It will look especially cool if you managed to snag one of the limited Pip-Boy Editions of Fallout 4.

Combat

  • Bethesda built a new shooting system from scratch, hoping that the gunplay feels more like a modern shooter.
  • The studio hired away some Bungie talent to hone the combat mechanics, and enlisted the help of id Software – both studios with a long history of shooter expertise.
  • The RPG elements figure into the firefights, so victory isn’t purely based on your shooter skills. However, Bethesda wants the aim-and-shoot mechanics to feel great.
  • V.A.T.S. no longer completely pauses the action. The game continues in slow motion.
  • Critical shots are no longer random; they are based on a bar that fills at the bottom of the screen. Certain perks can influence how criticals function.
  • The “Fat Man” mini-nuke weapon returns, useful for taking down titanic mutants.
  • Todd Howard explains how the new enemy-scaling system works: "We call it rubberbanding; we'll have an area [where enemies scale from] level 5 to 10, and then [another] area will be level 30 and above. You'll run into stuff that will crush you, and you will have to run away."

Settlements

  • Players are able to build and maintain multiple settlements, which involves seeing to the needs of the citizens.
  • You can send supply caravans between your settlements, which appear on your PipBoy.
  • You can recruit certain characters to join your settlements, but others will come on their own.
  • Settlements can get raided, so you will need to build weapons and defensive structures to protect the dwellers.
  • Bethesda’s Radiant A.I. system drives many activities surrounding the settlements, like when raiders should attack, when new recruits join up, and whether bad things happen to your caravans.

Next: Crafting, companions, and more.

Crafting

  • Buildings can be assembled, disassembled, and decorated as you please.
  • The spaces where you can build are limited – it isn’t everywhere in the world.
  • When creating your own structures, you will have plenty of freedom with the layout and furnishings. You aren’t letting someone else make all the decisions like in Skyrim.
  • You may not be selling as much junk to vendors anymore, since many of the items you pick up can be used in settlement-building and crafting.
  • The workshop system allows you to craft and customize weapons. You can mix and match scopes, muzzles, barrels, stocks, grips, and more. You can also scrap old weapons and use their parts.
  • The game has 50 base weapons and more than 700 mods that can completely change your gun.
  • You can obtain and modify your own suit of power armor.

Companions

  • You have various companions that will assist you in combat, including a dog, Codsworth the robot, a man named Preston Garvey, and a woman named Piper.
  • Garvey is the leader of the Commonwealth Minutemen, a small group made even smaller by its gunfights against raiders.
  • Piper lives in Diamond City, which is built on the ruins of Fenway Park. She has a little sister, and runs a newspaper called Public Occurrences.
  • There are 12 companions you can team up with, but you can only travel with one at a time.
  • Your human companions are also romance options, regardless of gender.
  • Your dog companion won’t die in combat (and that isn’t the only interesting dog-specific fact).
  • A real German Shepherd named River was used for the motion capture and audio recording of Dog meat.
  • You don’t need to play with companions, and there are special perks tailored to players who want to adventure solo.

Technical

  • The team has learned lessons from the technical problems Skyrim had at launch, so hopefully Fallout 4 will have a smoother release.
  • Fallout 4 runs on a new version of the Creation Engine. An older iteration of this engine was the foundation of Skyrim, while Fallout 3 and New Vegas used the Gamebryo Engine.
  • Modding is on the way for PC in 2016, followed by Xbox One. Bethesda also hopes to support mods on PS4.
  • On PS4 and Xbox One, the game will run at a resolution of 1080p at 30 frames per second. The PC version does not have those restrictions.

For even more in-depth coverage of Fallout 4, check out our detailed impressions from E3 2015 and QuakeCon.