Fallout 4's last big showing was at Quakecon, where Bethesda's Todd Howard gave attendees a deep dive into the customization, combat, and more. Executive editor Andrew Reiner did a great job of covering that demo in his detailed preview. At Gamescom I saw a shortened version of the same presentation, and geeked out about something that players might not fixate on, but will be front and center through much of their adventures.
Weapon customization was one of the first thing Bethesda talked about with Fallout 4, and for good reason. As we wrote earlier, there are more than 50 base weapon types in the game, and 700 or so modifications for those weapons. The world of Fallout isn't exactly a utopia, after all, so those weapons are an integral part of the experience.
Since Reiner covered the basic beat-by-beat moments from that Quakecon demo, I didn't have to frantically scribble down everything that flashed across the screen. Instead, I was able to soak it all in and fully appreciate what I was looking at. The biggest thing that jumped out at me was the impressive amount of animation that's gone into the weapons.
One of the earliest ones shown was a homemade submachine gun, and while I liked its rough-hewn looks it didn't do anything particularly novel other than shred feral ghouls apart at a respectable pace. Once things got a bit more exotic, that changed. The player looted a stash in an abandoned Super Duper Mart that included a minuteman costume and a scattered laser musket. True to its name, the weapon requires a bit of preparation before firing, only shooters won't have to frantically muzzle-load their shots. Instead, they have to hand crank the device to charge shots. Doing so causes a red bit of energy to bloom in its glass chamber, signaling that it's ready to go.
An automatic plasma gun features six stubby little vials on its top, and they move up and down in their slots when the weapon is fired, like pistons in an engine. The minigun is standard fare, but its barrels heat up and glow a menacing red after a few seconds of extended fire -– taking several times longer to finally cool. I only saw it used in broad daylight, but it'll be interesting to see if that glow acts like an actual light source when exploring dark areas in the game. Other weapons, including a shotgun and some kind of energy cannon, got field-tested, and they all passed. That cannon didn't seem particularly special, but I liked how it left its victims sizzling on the ground.
Weapon animations and other effects are all small details, but they're a big part of what I like about games. It's clear that Bethesda has put a lot of effort into making sure that players' arsenals will be interesting to look at. After all, they occupy a big chunk of your screen's real estate.
For more information on Fallout 4, take a look at our feature that compiles everything we know about the game in a digestible form.