Welcome to another edition of Drinking and Gaming, where I play video games while drunk on local Minnesota craft beers, and proceed to review them . . . also whilst drunk. For this installment, I decided to punish the shit out of my liver for over 56 hours (and counting) of drinking and gaming with Fallout 4, with what is easily one of the best games of 2015. I chose another local favorite beer of mine to help make my adventures through the Boston Commonwealth that much more interesting.
For this installment I chose Rush River’s Double Bubble, a golden Imperial IPA that can rival the best that Minnesota has to offer. It also helps that it’s got an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 9.0%, so I was able to make my handful of six packs go the extra mile for me given that I was pretty shit-faced for the duration, and hungover for what feels like an eternity. If you’re into the hoppy beers, this is definitely a beer for you, as this beer is both dry-hopped with an IBU of a whopping 100 (International Bitterness Unit), not that that means anything, as your taste buds can only notice an IBU up to 89, but I digress.
Oh, and as per usual, please note that this review does contain language that might be considered offensive and, more importantly, spoilers for the game. Very minor spoilers below.
My Fallout 4 game tells the story of a man by the name of Sir Reginald the Indubitable, a humble billionaire potato farmer from the state of Mississippi who relocated to Boston in 2077 to serve in the armed forces. Sir Reginald, along with his wife and their son, Shaun, live in a small town—you might have heard of it, known as Boston—that happens to have a nuclear fallout shelter, Vault 111. Not more than a few moments after our hero signs a contract to allow himself and his family to take refuge in said vault, a nuclear blast goes off.
So long story short, everyone in Vault 111 dies, including your wife, who is shot in the face by a mysterious organization known only as the Institute and a man who was named after his mother’s favorite breakfast company, Kellogg. As if that weren’t shitty enough, the Institute proceeds to kidnap your son before placing you back into cryogenic sleep, from which you wake up nearly 200 years later, looking hotter than ever. I mean seriously, look at him! This body screams “Free Candy and Unwanted Touches by Estranged Uncle Creepy.”
Shortly after you emerge from the vault to the irradiated wasteland of Boston, equal to that of modern-day Philadelphia yet amazingly less shitty, you are forced to scavenge for weapons, armor, and various other supplies. I eventually stumbled upon my new best friend, who happens to be a dog, because everyone else is either dead or a complete fucking asshole. He was originally named Dogmeat, but I decided to rename him Lydia in honor of my original mentally vacant cohort in Skyrim, as they both have a tendency to walk into shit and to blow themselves up unnecessarily. Unlike Lydia, however, my new best friend is even bulletproof! Animal technology is amazing.
Then for the next 40-plus hours, I ran around causing all sorts of mischief as I explored the wasteland . . . or mostly died trying to. For example, like that time I just randomly exploded by running around in the wasteland . . .
Or that time I got the shit kicked out of me by a random Deathclaw . . .
And when I wasn’t too busy getting the living shit kicked out of me by absolutely everything (and apparently nothing all at the same time) in the Commonwealth, the game decided to do whatever the hell it wanted by glitching itself to oblivion. Like that time my buddy Preston Garvey of the Minutemen decided to spin around in his bed in some crazy exorcist shit.
Not only will the game take you well over 100 hours just to traverse the entire map to try and attempt to uncover every single detail, but there are countless interactions to be made along your journey. Several of the interactions can lead to companions, who, like Lydia, will follow you around the wasteland. Each companion has their own distinctive personality and will either approve or disapprove of your style of play. If you get a certain companion to admire you, you can engage in a romantic relationship, which will unlock a specific perk for your character. If you sleep in a bed near your romantic companion, you will also receive an additional perk, Lover’s Embrace, which allows you to receive additional XP for a short amount of time.
It’s also important to note that depending on who you choose for a companion, they may hate how you proceed with the story missions, and sadly, you can’t put ’em down. Honestly, I tried romancing my dog for a while, and when I couldn’t do that, I tried to put him down . . . The game wouldn’t allow me to do that either, cause he’s apparently a bulletproof dog, so I just abandoned him and hung out with a reporter named Piper. She also hated my decisions toward the end of the game because of the faction that I ultimately chose and the evil shit I had to do.
There are four major factions (only three that can lead you to the end game), and each comes with a line of its own quests. The first faction that you will encounter is the Minutemen, a small militia group that looks to restore the order of the Commonwealth by reuniting small settlements throughout. This, of course, can lead to Fallout 4’s most addictive game feature, where you are in charge of building and maintaining said settlements.
In order to maintain the settlements, you are required to provide essential equipment for your settlers, which includes food, water, housing, power, defenses, and bedding. You can do this by searching the wasteland and collecting everything . . . and I do mean absolutely everything. All the junk that you come across on your journeys can be broken down at your settlement and used to help build up walls and fortify defenses, making everything a must-have item in the game. This, in turn, allows you to build a massive settlement for everyone in the game. However, to increase your settlement size (with the size of your settlements being determined by your level of charisma), you are forced to try and make every one of your settlers happy, and you can do this by making sure that the food, water, and beds are equal to that of the number of your settlers. Small things like radio, TV, and paintings can increase their happiness as well. It’s also good to force your settlers to work like the megalomaniacal bastard you were always destined to be.
And for those who didn’t want to work, I opted to execute them. I was a ruthless general of the Minutemen militia. For example, there was this old lady, Mama Murphy, who was a chem addict and always wanted me to give her drugs, yet refused to a single damned thing in the settlement. After a while, I got tired of her shit and just started placing live grenades into her pockets, just to watch her explode.
The second group you’ll encounter is the Brotherhood of Steel. These guys are a group of religious zealots who are opposed to . . . well, pretty much every-fucking-thing. Seriously, their goal is to control all of the world’s technology and eradicate any and all technology that they deem “too dangerous for mankind.” That too-dangerous technology that they are opposed to? Synths, a race of cybernetic humans who look either strikingly human or like Terminators (more on them later). The Brotherhood of Steel appears to be the Commonwealth’s answer to the Ku Klux Klan, as they set out to wipe out any and all other races, including synths and superhumans. Their zealotry goes as far as being willing to send you to assassinate a loyal member of the Brotherhood, all because he is a synth.
In the video below, I’m talking to the Brotherhood of Steel synth that I refused to execute, only to have the game glitch out and have a Deathclaw come in like a wrecking ball at us . . . because, you know . . .
The second primary faction is the Institute, the Commonwealth’s boogeymen.
Plot spoilers below.
The Institute is the creator of the synths, and its members appear in and around areas of the Commonwealth, as rumors of them abducting people are reported throughout the game. These guys are the mysterious organization that steals your son and murders your wife, but they aren’t exactly what they appear to be on the surface . . . There’s no doubt that the people of the Institute are the game’s primary villains, and they do some really shitty things, but there’s more to them than what meets the eye.
FINAL WARNING. Major spoilers below.
Okay, are ready for this?
The leader of the Institute is none other than your son, Shaun. That’s right—your son is the boogeyman of the Commonwealth, thus forcing some extremely difficult decisions to be made.
On one hand, you have the option to side with your son and help with his operations. The Institute believes in the betterment of technology and the creation of freethinking cybernetic beings. However, with such advanced beings, there are those inside the Institute who choose to defect, and it is your job to bring back the defectors and have them reprogrammed. Your other tasks usually include assassinating the opposition, like the Brotherhood of Steel and the Railroad, an underground organization to free and protect escaped synths. Or you can refuse to aid your son and just shoot him and his friends in their fucking faces . . . both seem pretty viable options given the circumstances.
And thirdly, as mentioned above, the final faction you can choose between is the Railroad, the underground organization to help protect defected synths. They want to bring war to the Brotherhood of Steel and stop the Institute by any (violent) means necessary. Choosing them means going to war with the Brotherhood of Steel as well as the Institute.
I ended up playing through the game three times, once under the guidance of each faction, and while each shows the empathy of whoever you choose to side with, it also shows the kind of deplorable actions you are forced to commit in their name.
In conclusion, Fallout 4, while it has one of the strongest and most emotional narratives that I’ve played in a long time, allows you the freedom to play the game as you see fit, making your time your own. You are really unbound in the world of the Commonwealth, where you can choose to play either as a savior or as a narcissist who only lives to service their own personal interests. From spending countless hours exploring every nook and cranny and wasting entire evenings building shit in my settlements, I have to say Fallout 4 is the absolute must-own game of 2015. The amount of detail placed into every aspect of this game shows through the dedication of the people at Bethesda Softworks who brought every piece of painstaking detail to life.
In closing, as Sir Reginald the Indubitable said so eloquently, “I know the world has changed, but the road ahead will be hard. This time, I will be ready. Because I know war . . . war never changes.” And in this particular case, that’s a good thing.
Final Score: 10 out of 10
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