Rad Reviews: Fallout 4 (gameplay and mechanics)

Rad Reviews cover all those games that a Quick Snipe just couldn’t do justice on. AAA titles, brand new IPs and just plain brilliant/awful games all find a home here. Today we cover the base gameplay and mechanics of Fallout 4.


With the latest installation of the franchise, Fallout has become more of a shooter than ever before. With the introduction of a dedicated grenade button, bashing attack and a far greater emphasis on the development of your equipment rather than your character, Fallout is stepping out of RPGs and straying deeply into the realms of action-adventure.

First, the good bits. The shooting experience of Fallout is better than ever before. Proper integration of ironsights, the addition of the equipment modding system and a wide and varied choice of weapons makes the combat more satisfying than ever before. Whether bashing skulls with a sledgehammer or popping heads with a .50 caliber sniper rifle, you are sure to find something that fills you with the kind of glee that only a simulated psychopathic rampage can bring.

This experience is enhanced greatly by the modding system. This is one of the best new things to come to the franchise in a long time. Players have the ability to switch out nearly every part of their weapon, from muzzle to stock, and drastically change how they perform and what role they play on the battlefield. Some mods affect your weapons more than others: a laser rifle can be change from a sniper rifle to a shotgun with a few slick clicks, but a combat shotgun will always be a close combat weapon, though there is still a great deal you can do to change its stats. This is a brilliant system, which rewards players who spend their points in the right perks and reduces the amount of time you spend searching for exactly the right weapon with exactly the right stats. The fact that mods also change the appearance of weapons and armour add a sense of physical progression, even when you have had the same equipment for a fair while. Player-driven upgrades are very cool.

Probably my favourite part of the game!

Combat drugs are also a blast, with jet slowing down time and psycho upping your damage and causing your character to roar out in a murderous rage. While these drugs are useful because of their bonuses, I find myself using jet not just to get the upper hand, but also because of just how much fun it is to see five enemy’s heads pop one after the other in slow motion.

However, I do have some major grumps with the levelling mechanics. With the removal of skills and major changes in the way that perks and levels work, this is certainly a more streamlined (perhaps far too much so) experience than the previous games in the series. No longer are there skill points in specific skills, but instead there is a relatively extensive perk tree and the SPECIAL stats. Where before your SPECIAL stats were relatively static, now you can (and have to) upgrade them in order to unlock certain perk trees.

This sucked really really hard.

While some of the perks are interesting and/or useful, the fact that you can spend points on your SPECIAL means that every point you spend on strength or charisma or intelligence or whatever, you are missing out on a perk point which may be more useful. It feels like there should be a separate point system for SPECIAL, though the best solution in my mind will always be to remove the ability to affect SPECIAL at all: the whole point of SPECIAL was that your character had specific strengths and weaknesses that you had to play to.

With this more simplified version, there is a feeling of there being too few meaningful choices. Nearly every player will have points in one of the weapon-damage-orientated perks, as well as the perks that allow you to upgrade your weapons and armour. Many of the perks are also basically useless (aquaboy/girl is contextual at best), and many others are an absolute necessity (such as local leader, which allows for a passive income from settlements). This imbalance discourages replay, and results in everyone’s character being very similar, which the possible exception of what type of weapons they choose to use: pistols, automatics, single shot rifles, melee. This choice is really the only major one to make.

So Fallout 4 is a bit of a mixed bag. The base gameplay and combat is extremely enjoyable, but some of the peripheral mechanics that are supposed to enhance this experience can fall very short. It is difficult to conclude whether this is RAD or shite, but if we consider the idea that the Fallout series has been slowly edging away from the RPG mechanics ever since its revival, and that it is not Bethesda’s intention to continue down this path, I will grudgingly grant it a RAD!, though I am severely disappointed with the levelling system that was so unique to the series.

Did you enjoy popping heads, but hate the levelling system that was supposed to make it better? Did I miss the mark, or did Fallout 4 drop the ball on what few RPG mechanics were left? Let me know in the comments below!

Previous article on Fallout 4’s plot.

Next article coming soon!

3 thoughts on “Rad Reviews: Fallout 4 (gameplay and mechanics)

Add yours

  1. I had much the same line of thinking about the perk system. But there is no level cap so, technically, you play the game long enough to max out SPECIAL and the perks. But I’m not sure how long this would take.


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