Tuesday I started playing Fallout 4. I tried my best to escape spoilers, opinions, complaints and especially gameplay or let's-play videos in the last few days to prevent any bias. What I expected was a game as fascinating as Fallout 3 with next-generation graphics, an enthralling story and an environment that begs to be discovered up to the last drawer. After the first few hours of gameplay I can say that the time waiting for the next big Fallout game was worth it.
The Pip-Boy companion app works surprisingly well with the game (on PC you have to confirm the Windows firewall pop-up that opens in the background - that took me some time ). I found it really useful to put the iPad below my computer monitor in order to see the live-updated world map – what an amazing feature!
Based on the mixed reviews on the internet I'm under the impression that some people expected something different or completely new, whereas Fallout 4 was built upon the successful elements of Fallout 3 (and Fallout New Vegas if you ask me), improved its mechanics and thoughtfully added new features that blend in seamlessly. This understanding is nicely reflected in a review headlined "War never changes, and that's just fine":
Fallout 4 builds upon the familiar to create something new and strange [...] But all of that — the world, the characters, even the bugs — are table setting at this point. What Fallout 4 adds to the series is heart. For the first time I really cared about what happened in the story, and found myself struggling with its moral dilemmas. I still spent dozens of hours tweaking my guns and killing feral ghouls, but this time, it felt like I was doing it for a reason. [...] But it's still very much Fallout — a game that doesn't really need to change all that much to trigger that familiar mix of dread and joy. A new location and a much better story were enough to pull me into this world, and 60 hours later I'm not done with it. There are settlements I still want to finish building, and crimes I still need to get to the bottom of. At some point I plan to ignore everything altogether, and just wander into the wilderness to see what I can find. Even if I'm alone, at least I'll have Billie Holiday's voice to keep me company.