Time for some expanded thoughts about Fallout 4:
As mentioned, it certainly feels like a Fallout game, which might sound obvious, but is something that could have been lost (think Diablo 2 vs Diablo 3, for example). I think maybe the only complaint I could raise here about the feel of the game is the overuse of color in the world; at times it makes it a little too easy to forget that a nuclear war happened with all of the trees, brooks, and leaf colors. Some color is nice, but the ‘man bombs sure did hit this place’ feeling you felt leaving the vault and looking at the landscape in Fallout 3 is a LOT stronger than it is when you leave the vault in Fallout 4.
Speaking of graphics, I think the pre-release worry about the game not looking great were massively overblown. Is Fallout 4 the most graphically striking game ever? No. But are the graphics a big jump from even a heavily modded Fallout 3 or NV, and overall still really solid (on Ultra settings)? Yes. The graphics do their job and then some (feral ghoul animations are awesome), with really the only grip being some of the character facial animations dipping into the uncanny valley of uncomfortable at time.
The shooter gameplay is much improved, and not in the way I was worried about as someone who isn’t a huge FPS fan. They are smoother and more responsive, rather than now being ‘hardcore FPS’ feeling like you might get from a Battlefield or even a Payday 2. Weapons feel very different from each other, and even modding a weapon can result in a noticeable difference. I also feel like there is a bigger distinction when fighting different enemies. Mirelurks really force you to avoid hitting their giant shell, feral ghouls jump around, human enemies use cover more effectively, and animals are usually dumb animals and just charge you; all this makes combat more fun and engaging.
My biggest issue with the game is the UI, which is clearly more designed for a console and its limitations than a PC. I know a mod will come along and fix that sooner rather than later, but right now its annoys me anytime I have to take my hand off the mouse to hit an arrow key, or move the mouse more than I should to select something.
Some minor improvements to the Fallout formula that I love:
You can see what is inside a container/body without opening it, and can loot it without going into a special UI, which greatly improves and streamlines the whole looting aspect of the game. No more stopping to pause for 10 seconds at every box and trashcan!
There are ‘legendary’ versions of enemies, which are basically mini-bosses that also drop better loot. I think they are pre-scripted rather than random (or at least I’m positive some of them are pre-scripted), but they add a nice bump in difficulty during an encounter and also get you some fun new toys (for example, I was able to loot a pistol off one legendary enemy that adds a burn effect to each shot. The pistol can still be fully modded, but that special/unique effect of the burn stays, which is really awesome).
I can confirm that when you switch party members, the outgoing member will interact with the incoming one, sometimes in pretty significant ways.
The companion you have around will like you more/less based on the actions you take, which eventually opens up special perks if they like you enough. This adds a nice layer of depth to companions IMO.
The stories that I’ve experienced so far have been good, with a few being really great. I do feel there are fewer terminals and notes scattered around that give random backstory to a location or event, but without experiencing the majority of the content yet, I can’t say if this holds up for the whole game or just the pieces I have seen so far.
As someone living in the Boston area, the setting is amazing. The game nails the feel of downtown Boston.
I like the change to leveling up, where you get one point to put into either a SPECIAL stats or a perk, especially because it allows you to change course and become something different than you originally rolled with your starting SPECIAL stats, something that was basically impossible in previous Fallout games.
Jury is still out on crafting and settlements. I like what I have experienced so far, but I haven’t really dug into either to any extreme. Same for the main storyline, I’m not very far in, but at least what I have seen so far has been great.
More to come as I dig deeper in.