One thing that is clicking for me about Fallout 4 is the location, given that I currently live just outside of Boston. Just recently I was driving into Logan airport and mentally comparing the real layout of Boston to the one in Fallout 4, and its pretty crazy how accurate it all is. That accuracy and familiarity has certainly boosted my enjoyment of an already incredible game.
I never got the sense of a real city in either Fallout 3 or New Vegas. In F3 the downtown areas were all split up into smaller zones, and it didn’t help that they were connected by the dreaded subway system (easily my least favorite design in any Fallout game). In NV Vegas itself felt incredibly small, and also suffered from the fact it had to be broken up into multiple zones. I was also disappointed in how minor/small the casinos were, given how central they were to the plot and the setting.
F4 nails the city feel. The downtown streets, in addition to being accurate to the real world versions, also make you feel like you are walking down a former city that is now mostly abandoned. The buildings that loon over you feel real. Looking over the city from one of the taller buildings doesn’t feel like looking over a videogame map, even though there are tons of ‘gamey’ locations visible. The layout makes sense because its the layout of a real city, but amazingly at the same time the layout doesn’t make for bad gaming, which is a huge testament to the work Bethesda is capable of doing.
Speaking of locations, Vault 81 is another great little bit of content (minor side quest spoilers here). In the Fallout universe very few of the vaults are actually intended to save people, as most are designed for different experiments by Vault-Tec. This makes exploring them interesting because you usually have to dig into the details of the area to uncovering the purpose of the vault.
One previous logical leap that is usually required with the vaults is the assumption that the Vault-Tec employees would just go along with their evil corporation’s plans. Take Vault 111 in F4; why would all of the scientists and security working for that vault just go along with surprise-freezing everyone?
What makes Vault 81 so special is that, finally, there was a Vault-Tec employee who said screw it, and went against the plans and just did ‘the right thing’ and saved everyone inside the vault (well, almost everyone). I like that the details of Vault 81 deal with what it took to keep the vault going for 200+ years, and the current-day struggle and reality of having to work with the outside world a bit.
Future DLC request: Raiders or some other ‘bad guys’ attack Vault 81, and you need to help defeat the threat and then work to rebuild the vault, either remaining mostly isolated, or evolving into a more open part of the Commonwealth.