Fallout 4: Survival mode thoughts

With the release of Far Harbor, I’ve started up a new game of Fallout 4 on the newish Survivor difficulty. I haven’t made it beyond the first starter quest for Far Harbor, but I have seen enough of Survivor mode to talk a bit about it.

The setting is the highest difficulty setting for the game, and introduces new rules like requiring the player to eat, drink, and sleep. If you don’t, you get stat penalties. You also can’t save unless you sleep, you can’t fast travel, ammo has weight, and healing items don’t work instantly. In short, the game is much harder, both in a ‘that’s actually hard and requires adjusting strategy’ way, and also in a ‘well that’s annoying’ way.

One of the first things I had to do was download a mode that allowed you to quick save, because the ‘no save unless you sleep’ thing was just too much, mostly in that it didn’t allow me to step away from the game when needed, but also because replaying two hours of progress because something one-shot you just is not my idea of fun in a game like Fallout.

The need to eat, drink, and rest is both interesting and also annoying. It’s annoying because food and drink aren’t all that scarce, so the ‘challenge’ is more about lugging the stuff around rather than a desperate struggle to find it. That said, while I have almost always ignored food and drink in the past, at least now I am using those items, appreciate finding them when needed, and have actually used the cooking craft station. Needing to eat and drink also ties into radiation, because most food gives you a little bit of that, so that part of the game is also more of a focus, which is fitting for a Fallout game.

No instant travel is a huge time-sink, but also means you see more of the actual world, and the often-times random interactions that happen. Setting off to a distant location now requires at least a moment of planning, which is good IMO. The downside is that exploring and looting random locations for items is pretty strongly discouraged, since you will quickly become weighed down, and without fast travel, trekking back and forth between locations and your settlements loses its luster very quickly. As exploring and actually looting is a huge part of Fallout, this IMO really hurts the experience.

Overall I understand why Survival mode was added, and in some ways it does force you to experience the game in a different way. Sometimes that different way is better, but for me most of the time it is not. I don’t think I’ll keep the mode on for Far Harbor, mostly because I want to enjoy the new content without feeling like I’m fighting the game itself more than half the time.

It also very much feels like Survivor mode could be more enjoyable if Fallout was designed with it in mind right from the start. If food/water was more scares, if there was a way to quickly ferry items back, if more of the world was random as you went back and forth, etc, there could certainly be a very enjoyable game to be found here. As is, it’s a decent attempt, and I’m sure appeals to some people, but for me it feels forced too often to really click.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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7 Responses to Fallout 4: Survival mode thoughts

  1. Caldazar says:

    Minutemen missions without fasttravel -shudder-

  2. Boda Gyorgy says:

    I just finished Fallout 4 after 96 hours, and tbh I was very unimpressed by the end. I really loved the exploration part, and side quests have been great most of the time (USS Constiution question was a standout), but many aspects annoyed me a great deal.

    – In main story the factions have been interesting at first, but I got the impression that the game was rushed out of the gate, and one consequence was that endgame decisions somehow suffered (another is the huge amount of bugs in last act). I almost surely needed to wipe out usually 2 opposing factions, which I didn’t want to do, and also felt forced. Why there wasn’t any diplomatic solution.
    – I was also baffled by the idiotic faction leaders: everyone just stands around, doing nothing, but they say they are very busy and I have to do everything including basic stuff, like building a bed. Comeon, I am general of minutemen, go and clean the toilet yourself.
    – The UI is terrible for a game like this, Pip-Boy is especially useless.
    – I wish Bethesda scrapped those generated quests, hated those.
    – Maybe best part was settlement building, but that also lacked any long term perspectives, so there wasn’t any motivation to stick to it except for some easy xp to reach next level:(

    I really expected much more than that from Fallout 4.

  3. bodaster says:

    There was also a huge moment of sillyness, which just showe how “responsive” the game was: I went to the BoS ship for the first time to meet Elder Maxsson. The guy started to preach about synths being how dangerous and enemies of humanities, but he did not notice that Nick Valentine was my companion. Then he said that I look very defensless, so I should jump into my new power armor, despite I wore one already. Finally, he asked me what I think about these BoS guidelines: I told him it is utter nonsense, in return he promoted me to Knight:)

  4. I think your missed the point with the food perhaps you’ve not played it very long.. Area’s don’t regenerate very fast in survival mode so you have to scavenge further and further to find any. In fact the only way you can scavenge longer distances is to build and maintain more settlements. But than means you have to scavenge more.. It adds so much extra live and strategy to the game.
    But what I love is that once you clear areas apart from occasional random encounters they pretty much stay cleared. Hard core not for the faint hearted..

  5. Exit815 says:

    Survival Mode sounds like how I played Skyrim once. No fast travel, needs and sleeping – this is something that worked best when combined with carry weight mod, darker nights and slower day/night cycle.

  6. Eksemplar says:

    I’d be ok with it if you had the option to save as you wanted to and junk didn’t weigh anything.

    I love the fact that you battle weight for things like ammo, weapons, armor and aid but it just gets too much when you add junk to the mix.

    Other than that I love it, and I guess both those things will be available from mods.

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