Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste

Fallout 4 is an incredible accomplishment in gaming pure and simple. From November 10th, 2015 until February 21st, 2106, I spent over 400 hours playing this game. Believe it or not, there are still areas I have never seen and quests I haven't done. This game has been reviewed to death, so rather than a point-by-point review or walkthrough-like review, I'm going to review what I found exciting, surprising, enjoyable and even a few disappointing points about the game. 

There Be Spoilers Here!

My assumption is by now, everyone who really, really loved Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas has finished Fallout 4 (DLC notwithstanding). I mean - over 400 hours! - really!?! That's what Steam claims anyway. Who does that besides me? (Let's ignore the 300+ hours I spent in Fallout: New Vegas with the original content plus all the DLC for that.) Even so, I'm going to make a conscious effort to put spoilers in a spoiler tag like the one below. The tag doesn't support a "level" for the spoiler, so I'll put (Light), (Normal) and (Heavy) before them somewhere to give an idea of how much will be spoiled.

Not a real spoiler. (Light)

[spoiler]If this had been an actual spoiler, you may just have learned a little bit you didn't want to know.[/spoiler]

With that warning, on with the show!

Game Summary

I'm not sure why anyone would read this unless they were already interested in and familiar with the game, but just in case, here's the game in a nutshell. You start the game by picking a character - male or female - and then edit your body and facial features. Some people spend hours right there. Then some events transpire that cause you to seek shelter in a Vault-Tec vault that preserves the human race in the event of a ... um, an unspecified global disaster. No surprise there; you start out in a vault in pretty much every Fallout game. In this one, you start outside, but you enter the vault very shortly after the intro. (See, more or less no spoilers.) Time passes, your son is stolen from you, and you set out from the vault to get him back. And that's the setup.

What happens after you leave the vault is very much up to you. You need to explore to try to figure out where your son was taken, but you can pretty much take all the time you want to do that. There is a main storyline set of quests to answer that burning question, but also dozens - or perhaps hundreds of side quests as well. When exploring, you can be bold and brash - a regular member of Balls and Bayonets Brigade as it were (to steal a line from the TV series Firefly) - or quiet and stealthy like a ninja. Both ways and everything in between can work. You can try to make lots of friends or enemies - and most likely, some of each. Eventually, you progress through the game to find out what became of your son.

If you have played Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, then you probably have a pretty good idea of how you progress. You exit the vault with pretty much just the clothes on your back and maybe a decent pistol and a bit of ammo. You explore, discover interesting locations, find friends and make enemies. Your friends ask you to help them or tell you how to progress along the path to finding out what happened to your son. From exploring, demolishing the previously-mentioned enemies and completing quests, you get to level up and gain new skills. You will also find, be rewarded with or trade for better guns, armor, information, etc. So how does one spend as much time as I did at this? Well, for one thing ....

It's a Huge Game

It's hard to overstate how big this game is. It's a decent-sized map just to traverse. I walked to (or ran to) every shiny object that looked remotely interesting. Even near the end of the main story quest, I would occasionally open what looked to be an unremarkable door or hatch and find a detailed, fully-fleshed-out level (or set of levels) inside or underneath. Some of those were 10-15 minute distractions. Others were hour-long excursions with their own self-contained story. What astonishes me is that Bethesda is perfectly willing to allow players to skip large areas of the map and still finish the game. If you spend as much time as I have in the game, you are probably getting carried away. On the other hand, if you finish the main quest line in less than 40 hours, I would bet you saw less than 1/3 of the areas in the game. It's your money.

The map is a bit deceptive somehow, though. Just as they were in Fallout 3, locations in the game are tightly packed together. Even on foot, traveling from one location to another that seems far away doesn't seem to take as long as expected (assuming one can resist all the other shiny objects along the way). It's as if they stole a lesson on dimensional transcendentalism from Dr. Who. Clicking on the icon below will expand the map showing what locations I had discovered. I grabbed this just after "finishing" the game. (Sorry for having to stitch it together from pieces.)

As a thumbnail, the map isn't a spoiler. However, the larger view(s) is (are) a light to medium spoiler - especially if you view the high-resolution map.

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If you look closely at the map, you'll notice an island on the lower right-hand side that I've not investigated. Oh, well. It's a good bet that there's something to discover in just about any of the areas on the map that look suspiciously open. I watched a few Fallout 4 videos on YouTube since I finished, and I definitely missed a whole lot of places. Luckily, once a landmark is discovered, you can fast travel from there to any other discovered landmark. The size of the map doesn't become tedious to navigate. Without fast travel .. I shudder.

Craig Prall
Book Edition
Book Author
Craig Prall
Book Audience
Video Gamers, FPS Gamers, Fallout Series
Book About
A book about the author's experiences with Fallout 4

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 2)

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 2)
Oh. Now, That's Just Special!

In any game of this size, there are lots of things to discover, but sometimes, this game goes above and beyond just being "good enough." The topics in this section could all be considered minor spoilers, I guess, but very minor. (If it's more than that, I'll put the discussion in a spoiler tag.) I tried to get a sample set of the kinds of special things that Bethesda slipped into this game. This is nowhere near a full list. I don't want to risk spoiling these.

The Third Rail, a bar in the old Boston Metro station in town called Good Neighbor, has a singer named Magnolia. She is typically either already singing or just starting a song when you enter. She will also sing another song if you talk to her and ask her to. I noticed that the songs seemed to be higher quality audio than most found in video games, and it's probably not just my imagination. I did a little digging and found out that the songs (five of them, if I recall correctly) were written and sung by Lynda Carter. (You may remember her as Wonder Woman if you're old enough.) She also does the voice of Magnolia in the game. If one or more of your stats is high enough, you can have a romantic encounter with her. Once you hear those songs in the third rail, they will be added to the rotation of songs on Diamond City Radio. I have a short clip below (posted on YouTube) so you can see and hear what I am talking about. If you have played through the Diamond City quests, you may be able to associate the lyrics in the clips to one of them. 


Another one of the locations is Vault 81, which seems to be the only operational vault in the game - though there are other vaults such as the one you started in. I'm pretty sure I got sent there as part of a quest or it was mentioned by somebody I met.

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It turns out you get different conversations from the Vault 81 locals depending on who you have as a traveling companion and what you are wearing. I was originally wearing power armor, and the residents seem envious, but apprehensive. I took the power armor off, and after that, I got special conversation options because I had put on the Vault 111 suit that I had left that vault with. One thing I especially liked was the background music that played inside Vault 81. I don't believe you hear it anywhere else in the game. (Medium spoiler)[spoiler]

Vault 81's questline is very good. If you pursue it enough, you will find out that there is a secret outer vault surrounding an inner vault. That vault was supposed to be manned by scientists researching the ultimate cure to all the viruses plaguing mankind. In a later phase of the research, the residents of the inner vault were to be the test subjects. The vault's overseer objected to the testing (as I think she was to be one of the test subjects) and sabotaged the recall system so that only three scientists made it to the vault when the bombs fell. Those three, the overseer eventually trapped and starved to death. There's more to the questline than that, but it's in the outer vault that I found the research robot Curie (the same basic type as a Mr. Handy) who has spent decades researching the cure for all the viruses given to a colony of mole rats. Curie can become one of your companions. She later goes through an amazing .. transformation if you get her affection level up high enough to get her special questline.

You don't have to ever go into Vault 81 to complete the main storyline, but if you do and take it to completion, which will take an hour or two, you get a new companion, a bobblehead, and if you are bitten by a mole rat - a -10 HP penalty for the rest of the game. You will find it difficult to avoid becoming bitten. I'm pretty sure I got marked as bitten because the Protectron robot I had hacked and had running point got bitten. (Yes, the robot got bitten.) You can recover if you take the single dose of the cure that Curie has left. However, that's needed to cure one of the vault's children that was bitten by a mole rat (before your arrival). If you take it, he dies, which pretty much makes you persona non grata with the vault. If you cure the child, you are rewarded with your own room. (I never used it once I got it.)[/spoiler]


Shaw High School, a former high school that is currently inhabited by super mutants, was the domain of one Principle Tanner. Tanner, a failed Vault-Tec salesman turned educator, was trying to improve the school's test scores by having students take Mentats. Better test scores meant more money to the school district - money the principal hoped to pocket. As part of the effort, Tanner enlists a delinquent student named Rusty to distribute the Mentats. One of the neat little details is that you (might) find a terminal taken over by Rusty, which he is using to keep a journal. The entries start out as one or two badly-spelled, wonderful examples of poor grammar. Rusty starts taking Mentats himself and the later terminal entries get more eloquent. He eventually gets smart enough to get a forged key to the principal's office then reads the messages on the principal's terminal and finds out what the principal is up to. Rusty ends up blackmailing Principal Tanner for half the money.

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Dunwich Borers looks like a typical quarry. When I looked down into it from the top, it seemed like a quick frag & take. However, when I got to the bottom, I found a cave to one side that turned out to have a whole story of its own. In the cave, you run across lots of feral ghouls, which is no surprise since they are everywhere.

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The surprise is that when you encounter certain ghouls, you see flashbacks to when the ghouls were still human and worked in the cave as miners and foremen. At the very bottom of the cave, you find an irradiated well of water. There, you witness a flashback to when there was an altar at that site. In order to investigate the pool, you have to take off power armor or otherwise, you will never be able to swim up. I used a mirelurk cake that allows breathing underwater and a Rad-X to increase radiation resistance and swam down. It's almost just a deep, columnar pit or well except there is a cave that juts off horizontally very near the bottom. That cave ends at a different alter, which has a rare knife on it. I found the whole level really creepy.

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I thought that Bethesda put in a little something extra even beyond that. While I was in the cave, there were occasional tremors. After I left the cave, I noticed that the ground still occasionally shook. Did I anger some beast from times gone by? That would be cool, but as it turned out, I hadn't. I had just recently put my companion in power armor. Whenever she ran to catch up to me, the ground would shake. It had probably happened before, but I hadn't noticed. The tremors inside the cave were for effect, but the ones outside the cave were from something else completely.

Diamond City Radio is one of the radio stations available on your Pip-Boy arm computer. Diamond City Radio's DJ, Travis "Lonely" Miles, starts off the game as a horrible, stuttering, rambling mess. Through your aid in a quest, you help him become a much better DJ. For which, he thanks you. On the radio. Over and Over. He does get much better, too. As mentioned above, once you visit The Third Rail, he adds five songs from the bar's singer, Magnolia. I also used the More Where That Came From - Diamond City Radio Edition Fallout 4 mod to add a bunch more songs. (More information on Fallout 4 mods is coming on the last page.) As you complete major quest paths in the game, Travis will report on them during his news updates. (That was also true in other Fallout games.)

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Craig Prall

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 3)

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 3)
Surprises, Surprises, Surprises

Fallout 4 contains lots of potential surprises. Some of these were supposed to be surprises, but some of them may only be surprises to me because of my expectations and my history with the previous games. In this section, I'm going to talk about a few such surprises. This will barely scratch the surface. 

Stop! Thief! — Fairly early in my travels and while being accompanied by a companion named Cait, a tough, scrappy young woman with issues and a vaguely Irish accent, I was doing some building at one of the settlements. I had gotten out of my armor to save some fusion core juice. While I was building, we got attacked by super mutants. I'm pretty well leveled, armored and armed by this time, so I'm thinking to myself, "You poor, sorry bastards. This was bad timing on your part." I turn to run to my power armor .. just in time to see Cait get into it and take off.

Up to that very point, I had no idea that companions (or anyone besides Brotherhood of Steel NPCs) could use power armor. So there I am chasing after Cait and my power armor, trying to get her into a conversation so I can make her get out. She wasn't having it. I'm yelling at my computer, "Get out, you bitch!" as she's mowing down super mutants all over the place. Sounds kind of funny in retrospect. I just couldn't believe she Bogart-ed my power armor! Of course, after that, I had my various companions use power armor quite often. However, most companions damaged the power armor they were using practically from the moment they got into it, and usually very badly. If there was a cliff or building they could fall off of, they never hesitated to do so. I eventually just left them out of the power armor altogether. Saved me tons in repairs.

Don't Start What You Can't Finish — Once, I was visiting a settlement named Country Crossing. It happens to be near but also under a group of Gunners that have made their home on an overpass. Now, I have no idea why, but the Gunners started shooting a random brahmin (cattle) nearby. I saw what they were doing, but I wasn't concerned, really. The settlers, however, got pissed. They pulled out their weapons and took off out of the settlement and attacked the Gunners. Keep in mind, the Gunners were shooting at some random brahmin - not the settler's brahmin. Maybe, they were all P.E.T.A. members - I don't know. The settlers were winning as I had put most of them in decent armor and gave them all better weapons. Then they ran up against the Gunner Captain in power armor and with a minigun. At that point, I came to the rescue. I still have no idea what made them decide to go on the offensive. I'm sure it's scripted somehow, but it surprised the heck out of me.

Fun With Elevators — At some point, Bethesda had to figure out what to do about companions and how they navigate elevators. The problem was that a player enters an elevator, companions sometimes just won't follow. They often stop and stand just outside of the elevator. There's no way to push them into one that I could find. Bethesda fixed this by making the elevators and/or companions "magical." When I took an elevator, if the companion wasn't inside, they would either magically appear at the place where I got out or teleport into the elevator with me somewhere along the trip. Eventually, regardless of the companion I was with, I would just push the elevator button without even hesitating to wait for them. The clips below are of a companion named Piper Wright performing such magic. The first one shows her just magically appearing on the top floor of a building without ever being on the elevator. (There is no other way up that I know of - especially not one that would get her up there in seconds.) The second shows her teleporting into the elevator while it is traveling.



Roaming Quest NPCs If you decide to help support settlements, every so often you will get told that a settlement needs your help to fight off ghouls, or raiders, or super mutants, or rabid badgers, or something else that they just can't fight off themselves (even if you have given all of them very good armor and weapons and they outnumber the invaders 2:1). They ask you to help (i.e., That is, to kill everyone at some other location on their behalf).

I finished one such quest and went back to the settlement to turn it in. There was nobody there with the little square-bubble icon over their head indicating I could end the quest by talking to them. I searched everywhere in the settlement. Finally, I turned off all other quests so only that one was shown on the map, and the person I needed to talk to was way far away from the settlement I had just helped. I'm in WTF mode at this point.

If you have the perk that lets you set up supply lines, you pick one of the settlers to start a route between their home settlement and some other settlement. They are technically still part of the settlement; you even have to save a bed for them in your total bed count in order to keep the settlement happy. However, they travel - somewhat slowly - between the two settlements and their tag changes from "settler" to "provisioner." It also seems that in some cases, the quest giver/receiver for settlement quests are randomly picked. In this case, the provisioner was chosen as the person to turn the quest into. Luckily they were pretty near the other settlement so I could fast travel and find him. I think I still had to wait to turn the quest in as the settlement nearby was up in arms fighting off a pack of vicious dogs, but at least I found him.

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Vegetable Starch is Adhesive — I hope that's not a spoiler. I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be. While it's possible to complete the entire game and never craft (much of) anything, most of us will probably pick up the perk to craft armor or weapons modifications. I picked up both pretty much from the start. I quickly came to realize that one can never have enough adhesive. I would drop weapons and armor to make room for duct tape and wonderglue. It was pathetic. At some point, I was cooking up something and noticed ...

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That's five .. yes, five .. adhesive each. The recipe was probably always there, but I hadn't noticed. Once I did, I had all of my settlements making the ingredients. Vegetable Starch may be the single best reason to even have a settlement.

Named NPCs Can Be Killed — Any time a settlement is attacked, almost all the settlers join in on the defense - even if they are armed with just a corn stock. (Actually, they all come with a pipe pistol to start with, but the corn stock might have been more effective.) In many settlements, there are already a few settlers there when you discover it. (In gaming jargon, those settlers are also known as non-player characters or NPCs.) Those settlers have a name, and they usually give you the quest(s) you need to do to get the settlement "aligned" with you. (Once aligned, you can use the workshop and build there.)  A number of times during a skirmish, I had seen the named settlers incapacitated - where they sit on the ground and stop fighting or fleeing. However, they always recovered after the fighting ended. I had just taken it for granted that all named NPCs in a settlement could not be killed. That turned out to be wrong.

The original settler in the settlement Egret Tours Marina is Phyllis Daily. Sometime after I had become aligned with that settlement, I went back to find her dead near the entrance to the building where I found her.

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I'm pretty sure that in this case, there's at least one quest path where I would have to at least fight, if not kill her, so she had to be killable. I didn't go down that path, but I assumed even if I did, she would become incapacitated and the typical "You win! I give up!" ending would ensue. I guess not. I wasn't at the settlement when she was killed, so I don't know how or when it happened.

Craig Prall

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 4)

Fallout 4: More Fun Than a Barrel of Radioactive Waste (Page 4)
Settlements: Bane or Boost?

I have been asked by people who started Fallout 4 after I did if I thought settlements are worth the effort to build up. More or less, I think the answer is "No, not really." The game itself, doesn't really give a lot of clues to why anyone would want settlements. After 400 hours of playing this game, I don't think they really add much to the game. Each settlement does offer one or more quests, but those are almost always some variation of "Bad People® are attacking us from That Place™. Go there and kill them." You get plenty of those in your other pursuits. If I had, in fact, ignored settlements as much as possible, this would likely have been a 200 hour game. Maybe less. 

As stated earlier, in order to use a settlement, you must become "aligned" with it. In some cases, you just need to reach and activate the settlement's workbench, which is a big red device that reminds me of a metal lathe. For most settlements, you need to complete one or more of the aforementioned "kill all" quests to satisfy the settlement's inhabitants. You start the game aligned with the town you started from, Sanctuary (Hills). It's empty after you emerge from the vault except for Codsworth, the robot butler you had before the war, but you can complete a quest very early in the game that brings a group to the settlement. I don't see any way around settling at least two of the other locations I know about as they are important to the unfolding story. I'll leave out the names here since that might be considered a spoiler. I believe that with just the "required" settlements, you could plant enough corn, tatos, mutifruit and get enough purified water to make all the vegetable starch needed for adhesive for upgrades, which really was what I found to be the biggest benefit to having them.

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Once aligned with a settlement, you can go into "workbench" mode that lets you scrap things around the settlement you don't need and build things you do need from the scrap you find around the world. Unlike previous Fallout games where I left junk items where I found them, I often found myself preferring some types of "junk" over low-level weapons and armor. Although some weapons and armor make for good scrap, too. If you are a big fan of The Sims or Minecraft, you may really enjoy this. There are people who feel settlement building is the best part of the game. You can also plant crops and assign settlers to work them (though there is a limit to how much each setter can maintain). You can also build defense posts and assign one or more settler's to patrol those.

My problem with settlements is the whole upkeep aspect. You need to have certain levels of food, water and defense at each settlement. You need the number of beds, food and water at least as high as the number of settlers in your settlement. It's usually good to have some spare capacity. The defense level needs to be high enough to discourage raiders, synths and super mutants from attacking. From other web sites, I found the defense number needs to be at least the sum of the water plus food numbers. I liked having a safety cushion over that. If your defense is low, they settlement will get attacked and you will become pestered with "Help defend Someplace from attack!" random quests. You will still get the occasional raid on a settlement even when its defense is high, but it certainly seems to happen much less.

If you decide you do want to invest time in settlements, there are a slew of guides and tips available (which is why I'm not going into detail here). There are YouTube videos with tutorials on how to make fantastic buildings one wouldn't expect possible with the basic building blocks that this game has. I would recommend picking up the first level of the Local Leader perk. With that perk, you can designate one of your settlers to run a supply line between their home settlement and any other aligned settlement. (Their title changes from "settler" to "provisioner.") The game is extremely vague on why you want to do that, but essentially it shares workshop resources between settlements. I'm still not 100% clear on if I have a supply line between A and B and between B and C, do the raw material's in A's workbench appear in C's workbench? It seems like they do, but I really didn't pay enough attention to the numbers to say for sure. The map below shows the supply routes I had active at the end of the game. It could be considered a light spoiler since it shows the locations of Settlements.) (Light)

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Not everything stored in the workshop is shared among settlements - only food and raw materials. I learned to scrap low-level weapons and armor into raw materials rather than storing them intact because the raw materials transferred. There are higher levels of the Local Leader perk that allow for the building of weapons, chemistry and armor benches (with a possible second level) and stores/trading posts. I took that, but really because fast travel can take one anywhere quickly, having workbenches for armor, weapons, etc. spread all over the place wasn't that beneficial. There are better perks.

Once you start getting an excess of weapons and armor, start armoring and arming your settlers. That way, when the settlement is attacked, they will either take care of most of the raiders before you get there, or at least, have a easier time of it after you arrive to help. Unlike companions, it seems like settlers don't deplete ammo; so long as they have some ammo of the right type for the gun you give them (let's say 10 rounds, although 1 is probably enough), they will be able to fire it forever. They also don't seem to switch weapons, so giving them more than one weapon is a waste. Just hit your action key/button (E on the PC by default) and trade them what you want to wear. Then just point to the item in their inventory and hit the equip button (T on the PC by default). Just trading the items to them is not enough. You have to have them equip the armor and weapons explicitly.

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Especially give your provisioners decent armor and weapons. They will have to fight every enemy encountered along their route. Unnamed enemy's periodically respawn, and those enemies' level increases with your level. It seemed to me like the settlers and provisioners get some type of bonus to armor and weapons. It wasn't unusual for one provisioner to take out three or more super mutants by themselves. I would often come across a provisioner or two in a battle with the local baddies. Many times, I would lend them a hand, but they seemed to be doing fine on their own. In fact, it often seemed they only started doing badly if I helped, which I suspect is an attempt at making the player feel more needed in that situation.

That said, provisioners can and will be killed. I came across several corpses of my provisioners as I was traveling. I'm not 100% clear on what happens after a provisioner dies. The first time it happened to me early in the game, the supply line was cut off and I had select and equip another settler to take their place in order to get the other settlement's supplies to appear again. However a couple times later in the game, I ran across provisioner with nothing but a pipe pistol, nine .38 bullets and no armor. I never sent out a provisioner without equipping them first, so I think that a provisioner died and after some time of me not noticing, a random, unassigned settler was chosen to take their place. I also noticed that near the end of the game, some of the supply lines that I was sure I had established didn't exist on the map any more. I had enough overlapping supply lines that it didn't matter. I had on the order of 25 settlements active by the end of the game and so many supply lines, I seldom wasn't able to spot a provisioner from where I was standing anywhere in the world (unless I was along the map's edges).

When a settlement is attacked, some of the crops, generators, water pumps, etc. may become damaged and either work at a reduced output (defenses) or completely stop working (defenses and plants). Some of the settlers might be killed as well. How many items get damaged (or settlers killed) depends on if you respond to the plea for help and how long you take to do so (if you do help). That said, I did eventually come to witness the miracle of self-repairing defenses and self-repairing crops. The first time this happened, I thought I must have repaired that already. Eventually, I "caught" a turret becoming repaired without me doing it. I later noticed crops doing the same thing. I believe that if you harvest crops and put them in the workbench, crops will automatically get replanted from the supply (and drain the supply). Likewise, if you have enough raw materials in the workbench to repair turrets and generators, they eventually repair themselves and start working.

An extremely useful game mod for working with Settlements is called Spring Cleaning. Several of the settlements have a mostly destroyed and definitely unusable building or vehicle right in the middle where you would be most likely to build. For some reason, those items are often not able to be scrapped. With this add on, most of them are. A lot of the time, that extra scrap is wood and concrete, which is exactly what's needed to make elevated floors, walls and roofs (unless you prefer using metal buildings anyway). You can even use it to clean of radioactive barrels thereby rendering the immediate area harmless.

I did spend quite a while building up my own place in Sanctuary. I took one of the basic platforms leveled off by scrapping one of the completely collapsed buildings and built on top of that. What a waste of time. Really, just a complete fun waste of time.

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Bugs: Definitely a Bane

In any game of this magnitude, it's hard to catch every glitch. In fact, I only managed to get myself helplessly stuck a few times in the outside world and only one or two times when inside. Getting stuck outside is easy to recover from by just fast traveling to the nearest location. Getting stuck when inside is more problematic. There, if I couldn't wiggle free, I had to reload from the last save point. All I have to say here is Quick Save is your friend. Get to know your friend well. It's hard for me to even count these as bugs.

The first actual bug I encountered early in the game's story continued to occur every once in a while throughout my play through. The bug was that my gun would occasionally just disappear. The aiming recticle was still there, and the gun still fired, reloaded, etc. I just couldn't see it, so it wasn't easy to see which gun I had selected. Sometimes that matters - missile launchers aren't a good idea in a tight hallway. Just switching weapons would sometimes fix the issue. Other times, I had to save, exit (to at least the menu screen) and re-enter the game. As bugs go, it wasn't that bad and was easy to recover from.

I took screen shots of a number of graphic clipping and NPC path bugs. Most of these are self explanatory.

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Fallout 4 - Graphic & Pathing Glitches - image 4 0f 5 thumbnail
Fallout 4 - Graphic & Pathing Glitches - image 5 0f 5 thumbnail

It seemed apparent to me, that most of the alpha and beta play testing in Fallout 4 was in the first 80% of the game. Up to that point, there were some minor glitches, but no show-stopping bugs. During the last 20% or so of the game, however, I encountered multiple bugs. Some of these were absolute game killers in one form or another.

After I had made my faction choice (I picked the Railroad), I encountered quite a few bugs. I wonder if it was because few beta testers chose that path. Again, this was about the last 20-30% of the game. The bugs I encountered included: (not a spoiler to heavy spoilers - each bullet point rated separately)[spoiler]

  • (not a spoiler) Occasional random lockups and crashes to desktop. I learned to Quick Save a lot.
  • (not a spoiler) A vertibird (helicopter) that I had attacked and disabled flew underground rather than crashing. It got stuck. I couldn't attack it, and it didn't move or die. I fast traveled to Sanctuary and then back. The vertibird was back in the air. I disabled it again, and it happened again. It finally blew up the third time it crashed into the ground.
  • (Medium spoiler) In one of the quests, I am in the Mass Fusion building and am taking a elevator. Suddenly, almost all the walls disappeared. (See the pictures below.) I was being accompanied by a scientist and I watched her appear from above trying to get in where the elevator should be and then zip by me falling to her death. She did it over and over again. It would have been funny except I had to reload from the last save point.
  • (Heavy spoiler) While setting up the charges to destroy the Prydwen, Deacon went hostile ... and invincible. I don't know why he went hostile. I'm sure it was something I did, but I don't know what. He stayed hostile even after the mission ended. I had to reload from when we first landed on the Prydwen to fix it, which cost me about an hour's worth of progression. On my re-play through, I just ran through, set the charges and ran out ignoring some cool loot I found my first time through. I was too pissed off to do all that again.
  • (Medium spoiler) While on the Prydwen (the first time), I ran across a named cat NPC (Mr. Eggbert (?)). The cat - because it could see me - kept me in combat. I couldn't kill it, nor could I get it to go away. The cat also caught me stealing. Why a cat would care, I don't know. This one did.
  • (Heavy spoiler) I was starting the Nuclear Option quest (Railroad faction) and when I teleported in, the Institute was deserted. I thought it was part of the quest - the natives are alerted and hiding. It wasn't. I was supposed to speak to a synth named Z1-14 as part of the quest, but that part of the quest was marked complete when I entered the Institute, and the elevator I needed to use to get to him was locked. I assumed I just needed to complete something else, and after running around for an hour, I finally came to a place where I knew I had to go, but couldn't get there. I reloaded from the point where I first teleported into the Institute, but this time, there were people everywhere, I could use the elevator, and the place that I finally got stuck at was a place that I should have been using coming from the opposite direction. Wasted about an hour that time.
Fallout 4 - Graphic & Game Killing Bug - image 1 0f 2 thumbnail
Fallout 4 - Graphic & Game Killing Bug - image 2 0f 2 thumbnail


Since most of these required me to reload the game or at least my last save (thus losing any progression since the save), I was a bit miffed, to say the least. I was beaten into Quick Save often mode pretty quickly.

Game Mods

User-written modifications (or just "mods") for games are pretty common. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas supported hundreds of mods that added new characters with their own quest lines, new weapons, better graphics and tons of other new features. Many of those were equal to the quality of the original game. Fallout 4 is no exception, however, I haven't seen the same depth in the mods yet, which is most likely due to the fact that the official tool for creating mods (called the "Creation Kit") hasn't been released yet (As of February 2016), but is due out in May 2016. That doesn't mean there aren't some really useful/fun ones out there already though.

The best way to install or uninstall mods for Fallout 4 is by using the Nexus Mod Manager. The mods that I used were:

More Where That Came From - Diamond City Radio Edition - Adds over 100 songs to the Diamond City Radio play list. They don't have lead ins and talk over parts by Travis "Lonely" Miles, of course, but the picks seem a very good match to Fallout 4's other tunes.

Configurable Power Armor Fusion Core Drain - Decreases the rate at which fusion cores are drained by power armor. The last thing I needed was another thing to manage in Fallout 4. I wanted to be able to use my power armor any time I wanted to, so I used this mod and set it to drain at 5% of the normal rate. At the end of the game, I had hundreds of fusion cores, so maybe this wasn't all that necessary.

Armor and Weapon Keywords Community Resource (AWKCR) and Armorsmith Extended - Together these two added the capability to wear every item you would expect to be able to be work under armor to be worn under armor. It also adds new armor modding slots. I came up with some really wacky armor combos this way. I had hats with more armor than most combat armor. Finally, I could wear bandanas with helmets.

Spring Cleaning - This is a mod I discovered late in my play through, but I wish I had found it sooner. It allows many of the trash and brush items in settlements to be scrapped that otherwise couldn't be. If you bother with settlements, you find some that have a bombed out vehicle or building right were you want to build. In most cases, this mod will let you scrap that item. Finally, you can clean up the 200 years worth of crap that every settler before you seem to be fine with leaving laying around.

Configurable New Dialog - English Version - Changes the dialog UI from a few words to the full dialog string, so you don't get something you weren't expecting as a response.

Lowered Weapons - This simple mod just has the character in the game lower and fold the weapon across their chest unless they are actually firing it. This gets the thing out of your field of view in first person.

Value Per Weight Indicator - Divides the value of an object by its weight and displays that in the UI for the item. Gives you another statistic for deciding which items to keep an which to drop once you get loaded down.

Rock On - Adds prettier/more realistic rock textures to the game. This game has a whole lot of rocks.

Craftable Ammo - Brings back the ability to craft ammo from the raw materials you scavenge along the way. It lets you set the amount of ammo returned by each recipe, so you can make it ridiculous. Ammo becomes less of an issue the further in the game you progress, but this is very helpful earlier in the game. It also keeps you from wasting skill points in the finding extra ammo when looting skills.

Craig Prall