“Fallout 4” has ruined my life. The game has stripped away all about life that is good: family, romance, friendships, movies, stable employment, food, sleep. Playing “Fallout 4” requires sacrifice that can’t possibly be worth a video game. Right?
Of course not, even one such as this, an epic RPG that embodies the idea that video games can bring together the best of different storytelling mediums. Think of a sprawling tome plucked from the classics section of a bookstore, a long-running movie series that reliably deepens its mythology, an artist with a vision of the world that’s both intriguingly alien and unsettlingly familiar. To play “Fallout 4” is to experience all of those things at once, and from that point on, playing it is all you’ll want to do.
The player builds a character in 2077 of the “Fallout” universe, which sees an America with a distinctly ’50s aesthetic and a mix of technologies. You won’t find any Internet or flat-screen TVs, but there are hyper-intelligent robots, Iron Man-like metal suits and laser guns galore. The player barely has time for morning coffee before nuclear bombs begin to shatter society, prompting him or her to head to a giant underground shelter. A few plot beats and 200 years later, the player emerges into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Boston area.
Nearly every object in the game amounts to something. Take a pan from the kitchen and scrap it for steel. A child’s toy provides screws and plastic. These elements allow the player to manufacture supplies. Weapons in particular receive a lot of attention, with every gun, knife and piece of armor modifiable in a variety of ways.
The series also introduces settlement building and management, which allows the player to design and populate dozens of areas. The settlements also generate quests, ensuring that no matter how many quests you complete, there will always be more to do.
Just be sure to save, and often, because death can come quickly and with little warning.
For each level gained, you get one point to put into one of seven stats (strength, charisma, luck, etc.) or in one of dozens of perks that grant various advantages.
To call “Fallout 4” immersive is an understatement. The “Fallout” universe is deadly and diseased but densely populated, teeming with life.
“Fallout 4” is not so much a game or a work of art, but an addictive drug. Fire it up and watch as your priorities change, your obligations go unmet and your few waking moments away from the game are spent fantasizing about it.