Extended re-re-review: Fallout 4…modded like a boss! (PS4)

It took FOREVER for Sony and Bethesda to get mod support on Fallout 4 on the PS4, at one point even looking like it would never come to pass. I was actually in a really long run on Dark Souls III when the update came out, and then I got Dark Souls, which also distracted me for a while before I could finally give this much desired feature a chance.

At first, I couldn’t get mods to work, but that wasn’t the fault of the mods themselves. For some odd reason, I started having lag in many indoor areas, lag so bad that I was seeing single digit frame rates and really bad instances of rubber banding. My character would literally take two steps forward and then one step back, and this was the case even after I deleted all mods and started a new game with the vanilla setup.

But after a few days of searching, I found a mod that cleaned up some extra debris, and that improvement in performance allowed me to start putting on other mods, some of which were for visual flair, like Simple Green. (Adding grass and leaves to the environment so it doesn’t look so barren and lifeless.) Another one I added allowed me to make any gun I wanted, just to see what I could get away with. (Funny story in that. I made a badass rifle before groaning in dismay because I had no ammo for it. I ended up having to craft a much less wicked .38 pipe pistol because that’s the more common ammo found in the early areas. Once I had some ammo to test my monster combat rifle, oh, baby, was it fun to use!)

I gave the mods a test run, completing one game on normal mode before I downloaded a mod that changed the time scale of the world to real time. Then I started a new game in survival mode to see if having a longer day/night cycle would address my problems with the constant prompts for food and water. Oh, and I also made a ring that gave me crazy amounts of XP for kills, making it much easier to level up and try out new perks that I’d previously left alone because I didn’t consider them essential. More on that in a bit.

So, yes, the change in the time scale made survival mode more immersive. I would get prompts to eat and drink at far more reasonable intervals, and because I had more time to explore between prompts, I also didn’t need to drag along twenty meals and water rations with me all the time. Actually, with time slowed down, I could walk to even distant settlements and find only an hour had passed. If a mission required waiting for nightfall, I just had to sit somewhere and skip ahead. This was much, MUCH better, and I cannot stress enough how a change to the time cycle made the hardest mode more fun and immersive for me.

Unfortunately, diseases are still dumb. I can be fully fed and watered, have a good sleep schedule with no use of Rad-Away or drugs, and still have the game ping me with diseases and conditions out of nowhere. And it’s frankly stupid that antibiotics cure everything, including insomnia, fatigue, and lethargy. Seriously, this is pure Bethesda, the implementation of great ideas in really, REALLY stupid ways.

You might think that with me being able to perk out all my skills rapidly, it would take away the challenge, and you would be wrong. It was still quite common for me to make a mistake and get killed by an enemy, or by something in the environment. My gun might hit a car and make it explode, and even with damage reduction perks and the highest endurance, an explosion is instantly fatal. (As it should be, so I never had a problem with this.) Because I was on an extended time scale, I sometimes forgot to rest at a bed and save, so those deaths often meant hours of backtracking. So yes, it was far more challenging, but still fun. And anyway, any progress I lost was my fault for being a dumb ass.

Having the freedom to try most of the perks in a single run, I got to see a lot more potential for other builds where I don’t use the XP boosting ring, or even mods. In this way, it’s become much like Diablo II, where my enjoyment of the game is more about experimenting with various builds than it is about the story. (I have similar feelings for Dark Souls III, which is why I’m now close to 800 hours of play time on that beast. I’m up to NG3 on one build and plan to go to NG4 before posting an extended thoughts review sometime soonish.)

I should say that like all my previous runs, this particular trip through the Commonwealth had a crap ton of bugs and glitches. But what I find curious is how through each run, I’ve encountered vastly different problems. Stuff that didn’t work on prior runs worked fine this time, but other stuff that worked fine before was now acting wonky. As an example, ever since my first run in survival mode, I’ve always made it a habit to build water purifiers at all of my settlements to ensure I have radiation-free water while I’m cavorting and looting. Only this time, the purifiers at my camps stopped pumping out extra water to the storage. At first it was just Sanctuary Hills that wouldn’t produce water, so I was wandering up the road to the drive-in theater to stock up. But then halfway through my playthrough, that stopped working too. Soon thereafter, I couldn’t find clean water at any settlement, even in places where I had no settlers. Just…weird. Luckily by then I had a full Lead Belly perk, so I could drink from any water source without a penalty. But it still bugged me that I should have had enough water to trade, and even having four industrial purifiers in an empty settlement didn’t bring in ANYTHING extra.

I also started running into indoor lag again. Not as bad as single digits, but still enough to be distracting or even irritating in some locations. As near as I can tell, it was most apt to happen in places with fog and green lighting. It happened elsewhere, but this particular combination seemed to make the lag much worse. So going into a story-centric location like the Railroad’s North End Church base could inevitably result in some choppy gameplay.

As a random side note, in every past play through, I’ve noticed that the baby Shaun was kind of dark-skinned even with two white parents only to come out pale white at the end of the game, and this time around, I had a random thought and modified both my character and her husband to be black. I wanted to see if Shaun was still white at the end, you see. This end up being kind of funny because while he does end up with dark skin, he still has straight hair in the same style as white Shaun. Mom’s got an afro. Dad’s got a military high and tight. Shaun? He’s got white boy hair. So he’s either ironing that shit or my character has some ‘splaining to do.

And another side note. On the previous playthrough, the first time I went to the Institute, I murdered everyone. No, I mean EVERYONE. I wanted to see what would happen if I got rid of all the Institute bigwigs. As I was going with the Minutemen, it wasn’t too hard to get back into the Institute for the final mission, and sure enough the place was mostly populated by synths, with only a few unnamed scientists left over.

This is a problem in itself, but you wouldn’t know this without multiple runs through the various endings. The Institute was still way behind on their projects when the character arrives. They need her/his help on two important missions to accelerate their progress, and in playing the Institute or Railroad endings, it’s implied how vital the character is to their success. The problem is, if I kill everyone, EVERY project should slam to a screeching halt. There’s shouldn’t be a reactor to destroy because I didn’t get them the nuclear materiel or the surface-dwelling super-genius they needed to complete their plans. In fact, so few people are left alive using this method that the game ought to just go, “You know what? Fuck it, you win.” Instead you take the exact same steps on this ending as you would for any other faction.

That’s how much of a ride on rails this plot is, and it bugs the hell out of me that Bethesda calls this an RPG. There’s absolutely no role play to it, because no matter what you do, the plot continues on to the same endings. The only changes in the endings depend on which faction you choose to support late in the game, and even then, the differences between each ending is only a few sentences changed. In my mind, this should just be called an action adventure FPS, and there’s nothing wrong with those being rides on rails. Maybe this just bugs me because so few RPGs actually have anything resembling role play in them. The last good RPG I played was Dragon Age: Origins. Everything after that is just action adventure with skill trees.

So, this is likely my last Fallout 4 report, but it will not be my last run through the game. As I said, having mods like the XP ring have given me all kinds of crazy ideas for other builds, and I can see doing that for some time before I get bored with building out various perk trees. Yes, I hate the story. Yes, I hate the bugs. But the shooting is good, and with a few mods here and there to spice things up and iron out some wrinkles, I might even be playing this until 2018.


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