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Say what you like about all-out nuclear war, it's not like it's the end of the world or anything. Cooking the planet with thermonuclear weapons might cause short-term problems, but give it a couple of hundred years and you can emerge from the safety of your underground vault into a brave new world full of exciting opportunities, not to mention mutants, ghouls and any number of hostile factions. What's not to love?
At least, that's the message we can all take home from the Fallout series. Over just a handful of games since the original Fallout was released in 1997, it's painted its own distinctive vision of a post-apocalyptic world, and Fallout 4, promises to be the most immersive and fully-realized visit to the Fallout universe yet.
It's a first in the Fallout series, because it gives you the chance to experience the world of 2077 just before the bombs go off. In the game's prologue, as well as building your (male or female) character and their family, you can explore your dream suburban home before meeting up with a Vault-Tech salesman to book your place in Vault 111, just in time for Armageddon.
Fast forward 200 years and you're the sole survivor of Vault 111 (quite how you've managed to survive that long is a mystery, but we're sure all will be made clear), and it's time to emerge into the radiation-blasted world. The series so far has taken us to Southern California, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas; this time the action unfolds around Boston, Massachusetts.
Every game in the Fallout franchise features a few key ingredients that players can look forward to in Fallout 4, including getting kitted out with Power Armor, a Pip-Boy and V.A.T.S.
Power Armor speaks for itself; it's graced the cover art of every single Fallout game, it's your protection against the worst that the post-apocalyptic world has to offer, and like much in Fallout 4, it can be thoroughly modified and upgraded along the way.
Your Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV is the latest version of Fallout's wrist-mounted portable computer, handy for keeping track of stats, your inventory and any useful information you've picked up along the way. It's here that you can manage your SPECIAL character progression system, made up from strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck in an acronymical fashion, which in turn drive additional unlockable perks.
Best of all, though, is the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., which gives Fallout 4's shooting a much more strategic edge. While you can run and gun all you like, activating V.A.T.S. slows the action down to Bullet Time and overlays a targeting system on enemies, showing you an enemy's overall health and the amount of damage your weapon will inflict. It also shows the percentage chance of hitting each body part, allowing you to go for quick-kill headshots, a movement-impairing shot to the leg or even shooting their weapons out of their hands. Each V.A.T.S. attack costs Action Points, so you can't rely on it all the time, but it's perfect for taking on particularly tricky enemies, and also for revealing hidden adversaries.
Speaking of weapons, the choice in Fallout 4 is immense. There are over 50 base guns, from handguns and assault rifles to energy weapons and rocket launchers, and over 700 modifications that you can apply, which means that you can craft your very own personalized weapon. It's not all about shooting, though; there's now a construction element added to the game, allowing you to build anything from a makeshift shelter to an entire town complete with electricity and running water, as well as a crafting system that encompasses every lootable object you find in the game.
There's also a whole cast of characters alongside the various mole rats, super mutants and ghouls that'll cross your path, and a dynamic dialogue system so that you can have meaningful conversations with them. The real star of the show, however, is likely to be the world itself, with much more variety than in previous Fallout games. While there are bound to be plenty of stark irradiated wastelands, there are also more colorful areas, particularly Boston itself – complete with recognisable landmarks – and other settlements.
To experience Fallout 4 at its best, you're really going to need to play it on PC. If you’re looking to build a PC system for Fallout 4 today, or to upgrade an older rig for the best possible performance with 60 FPS gameplay, NVIDIA recommends that you have a GeForce GTX 970 or GTX 980 Ti. Check out NVIDIA’s full recommended specs.