Fallout 4

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The Beginning

In Fallout 4, you play a mother or father living happily with their family in a 1950’s style future. I made my character a redheaded woman named Sabrina. She and her husband have a little house; the baby’s name is Shaun. But when a nuclear attack occurs, they have to escape to Vault 111 underground for safety. They are then put into cryo for over 200 years.

When Sabrina wakes up, someone kills her husband and kidnaps her baby. She is the only survivor in the vault. She escapes to the surface, but now she has to learn what life is like after all these years, while tracking down who stole her son and why.

Before you leave the vault, you can customize your character again, so I gave Sabrina a slightly trashier haircut and some scars and blemishes, so she looks slightly more roughed up. That’s life in the wasteland.

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Sabrina

The first thing Sabrina does upon leaving the vault is return to her old home. Her house is trashed. Her entire neighborhood is in shambles. She runs into her old robot butler, Codsworth, who seems super happy to have somebody to talk to after all this time. (I guess even robots get lonely.)

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Dogmeat

After looting the neighborhood, Sabrina heads to the nearby town of Concord. She meets and recruits Dogmeat along the way (although I wish I could call him Viggo). I love pets in video games. Dogmeat is my new mabari warhound.

Concord is also totally run-down after the nuclear apocalypse, but there are some people there — Minutemen — defending a museum from raiders. Sabrina helps them defeat all the enemies and gets her hands on some T-45 power armor. This helps immensely when she has to murder a pretty terrifying deathclaw, which is basically a dinosaur. (It took me about five tries to kill that one.)

Preston Garvey, of the Minutemen
Preston Garvey, of the Minutemen

Sabrina has the option of joining the Minutemen after that, so I decided to take on a couple of missions before heading to Diamond City, where Sabrina might be able to track down her missing son.

However, one of the first Minutemen missions has Sabrina taking down a whole host of bad guys at some lab-like facility. I am outside the whole time; I have no idea if there’s an “inside” part of the mission, because I never make it that far. I try to use stealth to take down four or five of the baddies, but in the end, Sabrina is always overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies in that place. Maybe she just isn’t ready. Even Dogmeat can’t help her.

After numerous tries, I give up on the Minutemen for the time being (they sound a little boring anyway, with their whole mission to save people all the time) and notice that in that region, I’m picking up a military frequency. I use my Pip-Boy’s radio to tune in and follow the radio’s instructions to Cambridge, to help with a shootout at the police station there.

Sabrina does just that. There are ghouls overrunning the place. (They’re kinda like zombies.) Afterwards, Paladin Danse thanks Sabrina for her aid. He looks huge in his power armor, so I decide then and there that this is the faction I should join right now (not the Minutemen). Plus, I don’t know if Fallout 4 has a romance/marriage system like Skyrim, and I know Sabrina is married already, but Danse would be a pretty awesome romantic companion from the looks of him…

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Mmm, Paladin Danse

Anyway, Danse says the Brotherhood of Steel make it their mission to locate and shut down dangerous technologies — the sort of thing that led to the nuclear apocalypse in the first place. Sounds about right to Sabrina, who is over all this shit anyway and just wants a normal life with her family again.

Danse wants her to prove her worth, so the two of them head to a place called ArcJet Systems. The place is crawling with synths — they’re like robots. Sabrina actually has trouble with them, so at some point she hides in a corridor while Danse takes most of them out. It’s kind of sad, but I think Sabrina is a little underleveled still.

Danse is still impressed by her awesome skills (she does hack a lot of computer terminals!) and invites her to join the Brotherhood.

I’ll come back to that quest line, but first I want to see what’s going on with Sabrina’s son — so I have her head to Diamond City, which is a settlement located in the old Fenway Park. I love that it’s a baseball park. Fallout has this great old Americana atmosphere, and baseball really goes along with that as it’s such an old-fashioned, beloved America sport.

Drumlin Diner
Drumlin Diner

On the way to Diamond City, Sabrina makes a pit stop at Drumlin Diner, which is a great early discovery. There are a couple of people there coming to collect on a debt; Sabrina agrees to help them, but when she goes inside the diner, she learns from owner Trudy that they made her son a drug addict. The whole thing sounds like a mess. Sabrina agrees to help Trudy, because Trudy is a mother, just like her. And the poor kid is crumpled on the floor of the diner acting scared and crazy. Sabrina shoots the collectors, then gets to explore the diner and buy goods from Trudy.

Diamond City

Diamond City
Diamond City

Once Sabrina makes it to Diamond City, she meets a reporter named Piper and does an interview with her. Piper then writes an article on Sabrina’s whole sad story, focusing on her missing son. People will eat that up, and maybe Sabrina will get some help along the way.

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Piper is pretty cool

Sabrina and Piper get along pretty well. Piper is always praising Sabrina for her lockpicking skills, for instance. So I bring Piper along as my main companion, sending Dogmeat home for awhile (wherever home is, I forget).

The side quest they tackle together is from a baseball fanatic in Diamond City who sells baseball collectibles. (More baseball!) Sabrina and Piper go to an old house in a swamp to retrieve some cool relics for him, like a special mitt. I do it because I love baseball in real life. I even have Sabrina put on a baseball uniform while talking to the fanatic, but he doesn’t treat her any differently for it. Whatever.

One thing about this baseball quest is that you have to fight mirelurks, which are basically huge mutated crabs. They are enormous, and because of their shells, shooting at them doesn’t achieve much. It’s like your bullets just ricochet off them. I ended up throwing Molotov cocktails at them and running away.

That’s when I give Sabrina a much-needed makeover — specifically, a haircut, a new military uniform, and some cool sunglasses. Look at her. I love her.

The new look

However, at some point, Sabrina picks up a lot of radiation damage. It accumulates really fast, especially when exploring in swampy areas. At one point, I tried to have Sabrina swim and realized that was a very, very bad idea. Fortunately, there’s a doctor in Diamond City who can cure all of her radiation poisoning and even restore her to full health for just 75 bucks. I mean, bottlecaps.

I run into this guy first and think he can give me something. It seems like Sabrina’s on the road to becoming a junkie.

Taking Down The Biggest Bad Guy Yet

“Another beautiful day in the most dangerous place in the world” — Nick Valentine

Next, Sabrina goes to the local private eye’s office. His name is Nick Valentine, but he’s not there. His assistant gives you a lead, so you agree to help track him down. Some mob boss has got him, I guess. (I kind of forget how this quest starts, or how much you know at the beginning.)

Sabrina ends up fighting a bunch of mobsters through an old vault to get to Nick Valentine. Let me tell you, it is not easy. That place wipes out most of my supply of Stimpaks. It’s a cool mission, though — fighting in this underground, retro-futuristic place, where the enemies are dressed in old suits and carry machine guns.

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Nick Valentine

When I finally discover Valentine, I realize he’s a synth. He’s dressed in a trenchcoat and fedora, just like you would expect of a P.I. It’s just so cool. It’s very interesting that he’s a synth, though, because according to local papers, Diamond City is pretty suspicious of synths since they have, in the past, blended in and then killed humans. It’s a little bit of a Battlestar Galactica situation where anybody could be a synth — you can’t even trust your neighbors. But Valentine seems like a good guy, and I’m curious to find out more about him.

With him, we fight our way out of the place. I’m actually able to talk the mob boss’s girlfriend into leaving, so we don’t have to fight her; then, the mob boss gives us a 30 second head start, so we run out of the place. Probably I should have taken them down for the XP, but I wanted to save my skin while I was running so low on Stimpaks, and the mission already felt pretty long by that point.

Once they’re safe back in Diamond City, Valentine, moved by Sabrina’s story about a kidnapped baby, agrees to help her. When Sabrina describes the kidnapper, Valentine and his assistant recognize him as a local bad guy, Kellogg. They break into his house, then grab Dogmeat to start following his scent to track him.

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Kellogg and Sabrina having a little chat

We track him all the way to Fort Hagen, which is stocked with synths. They say some funny things, like how fascinated they are by my attempts at stealth. I do lose them occasionally, but overall this mission is really challenging. When I finally find Kellogg, he tells me that my baby is happy and with the Institute. Of course, Sabrina is having none of that.

Killing Kellogg is almost impossible at first. Sabrina dies multiple times, within seconds of reloading. The only way to defeat him efficiently is with explosives. I also have to run away and hide behind doors a couple times to make sure he doesn’t get me; he has a cloaking ability that makes him invisible, he lobs explosives at me, and he is a very good shot. In other words, I can’t let him get Sabrina even once or she’ll crumple onto the ground like a rag doll.

Finally defeating him feels pretty damn good. This is the bastard who killed Sabrina’s husband, after all.

Sabrina returns to Diamond City to discuss things with Piper. So far I’m liking Piper as a companion more than Nick Valentine — as cool as Nick is at first glance, and as much as I appreciate his investigative help — so I’ll be bringing Piper along with me next time. It’s cool to see the two of them interact when I arrive at Piper’s, though.

My Character Build: Charm + Stealth

Before moving on, I’ll tell you about my character build.

It’s pretty general, and I’m learning as I go. But before starting Fallout 4, I did a little bit of research on S.P.E.C.I.A.L.S. and my options for customizing my character through leveling. I have not played a lot of Fallout before, so I wanted to know what I was getting into and not spend half the game wasting points, etc. (I have done that in other RPGs.)

Mainly using this article for help, I decided to combine charm with stealth (People Person with Invisible Woman, in the article). This would give my character the ability to be more persuasive in conversations; I also like the idea that she might be able to talk enemies down so she doesn’t have to fight them. Meanwhile, the stealth would enable swift takedowns with minimal bloodshed on my end. Considering how much I love creating stealth archers in Skyrim, this just feels natural to me.

So far, it’s working out pretty well, aside from feeling a little under-leveled at times. That might be the game more than my character, though. Fallout 4 can be tough, guys.

Building a Treehouse

The next thing on my list was joining the Brotherhood of Steel, more officially. I brought Piper along, who is just so much fun. When we got whisked away so I could be inaugurated into the Brotherhood, I found her in a basement drinking liquor. She’s the best.

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This is why I love Piper

I also forget how fun it is to be part of a group! The Brotherhood of Steel reminds me a lot of the Companions in Skyrim — basically some really tough people. Their headquarters are in an old ship, which is really cool to explore as I meet all the people who help run the place.

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Where the Brotherhood eats noodles

The Brotherhood run around in Power Armor. I don’t know how to get Danse out of his, but I’m starting to think I’d rather not undress him considering his personality is pretty dull and pretentious. He’s a little stuck in his ways, and trying to engage him in conversation just means getting a lecture in his beliefs.

Clearing out the super-mutants
Clearing out the super-mutants

At least we go on one fun quest together — we have to clear an island of super mutants, who are really scary. It’s not as hard as you’d think, although I’ll admit I let Danse do a lot of the heavy lifting because he’s in his Power Armor and I’m not. He can take down the baddies while I loot stuff around the corner, out of harm’s way. In fact, I find so much loot I can barely carry it, but at the end of the mission, he totally leaves me behind! He’s my companion! But he leaves me to carry everything all by myself, which is sad, because some of that stuff is valuable and I have to leave it behind in order to fast travel. What a jerk. Totally not romance material, guys.

 

Next up, I do a few side quests for the Brotherhood of Steel merchant. He wants me to get supplies from a few wasteland farms. I don’t even have to use my gun on them; because my character is focusing on charm, I can persuade people to give me things. It’s awesome. I just got the Black Widow perk that gives me additional sway with the opposite sex, too.

General Atomics.pngAt one point, when I’m out adventuring with Danse, we run into a robot who shows us around a place called General Atomics. It’s basically an old museum showing what a town would be like if it were run by robots. I find it very funny that I’m there with Danse, of all people — a Brother who hates A.I. and would be horrified at the idea of robots running a town — but sadly he doesn’t say anything interesting while I explore the place.

Next, I head back to Sanctuary to learn a most valuable skill: how to build settlements. All I really want to do is build a cool house, a la the Skyrim “Hearthfire” DLC. First, I have to run a few easy tasks, like building beds and defenses for the settles at Sanctuary.

Sleeping bags
I’m cheap. Y’all get sleeping bags.

Then I can start building. And building is all I do, for about three or four hours over the course of two nights. I build a place, I find it hideous, and I start over. Walls don’t converge. There are big gaps in the floor. I can’t figure out how to build a second story for awhile. Everything is either dilapidated wood or hole-ridden metal. Everything I build is ugly, so I keep reloading to try again.

Finally, I look up a quick tutorial on advanced building, and I figure out how to build a pretty awesome treehouse. I create it the way I want it — a mix-and-match affair of tin and wood, with windows and railings so some parts are open and others are tucked away from the world. And there’s a tree stuck in the middle. (You have to build the house somewhere else and literally move it onto a tree to do this. Let me know if you want some quick instructions!)

As I’m building, I experience my first radiation storm. I suck in a lot of rads, even when I try hiding inside my half-built home. It’s kind of scary, seeing the whole sky turn dark yellow.

But check out my house!

— Ashley

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