I don't generally review games, but Fallout 4 is an excellent game which inspires and excites me as a storyteller. Let's get this started:
First off, I never played a Fallout game before Fallout 3 was released. I loved that game and played several-dozen hours of it, until the updates started to bog the game down on my PS3. Then I got Fallout New Vegas. Probably at least 200 hours of gameplay, all trophies earned, all story-lines complete, all DLC conquered. You could say I REALLY liked that game (and would play through it again if I had time to focus on more than one game at a time).
Then I started to see reviews of Fallout 4 shortly before release day (I preordered it and got the season pass pretty early on because I love the franchise). I got worried based on some of the things I read, but without seeing any spoilers, I was still excited.
A few people complained about the new settlement feature, saying they just ripped off Minecraft. I'd never played Minecraft, so I didn't know any better. I ignored that, and then moved on. Some glitches hurt the game for some players, including myself later on down the line, but all in all, my first play through felt like I got my money's worth from the game.
For those who don't know, Fallout takes place about two hundred years after a nuclear war with Communist China. In Fallout 4, you emerge from a Vault (bunker/habitat used to protect mankind from the fallout) to find the world is a mess. Raiders, feudal gangs, cities built up from scrap, and in Fallout 4, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts attempting to rebuild society so that it can return to pre-war glory.
As with Fallout New Vegas, there are four factions that can be joined in Fallout 4, and my goal is to see where each of those options takes the story. I know some people haven't played through this, so I'm not going to run through any spoilers, but what I will say is that the Minutemen play through is amazing. It gave me, as a character in this world, a sense of hope and accomplishment for the future of the Commonwealth. I racked up more than 5 full days (so over a hundred hours) on this one character, and I'm still looking forward to DLC to get me back into this character's life.
I'm in my second play through right now, and just like last time, I find myself struggling to make decisions. In this game, decisions that are made can block off other options. Leveling up the character requires some thought, too, because taking bonuses in one place may help with immediate problems, but sometimes there's a long-term goal that needs to be met, leaving me, as the player, to figure out whether I want a health bonus right now or an interaction boost that can help me out for hours later on.
Certain missions, too, require commitment to one side or the other. Because there's a cary limit on items, sometimes I have to decide whether I want to haul around the twelve typewriters in my inventory for use as parts in my settlements, or drop them so I can upgrade my armor and/or sell weapons I don't need for money I desperately require.
And then, as mentioned above, there's the settlements. With the second DLC, so many new options have been added. I can take a scrap of land and plant food, build wells, a five-story "skyscraper" with a basketball court on the roof, and an arena where my settlers can fight monsters, hostile raiders, and each other.
There are a few nitpicks I could complain about, but my only real disappointment (something that I think was a real mistake and oversight) is that they removed the Karma system. In previous games, going all the way back to the original Fallout, character decisions, like sparing someone's life or stealing, played a roll in how people perceived the player character. Faction Reputation was added in New Vegas, and that balancing act really helped me to get immersed in the story and the character. I wish it existed here, but based on the scope and other decisions that had to be made to make the game work, I do understand why it's not there. That being said, I still think leaving it out took away a critical part of what makes Fallout special (yes, I know other RPGs have similar mechanics, but Fallout handled it well and made it important to the story).
Overall, I give this game 4 out of 5. Not perfect, but a great game in my book and worth my time and money.