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Game review: 'Fallout 4' offers both hits (nonetheless beautiful) misses

Meet Liliana.

She likes helping people, sarcasm and killing bad guys.

She’s also around 230 years old.

Liliana and I have spent a lot of time together in the last few days, exploring the world of “Fallout 4.”

That’s one of the things I like most about the newest edition of Bethesda’s “Fallout” franchise: the highly customizable avatars. I spent about an hour getting Liliana’s look and stats just right.

Once she and I struck out into the Wastelands, we found a virtual world filled with hits and misses.

Set in Massachusetts, known to those familiar with the series as the Commonwealth, one of the first noticeable misses is the smaller game map, coming in at around half size of the Fallout 3 map.

Of course, size isn’t everything.

There is a lot more to do in “Fallout 4”.

For people who enjoy crafting, weapons and armor can be crafted and re-crafted for hours.

Players can also build settlements, a concept that is both a hit and a miss. The settlements offer lots of customization – from size to defense to look – but lack an intuitive setup, making it a bit fiddly.

Another change to the franchise is the fan-beloved Power Armor. Unlike the “Fallout 3” version, the newest version of Power Armor requires a specialized battery that drains quickly, making it less useful. Players who let the suit’s battery drain away from a settlement will have to abandon it until they can find a new power source.

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The world outside the settlements has its high and low points, too. Bad guys are equipped with a smarter AI, making in-game fights more tactical. However, the AI companions don’t seem to have been gifted with the same smarts and constantly get in the way.

There are a slew of changes to gameplay that may annoy even the most devoted fan. There is no longer an option to make time speed up; healing is no longer instantaneous, and instead takes a few seconds – time that may be crucial in the middle of a fire fight; and markers of friendly characters no longer appear on the in-game compass.

The worst change to gameplay, though, is one that makes throwable weapons nearly useless. Previously, players could slow down a fight to better aim at an opponent through the use of a targeting system, called V.A.T.S., with any weapon. In “Fallout 4,” V.A.T.S. can only be used with melee weapons and guns, making it nearly impossible to use grenades with favorable results — especially when indoors.

However, watching your character blow up from a rebounding grenade looks spectacular: The video quality is so beautifully rendered that it’s almost worth the frustration to watch the character’s eye pop out of its head while the flesh separates from the skull.

Nor is that the only visual change that reminds players of the beauty found in a post-apocalyptic wasteland: Nuclear storms, while deadly, are both beautiful to see and hear. The sound is especially eerie when wearing headphones.

Another happy change to the game is the addition of the Pip-Boy app that allows players to use their cell phones as though they were one of the in-game glorified and much-coveted wristwatches. The app syncs smoothly with the game and updates instantly. It also includes all access to the mini-games players discover in the Commonwealth.

In all, “Fallout 4” is an engaging sandbox world that’s easily accessible to new players while still maintaining the look and feel returning players have come to expect from the franchise.

Jyllian Roach is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. She can be reach at or on Twitter @Jyllian_R.

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