Todd Howard shows an exclusive gameplay in Dallas that makes us drool with anticipation.
If you're part of those who didn't get enough even with the extensive Fallout 4 presentation at E3 2015, the one that lasted more than a half hour... well, you're not alone. Fallout 4's Todd Howard was at hand at QuakeCon with an even heavier slice of gameplay. It might seem surprising given the relative closeness between the two shows, but then again, the game's done.
The first moments of the show emphasised the humour that fits the Fallout franchise so well. All the attendees were given a Vault Boy mask to don, and sat down to watch a fake, but really funny, Pip-Boy ad. But then Howard got serious and down to business, opening the presentation with the restyled character development menu.
In this fourth entry we find a interface that's a lot jollier, with a menu that reminds us a bit of the appearance of Fallout Shelter, in which every skill takes up a room. It may look like a purely aesthetic feature, but the fact that each addition has an animation - a really explicit one at times - shows that Bethesda has poured all their love into Fallout 4.
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But very shortly we dove into the meat of the show: 20 minutes of pure exploration and combat. The first thing that appears on screen is the wasteland, at the entrance of Diamond City. The draw distance and building details were the first things that caught our attention, and successfully cast out any doubt about the visuals of the game that we may have had. Fallout is going to look great.
But we won't start shouting about it yet. We only saw the first person perspective throughout the whole presentation, and we're eager to see whether the character animation matches up the new-gen quality of the surroundings. Because it's something that we've noticed in the other characters, allies and foes that we've encountered - their movements on the stage are a bit clunky.
Before the gunplay kicks in, we take a stop at Diamond City with Piper, one of the twelve comrades that we'll wander the wasteland with, which include the new Dogmeat and Mr. Handy. Todd Howard has already confirmed that we can have romances with most of them, whatever their gender is. As for Diamond City, this enclave will be a port of call during the story.
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Later in the demo, we plunge into Lexington's streets with our dog, and when we come near one of the buildings, several ghouls pounce on us. In this first combat, the survivor of Vault 111 displays his arsenal with a laser rifle that ends the brawl in about fifteen seconds. It's quick combat, not really impressive.
You you get injured there's only be a visual notification informing you of the attack. Your vision doesn't become shaken or blurred on the edges, which feels a bit weird as you'd think there'd be more feedback to three ghouls trying to rip your guts out.
It's not that the first person combat is disappointing, but realism is obviously still an unresolved matter for Bethesda. The drop-down menu for enemy tracking has improved though; it's less invasive here, and it takes up less than half the screen.
The health bar shows the amount of Rads (the background radiation that could threaten our character) via a red gauge, tracking our health (or nearness to death). Another curious feature is the weapon drop-down menu: there are no more diagonal slots, which caused more than a few problems when juggling weapons. Instead we get a cross system where every direction has more than one slot, much like The Last of Us.
We leave Lexington's outdoor area to enter one of the abandoned supermarkets. On this occasion, and it happens in the rest of the video too, part of the transition between outdoors and indoors is omitted. Are they trying to hide long loading times? Are they still working on that and want to remove them? There are many questions, but we can't doubt the visuals of indoor areas, where ambient occlusion and light effects make for really beautiful locations.
After a brief period of stealth, which makes clear that terminal hacking here is going to be almost identical to Fallout 3 and New Vegas, the gunfire starts. Thanks to a guard who wandered about the area, we manage to get rid of a werewolf that appears when entering the room. As we go on, we're ambushed by slavers. This is where the laser rifle is put aside o make way for the grenade launcher.
Following the example of previous entries, heavy weapons are specially useful in VATS mode, as time slows down and you can choose which enemy body parts you are more likely to hit. By the end of the presentation it was clear that the mini-nuclear bomb works perfectly at over 50 meters.
While in combat, a Brotherhood of Steel ship descends to support us on land. If alliances of this kind can be forced, they could give Fallout 4 a really nice realistic touch that would also subtract that feeling of isolation the game can stray into at times.
This is, in broad terms, the stretch of the exclusive gameplay demo, and we walked away with a lot to chew over. Fallout 4 is going to be huge and beautiful, and now we only need to get hands-on with it to see if it also feels that good. If you want to know more about the game, don't miss the interview with Pete Hines that we'll make available very soon.