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Fallout 4: the good, the bad and the ugly of the Boston Wastelands

Fallout 4 is the first time that you're allowed to add points to your core attributes every time you level up, fundamentally allowing you to be everything if you play long enough. These stats, for better or worse, will guide your play style for the first few levels and will make the difference between love at first fight or a straight-up slog until level 15.

Fallout

We liked: Dogmeat (and the new companions in general)

Companions aren't new to the Fallout franchise, but the way they work in Fallout 4 is. Like Skyrim, companions offer an extra set of hands when you run out of room in your inventory, a moral compass during the tougher decisions you need to make, and a surprisingly complex relationship arc if you decide to invest in them. Some particular qualities that stood out this time around, though, were the times that the AI would sit down in a chair, check out a terminal or interact in some small way with the environment.

Only a handful of games have got the player companion right, and Fallout 4's attempt feels more aligned with the way Elizabeth worked in BioShock Infinite. They feel more natural and interactive, which fosters a better relationship and helped us be more invested in their backstories. That still doesn't make them the best in combat, however.

On more than one occasion our virtual assistant was nowhere to be found when the plasma started to fly, or would be found trapped in another room only to spawn next to us randomly after the fight was over. Sometimes it might be better if you go it alone. ( In fact, there's a special perk for any of you who prefer to wander the Wasteland solo…)

We're not going to spoil who your companions will be, but there are a dozen you'll be able to pick up along the way.

Fallout

We liked: It looks good

After Bethesda revealed the first Fallout 4 trailer, a lot of people voiced their concerns that the game didn't look truly "next-gen". It's important to remember that Bethesda was giving us a realistic look at the game and not a souped-up PC demo (Watchdogs, we're looking at you). It set expectations fairly. That said, no, Fallout 4 isn't quite as eye-wateringly perfect as you might have been hoping for.

Put it side by side with The Order: 1886 and you'll notice that it falls short - you'll also notice that Fallout 4 is still a vastly better game. Yes, some of the character models don't look as good as they do in some other new-gen games we've played, no, the facial animations are sometimes a bit naff, and yes your character still twists and tumbles like an awkward rag doll when it dies. Where it hurts the most, though, is where too many enemies in a texture-dense area causes a noticeable drop in frame rate on console from the usual 30fps. This is particularly prevalent when explosions happen, and more so on Xbox One than PS4, but only slightly more. It's jarring at best and annoying at worst.

But none of this should impact the core gameplay of Fallout 4. It's a pretty game and it looks good enough (you'll spend a lot of time admiring the detail that has been included here). Fallout is a franchise about atmosphere, and this instalment does this better than any instalment before it. The lighting in particular is superb: there's nothing quite like walking across the Wasteland at sunset with Skeeter Davis crooning in the background.

Fallout

We disliked: ...but there are glitches

Fallout 4 is a massive game with dozens of enemy types, hundreds of NPCs, 100-plus hours of story and side missions, so we didn't expect it to go off without a hitch. This is Bethesda, after all - a company that's become notorious for quirky glitches. Heck, Ubisoft constantly faces issues with its open-world games and they make about four of them a year. Still, despite knowing that the game is going to be buggy, the minor blemishes will occasionally annoy you. Can we ignore one scene with a messed up dialogue wheel and unsynced dialogue and voice over? Sure, no problem.