10 things we learned about Fallout 4 at Gamescom
Fallout 4 is gathering momentum, with just over three months to go until it emerges from the bunker like a drowsy, post-apocalyptic Godzilla.
Bethesda recently used Gamescom 2015 to give journalists a sneak preview of Lexington, one of the game's many desolate towns, in a video that was narrated by Fallout 4 game director Todd Howard.
Overrun by hordes of raiders and other wastelanders, it demonstrated some of the game's mechanics while introducing new enemies and locations.
Though tempting, we didn't just sit there gawping like a ghoul: click on to discover what we learned during the brief but action-packed preview.
1. Strength is numbers
The preview's opening sequence made a big deal about the role strength will play in Fallout 4. "Keep doing chin-ups and push-ups because there's more that strength can do for you," advised Fallout's familiar '50s American-accented narrator. "Swing for the fences like a pro, wear specialised protective gear and craft weapons to wield."
We know that some pretty beefy vault suits lie in wait with gatling guns and other weapons attached, and on the basis of this hint, there might be a baseball bat and other melee weapons for bashing things in the head too.
2. There's perks to the job
Fallout 4 awards your character (called the Sole Survivor) with perks, skills and abilities as you progress through the game. They're chosen via a perk chart that's organised through seven S.P.E.C.I.A.L abilities: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.
There are 70 base perks, each with multiple ranks that do new things, providing a total of 275 abilities to pick. According to Howard, it gives you "a ton of choices and many different ways to develop your character over the game".
3. V.A.T.S' (not) life
There was a heavy reliance on V.A.T.S (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) in Fallout 3, which doesn't appear to be the case in its sequel. In the demo, Fallout's 4's protagonist dismembered feral ghouls by blasting off their kneecaps, Dead Space-style - and they kept on coming.
You can still use V.A.T.S, but instead of stopping the action it merely slows it down. This speeds up the gameplay just enough to force you into swiftly selecting a limb for picking off, keeping you on your toes.
4. Dogmeat keeps you alive
The Sole Survivor has a canine pal called Dogmeat. You're probably already aware of him because a) he attracted more attention than anything else in the first Fallout 4 preview trailer due to his dogily-rendered form, and b) Dogmeat has been a fixture of previous games in the series.
It turns out he's more than just a guide dog in Fallout 4 and can be commanded to explore rooms, attack enemies and even growl to alert you when they're nearby. Like Frodo's Sting, only furrier and less blue.
5. The Fat Man could be your best friend
The demo gave a glimpse of the Fat Man in action, and it's shaping up to be of the most ridiculous(ly satisfying) shoulder-mounted mini-nukes ever (not that there's a ton to choose from). The chunky projectile flinger can fire quite far, as was demonstrated when the Sole Survivor used it to take out a troublesome enemy on a high up ledge.
Fat Man's rockets don't always explode either, as was shown when one buried itself inside a target's chest to send him crashing to the floor.
6. ...but it can't take out everything
Fat Man is a meaty weapon, no doubt about it, but it's not powerful enough to take out all of the game's bigger nasties in a single hit. In an encounter with a troll-like Behemoth, the Sole Survivor used V.AT.S to direct a swift Fat Man rocket to its face, only for the beast to emerge enraged from the other side of a mini mushroom cloud.
And, if you're low on ammo, some of Lexington's locations contain oil barrels that explode when shot, providing another tactical avenue to take out some of Fallout 4's tougher enemies.
7. Get others to do your dirty work
If you don't possess the firepower to take out enemies yourself, you'll be able to manipulate enemies or other NPCs to do your bidding. While explaining perks, Howard noted: "There's a perk for each special, and each rank of that special goes from one to ten. If you were to get to 10 charisma, you can pick the intimidation perk that lets you manipulate and control other people."
As in Fallout 3, enemies fight each other if they come into close contact, and throwing manipulation into the mix should let you kick off some interesting brawls (while you silently slip away, of course).
8. Turrets are going to cause you problems
The vast array of weaponry on offer seemed to equip the Sole Survivor with enough power to deal with all enemies in the video - except one. Located high up on a mountain side, a turret was the only enemy that caused Fallout 4's protagonist real problems in Bethesda's preview, raining down bullets in a hail of pain.
The attack caused enough damage to make the Vault Boy appear in the top-right hand corner brandishing a pair of crutches, which indicates that you've been badly injured. Mark these words: turrets are going to cause you pain.
9. Get ready to do a lot of shooting
About halfway through the demo we started to notice a running theme: Fallout 4's weapons - from the Fat Man to mini-guns and flamethrowers - all sounded meaty and convincing while giving off some great-looking particle effects. A red energy gun called the Laser Musket was the most impressive, spitting out beams that ripped through enemies and ricocheted off walls, lighting rooms up like a firecracker.
If it's half as fun to use as it looks, we'll be running around the wastelands doing our best X-Men Cyclops impression, which wouldn't be too difficult in that blue and yellow suit.
10. Apocalypse now, always and forever
Bethesda recently tweeted that there'll be no level cap and you'll be able to keep playing Fallout 4 once the main story is complete. If you're the kind of adventurer that likes to carry on exploring the open world once you're done, you'll be able to continue growing your character's strengths to theoretically take on increasingly powerful enemies. Whether Bethesda will introduce new ones via DLC remains to be seen, but on the strength of Fallout: New Vegas, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
- Check out: Fallout 4 release date, news and trailers