A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fallout 4 is an exceptionally violent role-playing game set in a postapocalyptic future with first- and third-person combat involving guns, swords, grenades, and even miniature nuclear explosives. Time frequently slows to show bodies blown to bloody, gory bits that remain where they fall rather than disappearing. The player's character is on a righteous quest to find his or her lost son, but how she or he acts along the way is up to the player. She or he can be a selfless hero to the people of the wasteland or a murderous thief working only for self-gain. The adult-oriented story contains strong language and is designed to make mature players consider challenging concepts, including the societal, political, and technological consequences of an alternate history and future in which America fully embraced the power of the atom after the Second World War.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
FALLOUT 4 begins moments before the bombs fall in 2077, with a young family running to a vault shelter outside Boston to escape the fiery explosions and radioactive fallout. Put into cryogenic suspension, the game's hero eventually wakes more than 200 years later to a wasteland filled with mutants, ghoulishly deformed humans, and survivors who've banded together in small pockets of semi-civilization. He (or, if the player chooses, she) embarks on a quest to discover what happened to his son, who was violently removed from his suspension chamber before him. That quest is only one part of a much broader experience set on a massive map crammed full of locations to find, people to meet, and events in which to take part. Players will loot ruins for supplies, weapons, and aid items; engage in intense combat against a mix of human raiders, feral wildlife, and mutated people; experience side stories that provide context for the world in which they find themselves; and help build settlements for beleaguered wastelanders using a robust crafting system. Players who want to take in everything can expect to spend 100 hours or more exploring the irradiated ruins of Boston and its surrounding area.
Is it any good?
This role-playing game is everything that players loved about Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas brought to current-generation consoles. Its nuclear wasteland is massive and rich with interesting places to discover and tales to enjoy. Around every bend is a factory, schoolhouse, abandoned mine, or police station loaded with loot and hiding narrative secrets worth seeking out. These memorable locations and the interesting stories they contain slowly combine to create a fascinating tapestry of Fallout 4's weirdly retro-futuristic world, making it feel like a living, breathing place full of colorful characters and complicated social and political structures. And being at the center of it all can be an exhilarating experience.
But all of this can be said about previous games in the series. Aside from an expanded crafting system that finally gives players good reason to pick up some of the random stuff littering the wasteland (you'll actually find use for the ceramic in old toilets and the plastic in disposable cutlery), a slightly modified character progression system that places more focus on the popular "perk" abilities, and the larger role given to the game's Iron Man-like power armor, Fallout 4 is very similar to its predecessors. It doesn't even look all that much better, despite the leap to a new generation of console hardware. Long story short, Fallout 4 will be a delight for anyone simply looking for more of what they loved about the last couple of Fallout games but perhaps a smidgeon disappointing for players hoping for a game that significantly evolves the experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. What does it mean to become desensitized to violence in games and movies? How might it alter how you view and react to real-world violence?
Families can also discuss gender roles in games. Do you typically choose to play characters whose gender matches yours when given the opportunity? Why might someone choose to play a character of the opposite gender?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Bethesda Softworks
- Release date: November 10, 2015
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Robots
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.