Available on Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
We won’t spoil how Fallout 4 opens, but the game really starts with a character waking from a sleep of some 200 odd years, then making their way, blinking, into a world where everything’s familiar yet weirdly strange.
It’s a feeling you’ll empathize with while playing Fallout 4. On the one hand, this isn’t a revolutionary sequel. Its style, tone and core mechanics build on groundwork already laid down by Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Yet with a new story, a new setting and an enhanced engine, this is roughly to Fallout 3 what The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was to Oblivion, only with the kind of increase in graphics fidelity you get when a franchise hits a new console generation. The shift from Washington and New Vegas to a rain-soaked Massachusetts wilderness is more than just skin-deep.
This is Fallout, but not quite as you know it.
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The unique position of your protagonist in the world plays a major part in this. He or she remains a fish out of water, but one with history and a different kind of personal quest. When they leave Vault 111, somewhere to the North West of Boston, they find a world where chaos reigns, mutants and raiders are a constant peril and the tiny green shoots of humanity are struggling to take root. This isn’t just a game about the aftermath of mass destruction but about how you rebuild. Sure, you can focus on looting and mindless slaughter, but in a way Fallout 4 is about how individuals can help transform the bleakest world.
What you do and how you do remains reasonably open. Like The Witcher 3 or Metal Gear Solid 5 it’s a massive buffet banquet, and nobody’s telling you what dish you need to be eating next.
The commonwealth, as the game’s Massachusetts area is called, is a sizeable open world full of mystery and danger, not as huge in scale as The Witcher 3’s vast map or Metal Gear Solid 5’s warzones, but rich in activity and detail. Here there are friends and enemies to make, settlements to build, plus weapons, armour and other useful gear to craft. You’re free to define your character and their objectives, and you can prioritise your own personal quests or team up with like-minded souls and do your best to restore peace and justice. You can fight your way through situations, or use charm and guile. Why kill all the raiders in a rusting factory yourself, when you can activate the robotic security and settle down with a big tub of popcorn? Well, at least until the survivors spot you munching.
With so much choice though comes a multitude of systems, and at times Fallout 4 threatens to buckle under their weight.
While it’s roughly possible to play it like a first-person shooter with RPG-style inventory and character progression systems, it’s not really practical. To survive the game’s war-torn city and post-nuclear wilderness you’ll need to learn how to scavenge resources and modify your equipment, adding armour piece-by-piece, reconstructing weapons with different parts, stocks, cartridges and sights. Get involved with settler communities and you’ll also need to get your head around base-building, transforming scavenged or scrapped materials into shelters, furniture, generators, water pumps and resources. Fallout 4 takes this kind of detail to a whole new level.
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Combat, meanwhile, is both tactical and as tense as any action game. Good weapons are hard to come by and ammo scarce, while your foes – both human and mutant – are fearsome, fast and deadly. Like Fallout 3, Fallout 4 mixes real-time, first-person combat with a slow-motion, tactical VATS mode, where time slows to a crawl and you can flick not just between targets, but between parts of a target, giving you a chance to blast vulnerable areas or take out an arm or leg to cripple a more powerful foe. It’s a near-perfect balance, making the game feel action-packed while giving fans of more conventional RPGs something closer to the feel of turn-based combat.
Crucially, everything in Fallout 4 reflects the underlying numbers. You might think you’re the headshot king, but if you haven’t got the relevant Perception abilities and aim-related perks, you won’t be making long-range shots or delivering the game’s gruesome critical hits. Like the Mass Effect trilogy it’s an action/RPG hybrid, but this one that never forgets that it’s an RPG at heart.
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You don’t have to fight alone. Follow the right quest-lines and make the right friends and you’ll find companions for your journey, ranging from your initial canine chum, Dogmeat, to Minuteman rangers and thick-skinned investigative journalists. They’ll fight for you, evening the odds or delaying more powerful enemies. You can get them to carry stuff or kit them out with new weapons and equipment, and even give them basic orders of the ‘stay’ and ‘go’ variety.
Fallout 4 also goes big on power-armour, giving you a basic rig early on with the chance to customise it with more powerful limbs or tougher shielding; a real advantage when you’re fighting off towering super-mutants, waves of raiders or the tougher boss ghouls and monsters. It’s tempting to over-use it, but doing so runs the risk of having parts damaged and out of commission when you need your armour most. In a mutant and ghoul-infested city, going loud isn’t always the best approach.
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Throughout, there’s a great sense of progression. Battling raiders and clearing buildings will net you better arms and armour, which can themselves be modified to do more damage or work more effectively at range. You’ll level up as you gain experience, not only adding points to the core S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, but opening a series of perks that boost your damage-dealing capabilities with specific weapons, add secondary damage effects, make you more resilient or decrease the effects of radiation. If you love the character-building aspect of RPGs, Fallout 4 will give you a bewildering array of options.
What hits you most is how well everything is balanced, forcing you to make trade-offs all the time. Sure, eating will heal you, but when the most effective foods are radioactive you need to keep your anti-rad treatments close by. And while you can modify a primitive pipe rifle into a superior sniping tool, you’ll still need to compromise somewhere, say, damage or reload speeds, to get accuracy and range. Even using VATS involves making choices. It can be the best way to tackle small groups of foes with ruthless efficiency, but every shot uses valuable action points, potentially leaving you helpless as the ghouls or raider skirmishers try to rush you. Sometimes, simply blasting away with automatic gunfire can be the better choice.
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Fallout 4 doesn’t make mastering this stuff easy. I’m not one for lengthy and tedious tutorials, but while Fallout 4’s quest structure gives you room to get to grips with the fundamentals early on, key systems and activities go relatively unexplained. I can’t actually recall whether or not the VATS system was actually introduced at any point, and I also can’t remember a game of recent years where I’ve had to refer so much and so often to the in-game help. In a way, though, this is part of the charm. Fallout 4 is a game about people using their own ingenuity to make the most of scant resources. Isn’t it only fair that you should put some effort in yourself?
You might have to. I’ll be honest, for the first four or five hours I didn’t really click with Fallout 4. After a cracking start it seemed a little pedestrian, the plotting, the quest lines and the game’s identity struggling to gel. It doesn’t help that it’s no unalloyed technical masterpiece.
Don’t get me wrong; the landscapes are beautiful and the interiors detailed, with some fantastic, atmospheric lighting effects as the weather changes and the Commonwealth moves through its day to night cycle. The art direction is fantastic, giving us a world that reached a cultural and technological zenith in the mid-1950s then just stuck there, giving everything this brilliant decayed retro sci-fi look and feel.
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Yet other things spoil the illusion. Close-up character animation is a constant disappointment, with painful, wooden facial animation and the kind of rubber-skinned, botox-faced character models that Bethesda really should have gone beyond by now. There are lengthy loading times both when you die and when you move between locations, spoiling the feeling that this is one coherent world. And while this isn’t a particularly buggy game by the standards of Fallout 3 or New Vegas, Fallout 4 still has its moments. A restless ghoul’s head bouncing around the room is hardly game-breaking, and we were secretly pleased to see one tough, glowing, bullet-sponge git stuck helplessly behind a half-closed door, yet these things make the game feel less slick and polished.
Luckily, like all Bethesda’s RPGs, Fallout 4 has a sneaky way of getting you hooked. Over time the quest-lines progress and the layers of narrative build up. What’s going on in Diamond City? What is the Institute? What is it up to? What does it want? Can you find what remains of your family? Can you put the good guys back on top? It also has a nice way of riffing on established genres, becoming a sort of hard-boiled detective story one minute, a military action game the next.
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You’ll get sucked in by the detail of this off-kilter universe, using terminals and messages to find out about the stupid squabbles inside a raider gang or the wrangling over the movie adaptation of a popular comic-book. When it comes to world-building, Bethesda remains second to none. You’ll also latch on to the game’s dark vein of humour, which mixes slapstick gore and wry satire in a way that feels part planned and part sheer fluke. You’ll start playing with the intricacies of the game’s wonderfully flexible perks system, deciding whether to beef your character up for melee combat, push stealth and persuasion or double down on gunslinger-friendly perks.
Most of all, you’ll feel invested in your character and in the world, because parts of it will start to feel distinctly yours.
And that’s where Fallout 4 makes its mark. It might not have the scope or scale of The Witcher 3 or the slick mechanics and reactive world of MGS5, but like Skyrim it has an unbeatable sense of place, and it exceeds all of its illustrious forebears on the base-building, crafting and customisation fronts. Fallout 4 isn’t the best game of the year or even the finest RPG, yet while it struggles in some areas it excels in many more. If you want a game to keep you busy for a long, wet and hopefully not nuclear winter, look no further. Fallout 4 is it.
It can be rough around the edges and it takes a while to gel, but once it does this is as gripping an RPG as Bethesda has ever produced. We’ll handle disappointments like the lengthy loading times, poor facial animation and minor bugs because Fallout 4’s world is so rich, strange and beautiful, and because the stories you can make in it are so compelling. Buy it, then dig in for the season.
Free games every month mean you always have something new to play
Twice a month, Xbox Live Gold members get exclusive access to a hand-selected collection of free games.* Because our members are the heart of the Xbox community -- and they deserve it.
Xbox One Backward Compatibility is easy to use
The Xbox One Backward Compatibility Beta is available starting June 15 for Xbox preview members. The program will launch broadly in fall 2015.
The digital titles that you own and are part of the Back Compat game catalog will automatically show up in the “Ready to Install” section on your Xbox One. For disc-based games that are a part of the Back Compat game catalog, simply insert the disc and the console will begin downloading the game to your hard drive. After the game has finished downloading, you will still need to keep the game disc in the drive to play.
PLAY WITH THE BESTPlay together with friends to build imaginative, awe-inspiring worlds. Compete in heart-pounding matches that require quick thinking and fast reflexes. Whether you are in the mood for cooperative or competitive gameplay, Xbox Live has something for everyone. With the world’s premier gaming community, there is always someone ready to play matching your skill and style.
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Robocraft is a mix of voxel block builders like Space Engineers and vehicle shooters like War Thunder. Build airships and tanks using various cubes, items, and weapons to be deployed on a battlefield with other players. Learn from your mistakes, improve your designs, buy new building blocks, and upgrade your weapons. A sprawling tech tree features a number of upgrades to choose from to customize your vehicle. It’s two games in one. One where you design and build your vehicles; and one where you send them off to war. But the building system is the glue of Robocraft while battles are an application of your work—and serves as a means to unlocking new materials for crafting.
Permission to play with Legos
When designing my first robot I left any tactical brainpower behind and opted to create a cool-looking machine. Building is easy. Slap a bunch of cubes together, stick some guns on (with wheels or wings), and as long as you don’t tip over when applying acceleration your vehicle is battle-ready. Designs are not unlimited. In the top left-hand corner of your screen you’ll notice a CPU bar. Every gun, block, and wheel eats up some CPU—determining how many voxels can be mashed together. Starting off you don’t have many cubes to choose from. But as you blast apart opponents you gain Robot Points and Tech Points that can be traded in for new building materials.
And building is where the game shines. You can spend hours tinkering and refining, playing with designs to suit practicality and aesthetics. The simple, easy-to-use interface makes it a joy to see what pieces can fit together. More than half of my play-time was spent moving blocks around trying to figure out the perfect vehicle recipe. With my first vehicle I strived for style over practicality. But soon realized a heavy tank would endure lasers far better than my first design after it was shattered like a kid throwing their Legos against a wall.
Smashing your Creations
My first tank was a hunkering tyrant that quickly flipped over after one turn too sharp. I wasn’t alone either. At the start of nearly every match—at least for beginners— a few of your teammates will roll over or drive into a rockwall and somersault onto their backs. You can press “F” to realign but while your vehicle takes 10 seconds to correct itself enemies can continue blasting your vehicle apart. In one engagement I was on my back like a helpless tortoise, firing lasers frantically but hitting only the sky as enemies blasted me apart piece by piece. It’s helpful to test your design in Practice mode before voxels start exploding.
You don’t defeat someone until their crude pilot is sent skyward off his seat. So often vehicles appear in various states of disarray. Some look like they’re begging for death. One enemy was just as a single strip of cubes and two wheels with a pilot catching flies between his teeth. I promptly sealed his fate with one-click of my turret. It adds a level of humor and tactics to the game. You can choose to blow off the cubes supporting the wheels on an enemy, effectively locking their position. Or, elect to take out their guns first and render them useless. Learning your weak points and reenforcing them is essential to surviving firefights. Many of my vehicles exploded because I didn't protect my pilot properly. Back to the drawing board.
"Voxels... Voxels Everywhere..."
Combat is straightforward. Whether you’re taking to the skies or rolling over the surface of distant worlds, a crosshair dictates where your guns will be firing. You roll off in a, probably, dilapidated vehicle and shoot any enemies that appear on screen. It’s rather repetitive. Battles play like test-runs for your latest and greatest design. Unlike Battlebots, the fights feel like a secondary consequence with little depth beyond the pattering of guns and the amusement of seeing enemies blown apart. They offer the same experience each time, and can’t be avoided if you want to unlock new building blocks. But they are quick. It takes no more than a few seconds for a match to begin and they're over in a few minutes.
Every battle awards Robot Points (RP) and Tech Points (TP), as well as experience towards your rank. TP is spent on the massive tech tree, determining what items are available to you to build your robot while RP is your currency for purchasing those blocks. As you progress through tiers of technology you can go from building simple, cubed toys to formidable tanks and scorpion machines. While the tech tree seems overwhelming it isn’t diverse. Essentially you’re upgrading the same components to be more durable, move faster, or employ more firepower. That doesn’t mean building becomes stagnant. More resources allow more diverse, bigger, and exotic looking machines.
Like Picasso... But Robots
Players are infinitely creative. Part of the joy of entering a battle is seeing how other players design their vehicles. Limited cubes can be combined into a wide range of shapes. One guy on my team was inspired by the Borg and charged into battle as an enormous cube—quickly destroyed. Some designs will make you feel better about your own abilities, while others will inspire you to head back to the garage and tinker.
Blocks Ain't Cheap
The game is free-to-play but seems to motivate users to spend cash on in-game currency to build more elaborate vehicles and faster. Grinding for more points can become arduous if you're not motivated by combat—as in my own case. You can trade in cash for Galaxy Cash (GC) which can then be used to purchase all items, as well as cosmetics. Robocraft avoids the pay-to-win branding by limiting what players can buy to their tech tier. So you’ll never see tech nine weapons devastating the field in a tech one game. It's certainly the right way to handle a cash shop and I appreciate the developers fortifying against pay-to-win. At the beginning of an early tier match it’s easy to spot who has opened their wallets. They're typically made entirely of the highest tech items available to your tier. Just hope that they're on your team.
Final Verdict - Great
Robocraft is an entertaining creative-builder with lackluster combat. I could spend my entire play-through fiddling with cubes in the garage to build ever grander and more powerful vehicles. Sometimes I only enter the battlefield to rack up points and unlock more materials. Its a secondary aspect that grew tiring. It was still highly amusing, particularly learning from other players vehicles and watching enemies explode thanks to my—sometimes— superior design. The developers are active and engage the community, releasing updates frequently and responding to community input. While combat didn't amaze me it didn't bore me either. I'll be making frequent pit-stops to my Robocraft garage to build new vehicles and play with designs.
Apple's iOS is fertile ground for a wide variety of great mobile games across every genre. Armed with strong graphics and responsive touch screens, the iPhone and iPad are solid gaming machines. Check out our roundup of some of the best games available on iOS across multiple categories. Whether you're looking for the latest action-gaming hit, a cerebral puzzler or a story-driven role-playing epic, there's sure to be something here for you.
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Best iOS Trivia Game
There's a reason everyone's talking about Trivia Crack. It is THE hyper-addictive game that challenges your brain, as well as the brains of your friends. It combines cute, cartoon designs with a wide variety of question types. Go up against Facebook friends or random opponents, and spin the wheel to answer questions based on sports, science, history, geography, art or entertainment. You must master each category to win the game.
See More iOS Trivia Games
FTL: FASTER THAN LIGHT
Best iOS Strategy Game
You've been waiting for the FTL: Faster Than Light game to come to iPad, and now it's here. The title brings its brutally challenging space adventures to legions of gamers. You must outfight and escape a vast rebel armada as you protect the Federation's last hope for victory, as captain of a Federation starship. Along the way, you'll navigate uncharted space, unravel strange mysteries, and fight off pirates and slavers, while trying not to run out of fuel or oxygen. The numerous ships unlock, and the randomly generated galaxy ensures no two games are the same.
See More iOS Strategy Games
Best iOS Sports Game
The app version of NBA 2K15 delivers great basketball gameplay to iPhones and iPads. Slick graphics and fast-paced action add to the latest updated Career and Quick Play modes, which are joined by new Season and Blacktop modes. Almost the entire console NBA 2K15 experience fits inside this mobile package.
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REAL RACING 3
Best iOS Racing Game
Newly available for free, Real Racing 3 provides a fantastic driving experience that will make you wish for the open road. You can get behind the wheel of a wide variety of realistic-looking cars and speed them across beautifully rendered racetracks. Numerous game modes mean the fun never stops, as you complete time trials, standard races and the unique Time Shift multiplayer mode. Plus, you'll continuously enjoy new content such as new cars and racing events.
See More iOS Racing Games
Best iOS RPG
In Shadowrun: Dragonfall, high tech meets high fantasy. It's a cyberpunk-themed RPG that's filled with cyborg elves and magic-wielding mega-corporations. You play the role of Shadowrunners, highly skilled freelance operatives who specialize in black ops. The world's many mega-corps, governments and other shady conspiracies give you assignments. Improvements to the original game's turn-based combat and fixes to the save-game system make this our top pick because it still manages to preserve the series' wonderful fantasy cyberpunk ambiance.
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Best iOS Casino or Dice Game
Play Texas hold 'em poker with your friends or random players worldwide from the comfort of your touch-screen device with Zynga Poker. The app offers casual games of hold 'em, or competitive tournament variants such as Shootouts or Sit-n-Go. The free chips delivered to your account daily, with extra chips available for real money, will keep you coming back day after day.
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Best iOS Puzzle Game
Even if it weren't so beautiful and set to such lovely music, you would still find yourself dreaming about Monument Valley. The designs of the puzzles draw inspiration from optical illusions and M.C. Escher prints. As princess Ida makes her way through a series of surreal monuments and structures, you must navigate hidden passages and manipulate mechanisms that may require you to rotate the map to make sense of each puzzle.
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WALKING DEAD: THE GAME SEASON TWO
Best iOS Adventure Game
The follow-up to the award-winning and critically acclaimed series by Telltale Games picks up where the first season left off. In The Walking Dead Season Two, you play Clementine, an 11-year-old girl who has lived through the zombie apocalypse for well over a year when the new season begins. Instead of stumping players with difficult puzzles, The Walking Dead places an emphasis on character interaction and the emotional burden of decisions made. Players who have completed the first season are rewarded Mass Effect-style, as choices made in Season One (free) carry over to the new game.
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INFINITY BLADE III
Best iOS Action Game
The Infinity Blade series outdid itself with its third iteration and action-packed conclusion. As the fierce Siris or stealthy Isa, you take on the nefarious Worker of Secrets. The battle scenes are filled with frenetic swipe-and-tap combat that has proven a hallmark of all three editions. You'll soon be crafting your own weapons, armor and potions in the new exploration hub, when you're not storming into a fight. Spoiler alert: The last expansion, Kingdom Come, reveals more secrets and answers, and pits players against one very pissed-off dragon.
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HEARTHSTONE: HEROES OF WARCRAFT
Best iOS Card or Board Game
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a fun, free and fair digital collectible card game that you won't be able to stop playing. Playing as one of the great heroes (or villains) of the Warcraft universe — such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore or Gul'dan — you'll fight epic duels and summon allies and minions to your side. The simple, easy-to-learn rules work cross-platform among PC, iPad and Android players. You can earn gold that can be spent on booster packs. Plus, in the Arena mode you can play in a special, "sealed draft" format that rewards canny deck building and smart play.
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Best iOS Family Game
Heads Up is sort of like charades, and it's the most fun you'll have at a party all year. The app challenges players to guess as many words as possible from a themed deck of cards based on their friends' clues. You'll quickly get over the awkwardness of holding your phone up to your forehead, where the screen displays the word to be guessed, because you'll be laughing too hard. Deck themes include celebrities, movies and animals. You can even create your own custom decks with an in-app purchase of $0.99 per deck.
Rolling out to a subset of preview program members in waves starting this weekend is the first hands-on look at the new Xbox One experience. At its core, the new Xbox One interface is centered around making it quick and easy for you to access and discover what you want, when you want. Our focus for the completely redesigned dashboard is speed, ease of use, and—of course--fan feedback.
The team at Xbox had a packed summer sharing what’s coming to Xbox One at E3 2015 and gamescom 2015, along with contributing to the launch of the best version of Windows ever for gaming: Windows 10. Throughout the summer, droves of Xbox fans have logged in and provided excellent feedback on Xbox One updates and the Xbox app on Windows 10. Today, we’re excited to take another step forward in bringing our vision to life for a new Xbox One experience.
This entirely new user experience is a work-in-progress and will undergo rigorous updating and polishing with the help of our Xbox One preview members. Here’s a closer look at what’s coming slowly to select early preview members in the first wave over the next week:
A redesigned Home to help you truly jump in. While keeping the main section concentrated on your task at hand (say, getting back to playing Gears of War: Ultimate Edition), we’re introducing vertical scrolling and a rearranged interface to provide faster and easier access to your most-recently accessed games and apps. You can also easily share your achievements and clips with the Xbox Live community, see whether your friends are playing the same games, and enjoy one-click access to Game Hubs to get news and updates from the publishers themselves. Engaging socially on Xbox One just got a lot quicker.
Quickly jump to Pins and My Games and Apps. At the bottom of Home, you’ll have quick access to the games and apps that you have pinned. You can quickly jump between your pins and most recently played game by using the triggers on your controller. Right trigger will take you straight to your pins. A pull of the left trigger will take you back to your most recently played game or app.
A new guide for fast access to essentials. A new Guide lets you quickly access essentials with just one button press, and without leaving your game, to save time spent weaving in and out of apps. You can access the Guide from Home by pressing left or double tap the Xbox button on your controller to instantly overlay the Guide.
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