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Opinion: Fallout 4 Looks Visually Magnificent

Mason Sylvia

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With the announcement and reveal of Fallout 4 today, there was a mixture of both positive and (already) negative feedback, primarily revolving around the graphics in Bethesda’s upcoming, open-world RPG. Most comments have criticized the graphics, claiming they look smudged and plastic-like; some have gone further to state that they expect more from this generation, without being able to acknowledge any games that have reached said expectations thus far. Before getting into it, let’s have a look at a high-resolution screenshot and see what all the fuss is about.

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Here we have the protagonist from the official reveal trailer and his canine companion, on the wasteland outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. We can see the skyline and the city in the distance as clear as a summer’s morning. We can also take notice of numerous textures and detail in this screenshot alone, such as the pavement and its wear, foliage, the fur of the dog, the protagonist’s hair and his outfit. While some textures could stand a bit of improvement, the number one fact that critics and commentators have to bear in mind is that this is an ambitious, massive open-world experience. Like the recently released The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the game world is substantial and to have so much content present at a single moment and still manage to have such well-rendered graphics is truly an accomplishment. Before I read that the footage from the Fallout 4 trailer was captured in-game, I honestly thought it was a pre-rendered CGI trailer.

A few comments have compared the graphics of Fallout 4 to the graphics of other games of different genres, which is the equivalent of comparing apples to oranges. Sure, Fallout 4 doesn’t look as cinematically realistic as The Last of Us or Until Dawn, but take a step back and think for a minute; how much content is available at a single moment? Neither The Last of Us nor Until Dawn, for example, are open-world experiences and the present game “map,” so to speak, isn’t really large. With a linear experience as such, of course it’s understandable to have graphics that render in so much detail, you can see the pores on the protagonist’s face. But with a game as ambitious, massive and open as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and as Fallout 4 intends to be, you’re asking a little too much to have The Last of Us’ graphics and maintain a constant, admirable framerate on consoles. With a PC, however, your options are varied and significantly more substantial than limitations made by Microsoft or Sony.

There’s also the question of your expectations; compare your desires to what’s commonplace and what we’ve seen on the market. With games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, I personally didn’t expect the graphics to look that good, especially for an open-world game. It raised the bar on what could be expected and what is possible. But perhaps the expectations of some are either too high or unrealistic. A game’s graphics aren’t the most important aspect; at the end of the day, I’d rather play a game that might not have been a visual marvel but was certainly worth the asking price opposed to a game that was charmingly realistic, lasted four hours and/or had a nonsensical narrative. Some people may argue which factor — gameplay, graphics, replayability, etc. — is the most important and some may find each to have equal importance altogether.

At the end of the day, one needs to understand that sometimes, small cutbacks have to be made in order to better the experience overall. No, Fallout 4‘s graphics do not look as cinematically realistic as The Last of Us. But at the same time, compared to some games on the market today, Fallout 4‘s graphics are indeed substantially better, especially for a massive, open-world experience. However, if all you care about are the graphics when it comes to video games, maybe you should just stick to Naughty Dog.

For a complete look at all of the currently available screenshots for Fallout 4, visit our article that covered the announcement and revealing here.

Video game enthusiast, James Bond aficionado, Tomb Raider expert, and lover of Beefeater gin. I'm a creature of habit and I'm either found buried in a book or working through my video game backlog when I'm not working my day job.

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