10 games to play while you wait for Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is out on November 10. That means four long months waiting for the follow-up to Bethesda's post-apocalyptic RPG. What to do in the meantime? If the Fallout series has taught us anything, it's that sealing yourself away in a underground bunker is not necessarily the best idea. Far better to stay above ground and play some games.
But which games? Naturally, you can look to us for suggestions. We've rounded up 10 games you can play with you wait for Fallout 4 to appear. Specifically, we've focused on games with a comparable theme or a focus on a mechanic that will feature predominantly in the Bethesda sequel. What we haven't done is picked past Fallout games, Elder Scrolls games, or even Wasteland 2. All are fine games well worth your time, but they're also a bit too obvious.
Maybe you have your own suggestions. Post them in the comments and, together, we'll make it to November.
STALKER: Call of Pripyat
STALKER is a post-apocalyptic shooter set in a world full of scavengers and mutated beasts. That's where the Fallout similarities end. Where Bethesda's RPG is light-hearted and retro, STALKER is brutal and relentless. If it's not monsters or bandits trying to kill you, it's the environment itself. The landscape is beset by anomalies that defy the laws of physics, but that offer great rewards to those able to overcome their deadly and chaotic nature. Maybe you'll wind up alone and bleeding; defeated by a bleak, industrial wasteland absent of hope or redemption. Or maybe you'll thrive around the decay, overcoming all the odds to survive and profit from the surrounding misery.
Fallout’s brutality is softened by a slapstick approach to graphic violence. The survival RPG roguelike NEO Scavenger is too low-fi to show opponents shattering into sticky lumps, but using combat descriptions alone it creates a desperate and terrifying wasteland. Humanity subsists in small pockets throughout the world, and have frequently gone mad with boredom or loneliness. NEO Scavenger’s best moments happen when you first spy a stranger. What weapons do they have? Will they try to eat you if you let them get too close? It’s unwise to be too trusting in the post-apocalypse.
Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura is an isometric RPG set in fantasy world in the midst of an industrial revolution. In other words, it's steampunk. The Fallout comparison extends beyond the option to pick turn-based over real-time combat. It also makes brilliant use of its skill system. Intelligence doesn't just define your magical prowess. Too few points in the stat, and your character will be an idiot—condemned to speak only the most broken of sentences.
It's one thing to survive the fallout of a nuclear holocaust, but what about starting one? That's the promise of Introversion's multiplayer armageddon-'em-up. You're given a neon-blue map of the world and an armament of destructive weapons. Your job isn't to win, but to lose the least. It's an eerily atmospheric game; setting the distant klaxons, footsteps and heavy breathing of a war room against the impending and unavoidable destruction of civilisation.
The Sims 4
In The Sims 4, you're given dominion over a house full of people. You control their every whim; deciding on their jobs, their activities, and even their hopes and dreams. It's a lot like being a Vault Overseer, as our Andy Kelly proved with his twisted experiments. And much like in Fallout's pre-apocalypse era, you're trapped in a nightmarishly aspirational and hyper-cheery world—a fake, sanitised and saccharine utopia that threatens to engulf you with its reassuring cheeriness. It's downright creepy.
If that's not enough of a connection, how about this: you can build buildings, just like in Fallout 4. Well, almost. The Sims has less decrepit junk and bandit attacks. A pity, we're sure you'll agree.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
There's a feeling specific to Fallout 3's combat that you just don't get in other shooters. It's when you've used the VATS aiming system to line up a 95% chance shot to a Deathclaw's face and YOU STILL BLOODY MISS GOD DAMN IT ALL. The best place to relive that mixture of tension, excitement and furious disbelief is through XCOM's alien invasion. The turn-based tactical combat frequently forces you into kill-or-be-killed moments—putting the fate of your best troops into the hands of RNGesus.
Spec Ops: The Line
Bethesda's moral choices are anything but subtle. Your first major decision is whether or not to nuke an entire town. For a more murky exploration of morality in wartime, Spec Ops: The Line has you covered. Yager's third-person shooter is far from perfect, but it tells a more complex and shocking story than you might first expect. In keeping with the post-apocalyptic theme, it takes place in the desolate and harsh wasteland of a once grand and decadent civilisation. No, not Boston. Dubai.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
One of Fallout 4's big new additions is weapon crafting, which will let you significantly tweak your guns to your liking. Another series with weapon crafting at its centre is Dead Rising—the often tongue-in-cheek zombie brawler with a variety of bizarre and destructive tools of evisceration. Dead Rising 2's remixed Off The Record variant is probably the highlight of the series, and was recently updated to remove Games for Windows Live. It's the series' go-to entry if you want an enjoyable time slicing, smashing and thwacking your way through an endless zombie horde.
Defense Grid 2
After building your Fallout 4 settlements, you won't get to bask in the idyllic glow of your nuclear craptown. Civilisation attracts bandits, and that means you'll need to construct and power automated defences. There is, of course, an entire genre dedicated to this activity. There are plenty of tower defence options, and Defense Grid is one of the best. Waves of beasties want to whittle away your power cores. Luckily, you have an armament of placeable and upgradable turrets with which to stop them.
If you're coming to the series fresh, head straight for Defense Grid 2. It wasn't a major improvement over the original, but it's a good enough game in its own right to be well worth checking out.
Look, we'll be honest here, we wanted to include a game with a dog. Fallout 4 has a dog, and what better way to get prepared for its release than to spend some time with another digitised canine companion? Unfortunately, it was agreed that the best videogame dog belonged to Fable 2—a game that isn't available on PC.
What other dog to praise? The one in Dragon Age: Origins is certainly a good dog, but using it means giving up space perhaps better used by one of the voiced companions. Then we realised, it's Dog from Half-Life 2. As both a dog and a robot, he covers Fallout 4's inclusion of both a dog and robots. Who's a good boy?