Bethesda closed their E3 presentation with a bang today: a demo of Fallout 4, which shows us a whole lotta gameplay footage.

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What you’re seeing in that GIF above? That’s the character creator. You’ll be able to play as a lady too, of course. Here’s the start of the demo, which starts out in pre-war Boston. You’ll see your family home, as well as interact with a Vault-Tec employee.

  • Character creation is done on the fly by clicking and dragging portions of the character’s face.
  • Male and female characters are both customized via a playful jostling for mirror position interface.
  • The character creator uses the same tools as Bethesda uses to generate NPCs.
  • Once character creation is complete, the couple’s baby is generated by compositing features.
  • Male or female, whichever character leaves the mirror is the one you’ll play.
  • Once appearance is set there’s a knock at the door—it’s a Vault Tec employee that needs some paperwork filled out, a clever means of assigning ability points.

As was predicted, you’ll be able to play events leading up to the end of the world, and through sheer luck, you’ll survive the atomic bombs and be able to play through the post-apocalypse 200 years later as the sole survivor of Vault 111.

The new engine looks pretty, though the animations still seem a little stiff:

  • The game is running on a next-generation version of Bethesda’s Creation Engine, featuring full physical-based rendering and dynamic volumetric lighting.
  • Dialog in the game is dynamic. It can be played in first-person or third-person, the player can wander away at any time—they’re not locked into a conversation.
  • You can issue commands to your dog, who will be your loyal companion, simply by pointing at objects in the environment—it’s all contextual.

Here’s a video that takes a look at the new combat. VATs is back, you’ll be able to wear all sorts of armor, as well as kill all sorts of creatures:

There is a new Pip-Boy, and the old-school effects on it look awesome:

  • Bethesda put an emphasis on making looking at stats, managing inventory (including new layered armor) and such entertaining and interactive.
  • There are holotapes to listen to, which are actual cartridges that slot into the top of the Pip-Boy.
  • Some of these holotapes are video games you can play on your in-game smartwatch. An homage to Donkey Kong was demonstrated during the presentation.
  • A real replica Pip-Boy will be packaged with the collector’s edition.
  • A smartphone can be slotted into the replica Pip-Boy’s screen and an app installed in order to deliver a second screen experience.
  • On stage, Todd Howard acknowledge that most second screen experiences are stupid gimmicks, but that Fallout 4’s was “the best fucking one (he’s) ever seen.”

  • The environment is malleable, you can build your world, Minecraft-style. Anything you can see, you can move around and scrap, so that you can build other stuff, too. This is by far the most impressive aspect of Fallout 4 so far:

  • It sounds like you’ll need to get creative with your settlements, since whatever you build will be used as defensive measures, too. Tower defense in Fallout 4, basically.
  • As your settlement grows NPCs will arrive, including certain traders carrying some of the best items in the game.
  • Lay power lines and set up defenses—raiders will be attacking your village.

The crafting system carries over to all aspects of the game, including weapons and armor.

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  • The crafting system lets you create all sorts of different attachments and guns; there are 50 base weapons to start out, which you can modify using components gathered from all the junk out in the wasteland. Everything is useful now, and not just background fodder.
  • Here, for example, you see the wide variety of options that you have when it comes to crafting a long scope. In older Fallout games, most of the stuff on this list would have been useless:
  • You will even be able to customize your power armor.

Read more about Fallout 4’s crafting system here.

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From what little we’ve seen so far it’s clear Fallout 4 is a massive game that players will be fiddling with and exploring long after the mystery of Vault 111 is solved. It’s also incredibly close—we’ll be wandering post-apocalyptic Boston come November 10 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.


Contact the author at patricia@kotaku.com.