Fallout 4 News Roundup: Endurance, Rivers, Perks, and Sounds of the Wasteland

Continuing the trend they set the previous two weeks with Strength and Perception, last week Bethesda brings us Endurance and all the finger-licking perks that go along with it.

We can learn quite a bit about how the Endurance stat will affect gameplay based on the footage. First off we can extrapolate that Endurance will do a lot to affect what food you'll consume in the wasteland. It could simply affect your base Survival skill similar to how it affected it in New Vegas, allowing you to craft and eat items harvested from the wasteland, but it'll also likely give you greater resistance to radiation both externally and from food you consume, which has always been notoriously high in raw wasteland meats.

It's also possible that if we see a return of Hardcore Mode that it could affect your hunger and thirst bars, making them tick slower or raising their overall thresholds. All in all Hardcore Mode or any reliance upon primary needs is still unconfirmed for Fallout 4, but it seems pointless to include hints at it in the video if there isn't going to be some form of implementation.

The video also hints that Endurance may affect movement speed or at least how far you can run in a given breath, making it possible to far outrun enemies when diplomatic relations break down. Additionally it's apparent that unlike in other Fallout games Endurance is likely to greatly affect every aspect of your character health, including how long you can hold your breath underwater, how likely your character is to cripple a limb, and how delicious you might find your fellow vault dwellers.

As we noted last week Bethesda seems to be heavily remodeling how your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills affect gameplay and undoubtedly once the game hits shelves the number of build possibilities could shift dramatically.

Rivers and Dogmeat

Player companions have always been an integral part of the Fallout series, but few have stood out as much as Dogmeat. Whether we're watching him bravely sacrifice himself in the early Fallout games or reloading a save because he bit the wrong end of a deathclaw in Fallout 3,  Dogmeat is an iconic symbol of a world long lost, a bit of civilization that keeps us company, defends us, and helps us along our journey. It's nice to see that Fallout 4 is bringing him back once again, this time as an unkillable player companion to save us the trouble of having to constantly reload the game when our fluffy little buddy makes a critical tactical mistake.

In an effort to give us some insight into the inspiration for this reincarnation of the classic hero Bethesda released a special video introducing us to River, the German Shepherd Bethesda modeled Dogmeat off of in Fallout 4.

It's easy to see why Dogmeat looks so realistic after watching them gather resource footage from River, and hopefully we'll see more of her as the game gets closer to launch. Either way we'll see the male version of her once we get rolling in Fallout 4.

In case you missed the livestream where Todd Howard confirmed Dogmeat's identity as well as explained the unkillable nature of companions in Fallout 4, Bethesda released a highlight to get everyone caught up:

Perks of being S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

Bethesda has also released a whole boatload of information surrounding Perks as well as a video showing off exactly how they'll be implemented in game.

This is a ground-breaking video as far as gameplay goes, and reveals much of how leveling will now function in Fallout 4. Gone are the traditional skills as we know them from previous Fallout games. Now rather than a set number of skill points every level that we get to distribute among our primary skills, it's all woven together with our perks. Every level you pick up a new perk or a new rank in a perk. Your prerequisites for those perks are based on your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats and simply work their way up a basic unlock tree for each stat.

For example if you have an Agility of 10 you'll instantly be able to access the highest tier perk in the agility branch, but within that system every individual perk also has several levels layered within it. So you can take “Gun Fu,” the Agility 10 perk, multiple times to multiply its effectiveness and eventually unlock even more powerful abilities.

Skills like Sneak are now directly modified by the level of Sneak perk you take, and at higher levels within that perk you'll be able to access the Light Step and Silent Running abilities. It's an extremely nuanced system that changes everything we've ever thought about skills and perks in Fallout. Fortunately Bethesda has removed any sense of a level cap from Fallout 4 so we should have plenty of time to explore all 270 ranks within this new system.

On a side note, skill magazines/books now no longer raise a skill by a certain value, they'll now just give you a rank in a certain skill, allowing for the stalwart adventurer to essentially scavenge levels in the darkest areas of the wasteland.

As an added bonus for die-hard Fallout fans, Bethesda plans to include a free poster-size copy of the perk chart for anyone that preorders Fallout 4. There's no information on whether this poster will be available for people that have already preordered the game, but we'll likely see more details forthcoming.

Atmosphere and Sound in the Wasteland

Atmospheric and immersive sound has always been an important element to Bethesda, and in a new feature they've introduced us to the merry, zanny, somewhat mad folks that have brought Fallout 4's audio to life.

In a release on the Bethesda site we get a detailed look into how award winning composer Inon Zur and Audio director Mark Lampert worked together to add depth to Fallout 4 by carefully modulating different audio sources to get the tone that perfectly fit within the game.

The opening music for Fallout 4 was originally composed entirely upon piano to give the game more depth, to match the more personal story arc of Bethesda's new title. You can hear the original score below:

Mark Lampert and Todd Howard were unsure about the concept at first, and felt like it was somewhat too harsh and blaring for the tone they wanted to establish, but once Inon Zur mellowed it by crossing it with the more synthetic warmer sound of an electric piano, they were hooked. You can compare the original to the finished product in the trailer:

Inon Zur definitely brings a distinct style to his work, and the finished result in contrast with the original brings a shiver of anticipation to the spine. Although where he plans to integrate the sound of a cello bow against a plastic chair scares and confuses me.