|picture from http://bethsoft.com/en-us/games/fallout_4|
There's no need to acclimatise to the vault and underground living, because you are all to be kept in suspended animation until the situation above-ground improves. At some point, mysterious people invade the facility, kill everyone except you and your son, and kidnap your son, leaving you back on ice.
You wake up an undetermined amount of time later, with a singular quest: to find your son. You have very little clue on how to do this, and as you awaken into a horrific and ruined country, scarred by war and still in a state of chaos after 200 years, the trail seems quite cold.
|Home sweet hoome|
The open world is filled with so many locations, often with their own self-contained stories. These are often the best parts of the game, as you stumble across recordings, notes or computer logs that tell a story about the area. Even better are the ones like the USS Constitution, a tourist attraction that has rebelled against it's mundane programming.
These little stories provide an additional reason to wander the wasteland, beyond the mechanical scavenging and hoarding that you'll likely do anyway. They add a real character to the ruined shell of this once prosperous area, and took up the majority of my time as I played through the game.
|Father and son (deliberately made as ugly as possible)|
In Diamond City, the major city at the heart of Boston, you learn your son was kidnapped and taken to The Institute, and you need a way inside. You have to construct a teleportation device, and that requires help from at least one faction. Once there, you find your son is old and eventually find out that he wants you to take over as head of The Institute.
Your main quest choice becomes to side with The Institute and your dying son, the Railroad who want to destroy the Institute and free the Synths (Bladerunner-esque artificial humans), and the Brotherhood of Steel who want to destroy the Institute and the Synths (and any other non-humans, or anyone who abuses technology). At this stage, all the work you've done with the Minutemen becomes inconsequential.
|Fellow Vault 111 members fared less well than I|
The Minutemen seem like the most inclusive of the lot, but I was unable to side with them in the end, despite having claimed large amounts of territory in their name. The game seemed to neglect to tell me what would happen now that the Brotherhood had total military superiority over the area, nor what that would mean for the town of Goodneighbor, a town run by a ghoul and home to various miscreants, criminals and drifters.
A quick dialogue with your son glosses over the death of your partner and why you were left alone in the Vault. Your main motivation reduced to the whims of the previous director of the Institute and the heavy-handedness of his hired goon. The synth problem itself seemed to have no resolution at all either that I noticed (aside from the Brotherhood vowing to hunt them down and execute them, of course).
|The Silver Shroud is a particularly good side-quest|
Not only did they apparently try and take over the Commonwealth with Terminator-like Synths, but you later find that the Supermutants in the area are entirely their fault. The chaos above-ground which they seem so keen on controlling is largely of their own making. The Brotherhood, for all their fascist tendencies, at least seem to have a coherent plan.
I suppose I should have picked The Railroad, but at the time I met them I had barely scratched the surface of the other factions, and didn't realise how unredeemable they would be. By the time I acknowledged that I was supposed to pick The Railroad as the "good" ending, I encountered a bug which meant I couldn't access their base (or perhaps I'd gone too far with one other faction? It wasn't clear, but I couldn't enter the church that the Railroad use as their base).
|Christmas in Diamond City|
I haven't even touched on the two other main factions found in the Boston Commonwealth. These are The Gunners and the various raiders groups. They have huge numbers, control various locations, and yet are hostile to you at all times. They are a wasted opportunity to add depth to the Minutemen questline, adding a proper adversary to fight against rather than allowing the growth of your settlements turn into busywork.
Similarly, integrating the other factions (and including Diamond City and Goodneighbor) into the settlement system could really have made an interesting change. That way, your main quest could have been to take a faction and conquer the wasteland by fair means or foul. This would probably mean dropping the "find your son" quest, but that could also be handled differently.
|I found many models on my travels, but no use for them|
Removing your son from the equation would also help with the conflict between the main quest and the urge to explore and wander the wasteland. Without the apparent urgency to find your son (you can actually ignore this as long as you like), it allows you to take on the wasteland at your own pace, and discover all possible factions before you make any decisions about which side to favour.
I'd also like a way to progress through the game without involving yourself directly with a faction at all. In Diamond City you find Nick Valentine, a Synth who has left the Institute. He's working as a detective, and it would make for a very interesting alternative path if you could become a detective partner and explore the wasteland with the intention that none of the factions should gain prominence (or at least without your help).
|The USS Constitution in flight|