Molly the vault dweller, wearing her new-found ushanka in the Starlite Drive projection booth

So my oldest mentioned how she would like a copy of Fallout 4 for Christmas, and I didn't worry too much about it until she also mentioned that it required an Xbox One to play and she only had a 360. With that in mind I considered replacing the motherboard, processor, memory and power supply in the non-working computer I built back in 2007 so I could gift her with a PC version of the game, but then I happened to look at the system requirements while shopping at Walmart. After my initial double-take when I saw the minimum requirements, I realized that while my current desktop would be able to handle the game, it would be cost more than an Xbox One to upgrade the old computer. Consequently I opted to give her a user account on my PC and she received a copy of the game via Steam as her Yule gift.

This would then fall under the category of "self serving gift" because as it happened to be installed on my computer, I of course would take advantage of this fact in the hour before I start my shift as I am waking up for the day. I started a play through and made it to level 10 before deciding to wipe and start over. I wasn't very happy with the performance of my first character. In Fallout 4, spending a bunch of SPECIAL points on intelligence in the early game is probably a bad idea, although it might potentially turn out to be useful later on. I decided to not wait and see.

So I re-rolled, and chose the name Molly because it was one of the names on the list that Codsworth will use in conversation (which is fun) and focused on a melee character with agility. This probably sounds counter-intuitive because agility is associated with mostly ranged weapon perks, but I wanted a character that could do a lot of damage with small, fast weapons such as the combat knife, and the added bonus to Molly's ability to sneak was a plus. I put 4 points in strength, 7 points in agility, 4 points in charisma, 5 points in luck and 3 points in the other traits. I then started off with the security baton that can be found in Vault 111, and immediately found the game much easier that it had been on my first run-through. The benefit of extra agility points is that you get more action points, which means I take full advantage of using VATS in combat. The bonus is that in many cases I take no damage from melee combat, because VATS will allow you to get your hits in first, especially if you notice potential combatants before they notice you. The downside is that until I acquire the Blitz perk, I have to get fairly close to those opponents to use VATS.

With this in mind, after acquiring a switchblade from a raider and modifying it with a serrated edge, I was feeling pretty confident and set out in a south-western jaunt across the country side, not following any quests but mainly just trying to see what I could find (and what sort of trouble I might get into). I successfully encountered and defeated super mutants, soft-shelled mirelurks, packs of wild mutant dogs, groups of raiders, a gunner encampment with turrets, and even survived a sneak attack by a pack of feral ghouls without taking a significant amount of damage.

At this point, however, I should have heeded the warning sign that things were about to get more dangerous. I had made it a bit to the south and west of Diamond City, in a hilly region with the occasional destroyed home. I considered looting one such home until I noticed it was occupied by yao guai (mutated bears), so rather than pick a fight with them I crouched down and snuck away. I had recently reached level 7 and had spent a perk point on the Sneak ability, so this probably helped.

Turning the corner of the next building, I came face to face with a Deathclaw. I stopped, and then noticed that next to its name was a skull, indicating it was a significantly higher level than me. The sneaking indicator had switched from "Hidden" to "Caution" and it sniffed the air but didn't seem to see me. I decided to creep backwards, and as I did so I noticed the Deathclaw lift its head away from me, turning toward the nearby hill. Cresting the hill came two more Deathclaws, and then a fourth Deathclaw a moment later, and all I could think at this point was, "Oh sh!*, I'm dead. I'm totally dead." as they proceeded directly to where I was crouching.

Then I heard a loud roar emanating from beyond the hill, and the Deathclaws scampered directly past me, somehow without noticing I was there. Bear in mind that I had never before faced a pack of Deathclaws, and was fully expecting to not survive the experience based on everything I had heard about them. The difficulty I experienced during a one-on-one fight against a lone Deathclaw in Concord while wearing power armor only solidified what I had heard. At this point I was seriously freaked out, because what could possibly make a whole pack of Deathclaws flee? I did not have to wait long to find out.

The largest super mutant behemoth I have ever seen crested the hill wielding a giant club, bellowing the whole way. If I had crouched just a few feet to my right it would have stepped on me as it chased after the deathclaw pack, swinging the club. The pack was no longer visible, and the yao guai made themselves scarce as the behemoth plowed into the ruined home, still swinging its club at anything that moved and continuing to roar in an enraged state. A few moments later, it was gone, and quiet settled around me.

For some reason I decided to keep going a bit further south, and off in the distance I saw something raise its head that distinctly looked like a deathclaw. It was at that moment that I decided to stop pressing my luck, and I used the fast-travel option in my Pip-Boy to return to the Red Rocket fuel station near Sanctuary, internally deciding that I should hold off on traveling south of Diamond City until I had acquired more levels.

I've played a lot of video games, spent a lot of time in Skyrim as well as post-apacolyptic Washington D.C. and surrounding regions in Fallout 3, and never experienced anything quite like this. This did not feel like a scripted event. This did not feel like I had triggered this scenario. The reaction of the pack of Deathclaws to an enraged super mutant behemoth felt natural and therefore hit home in a way I've never experienced in a video game before. Even though there has been a certain amount of criticism in how Fallout 4 seems to be less like other Fallout games in the series, this event seems to indicate that this may not necessarily be a bad thing. Fallout 4 is an awesome game, and I look forward to experiencing more scenarios like this one in the future.