Category: "Fallout"

Alarra's BE3 Impressions

  03:40:00 am, by Alarra   , 1272 words  
Viewed 17663 times since 06/15/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, News, Fallout, Analysis

Like Damon, I spent the evening watching the Bethesda E3 Showcase and taking notes.  So here's a rundown of what they went through, and my impressions of them.  I haven't played anything but Elder Scrolls yet of all they revealed tonight (I plan to someday... too much ES to get through first!), so my heaviest focus will be on the ES part of it.  Damon gave some good summaries of the others, so I'll skim over more of those.

6:45 Pre-show: Discussing the screen that they're using for the presentation, talking to some fans waiting in line outside, speculating about Fallout 4.  While this was somewhat interesting, it did kind of drag on, and ended up running a few minutes late.

The first thing they showed in the actual presentation was a video montage of Bethesda's employees talking about what they try to do there, and clips of their various games.  Pete Hines walked on stage and welcomed everyone.

 

Doom

The first game they went over was Doom.  They showed about 10 minutes of gameplay, which went through increasingly big guns, explosions, and gore, culminating in the player character getting jumped and beaten to death with his own arm.   I never played the first one, and shooters aren't much my thing, so this one doesn't appeal as much to me.  I do like the idea of Snapmap though, which, as Damon said, is a tool to create your own multiplayer games, from the maps to the items to the rules.   After they introduced Snapmap, they showed some more gameplay, taking place in hell.  They gave a Spring 2016 release date for this; it will be available on XBox One, PS4, and PC.

 

Bethesda.net

Pete Hines talked about now Doom's Snapmap is an example of how Bethesda supports mods and is "pushing the boundaries of what is possible in games." Bethesda.net (prounounced by him as "BethesdaNet", without the dot) is a "new digital platform" supposed to "expand how users create and share that content" and be a "home for all things Bethesda".  He went on: "It will be used to power features like the Doom Snapmap you just saw, and it is already being used to support The Elder Scrolls Online across every platform for millions of players.  It will be at the heart of all of our games moving forward, and will also integrate our websites into one seamless experience."  He said that on Bethesda.net you will find forums, videos and articles, and access to new games and features.   As of my writing this, Bethesda.net does not appear to be an active site yet; going to it gives only a black page with the square Bethesda logo.

 

BattleCry

BattleCry is a new game developed by BattleCry Studios, a studio founded by Bethesda.  It is described as an "online action game with team-based combat"; they showed some clips while discussing it.   They announced that global beta signups are available at Battlecrythegame.com (you can also find more info about it in general there), and that if you sign up before June 18 you will receive priority beta access, as well as an in-game reward.  I like the classes for this one; it looks fun.  I've already signed up for the beta.

 

Dishonored 2

They played the trailer of Dishonored 2, which revealed a new protagonist, Emily.  This game will be for PC, Xbox One, and PS4; no other info on its release is available yet.  And as Damon mentioned, Dishonored: Definitive Edition will be released this fall.   I haven't played the original Dishonored, but I intend to at some point.  The trailer for the second game made me a lot more intrigued by it;  it can be seen here.

 

Elder Scrolls Online

They showed a video of what we can expect from ESO this year.   These include some of the DLC they've told us about and that we've been expecting for a while:

  • Imperial City:  We've got footage of Daedra patrolling wals, ruined buildings in one of the city's districts, firepot trebuchets being used, and cultists throwing books into a fire.   We see inside a building - the temple, I think - and see someone being tortured.  Lots of scenes of players fighting Daedra.    If you're interested in what's coming in the Imperial City, our own Enodoc made a post on the official ESO forums about what is known so far.
  • Orsinium: Lots of dramatic mountainous scenery and a large fort/city.  Looks like we'll see horkers, and there was a creature in the background that looked like a moose.  Caves with spiders and glowing mushrooms, and a fort with fireballs being thrown at it.  Large black birds swooping down and carrying people off.   And bear mounts!
  • The Dark Brotherhood "We Know" hand appeared at the end of the trailer, hinting that that's also forthcoming.

The full trailer can be seen here.  I'm looking forward to finally seeing this stuff make it into the game (and excited about the bear mounts).

 

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

This is a new digital strategy card game.  They didn't reveal too much about it, just showed a trailer that had art and a voiceover, mainly.  It will be free-to-play, and it will be for the PC and iPad, and it will arrive sometime in 2015.

This is one that I'm cautiously hopeful about.  A lot of people wonder whether it will be similar to Hearthstone.  I haven't played that myself.   The mobile card games I've played are Marvel: War of Heroes (found it difficult to get into) and Rage of Bahamut, which I've played quite a bit.  RoB at least makes it easy for new players to get into the game and gives good rewards in events, although it definitely has its downsides too.   I'm very curious as to what the format of ES: Legends will be.  We'll have to just wait and see; it's hard to judge it one way or another this early on.  Mainly I'm just eager to see the art on the cards - I like what I see in this video - and interested to see if we're introduced to any new lore.  

The trailer can be seen here.

 

 Fallout 4

I think Damon gave a better summary of this than I could, so I'll leave most of the descriptions to him.   I haven't played any Fallout (aside from an hour or so of Fallout 3 at a friend's once, but that really doesn't count), so when I was watching this, I thought of it in terms of  "have I seen anything like this" and "I wonder if ES6 could have anything like this". 

One of the things that stood out to me was the character creation (no sliders, just click on the face and sculpt), including the fact that they recorded around 200 common names (I once suggested something similar on the TES VI Wishlist Thread on our forum).  The mechanics of stripping down materials from different items and being able to build stuff with it is really cool.  I also liked the Pip Boy collector's edition item and app tie-in; and while yes, it is gimmicky, I find gimmicks like that pretty neat (they've got a minigame for Watch Dogs where an iPhone player can challenge a PC/console player to a minigame, and that was fun to play for a bit.  That's what this announcement reminded me a bit of.  There's so much potential for something like that.)

 

All in all, this presentation had a lot of good information, and some interesting surprises as well.  It looks like they've got a strong lineup for the next year.   I think this was a pretty successful E3 for Bethesda, and look forward to ones in future years (maybe with ES6!)

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Damon's #BE3 Impressions!

  12:02:00 am, by Damon   , 1086 words  
Viewed 8313 times since 06/15/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Analysis

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've taken meticulous-ish notes  notes on the BE3 stream, and I'm SUPER psyched about the new titles being released soon! Except for one of them, but I'll get to that soon. Also, I discarded the meticulous notes, because writing notes and making detailed posts isn't how I roll. That's boring! This is incoherent fanboyism and excitement coming out however I make it come out!

The first game detailed out on the Bethesda conference was Doom. The single player gameplay is a fast-paced, deadly first person shooter with badass melee, cool weapons, and a lot of blood and gore. It looks to be a rather formulaic entry to the series, as far as first-person shooting goes. The main attraction for me, personally, is the Snapmap and the multiplayer. Snapmap is an in-game editor where the players can sculpt their own maps and challenges, alter game logic, and so forth, to create endless unique multiplayer missions, challenges, and so forth. All-in-all, though, it's not the top of my list of "must-have" games, although it is one I'd like to eventually get.

The next game they revealed information for was Battlecry, an MMO that is being released. Oceania has been involved in a beta of the game, and it's going to be opened up to a worldwide beta soon. This game is the one I am the least interested in. I'm sure Battlecry will have its own unique twist, but overall, it's largely a heavily stylised and cartoony PVP MMO, and it felt very "Team Fortress 2"-ish, in my own opinion, and I'm not terribly interested in getting the game.

Next up is Dishonored 2: The realm is being taken over by a usurper, and Corvo and a new protagonist Emily are going to be teaming up with their own unique abilities and skills to save the world. It looks quite intriguing, although I've not played Dishonored yet. (Someday I will, honest!)

While we wait for Dishonored 2, a Dishonored: Definitive Edition is being created, which is a remake of Dishonored with all of the original DLC remastered for the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

The Elder Scrolls Online stuff, I'll leave to Alarra to go on about, since she's the ESOTU guru of the lot of us, and she wants to do her own impressions post about BE3 shortly after mine.

Before I get to the biggest attraction of the release, Fallout 4, there is a spin-off TES game that Alarra will hopefully cover (because I missed it and heard only a few details as I got a drink), and there's a Fallout Shelter smartphone game. Fallout Shelter, I do know about, and it's a stereotypical micromanagement game where you build a vault, gather settlers, and blah, blah, blah. Looks cute and adorable, but I don't have a smartphone, so as these are my own impressions, I'm going to gloss over this as I'm not interested.

FALLOUT 4 COMES OUT ON NOVEMBER 10, 2015!! In Fallout 4, you make your player, a voiced male or female of a family from pre-war, and you sign up for the local Vault 111 in Boston. The player will witness the bombs go off, and though spoilers were not given, you survive the blast and two centuries later are the sole survivor of Vault 111.

The UI is beautiful, simplistic, and the game is running off a modified Creation Engine from Skyrim. At first, the thought of a rehashed Creation Engine bothered me, but when I saw what the next generation of Creation can do, it took my breath away. In Fallout 4, the player will be able to construct a settlement in this large world by dynamically creating and building buildings in real time, can draw in settlers and traders between settlements they found, and can and should build defences to protect against bandit raids. Customised weapons and armour are possible, and the player, by stripping down any item in the world, can build and customise weapons, armour, and handmade and placed buildings to an extreme degree that just makes me giddy as hell and SUPER SUPER excited!

The characters have had hundreds or thousands of popular names recorded, so whatever name you enter as your name, characters can dynamically say it and include it in conversation, for instance using the name "Howard" from the presentation. Cosworth, the family robot, would address the player by this name, as would his family, and that was absolutely incredible! It will definitely make the world feel a lot more alive and that you're definitely a part of it! The gameplay looks amazing!

The player's power armour from the trailer looks like it's a tank, with speedometers, jetpacks, badass weapons, and other cool stuff, all customisable, and it's really exciting that the game will at last feature power armour that's a mechanised warrior capable of mass damage instead of a sturdy heavy armour as has been done in the past.

The last thing I want to touch on is the pip-boy from the collector's edition of Fallout 4. It allows the player to insert their smart phone and use an app to access the pip boy i-game. According to Todd Howard's own words, it's like the other "stupid fucking gimmicks" that other people do, but his looks really cool. The one thing I'm curious about is why on earth you'd drop your controller to touch your phone on your wrist. Eh, still cool, though, and since I finally have gainful employment, I'll have to pre-order the collector's edition when I can do so. Yes, I know, people say don't pre-order, but it's a game I'd get anyway, and unlike Ubisoft, BethSoft has a good track record, and I'm a hypocrite anyway.

These are all just my random and excited thoughts on the game, and I can't wait for Fallout 4 to come out this year on the tenth of November! I'm definitely saving some money to build a gaming computer to take on this game! And Doom and any other cool ones. No way I'm playing such a game like the other console peasants, no offence to you people (okay, maybe a little offence).

I CAN'T WAIT!!! Also, here are three screenshots (in no particular order) of concept art for Fallout 4, an image of the player outside of the vault, and of Fallout Shelter, which if I haven't mentioned yet, is now available on your smartphone app stores, and was released at the end of the presentation. I wanted these images in-line with the text, but the blog always wrecks my formatting and other stuff.

Please Stand By

  11:07:00 am, by Damon   , 202 words  
Viewed 3135 times since 06/02/15
Categories: News, Fallout

Here it is, we've been waiting with anticipation for ages about whether or not Fallout or The Elder Scrolls would be announced at Bethesda's E3 convention, and minutes ago Bethesda updated their cover image on Facebook with an updated "Please Stand By" graphic that was used in older Fallout titles, and the Fallout Bethesda page on the website has the same old TV "Please Stand By" image with a counter that will expire in approximately 23 hours, as of the time of this writing.

I am so excited for this release that I can't squeeze out words for it, and in under a day we will know what's new in the world of Bethesda's Fallout IP.

I am not one for speculating on locations, quests, factions, etc, but without any knowledge about Fallout, I'd like Miami to be on my wishlist. It seems like it would be awesome to see a bunch of abandoned, destroyed resorts, the ocean, the Everglades, mutant anacondas, etc.

But, that's my own wish. In less than a day we will know more, and I'll definitely be making a big, excited blog post cramming my thoughts about everything Fallout 4 related in the next day or two.

Please Stand By.

Why Fallout 3 Disappointed

  01:24:55 pm, by Damon   , 894 words  
Viewed 6366 times since 01/08/14
Categories: Games, Fallout

I’ve finally figured out why Fallout 3 always fell short for me, despite having such an interesting story and world. Referring back to AKB’s post, titled “What Happened to the Heroes?”, he explored the connection a player has with their characters in a game series like The Elder Scrolls. The problem, for me at least, is that I never am able to feel like the character is my own story and story-telling.

The premise of Fallout 3, for those of you who have somehow managed to not play it yet, is centred around the son of a scientist named James (voiced by the amazing actor Liam Neeson, though that’s not at all relevant, and I am just a Liam fan). James and his scientist wife Catherine were working on a project that would be able to purify all the water of the wastes when she dies giving birth to the player, who in typical BethSoft fashion can be male or female and either white, black, asian, or hispanic, with James’ race changing accordingly. With Mom’s death, James takes his child and petitions to Vault 101 to let them inside in exchange for his services as a doctor.

Seventeen years later, James breaks out of the vault, knowing his child (now an adult) will be safe in the vault and that he was raised well. The player breaks out of the vault as well, and pursues his father, who left to gather his team and pick up again on purifying the waters of the wastes, now that his job of raising a successful, well taken care of adult child has been finished. That’s the basic overview of the story without spoiling precisely what happens. It’s a good story, and I like it for what it is, though at the same time, I hate it.

For me, one of the bigger and more enjoyable aspects of roleplaying games is the length of time before even starting the game where I create my character’s backstory. That’s the best part of the experience for me, and it helps me to attach to the story and feel more involved with the character. In Fallout 3, the player has a story spoon fed to you. You’re of a specific parentage who have a specific career, and you’re story is tied directly into their life in a rather specific way, and that’s the way it is. There is no possibility of being creative with the story for roleplaying purposes, unlike with Fallout: New Vegas, or the Elder Scrolls games.

Take a look at Fallout: New Vegas for a second: No reference to your life, aside from your initial career as a courier, which gets shot to hell (rather literally). In Morrowind, all that’s known to the people in-the-know about the Nerevarine is that your parentage is unknown. In Oblivion and Skyrim, it’s not mentioned at all. You’re just an unnamed prisoner who through sheer dumb luck escapes the justice system. These are the stories I like, because it gives the player all the freedom in who their character is and why they are motivated to act like they do in the world.

If I want to say that my character in Fallout: New Vegas was raised to a junkie father who abandoned him as a youth, leaving his son/daughter doing whatever odd-jobs it took to stay fed and on Jet as he grew up, that’s my choice. As a role-player, I get to say “Okay, he’s a junkie, and he found out that (Insert random F:NV junkie NPC) is his father, and he is at (location). When I am in the area, how would he respond and interact with this NPC, who left him to pursue his own drug addiction while leaving his child to suffer as a youth?”

If I want to say my Skyrim character was an Imperial born into a family of Legionnaires, and that the near execution of the PC and Hadvar’s arguments that the Legion felt nothing for the citizens of the Empire, leading to the PC’s changing his outlook on the Civil War, that’s my prerogative.

The point is, it’s easier for me (and maybe for all role-players, though I have not performed any research on the matter) to feel attached to my character and have a more enjoyable experience if I can nitpick over little things like this, and that is where the story to Fallout 3 fell short to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story, and I love the story itself. I just feel that, given how the characters respond to you and given the fact that it’s centred around following Dad’s footsteps to heal the wasteland by giving it clean water, you are pigeonholed into the role of an altruistic scientist who purifies the entire wasteland’s water supply. The open-ended aspect of the game means there are darker paths to take, but they don’t feel so natural to play, given the player’s upbringing and morality that’s etched in by Dad’s talk of helping others.

So, that’s my little string of thoughts for the day: Fallout 3’s strict view of who the character is takes away from the experience of roleplaying the game.

Dead Money but Not Dead Enough

  04:43:50 pm, by   , 1842 words  
Viewed 437492 times since 14/03/11
Categories: Games, Fallout

Back in October last year (my how time flies!) I wrote a post about Fallout: New Vegas, in which I described my disappointment with the game. My final paragraph contained the phrase "If I give it a few more hours, I might like it too", which turned out to be a decent prediction, if not 100% accurate. I've played a lot of FNV since then and although I've forgiven the game a lot of its faults, it's still not going to make my top 10 list.

First, having played the game for longer, I've experienced the full range of its bugs. Well... there are probably more bugs, to be fair. I can't find them, though, because certain actions crash the game before I can reach other, probably game-crashing, bugs. This was such an issue on the game's release that Bethesda had to put out a press release urging people not to return the game but await a patch that would actually make the game playable. To be fair, a patch duly arrived, but it's like shoring up one wall of a house to make sure it doesn't fall down, only to discover that it's the only wall still present: the game seems to be irretrievably buggy.

Second, one of the major fun things in the game gets taken away from you as soon as you start to enjoy it: the casinos. Win enough chips at any of the casinos in New Vegas and they ban you; and it's pretty easy to get banned from all of them, meaning you can no longer play the three games on offer (blackjack, roulette and slot machines). Apart from the money-making aspect, playing in the casinos is a nice way to relax after shooting up a Fiend encampment, and for the game to take it away is pointlessly cruel. True, with a luck of 10 you're basically making your own money, but then the same is true no matter what you do late in the game, when you can haul huge amounts of loot back to vendors and sell it.

Third, I really dislike the plot endings. I'm not going to spoil it here with exact details, but no matter what you choose to do you end up in a bloodbath. There may be ways of avoiding this but if so, I haven't found them so far. Yes, you can avoid rivers of blood, but you always get at least a small stream.

On the other hand, the game offered enough that it's kept me busy, even if a decent fraction of the time I've spent on it involved reloading saves after a crash. Then reloading earlier saves because my latest save was already glitched in some way.

And so we come to the main subject of this post: the first piece of DLC: Dead Money.

It sucks.

It is absolutely bloody awful.

I have never wanted to do harm to a fellow programmer before playing this (well... apart from one or two I was working with) but this DLC almost makes me want to track down the developers and do serious, major damage to them.

I'm going to try to avoid huge spoilers, but if you haven't played it (you lucky, lucky bastards) and think you might want to do so (save your money!) then look away now.

I've always been told that one should give positive feedback first so the recipient is buoyed up when the criticism arrives, so I'll do it that way.

Dead Money has a very, very good story and several of the best characters to appear in any Bethesda title - indeed any recent video game title. To boil it down into a non-spoiled soup for easy digestion, the Sierra Madre Casino was completed just before the outbreak of war. It was to be the biggest, most luxurious entertainment complex ever imagined, and all was ready to roll when the bombs started to fall. Miraculously, the casino remained largely intact and several people were attracted to the riches presumably contained inside. You are the latest to become enmeshed in the plot. You end up as an involuntary worker for Elijah, who "enlists" your help, along with that of three other unfortunates, to open the casino and plunder it. Elijah is interesting in himself, but the other three - Dog/God (don't ask), Dean, and Christine are even better characters, with a wealth of back story to be discovered.

On your quest to find the first of these three, you discover that the area around the casino is filled with horrifying "ghost people", who return to life unless killed in specific ways. You also discover that the collar being used to ensure your obedience is sensitive to loudspeakers: radios and PA systems can trigger it and blow your head off. To make matters worse, the area is filled with a toxic cloud that is harmful to human life. As you find your fellow prisoners, the story develops... but I can't really say any more without spoiling things.

So what's my problem? Brilliant writing and interesting characters? Cool new enemies and challenges?

Well to begin with, this is yet another Fallout DLC that takes your equipment away at the start. Several of the FO3 addons did this, and it's basically a dick move to make your life harder. There were various levels of logic involved in the FO3 addons, ranging from "It's all a Virtual Reality" to "We feel like doing it" but here we have somebody who apparently wants you to help him taking your gear away even though he's not going to be there when you wake up. This is massively annoying. It gets worse if your character hadn't bothered to put much time into improving his or her melee/unarmed/explosives skills because you're going to need 'em. The Ghost People I mentioned earlier don't just need killing, they need eviscerating if they're going to stay dead, and the only realistic way to do that is with the new hand-to-hand weapons you find. You can use guns, but since ammo is harder to find than a eunuch's testicles you're going to run out pretty soon.

Some people are going to claim that having your equipment disappear is necessary to balance the mod. Rubbish. I've paid my cash and it's up to me how I want to play it. If I want to drop all my stuff outside (there's a chest where you can leave it) then I can do that. If I want to go in fully stoked, I should be able to do that too. Denying me the choice is nothing but annoying.

Next: you can't go back. Once you've started the mod, your committed. That's it. You have to finish the whole damn thing before you can return. While this might make sense in terms of the story, locking a game player in like this is never a good idea because they're just going to get mad at you. In my case, the first time I played it I reloaded an earlier save after about an hour because of technical problems and because I wasn't enjoying it. If I want to waste an hour of my life on something unenjoyable, I'll watch an episode of Outcasts. I should be able to leave and come back again later.

The ghost people themselves. At first, the challenge is good. The first time you get attacked by more than one you realise you have a choice: eviscerate the first one you kill to stop it getting up again, or leave it and try to beat down the second before the first recovers. The 15th time this choice appears, with variations including three or - shock - four enemies... it's boring. To be fair, the game repeatedly suggests that you avoid the ghost people rather than fight them, but it then makes a point of creating situations where you can't do that. After you've killed your first dozen of these things, they're annoying rather than scary.

After your first couple of fights, you'll need healing. Unfortunately, all your stimpaks were confiscated along with your weapons (see earlier comment re "dick moves") and you can't sleep outside because of the toxic environment. Luckily, there are new vending machines scattered around the place that will sell you food as long as you have enough Sierra Madre chips to buy it. Yes, you guessed it, yet another damn thing you have to collect. In this case, the chips are scattered around the exterior, and fairly easy to find, but it raises the question: Why bother doing this instead of just leaving the items to find? You have to discover codes that unlock things like stimpaks on the machines, so there's yet another bloody thing you have to find.

Next, this thing about radios and speakers setting off your collar. When you first encounter this, it's an interesting challenge and easy enough to solve without being onerous. It turns out you can switch off radios and shoot loudspeakers to disable them. You'll never guess what happens later? Oh... you did? Speakers you can't destroy and radios embedded in accessible areas? Let's say it again: dick move. For me, this is the second most annoying part of the game. There are places where there is - essentially - no possible way you can complete it first time through. You have got to go through and get killed, possibly several times, until you learn the locations of the speakers you can destroy, and the spaces in the coverage of the others where you can catch your breath. That's utterly rubbish in an A/RPG like Fallout where you should be able to get through on your first attempt unless you've made an unwise choice such as diving into a cave and taking on its inhabitants without the necessary skills.

Finally... the bugs! There are so many! On my first playthrough, the first three (I think) missions went fine but then the fourth glitched out and I couldn't finish it. That one I solved by quitting and reloading a save before I even entered the DLC. A similar thing happened on mission five, which I could solve with a reload, and then when I hit the final mission, I couldn't get it to work at all. Nothing on the Internet suggests a solution and various console commands ended up crashing the damn game yet again. So I decided to write a long blog post and drink some Scotch.

You know what adds to it all? What acts as a final knee in the crotch of good gameplay? The bloody casino ban limit is in place at the Sierra Madre too! You'd have thought that after the sheer bloody misery of working your way through this awful mod they could at least leave the casino open! Except, if I read the reviews right, once you've finished the DLC the whole area becomes inaccessible. One last dick move from a thoroughly rotten DLC.

Good riddance to the whole noxious, bug-ridden piece of poo.