Fallout 76’s end of the world is right around the corner

Last week we received a bounty of new information for next month’s Fallout 76, thanks to a press preview event. With beta and launch coming in rapid succession here, it’s definitely high time that Bethesda sells the gaming public on this online-only multiplayer concept.

I’ve seen this sort of reaction before, but there’s definitely a lot of unwarranted fear from people that multiplayer is going to ruin everything. Single-player modes are like a sacred cow to the non-MMO populace, and I have to restrain myself from rolling my eyes too much when I see articles written about how it won’t be THAT bad and that it still feels solo-ish and whatnot. Even in 2018, there are people who think that soloing isn’t an option when you’re gaming online, and that is just plain ignorance.

In any case, I’m generally upbeat about this entire game. Generally. Let’s get some general worries and gripes out of the way, which include:

  • Bethesda always developing games and interfaces for consoles first and PCs after
  • Off-putting player character design
  • A reported lack of an overt story
  • Unwanted PvP and a lack of a PvE-only server
  • VATS unable to slow down time and reportedly not working that great in the preview test

However, none of these are dealbreakers to me. The core attraction of the Fallout series to me is one of exploration. I simply want to roam the countryside, check out new places, scavenge what I can, and gear up so I can survive another day. That seems to be the gameplay loop of Fallout 76 — including a need for eating and drinking — and I’m perfectly fine with that.

I’m especially ecstatic over the sheer size of the map and the beautiful rural setting, both of which call out to me to roam for hours and explore every last little thing. I like to do completionist exploration in Fallout games, which is probably why I never actually finish them. I hate to think I’ve overlooked something in these fascinating worlds.

The character building system looks like a definite improvement over the mess that was Fallout 4’s setup, and I love the idea of collecting and slotting perk cards as needed. The portable CAMP is a neat idea too, and one I’ve been advocating for years in MMOs (in short, I’d rather have a portable tent/player housing that I could set up for a short duration).

Fallout 76 is going to have to work hard to win a lot of people over, and you see a lot of outlets damning it with faint praise as “not a real Fallout game but nice anyway.” Me? I think it is high time this franchise went online, and I applaud the studio for trying a different tact instead of getting stuck making the same game over and over again.

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Fallout 4: Take me down to the Diamond City

As I’ve said many times before, urban exploration in RPGs isn’t my favorite, so now that I’m starting to get into the thick of Fallout 4’s Boston, I’m giving up my systematic search in favor of following questlines and hitting up points of interest should I be passing by them. So far, that’s working.

Got to say, my favorite enemies in this game are the Synths, especially the second generation varieties. It’s fun to blow bits and chunks out of their frame while watching them continue to approach, Terminator-style. By now I have a few really powerful weapons that can take most enemies down in one or two VATS-assisted hits, so I keep myself amused with the slo-mo shots.

Every instance on the map typically has some sort of story attached that is unfolded by exploration, dialogue, computer terminals, and observation. The ArcJet plant surprised me with this rocket booster for the Mars Shot project in the basement. At first I thought it was a full rocket, but no such luck. At least I got to use it creatively to fry a whole bunch of Synths!

Feral ghouls throwing a pool party. They’re relatively weak mobs but they come on FAST and have a tendency to startle you with their unexpected presence. I’m getting really good at triggering VATS as soon as I hear something other than me or Dogmeat moving around.

What’s really fascinating me with this playthrough is observing the frozen-in-time pop culture and technology of this alternate 2077. It’s a world that was really sad and depressing in a lot of ways (even before the bombs), but it also had a lot of love for cool things like comic books and fun toys. Piecing together how this foreign world ticked and functioned is the most interesting aspect of exploring it.

One vault had a mockup street shooting gallery tucked inside. I did a double-take when I first saw it, thinking that I had come back outside somehow.

This guy died as he lived — with his face down on a toilet.

Bethesda has too much fun with propping up skeletons.

Since in the Fallout universe the microtransistor wasn’t developed, the technology stayed big and bulky, even as civilization developed rocket ships and power armor and computers. This “big, bulky, and metallic” design is all over the place (and I really dig it).

I was taking out some Raiders on a barge and saw that they had fished up and were eating… dolphins, I guess? Poor guys.

Finally, finally I arrived at Diamond City, which I had previously thought was just a walled-off block of Downtown Boston or something. When I saw it was Fenway Park I smacked myself in the forehead. I’m an idiot.

Fallout 4: Wasteland Justice

Always thought that Red Rocket was one of the most iconic and evocative location designs in the game — and they use it almost immediately.

Anyway, adventures are continuing apace in Fallout 4 as I press further into this CRPG than I ever have before. Mostly I’ve been sweeping through the early locations, clearing out areas of bad guys, looting, leveling up, and enjoying the environmental storytelling. I do need to get back to doing regular quests, but I wanted to get established first.

“Been waiting here long? HAHA”

My favorite instances in this game are ones where the devs put in a lot of extra effort to make the locations themselves a lot of fun to explore and see. The museum of the Revolution here is one such place, complete with cheesy themed rooms and narration.

In Fallout’s timeline, America’s astronauts went to the moon ARMED. (‘murica!)

The pregnant girl who ran away from her home and died in this cabin continues to be one of the sadder stories of the game, especially since we’re left a voice recording of her plight.

I love getting high up in this game because it offers a much-needed perspective shift on the surrounding countryside.

I’m sure I’ve whined about this before, but one of my pet peeves about RPGs is whenever a game makes me spend a lot of time in a city. I don’t like exploring them, fighting in them, or trying to map them out. And Fallout 4’s in-game map is really basic (and, for some reason, there’s no mapping of interior spaces).

While I’m complaining, I absolutely, unreservedly hate Bethesda’s approach to inventory in the Fallout/Elder Scrolls games. I hate that it’s dumbed down to this extremely messy version just for console users. So yeah, I really need to get an inventory mod going here.

How does she know that I’m married, huh? Anyway, the Covenant storyline was new to me this time around, and while I don’t regret how it went down, I wasn’t exactly happy at the sheer bloodshed that followed. The best thing out of all of this is that I splurged on a named shotgun, Justice, from Penny here. Let me tell you, it was worth every cap I spent. I love that shotgun so very, very much, especially because it has a high chance of knocking enemies back. Seeing super mutants stagger as I pump round after round into them is all I live for now.

Justice was the last thing that Boomer ever saw.

Also, I’ve been getting into mix-and-matching armor pieces lately, especially now that I’m getting star-rated drops from legendary mobs. I look ugly as sin, but at least I’m surviving firefights much better now.

You know what’s fun? Basking in the radioactive heat of disposed uranium.

Speaking of radioactive, I thought that this cabin in the midst of some waste looked so pretty it seemed like concept art.

Fallout 76: Generally happy, slightly worried

Like so many other friends that I saw on Twitter, I spent longer than expected watching the Bethesda showcase on Sunday night. Thought it might have been 45 minutes, hour tops, but that sucker kept on going for 1.5 hours as the company kept announcing countless games and updates. Some were pretty paltry, some huge, but really, I was just there for one title: Fallout 76.

I think it’s safe to say that no matter what they announced, unless it was a piddly battle royale thing, I’d be playing it. But what I was hoping for, crossing my fingers for, was to see Fallout 76 take a step toward that Fallout MMO that I’ve always wanted.

I got more than I expected, really. Bethesda angered some, bewildered others, and absolutely delighted me by announcing that Fallout 76 would be a completely online game in a persistent world with standard questing, socialization, co-op, crafting, base building, and the like. There will be “dozens” of players on each small server shard that can bounce to others, keeping the world from getting overpopulated while still allowing folks to team up and fight. Huge world, movable bases, nuclear strikes, West Virginia, country roads take me home.

I’ll admit that I was standing up and cheering when Bethesda went full-fledged MMO here. Sure, they might not call it one and we can argue about the definition, but in my eyes, it is. There’s always that segment of the gaming community that treats the idea of “MMOs” like it’s poo that ruins anything it touches, but to me it’s the opposite. It takes good things and makes them potentially better with other players, persistent worlds, continual growth, and so on. Tacking that on to one of my favorite RPG franchises is welcome news to my ears.

I really like the setting and timeframe, too. I think it’s a good move to pull back to an earlier time frame when the world isn’t as broken down after the bombs dropped, which means that it won’t be as ugly and sun-bleached. Still a wasteland, still the same scavenger gameplay loop, but in a more colorful and life-filled environment. West Virginia isn’t a typical setting for games either (or any sort of media, really), and I’m glad it’s getting a shot here. It’s an inspired idea for a setting, especially with some of its nuclear-related locales and the Appalachian mountains. Might be kind of difficult to traverse up and down hills all the time, but we’ll see how that goes.

My biggest reservation is the PvP. Bethesda was unapologetic about including it into the game and encouraging players to blow each other’s heads off, and that’s certainly an aspect of survival sandboxes that has never interested me. Like Moxie said on Twitter, I’d rather be cooperative than competitive with others.

Even though the studio spent almost a half-hour talking and showing this game, I feel that there are a lot more specifics that we need to learn, especially how solo/multiplayer/PvP/grouping works. Can I avoid PvP entirely? Will there be server options for that? What about private servers? Bethesda said that players can fully solo if they desire, but what does that mean? It’s open to a lot of interpretation and we really need clarification.

In any case, I now have a really big title to anticipate later this year and more incentive to play through the entirety of Fallout 4. What did you think about the Fallout 76 announcement?

Fallout 4: Exterminate the world

You all know that I’m a big dork, but I seem bound and determined to prove it in interesting ways. Today’s example is right before you: I spent an evening taking pictures from Fallout 4, all while failing to realize that Flux had turned on my nighttime amber overlay. That is why these pictures look the way they do.

Anyway.

I couldn’t help it, with all of the Fallout 76 talk — I had to get back into Fallout 4! Maybe this is turning into the summer of single-player RPGs for me. Heaven knows I have enough of them to play and few that I’ve ever actually beaten. This will be my third attempt at Fallout 4, so we’ll see how it goes!

Even though I’ve played this game several times before, I still wanted to watch through all of the introductory sequences and take a bazillion screenshots. Amber screenshots. Also, I would totally buy that first-generation Pip Boy up there, even if it resulted in a fractured arm.

Sorry, Shaun, you’re still the creepiest, fakest-looking baby a video game developer has ever made. I’m not entirely convinced that you aren’t a toy that this husband and wife started projecting their maternal and paternal desires upon.

The part of me that plays Fallout Shelter saw this box and went “GRAB IT! IT CAN PROTECT THE THIRD LEVEL IN MY VAULT!”

Who wouldn’t want a Mr. Handy?

I still think that this opening is one of the most chillingly effective scenes in any video game I’ve played to date. Seeing that bomb go off and the shockwave rush toward you always freaks me out. In a good way, I suppose.

Vault 111 is really unsettling at the start. Being alone without a Pip Boy, decent weapon, or a radio station is about the most naked you’ll ever be in this game. On the flip side, posters like these kept my heart light.

And who wouldn’t want to sit down to play a fully functional game of Red Menace (aka “Copyright Infringement-Free Donkey Kong”)? For the record, I did play and beat a level. I felt that if the developers went through the trouble, it was the least I could do.

Anyway, this is my character, Betsy. I picked the name from a list of people that Codsworth would actually reference out loud. Plus, “Betsy” seemed like a very 1950s name. I’m still experimenting with third- vs. first-person as a playstyle and am shamelessly using the interactive Fallout 4 map to track my progress.

Got a non-Vault outfit and made friends with a dog! I’m all for having a companion, although it is occasionally disconcerting when I see movement off to the side and whirl about to prepare for an attack… and it’s just the dog. Also, he steals loot.

Love the nights over the wasteland. One positive about the end of the world? No light pollution!

Fallout 76 gives me a radioactive hope

Last week I stepped out of town for a couple of days, and you know how that usually goes — something in the industry implodes, destroys, is canned, or is fired. Except that this time, apparently the internet collectively went nuts watching a Bethesda Fallout livestream of nothing in particular for 24 hours, followed by the internet being treated to a trailer to a new title, Fallout 76.

As I’ve stated several times before, one of my greatest gaming hopes is that we would be treated to a Fallout MMORPG. This series, its setting, and its retro-futuristic aesthetic clicks so hard with me, and a little Fallout 111 guy and Dogmeat sit on my desk at work. While the single-player RPGs are all well and good, I want that persistent universe, that multiplayer interaction, constant development, the whole enchilada.

I don’t think we’re going to get the full MMO package in Fallout 76, but it sounds like we might get a lot more than what most had been anticipating. Scuttlebutt is that there is an online multiplayer environment, perhaps as a survival sandbox of sorts.

Can I say that I approve of the title, having been born in 1976?

We do know that the setting is a LOT earlier than the last two Fallout games, being only 20 years after the bombs dropped. I could see this as being a (non-)fertile environment to send players to rebuild the world in their image, using Fallout vault tech instead of the typical fantasy arts and crafts. We’re supposed to hear more at E3, but I’m really excited about it. As long as it’s not some horrid PvP-only abomination, I’ll be lined right up for it.

I’m betting that a lot of folks are rebooting Fallout 3, 4, Las Vegas, and Shelter this week. I’ve been meaning to do a full Fallout 4 run after Pillars of Eternity, but perhaps I should swap the two for June. Get back into the groove of things and stoke the fires of that Fallout passion.

What do you want out of Fallout 76? What do you expect we’ll hear about it?

Fallout 4: Revisiting the pre-apocalypse

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That flag being different — yet the same — is a great telegraph for “this is an alternate timeline!”

I had a hankering for a little Fallout 4 action this week, and since I’ve let too much time go by, I had to (of course) start all over again. It’s a flimsy excuse but it’s the one that I’ll use shamelessly.

I don’t mind hitting the reset button (and I think I had to, since this is a new computer… I don’t know if there was a cloud save but I didn’t look into it). After all, it means that I get to go through the rather excellent opening sequence all over again. The first glimpse of what a pre-nuclear war world looks like should be savored, yes?

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That outfit is doing nobody favors, sister. Makes me itch just looking at it.

I like how tactile this pre-fab house looks. So many primary colors, a very clean-cut ’50s aesthetic. I can imagine reaching out and feeling all of this, despite it not being photo-realistic.

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This is the biggest failing of the intro, however. That baby looks so plastic and fake that I can only laugh when the bad guys take it away. We donated a dozen just like it to Salvation Army last Christmas!

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Cogsworth in the kitchen. So… much… metal. Right here we’re looking at a half-ton of stainless steel. Can’t imagine installing those cabinets.

And I would totally love to have that kitchen (and robot). Does anyone else think it’s weird that a butler robot has an unguarded buzz saw always at the ready? Does it need to use that very often?

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When the sirens went off and we were told to run, RUN to the vault, naturally I spent the next few minutes casually strolling around the subdivision and checking out all of the incredibly sweet cars.

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Even the interiors of the cars are pretty detailed and impressive. I can picture taking this baby for a road trip, even though that steering column would ram right through my chest cavity if we rear-ended another car.

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I spent so much time sight-seeing that I actually got flattened by the nuke while walking down the street. Fine. I’ll take the hint, game.

This short sequence of seeing Boston get nuked while your elevator oh-so-slowly descends is still chillingly effective. I keep expecting all of the nearby soldiers and Vault tech people to dive onto the elevator while this happens.

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The blast front approaches. Seems like we don’t go down far enough to really escape the pressure and heat when it arrives, but it’s a game and all that.
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YOU KNOW YOU’RE CRADLING A DOLL, RIGHT?