Fallout 2: Toxic assets

(This is part of my journey going checking out Fallout 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

ca1All right, let’s head over to the invitingly named Toxic Caves and rescue one very lost adventurer. This better be worth the bullets I’m going to waste!

ca2I don’t know what I was expecting, but this place practically shouts, “YOU ARE GOING TO GET YOUR SPERM FRIED.” The things I do for experience points, let me tell you.

Pro tip: Wearing rubber boots allows you to walk across this sludge — at least for a little while. It does not, however, do much against all of the golden geckos leaping out at me from the shadows. But hey, I got a new level! Small guns, lockpick, speech — everything a growing boy needs to survive.

ca3Sulik is such a great first companion. Not only does he come out with these weird quotes from his “grampy bone,” but his sledgehammer attacks keep slamming bad guys down and amusing me wildly. Plus, his attacks cost a whopping zero ammo, so more for me!

There’s no good reason other than to enjoy being a crack shot to use my pistol here, so I reluctantly return to my spear. Sigh.

ca4Lo and behold, there’s Smiley, biding his time in a generator room. I did try to fix the generator for the elevator, but my repair skill is way, way too low. Maybe some other day.

We head back to Klamath for my whopping $100 reward. Well, I do get some nice XP for saving Smiley, but in exchange I’ve been radiated and gone through over half of my remaining bullets. With no one left to buy from and no quests remaining, I say goodbye and head out toward the Den.

ca5Vic the trader supposedly went back to the Den, so that’s where we need to go. It’s a larger town than Klamath with several businesses, some of which I desperately hope have ammo and quests.

ca6Becky’s is a fine little casino, because when you think of “post-apocalypse” you think “roulette!” Actually, there is some sort of connection between the two. I guess it’s the generally seedy atmosphere that works. And no, I don’t bet. Not going to waste my money.

ca7The good news is that I’ve found out where Vic is. The bad news is that he’s being held by the local slaver. Well, crud. This is going to get bloody.

ca8The Den is crawling with drug-addicted people called reliants. In one home populated by wacked-out hippies, I find this guy — Flick. Little foul-mouthed, but he’s free with the info and, better yet, he makes a good trading buddy. Thanks for the ammo, Flick!

After checking out another weirdo — a guy who claims to have a mummy (which is just a dessicated corpse) — I call it a day. I’ll be back to ravage this town soon enough!

Shroud of the Avatar: Lost and bewildered

My days of being highly enthusiastic about sitting down to learn an entirely new system, product, software, or game have receeded into the distance in my life, along with my free time. I’ve found that I’m a LOT more impatient now when it comes to wanting to know how to do something right away. Fortunately, most MMOs are easy enough to pick up if you’ve played others, but there are a few outliers, and Shroud of the Avatar is kind of one.

Sure, there’s enough that’s familiar to allow me some measure of navigation, but it’s not 100% WoW compatible (if that’s a term). The combat system is… weird and hinky and will take some understanding. As will the character builds. And the crafting. And all of the other little touches that are meant to get back to a roleplayer’s world but are sometimes inconvenient.

What I really need to do is carve out a swath of time to play SOTA and nothing but, to REALLY learn this game and not just dabble in it. Of course, that thought comes about the time when every other MMO on the planet has dropped some major update, so this imaginary swath might be a long time coming. I suppose that’s okay; SOTA isn’t planning to launch until later this year, if that.

ac1I had to roll up a new character due to the newest release. My goal is to futz around enough so that I can hopefully do the Release 17 tour (and get my fez hat!) before Release 18 comes about.

I didn’t notice the above tutorial tip the first time I went through this. Huh. So you’re saying that looting dead bodies might have a consequence? INTERESTING. I like it when a game doesn’t take standard mechanics for granted.

ac2Water graphics, you… aren’t quite there yet. That’s a nice way of saying that you U-G-L-Y. It’s like wading into mediocrity.

I guess one of the changes that came with this update is that to leave the tutorial, you no longer have a convenient glowing portal, but have to take a hidden boat. Boat it is!

ac3NPCs apparently are more complex than mindless questgivers and vendors. For starters, you don’t know their names until you ask, after which the game will show their name instead of a generic description. Also, according to the help window, NPCs will react to you based on your various virtues and decisions. I can’t lie, this is pretty cool, although I want to see it in action. Reminds me a bit of what they were angling for in Ultima X Odyssey, with the virtue choices and whatnot.

ac4After selling off the rusty swords I looted from those skellies, I bumped into this clockwork man, whom I correctly assumed to be the tour guide. Also, that was its name. He mentions a half-dozen places that I have to visit and find the other tour guides in order to win that dorky hat. Ohh, I want it bad. So bad.

ac5This happened. Killed it. Dressed it. I am such the woodsman.

I have to say, the most disorienting thing about SOTA is the complete lack of a radar or easily accessible in-game map. Sure, I have three maps in my inventory, but none of them are for where I’m at. I’m afraid to wander far and get lost, and I really want to methodically explore this town.

Wait, after looking closer, one of the maps — Braemar — is for where I’m at, even though my compass says Soltown. That’s not confusing at all. According to the map, only four of the buildings are the actual computer town, while the rest of the structures are player housing. Well, four is better than forty for a start.

ac6The local tavern is a warm familiar-type place, so I hang out in here for a bit, people-watching. Lots of weird masks. The barmaid doesn’t have any quests other than the quest to sell me drinks. I’m poor, so no thanks.

ac7A chamber pot! Even in SOTA, you gotta take bio breaks.

ac8Time to blow this one-stoplight town. Feels like there should be quests to do, but I can always come back.

ac9Here’s another example of SOTA’s breaking from the MMO norms: it’s overworld map. When you leave an area, you appear on this map where you can physically move between points of interest (and see others running around too). It’s kind of neat but does make the world feel more fragmented.

ac10You can also get attacked on the map, Final Fantasy-style. Thanks for the free XP, wolves!

Marvel Heroes: Giving Scarlet Witch an audition

scarletI ended up playing a disproportionally large amount of Marvel Heroes this past weekend. Maybe I was just in the mood to turn off my brain and click-click-click my way to victory. Maybe I’m on a superhero kick as of late.

I did finish powering Squirrel Girl through the story quests on heroic mode, unlocking superhero mode for her final story run. They aren’t kidding around in that mode, either; I died to a boss on the Raft due to not paying attention.

Fun Squirrel Girl fact that I didn’t realize before lately: She’s voiced by Tara Strong, which explains why I love her quotes so much. I’m piloting Twilight Sparkle!

I do need to buckle down and really start learning how to gear and play SG to pump out more damage. Up to this point I’ve been mostly messing around, keeping any gear that proc’d summons because I love seeing Iron Man, Wolverine, drones, etc. appearing to help out. But maybe it’s time to realize that flashy doesn’t always mean effective. Maybe.

I did use the excuse of starting over on superheroic mode to try my hand at an alt. Looking down the roster of my level 60 heroes, I picked out Scarlet Witch for a run, mostly based on my newfound awareness of her thanks to Age of Ultron. Yeah, I’m not as much of a comic book geek as some people; I don’t automatically know all of the characters of the Marvel universe.the way some people do.

Scarlet Witch — Wanda to her friends, although I’m just a casual aquaintance right now — is a refreshingly different experience than Squirrel Girl. She wields chaos magic, which means lots of DoTs and (my favorite) homing hexes. Apparently she’s also highly in favor with the game’s community, having just gotten buffed with a 52 review.

She’s pretty straight-forward and does a good job clearing the screen quickly, although I don’t know if she’s overall interesting enough to keep my attention for the long haul. It would be nice to level her high enough to unlock her synergy with other characters (something I should be doing more of, I guess).

The Secret World: End Game

You know that special, tingling feeling you get in the base of your spine when you get really excited about something that’s about to happen? Something that you’ve been looking forward to for a long time, that’s been a while in the making?

I got that feeling when I saw this:

or1The Orochi Tower, unlocked. Answers. Resolution. A storyline two-and-a-half years unfolding.

End game.

Feels really weird to be going in here alone after having done much of the rest of the story with a regular group, but we’ve all scattered to the wind (for now), so I’m one of the last to see make it across this particular finish line.

or2With the entity known as John more or less on my side (since I’m Lilith’s enemy, and the enemy of my enemy is my bizarre ally), he unlocks the tower to not just me but every faction in Tokyo still standing. The demons, Yakuza, good samurai, and lil’ ol’ me run in and face off against Orochi’s myriad defense systems.

The opening tunnel mission comes off as a final exam for several of the story missions in Kaidan. There’s a demon portal, security bot fights, even moonwalking across pressure plates. It’s not particularly difficult or exciting, but all of that changes when I finally make it into the lobby.

or3Inbeda, Daimon, and Gozen are all posturing and waving swords around and somesuch. Strangely enough, it’s the loony Daimon who becomes the temporary peacemaker, urging for calm while the real assault on Orochi begins. They all stand down, but it turns out that I’m the one who’s going to be doing the heavy lifting.

In a just world, after all I’ve gone through, I’d be given an express pass to the penthouse and all of the answers. But this is The Secret World, a game that hates us and delights in being cruel. So I’m going to have to claw my way up to the top, floor by floor.

or4Heh. I actually can’t wait to see.

or5The first step is to get a beta key, which means plowing through a floor crawling with Orochi security bots. And, oddly enough, random scientists milling around and not acting like a shotgun-wielding madwoman shooting up the halls is anything to be deeply concerned about.

So… lots of fights. You want to hear something else that’s strange? All of the robots have demonic shields, not cybernetic. Why? What’s that about?

pr6I guess this is the corporate weirdness that Daimon was hinting at. Dead guy and pleasure unit prototype. My first thought is, who would want all of that pinchy metal near anyone’s soft bits?

or7Between this room and the Love Hotel, I feel that TSW is having a good laugh at some of the notorious kinky elements of Japanese culture.

Anyway, got the beta key. Felt like a good place to take a short nap and resume my assault on the morrow.


Catching up with the Newbie Blogger Initiative

nbiI’ve been snowed under with projects lately and as a result have been remiss with keeping up to date with this year’s Newbie Blogger Initiative. So this morning I carved out a little time to see what new and returning blogs and projects have sprouted in the past ten days.

Check them out and see if you can’t find a new favorite or two among the bunch!

And previous linked blogs, re-linked here for your convenience:

Fallout 2: Welcome to Trapper Town

(This is part of my journey going checking out Fallout 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

tr1Sulik and I cross over into the seedier (if that’s possible) area of Klamath known as Trapper Town. Gonna be some good shootin’ potential in here, I can tell!

Even for a game pushing two decades, Fallout 2 managed to create a memorable and distinctive art style that makes pouring over every screen an enjoyable experience unto itself. I love how the artists were able to convey the age of this weather-beaten world.

tr2I bump into Slim Picket, the de facto leader of Trapper Town. He’s a font of basic information, mostly about trapping geckos and the rat problem in the northern part of the town. Yes, even Fallout 2 wants you to kill ten rats; it’s a tradition. He says he has a key for sale to that part of town, but the dog already gave me the same key, so I think I’m good.

tr3Let me tell you, after a couple of frustrating hours with that spear, it’s pure bliss to be able to one-shot rats with 95% accuracy with my pistol. Blammo, blammo! However, I do need to conserve ammo a bit, so I reluctantly swap back to my spear and let Sulik take the brunt of the melee.

The rat portion of Trapper Town begins in a winding building that leads to a two-level rat warren. The first bit is just normal rats, but soon enough we’re facing off against dreaded rat pigs. Wait, how did those happen? Did a rat and a pig fall madly in love?

tr4Before I know it, I’ve found the source of the rat problem: the monstrous Rat God. Or, as the game alternatively calls it, the Rat Keeng. It puts up a slightly tougher fight and Sulik gets knocked down hard at once point, but we emerge victorious. Yay Team Syp of the Apocalypse! And I find a second pistol to boot, which will be worth a nice bit of money.

The last bit to loot down here is some explosives from a table, which I’d much rather sell than use. Back up to the surface to sell and restock!

sypOther than a few lootable odds and ends, Trapper Town doesn’t have anything else I need. I head back to the Golden Gecko and do a fair bit of bartering between me and the bartender. I think I walk away with the better end of the deal, with more ammo, a couple of additional stimpacks, and — most importantly — leather armor to replace my flimsy Vault 13 jumpsuit. YEAH. Now I look like I’m ready to star in my own post-apocalyptic film!

LOTRO: The last sword I’ll ever need

fineI won’t say that Lord of the Rings Online’s Update 16 was the brightest star on my gaming horizon, but as it neared it did start to shine more and more in my hopes. I don’t know why I was thrilled to see that Turbine was adding in new dungeons, but I was — and it made me kind of want to run a few. And while the new zones and epic story is nice to have, it’s not really the selling point so much as what was expected.

Oddly enough, what really excited me about Update 16 was the change to the legendary item system with the new level-100 imbuements. Basically, once you hit level 100 you can choose to “imbue” a LI so that it changes from its normal configuration to a special new one that gives an XP bar and ranks to each legacy. This allows for a lot more leveling/advancement through LIs while taking away some of the micromanagement that these objects used to require. Theoretically it takes us in a step toward how LIs should have been from the get-go: powerful items that level up alongside of you.

While I had a second-age level 100 halberd, what I really wanted was to return to using a sword on my captain. The sword just looks more iconic and deadly, plus I like those animations more. So I put out a call to my kinship asking if there were any crafters who could make a second ager (since I couldn’t find any in the auction house after a week or so of looking), and a crafter piped up to help me out.

A few minutes later, and I was in possession of a brand-new level 100 two-handed greatsword that I named Fallout, in honor of the retro game series I’m doing on Bio Break this week. It’s already doing more DPS than I was with the halberd, and I spent a couple of crystals of rememberance that I had in the bank to give it a couple of extra legacy slots.

The, er, fallout from this improved system means that getting XP now has more meaning for me once again, which in turn strengthens the motivation for going through quests. Other than the occasional class trait for finishing a quest line and the story, I wasn’t really getting much in terms of rewards from questing post-100 anyway. Now I’ve got a new XP mountain to climb, and ideally this sword will be with me all of the way through the remainder of the game. That’s a happy thought.

Less happy is my success with the new dungeons. I’ve been making it a point to sign up in the instance finder for both the old and new dungeons, but haven’t had any luck seeing those pop. Maybe I’m the only person who uses the instance finder? I’m curious to at least see the Osgiliath instances, at least.