Monday, November 23, 2015

Fallout 4: My new full time job

Hello everyone. My name is Eccentric Cowboy, and I have an addiction. It has been about twelve hours since I last played a Fallout game, but I don't know how much longer I can last. I've tried pills, counseling, group therapy, even a camp, but nothing seems to work.

What can I say? Fallout is hands down my favorite game franchise ever. Nothing else comes close. I've dumped so much time across Fallout 1, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and now Fallout 4, that I could have probably made millions in high frequency stocks trading. I can't help it though! The writing is fantastic, the worlds are huge and have an insane amount of depth, and there is an almost endless variety of things to do. This won't necessarily be an objective super informative review, and more of my personal thoughts and a shameless love letter to the game, so if you like hearing someone gush for a few pages, then you'll probably want to keep reading.

Since Fallout 4 got released on the 11th, I've racked up 79 hours total. That's just in two weeks. That's pretty much a full time job worth of game play. I confess, the first three days were a bit slow as I tried to adapt to the new setup, but after awhile it gained momentum and I began having an insane amount of fun. No, Fallout 4 isn't perfect. There are a few kinks that get in the way, but dangit, what's good is really good.

One of my issues with Fallout 3 and New Vegas was the aiming. It always felt stiff and clunky, not what you want when a deathclaw is trying to pull your spine out through your anus. The best way to describe it is if you have a broom tucked under your arm, and have both arms extended until your elbows are locks and aim by swiveling your torso at the hips. But here the aiming is just plain smooth and reflexive. I can swing on target quickly and start de-braining Gunners with surgical precision. Now we're talking!

One of the biggest changes that took me by surprise was that I didn't need to repair my weapons. Say wha-? I've been so used to lugging around extra weapons to cannibalize or weapon repair kits that it's almost impossible for me to not grab every weapon I see lying around. I've been programmed to grab everything not bolted down, so weight can be a big problem fast. At least for me anyway. If you just want swag and a few weapons, you should be fine. Me though? I instinctively grab enough weapons, armor and ammo to outfit my own army company. And wouldn't you know it? In this game I can finally do that!

There have been a lot more games with construction parts to them, thanks Minecraft. I was a bit worried about how that would work out here since I mostly play Fallout to level up and shoot mutants in the face, but thankfully it's not a huge hassle. It doesn't handcuff you to the building part and punish you if you don't want to do it. I mostly engage because I like the idea of building my own mini-empire in the Wasteland, and have fortified the Castle to the point where I can handle most invasion attempts and outfitted a good number of my settlers to the balls with combat armor and decent weapons. Bring it on Wasteland!

Oh, and you have some extra goodies here. You can call in sodding artillery strikes. Artillery! Throw a smoke beacon and your guys will rain fiery death down upon your enemies. Frigging. Awesome. The primary limit to what they can do is their range is limited, so you'll often want multiple settlements with an artillery piece and someone to use it. I haven't used it much, just because I'm conservative to a fault when it comes to gear. The artillery beacons are pretty much unlimited if you grab them, but they weigh me down and I only wanna use them for heavy targets. 30 ghouls coming at me? I've got that.

Oh, and the gear modding? It's awesome. You have a LOT of options on what you can do. My favorite weapon right now is a highly customized bolt action rifle that I've renamed Slayer. A 50 cal bolt action with a large magazine, bayonet, marskman stock and reflex sight, I have a killer short to medium range combat gun and can butcher most things that come my way. 50 cal is great medicine for deathclaws and just about anything else you can come across, although it's not as good for large numbers of enemies, although it still works for them too. I have an obscene amount of fun with the bayonets in this game. Firing a volley of shots and then rushing them like a World War 1 bayonet charge, then stabbing and shooting at close quarters really gets the blood pumping.

I just hope they bring in a lever action with DLC. For some reason there are no leverguns in the game at the moment, which makes me sad. But I'm praying to the Fallout deities that they'll have one later on that I can pimp out. Just think of it! A 50 cal lever action with a bayonet and scope? I'll be unstoppable! I'll be the ravager of the Commonwealth, slaying all in my path! None shall stand before the general of the Minute Men!

Oh, and for once I really like the power armor. In New Vegas I almost never used power armor, finding it to be too cumbersome and not worth the repair bill, so I'd always go with medium armor, my favorite being Elite Riot Gear. Looked frigging awesome too. Here? You're a walking tank. You can actually pic and choose how to model your armor for once, and my gosh is it glorious. Just last night I was laying waste to a raider stronghold while their pathetic 38 caliber bullets bounced off of my armor and was playing The Terminator police station music, slowly and methodically clearing the building while spraying them with bursts of SMG fire, cutting them down like mannequins. It felt pretty darned awesome. You still have to repair it, but it's not as much a hassle as before. Unlike New Vegas or Fallout 3, you don't have to pull out your gold fillings to pay someone to repair your armor half-way, nor do you have to cannibalize every suit you get. You just have to find a repair station and use some steel and other components. Yay! You still need fusion cores to keep them powered, which are rare and expensive, but are worth it. I've been stockpiling them, so it's not as much an issue for me at the moment.

Mirelurks are still a monumental pain to deal with. And are creepier than ever. I don't know what it is about crustaceans, but they make my skin crawl. So seeing ones the size of football players rushing at me, joints crackling and seeing their lifeless doll eyes roll at me as they try to rip me apart is less than pleasant. So of course, they are pretty awesome. Also, the Mirelurk Kings now appear to have gone from the Gillman to Deep Ones from Lovecraft. Is Innsmouth near the Commonwealth? That'd explain a bit!
Oh, and Mirelurk Hunters are now giant prawns instead of horseshoe crabs, and they suck to deal with. Mirelurk Queens though? Holy crap. I hit one of those xeno-queen wannabes twice with a Fat Man. She just got mad. That one was pretty intense.

I really like how most of the creatures now have different looks based on what type they are, even within the same enemy hierarchy. So now there's a lot more variety to the terror you experience as well as blow up! Oh, the ghouls? If they didn't scare you before, they might now. Their skin is clammy, shrunken and pulled tight, with lips that look like the Flukeman from The X-Files, and will keep coming even after you've shot their arms off. Those ones aren't very fun. Oh, and they hit way harder now. The combat in this game is WAY harder than in previous ones. I've gotten absolutely wrecked here. In the two before, death was usually due to me being stupid or just bad luck. With having lots of stimpacks, I was generally pretty safe.

The Commonwealth doesn't screw around though. The raiders pack some serious heat, and aren't afraid to sacrifice themselves to take you out with them. Oh, and because the super mutants aren't tough enough already, they have suicide bombers that lug a mini-nuke on a timer while bum-rushing you at full speed. They WILL make sure that you're blasted into radioactive dust within fifteen seconds unless you put them down.

I recall one particular incident with the raiders that was extremely difficult. I exit a building, having run through the gauntlet, and see a mere two raiders up in a bombed out building. Well, I still had some space left and could always use the loot. So I start shooting at them, kill the weaker one not in power armor, then try to move to where I can get up to them at close range. Then I evaporated in a world-shattering explosion from seemingly nowhere. Huh. Odd.
So I start again, sniping the weaker raider and then shooting the one in power armor right in the face. It's then I notice a large weapon on his shoulder and something about the size of a football flying towards me, followed again by an explosion. Oh! He has a Fat Man! Huh. Not used to that. Okay, fair enough. I'll snipe him from farther now!
So I reload and begin firing on him first instead of his puny friend to take advantage of the sneak attack double damage on the headshot. I try to take cover to where he can't hit me, but his shot goes over my head and behind me, leaving me to get caught in the concussion blast. Oops.
By now I'm gritting my teeth. Okay, fine jerk. I decide that since he's using a doomsday long range weapon, I should get up close and deny him the ability to shoot. Surely he's not stupid enough to put ground zero of his mini-nuke six inches from himself. So I pull out my machete and race up the stairs, ignoring the puny raider and attacking the boss, slashing at him like Freddy, backing him into a corner and denying him the ability to flee. I had him! Then he fired anyway, reducing me to radioactive ash on the breeze while he was just a little worse for wear.
... Okay, bullcrap. He was close enough to see his fingerprints on the mini-nuke when it went off, and he didn't take enough damage to die? Agh!
I finally managed to just snipe the bugger by being cheap, but wow it took a lot of effort to get that one guy. Yes, I could have simply left and moved on, but I took that fight personally. How can I see a raider in power armor with a Fat Man and not fight him? That's absurd!

And yes, the questing is fun. I just tend to get distracted by the intense desire to destroy anything that looks red. So much good combat going on! <3
The people in your settlements are kind of moronic though. Although I'm the general of the Minute Men, it seems like I'm also the elite special forces, fire department, police commissioner, secretary of business management, agricultural executive and babysitter. I get the feeling that I'm not exactly breeding self-sufficient warriors here. Anytime so much as someone steps on a thumbtack I get called in for help. Granted, I am the most qualified for kicking in the Gunners' front door to rescue hostages or wipe out a horde of feral ghouls, but come on, not one other soldier in my settlement of over a hundred is doing anything but defense. Come on people! We've got the Institute to fight! I can't do it all by myself! I mean, I can, but it'd be nice to have some help now and then.
It would be nice to know which settlers have an assignment and which don't. There's a lot of them and its hard to tell which of them are working jobs already and which aren't. They look a like half the time. Hoping that'll get patched.

I still haven't beaten the game yet. Lot's of killing to do, but I'll get around to it! This has slowed my writing business down a LOT lately. It's hard to focus on writing when a siren is singing to you about Fallout 4 and you're tired. Dangit, this game is too good in some ways! It's too much fun!

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