Tag Archives: Bethesda

Unsure of where to call home in Fallout 4

where to call home Fallout 4

Fallout 4‘s tagline is “Welcome home,” but I’m not exactly sure where that is. At this stage, I’ve put in about 40 hours or so, and home, for most of that, was in Sanctuary, one of the earliest settlements you can come across and begin filling with people and reconstructing. However, I never felt one hundred percent certain that this is where I’d hang my proverbial hat–in reality, my Silver Shroud hat–and thus never stored anything anywhere there and only did the minimal amount of work to make it appear like I was one of the group. You know, built some turrets and a fancy chair for that drug-loving Mama Murphy.

In previous Bethesda open-world games, having a home was either something to figure out on your own or work towards via downloadable content as some non-essential side activity, though when I did the latter in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘s Hearthfire DLC it was after I had finished the main plot missions and completed the majority of things a Dragonborn dreams of doing, thus feeling ultimately unrewarding; plus, it was beyond repetitive. I remember finding “unowned safe spots” in Fallout: New Vegas, like Victor’s shack in Goodsprings, to store some of my heavier gear without fear of losing it permanently. I was, more or less, squatting and creating my own set of secret caches for somebody else to find.

Naturally, most of this searching and scouring for safe containers to hold all your Nuka Quantum and Daedric artifacts would be unnecessary if it wasn’t for…encumbrance. The dictionary defines the term as “a burden or impediment,” but we all know it as that age-old Bethesda staple, an annoyance that caps the amount of crap you can carry while still functioning like a solid warrior in terms of running and fast-traveling. From a logical perspective, sure, it kind of makes sense, though when you begin to scroll through the lists and lists of items in your Pip-Boy in Fallout 4, reality starts to crack in at the edges. There are ways around encumbrance, but the easiest is building a place of residency so you can swing by between missions to dump gear–or, in my case, dozens of coffee mugs–and restock before heading out once more…for more.

As mentioned before, previous games from Bethesda lightly sprinkled in bits of housing, letting those playing on PCs add more options via mods. With Fallout 4, it’s a full downpour of potential abodes from the get-go, some of which are actual entire settlements, sizable areas comprised of multiple homes for refurbishing. This is where deciding becomes important, because all the potential areas require an investment, both in time and resources. I’ve already dumped a decent amount of stuff into Sanctuary, seeing as that’s where this all began, but have now decided that a full-blown settlement is too much for my little heart to nurture. Instead, I’ve taken up base at…Home Base, which is a small, three-floored house for 2,000 caps in Diamond City, where the first floor offers the most room to plop down furniture and get creative.

You can see a glimpse of what my Home Base looks like in the picture at the top of this post. The first thing I built was the Bobblehead stand, which, for me, really cements that this is where I want to put my feet up at and decorate with as many cat paintings as possible. I like the addition of magazine racks, though the ability to spin them in-game would go a long way to making me smile. Other than that, I’ve hung a few flags, created a nicer bed, and placed all my Nuka Cherry on a shelf because that’s what cool people do. Haven’t decided yet what to do with the rest of the living space, but it’ll surely get filled in over time.

Still, there are some problems. I can’t send any of my companions to Home Base to hang out when not traveling with me; they only like settlements, I guess. Second, unlike the early promotional art for Fallout 4, which showed your weapons hanging against the wall on some kind of pin board, that sort of shelf is not available to build. Or I’ve not found it yet. This means that if I want to display any cool weapons I find, like the Fat Man, I have to simply dump them on the ground and then try to maneuver them just so on top of a table or desk. It’d be easier asking a Deathclaw for five bucks. You can switch to “building mode” to pick up and move items around, but that can be just as problematic, with some clipping through walls or vanishing the moment you drop them. Also, I found a really nice vase with a flower in it while exploring the Commonwealth, brought it to Home Base, placed it on the table next to my bed, and discovered it missing the next time I returned. Boo.

This is my first playthrough of Fallout 4, and knowing what I know now, I don’t imagine myself placing a lot of effort on having a place to call home the second time around, when I play as an evil, red-headed woman who likes to punch people and animals into smithereens. Maybe I’ll just abuse my companions to the point of weighing them down entirely with my full stash of weapons, mods, medicine, and coffee mugs. Maybe I’ll never pick up another single thing again and have no need for a place to store stuff. Yeah, right.

Where do you call home, my fellow Vault dwellers?

Fallout 4 opens up faster than expected

gd impressions Fallout 4 Sanctuary Hills

Welcome home, Fallout 4. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m super glad you’re here, as you helped push me into the next generation with the purchase of an Xbox One. Feel free to imagine the sound of an Achievement popping right here, right now. Sorry, PlayStation 4, but you’ll have to sit the next few years out on the bench, and I am saddened to know that I won’t get to explore an alien planet and colonize it under my nomenclature before anyone else in No Man’s Sky, but that’s okay. I assume I’ll still be romping around a ruined Boston in Fallout 4 looking for adhesive by the time that game comes out, with plenty still to accomplish.

Fallout 4 is the story, as far as I can tell because I’m not looking anything up to confirm or noodle out more details, of a ruined family. I’m playing as a good-hearted man named Paul that favors a scruffy beard and cool metal armor, but before we get to all that we need to know how we got to all that. Nuclear war is the short answer. As the bombs begin to fall, you take shelter in the nearby vault along with your wife and son Shaun. Unfortunately, as with all things Vault-Tec, this shelter is more of a social experiment than safehouse, with everybody being cryo-frozen the minute you arrive. You awake from this chilly slumber years later only to watch your wife get murdered by some mysterious folk. Oh, they also kidnap your child, which is the fuel driving your mission to leave Vault 111 and explore a post-apocalyptic Boston.

I was disappointed in how little you actually get to explore the pre-war setting, how quickly you are rushed through it. From Bethesda’s E3 reveal, I was hoping for a longer stay in this environment, but the world quickly falls apart after doing the needful in terms of creating your character and assigning your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points. I wanted to stroll down the street and speak to my neighbors, scrounge through their trashcans and eavesdrop on private conversations. I wanted to collect some things to take with me into Vault 111. Remember the Tranquility Lane quest from Fallout 3? I wanted that, extended, and not as creepy.

But it’s 2015, and I’m guessing people expect gun-shooting action sooner than later, especially if one was to target, say, the Destiny and Halo 5: Guardians fanbase. Fallout 4 hands it out really fast, so long as you stick to the main story quests for the early portion. In the first hour or so, I got hold of a suit of Power Armor and defeated a Deathclaw, things that were commonly late-game events in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. You also immediately get access to several different companions and the ability to build settlements, though the game does not do a great job explaining both how to do this and why it ultimately matters. I’m mostly decorating my house with coffee mugs and paintings of kitty cats.

All that said, this is an open-world game from Bethesda, which means there’s glitches and jank abound, and, unfortunately, I’m in the camp that, while still grumbling audibly about them, have come to accept this as the price to pay to play something so full of possibility. Here’s some of the things that have already gone wrong in my first few hours in Fallout 4:

  • Game froze within the first fifteen minutes, when prompted by my wife to spin my son’s mobile
  • Subtitles didn’t switch over when speaking with Preston for the first time, leaving up Sturges’ three words of dialogue for the entire conversation
  • No Achievement popped when hitting level 5
  • Paladin Danse climbed on top of a table and couldn’t get down in the background while I was having a conversation with someone else
  • Paladin Danse also had some trouble getting in an elevator, of which I have recorded proof and will eventually show y’all
  • Sent Dogmeat “home” to Sanctuary so I could try out a new companion, cannot locate him now
  • A single Raider Scum got trapped behind an open door and the wall, constantly switching between detected and hidden in terms of aggressiveness

Yup. It’s still janky.

I began writing this post after an hour or two with Fallout 4, but since then I’ve dropped another nineteen hours into my first playthrough. I’m mostly sticking to the main story quests, which I won’t talk about yet to keep this spoiler-free, but also am doing a few side things here and there, such as crafting a special chair for the local drug lady to sit in and do drugs. I don’t know why any of this is important, but maybe it will matter down the road. You can expect me back soon to talk more about some of the changes in Fallout 4 that I still don’t have a great handle on, like skill perks, V.A.T.S., and radiation.

Five things I still haven’t done in the Fallout series

five things still to do in fallout series gd

Well, Fallout 4 got officially announced the other day, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m hoping this is another Skyrim case for Bethesda, where they both reveal and release the game in a short window of time. I mean, we all have to imagine that this is pretty far along in the development pipeline, so here’s hoping for a Holiday 2015 release window. Granted, that means I’m going to have to eventually pony up and purchase a next-gen console, picking either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, and I’m not yet ready to make that call. Heck, I’m still rocking my PlayStation 2 (and PlayStation 1) games, and there’s only so much room in my entertainment stand. I know, first-world problems.

These open-world games from Bethesda are massive, and I often find it impossible to see and do everything there is to see and do. For example, here’s a post I did on five things yet to experience in Skyrim, and nearly three years later I’ve still not checked most of them off. Yup, zero desire to ride a horse. Anyways, I realized that there are plenty of other objectives for me to complete in the Fallout series, and so here’s another to-do list, hopefully one I can work at while waiting for that sweet Fallout 4 release date to drop. The majority of the list relates to Fallout: New Vegas considering I did 100% Fallout 3 in terms of Achievements, but I tried to think more broadly too.

Let’s get to it, fellow Vault dwellers!

Hardcore chore

I’ve started at least ten new games in Fallout: New Vegas, and each time before I leave Doc Mitchell’s house at the start, I pause and consider the message that asks if I want to play with “Hardcore” difficulty on. This difficulty setting always seems so interesting, but also so annoying. You have to constantly eat and drink, your health is not healed instantly or when you sleep, and bullets now count towards your weight limit. Plus, companions can permanently die, and all I can think of is how many times E-DE would charge into battle and knock itself out in a few hits. Sure, one can construct a character in terms of perks and abilities to get around some of these negatives, but it feels like a hassle. I need to–pun intended–bite the bullet and just give it a shot sometime soon, though I doubt I could ever devote the time and patience to beating the whole game with this mode on.

Break the bank

I’m not much of a true gambler, but my friend has a Blackjack table in his house, and we like to play from time to time with fake money. That said, even in videogame form, I’m not much of a gambler, and so I never really invested any time or effort into the casinos on the New Vegas strip. There’s an Achievement for being so good and winning so much that causes you to be banned by all of them. I assume one needs to have a high luck stat, but also be generally good at Poker, Blackjack, and Roulette. I’ll be happy if I can win enough bottle caps to get kicked out of one casino.

Back to its Roots

I have attempted to play the original Fallout, but only once, and even then, only slightly. It’s definitely a little harder to get into that the more modern versions, but I’d like to try again and see where this all began, seeing as the stories are constantly connected and referenced, and the gameplay, though from a different perspective, is pretty similar. As it happens, I have two copies–one cheaply acquired from a yard sale, and a digital copy given out for free from GOG some years back.

One-two Deathclaw punch

I once tried to sneak attack a Deathclaw from behind with a golf club, and it didn’t go well, so I can only imagine how punching one would turn out. That said, I kind of have this craving to do it, an unnatural desire.

Pacifist Pauly

I’m not sure if you can do it entirely in Fallout 3, but in Fallout: New Vegas you can equip boxing gloves to knock opponents out–versus kill them–as well as up your speech and barter skills to avoid unnecessary brawls. And so you can play as a pacifist, harming nobody while completing the main quest. Much like with the Hardcore difficulty, this is totally possible, but seems like a slow, tricky way to play, and it reminds me not fondly of my time trying to play a pacifist in Deus Ex: Human Revolution where I didn’t harm a single human, but then accidentally rewired a robot to fight for me, killing a few people as well as my chance for that Achievement.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Wasteland? Or things you want to do, but haven’t yet? I’m open for more ideas, especially since I just set up my Xbox 360 in my new apartment and dug out my copies of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Going back in real soon.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Rage

Another wasteland
Shoot mutants, drive, load textures
Ends before it starts

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Reading books and stealth-killing mudcrabs like a true Dovahkiin

Recently, Bethesda put word out about yet another patch to one of their patchy videogames–this time, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim–and usually I just glance these over as all they ever contain are a long list of fixes to buggy quests, many of which I can’t actually recall by name alone. However, something was different this time around, and included in this batch of bug-squashing code was the addition of new kill animations for melee weapons and stylized kill cameras for ranged weapons, such as bows and magic. To that, I say: about…freaking…time.

Being the meshuggenah man-boy that I am, I immediately turned on my Xbox 360, downloaded a patch–note that I said a patch, not the patch–and began traipsing across Skyrim, searching for my first kill. Found some bandits in a cave and shot them all down from afar in single hits…with no cool camera action. And with an Archery skill of like 78 or something. Hmm. What gives? This sense of confusion went on for awhile until I went back to the pooter and realized that the patch was only for PC/Steam, and even then, it wasn’t available yet.

Boo.

Nonetheless, I was back in the realm of Skyrim, looting, looking, and living. Checking my stats, I noticed that I was four dragon souls away from 20 and…one skill book away from 50. Surely I could find one more measly skill book, and then I remembered a small hideout right near Whiterun that I had discovered while playing the game on Steam the other night. It was guarded by some bandits and a lonely horse, but otherwise, no trouble–and there was definitely a skill book there. Off I went. Tra la la. All was going to plan until a freakin’ FROST DRAGON SHOWED UP AND TRIED TO ICE ME! After cooling off, I looted the hideout and walked away with one more book in my ever-growing bag of shtuff.

Honestly, I don’t need an Achievement to tell the world I’m a reader, but here it is regardless:


Reader (20G): Read 50 Skill Books

Also, the latest patch just went live on PC/Steam, and so again, I headed back on in, dying to see a ranged weapon kill camera in action. And so it happened. Um…I shot at a mudcrab from quite a distance and watched, in slow motion, as it thunked back into the water, an orcish arrow deep within its shell. It was both lame and exciting, and clearly something that should have been implemented from the very start.

And now I wait for the Xbox 360 version to get updated before I go about finishing up some more quests. Heck, I might even get married soon or pick a Civil War side. There are no limits to my wandering.

Achievements of the Week – The Blessed Unbound Master Edition

It has arrived. The day is 11/11/11, and it is so much more than a Spinal Tap reference or a day to honor Veterans everywhere–it’s the day dragons awoke, the day I became a bearded man of import. Getting there wasn’t hard; Tara and I went to my local GameStop around 10ish, paid for my copies of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 (which I won’t be able to pick up until early next week) and then hung out on the store’s floor for a bit. We gamed on our DSes for a bit, but eventually had to line up outside in the cold as we drew nearer to midnight. Once the time chimed high, we were sent into the store in groups of six or seven, given our copies, and ushered out. The drive home seemed to take forever.

Got home, made my character–his name is Lohgahn, and he’s rocking some killer Wolverine-esque sideburns–and played until the intro tutorial part was completed. Then I saved my game as I was a truly sleepy bear, but woke up early this morning to continue bounding onwards. Have only taken a break to make/eat lunch and type up this Grinding Down blog post.

I’ve never waited for a midnight release of anything before, and it was a little interesting seeing what type of people came out for this event. Mostly young teenagers or kids just getting into college by the look of ’em. There was a group attempting to sing–to everyone’s horror–Queen. And then listening to them spew words about how dumb Batman ultimately is and what Final Fantasy is the best had me cringing a bit–is that what I sound like, just not out loud? Ugh…

Well, maybe more on that later. For now, here’s a rundown of this week’s Achievements. They all come from a single franchise.

From The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion…

Blah blah blah, who cares now. All hail Skyrim Achievements!

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…


Unbound (10G): Complete “Unbound”


Blessed (10G): Select a Standing Stone blessing

These are probably the first two Achievements the majority of gamers will unlocked. The first one is basically tied to Skyrim‘s tutorial/intro level, and the second is obtainable by following your companion right down the main path a little ways. Can’t miss it. Unless, upon the game truly opening up for you, you headed left or right with such ferocity that you never found the easiest Standing Stone possible. Bummer to you.

The first few hours of my game have gone well, and I certainly didn’t see any crazy horse-on-carts antics, but knowing it’s a Bethesda game means it’s only a matter of time until the glitches start popping up. I did stumble upon one oddity. I was speaking to a woman inside her own home in Whiterun, and she was ready to give me a quest, but said it’d be better to talk to her in her home in case anyone was eavesdropping. We…uh, were in her home. Speaking to her a second time triggered the correct dialogue, but it was still pretty amusing.

And with that, I go back to make Lohgahn a better archer, a better necromancer, and a better thief. To arms!

More Fallout: New Vegas previews are here

There’s been some more preview coverage of Fallout: New Vegas as of late, and I’m here to drool and provide you linky links to all the hot action.

First, IGN has a lengthy look at the beginning of the game and how you’ll come to create your character and so. There’s actually not a whole lot of new details that weren’t already spoiled in print magazine articles a couple months back, but at least we get to see some new pics. Love the one-wheeled robots. And sniping from a dino’s mouth. Can’t beat that with a nine iron.

Then MTV Multiplayer talks a bit how the shooting mechanics from Fallout 3 are being updated to better fit FPS players. For one thing, much like in Borderlands and BioShock, you’ll be able to bring up the weapon’s iron sights to help improve aim and accuracy. And there will be weapon mods available such as extended magazines, mountable scopes, and recoil dampeners. These upgrades will surely help out those that prefer to shoot outside the VATS system (not me).

Regardless, it all sounds good to me. The IGN article took a swing at the fact that, graphically, one might confuse Fallout: New Vegas as simply an expansion of Fallout 3. True, true. But I’m more than willing to give up some graphics polish to have just as much (and most likely more) of the same great content that makes the world fun to play and explore. Hurry on up, Fall 2010!

JUST BEAT: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

…and by “just beat” I mean I completed the main quest the other night. Let’s just say it was beyond lame. I have many reasons to back this up, but first, some backstory.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is one of the games that led me to get an Xbox 360 (other key games include Fable II and Fallout 3), and I quickly immersed myself in Cyrodiil, honing my archery skills and sneaking through caves and ancient ruins alike to loot, loot, and loot some more. Upon first playing, I did the main quest up to the part where you return from Camoran’s paradise where I then gleefully wandered off to do sidequests and just explore. This was fun…for some time, but then my collection started to grow and I kind of forgot about Martin and Daedra and shutting down Oblivion gates. On occasion, I’d pop Oblivion back in and poke about for an hour or two. The last time I played the game before this past weekend was back in August. Er…yeah.

So yeah, I got motivated and figured I could complete the main quest at the very least if I buckled down and focused. Little did I know that it would involved little-to-none buckling down and zero focus. Ah, Oblivion, you lazy bastard. Grabbing Martin by his Sean Bean neck, I headed over to the Imperial City to re-light the Dragonfires and save Cyrodiil. This took less than 10 minutes. Here, I will give you a step by step:

1. Introduce Martin to some dude
2. Fight off a few Daedra that interrupt us
3. Move to the next zone
4. Fight off a few Daedra that interrupt us
5. Move to the next zone
6. Run past the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon without incident
7. Control is taken away from the player and you watch as Martin turns into a dragon-bird to destroy Mehrunes

LESS THAN TEN MINUTES.

Probably the lamest aspect of this final main quest is that you are not playing at the end. You are watching. Or maybe you are not and you got up to pee or something. That is reasonable. The fact still remains; just when something large and epic is finally happening in Oblivion, you are put on pause, you are asked to stop role-playing, and you are forced to watch a stilted, turn-based battle between bird and demon-beast. It’s so anticlimactic that I can’t even imagine what other possibilities they threw away before going with this one.

I dunno if I’ll go back again and finish up the different guilds and expansion packs any time soon. It just seems kind of fruitless, especially after all the Fallout 3 I’ve been playing. Those quests offer both awards and gold, something severely lacking in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and even though each game had problematic endings, at least Fallout 3 was able to undo it and move on.