Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Greg's Wasteland Survival Guide (A Spoilery Fallout 3 Review AKA Damn I'll do Anything for Caps)

You know a few years ago my mother had noticed that I had been using my Xbox mostly to watch Netflix rather than play games and asked, "if I had finally out grown games" my response was "nope I'm just broke."  Costing $50 gaming is an expensive hobby to maintain. But over the last year and a half or so a lot of games have kind of fallen into my lap and it's starting to weigh on me more and more that I've developed sort of a queue (Bayonetta, Tomb Raider, Fallout 3, Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite, SXX, Brothers a Tale of Two Sons, Gears of War, The Walking Dead, Alice: The Madness Returns and that's just the stuff I really want to play.)

In order for me to really get into a game I need to be able fit in a play session of a least a few hours and in recent months I just haven't been there.  But between Easter and the viral hoards currently taking residence in my body over the past week (is that what a uvula is supposed to look like) I've been comfortable sitting on my ass and enjoying myself playing Fallout 3 (as much as I can while hacking up a lung).

All the same it is starting to worry me how much of life has become an interruption to my fix as of late. My gardening timetable is screwed.
At first I decided to wean myself off by watching Fan Films. Nuka Break is glorious and having the opposite effect.

Now after watching Red Star I sort want to play New Vegas.

And spend another month locked in an underground bunker both in game and out.

Okay so here's what's going to happen. I am going to write about my journey traveling the wastes in Fallout 3 and get it out of my system now so when I'm not clogged up I can do soil testing and finish cleaning the garage without jonesing.

Never R.P. Mad
For the first hour or so of the game I kind of hated it. I was mad at the time and just wanted to shoot something to relieve stress. After I didn't get my needs for instant gratification met I kind of put it down for a month or two.

What I've come to realize is that yeah while those trailers and promos have loving shots of guys...shooting Fallout is a lot closer to an old school roleplaying game than a first person shooter of course now every old school is laughing at me for not realizing that. Oh Fallout THREE.

Even back before I took my gaming sabbatical there was this discussion about how most roleplaying games were some variation Mideival Europe. To everybody who bitched about Mass Effect and it's ending. When it came out on the scene that was the conversation. It was a role playing video game outside of the Tolkien paradigm. And probably set the stage for Fallout 3.

Using the mechanics of the old school Dungeons and Dragons formula in a land without Dragons. Okay there are some dungeons if you squint.  But I don't see dragons.

In Fallout's case you're basically playing D&D in Mad Max. When I figured that out the game was a blast.

To be fair almost everything done in the first hour could have been accomplished by a menu... which it is after leaving the vault. The game asks you hey all those stats you've established. You cool with them? Want to make any adjustments before being thrown into the wastes?

Guide Dang It
Like most "open world" games though it sucks at telling you stuff. What gear does what? What stats mean all that jazz. It must have been 5 hours before I knew what the hell I was doing after which I restarted the game so I could stat my character better.

I decided I wanted him to be Harper from Andromeda because well in universe he kind of grew up in a wasteland ... and I really like Harper DA BEST SCIENCE FICTION CHARACTER EVAAZZZZ

So I put all my skill points into lockpicking, repairing, and science. And I over specialized with my strength endurance stats being 2. And even in late game my melee skill is 11.

He is/ I am complete wuss. He's the only non-special human of the Andromeda crew. Even Beka had the nanobot hair and that whole mother of all Nitcheans thing going for her. But Harper has to lie and cheat and steal and play dirty...or continually get his ass kicked which sums up the next 5 hours of the game.

Not in My Town 
So after continually getting ripped to shreds by dogs and naked molerats in the wasteland I see a structure in the distance. A town. A town to keep me safe from lurking sounds of growls and my having to tail it or bite it.

I crawl into the place low on health and meet Lucas Simms. The town Sherriff/Mayor dude who ends problems. After convincing him I'm not a raider he leads me to Moira's general store so I can hopefully get a gun that can actually kill something. And the minx sends me out on a series of suicide runs to research her book. And like an idiot I keep saying yes. But the quest rewards are good so I keep going.

After a while I figure its probably time to head on to the main quest line. Simm's told me about this Moiriarty guy who might now something about where my (game) Dad headed after leaving the vault so I head to his bar. Nice couple of quest hooks and by not being a racist douche I convinced the bartender to give me discounted drinks. See this is why I go to Gob for stimpacks even after my high barter skill makes the discount negligible. He treated me decent when even the town Doc was fleecing me.   100 caps for a radiation treatments my ass.  Just give me Radaway for 30 asshat.  Can't believe I fell for that shit.

The thing about the town, is that there is a giant undetonated A-bomb in the place. The residents figure the bomb hasn't gone off in 200 years and the crater provides some protection from the dust storms, mutants, and raiders, but its still very much active.

Some shady ass in the bar offer's me 500 caps to detonate the damn thing and blow up the town.

This is probably the moment when I how I want to play the game and how I actually do play the game diverged. While not evil, Harper never liked sticking his neck out because shit like the Katso-Drago pride and Magoog would snap it and then leave eggs in his corpse that would explode Alien style.

But this asshole kind of pissed me off. So I went to Simms hoping I could stay out of it from there. Of course the game wouldn't let me. Burke, the shady cat in the bar shot Simms in the back causing me to use magical time traveling powers (save scumming) to beat him to death with a baseball bat before he could do it.

I was so ticked off at the near detenation I decided to use my repair skill to deactivate the bomb, pro-bono which is very Unharper.

Doing shit like that caused me to be in a perpetual money squeeze for most of the game. Most people can duke it out with the wildlife with a knife and some pluck. My luck stat is 1 and I am really squishy so I need to pay for ammo by the truckload.

Look Let's Be Real We Have a Space Problem 
At around this point I ran into a technical issue. Gamesaves suck up space. When Microsoft first started letting players save games to the cloud I thought it was a godsend, but now I'm back into the days where every few sessions I have to delete gamesave files.

And what annoyed me was when I went looking on forums to see if there was a way to expand it with players saying you should have more than x number of gamesaves for a game.

Maybe with sports games but in roleplaying games its either save every 15 minutes or get used to losing all that precious loot you fought the raiders for in that last firefight when the wasteland kills you.

I Have Forsaken My Vow to never do harm to another living thing (Ants are now KOS)
So Moira's quest line takes me town by a grocery store to forage for food. It's surrounded by raiders but by this point I'm better outfitted. AND I've finally learned the benefits of cover. I find this kid rambling about his town of Grayditch "Those things" and it doesn't take me very long to figure out where this is going.

God Damn it.

I have a very weird relationship with Them (as well as The Day the Earth Stood Still and Soul Food) because its one of those movies a relative forced me to watch. But with the stink of the Clockwork Orange chair of torture gone I'll admit for what it is its pretty compelling.

But back to the game. These giant ants breath fire. And with me being so damn squishy they killed me over and over and over again. That quest forced me to evolve. Before my solution to hostile wildlife was to just shoot it until it dies. With these guys I had to pull out all the stops, mines, granades, it was before I got my hands on a rocket launcher but you bet your ass if I had one I would have used the damn thing.

God damn ants.

Threedog the Bastard
So at Moriary's place everybody damn near worships this DJ called Threedog and its easy to see why. Its either listen to him or sing my country tis of thee a million time with President Eden. Threedog has is pretty interesting and actually has some interesting music. It's a little retro and anachronistic with his 70's DJ vibe but hey the whole game has this under current of cold war gone wrong. So it works.

Hell before all the stuff with the Enclave went down I hated them on principal because their radio station sucked ass compared to Threedog's Galaxy News Radio. Moriarty tells me my dad headed over to talk to Threedog so I fight my way past Supermutants to follow the trail.

Before Threedog will tell me anything though he wants me to fix his broadcast equipment at the top of the Washington Monument. I figure no big deal since by now my repair skill is getting stupid good. So I go there not realizing.

All the old shit lying around the Mall is dubbed of strategic importance so its become a whose who of crazy assholes wanting to make a name for themselves in the wasteland. Raiders, Talon Company, Supermutants, The Brotherhood of Steal. They're all going at it and I have to make my way through them to the Smithsonian to pick up some equipment to fix the damn thing.

Okay then.

I figure the trenches belong to The Brotherhood (the good guys), with with their military history and all but I'm wrong. Dead wrong. They've been dug by the super mutants and I barely make my way through them, but the trenches give me decent cover for everything else.

After returning to Threedog beaten and broken to report that yes his broadcast tower is operational again he tells me to head to Rivet City, probably the closest thing the wasteland has to civilization.

My Country Right or Stupid
You know sometimes I go a little nuts on the hyperpatriotism.

But the game piecing together the history of the Wasteland there is no way you could call the Americans the good guys. I mean hell even before THE war we were just shy of Nazi level "science" shit.

So the Enclave really sticks in my craw. Some assholes calling themselves the real remnants of not just the United States but of "pure" humanity with casual talk of genocide on the side. Oh they are getting my foot so far up thier asses...after I finish upgrading all this sick loot and trading it to Moira.

So The Savior of the Wastes is An Arms Dealer
So I had a bit of a money problem early in the game and decided to fix that. I had a crazy stupid repair skill and not much to do with it so I started fixing guns I looted and selling them back to Moira. Considering most of the shit I was fixing was the stuff everybody was dropping anyway and selling loot back to npc venders is what you do in videogames I didn't much think about it.

But then the Enclave started hitting me and now I'm starting to repair and sell their shit. And the idea of Raiders and Mercs and all the chem-tweaked nutsos being able to just walk into a store and buy plasma pistols and power armor worries me a little.


It makes me think. In a normal Tolkien flavored RPG selling swords back to the local merchant is nothing because in this modern world we don't think of swords and knives as much of a threat but for the bast few hours I've been selling assault riffles like it was nothing.

And now I've gotten to the point where I'm basically selling the game-world's equivalent of a tank.

But here after I had to go Magnificent Seven for Bigtown. Just selling guns to any nutso who has the cash seems wrong.

But a guy's got to make a living. If I can't buy the ammo to put down a supermutant or two I'll end up a corpse in the wastes.

Gun Runnin' in Fairfax

The problem with my loot and fix strategy is that guns are heavy and I tend to go overboard encumberin' myself with loot.. While traveling through the wastes by mere chance I headed through Fairfax and got pinned down by raiders. The bastards were crazy armed. Rocket launchers, miniguns. granades. I didn't think I would be able to make it. I had to make a choice shoot my way out or drop the loot and run. It was tough and I had to use my magical time travel powers a lot but I made it out with all my gear.

But I'll always remember. When in need of a rocket launcher or twelve. Gear up and blast your way through Fairfax. Raiders got it comin'.

So the Regulators are Lawful Good Huh
Because I have a fetish for retro-cool I'd been running around the wastes with a bolt action instead of one of the crazy weapons I'd been fixing. It might not have been the best gun but if you sit in the cliffs and wait for your moment it'll do the job.

I couldn't think of a reason not to get the lawbringer perk. As many raiders as I've killed because they try to hit me just for walking around I could get paid for it. Sheeeeeeed. And I get a kick ass duster.Why not?  I could ride around the wastes like Simms who've I already established I really like. Fuck yeah.

Except their basically paying me for desecrating the dead. I can get behind the idea that raiders got to be put down. Hell if they see me first I didn't start the throw down, but damn cutting off fingers and basically sellin' them to the regulators seems dark.

But its easy money just lying in the dirt.

And that's basically where I'm at in the game now.

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