Should We Worry About Fallout 76? Not If the Portal Series is Anything to Go By.

The response since Fallout 76 has been announced has been… lukewarm to say the least. Lots of people are excited but lots have also lost a lot of interest due to some unorthodox choices in gameplay. From what I’ve gathered, however, many lie right in the middle, that “wait and see” space. And I don’t blame them, this is uncharted territory for Fallout: an online game. While many of my worries at the reveal (mainly involving other people being assholes) have been calmed a bit (for example nukes can only go off in certain areas and a warning is issued before one drops) the one thing I’ve been weary about is the lack of human NPCs. One only has to watch the E3 reveal to hear it mentioned: The only humans you’ll run into will be other players. Of course there will be robots (and Super Mutants and likely ghouls) but it is also mentioned that some quests and backstory will be given out in holotapes. But thinking back on past games and how big of a role the human NPCs played it’s still worrisome to me.

At least until about 5 minutes ago. Like most epiphanies it happened as I was sitting idly with my mind wandering: Portal 2 is an amazing game, an amazing game with only robot NPCs.

Think about it, Chell is a human, but also the playable character. Outside of her the only other humans that we even catch a whiff of are

  • Doug Rattmann, who we neither see nor hear, and whose existence is only brought to our attention by finding his hideaways strewn about the test chambers. Which frankly is very Fallout in fashion anyway, one of the main praises of the Bethesda titles is their environmental storytelling.
  • Cave Johnson & Caroline, both of which are seen but not heard (outside of a portrait), and from recordings at that. Not unlike what could be accomplished with holotapes.

That’s it, everyone else is a robot (Wheatley, GlaDos, the turrets, the cores, the announcer [maybe, but if not still fits in with Cave and Caroline above]).

Now take this with a grain of salt, obviously the difference in writing quality between Bethesda and Valve should be noted. For example This link from Gamesradar has both Portal 2 and Half-Life 2 on their list of the best videogame stories ever, but no Bethesda game makes the cut. Which I find fair, their stories aren’t awful, but definitely not the quality of some of the other games out there. But I still think it’s enough to calm my main fear, even if only slightly.

If you’re going in expecting a Fallout experience with Portal 2 levels of storytelling you’ll almost assuredly be disappointed, and that’s certainly not the point I’m trying to make. All I’m saying is there is precedence for a game to have a great story with no Human NPCs, and I stand by that. I’m still considering myself in wait and see mode, but with each passing day to digest everything I’m feeling slightly more optimistic.

The Bad from the Good

I have a list of favorite games. I think most of us that enjoy the hobby have one. It’s a great way to tell people what you like at a glance, and if they ask we can always support out answers with a large amount of praise. But that’s not what this is about. No, for this we’re going to be extremely negative. I’m going to take some of my favorite games and tell you all my least favorite parts about them. Now naturally this doesn’t make them bad, but as I feel there is no such thing as a perfect game I think it’s only fair to lay some gripes on the games that I usually will praise to anyone willing to listen.

 

Fallout 3

The final “choice”

I definitely know I’m not alone in this one, but the ending of Fallout 3 is just bad. In the vanilla version of the game you are tasked with entering a code in a highly irradiated chamber, saving everyone but sacrificing yourself while finishing your late father’s work. Which is peach and all…if the game hadn’t given you quite the diverse roster of companions a robot, a ghoul, and a super mutant. If you ask any of them to do it for you their responses amount to little more than “Fuck off, no”. It’s frustrating that your attempt to think outside of the box ever so slightly is shut down for no good reason.

Of course Broken Steel was later released. This DLC adds post-ending gameplay to Fallout 3 and actually fixes this by allowing you to send in any of the previously listed companions, all is well. Except for the narrator carving you to shreds during the ending slideshow. He calls you a coward and praises whoever you sent in as a true hero. That’s right, by using your brain and avoiding an unnecessarily early death for yourself and sending in a character immune to radiation (Fawkes the super mutant or RL-3 the robot) or even healed by it (Charon the ghoul) you aren’t smart, you’re a coward. Shame on you.

Bioshock

Becoming a Big Daddy

Bioshock is an amazing game, if there was a gun to my head and I had to make the best argument I could to which game I think is nearest to perfection I think I’d choose Bioshock. And while I think all of it was great, if I had to choose a part I liked least it’s probably becoming a Big Daddy. It still played mostly the same but the helmet cut out some of your field of vision and took a little getting used to. I know it’s a petty complaint, but between that and slower movement speed (if I recall correctly) being a Big Daddy took away just a little bit of the fun I was having.

I know a few people have complained about the final boss fight being unnecessary, only being there because “it’s a game so of course we need a final boss”. And while I don’t disagree I also don’t find it as big a deal.

Portal 2

Conversion Gel

This is another one that I feel is almost complaining for the sake of complaining, but I definitely feel like as far as gameplay mechanics in Portal 2 go, conversion gel is the odd man out. The main reason for that is the reaction to it. With almost anything else: lasers, turrets, momentum, excursion funnels, light bridges, speed gel, and bouncing gel you kind of plan in ahead what it does and how to use it to solve the puzzle. With conversion gel, however, my first step was always spraying it everywhere to get as much coverage as possible. From there most tests with it were pretty simple, just get as high as you can with it and you’re done. It just felt a lot less “puzzly” than the others.

Persona 4

Rainy Days

Now I understand rainy days. I know they’re relevant to the plot. I know it’d be odd to play a day-to-day life sim without any rainy days, but still, I can’t help but dread them. In Persona 4 on normal days after school (or during the summer) you’re able to do a lot, but the big two would be dungeon crawling or spending time with any number of Social Links, who are characters you get to know. However on rainy days only a very small amount of social links are available, leaving you to either level (which unless you’re on a harder difficulty, grinding isn’t really needed) or spend your time with only a handful of social links you can interact with (by memory it’s only the drama/music club and the fox, but it’s been a while so I could be wrong). For me most of my rainy days were spent eating bottomless beef bowls for stat-ups. Not bad, but not as fun as the social links.

Danganronpa 2

The Motives

I feel like each of the Danganronpa games are special in their own ways but also have their own major downfalls. Danganronpa 2 is my favorite for so many reasons, but the motives are certainly not one of them. Unlike the first game where the motives were small nudges and part of the tension was seeing which character would ultimately succumb to them, the motives in Danganronpa either seem way too pushy or way too targeted at a small group of people.

Chapter 2’s motive is really only relevant to 6 of the 14 students that were alive at the time (granted we’re lead to believe it’s 5 before some revelations regarding backstories). Chapter 3’s motive threw everything out of the window and the murderer was more or less random, serving only as foreshadowing. Chapter 4 had one of the worst motives in my opinion that forced the killer’s hand moreso than any before. So in 3 of the 5 murder cases I feel the motive was underwhelming.

I do understand the circumstances around the killings are different in 2 compared to 1 and V3 (without venturing into spoiler territory), but I still think that the motives could have been handled better.

Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver

Gym Leaders refusing to do their jobs

I love the Gen 2 Pokemon games. They have some of my favorite Pokemon, and returning to Kanto to earn 8 more badges and battle Red was great. What was less great was some of the Johto Gym Leaders: Whitney and Claire. How either of them got their job, I don’t know, because they’re downright bad at it. Neither will give you their badge for beating them. First the player would beat Whitney (and her Miltank, which would probably top many similar lists, but I never found it that hard after trading for Machop nearby) and after defeating her she starts crying and… that’s it. Any attempt to get your badge results in her crying and calling you mean. A professional Gym Leader refusing to accept defeat. It’s not until you accept your fate and try to leave that one of her trainers talks her down and you finally get your badge and TM.

And then there’s the final Gym Leader (in Johto): Claire. Instead of crying Claire just flat out refuses to give you your hard earned badge. That is until you run an errand for her. That’s simplifying it a little, she actually sends you around back to fetch an item (that you keep if memory serves) to prove that you’ve earned the badge. Y’know, the thing that whole battle was for.

Whether it’s Whitney sobbing or Clair refusing your victory, Johto’s biggest downfall is its incompetent Gym Leaders.

Final Fantasy XV

Combat

I loved Final Fantasy XV. I know it got some mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed the experience. I loved the roadtrip theme and the brotherhood between the characters. Where it fell completely flat was the combat.

This wasn’t my first Final Fantasy, previously playing VII, X, and XII (and having since played IX, with VI, X-2, and all the XIII’s in my backlog), but all those games had combat that was leaps and bounds better than XV’s in my opinion. While each different (VII and IX are pretty much classic turn based combat, X having a turn based with a swap out feature, and XII being more of a live action/turn based mix) I feel they all offered something that made combat enjoyable, even if only slightly. Meanwhile combat in XV was little more than “hold down the attack button”. Eventually you had your super move, or your teammate’s, and the elemental “spells” but that was pretty much it. Combat changed very little from the first enemy to the last.

 

Well that’s it for mine, how about yours. Are there any parts of your favorite games that just fall short to the rest of them?

Fallout Shelter PS4 Trophies Leaked: What Should Trophy Hunters Expect?

As so often happens Exophase has leaked another trophy list, this time for Fallout Shelter

The Vault management game first appeared on mobile prior to the release of Fallout 4 and has since found its way onto Steam and Xbox One. In my quest to earn all Fallout achievements I have actually earned all the Fallout Shelter achievements on steam, so let me tell you Playstation players what to expect.

There is a platinum!

Well first off there is a platinum trophy, which is a nice reward for the end of the journey. Along with the platinum come 4 gold trophies. Not a bad haul for what should end up being a free game. Which leads into…

It should be free

Now this is just a guess on my part, but an educated guess. Fallout Shelter was free on all other consoles it was released for and I don’t see why that would change. Especially since the game does have its share of microtransactions…

Microtransactions are there, but not needed for the platinum.

Most of the trophies will come naturally with enough playing time. There are a few grinds but nothing too difficult, just time consuming. A free lunchbox is earned every 7 days you play, as well as them being loot during quests and rewards for certain challenges. And the best news is…

The most difficult achievement did not come over.

In both the Steam and Xbox versions there was an achievement for obtaining 20 legendary survivors. Not too bad at the surface, since there are achievements for 20 legendary weapons and 20 legendary outfits, but once you play you realize what an awful achievement that was. For starters weapons and outfits can be crafted in their respective rooms, but of course dwellers can’t be crafted. And any baby born “legendary” (with really high starting stats) wouldn’t count. Similarly legendary weapons and outfits are frequent loot on quests, while only two quests offer legendary dwellers as a reward. So the achievement was essentially getting 18-20 legendary dwellers via Lunchbox. Oh, by the way, I found the rate that they were earned in lunchboxes about 1 in every 25 whereas weapons or armor was closer to 1 in every 10. Good riddance.

Any tips?

Well when I first saw the 20 dwellers achievement, my first thought was to just make a bunch of vaults over and over to earn the easy early lunchboxes and rinse and repeat. However, in my experience, while never specified the achievements must be earned in one save file. So in order for the 20 legendary weapons trophy to pop, you can’t have 3 vaults with 10, 7, and 3 weapons respectively, but one vault must get to 20 legendary weapons.

A second tip would be that Endurance is the most useful of all SPECIAL stats, especially when sending dwellers out into the wastes. If you get a level 1 character with 2 or 3 END, send them out to the wastes with your best END armor and best weapon and you should get all the trophies for leveling a dweller from 1 to 50 fairly easily. When leveling up a character’s HP is increased, and the higher their END, the higher the increase, which is why I’d say that’s the easiest way to get these trophies.

Final Word

Don’t get confused, this is a very easy platinum. There’s no real skill involved, but it is also going to be a very time consuming one. Odds are it’ll take a good 40 hours of in game time, at least. Which will probably be at least a month in the real world. There’s only so many quests you can do at once. My best advice is to look over the trophy list to know what you’e looking for and just play with those in mind.

Fallout 3 and Grey Mortality

So here we are: my first post. It’s actually a little funny, I’ve had my first post written for at least a month now but it’s been in the holster ever since. Again partially due to laziness, but also partially because the subject was fairly niche and I’d rather start with something that has more of a broad appeal. Enter this reddit post (https://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/8dxfb6/josh_sawyer_design_director_at_pillars_of/)

and I knew I had to respond and finally start my blog.

 

A little bit about me: Fallout 3 is my favorite game of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I can see its faults and I wouldn’t call it the [i]best[/i] game of all time, but nevertheless it’s my favorite.

 

Moving on, I was scanning the comments section when one thing popped out at me mentioning the lack of choice in the game being incredibly black and white and how most of the choices boiled down to super good guy or extremely awful bad guy. Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with this for the most part, most of the choices are very black and white, but the part that got me thinking was the examples given.

 

“Blow up Megaton or not”

 

Agreed. Very simplistic choice: either you’re incredibly good (disarm the bomb for free), good (disarm the bomb for the reward money), neutral (just leave the bomb), or evil (blow up the bomb and wipe out an entire city for money). There’s not much room for debate there and honestly most of the quests follow the same pattern. There is one I place above the others though, and it just so happened to be the one mentioned next.

 

“Kill the Tree Man or not”

 

And this is where I was lost. I perused the comments to see if anyone had the same thing to say, but unfortunately not. So rather than bump an old topic (especially from someone who only lurks there occasionally) I decided this was the kick I needed to start my blog.

 

Let’s start at the beginning though, for readers who may not be familiar with Fallout 3. The quest in question is named Oasis. This quest is started when you find a hidden away settlement full of lush trees hidden in the brown irradiated Capital Wasteland. You are introduced to the residents of this town, Oasis, who call themselves the Treeminders who worship a God who turns out to be a tree man. Well by speaking with this God, you learn he is nothing more than a human named Harold (who was also in Fallout 1 and 2) who through grave misfortune has become part tree. Although it’s more fair to say the two were combined but now the tree is taking over. Harold can still talk but is immobile. Before parting Harold asks a favor of you: Kill him and release him from his misery. Still with me?

 

As you’re traveling to a cave where his heart lies (as the trees roots have spread his organs around underground) an argument is witnessed between the leader of the Treeminders and his wife. Each offers you an item to use on his heart to either accelerate his growth, hoping to spread the greenery to the wasteland quicker, or to slow the growth, keeping the Treeminders safe from any undue attention that sudden greenery may bring. A speech check with a young Treeminder will give you your final piece of information on the quest: Harold is terrified of fire. You are then left with the choice on how to handle the situation.

 

Naturally it’s obvious which is the bad karmic choice in this situation. Burning Harold with a firebased weapon will not only kill him and tank your karma, but will make all Treeminders hostile. However it’s the other three options that I feel bring a shade of grey to the game that isn’t found otherwise.

 

The interesting thing, to me at least, is how each of the remaining three options can be seen as good depending on your outlook. Destroying Harold’s heart may be killing him, but ultimately he is in pain. I feel like assisted suicide is still a heavy topic that is quite divided. According to Wikipedia only 7 states in the USA and Washington DC allow assisted suicide. This also comes with the presumed side effect of the wasteland losing hope to get greener, at least using Harold as a source.

 

Similarly one could argue that reinvigorating the wasteland is worth the sacrifice of Harold being kept alive and in pain, and even the sacrifice of someone with bad intentions finding Oasis due to the sudden greenery appearing from there. I would consider this result aligning with the saying “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. What is a handful of lives in exchange for totally flipping the wasteland?

 

Finally I’d say there’s the least argument for the final choice, but if the Treeminders wish to remain safe I don’t see it as illogical at all. It may be denying Harold his release or the wasteland its rejuvenation, but I have a hard time thinking of it is morally bad either.

 

Now in my files I almost always kill Harold, and not only because the reward is the best (a perk) but because of my feeling on the subject matter. With that in mind, however, I think that outside of burning him there really isn’t a wrong decision in the quest and personally that makes Oasis one of my favorite quests in Fallout 3. So while I’m not going to go post in that thread, I hope if this post at least opens some eyes to the fact that not everything in Fallout 3 is so black and white, and though rare it can offer some very interesting quests that really make you think about life, both on a grand scale and a small scale.

Welcome

Hello everyone, I am Heals. For years now I’ve wanted to make a blog, but for one reason or another (usually general procrastination) I have not gotten around to it. But that ends now. So if you’ve found your way here, welcome!

First I’d like to just tell you a bit about myself, not that it matters, but it always helps to put a profile with the words you’re reading. I’m a 25 year old male in Illinois. Most of my free time is spent playing video games, which bring us to the meat of this post: what to expect from this blog.

I’ve wanted to start this blog to share my love of gaming with everyone. Expect lots of statistical looks into games, I feel like there are plenty of fun ways to analyze games that haven’t been looked into as much. Besides that I also love earning Playstation trophies, so expect posts about that semi-commonly as well.

I’m hoping that this will be a great journey not only for myself, but anyone who happens to stumble into my blog. Expect a new post every Friday night (into Saturday morning) to help kick your weekend off.

 

Thanks for reading,

Heals