April 12, 2016

The New Survival Mode is Brutal and I love it!

I've been stuck in Hardware Town for at least 2 weeks now. Real-life time, that is. For Mitchell, it's been more like one very hellish version of Groundhogs Day. He wakes from the moldy mattress, steps down to the floor level through a hole in the ground, meanders through the streets of Boston, and then, inevitably, gets murdered instantly by some manner of wasteland horror.

Sometimes it's a raider who gets lucky. Other times it's a stray landmine. Most often, though, it's just me making careless mistakes that once upon a time could be rectified with a quick Stimpak or by stuffing my face with ancient soda and cooked cockroach meat.

But this is Survival Mode, which takes the rather benign but fun challenge of Hardcore Mode from New Vegas and cranks up the dial about 10 times. So in Hardware Town, I still remain.

The sheer multitude of things that can kill you in Fallout 4 has not changed, but the safety net of quick saves and rapid healing has been effectively yanked out from beneath, leaving an utterly brutal, sometimes seemingly unfair experience. The kind that causes me to, almost without fail, turn off the game every time that familiar third person death screen flashes. Even now I write this after yet another failed attempt to escape from Hardware Town. Truly, I am not stuck there. Diamond City is a hazard-free walk away, with its warm beds and plentiful water and cheap food, all of which are now required to live.

But what's the point of Fallout without doing quests? So I labor away at the same couple jobs, all bound to the local area, thinking that it will be simple. Or it should be. But as I've already established, Survival Mode makes the once simple task of clearing a given spot of raiders a test of patience, good aim, and awareness.
"I have lost count of how many times I've died in Fallout 4's new Survival Mode!" ~ Henry Lombardi

And of course, one needs to always look out for food and water, and heaven smiles upon you if you can manage to find a bed. Beds are now effectively checkpoints, and raw food or dirty water can invite upon your lovely disease. And don't even think about trying to use RadAway in the open air!  I'm terrified of even touching drugs more than once. The mere thought of what Addiction might do in this new mode fills me with terror. Thankfully, Companions are still fine and dandy without the basic needs. Even now, Codsworth tells his usual bad jokes as I beg him for more Purified Water.

Check Survival Mode in action in the video below!

But failing to heal them should they go down in combat will result in their immediate dismissal to whatever rat hole they usually call home, and Codsworth needs Robot Repair Kits, since I have the Automatron DLC, and those simply do not drop from regular enemies. So keeping myself from being insta-gibbed by whatever is lurking around the corner, I have to babysit what has now become effectively a water dispenser in terms of overall importance.

More often than not, I do actually complete one or two of the odd jobs assigned by jerks who think me risking my life is somehow worth a mere hundred caps. But it's the transition from quest to quest giver back to a quest that slam dunks Survival Mode into an unforgiving apocalyptic hell, as one would think a post-nuclear world would be; There is no Fast Travel of any kind. I would have to get along far enough in the main story to afford one of the special forms of transportation offered by the games' factions. Before Survival, I thought such things were just fancy wastes of time. Now I desire them more than anything.

Every time I reload onto that moldy mattress on the second floor of Hardware Town, which at this point I can recall in precise detail, I get a little father. I know where not to go, what not to shoot, and how many enemies are in given areas, their scripted little conversations, where they walk, et cetera.

But what will happen once I break this cycle? How long will I go from there before I am trapped yet again? Before this, it was a little shack in Concord (It turns out Power Armor doesn't help much against Survival Mode Deathclaws; That took about 7 tries.). I have lost count of how many times I've died in Fallout 4's new Survival Mode!

And perhaps the most important question of all: Am I having fun? The answer? Absolutely!

By Henry Lombardi. Check more awesome articles by Henry; Let's Talk About Fallout.

Fallout 1, 2 Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4