Showing posts with label Let's Talk About: Fallout. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Let's Talk About: Fallout. Show all posts

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

March 23, 2016

Let's Talk About Fallout 4 DLC - Automatron

Fallout 4 has its first DLC up to bat. While not a particularly lengthy offering, clocking in at about 2.5 hours, Automatron feels more like a nice appetizer than a proper meal. That's not to say it's bad, more to say that money conscious among you may want to wait for a sale. Allow me to break it down.

Automatron adds several new weapons, outfits, armor pieces, and rather than present an entirely new area has opted instead for tweaking several current locations, though the tweaks are substantial enough to make the areas stand out, and there's certainly no shortage of "Phat Lewt" in these changed locales.

The basic premise of Automatron is that a familiar-sounding fellow called The Mechanist has unleashed an army of homemade robots onto The Commonwealth under the guise of peace. In reality, the machines are killing just about anyone they come across, and it is up to you as the only person who can get shit done to put a stop to it. You are aided in this quest by Ada, a new Robot companion (Who you may also tweak to your whims), and the entirely new mechanic of Robot Workbenches. This is the meat of this DLC, and I'm happy to report it's very well realized.

November 29, 2015

Let's Talk About how Fallout 4 is a Joke of an RPG

As I settle into my 90th hour of Fallout 4, I have finally hit the elephant in the very, very large room that is the Commonwealth. I touched upon it briefly in my initial review, but I can no longer sit idly by and just give it a passing mention; The truth hurts, but it needs to be told for improvement to be made. The first step of fixing a problem is, after all, admitting it exists. So I'll say it loud and clear now: Fallout 4 is BARELY an RPG.

A series that has long been steeped in the RPG culture has been homogenized and reconstituted into a game whose genre is not really easy to define. Best I can say is that it's an open world action/adventure, with some faint, faint, FAINT, elements of roleplay. It sure as shit isn't an actual roleplaying game, I know that much. Rather than ramble on about why in my usual raving manner, I've chosen to crib an idea from Red Letter Media and lay things out, by the numbers, as I carefully explain how Fallout 4 is a complete failure of a roleplaying experience.

By Henry Lombardi. DISCLAIMER: Not only is this my opinion, but I stand by my previous statements in my review. I really do enjoy the game a lot, and I will continue to play it for quite awhile (Most likely). I simply point out that the game is just an excellent action/adventure sent in the Fallout universe. And I have no real problem with such a thing...So long as it does not become the norm for the series.

1. The Beginning's Missteps

The idea of there being a tutorial section that takes place before the War is an idea that initially really intrigued me. However, upon actually sitting down to play it, I found it rather problematic. See, in previous titles, Fallout had ways of introducing you as a singular character with no real attachments / knowledge before beginning the adventure. In the original game, you were established as a resident of a Vault, but you are not let into the Vault immediately, and must first complete a task in the wastes. Doing so allowed both the character and the player to learn and experience this world for the first time at the same time. This is what's called immersion. The ability to plant yourself into this world seamlessly. True 100 percent immersion is not possible, I accept that, but a big part of any RPG is to make it feel like you're actually there, fulfilling the role you have chosen; That's why it's called an RPG.

"It's not longer possible to use your vast Intelligence to come up with a new solution to a seemingly hopeless scientific problem."

Fallout 2 did the same, albeit with some slight interaction with your native village. It was necessary to do this, given a more intimate setting of a small tribal home, but also invited in some humor. The game lampshades the player's ignorance when you ask questions the character should definitely already know. Fallout 3 just rehashed the formula again, but this is where we saw problems. On top of the experiences in Vault 101 affecting Karma outside the Vault (Even though that makes no logical sense), the game made no attempt to establish pretty much anybody in the Vault aside from those it deemed important. I feel nothing when shit goes to hell in 101 because the only characters to care about were James and Amata, one of whom has safely left. And it needed to do that because your whole life up until that point is meant to be in the Vault.

Fallout: New Vegas sorta did it right, with that whole convenient amnesia by head trauma thing. It's a tired trope, to be sure, but it managed to avoid the usual bits of such a trope by having very few times in which the character's prior knowledge was greater than that of the player's (The times it did were mostly for humor, as was the case in FO2). Only in the DLC did they bring the trope center stage, in what I considered to be the most disappointing conclusion to a story that is The Lonesome Road.

Fallout 4, however, easily takes it the farthest in the wrong direction, giving us two characters to choose from that not only have established lives, but also an established relationship and an established place in society. Do you remember in older games how you could make your character a babbling simpleton by setting your Intelligence to 1? The fact that Nora has a law school degree and Nate was former U.S. military training (As well as being a keynote speaker at a veteran's meeting), makes that whole interaction impossible, so they didn't even bother making it possible.

Your characters have to be average joes because the plot demands they be. And they need to be in a perfect lovely marriage, with a little bundle of joy, and surely they must be doing well if they have a Mr. Handy! Right away, key elements of roleplaying are up in smoke; The ability to create your own backstory, and the ability to flesh out your own character. Sure, all of this is effectively erased once you start the proper game, but it's not erased from our minds, especially with the plot being as overbearing and emotionally tied as this one. Cognitive Dissonance is when the urgency of the piece is supplanted by what actually happens. Sure you could immediately set out to save your baby and avenge your husband/wife, but the whole point of an RPG like Fallout was that you could pick a direction, and just walk in it. And you can do that in Fallout 4, but the resulting dissonance is just too much to ignore.

2. Bethesda decided to copy Obsidian in the worst way possible

Easily the biggest foul-up is the change made to the Dialogue. The dialogue in Fallout has been a staple of the series. One with lots and lots of options and carefully worded responses and a huge variety of persuasion options that made it so even big dumb strong characters could get what they wanted without having to throw punches. All of this is effectively gone in Fallout 4, which for some reason has replaced that with a chat wheel cribbed right from Alpha Protocol.

"You can no longer bullshit your way through a tense standoff with high Luck, and you can even forget about having a highly eloquent response with high Speech."

It was New Vegas that we wanted you to copy from, not the Alpha Protocol! You always have only 4 dialogue choices. And one of those is almost always dominated by Yes, No, or Sarcasm. And in a manner similar to Alpha Protocol, you cannot determine what you are actually going to say until you say it. It's so annoying that within a week a mod was released to banish the chat wheel, but the damage is still there. The severe limitation of what you can now say is only compounded by the complete removal of all Persuasion Checks, but Charisma ones and even those are done very poorly. It's not longer possible to use your vast Intelligence to come up with a new solution to a seemingly hopeless scientific problem. You can no longer bullshit your way through a tense standoff with high Luck, and you can even forget about having a highly eloquent response with high Speech.

Even with high Charisma, your responses in Persuasion Checks ARE ALWAYS THE SAME. All Charisma does is determine its success or failure. And that, of course, does nothing for replayability or immersion. Even several dialogue outcomes are exactly the same, even with diametrically opposed responses to the same question! Sure, you can back away from conversations, or pull a gun on them with the Intimidation perk, but that's the maximum depth that conversations go. Skyrim, which has its own host of errors, had this feature as well, and yet even it had the good sense of making NPC's stop walking to address you, whereas in Fallout 4 you're lucky to get someone walking to talk, let alone keep talking, lest they walk out of the conversation entirely and force you to listen to the same chain of dialogue yet again. How do you do that?

3. No Karma, No Reputation -- No Nothing!

I personally did not weep for the removal of Karma. It simply did not give enough to the experience to warrant its existence; Effectively all of what Karma was supposed to do is easily replaced by Reputation... But that's also been removed. Even though Fallout 4 has properly joinable Factions, as opposed to Fallout 3, the outcomes of each Faction allegiance are ultimately too similar, in a manner eerily familiar to the woefully-lacking Civil War quests in Skyrim. Sure, picking one Faction will lock you out of the other, but when the results are so similar and no substantial change results and nobody really treats you differently for your choice aside from some optional friends, it's just a huge letdown.

"Fallout 2, in particular, gave any playstyle something to latch onto, something to build the character with. You could be a slaver, a sheriff, a made man, a porn star, a boxer, a martial artist, and all of that could be done without so much as touching the plot of the game."

We need meaning to what we do, Bethesda. If there's no true impact from the choices we make, why should we care? You made the same mistake with Megaton. Sure, the initial shock of being able to personally obliterate an entire town full of innocent men, women, and children was great, but when it registers so little with the people of the wasteland (Dad is mildly disappointed, oh no.), it just doesn't have the same consequences that it should. It feels as though you've learned nothing from Fallout 3. But we know that's not true because you did get a lot of things right where Fallout 3 got it wrong; The companions are much improved, combat is glorious, and the environment is varied and colorful and interesting. It would have been so easy to push Fallout 4 to greatness, but it just fell short.

4. Truth and Zero Consequences

It's becoming increasingly evident that Bethesda cares more about delivering a consistent emotional story, but they seem to also feel like they can have their cake and eat it too. Deliver unto us this gigantic world with a plethora of things to do, give us a neat system to build our characters, and slap the RPG sticker on there. But that's just not possible. As I mentioned earlier, the plot demanded your character be a certain way, with a certain emotional connection and certain emotional need. The term "Roleplaying Game" is a bit of a misnomer; It would seem to imply that it's simply a game where you play a role, like an actor on the stage. But in truth the roleplaying game is simply the idea of creating your own role, a sort of "alter-ego" simulator, in which you can be someone you are most definitely not, or someone you definitely are or someone who falls in between those two spectrums, without so much as skipping a beat. I really need to stress how well previous installments got this idea. Fallout 2, in particular, gave any playstyle something to latch onto, something to build the character with. You could be a slaver, a sheriff, a made man, a porn star, a boxer, a martial artist, and all of that could be done without so much as touching the plot of the game. And it had consequence.

Consequence. Now that's an important thing to consider. Being one of those things listed above affected how people around you would react. Good, honest folk would deliberately avoid you if you were a slaver, whereas those who knew you as a made man for the mafia (of your choosing) knew you were nobody to fuck with. And selecting one group to join in would affect your chances, or even the possibility, of joining another group. You could forget about being a sheriff for the burgeoning NCR if you already chose the life of human trafficking. And conversely, being a heavyweight boxing champion helped your chances of becoming a porn celebrity. It's not like you could just back pedal, either. If you did something demonstrably evil to a group of people, they didn't just magically forget after an arbitrary wait time. I should also stress that you could kill ANYONE. You could literally render the game incompletable by killing plot-critical characters, and the consequence is, well, you can't complete the game!

And again, I must stress, all of this was one hundred percent optional. Compare now to Fallout 4. You can join nearly every faction, do any number of shitty despicable things, and at the end of the day the only people to even look at you different are the 12 specific characters you can haul around with you. None of whom you can even kill, mind you. In fact, the overwhelming majority of characters in Fallout 4 are completely unkillable. I remember quite a few people complained that you could not kill the Jarls in Skyrim or children in Fallout 3. But in Fallout 4? Forget about killing anyone who does anything remotely important, because it's just not happening. The people you can murder only exist outside of the plotline (Even characters exclusive to side quests may be kill-proof), and last time I checked, that is NOT total freedom. You only get to do certain things when the game tells you that you can. And that is inexcusable in any game toting itself as an RPG. Absolutely inexcusable.

I hope I've successfully driven the point home nice and clear. I also want to emphasize that I do not hate Fallout 4. In fact, this is less about the game and more about what the series has become. Bethesda took Fallout from being a storied legendary series of games to a household name. And of course with Fallout 4's amazingly successful launch and sales, it's clear there will be more Fallout in the future. The point of this article is not to try and bring down anything, but to expose an issue. Bethesda needs to return to its roots; For too long now, it has condensed epic roleplaying experiences in favor of action and epic plotlines, over true freedom and an evolving world. And it's not like RPGs can't have those, but Bethesda is clearly leaning more towards the former, and we need to make it nice and super clear that we won't let this slide in the future. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting this exists. I can only hope this helped you do that if you hadn't already.

You can follow Henry Lombardi on Facebook and / or Google+. If you liked this, check his Let's Talk About Fallout website section.

November 15, 2015

Fallout 4 Review

After years of hushed secrets, frauds, and leaks, the genuine article has finally arrived on our doorsteps. It's almost hard for me to comprehend how fast it's shown up and dropped in. We went from knowing virtually NOTHING about the next Fallout game to "oh yeah, Fallout 4 is coming out in 3 months." Not that I'm complaining, mind you. But the golden question remains: Is Fallout 4 a good game?

The short answer is YES. Fallout 4 is a good game -- but, is it perfect?!

Fallout 4 is set in The Commonwealth, the remains of the greater Boston area, and it is definitely worthy of the adjective "greater". I devoted 13 hours of the launch day solely to play as much of the game as I could, and though I have found a whole lot of quests, characters, locations, and weapons, I have barely even ventured out of the world's upper left corner! They were not exaggerating when they proclaimed it would be twice the size of Skyrim, that's for sure. You'll also be happy to know that the trailers and gameplay footage we were shown to hype up the game are actually 100 percent all in the game! It's very refreshing to see a triple A game not sold to us on complete lies, as well as one that lives up to its hype.

"The plot is almost entirely optional and takes a back seat to what is easily the most expansive and truly open Fallout game yet."

The plot follows The Sole Survivor, who on the eve of the war got a spot in Vault 111 along with their spouse and baby boy. The character customization is easily Bethesda's best to date, replacing the tedious and somewhat imprecise slider system with a sort of mold by region system, in which you can pick out a part of your character's face, and move it around however you like. You'll also be able to design the look of your spouse, and that in turn determines the look of your baby, Shaun (You cannot adjust Shaun's gender, sadly). To sum it up, you all make it to Vault 111, where the Vault's experiment (Which I'm sure you already figured out if you wondered how someone could not age for 200 years in a sci-fi setting) leads to the untimely demise of your spouse and kidnapping of your baby. In a sense, the plot is a retread of Fallout 3's plot, but in reverse, and significantly fewer plot holes to boot!

But, as you might expect, the plot is almost entirely optional and takes a back seat to what is easily the most expansive and truly open Fallout game yet. Upon exiting the Vault, you are cleared to do pretty much anything you please, just striking out into a random direction and seeing what you come across. And unlike Skyrim or Fallout 3, there is ALOT to come across, and a ton of variety in what you come across as well. Fallout 3 played around with the idea of finding quests through radio signals; Excluding the DLC, you could find 2 quests that involved following a radio signal. But in Fallout 4, it seems nearly everyone in post-apocalypse has figured out how to use a radio, as in my short time of play, I've already come across 4 distress signals, all leading to dramatically different and engrossing side quests, that even lead to more quests.

So far, the characters I've encountered (While mostly lacking a Bostonian inflection in their voices) have been very well voiced and diverse in terms of appearance and personality. It's also refreshing to see such solid animation in the bodies of the various friends and enemies of the wasteland (facial animation, not so much.). NPCs actually move about and commit daily activities in a non-robotic manner, and enemies react to your murdering of them in new and refreshing ways!

"What perks you may choose revolves entirely around your S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which has been reworked to be your everything."

Speaking of murder, Fallout 4's combat is once again, the series's finest to date. Gunplay is super smooth, and you are no longer limited by your choice of skills to what weapons you can properly wield. More on that later, but the sheer variety of the weapons you'll find combined with the insanely useful additions of grenades bound to a separate key and the ability to sprint, melee with any weapon, peaking around corners, and being able to rapidly search a body or container without pausing the game makes a combat; not such a huge damn chore as it was in previous titles. Combat is also much more difficult; In previous outings, all you really had to do was VATS your way through all the fights. While VATS is still incredibly useful, VATS can now screw up shots it would normally hit for sure, and critical hits must be earned through consistently landing shots on enemies in VATS.

The system no longer stops time, merely slowing it down, and the damage reduction you get while using it has been significantly lessened. Power Armor now functions more as a temporary powerup than end game armor, forcing you to scrounge for fuel and commit constant repairs as it's the only thing in the game that now has a degrading condition. This is compounded by enemy encounters generally having much larger numbers, as well as applying new tactics. Ghouls, in particular, are much more deadly, capable of launching themselves at you at high speeds to immediately close the distance, or Raiders now coming equipped with Power Armor and actually solid weapons! In addition, several enemies have special melee attacks that they can lock you into that will do extra damage, even crippling you. This all comes together to make a very solid and enjoyable shooting experience, and I've barely scratched the surface.

The new leveling system is less about arbitrary numbers; Success in combat now depends much more on your actual skill as opposed to a spreadsheet. Every time you level you choose a perk. What perks you may choose revolves entirely around your S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which has been reworked to be your everything. I was afraid this system would make character design overly simplistic, but it's actually quite complex. Your SPECIAL determines what rank of perks you can choose from, and a single perk can be leveled multiple times for more and more effects. Skill books, bobbleheads, and perk magazines all make their return, giving you additional SPECIAL points or perks that level every time you get a new copy of that book.

"It pays to carry a large variety of weapons, and you have a real incentive to search every nook and cranny for more."

Companions in 4 have taken a page from New Vegas in that each one has a complex personality and backstory that you learn more about by developing your relationship with them in a varied number of ways. For example, one companion may like it if you try to pass Speech checks, even if you fail, or one companion may like it if you blatantly steal or pick locks. And by fully advancing your relationship with your companions, you gain yet another useful perk. Leveling moves much faster than previous installments, and you'll be filled with a burst of excitement every time you open up that chart to pick something new.

I was bummed to see there's no Hardcore mode, but that's okay because the new Radiation system, as well as scarcity of ammo and supplies, keeps the Wasteland a difficult place to live in. RadAway, in particular, is in much shorter supply, while Radiation now consumes your max health instead of your Stats. This means food and water has a painful give-and-take of healing you on the spot but also taking some of your overall health away, making some combat situations a nightmare if your Rads get too high. Dynamic weather effects have made their appearance, with radiation storms or heavy mists making navigation a hazard in their own ways.

Ammunition it seems is in much shorter quantities, as I found myself running out of ammo a lot more than I did in previous Fallout titles. It pays to carry a large variety of weapons, and you have a real incentive to search every nook and cranny for more.The world itself is gorgeous, still selling us that ruined and worn futuristic 1950's look Fallout is known for while putting much more color into the game that just makes it come to life. Saturation of colors on given areas, and regions that are distinctly colored makes the exploration, even more engrossing, since the things you find actually look unique and striking, even from a distance.

"I am decently disappointed that reputation is gone when it would have been pretty much all the game needed to really put it over the top for me."

And of course, one has to mention the new Settlement mechanic, which is, just as was promised, entirely optional. It's immediately familiar to the Android/iPhone Fallout Shelter, in that you must manage your settlement's food, water, and electricity while also building it up and keeping it safe from hostiles. So far, I have encountered 4 different places where one can settle and form their own homestead/town, and while I am a bit bummed that it might force me to pick up perks I otherwise wouldn't get, the crafting of a whole town to my heart's content is something I can really look forward to if the exploration ever starts to wear on me. AND SPEAKING OF CRAFTING.

My goodness, is the crafting extensive. Effectively everything has been rendered useful, save a few burned things here and there. Nearly every single conceivable item in the game yields valuable crafting ingredients, with the only downside being you'll often reach over encumbrance with all the useful junk you're carrying around each time you set out on the wastes. It's fortunately not a huge deal, as it's not terribly difficult to just sell all the extra weapons you find and buy great weapons wholesale, but it's very clearly a big emphasis this time around. As you'd expect, you'll hit some snags in the technical department. My game has been relatively stable, with only 3-4 crashes, some floating brahmin, and the occasional framerate plummets over the course of some 30 hours of playtime.

So, the question remains. Is Fallout 4 the best Fallout game? In the respects of combat, exploration, interesting characters, and setting, I would say it most certainly is. But I would say that it does fall flat in the areas of true roleplaying. While you can invent whatever sort of personality for your character you so choose, it fails to distract me from the fact that the backstory and impetus of my character are constantly hanging over me. Once again, Bethesda has dispensed with the Factions and Reputation, and even now Karma has been pushed out the door. While I'm not terribly sad for Karma's loss, I am decently disappointed that reputation is gone, when it would have been pretty much all the game needed to really put it over the top for me.

Fallout 4 is a vast improvement over Fallout 3, for sure, but it still lacks in some of the same areas. Allow me to illustrate with this list, in order from best to worst Fallout games:
  1. Fallout: New Vegas
  2. Fallout 2
  3. Fallout 4
  4. Fallout
  5. Fallout 3
  6. Fallout Shelter
  7. Fallout Tactics
  8. Fallout: Brotherhood of (Shit) Steel
So that's Fallout 4. What did you think? Did you find it to be the best? Or, did you find it even more disappointing than me?

You can follow Henry Lombardi on Facebook and / or Google+. If you liked this, check his Let's Talk About Fallout website section.

August 19, 2015

Let's Talk About Fallout Shelter

Oh hello there. Sorry if I seem a bit distracted. I'm just.... OH WAIT, THERE'S A FIRE IN MY PURIFIER AGAIN! So sorry about this. I've just been playing Fallout Shelter. A lot. Like, a dangerous amount of time. I'm pretty sure I haven't left the house in at least a week. Or was that a month? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Fallout Shelter is the Fallout game nobody knew they wanted until it was actually made and handed to us on day one of E3 by the mighty Todd Howard. Let's talk about it!

Fallout Shelter is not like any other Fallout game.

Rather it is a simple management simulator. Instead of the usual exploration, combat, and interactions with a fabulous and imaginative post apocalypse, Fallout Shelter takes place in a single place: One of the Vaults. Sounds boring, doesn't it? The hook is that the Vault is actually YOUR Vault. Yes, my friends, Fallout Shelter thrusts players into the role of Overseer of an entire Vault. You are given (almost) free reign in construction, placement, and acceptance of Dwellers into your Vault, giving them jobs and even sending them out into the Wasteland. Accomplishing certain tasks will grant you currency with which you may expand the Vault further and further underground and upgrade your facilities. But this game is inherently deceptive; It looks like a little innocent mobile game, but in reality this thing is pure evil. And I'm not just talking about its ability to consume entire hours of your time.

For starters, you can't do anything you want, truly. The Vault needs to follow a certain layout or it's doomed to fail. Within this layout, you need to make sure there are rooms for gather the three core resources of water, energy, and food. Get too little electricity and other rooms lose power, becoming useless. Lose food, and your dwellers start to starve to death. Running out of water is easily the worst of them, as your Dwellers are forced to drink irradiated slop, and I don't think I should have to tell why that's bad. So you need to strike a balance between these three things, managing your population and allocating individuals with the right SPECIAL stats to the right stations to maximize efficiency. But then there's also the danger of Raiders, so you're going to need weapons. The only reliable way to get weapons is to send people out into the Wasteland, but without weapons in the first place there's a really good chance they'll die. Good SPECIAL stats help in this regard, but until you can build training rooms, the chances you'll get a real good Dweller are entirely on the Lunchboxes.

The Lunchboxes are the game's form of premium currency. While you can earn Lunchboxes occasionally by completing challenges, Lunchboxes can be purchased with real money. And the rewards you get from Lunchboxes are utterly tantalizing. First Lunchbox I ever opened had A STAR PALADIN CROSS AND A FAT MAN. I'm not saying the game is Pay2Win, and there's not like something you can pay for to increase your chances of success in finding stuff or reduce the time it takes for dwellers to complete tasks, but the temptation is still there, regardless. I for one have avoided the temptation so far, but who knows for how long? I might just go for it now that my Vault has been wiped out for the third damn time.

And that's what it really comes down too. This game is deceptively brutal. The Vault will randomly run into issues; If you're lucky, it will be an easily manageable low damage fire. Strangely, a fire is absolutely nothing compared to RADROACHES. Yes, radroaches. The weakest enemy in Fallout's history, and still technically the weakest here, are absolute bastards who will tear apart your young inexperienced Dwellers like they were Cazadores. At first it's not so bad, but the infestations scale with your population and room numbers, so if you're particularly unlucky, the Radroaches will strike in a room that has nobody with guns in it and you'll need to quickly and carefully shift everybody around to deal with the problem. Because if you don't contain the Radroaches to one room, they start to multiply exponentially in ALL YOUR OTHER ROOMS. I lost a Vault this way. TO RADROACHES. My next Vault got utterly wiped out by a glitch. all the Molerats but one got killed... And it just wouldn't die. So it kept multiplying. It is actually because of that damn Molerat that I am free from Fallout Shelter long enough to write this damn review.

In conclusion, I believe Fallout Shelter is an excellent Fallout flavored waiting tool for Fallout 4. However, I also maintain that it is not for people that don't like being leashed to the damn thing. Fallout Shelter is effectively Fallout Tamagotchis (Does anyone remember Tamagotchis?); You become obsessed, hard-wired, to constantly inspect and maintain the Vault, even when there's nothing at all to do. Play at your own risk, people. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go for a walk... With my phone.

See how-to Play Fallout Shelter on PC and MAC! You can see how it all looks below - the preview video of Fallout Shelter on PC

Article by Henry Lombardi
See previous Let's Talk About Fallout by Henry: Let's Talk About Fallout 4's Trailer

June 03, 2015

Let's Talk About Fallout 4's Trailer

So after a long long LONG wait, Fallout 4 is finally here! Now we just have to wait to actually PLAY it, but hey, taking pleasure in small victories is how I live my life. The next obvious progression for any Fallout fan is to watch the reveal trailer again and again, finding all manner of tidbits one can find in only 3 minutes of gloriously rendered game hype fuel.

For those of you who haven't actually SEEN the trailer, here you go:


The Opening Song
Critical to any Fallout-related trailer is the old-timey music playing at the start. Once again, the Ink Spots got us covered with "It's All Over but The Crying", a very fitting title considering the context.

Through the trailer, we have brief glimpses of the world before The War. This is especially fascinating to me, as the idea of a tutorial or game sequence in which you experience first hand what life was like before the bombs fell was always something I wanted to experience in the Fallout universe.

The dog that never seems to die while at the same time always dies makes a return of sorts. We have yet another canine companion for the series, and my money's on his name being the same as always.

Both Old and New
If one looks closely at the environment of the house, it seems to imply that this entry in the series doesn't take place very long after the War itself. This is actually evident throughout the trailer, as we follow a young boy running to the Vault in the pre-war sequences, and we then cut to Vault 111 opening with what we can assume is the young boy (The main character) stepping out for the first time. This would mean that the pre-war sequences will probably serve as a tutorial and character design part of the game!

It's Boston!
One can pick out from the various scenes that the game most definitely takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, as so many predicted before. I'm just glad it doesn't look exactly like DC did.

Enemies Returning
We get a few shots of enemies in the trailer, all of which appear revised in a way. There's a brief shot of what I assume are ghouls charging the player, what appears to be a Mirelurk scuttling along the sand, a much improved looking Protectron, and of course, everybody's favorite: The Deathclaw.

Zeppelins and Power Armor
One of the more striking shots of the trailer comes in with an honest to god Zeppelin, decked out all sci-fi-esque, looming over the famous Paul Revere statue in Boston's North End (Further solidifying the location). We also get a few shots of Power Armor clad individuals, but as others have already pointed out, it would seem one can make Power Armor out of spare parts, or even mod your own.

The New Megaton
Several times throughout we get shots of this post-war town, which, based on what one can see in the scenes, is called Diamond City. I would put money on it being the Megaton or New Vegas of Post-War Boston, the central hub for the player to rest in between hours of exploration and adventure.

Found his Words
So everybody's losing their shit over the main character (Or someone who may not even be the main character) speaking at the end of the trailer. While I highly doubt that your character will actually make verbal utterances other than the usual grunts and yells, I think it would be interesting to finally have one. Also, note how the jumpsuit for 111 is more akin to the original tight-fitting jumpsuits in the first 2 games as opposed to the looser baggy ones from Fallout 3 and NV.

There's a ton more little things to pick out from the trailer that I won't go into here, but, needless to say, this alone is a lot to take in. I for one will be watching with eyes glued to the screen for Bethesda's E3 outing, where we will undoubtedly learn more about this triumphant return. Feel free to share your thoughts on Facebook and Google+ post, and remember! War...War never changes.

Article by Henry Lombardi

August 16, 2014

Let's Talk About Fallout: Van Buren

Author's Note: It's been awhile, I know. Real life really shook me up this Summer, but I'm not gonna ask for pity or offer petty excuses. I need structure in my life, and writing these articles about my favorite series in fiction really helps with that. So without further ado....

The mini-minigun that Paladin has just kills me.

So, by now I assume you're familiar with the story of Fallout: Van Buren. After the critical success of 2, Black Isle Studios wasted no time crafting a sequel. It was given a codename: Van Buren (This being an Interplay thing of coding projects as the names of USA Presidents.), and fans were led to believe this was going to be the best Fallout yet. Now of course the idea of making a sequel better than Fallout 2 is daunting, but that's not what ended up happening. If you've read my other articles (And I wish you would), you are well aware of Interplay's sketchy and downright baffling business decisions at the time. Their desperate attempt to stay afloat ultimately failed, the company was bought up, and Bethesda acquired the rights to make Fallout games, with the exception that Interplay be allowed to make a Fallout MMO. More on that later, but what this whole debacle meant was that Van Buren, The Fallout 3 we were meant to have, was canned when it was very near completion. This has left alot of old and new fans alike wondering, "What would Fallout be like now if Van Buren was actually made?"

No wonder it took so long! Look at all that!

So check it out. 95% of the engine was complete. 75% of the maps was complete, and half the maps were finished. Sounds like alot to see, right? Well not really at all. Information on this game is reduced to an extremely glitchy demo from E3 and all that you can find on old websites from interviews. I really wouldn't advise the demo either; If it doesn't glitch to shit, it will just crash nonstop. Believe me, I tried. From what you CAN play, it's a turn based strategy game like the previous Fallout games, and that's about all I can say about it.

As for the written information, well...The story for this thing is mind numbingly stupid. Maybe with good writing to back it up it would make sense, but as it stands I'm almost glad the game wasn't made. Basically, the story revolved around your character, a Convict (Yes, an RPG other than The Elder Scrolls that has you start as a prisoner.), trying to figure out how his prison was destroyed, or something like that. The key things you need to remember are that alot of the stories plot elements were repurposed into Fallout: New Vegas. Caesar's Legion, Ulysses, The Burned Man, New Canaan, Powder Gangers, and a corrupt NCR all featured prominently in Van Buren's plot, so if you think about it, New Vegas is the spiritual offspring of VB, with all the stupid cut out.

The bad parts come in with the central antagonist, a scientist named Presper. He inexplicably comes across an advanced satellite designed to nuke a large portion of an area in the event of an outbreak of New Plague, that disease FEV was invented to stop. He infected a large enough amount of people, placed them in a prison, then promptly broke them out of the prison, so that the satellite would then launch, and he would control it to launch nukes where he so chose...What the fuck? How? Why? What?

I don't give a shit how corrupt the American government was back in the day. There's no fucking way you can sell me this bullshit that they had NUCLEAR BOMBARDMENT OF THEIR OWN LAND as a contingency plan for a fucking virus. And seriously! Why does the big baddie in every Fallout game (Except New Vegas) have a genocidal agenda?! The Master, The Enclave, The Calculator, fucking ATTIS from Brotherhood of Steel, The Enclave AGAIN, and now this asshole? Come on, guys...There's also the supposed ending, which, if I'm reading correctly, forces you to pick areas to destroy, leading me to believe that this would be the last possible Fallout game in the Core Region, because it would be back to square goddamn one. AGAIN.


Ultimately, I'm glad Van Buren didn't see the light of day, with a story like this. Black Isle made one of the best goddamn stories in an RPG ever, so what the hell were they smoking when they came up with this? If you are really damn curious, track down a site where you can download the barely functioning demo. I don't know what's sadder: The fact that all that time and buildup was leading to shit OR the fact that Black Isle's last game wasn't even a proper sendoff to the developer. At least we have New Vegas, right? Okay, fine, I'll stop kissing NV's ass. Join the talk below.

More Let's Talk About:

June 23, 2014

Let's Talk About: Fallout New Vegas DLC

Why waste time with an introduction? Here's my thoughts on the New Vegas DLC.

Dead Money

Alot of people don't like this one. And I totally get why. Dead Money is brutal, but not in the way we've come to expect out of these DLC. There's no suped-up unstoppable enemies, no annoying bullshit boss, and it's most DEFINITELY not a monotonous grind, though the environment can grate a bit. Dead Money whisks you away to the fabled Sierra Madre; Something really cool in New Vegas was that all the DLC were constantly hinted at before they even came out, so some of you with a sharp eye may have heard of this fantastical place before you were deposited at its door. Specifically, you get kidnapped and brought there before a rather prominent figure, Father Elijah, who you also may have heard of in the regular game. He's done this because he wants you to help him break the tight security on the ancient yet pristine casino in order to access its mysterious vault full of untold treasures.

Art Deco makes everything better. It's a fact.

It's certainly an interesting take on a plot, to say the least; A bank heist on a bank that's been abandoned for hundreds of years but still armed to the teeth. To that end, you spend Dead Money running around gathering your crew, setting up the heist itself, and finally following through with it, albeit with some twists and turns. All of that sounds pretty cool, right? That's because I haven't brought up any of the HORRORS that await you playing this. Dead Money could be best described in gameplay as survival horror; You are stripped of ALL equipment, with no way of getting any of it back, and now you have a freakin' bomb collar on your neck that will blow up if one of your fellow heist members dies or you get close to the incredibly annoying and omnipresent faulty speakers that exist throughout the Madre's labyrinthine Spanish Villa exterior. There's also a fuckload of traps, and a damn near unavoidable toxic cloud that will you dead in about 4 seconds of exposure. That's not even mentioning DM's new and ONLY creature, the Ghost People. Jesus, these guys are spooky. Ghost People lurch around all slow and creepy, then they start hopping around like olympic athletes when they see you, often times hucking spears and gas bombs at you, and you can only kill them by removing a limb. Otherwise, they keep getting back up to try again!


Now, this is gonna sound crazy...I fucking LOVE Dead Money. Call me crazy, but this is exactly what difficult SHOULD be. It's not difficult because it's unfair, it's difficult because it challenges you to play the game a different way. I also think it's not so bad; If I can beat Dead Money on HARDCORE, and I DID, then people should have no trouble playing on normal mode. They just have to think differently. Aim for limb shots instead of head shots, always carry a knife to chop off the Ghost People limbs, and NEVER STOP CROUCHING. But more to the meat of this DLC, the strongest part is the story, or rather the back story. You learn all about the Madre, its history, why it was made, and about its mysterious creator Frederick Sinclair. What starts out as a fairly simple "Do what I want and no one gets hurt" story quickly becomes a tangled web of desires and betrayals. That's not even grazing the fucking impeccable design of your companions. All of them are not as they appear to be initially, and talking to them unlocks deep, wonderfully written stories and motivations. Rewards are also quite lovely this time around, awarding Energy Weapon enthusiasts with the stupidly powerful Holorifle, and lovers of Guns with a BAR! Dead Money nets a 10/10. Haters gonna hate!

Honest Hearts

Honest Hearts is certainly alot safer than Dead Money. You join up on a caravan heading to the Mormon town of New Canaan only to have your entire caravan killed by Legion hopefuls, The White Legs, just as you enter none other than real world national park Zion Valley. It is there that you meet The Burned Man, who some of you should know as the Legate before Legate Lanius. Turns out he didn't die despite being LIT ON FIRE AND TOSSED DOWN THE GRAND CANYON. Nope, he just walks away looking like a mummy with a kickass Colt .45 and Bible quotes to boot. There's also some other dudes that...exist I guess. They're kind of interesting, but The Burned Man, or Joshua Graham, effectively remains the only memorable character in this.

He just sits there checking pistols...SO COOL.

The story is also very straightforward; The local tribes that live in Zion are torn between fighting the White Legs or merely evacuating The Valley. This is complicated by the fact that Joshua really wants to fight the White Legs, AND that Zion was untouched by the bombs and is absolutely GORGEOUS. Seriously, this DLC is worth playing for a look of Zion alone! There's also this actually very interesting back story about how the natives came to believe in a god called "The Father in the Caves", that is really worth looking into, since it's both well written and offers some damn good loot when you complete it.

The White Legs always have really good equipment to loot, which is nice.

There's not really alot else to say about Honest Hearts, which I suppose is its problem: It's rather plain. Yao Guai from FO3 make a return, but unless you count the Green Geckos, the only substantial new enemies are just super sized versions of the regular creatures. To be fair though, nothing will make you shit your pants in fear quite as well as several Giant Cazadores flying at a Mach 1 collision course with your skull. It offers some nice rewards, and there are really cool parts that shine through the mundanity, like Graham and Zion itself. 7/10.

Old World Blues

Immediately bouncing back from the blandness that was Honest Hearts comes Old World Blues, which is easily the wackiest experience Fallout has to offer. You get teleported to The Big Empty, a crater that used to be a mountain housing a massive scientific facility. The Big Empty's name is a bit of an oxymoron; It is indeed VERY big, the largest of all the DLC to date, but it is most certainly not empty.

Dotted all across Big MT are facilities where all manner of bizarre top secret experiments were carried out, so expect to find both really cool stuff and horrific monsters that want a taste of your face. You could literally explore for HOURS without so much as touching the story, but that's not to imply the story isn't also fun. In a rather strange twist of events, your kidnappers this time are brains floating in also-floating jars, who call themselves The Think Tank. These goofballs were the head scientists of Big MT before the war, and now they spend all day just capturing hapless fools and lobotomizing them. For some reason, you managed to not be lobotomized, but now your brain, heart, and spine are all out of you, and your brain has...Run away. I'm dead serious.

Writing this must have been a lot of fun.
The Think Tank, with no idea how to fight or defend themselves, then task you with defeating their traitor Dr Mobius and his ARMY OF ROBOT SCORPIONS (It's actually said this way, very loudly, every single time.) who they think has your brain, but in case it wasn't obvious by the fact that they somehow forgot what humans look like (Your toes are mistaken for penises.), they're kinda stupid. Not to mention one of them actually MADE THE FUCKING CAZADORES. Talking to them is a blast though, all of it very funny, and fans of the Venture Brothers will notice that Dr 0 is voiced by the same talent behind Rusty Venture! The story is actually somewhat heartfelt and melancholy at some points, making the title seem more fitting, but for the most part is a very funny, self-aware sort of sci-fi adventure, with plenty of swag to keep you coming back for more. 8/10.

Lonesome Road

LR was intended to be a finale of sorts, the last DLC as well as some manner of closure for The Courier. All throughout the game hints have been dropped regarding this mysterious "other" courier who turned down the job that ultimately got you shot in the head. Well, in Lonesome Road, he reaches out to you, inviting you to come face him in a hellhole known simply as The Divide. Similar to Point Lookout, you can leave LR anytime you want, which unfortunately removes alot of the urgency from what is intended to be a sort of "race against time" affair. As the name implies, you are to travel with no companions and you can bring anything you want for this, and you'll NEED everything because LR pulls out all the stops to give you one last ball pounding. Deathclaws that scale with your level are EVERYWHERE, the new enemies in the game, The Marked Men and The Tunnelers, are both crazy tough, and The Road itself has no doctors of any kind.

It's fairly normal to fight 3 at a time in this DLC.

 The landscape is what I'd imagine the world immediately after the bombs to look. The area that became The Divide was actually a stockpile for nukes, and alot of them went off before they could even be deployed, so The Divide is a savage land wracked by radioactive dust storms and consists of twisted steel and rubble almost exclusively. There's not much back story except your own, which the game attempts to put together that you are actually responsible for all this devastation, and now Ulysses, the other courier, wants revenge by using the still working nukes to blow up New Vegas...Wait, that doesn't make sense!

This guy is about as intimidating a pomeranian.

Ulysses goes on about this big spiel that you ruined a budding society, so his response is the same fucking thing? How petty! It seems weird that it just sorta throws this on you and expects you to care, seeing as how one of the main points in Fallout is to have a character with a blank slate. There are some nice action sequences, a fairly epic finale, and some really nice weapons and upgrades to the ED-E companion. The story is lame, which is a bit disappointing, and I was frankly expecting alot more out of it. After so many hours sunk into the game, I suppose my expectations were just too high. Lonesome Road gets a 7/10.

If you like this stuff, please comment about it! It feels good to actually get some talking in a series called "Let's Talk About", and it validates me making more of these. Aw hell, I'm gonna keep making these things anyway. Next time, we'll be begin talking about the cancelled Fallout games, starting with the Fallout 3 that never was, Van Buren! Until next time.

More Let's Talk About:

June 22, 2014

Let's talk about: Fallout 3 DLC

Author's Note: Wow, it's been awhile. I understand no one was chomping at the bit for more of these, but at the same time, I really wanted to keep coming back to work on it some more. So here I am, ready for another Let's Talk About, I hope you like it.

Downloadable content is a rather contentious issue, ya know? People are very split on it for some reason. The argument for dictates that through DLC you have a way to go back and continue to enjoy an experience without paying full price for it. The argument against says that more often than not the content provided should have been free, and that DLC's are just a way greedy developers can nickle and dime their fans. While I can certainly see both sides, and there are times when the latter is true, never has the former been more apparent than with the Fallout DLC's.

There are 8 of them in total, 4 for 3 and 4 for NV. I'm going to break each one down separately so you may draw down separately, so this might be a bit lengthy. Here goes.

Operation: Anchorage

History is really important to Fallout's overall theme. It being a "what-if" sort of universe where we all decided plastics and fuel efficiency were dumb, it's interesting to look back and see how it all turned into nuclear armageddon. Operation: Anchorage does that...Sort of. Specifically, it covers the high point of the conflict between the United States and China, that acted as the prelude to said nuclear armageddon. It's explained away with a fancy VI machine the Brotherhood Outcasts contract you to use for them, in exchange for "phat lewt". You are placed in the shoes of an American soldier, tasked with carrying out the aforementioned Operation: Anchorage.

Gameplay takes a bizarre turn in this one; As it is a virtual reality, you cannot loot bodies since they phase out of existence. You heal all damage and refill ammo and pick up new weapons at pre-determined points as you run along gunning down commies. Apparently Bethesda wanted to see what would happen if Fallout was a Call of Duty clone. To be fair, there are attempts at new RPG-sort of things here. You get to form a squad using a limited number of tokens to select members, and you get to choose what path you take to the end. Unfortunately, this is sort of lost since your squad mates kinda suck and you'll be doing most of the work anyway. There's no inherent challenge to it whatsoever, and there's about TWO FUCKING QUESTS, after which you win and get the delicious swag promised to you.

I actually forgot about this fucker. Never mind, DLC is hard as balls.
The swag alone is worth it, and it is mercifully short, but ultimately Anchorage gets a 4/10.

Broken Steel

I mentioned in my FO3 review that the game had a shit ending, and it did. It's rather funny how angry everyone got with the ending to this game, yet Bioware just went ahead and did the same thing years later, for a TRILOGY of games no less. But unlike Bioware, Bethesda was quick to fix the issue with Broken Steel, a special add-on that changes the ending, and then some. See, it lets you actually continue playing after the main campaign, and even offers a brand new, HARD AS BALLS campaign that I actually really like. This one has a lot of great cinematic moments, and the explosive climax makes me completely forget the utterly bland story presented up until this point. New enemies are added, and most of them are wicked powerful, if not utterly broken. Ghoul Reavers, in particular, soak up a stupid amount of damage while still being able to chunk your health at even your highest levels with the best armor.

Fuck these things, too.

The whole game has been reworked to be more challenging to higher level players, and it works. Broken Steel is the only DLC that I'd say is quite necessary. 10/10.

The Pitt

This was the first DLC that added a genuinely new location, and the remains of the urban tumor that is Pittsburgh is certainly one that immediately catches your eye. It's a stark, glowing furnace of hellfire, quite literally.

Play "Engine City" from Bioshock to this. It's oddly fitting.

The Pitt, as Pittsburgh is now called, is a massive ammunition plant, run by an army of slavers and their respective slaves. You are presented with the choice of liberating the slaves or siding with the slavers but before any of THAT happens, you start out as a slave. You are tossed in with all your gear confiscated, forced to fight the new deadly creatures called Trogs as you collect metal for the furnaces and fight in a gladiator arena for your freedom. Aside from the ridiculous amount of new armor and weapons The Pitt brings to play, the story is the only one of all the DLC's that actually allows choice in how the conflict is resolved. The Pitt itself is a very interesting locale, and I wish there were more quests in The Pitt itself. The Pitt also comes with a morale choice, as the people of the Pitt all suffer from this bizarre disease that's never explained in great detail.

Deciding their fate ultimately has little impact, and it feels tacked on. The Pitt gets a 7/10 from me.

Point Lookout

Point Lookout is pretty much what I wanted out of a DLC; A vast new and unique land to explore, with new quests and characters to love. It's a shame it's so horribly unbalanced, but who cares?! Fallout in exotic locations is one of my immediate deal makers, and Point Lookout puts Fallout on the swampy islands of Maryland, so sign me up!

Fallout: Louisiana needs to happen!

The best part about this particular DLC is that if you get frustrated or don't have the levels to take it on, you can just leave! The story is not forced on you like every other DLC, and this is for the best considering the insane difficulty of this particular item. Point Lookout makes you its bitch with artificial difficulty that is out of this world; Tribals that should take and do as much damage as Raiders suddenly fight like they're Enclave troopers, and don't even get me started on the fucking Inbreds, that, despite being...inbred, are incredibly smart and can accurately shoot you square in the face with a double barrel shotgun at 500 kilometers. Were it not for the locale and variety, I'd tell Point Lookout to kiss my ass.

The story's a pretty good one too, despite its distinct feeling of unimportance, and like most DLC has some very nice rewards that are worth working for, so ultimately Point Lookout scores an 8/10.

Mothership Zeta

This is the worst time I've had with the series since Brotherhood of Shit. Granted, anything is better than THAT, but this is still absolute garbage, despite the loot. Do you remember in Fallout 1 that you could find a wrecked alien spaceship, complete with alien skeletons and working gun? Well, Mothership Zeta attempts to follow up on that by having you straight up abducted. Though the presentation is cool enough, and the alien spaceship has some cool scenery, it stops being fun about 5 minutes in, when you suddenly realize in horror that the entire run through the ship is going to be the same: A monotonous grind through nonthreatening enemies and the occasional bullshit hard moment. The game TRIES to add variety with a group of NPC's, all of which are people abducted from Earth over a long period of time and cryogenically frozen. You can even meet an honest-to-god SAMURAI WARRIOR, who even speaks Japanese!

You aren't important, are you? 'Cuz I really like your armor...

Awesomeness of that aside, the gameplay consists of running through increasingly uninspired and boring alien ship environments, gunning down the same weak and ineffectual "Grey"-styled alien for about 3 goddamn hours. There are some attempts at variety, with a spacewalk section, some sort of strange "Alien Pinball" sort of thing, and the conclusion in which you fight another ship (This is not even close to being as cool as it sounds.). There's also these insanely powerful "Abomination" creatures, which are implied to be alien-human hybrids. Implied meaning there is virtually no story in this thing and you just have to infer. The game goes all Bioshock on you by leaving a crap load of Audio Logs that frame a story but it ultimately falls flat because there IS NO FRAME. It is never explained what the aliens want, why they abduct people, or why they create these hybrids that just end up killing them too, anyway!

Fuck Mothership Zeta, not even the incredibly powerful and high value alien weaponry would make me play this shit again, 1/10.

Don't agree with me? That's awesome! Share your love for Fallout and comment DLC feels bellow, from the best to the worst (if there is the worst one in your world), and you try to rate them. It is the whole point of "Let's talk about" series, to talk about and share love for Fallout. Make sure to read the next Let's Talk About to learn what I think about the New Vegas DLC.

More Let's Talk About:

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