Developer: Bethesda Game Studios | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, First Person
I’m now level 27 and close to completing the main quest of the game. After a lot of random exploration I decided I wanted to see some quest action, so I went down to Diamond City, got myself a bunch of quests, and started following their chains. If there was still a samey feeling of going through the motions, the fresh quests along with getting to know the companions helped a lot to keep this at bay. Some of the quests even have better writing or humor than I expected.
Given how much the quests spiced up the game for me, I’ll have to say that it’s a shame there are so few of them in the beginning for my type of player. I didn’t want to bother with the settlement crafting quests offered for Sanctuary Hills, and then it was only when I reached as far down as Diamond City that it felt like I finally had a nice palette of quests to work on.
The companions have been upgraded a lot compared to all previous games made by Bethesda. They’re no longer boring automatons just for extra firepower or junk storage. They comment on a lot of stuff, even small things like me picking something up. They sit down for a drink while I sniff around in drawers and desks. At my home they will use the crafting tables that I’m not currently using myself. They like or dislike my moral actions to quest dialog choices. And if they like you well enough, they will offer you a personal quest. There’s no doubt in my mind that BioWare has been subject to a lot of scrutinizing here, but it’s also one of the areas that I approve of the most. It adds a great layer of immersion and maybe it also makes me want to try out more companions.
Some more stray observations from the now 42 hours of play.
Inventory kept being a problem in the beginning but I refused to use the console command cheat and just give me a ludicrous limit. First, I added some more strength and a carrying perk or two, and later I forced myself to really notice what crafting materials were useful. Fans, aluminum, glue, adhesives and such I always pick up, but after a while I knew my crafting table had enough of the rest and stopped bothering with it. Companions also have an inventory to help out.
It’s really too bad that the storage system in the crafting tables isn’t just global. I know there’s a perk to establish a courier connection between them, but somehow it feels like this game should just have had this. Visit a new crafting table and there’s all your junk along with it. Too easy? Well, there were a lot of crafting tables I found where I started taking a look at a new weapon or a piece of armor I just found a few rooms ago. Maybe I can mod it to… oh, that’s right. No junk stuff available here. Guess I’ll wait until Elvis has left the building and fast traveling is available again.
But not everything is questionable about the user interface. The loot system is now pretty damn awesome. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything this fast and easy in an RPG before. Corpses and containers now doesn’t have to be opened at all, just hover the cross hair on it and the list immediately appears. I can scroll with the mouse wheel and choose, but even so it feels like the most interesting stuff is always in the top. It’s great that they got this one right because it’s also the one thing we do the most.
And the red part in the right side of the health bar for the radiation level is fine with me too. It makes sense to have it reduce the maximum health available, at least from a gameplay point of view. After healing the radiation there’s a health gap that has to be healed up by itself. Here it’s good to use some cooked food.
Turned out the internet people were right about the dialog wheel after all, though. I said in my previous post that I found it it to be okay, but now that I’ve been through a ton of quests, it really leaves a lot to be desired. Some cue words are often too ambiguous and makes me avoid them because I’m not sure my character will accept, deny, or just plain piss someone off. The sarcastic option is a chance I’m usually not willing to take to prevent the dialogs from becoming quickload fests. It then turns into doing mostly safe choices and that’s a real shame. BioWare handled this a lot better in Mass Effect.
Another downside is that many dialog choices are barely extended at all. Choose “Explain” and the character usually just says something like “Please explain.” It makes the protagonist sound a little daft. BioWare and Obsidian knew how to expand cue words into proper sentences and it felt much more satisfying in their games.
There’s a mod out that replaces the dialog wheel with the actual sentences the protagonist will say, but to be honest I’m not willing to let go of the dialog wheel because I’ve actually always liked the fundamental idea of it. What I’d like to see in a mod instead is where the dialog wheel and its options are maintained as is, but that hovering the mouse cursor on top of an option reveals the actual sentence right next to it. This way, I can see what the option will turn into in case I actually click it.
I like the idea of the yellowish pea soup thunder and lighting weather effect, especially in a unique area that I’ll get back to in the spoiler section below. Did S.T.A.L.K.E.R. serve as the inspiration for this one? Maybe. The blowout sky effect in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was much more frightening though as it caused me to scramble for cover and wait out its devastating flash effects. Here, I merely look around for an immediate indoor refuge, and if I don’t find it, I’ll probably just fast travel somewhere else.
I’ve noticed that some weapons actually take a few seconds to load after a fast travel. Here’s your pistol ready. Your rifle? Let me just think for a couple of seconds. Oh, here it is. The laser rifle? Sheesh, you are demanding, aren’t you? Let me just think some more. Oh well, here it is too. Considering the fact that I could be in an immediate danger after a fast travel, this is not quite okay with me. I want my entire arsenal to be ready just in case I spawn right inside a camp of suicidal super mutants.
It’s also hard for me to get used to firing off a critical hit as an interactive option in the V.A.T.S. mode. I can’t really make up my mind whether it’s actually a great design idea or not. Either way, I always tend to forget about it because I’ve always been used to critical hits being an automatic action in other RPG.
I was in doubt about the factions involved in the main quest at first. Would joining them piss the other ones off, immediately making an enemy out of them? Luckily it turned out that it’s completely safe joining all of them. The point where factions get pissed off must come from actions in the main quest itself at a point I’ve not yet reached. Even getting Railroad to help me build the teleporter didn’t turn off the Brotherhood of Steel (although they were slightly miffed about it) and I could explore all of the Institute including getting the serum for Virgil, the secluded mutant. Each faction offer their own set of quest chains and I’ve decided to try and complete most of them before I continue with the last bit of the main quest itself.
After all, I’m not really the type of guy that replays games.
But while I was still in doubt whether it was safe to join factions or not, I tried to postpone this choice with each of them. Interestingly, it was handled in a very different manner for each. Brotherhood of Steel accepted yes, no, and unsure options, and the unsure option was accepted to let me think it over. Railroad appeared to offer the same options, but when I tried the unsure option, the female leader told me that she needed a yes or no answer right here and now. The institute also appeared to have an option for thinking it over, but later I found out that I had just sort of joined them anyway, as if there was never really any choice. If you’re reading this with the same doubts, don’t worry. Join away. As mentioned before it doesn’t matter whom you belong to until much later in the main quest line.
Brotherhood of Steel had a damn nice airship called Prydwen to check out, complete with a new power armor suit for me that I immediately painted red. The first actual quest for them was about securing a small island with mini nuke containers, killing the trespassing super mutants there. First part of it was circling the island in a Vertibird mounting a minigun, and I made sure I concentrated all my firepower on the Behemoth super mutant boss, killing it off before the Vertibird was forced to land. I didn’t want to fight him with my peashooters face to face.
You’re lucky I don’t turn your synth into scrap!An NPC noticing Nick accompanying me on the Prydwen
Finding Railroad was a real cute quest following a red trail line in Boston (sometimes imagining it below dirt and rubble) and dotting down code segments on the cover plates here and there. At the end, a church offered an easy code wheel puzzle to enter the combined code. Inside was the Railroad HQ. Their place was not the only time Fallout 4 managed to give me Deus Ex vibes.
Being able to enter the hidden underground complex of the Institute eventually required me to build a teleporter using the settlement crafting interface. I wasn’t too fond of this as I had deliberately avoided this part of the game so far. I managed to throw down the needed parts just next to the Red Rocket gas station, and as soon as the Institute had given me a Courser chip to teleport directly, I disassembled the Red Rocket teleporter stuff again. In hindsight, I guess Bethesda could have made it much worse, requiring me to build all sorts of stuff during the main quest line.
Standing inside the big teleporter warming up, getting the final requests by the Railroad leader, reminded me a little bit of Half-Life for a moment. But as soon as I was inside the surprisingly clean and modern Institute complex, the Courser agents wandering about there again gave me Deus Ex vibes, what with their long leather trench coats and all. I can’t say if I would have seen the twist of the missing son now being the old Institute leader coming a mile away, because unfortunately I accidentally glimpsed it in an internet forum earlier. But exploring the complex was wonderful. Great architecture, clean and very different from the top side map. And that chamber where the synths were constructed? Wow! I guess that was the equivalent of a money shot only in a video game.
Among companions, I’ve only tried Dogmeat, Piper and Nick so far. MacCready isn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t like Deacon being a compulsive liar. I dumped Dogmeat right after my first blog post part (I knew I’d eventually get tired of his panting). I’ve used Nick the most in this second part and I’ve really been fond of his dry noir voice, his sarcastic Tex Murphy-style, and in the beginning I also liked his ability to hack computers (until I surpassed him). I got his allegiance up where I could start his personal quest about collecting ten holotapes for building a code to a bad guy ghoul from his past, but I had to park it halfway through because the police departments started popping up a bit too east and south for my level. The enemies logically get much stronger towards that direction on the map.
I found an awesome underground area inside a building where I had to pump out water in several stages to empty a flooded section. Each time the water sunk down to the next level, a few pissed off Softshell Mirelurks emerged. I wonder if there’s going to be a quest associated with this area?
The Corvega factory was filled to the brim with raiders both inside and outside. Somehow I had snuck in through a sewer back entrance and although sometimes tough, I actually managed to clear the interior at a level that was probably slightly too low. Then I tried exiting through one of the front doors. Big mistake. The exterior of the factory was swarming with raiders. It was like spawning inside an epic ant hill. After a few cover deaths that felt like the finale to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I quickloaded and escape out the way I originally came. Much later I approached the factory from nearby highway bridges and sniped the ants one by one. Insert vindictive laughter here.
Piper was banging on the closed gate to Diamond City as I arrived, and the game made a lackluster first-hand impression by her and me tricking the guard into opening the gate. I didn’t think that was particularly well written, but a lot of the later quests seemed fine in that regard. The city itself reminded me a lot of Megaton version 2, only without a big nuclear bomb stranded in the middle. Same style all over. It was the right place to get lots of quest chains started. Finding Nick Valentine, trying to make the awkward radio host Travis learn some confidence, a husband killing what he believed was his wife’s lover, getting green paint for the interior city walls, cleaning the water pond, and much more.
Through the main quest line I found Nick Valentine the detective in a section with lots of noir gangsters. I was also led to the other city area Goodneighbour and was introduced to the ghoul mayor there as he stabbed a rude punk to death right in front of me. Here I also did the wonderful quest chain as Silver Shroud, the cartoon hero, complete with an overacted heroic show on the radio and a suit that would have made even The Shadow envious. I laughed a lot during this quest while listening to the radio, but I also thought it was a bit too long. Maybe it shouldn’t have left the city area for more targets outside.
I continued the main quest series with Dogmeat following a track after sniffing a cigar. I confronted the kidnapper, the bald bandit Kellogg, killed him, then visited a memory parlor with pods to live through some of the memories of the now dead man. I’m a bit wary when it comes to dream sequences in RPG because sometimes they can be a bit of a hassle (especially if the rules change a lot) but this one was fine. It was barely a walking simulator, and Kellogg’s story was well written too. There were bits of building cutouts with his interactions throughout time, separated by brain cells in an empty void. The brain cells served as a walking path to the next cutout.
Crossing the Glowing Sea to reach Virgil was awesome. Just my kind of an almost otherworldly area in an open world landscape to freshen up things. The pea soup thunder was all over and radioactivity in abundance. A really hazardous journey. I made sure to wear a power suit for the trip. Some Radscorpions along the way, but nothing too hairy. I’m not sure it’s all that inviting for random exploration, though. Maybe later when I have collected a million fusion cores for my power armor.
I’ve had a lot of bugs since last time, although most of them were relatively harmless and easy to circumvent. I found a piece of highway bridge where the surface was a low resolution texture. I’ve seen the Pip-Boy and my weapons disappear twice, but it was easily fixed by just toggling between first and third person view mode. I killed a legendary raider that was then frozen in mid air and couldn’t be looted, but a quicksave and -load also fixed that one. At one point I thought I couldn’t throw grenades anymore, but it turned out I just had to mount them in my inventory again.
No crashes, no low framerates, and no showstoppers yet.
Version: Steam | Length: 42 hours […]
That was the end of part 2. Click here for part 3.