Friday, January 8, 2016

Untimely Revue: "Crawl Out Through the Fallout (4)"

The following is an updated version of a collaborative review I did with some other former members of the GameInformer blogging community as a sort of anniversary blog. I have updated it with my thoughts on the late game, which remain pretty much the same as my thoughts about the early game, but still. Questions are not mine. Answers are. 

1. Which platform are you playing on and how many hours have you put into the game so far?
I am playing on PC. I've put 120+ hours into the game. 

2. Let's talk about game mechanics. What feature/mechanic in the game you like the most? Please describe why do you like it the most.
There are a couple of features that I'm really enjoying. The first is settlement building. Not because I want to restore the Commonwealth or anything. But because I have turned the Kingsport Lighthouse into a fortress, a mighty citadel from whence I can strike out into the irradiated wastes. And also store all my cool stuff. The settlement-building system isn't perfect, but it has a nice feedback loop. 

The second feature is the weapon and armor customization. It's not perfect, don't get me wrong. As far as I can tell there are mods for two types of playstyles (broken down into either VATS-users and free-shooters or stealthy and smashy) and your end goal is to get the "best" version for your playstyle. All the same, it's incredibly addicting to collect parts for your weapons and slowly turn them into instruments of destruction. '

3. What feature/mechanic in the game do you like the least? Please elaborate about this as well.
While I like the customizable weapons, I'm not 100% on-board with having "legendary" weapons. I get the idea, and don't mind it. But it feels as though legendary weapons superseded the Fallout tradition of unique weapons. I want a That Gun or a Gobi Campaign Sniper Rifle, and while similar weapons exist in-game (Righteous Authority, the Junk Jet, the Cryolator), they don't seem as...prominent. Also, seriously, some of the legendary buffs make no sense with the weapons they're buffing. (See image to the right...) It's a good idea, it just doesn't feel polished enough. 

4. Are there any features/mechanics Bethesda should have added or removed? If yes, please also explain which features/mechanics and why.
Hm. This is a bit of a tough one. For me? I would have liked more skill checks. I have finished the main quest and have mostly been wandering around killing things and salvaging junk. But I feel as though my SPECIAL stats don't matter in conversations. I haven't seen a single Strength conversation option, for example, and while Charisma checks exist, they basically serve to get more caps, and nothing else. I miss being able to use Intelligence to geek out with scientists, or Strength to intimidate someone. 

5. Let's move on to story and gameplay. Who is, so far, your favorite NPC in the game? Why do you believe that he/she/it is the best? If you met the NPC in real life, how would you react?
CURIE. OH. MAH. GAWSH. So cyuuuuute. She's adorable. So naive and also so practical... Nick Valentine is also super awesome, and I'd love to start a noire-themed detective agency with him. 

6. Which NPC do you hate the dislike/most so far? What did he/she/it do to deserve the hate/dislike?
Preston Garvey or Father. Preston, that settlement isn't in danger. There are 500 laser turrets surrounding it. Preston, do you ever shut up? Preston, if you love the Minutemen so much, why don't you marry them? And Father is just...seriously, bro? First thing you do to your parent is basically make them hope they've rescued child-you, only to snatch that hope away? You're a prick, bro. A real mean one, Mister Grinch. 

7. What do you think of the conversation system in the game? In Fallout 3, you had some options to choose from, but you were always the silent protagonist talking to another person in a time bubble.
In some respects I think that the new conversation is a bit of a step back. I can't tell as easily what a given conversation choice will result in. One of my favorite things in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas was to just sit and chat with people, exhaust their dialogue options. It doesn't seem like that's as much of a focus in this new conversation system. Which I really really hate. Side conversations barely seem to exist. 

8. What do you think of the quest system? Have you explored the magic of radiant quests that never end?
Too many extermination quests, not enough diplomacy/sciency/whatever quests. Fallout is at heart an RPG, while this feels like it wants to be an open-world FPS. Those 10 points in Charisma have gone mostly to waste. (Seriously, more quests like the Silver Shroud questline would have been amazing. That was amazing). The radiant quests are...BUGGER OFF, GRAVY, I'M NOT HELPING ANY MORE KIDNAPPED SETTLERS! MAYBE IF THEY STAYED INSIDE THE TURRET WALL THEY WOULDN'T GET KIDNAPPED BY EVERY TOM DICK AND HARRY! SERIOUSLY I THINK THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO SCAM ME NOW. 

9. What do you think of the world design? Is there something you would like that Bethesda would add or perhaps remove?
I LOVE the world design. I felt like Fallout 3 had way too many metro locations, and while I loved Fallout New Vegas' world, there's only so much you can do with desert. The Commonwealth has a little bit of everything. The Glowing Sea is terrifying and surreal, the cities capture the best of Fallout 3, the forests are gorgeous, there's swamp and ocean and... Yeah, it's really varied. I also really appreciate the little environmental touches, like the skeletons with their hands down each others' pants or the skeleton holding a pistol next to a picture of a cat. Just little things, little stories that evoke one emotion or another. 

10. What do you think of the crafting system? Fallout 3 introduced schematics, but in Fallout 4, schematics were removed and instead replaced with several crafting tables full of possibilities.
I already touched on this, but I really enjoy all the crafting systems available. There's so much cool stuff I can do! 

11. Have you managed to try out the construction system? What do you like/dislike about it? What would you do to improve it?
I have mixed feelings on the construction system. If you want to build a perfectly straight wall on perfectly flat ground, it's good. However, weird angles give it fits. I also wish that I could level the ground to an extent, remove some of the trash heaps that aren't scrappable, in order to even things out more. With that said, I'm constantly working on my fortress at Kingsport Lighthosue, building ever-more levels stacked with all the luxuries a woman and her three Amazonian girlfriends could ever want. It's a glorious thing, and it inspires me to go looting. 

12. What is your favorite weapon of the game? How you given the weapon a special name?
I have a few. My character specializes in traditional firearms, which limits the field a bit. There's "Boone," the .50 cal sniper rifle that I use to open up fights; Old Faithful, the 10mm pistol you begin the game with, tricked out with every mod in the book to make it a ghoul-killing machine; Stormdrum, the combat shotgun that can clear an entire building without reloading; My Boomstick, the double-barrel shotgun that's been retired in favor of Stormdrum; Better Dead Than Red, a combat rifle I'm stil modding up, which serves as my mid-range anti-super-mutant weapon; and Dakka 2.0, the semi-auto assault rifle. As I get new guns, I slowly mod them and hoard ammo, then give them an appropriate name and unleash them. It's a beautiful thing. 

13. Which type of enemy's character design do you like the most? Compared to Fallout 3, Bethesda added a few enemy types and did not remove almost any. Additionally, what was your hardest or your most exciting battle yet? Who did you fight?
Ghouls, man. Ghouls. Ghouls never scared me in previous Fallout games. They scare me now. Crawling out of ventilations shafts, leaping at you like an irradiated human missile, dragging themselves towards you after you've blown away their legs... These ghouls are truly frightening. Glowing Ones are particularly frightening. I'm used to a couple headshots taking down any ghoul. Not in Fallout 4. I lobbed 10 molotov cocktails at a Glowing One earlier today, and still had to end it with both barrels of My Boomstick. Scary stuff, man. On that note, my most exhilarating battles so far have been with ghouls. My first encounter with a ghoul pack, I was level 4 or 5, armed with a 10mm pistol and a double-barrel shotgun, both low on ammo. I stumbled on the Gorski cabin, and nearly got wiped out. Ten levels later, I found the RV park where you get the "The New Squirrel" holotapes, and ran into my first Glowing One. It resurrected the ghoul pack... two or three times. Scary, tense, easily set to Yakkety Sax in hindsight, as I ran around panic-firing and not using VATS. (In general, I reserve VATS for insectoid enemies.)

14. On a scale of 1 to 10, please rate the following features of Fallout 4:

STORY - Main Story: 6/10, side stories, 8/10 (DISCLAIMER: Haven't played much of the main quest.)
COMBAT - 8/10
QUESTS - 7/10

OVERALL GAME RATING - 9/10 (Yeah, yeah, it doesn't average out. I love the setting, exploration, combat, characters, and side-plots... They mostly make up for a terrible main quest and terrible quest resolution methods.)

15. Would you recommend this game for others?
If they're into nuclear wastelands, open-world exploration, FPS/RPG hybrids, or Fallout? Heck yeah!