Joys of Exploration

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Hole in the Bedroom

Yesterday was a strange day, largely because it felt like I was having to be part of something that I had no control over.  Wednesday was of course Veterans Day, and as is usually the case I get it off work.  Which I immediately thought would be amazing… since I had Fallout 4 to keep me company.  The problem being that they did not in fact install the door in the bedroom Saturday like we thought they would.  As a result they needed a new target date, and since I was going to be home anyways… we ended up with Wednesday.  So I spent most of the day trying to play Fallout 4, without allowing myself to get too engaged in the game play as to miss the extremely subtle knocks that they needed my help with something.  The problem is… when there is constant hammering… it is impossible to get a knock from just more hammering.  We gave them my text for this reason… or at least for the reason of contacting me directly, but alas that didn’t actually do much.

The scariest moment of the day was when I went down to check on progress and there was a huge gaping hole in the side of our house.  It looked like they had to take a lot more than they originally planned and I am sitting there trying to sort out how it is all going to go back together.  However by evening they had a door installed and we had moved all of our stuff back in place around it.  The awesome thing is it works beautifully and we had this cabinet next to the door that we were concerned might impede it.  However it seems to swing open just fine with the cabinet in place, which means…  we are going to now have to do something major to our back yard to also make it more inhabitable.  I have a feeling that my wife at least is going to want to build some sort of a proper patio just outside the bedroom for sipping coffee in her rocking chair or similar activities.  We are hoping there will be enough of a gap between them finishing their project and the waste company picking up the dumpster that we can maybe throw a bunch of crap away from the back yard.  At the very least I can almost see the end in this project in sight… and maybe just maybe there will be a point on the near horizon where I can park in my own damned driveway.

Meandering

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According to Steam I am now 18 hours into the game… and at this point I have done next to nothing.  My quest driven friends are talking about this thing they did or that thing they did…  but me…  I am building a town.  I’ve always played Fallout with a base builder mentality even though it was never really terribly supported.  Being the horrific pack rat that I am, I largely played in a pretty predictable manner.  I would roam around the wastes until something caught my eye, and then go explore it.  During the course of exploring it… I would end up filling up my own inventory and that of my companion…  in this case Dogmeat.  Then I would fast travel back to base… dump the items I found into a series of containers that I used for sorting such things, rest up if I was low on hit points… and then venture out again.  For the Walking Dead fans…  I play the game much like Morgan was living his life…  making sure to clear everything before moving on.  There is a sense of accomplishment at knowing that you took down every raider in a camp, or got every drop of good out of a complex you just explored.

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What makes this all so much better this time around is that for the very first time…  it feels like I am making the wasteland a better place.  In the past becoming the “Savior of the Wasteland” largely involved killing everyone that did not believe like you did.  Which I am sure helped the fledgling towns, but it didn’t feel like I was doing more than being a gun for hire.  This time around I can build up settlements, and recruit new settlers giving them a nice place to live and the safety of decent protections.  I feel like town by town I am actually fixing the problems that were there, and setting up a better way of life as I blaze through the map.  “Blaze” might be the wrong word… because realistically at this point I have seen next to nothing.  I am largely just fiddling in the same corner of the map that I started in.  There are still a bunch of things that I have quite yet to figure out…  like how magazines and bobbleheads work this time.  So far I have found a single bobblehead, and a handful of magazines.  I am also not 100% sure how much I like the talent system which seems a bit more arcane than simply slotting points in skills.  Regardless… I am hooked beyond reason and look forward to little else than coming back home tonight after work and exploring some more.  This game so far… is exactly what I hoped it would be and more.

 

Fallout First Impressions

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Non-Spoiler First Thoughts

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War Never Changes…. and neither does Fallout, and that is a statement I mean in the best possible way.  When a sequel to a beloved franchise is released, you never quite know if you are going to get absolute greatness like Skyrim… or if you are going to be stuck with a Master of Orion 3.  For those who loved MOO3 I apologize… but that game was horrible and broke from far too many of the tenets of the original franchise.  Fallout 4 however… keeps all of the best features from Fallout 3 and New Vegas… and applies a next generation coat of paint and features to it.  If you have been an aficionado of Bethesda games for very long you will notice that several of the really nice features of Skyrim have been implemented into this engine.  Everything from the loading screen item previews…  to the ability to favorite weapons and swap between them quickly in combat… are direct lineage to Skyrim.  What you also get is some genuine evolution of the engine, in the form of just how content dense the world is and how much of it can be fiddled with.

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At this point according to Steam I am roughly four hours into the game, and I have to say… that was the fastest four hours of my life.  I mentioned yesterday that I did not stay up Tuesday night to play the game, but instead had to wait until after work yesterday.  Additionally we have contractors coming to the house to put a door in our bedroom today…  so we had to do a lightning round of cleaning before I finally got to sit down and play with my precious.  From the moment I set down… every time I was aware that time had passed…  it was an hour and not fifteen minutes like I had thought.  Most of that time was spent not actively doing any quests or following the story line really.  The first handful of events happen to play out in a pretty organic fashion, and I apparently followed the story line to a point… without really meaning to.  I remember watching the demo footage from E3, and I have for the most part made it through the sequence that they showed… which happens pretty early in the game.  It gives you a neatly framed vignette that allows you to understand some of the forces in the world that you are contending with.

Packrat Friendly

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For me at least the best part of this game is that they have taken things to essentially their logical conclusions.  If you are living in a world with limited resources, then essentially everything you come across could be useful.  In the past I was a horrible packrat and constantly on the brink over being overburdened.  Why was I carrying fifty coffee mugs…. who knew… but I might need them someday.  Those tendencies are absolutely paid off in full in this game because quite literally every piece of crap you find in the world is useful either to modify your weapons and armor… or to construct things for the new base building side game.  Pretty early on, you end up in the neighborhood you once lived in.  This then becomes your base of operations allowing you to scrap materials there, and build new structures.  As you venture out into the world you find survivors that you can invite back to your little sanctuary, and in a fashion very reminiscent to State of Decay you have to watch after their well being and their defenses.  I am assuming as your settlement gets bigger you will become the target of raiders and the like trying to take your hard earned resources.

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The other big noticeable change in this game is that everything seems more dangerous.  Radiation is a real problem this time, because instead of causing you to lose health over time… it reduces your maximum health pool.  All of the old baddies are also more deadly…  Bloat Flies move more erratically, Mole Rats can burrow under ground and pop up when you least expect them…. and move insanely fast…  and there are new dangerous like giant mutated mosquitoes.  All of this and more I have encountered within a short radius of where you actually start the game.  Everything I am talking about is within visual distance of the Vault 111 entrance.  Essentially this is a game that is going to eat every waking moment for a long while…  because right now I feel like I have not even begun to unwrap the wrapping of the game… let alone actually dip below the surface.  The big takeaway is that it is the Fallout game play that you either love or hate… with more advanced systems and more fluidity of character movement and actions.  Everything “feels better” and I know this largely because I played quite a bit of New Vegas Tuesday night as a sort of placebo for Fallout 4 while waiting on it to unlock.  The changes are extremely noticeable, even from the level the engine was at during Skyrim.  I’m now going to shut up about my impressions… and launch the game and lose myself in it again.

 

 

 

Waiting for Apocalypse

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Seasonal Hunter

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Last night was the tale of me doing a bunch of things to avoid thinking about the fact that I was not yet playing Fallout 4.  Throughout the day people were unlocking it through either legitimate means of happening to be in the right time zone… or through some chicanery.  If you have access to a VPN tool, you can in theory make your system look like it is from a time zone where a game has already unlocked.  This means however that you have to stay connected to said VPN the entirety of your time playing the game… either that or go completely offline.  Thusfar Steam seems to have turned a blind eye to this practice but my fear is that someday… they won’t.  I ultimately value my Steam account far too much to risk losing it just to play a game a few hours early.  So as a result I was like the rest of the nation waiting on midnight eastern time for the game to unlock here.  The problem is when you want to be playing one thing… and can’t…  nothing else really seems that much fun.

I instead decided to work on some things that I had been meaning to do.  Since the BlizzCon madness of the weekend I had been poking my head into Diablo 3 periodically, and before the season 4 crunch had played out for us… I managed to get a Demon Hunter within a stones throw of 70.  In fact I was sitting at 68… which ironically is exactly the point at which I got my non-seasonal Monk.  I oped to work on grinding out that last little bit so that I could at least say that I finished both the Warrior and Demon Hunter during the season.  While I had some fun with the Hunter, I doubt I will play one again because in truth… it really just is not my style.  My final play style centered around using whatever ability generated a ton of hatred… and then using that to fuel the fan of knives attack and rapid fire, and through a combination of those two I could pretty much burn down anything.  I dinged 70, crafted a ton of gear…. and now my hunter is probably going to sit in this state for eternity.  At some point I would really like to finish up the Monk just so I can check that one off the list.  That leaves only the Wizard that I have never gotten close to capping.

Pre-loading is a Lie

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The tale around Fallout 4 is a little bittersweet for me.  Months ago I was happy as hell to have managed to get one of the rare elusive Pip-boy edition pre-orders.  The problem being… it was silly expensive, but was going to be a one time only type thing.  I have long wished I had gotten the bobble head version of the Fallout 3 collectors edition with the metal lunchbox.  Fallout is one of those franchises that really gets me as a player… and since saving my pennies in college to buy the first one at Wal-mart…  it has been one of those games that will just consume all of my time for a period of months.  The problem being… in the meantime we have had a whole slew of unexpected expenses, not the least of which is the home renovation that we are going through.  As such I ended up doing the adult thing… cancelling my Pip-boy pre-order and going with the significantly cheaper Steam version of the game.  The positive is however that I was able to pre-load the game… and in theory play it last night.

I say “in theory” because while I struggled to stay awake until 11 pm central…  when I finally was able to hit play a whole other process started of “unpacking” the game.  At times this said it was only 13 minutes away…  at other times 4 hours…  because in truth the system had no clue how long this would actually take.  After about ten minutes the progress bar was less than an eighth of the way through so I finally gave up and went on to bed.  This morning however I got in and played through the first little bit of the game allowing me to create a character and at least get my family into the vault.  This game is so damned pretty… but more than that the motion and movement just feels better.  One of the many things I did last night to pass the time was to start a new game of Fallout New Vegas… and I had forgotten how much NOT a shooter that game was.  I still love it immensely but the movement and motion felt pretty damned stilted.  This however controls beautifully, and I was shocked to see my fairly old machine being able to run it on what it suggested as Ultra High.  We will see just how well that actually works once we leave the vault and venture out into the world.  But alas that will have to wait until after work tonight.

 

 

Spindle Envy

Game of the Month

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This month for AggroChat Game Club we decided to do something a little different.  This was the brain child of Tam, who wished we had the time to really dig in and explore a much larger game.  If you’ve noticed we tend to pick relatively short games for the Game Club because it gives us a shot in hell of beating it before the end of the month and we record the show.  We also tend to pick relatively cheap games, making it easier for all of us to pick the title up…  which a lot of times limits us to Indie titles.  Instead this month we are digging wholeheartedly into post apocalyptic Boston…  in Fallout 4.  Since we are hitting that time of the year when people start to have conflicts, and we have decided to make Fallout span two months.  So the plan is to have it be both the game of the month for November and December, with a bit of a preview show at the end of November to talk about our progress so far.  Then around Christmas a tell all show talking about our feelings about the game and more importantly our experiences.  This is the sort of game where everyone who sits down in front of it will have slightly different experiences, and at least to some extent I plan on trying to keep a running journal of what all I find in the wastes.

Fallout and I go far back, and I can honestly say I have been a huge fan of the series since its launch.  I remember going to the local Wal-mart to buy a copy for the PC shortly after it launched, and pretty much losing all sense of time playing it.  I wish I could say that I went as far back as Wasteland, but alas I did not.  I remember the game, I remember people talking about it… but when it existed I simply did not have a computer.  Fallout is one of those games that changed the way I felt about PC gaming in general.  In the years prior to it, I was pretty much heavily a Super Nintendo gamer…  thinking that Final Fantasy and the JRPG thing was the superior gaming experience.  Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment…  changed all of that and I started moving heavily away from the consoles and focusing almost entirely on PC RPGs and eventually allowing myself to get sucked into the MMO world.  So it is with zero hyperbole that say that Fallout shaped the way I feel about gaming, so when a new one releases…  I end up almost vibrating with excitement.  I realize in the coming months I am pretty much going to be dead to the world apart from poking my head into the occasional game here or there.  For at least the first several weeks my blog is pretty much going to be entirely devoted to my travels in post apocalyptic Massachusetts.  I am hoping that you will join me in this adventure, and we will sort out how best to convey your experiences so we can talk about them on the podcast as well.

Lost to Light

Yesterday the mission in Destiny called “Lost to Light” was the daily heroic, and as a result that meant Black Spindle the exotic sniper rifle was once again available.  I had plotted and schemed all day long about this being the night we would actually go do this.  I was so phenomenally wrong….  but we at least made an attempt.  I grabbed Carthuun and Squirrel Pope and we made a valiant attempt.  Earlier in the day Squirrel had actually managed to get through the quest with a group, and while we didn’t succeed we didn’t do that horrible in the grand scheme of things.  Basically I think we are still slightly too low light, but that seems to be the general problem…  because I have no clue how to get over 300 reliably other than run the raid.  Everything was going pretty smoothly, we destroyed the Ogre which started the sequence where we run through the hive fortress and branch off to go up onto the Ketch instead.  Once on the Ketch we did fairly well for the most part, other than the room with all the snipers.  It took us a lot longer in that room than it probably should have, which made everything feel that much more stressful.  We were sitting roughly at the 5 minute mark when we set foot into the final room to fight the taken version of Taniks.  From there… things just went bad… we died a lot… we failed to knock out one of the blights in the far back of the room… and we simply were not doing enough damage to the boss fast enough.

From there we decided to lick our wounds and head into Nightfall, because according to Squirrel it would be far easier than what we just went through.  I am not disappointed mind you in our progress…  it at least gives us a goal to work towards.  Nightfall had a few frustrating moments but we took it nice and slow after the rushed experience of trying to clear to and defeat Taniks in ten minutes.  When we finally downed Alak-Hul I got lucky enough for him to drop his unique helmet, which I am now rocking after some fiddling with it.  I really love collecting these unique items, like the arms with the chain fist from the bond brothers strike.  For the Nightfall itself I was awarded a 4th Horseman, which sadly I already had…  so it pretty much immediately became an exotic shard which is never a bad thing.  I’ve talked about this before but as far as shotguns go… I just cannot think of a situation where I would want 4th Horseman over Invective.  From there we attempted to run a few heroics… which we got through the first one without issue…  then during the second one Carth disconnected.  He has been having some internet issues lately… and I forgot to set the group to “locked” so the game filled for us…  and we ended up finishing the restorative mind with a stranger.  All in all… which we had some frustrations it was still a really fun night, and I am hoping to be able to get in again tonight and do some more fun stuff.