State of the Game: Holiday Haul Edition

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It’s been quite a while since I had so many titles to talk about at once that it warranted a SotG post, having had bigger games to sink my teeth into as of late. Still, between my birthday last month, Christmas in a little under a day and having a few bucks to spend of my own, I’ve come out with a bunch of new (to me) games to play. Not like I didn’t already have a massive backlog and plenty that I’m currently playing, but that’s okay, the more the merrier! Right? Well… I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

So I’ve been plugging away at Fallout 4 since its release back in mid-November. I really like the game, it is my GOTY after all, but I noticed after I played it consistently for about a week, I started to taper off and experimented with other games. I’ve got about 40 hours into the game, and that’s a small amount compared to people on my friends list, so I know that I’m not the quickest out of the gate, but I have started to push the storyline further to the point where I’ve hit the “twist” part of the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think I’m starting to push towards the latter portion of the main questline. However, I have done quite a few of the side missions and various activities along the way, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what the wasteland has to offer. At this point I’m ready to finish up the main quest and then perhaps load up a bunch of mods and see what other fun I can have with it while we all wait for DLC packs to come down the pipeline. Here’s some various shots from recent adventures:

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There’s a few new videos relating to Fallout 4 on my YouTube channel as well. The other game I’ve been playing pretty regularly for most of the past month is The Crew Wild Run. I am still enjoying this one as well for when I want to progress in a different fashion, and sometimes you just need a racing game. It’s nothing that breaks the mold too much but I have enjoyed progressing through the world and upgrading my cars. There hasn’t been much in the way of a challenge thus far, though I haven’t done much PvP just yet. Looking forward to being able to unlock all specs and a bunch of cars to mess around with. Here’s some more shots from fictional USA:

As far as new games go, I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket and as soon as the Steam Holiday Sale got started I knew there’d be something I could pick up on the cheap. I ended up buying Windward, which is a sandbox trade/pirate simulator, that has been on my wishlist for quite some time. There isn’t a whole lot there when it comes to depth, but it has various elements you’d find in other RPG and Indie games. The worlds are procedural or hand made by you, along with some other various factors that you can set up such as factions and whatnot. There’s “gear” in that you can upgrade you ship (buy new ships altogether too), there’s “quests” but most of them become repetitive after a time. There’s a bit of city building, there’s exploration, and best of all you get to blow shit up with your cannons. I played it for a few hours, and recorded some video but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the recording just yet. Overall it’s worth the asking price, and even better on sale. If any of you have this one, let me know so maybe we can do some co-op stuff. Multiplayer seems relatively dead on the hosted servers.

I also picked up the latest Humble Bundle, due to some prodding by Eri. Episode One of Life is Strange was a part of the $1 tier, and she has been pushing me to try it. So now I can, though I haven’t yet. Also included at that tier was The Last Remnant, which is a JRPG that is sort of old but looks rather interesting nonetheless. The first three Tomb Raider games, all of which I played way back when but haven’t touched since were ported to PC at some point and were also part of the package. Lastly, a game that looks neat but I know nothing about is Murdered: Soul Suspect. They all look like their worth spending some time on, but I haven’t gotten around to any of these just yet.

Today I was surprised by my sister and brother-in-law, who gifted me a couple of games off of my wishlist for Christmas. One was the Legend of Grimrock sequel. Simcha actually gifted me the first game last year around this time, but I never beat it — I got stuck on a difficult puzzle and never went back. I was just going to let the sequel collect dust for a while and try to go beat the original before playing it, but I had to check it out, so I did a while earlier. It’s very much the same sort of game but there is a combination of outdoor and indoor zones that makes it feel better. The combat and semi-action oriented way in which you can dodge and move around feels better than the original as well. The first boss I came across kicked my ass though, so I think I’m going to customize my party when I get back to playing it. The other game they gifted me was The Evil Within, which is the game that came out last year from the creator of the original Resident Evil. One of my buddies raved about this game so I’m glad I’ll finally get a chance to play it.

Apparently the pattern of being unable to wait to give me gifts persisted, because my Dad ended up sending me a copy of Grim Dawn, which is a new-ish ARPG that is just about to full release next month. They are calling it “feature complete” at this point, but it is still tagged as Early Access for now. So far it reminds me of older D&D inspired games, Diablo II and Path of Exile. It has that dark and gritty aesthetic, but it feels faster paced than PoE. It feels more on par with Diablo II and III. Either way I played for a couple of hours, hit level 15 and called it a night, but I’m liking what I see so far. There is a system of upgrading your weapons and a devotion tree that remind me of systems from PoE. Then there’s the skill tree that is more reminiscent of an MMO really. There’s also the ability to dual-class, and that is pretty neat if you ask me. I rolled a Demolitionist, and the went with a secondary of Occultist. Basically I’m a pyromancer mixed with a marksman that has a crow for a pet. It’s weird, but cool. Here’s some screens from that title as well:

So at this point, I’m really trying to divide up my time as best I can, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day for all of this. Add in the fact that I’ve been playing League of Legends semi-regularly, Diablo III has a new patch + new zone coming, there are betas/alphas I’ve been participating in, and I have no time. That’s just going to get compounded as time goes on. But hey, that should mean plenty of content to share with you guys, right? See you soon. Oh, and I probably won’t post for a couple days, so Merry Christmas everyone!

The Wasteland Has Me

If you follow my other blog you’ll note that from the moment I had my hands on Fallout 4, it’s been nothing but pictures from that game. I also haven’t had any guest submissions for a while, so my own screenshots were the only thing to keep the site going, and I’m not playing any MMOs, or many other games for that matter as of late. However, that site is just dedicated to pictures — landscapes specifically — so you don’t get to see some of the other cool screenshots I’ve stored up that tell little parts of the story on their own but still remain mostly spoiler-free. The game has been out for nearly a month now, and I know several bloggers have recounted their adventures in a spoiler-free fashion as well, but everyone tends to approach a game of this scope differently. Some people pushed through the main story and beat the game already. Others avoided quests like the plague and got caught up with base-building or exploring. People like me have done a little bit of everything, but still haven’t seen all this game has to offer and still intend on putting hours into it. As such, there’s some screens I’m going to share that might be spoiler-y but that’s doubtful. You’ve probably already seen much of it. The shots are in order of my taking them, so it sort of tells my own personal story, and how I’ve bounced around between all of the activities the game has to offer. I would give a more in-depth account of my experiences, but I think the pictures do a good job of conveying little tidbits in interesting ways.

So without further comment, here’s a bunch of screens for your viewing pleasure (click for full-screen gallery):

 

Another Year Older

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Saturday was my Birthday, so I didn’t really do much in the way of content production, schoolwork or anything productive really. I received Fallout 4 as an early birthday present the day it released, so I had already been playing that about as much as I could handle. I’ve put in about twenty hours now, and I still haven’t felt bored yet. Some bits can be frustrating, but it seems I have the determination to see them through or make a mental note to come back to that later. I’ve put together a fairly decent armor set, complete with a handful of upgraded weapons and have even dumped resources into the power suit I rarely use. I spent part of yesterday after noon leveling up my character doing the Brotherhood of Steel missions that feel infinitely repeatable but perhaps have an ending at some point. The XP was great though, as each quest would reward nice chunks along with the discovery, combat and skill experience gains. I’m sitting at level 17 now, and still haven’t done another story mission beyond the first. I have spent much of my time exploring, doing the random side mission and working for both the Minutemen and BoS. It’s been fun, and I think it will continue to be for some time.

I managed to get out of the house last night after dinner. A friend from out of town came to visit me and our other mutual friend that lives close by. I met up with them and we walked over to a nearby bar and had a couple of rounds. We went back and hung out at my friend’s house for a while too, and I came home early this morning to sleep. Today I woke up to watch my football team lose and then proceeded to catch up on schoolwork and play more Fallout. I only took a break to eat dinner, and then decided I should blog about something at least. I’ll probably go back to the wasteland shortly after hitting publish here.

I don’t want to do a play-by-play of my adventures in the game, just to avoid spoiling things for others. I know many people have already completed the game by now, but there’s so much to discover in the wasteland I don’t want to give things away too much. However, I have an assortment of screens that I’d like to share that can sort of tell a story without ruining things. So here’s that:

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Couch Podtatoes Episode 69: APG – Fallout 4

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Remember that thing we called “Actually Playing Games” a couple of weeks ago? In it, we discussed a game we had been playing together, Warhammer Vermintide, and then decided that the next game we’d play together was Secret Ponchos. We did play Secret Ponchos, but decided it wasn’t the type of game that would make for a very long conversation. Plus, Fallout 4 came out, and we couldn’t stop playing it.

So, we start off talking briefly about Secret Ponchos, and then move onto talking in-depth about Fallout 4. We tried to avoid spoilers, but if you haven’t played the game yet or haven’t explored much of The Commonwealth, keep in mind that we do talk about some side quests, various funny things we’ve come across and talk about one of the factions a little bit. Mostly though we concentrate on mechanics and systems and compare this title to previous iterations. I think we sound like we’re gushing over it for the most part, and I’m not ashamed of this. Feel free to share your Fallout stories with us in the comments.

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 69: APG: Fallout 4 (runtime: 59:20)

Discussion: Secret Ponchos & Fallout 4 (starts at 00:00)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Loser” by Beck (from the album Mellow Gold)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at http://couchpodtatoes.libsyn.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page, or stream it right here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

A Strong Candidate For GOTY

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According to steam I have just about ten hours put into Fallout 4, and I have a feeling I’ve barely scratched the surface. That’s not counting the fact that there will be eventual DLC that will expand upon the base game, meaning there are many, many more hours to put into this title. For the first time in a long time, a game has grabbed me to the point where I don’t want to play other games. This probably hasn’t happened since I got hooked on Skyrim. Dragon Age: Origins before that. Games where I wanted to see all the possible endings, play through with multiple characters, and find all of the secrets. I had my doubts about Fallout 4 though. I recall word that Bethesda titles tend to release as buggy messes. I read critics calling the game ugly, the same old thing, and dumbed down compared to previous titles in the series. People said the same about Skyrim when comparing it to Oblivion, so it’s likely that there are critics for everything, and people need to make up their own minds when it comes to judgments of games. My initial impressions of the game from trailers and things I had read was that it was a completely new game in a familiar package, and given my history with Bethesda, I felt I would likely enjoy this title.

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My main reservations were my dislike of the shonky FPS combat from the previous two Fallout titles, the lack of purpose for junk items that you interact with in the world (something I hope they find a way to improve upon in the next Elder Scrolls game), and ugly character models. The latter is still probably the weakest point in Fallout 4, while in the above picture my character looks up to current graphical standards, when zoomed in close hair on the head and the face still isn’t that great, but I play the game in first person mode exclusively, so I don’t really care that much. I can happily report that the new FPS system and even V.A.T.S. have been greatly improved. I can actually play the game in real-time, and shooting feels much more fluid, accurate and effective. V.A.T.S. doesn’t fully stop the action now, it actually goes into a super slow mode where the enemies can actually take cover while you’re in mid-shot, causing you to miss or hit something they’ve ducked behind. Because I play FPS games pretty regularly, I feel like my shooter twitch skills actually come into play in this game, rather than an RNG accuracy measurement is controlling the action. V.A.T.S. feels like a tool — not a requirement, and that’s exactly what I asked for. Finally, the junk that you see strewn about the world but would just avoid due to weight considerations in past Bethesda games has a reason to exist. Every piece of junk can be broken down into components and used in crafting at several different stations, along with the base-building mode that is completely new to the series. It took a bit to get used to it, but once I did I rather enjoy the crafting systems in this game, and I never enjoy building or crafting in games. It’s always something that takes time away from what I’d rather be doing, but it feels good to have the option to break up quests or exploring. It makes you look for things that you would normally ignore, just so you can build something new in your base.

There are a wide variety of things to do right from the start, and apparently I’ve only completed one story mission, despite finishing a slew of side quests and miscellaneous tasks. Base building took up some time, and crafting weapons, armor, food, chemicals and even upgrading my power suit have all had their uses and didn’t overwhelm me with a sense of too much to do. Conversely I wish I had more time to devote to the game, rather than feeling the game is demanding too much time of me. Strange, that sentence. I remember feeling this way about MMOs years ago, but somehow that pendulum has swung the other direction with that genre, despite sharing many similarities with a game such as this one. Perhaps it’s having an “end state” that keeps these mechanics from overstaying their welcome. What I really think is that being an FPS with RPG elements is different enough from the standard third person action MMO that I’m loving it. Maybe I never wanted an MMO to begin with, I just wanted a world as immersive as this one that I could play along with friends? Speaking of, Bethesda, why can I have a range of sidekicks, but your games aren’t co-op? Don’t say anything about ESO, you. That’s not what I want at all.

Companions feel improved from previous Bethesda games. Not only do they follow you tirelessly and help out in combat situations, along with being a great mule, but they actually sneak around with you and don’t aggro everything in a ten mile radius. I got to the point where I stopped using companions at all in Skyrim because they were more annoying than they were worth. In the case of Fallout 4, they feel more intelligent and useful. But, I did use companions in Skyrim for more than ten hours before getting rid of them, so my opinion here might change.

Catering to my explorer side, Fallout 4 doesn’t fail to impress. I’ve covered maybe 15% of the map and feel that I’m just scratching the surface. There is so much to see, and there is that feeling of seeing something cool and needing to check it out. There are collectibles that actually provide stats, much like earlier iterations of this series and TES. Comics, other books and Bobbleheads are hidden in not-so-obvious places and that makes you want to hunt them down in each nook and cranny you can find. Having a collectible actually mean something in-game is so much better than just having it to earn an achievement for your gamer card. I get the whole “gamer cred” concept, but I like having an in-game effect as well, so it scratches the itch for both explorers and achievers. Games like Call of Duty, Uncharted and pretty much every other console game/port take note… collectibles are lame if they only provide achievement/trophies.

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Fallout 4 felt really easy for the first hour or so. After that it was apparent that this particular wasteland can be rather dangerous. Radiation is something a bit more difficult to deal with this time around, taking from your total health until you use some RadAway, which isn’t all that plentiful to begin with. Basic enemies can be rather difficult too, because they tend to spawn/wander in groups. Big baddies like the one above would be instant death without the help of your powersuit; something I never had in previous Fallout games (though admittedly I never beat any of them). I also don’t understand why people are saying this game is so ugly. I don’t have a state of the art graphics card (GTX 770) but the rest of my system is pretty damn good, and I’m running the game @ 1920/1080/60hz on high settings and it looks gorgeous. I mean yeah, I’ve seen slightly better but it feels on par with what’s coming out these days. It’s definitely better than previous iterations. Besides, as I’ve said many a time: Graphics aren’t everything. Overall, Fallout 4 has addressed all the qualms I had with the series, put it in a better looking package that runs smoothly and has added features I didn’t know I wanted. I’m in love with this game, and feel it’s a strong contender for game of the year. It’s in my top 3 at least.