Not Much To Get Excited About

I sort of lost interest in Rift when I got to level 68. Xarth Mire is not very pleasant to run around in, what with the lack of safe roads, the rather high mob density, and the frog tongues that constantly pull you to them no matter how much you want to run away from them.

But mainly I drifted away from Rift because I started playing Fallout: New Vegas. I played it for about 8 hours last year, then put it away when Fallout 4 came out. Recently I installed New Vegas again and my old saved games magically appeared, so I was able to pick it up right where I left off. It’s quite good. I dare say it’s as good or better than Fallout 4, at least in terms of story.

I also started playing, believe it or not, Morrowind. I’ve never played it before but I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m having some difficulty getting the Steam version to run consistently at a decent resolution though.

It seems like there isn’t very much news happening in the gaming world right now, or at least nothing that’s interesting to me. Free-to-play EVE is mildly interesting, but even free I don’t see very many newbies sticking around in that game. New ArcheAge servers aren’t appealing for the same reason that the old servers aren’t appealing: You can’t maintain land without Patron status. (At least I assume that’s still a condition.) One of the few games I was looking forward to was Conan Exiles but the recent trailer made that game look a bit like garbage.

I can’t find anything else to comment on. Scanning through the last week of Massively OP news items gives me a profoundly crotchety feeling of “who cares about any of this.”

Fallout 4 – Wrapping Up

I finished the main story in Fallout 4 (I think) and I don’t see myself going back very much any more.

I reached a point where I almost decided to quit the game. Like a lot of people, and like the game almost forces you to do from the beginning, I kept trying to maintain my Minuteman settlements. I was under the illusion that it was a side quest chain that would eventually end, at which point I would resume the main story. Well at some point it dawned on me that I was on an endless treadmill. I’d go out and rescue a hostage or help a settlement or build a radio beacon, then come back to Preston Garvey only to discover another settlement in trouble. It became pretty obvious that the cycle would never end and they were random quests intended to keep me busy forever. When I started having to clear out the same places over and over again, I got fed up with it.

After that I turned back to the main story until the end, which saved the game for me. The main story gives you a lot of interesting choices to make. So if you’re getting bored and/or irritated with the game, I recommend just sticking to the main story. Once it’s done, you can still run around in the open world if you want to.

Fallout 4 Torso

While I enjoyed the story of the game, I started to notice more and more gameplay problems the longer I played. For one thing, I was a bit too complementary about the game engine improvements. While it is definitely better than Fallout New Vegas, which I had played a little bit (for the first time, if you can believe it) in the weeks leading up to Fallout 4, there were plenty of situations where I felt like I was playing a very old game. Particularly if I tried to play it like a first-person shooter. I got stuck on terrain a lot, which is my number one pet peeve of any 3D game.

Of course the most glaring problem with the game was the loading times. I mean holy geez did it take a long time to “fast” travel around, and I dreaded walking through doors. That’s probably the biggest reason I don’t feel like loading it up again. There’s some stories and places I’d like to visit, and I enjoyed just wandering around, but I feel like I need to clear my calendar and block out a whole afternoon to sit down and play it, and that’s just not going to happen.

The Pip-Boy interface became a little frustrating over time too. So many different buttons to press to get anywhere. (I was playing on a controller.) I tried the iPad app for a little while, which was a neat concept, but it took me out of the game and I found it a bit of a cop-out that they chose that route instead of trying to improve the actual interface.

I had quite a few companions disappear on me, especially Dogmeat. I was always terrified to dismiss him for fear I’d never see him again. Paladin Danse got stuck inside a warehouse once and I had to track down a workaround on Reddit to get him back. (Solution: Use the summoning bell.)

I also realized something about myself: I don’t like games where you have to explicitly save your progress. I guess this is a side effect of playing MMORPGs for so long, where you just log in and log out and the “saving” is all automatic. It just feels so antiquated to have to save your game. And there’s nothing worse than getting killed and realizing you haven’t saved your game for an hour.

Fallout 4 – Better Than Expected

I must confess that I did not like Fallout 3 and New Vegas as much as everyone else did. To me, Fallout 3 was exactly the same game as Oblivion, which I had already played enough to be tired of it. So after I finished the main Fallout 3 story, I was done with it. (Steam reports that I played some crazy number of hours, but that was only because I left it running 24/7 on a secondary PC.)

So I haven’t been that excited for the release of Fallout 4, because I was expecting it to play exactly like Skyrim, a game that also played more-or-less exactly like Oblivion and Fallout 3 before it. But then on the night of the 10th I was watching the Steam trailers and noticing that it looked different from Skyrim. It looked like, you know, a new game. And by pure coincidence I had the next day off of work. So I took a chance and bought it.

Codsworth and I during the time that my dog had disappeared from the world. The glasses give me +1 Charisma. :)
Codsworth and I during the time that my dog had disappeared from the world. The glasses give me +1 Charisma. :)

And lo, it’s actually a great game. A great, new game. It plays well. The shooter parts feel like you’re actually playing a decent shooter. (That was my biggest complaint about Fallout 3.) The RPG parts feel like an evolution on the standardized boilerplate Bethesda dialog trees. The Oblivion-style zooming-in-on-NPC-faces that jarred me completely out of the game is finally gone.

I don’t have any comments on the story yet, except to say that it started out a lot darker than I would have expected. (I think of the Fallout franchise as fairly whimsical.) But I haven’t completed much of the main story… just enough to leave the shelter.

I’m taking my time and exploring the world piece by piece. Well, side quest by side quest actually. I find the world pretty dangerous so I feel like I need to spend time building up my character before going too far from the starting point. I like the crafting and base-building aspect of the game–it’s a lot like State of Decay, which I loved–it’s a great addition to the franchise. I’m so glad to finally have a reason to pick up all that junk out in the world. (Although I wish I had an AoE loot key like Guild Wars 2 or a loot vacuum-cleaner like WildStar. :)

And you get a dog! With possibly the best dog AI I’ve seen in a game to date. Just be careful he doesn’t disappear on you. (If he does, you might have to load a previous saved game to get him back.)

P.S. If you find the game suddenly running on the wrong monitor for no apparent reason, this Reddit solution worked for me.