Fallout

My first nuke that wasn’t.

fallout 5 - My first nuke that wasn’t.
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I’m one of those people who came back to FO76 when Wastelanders was released. It’s been a huge source of comfort during the pandemic (my husband and I basically stay home, because we’re high-risk, and we can both work from home). We even bought a second setup and headsets so we could play together.

He’s got a 25-level lead on me (I was finishing Days Gone), but hadn’t finished the main quest yet, so we decided we’d do our first nuke run together. This week, we decided we were ready. I wanted to do everything from scratch, so we got the nuke codes for Charlie (I happened to already have one), then waited until last night for the decryption keyword (does alpha always get released faster?). That alone took forever, with only AM__QUINS. Then, we worked out the decryption, and checked it against the code online to make sure we’d gotten it right. With two keycards (we each wanted the full experience), we were good to go!

(Around this time, someone in our public team launched a nuke, and completed our “I Am Become Death” quests. That kinda sucked, but we figured the real prize was launching the nuke, so we shrugged it off.)

With the two of us (~72, ~95), we spent a couple of hours preparing. I like to bring my combat shotgun to a robot fight, which means I farm a lot of plastic. I needed ballistic fabric to repair my BOS armor. We needed enough stimpacks for the trip, since I’d heard the robots can be really tough. Thousands of caps and hours of prep went into this, on top of the time we spent all week getting the decryption keyword.

It was HARD. We killed hundreds of robots. It wasn’t always clear what we needed to do, and the adrenaline of fighting countless assaultrons started to wear off, and our emotions shifted from excitement to grim determination. We were frantically grabbing scrap on each run-through after we respawned to make more Fixer ammo, and had totally run out of Stimpacks in the end. My husband fast-traveled out for a resupply run, and came back in again with a handful of precious Stimpacks from his Stash. We died so many times. I crafted a laser rifle, which I never use, just to use all the fusion cells the robots dropped. We gritted our teeth and kept going, every kill hard won by the time we started the launch sequence.

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That was the worst firefight of my life. All I could think about was getting to the end, and how good it would feel. We had a plan, to teleport somewhere to get a photo of us, with our first nuke behind us, lighting up the sky. Ever respawn was just going to make it all the sweeter.

And then the server booted me.

When I rejoined, everything had reset. I needed a brand new biometric key card, everything. The robots had all respawned.

We were 95% through the launch sequence. I was out of resources, and out of time (it was after midnight at this point, and I had to get up for work).

I stared at the red laser grid in disbelief, oblivious of the Col. Gutsy beating me to a pulp. I turned off my machine. I went to bed while my husband launched the nuke without me (he didn’t want to waste all that effort, which I get, but it didn’t make me feel any better).

I can’t explain how demoralizing this was. With the pandemic, we don’t get date nights or vacations. FO76 is what we have. We’re more on the “filthy casuals” end of the spectrum (we nerd out more about camp builds than character builds) but this was an experience that I was really looking forward to. I’d built it up, and I’d spent hours of my life that I basically have to do all over again. I know there are tricks to get through and make it easier. I know I got almost all of the way there, and I should feel proud of that. But this morning, I just feel cheated, and the fact that it was a glitch and not my own limitations is the worst part.

I’m sure I’ll dust myself off and try again once I’ve calmed down. But I don’t know if I’ll ever set foot in Site Charlie again.

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