Fallout

Pleasantly surprised by this game.

fallout 2 - Pleasantly surprised by this game.
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Tl;dr. I like this game.

I understand this game has caused some amount of controversy. I was not planning on buying it, but did so out of a curiosity to see why all the hate and discontent was happening. I have really enjoyed Bethesda games since Morrowind, and Fallout since the first one. How could they have messed up so bad? This is why I bought in. Not the best reason to buy a game, I know.

I give games of this nature a pass for the first few months after release as far as bugs and whatnot. Like I have with most RPGs and online MMORPGs. I know a lot of people might find this tasteless. That's okay. I work sys admin in IT and with so many billions of moving parts and different systems I tend to find anything that works on this level a slight miracle of human ingenuity. I'm pretty generous. It's okay if you're not. I get it.

Keep in mind, though, I'm intentionally overlooking technical difficulties. That being said, my game (PS4) has crashed only once and been disconnected twice in roughly 20 hours of gameplay. Voice chat has probably been the biggest annoyance, but that's pretty slight. And, eh, while I'm at it, why do scorchers always sound like they're right behind me? Again, fairly slight. I know there are many other issues, but I find them to be slight and likely temporary.

I, like most people, was more than a bit disturbed that there are no NPCs (kind of, you get what I mean). After a while, however, I started to see a kind of grim genius in their storytelling. I'm curious if it was intentional they stole from the Dark Souls method of narration–you show up in a dead world and attempt to piece together what might have happened through the words of the dead and these Cormac McCarthy inspired scenes of violence, decay, disease, and human futility pitted against human destructive power. It is not only an intriguing method of storytelling, it fixes a lot of the immersion problems with online games that try and make everyone feel like a hero. If everyone is the hero, no one is a hero.

If one approaches this game like a typical Bethesda game, where you are the central figure as far as everyone is concerned, and there is an overt story to tell which you are the central character, you will likely be let down. This is a world in which you simply exist, you live. And the story told is really that of your own making. The role you play is essentially up to you. Min/max? Sure, if you want. But in this one I'd recommend you actually play a role. Be an alcoholic drug addict. Be Hannibal. Grow a farm. Build an establishment. Explore. Be a money hungry shit bag. Be a dog owner (shoot, okay not that). Follow the story or not. Many people leaving a vault might legitimately have no interest in how things got so bad, and merely adjust to their existence. You don't have to care about the story. But you can if you want. And there's a lot there. Nuanced, creative storytelling that is not at all on the nose. They let you piece things together and build the images of the past in a way that makes the images and the loss more powerful.

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Games have trained us to get "there" as quickly as possible (sex jokes, go!). The goal. The objective. I think what many have found so troubling about this game is Bethesda has taken that away, and indeed, have made many goal oriented gamers bored with the lack of endgame after powering through as quickly as possible. I think you might be missing the point of this one. And it's okay if it's not for you. Take your time. Exist in the world.

I have found the multiplayer to be great. Not sure how they did this, but the community is empathetic, in the way a desert dwelling people have a code of hospitality in a resource poor environment to the benefit of all. I got out of the vault and within a short bit someone I ran into asked if they could upgrade my weapon for me. I was thinking I was about to be swindled. Not so. I've asked for ammo from someone I merely met on the road and was set up. I've tried to return the favor to others.

I would prefer a potentially more lethal and suspenseful PvP. There has to be a psychopathic killer or two on the loose, someone you have to arrange your movements around, scouting them on the map. The environment itself would turn more than a few people that way. I think you'd have to approach everyone carefully in this existence, not knowing whether they were going to give you some water or kill you for your stuff.

The Atom Store! My dear god the backlash on this one has been melodramatic. It's an online game that requires an income to continue. If you don't want to support the company by buying a $20 power armor paint job then don't. Some people like to throw money at a company they want to see grow a game. Good for them, good for the others. But don't gripe about the atom store without prefacing that through normal gameplay you acquire the currency (atoms), and therefore can "buy" the merchandise without spending money. Am I missing something here? No!

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To the final point, and why I think the game was worth $40 (sorry to those that spent $60 or more, but I think it's worth $60 too). The environment, the setting, the map, the world is a joy to explore. The attention to detail in this immense swath of post-apocolyptic West Virginia is insane. I think even the negative reviewers mention this. In this regard it excels well past it's predecessors.

So in short, I like this game, despite the bugs and the negativity surrounding it. I think the direction they went won't be viewed in the future as a failure, but as a direction that was a bit groundbreaking, a bit too different too soon, and generally misunderstood.

I think I'm not trying to convince people for my own benefit–which would be to keep the game evolving–I actually suspect people will miss out on a great title because of an odd hate orgy surrounding the game. Many not giving it a shot before deeming it worthless. How many of you played Fallout 3 for a couple hours, hated it, then went back a few months later and dumped 300 hours? Guilty.

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