Off-topic Musings On the End of the World

Been far too long since I last posted, and I figured before I finally get around to explaining my overlong absence I would indulge in a bit of video game rambling.

Been a little glued to E3 coverage these past couple of days, mainly focused on EA and Bethesda.  Since the only things I’m interested in from EA is a continuation of Mass Effect Andromeda and Dragon Age I was as completely disappointed as I expected to be.  Bethesda however delivered interesting albeit expected news, though admittedly I was primarily(only?) interested in the Fallout new.

Before I continue I feel like briefly covering my long love of the series.  I never got around to playing Wasteland, but have been playing since the original Fallout way back in the golden age of Interplay/Black Isle.  When I first heard that it had moved to Bethesda I lamented the move away from both the West Coast storyline and the tactical turn-based style I so loved(and still love), but knew I was going to pick up Fallout 3.  While it still ranks as my least favorite of the Fallout games I’ve played, I really enjoy it and have been getting an urge to play it again lately.  New Vegas, with its return to the west, still ranks as the top for me.  I won’t bore you with a full ranking, because it doesn’t matter.

Along the way I was eager to get as much Fallout as possible, and with PnP as my favorite style of gaming I was excited to hear that there was an unofficial Fallout PnP lurking in the interwebs.  I downloaded everything I could find for it, and was happy to see there was also a Tennessee sourcebook.  As a native Tennessean(northeast), I was eager to see someone’s take on what the area would look like in the Fallout universe and truly enjoyed the content I found.  Ever since then I’ve wished for an installment of Fallout based in the region.

You can likely imagine my kid at Christmas giddiness when the Fallout 76 trailer hit and strongly hinted that my Appalachian Fallout dreams was coming true, albeit not in Tennessee.  Then Sunday fully confirmed this to be the case, yet my giddiness was significantly diminished.  Why?  Simply put, when it comes to video games I’m an anti-social gamer.  When I’m in the mood for social gaming I really only enjoy doing so with table top and PnP RPGs.  So finding out that the Fallout Appalachia experience I had longed for would be entirely online with no single player option was a big letdown.

Before you assume this is an anti-76 post though let me make one thing clear, I’m certain I’m eventually going to pick up the game and enjoy it.  I just won’t be rushing out to pre-order special editions like I did with New Vegas and 4.  Why?  Well, I was pretty disappointed with the changes when Fallout 3 was announced, but I still ended up really enjoying it.  The online only aspect of 76 will undoubtedly diminish my fun, but it won’t destroy it.  Plus there’s a few things I just have to check out.  Time for a numbered list.

1.)  Beautiful environments – just watch Bethesda’s E3 video and tell me you don’t want to go running off to explore the mines, ruined towns, and lush wilds of post apocalyptic West Virginia.  I don’t think you honestly can tell me so.

2.)  The new monsters – all those brand new, beautiful, grotesquely mutated creatures to stumble across, kill, and be killed by.  I imagine their newness will wear off as quickly as with any other game, but the first few(dozen) times will be glorious.

3.)  Nuking the beautiful environments honestly, I fear this may be an awful thing for them to have included, but I can’t wait to see it in action.  I’m hoping they’re sensible enough to have server resets so that destroyed locations eventually return to their original state, otherwise we’ll all be traveling through a blasted hellscape with newcomers never having gotten to see what was originally there.

4.)  Build anywhere I loved, loved, loved settlement building in Fallout 4.  I thing most of my hours in-game were spent on that aspect of the game.  My biggest complaint(and the only one I cared about) was that I couldn’t build anywhere.  So yeah, super excited to see this in action.


Aside from the multiplayer aspect, there’s a few things I’m nervous about and/or hating.  New numbered list time.

1.)  No human NPCs aside from the fact that I just enjoy interacting with NPC quest givers, shopkeeps, and the like, there’s just some lost story opportunities if they stick to their guns on this one.  First off, Fallout lore is pretty clear that not everyone who survived and formed communities were Vault Dwellers.  There were people living far enough from blast zones to not be wiped out by the bombs, and those that survived the ensuing fallout and nuclear winter formed the earliest of the new villages, towns, etc.

Another missed opportunity here is getting a chance to enter Vaults and witness/interrupt Vault-Tec experiments on still living residents.  Beyond that, seeing the Greenbrier Resort and knowing its real world history, the bunker beneath it would be a perfect place to stumble upon remnants of the US government who were cut off from the main Enclave leadership on the West Coast.  Just seeing a new take on the Enclave would be nice, specifically to see if they would turn into something different from what we’re used to without the leadership/input of the West Coast Enclave.

Then of course there could have been the possibility of stumbling upon distress signals like in Fallout 4, but this time having a chance(preferably a small chance) of getting to their source in time to save (or further endanger) the sender.

Since Bethesda does plan to continue adding content after launch, I have a small bit of hope that some or all of the above will still come to pass as they find ways to keep the game fresh.

2.)  Real-time VATS taking a break from ducking and weaving to select body parts to shoot seems like I great way to get myself killed.  This is a big problem for me since I spend most of my combat time in Bethesda Fallout games in VATS as my imperfect way to return to the turn-based combat I love so much.  With that said, I’ve played plenty of games where I first thought an aspect of said gameplay would be one I could never use efficiently only to be proven wrong, so my worry him may well be entirely unfounded.

3.)  Other players being anarchic/sadistic dipshits – I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone who has played an online game where free-roaming PvP is a thing.  It’s entirely the reason I just stopped trying to play in public servers with GTA Online.  Add in the possibility of launching a nuke and ending my attempts at questing from the other side of the map and this could be awful, though I suspect gathering the codes to perform such a launch will be a bit more difficult than the reveal video made it seem.  Also, with only dozens of players per server and a map 4 times as large as Fallout 4’s there’s hope that crossing paths with other players may be a bit rare if they aren’t coordinating their efforts to connect.

Ultimately we’ll all have to wait until 11/14 to see how all this is implemented, and I’ll likely wait a month or two after launch before getting into the game myself in the hopes that the worst of any problems will have been ironed out.  Who knows, maybe our false faces will bump into one another somewhere on a digital Appalachian Trail in the future.


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