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Spoilers for about the first 20 minutes of Fallout 4–including one shocking plot point!


Did you play? I hope you played. Cuz if you did you’re likely ahead of me cuz I did not play. Why did I not play? Oh, you know. Sick kids, sick me, clogged drains and, oh yeah, a shitload of water leaking through the ceiling in the garage.

So I didn’t play.

But if you did, we can talk about video games, which would cheer me up.


I did, although not much. I mean, I finished Life is Strange, so that’s good. And it was good. I confess there was a point where I was thinking “what the hell is going on here? This game has some serious explaining to do,” but it all wrapped up pretty well.

One of the interesting things the game does is show you a list afterwards of certain key choices and what percentage of people picked one or the other, so you can say “huh, I’m one of only 18% to side with David in that argument, but wow, EVERYBODY kissed Chloe,” or whatever. It doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s fun to see.

And it turns out that for the final, moral dilemma question, I picked the thing 45% of people do, rather than the thing 55% of people do. Which is about right, because it does feel less moral, but also…it was a tough call, man.

Anyway, it was a good game, and you should play it someday.

Then I did start FO4, but haven’t gotten very far. I got out of the vault (presumably we go back at some point, since I muttered to myself that I’d have to come back to pick the master-level lock on that cabinet?), and puttered around Sanctuary for a while, scrapping things. Met the dog, met Codsworth. Found a farm that apparently doesn’t have any people on it, but am trying to play nice with my unknown neighbors since I’m new here, so didn’t even loot the place. (Geralt would be horrified.) Ran into some raiders, ran off. Fought some bugs and mole rats. Died a couple of times from bugs and not being able to figure out how to get to my stimpaks. New button habits to learn.

Found Concord, and must investigate it, but…later.

So that’s about it.

I’ve already found ever so many workbenches to craft ever so many different kinds of things. I added a couple of modifications to my pistol and gained a level of whatever-smithing! I’ve missed you, Skyrim.

I feel like my character (Frances) is just kind of wandering around in a daze right now trying to absorb what the hell happened, scrapping houses and modding guns because it’s something to do and apparently she used to work in construction or armaments or something so this comes naturally. (People were well trained in a wide variety of practical skills before the bomb!)

Obviously I want to find my son, but I have no idea how long ago it was that they woke us up briefly, killed my husband, and took the baby, so he could be grown and dead of old age by now for all I know. Metagaming, I totally expect to run into him at some point as an adult and of course not recognize him…I’ll be suspecting every male child or adult I meet who looks vaguely plausible. Which adds an interesting element to the whole “your kid looks kind of the way you designed the parents” thing, since that’s now something I have a reason to pay attention to.

“Could that guy be related to me and my husband?”

Solely for the classical allusions, I’m kind of hoping I can romance him, all unknowing, and then we’ll get married, and then when we both find out the truth he’ll go mad and put out his own eyes…but that’s probably just me.

So, yeah, it’s interesting so far. I’m not yet as hooked as you are, I don’t think, but I’ll certainly keep playing.

Oh, and I kind of love the “What makes you S.P.E.C.I.A.L.?” clips about the value of agility or intelligence or whatever. They remind me a lot of the BioShock tutorials about plasmids: that relentlessly chipper approach to grisly doom and horrible violence. Of course, Fallout did that first, so I guess it’s as self-referential as anything.


Life is Strange: That’s pretty cool. Also gets around the “what are the possible endings?” bit we always fret about.

Of course everyone kissed Chloe.

Dude, you went immoral? You? You’re a born paragon!

I plan to play it. I figure, I’ll grab it when we have a bit of a drought or it’s free on PS+, whichever comes first. But it is on the list.

FO4: Hey, that’s pretty good! Advice: put a lot of aid in the quick menu. Or favorites, or whatever. And also? Stimpacks are rare. Like, REALLY rare. Get food whenever you can.

Mmmm. Radroach meat.

The dog is cool.

You mustn’t scrap everything. That’s weird.

But that’s pretty good. I’m impressed. Yeah, Concord is worth doing in one sitting.

But now, I’m right there on the main quest with you (go to diamond city), I’m maybe two clicks ahead of you in what I’m going to call “Big side quests” and did a couple of little quests. So you gained a lot. Nicely done.

But for our lingo: The main quest you’ve figured out. But there are random Skyrimy wheel of cheese quests (little quests) and a bunch of main branches from the main tree, mostly about companions and factions. I’ll refer to those as big side quests.

Wait, did you pick whatever-smithing as a perk or did you get it just from tinkering? I gotta tinker!

There’s even cooking. Mmm. GRILLED radroach meat.

The PC was a lawyer. You missed that?

I learned how to tinker with guns in law school. The things you missed being a librarian.

Yeah, that is a neat trick, getting you to wonder about all the men you mean. By the way, that “WHATTHEHELL?” moment I mentioned was the husband getting killed. I did NOT see that coming, certainly not so early in the game, and I was genuinely shocked. It’s rare to have a genuine plot shock in a Bethesda game, so props. Maybe we WILL get some story out of this.

The Oedipus thing would be awesome, it would.

You’re still pretty much in the tutorial. Pretty soon, well, there’ll be a bit more tutorial, but then you’ll get into more Big Side Quests and have some people to talk to and all that, and thing’ll pick up. I just got hooked cuz I binge played and got through the tutorial and got to the good bits quickly. You’ll dig it. Just stop scrapping houses and move on, dude.

There’s a lot of self reverence that you’ll probably not going to get, what not playing the last few. It, at times, gets a bit precious. Already there are some callback songs from 3 (Civilization, Crazy, that sort of thing) which makes one rather nostalgic. Some of it is more eye rolling. Be glad you’re missing it.

We’ll talk on the voiced character stuff when you have done more talking.

But you’re not that far behind me anymore. You’ll blow by me over the holiday. Unless you go as magpie as I did. Which you might. But we’ll magpie together.


Yeah. Who’s not going to kiss Chloe? Weirdos whose company I don’t want to be in, that’s who.

And yeah, I kind of intentionally picked the selfish choice there to be contrary, because usually I don’t. Usually I do what I know I SHOULD do, and I was like, hell with that, I want to do this for ME.

Also, screw all those people saying “please don’t [let bad thing happen].” You can’t pressure me into the right decision! Ha.

Obviously plenty of people agreed with me, anyway, so it wasn’t a clear-cut decision. The selfish choice is not exactly IMMORAL, it’s just…not AS moral. Arguably. You’ll play it someday, we’ll discuss.

In the meantime in Fallout, well, if stimpaks are rare, I guess just as well I didn’t manage to use one. I’ll chow down on grilled radroach instead! (Found the kitchen setup…ah, cooking. I’ve missed you, Skyrim. Can we still eat a 10-course meal in the middle of combat? I will need to know this.)

Killing the husband, yeah–that was shocking. I mean, I DID see it coming as soon as I realized that someone was opening his door and I couldn’t open mine (no good can come of this!), but it was so short and brusque and brutal, and you’re so helpless trying to get out–effectively done.

I gained some sort of smithing experience just by tinkering. A little message popped up and everything. Do it, man! Tinkering is where it’s at! Where SOMETHING is at, anyway. I’ve got to refresh those skills that have gotten a little rusty since law school. A 200-year nap takes the edge off some of the fine motor skills, you know.

And no, I didn’t hear anyone say she was a lawyer…was that when the Vault-Tec rep comes to the door?


I mean, that’s why we PLAY video games, isn’t it? Smoochin’.

I get it. These indie games are your side light to your morality in AAA games. I mean, when whole damn universes are at stake, then by all means, be moral. But some town in Oregon? Meh.

Of course, you were SO moral you got the threesome of shame. Ha.

Eating in combat, yes and no. You CAN eat whatever, whenever, but UNLIKE Skyrim, healing takes time, and food healing takes more time than stimpack healing. Which is a pretty nice compromise. Being all realistic and saying no food during combat would be draconian in its difficulty, but being able to completely regenerate right away was always cheesy.

Also, almost all (uncooked) food gives you radiation, and I like the rad mechanic SO much better in this game. Have you met the rad mechanic?

Apparently grilling eliminates radiation. And they say grilling is carcinogenic. Feh!

Very effectively done with the husband dying, and I STILL didn’t see it coming when I couldn’t get out. I figured they’d take him, too. I mean, what made the timing so effective is that, at that point, he’s the only character you’ve come to get to know. They’ve set it up so much, with the dialog, his comments, him around the house, how you both feel about the kid, you’re invested. And, usually, when games invest you, especially when they invest you in ONLY that character, that character is sticking around for a while. Or, at the very least, will return very late in the game after a long kidnapping or something.

Rare in Bethesda games to invest you at all. Bravo, Bethesda. You’re learning.

We’ll talk later about other investable characters.

Like a perk perk? I mean, I got XP every time I did something, but no perk. Just the happy XP ding. I love the ding.

I forget if anyone says she’s a lawyer. I think there was a throwaway “Maybe you can dust that law degree off” comment, but certainly if you look around the house (when she’s saying stuff to herself about everything she owns, ah, talkative exposition) one of those things is her law degree (from Suffolk law school, no less).


Ooh, good to know that cooking removes radiation. Because of course it does! Sorry, raw-foodists. Heat is the way to go.

I don’t remember the details exactly, but I swear there was a note with the little happy dude that popped up when I was tinkering with my gun and said I’d gained a level or a proficiency or something. There was a bonus to future tinkering involved, I think. It was definitely different from the cha-ching of regular XP. I’ll pay more attention next time. If I ever see it again and wasn’t just imagining things.

And as to paying attention, I must have missed her law degree in the house. I wandered around and looked at stuff, but apparently not thoroughly enough. I kept going back to play with the baby, who was slightly creepy looking, but not too bad.

And speaking of appearance, I liked that you could adjust the character body type somewhat. Usually you can put all this effort into the face but not do a thing with the body, and it was nice to have the option to do something there. I’m also just as glad it applied to the entire body, and wasn’t a “spend two hours carefully selecting from several types of ankles, calves, knees” etc. the way you can spend all that time adjusting cheekbones and eyebrows and stuff. I like character creation, but honestly, that would have been too much.

We also once discussed how it makes sense from a coding standpoint to just have a few standard body types to design wearable equipment around rather than letting people do whatever they want (I have long ape arms and tiny bow legs! put that armor on me!), and this is probably the next step in that evolution. A standard range of body types, where one feature (say, arm thickness) is always going to have a specific mathematical relationship to another feature (say, shoulder breadth).

I picked a sort of medium-muscular frame, which I thought would be handy in the post-apocalypse (not that it actually effects strength). And see, it’s like I said, she used to work in construction. That’s how I put myself through law school, you know. I kind of wanted to look like Rosie the Riveter, but couldn’t figure out a really close match.


And some food gives you buffs to stats and stuff. More strength for an hour and whatnot.

Add to the suspension of disbelief that Jessica/Frances (Frances?) seems to know how to whip up some shit like Bloatfly stew. I mean, was bloatfly big prewar?

Maybe I’ll get the tinkering bonus. I am SERIOUSLY underarmored. I’m still in the vault suit wearing what looks like garbage. I gotta tinker until I find something. Cuz I’m guessing that that’s the way to go, as all I’ve found is leggings and arms and shit. Not even leather armor. Gotta make something.

Yeah, being able to adjust the body type was a nice touch. And let’s just be glad there wasn’t a way to adjust the bust. That would’ve led to some weird shit on the internet.

I think the price we pay for slightly uglier than average graphics is more features. I mean, these machines are only so powerful. The chutzpah that gives us the ability to tinker with, like, everything means a tradeoff somewhere.

Are you hideous? Like usual? I think Jessica’s rather fetching.


I like to imagine her thinking “well, I know how to make beef stew, I’ll just throw in this horrifying giant insect flesh instead of the two pounds of chuck I usually use, and I’m sure it’ll be delicious!”

Seriously, they missed an opportunity to address the culture shock in some way there. Because how hungry would YOU have to be to eat a giant fly? I would have to be pretty damn hungry to even think of it. Making the transition to “well, I guess this is what there is to eat now” would be HARD.

But instead, first rad-roach you kill you just instinctively harvest the meat. Because, duh, I just killed something so I’m obviously going to loot it.

Whereas a REALISTIC response from a suddenly awakened member of a long-lost, pampered culture upon first punching a giant roach to death would be “oh my god, that’s so disgusting, I’m not touching it–where are the paper towels?! I need a shower!”

I’m currently wearing a drifter outfit or something. I found it on a dead body. Speaking of quick adjustments to the new reality…I’ve been out of the vault for one day, after being in it for about 10 conscious minutes (so basically I’m about 25 hours removed from the pre-bomb world), and I’m already casually looting bodies and wearing their stuff. It didn’t take me long to realize what kind of world I’m living in now, that’s for sure. Law school prepared people well in those days.

I’m not THAT hideous, I don’t think. I’ll take a screencap next time I play. I wasn’t aiming for supermodel, but I also didn’t intentionally make her actively ugly. I was aiming for strong, moderately attractive features. Like, someone you might run into and think looked perfectly fine. I should have been more hideous, on principle, but I didn’t want to scare the baby.


HA! “3 pounds beef chuck, pork shoulder, or bloatfly glands. A bay leaf.”

I’m wondering if this is going to be a thing. Like, there’s going to be some trick later to explain all of this. I mean, I read that her husband (or the man character, if that’s what you did) is a soldier. Indeed, that monologue at the beginning is him, so maybe he taught her something. Or not. But I get the sense that there’s something up we are not privy to.

Especially as she’s wearing a vault suit that obviously from that vault over there in Concord and no one seems to care that a) she is or b) she says she’s 230 years old or so. See, in 3, the vault suit was a thing. People were all “Shit, you’re from Vault 101? We’ve been trying to get in there forever!” So there is precedent for people, you know, NOTICING the suit. Shit, way back in 2, wearing the REAL one at times was crucially important, so the fact that the suit sort of goes over everyone’s heads is weird. (See? You can miss some stuff coming to the party late.) So something may well be up. We shall see.

Or not. I mean, in Skyrim, the fact that you discover that a) dragons care about you and b) you can shout doesn’t seem to matter much to you or anyone else after the first 20 minutes. So whatever.


“The Fallout Cookbook.” A must-have for well-equipped kitchens.

We should write that. Somebody would probably buy it. Ooh, we get it out in time for Christmas, and take advantage of the holiday panic when people don’t know what to buy their game-playing loved one!

If only we had time.

I was curious about that…the fact that the opening monologue (well done, very somber…good use of that black and white footage to emphasize the historical aspects of to-us futuristic inventions like fusion-powered cars and establish a past for the gameworld that shared elements with but then deviated from our own) was the male character, who then–if you play the woman–disappears after 15 minutes of gameplay. “War…war never changes.” Is that going to come back? We shall see.

At any rate, I suppose we can assume that as the female character, we must be familiar with our husband’s views on war, and perhaps the stories of his experiences, and yeah, maybe he taught us useful stuff like “always search everything you kill and if it has meat on it, take it, no matter how disgusting.”

As for the suit, I haven’t actually talked to anyone yet aside from Codsworth (who I keep wanting to call ‘Cogsworth’ but I suppose they thought that would be too obvious?), so people noticing or not noticing my vaultwear hasn’t come up. And now I don’t even have it on anymore, since I stripped that corpse. I have two extra vault suits, though, if I ever need them for anything!


Well, Carlsberg is already brewing a fallout beer, and they’ve contracted with someone or other to make nuka cola quantum. Seriously.

Plus, it’s really hard to find bloatfly. Except at Whole Foods. They have everything.


Dude, War Never Changes is like the slogan of fallout. All three of the first games started with that as a voice over. 3 ended with it as well. Indeed, that loading screen “please stand by?” That’s the loading screen for the last few as well. Indeed, that was my desktop in college cuz I’m me.

You’re new to this, aren’t you?

Yeah, our husband taught us key things. Shoot first, all that. Practical use of a minigun. I like miniguns.

I can vouch they don’t notice the clothing. At all.

But keep the vaultsuits. You never know if you’ll need them.


Yeah, but even at Whole Foods, is it fresh? It’s so hard to tell. And you really don’t get the same flavor unless it’s freshly killed. Or else killed weeks ago and carried around in your pockets or wherever with all the other junk you picked up, which we consider “seasoning,” but the commercial fly ranchers never get that quite right.

OK, so “War never changes” will come back in FO5 but it doesn’t actually mean anything specific for this game? Interesting (fitting, I guess) that they keep bringing it back into variations of the same game.

“No, war never changes if you’re always in a post-apocalyptic wasteland! NOTHING important ever changes! You’re always in a post-apocalyptic wasteland! Maybe it would change if you were the Dragonborn!” Although not that much.

I don’t shoot first, dude. You need to work on your violent tendencies!

I just got out of a damn cryotube and don’t know anything about anything, I’m not going to run around shooting at everyone I see right off the bat. That’s a recipe for making enemies of the entire world. Even molerats, I watched them crawl out of their holes to see what they were going to do and confirmed it was not something I wanted done to me before I went all V.A.T.S. on them.


Yeah, probably “Previously Frozen.” Who needs that? Loses its texture.

Though maybe at Wegmans. I’m having buffalo tonight (seriously) so ya never know.

It’s one of those things for Fallout. Like the loading screen and music by the Inkspots (Maybe, I don’t want to set the world on fire, It’s a sin to tell a lie, It’s all over but the crying, etc.). Their music is in every game. Because.

And hey, these things go back to the pre-Bethesda Interplay days. It’s reverence for ye olden ways.

Man, bloatflies gotta die!

Once you find a shotgun you’ll be back to your old self.


OK, yeah, now that I’ve MET bloatflies, I’ll shoot first next time. Those things suck. But the first time you see them, who knows? Maybe they’re harmless! (Frances’ optimism will be gone soon, but I’m playing it up right now. Maybe everything’s not as horrible as it seems!)

I would like a shotgun. Also a flamethrower. And I miss magical abilities.