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Minimal spoilers for various early plots

Butch:

Nowhere NEAR enough playing. Did do some putzing, and, I’ve said to Buttons there, no fast travel is so good. Had a couple of moments at stuff I just kinda stumbled upon.

But the downside is it’s pretty clear that, despite little dings for tinkering and killing and finding, the XP is in the quests. Wander aimlessly, with no quests, and forget leveling. I did one quest, clear some raiders from a clothes store for Preston, and BOOM mad XP. Wander around doing stuff that’s just as hard? Not so much. Must balance, I must. And must get to Diamond City, which I have been intentionally not doing cuz I want a day M’s in school.

I thought I was close, I am sitting by the Chestnut Hill reservoir, where I made out with Mrs. McP on our first date, and I thought DC was right over there, so I went right over there and found a fucking SWARM of ghouls that all had NAMES like “Mrs. Summers” when targeted in VATS. So I died. A lot. And gave up. Shit.

Names. Do not NAME random ghouls. That’s upsetting.

And found this train car…….

Feminina:

I did play a fair bit. And it’s true: not fast traveling IS great because you do see a lot more, but it’s SUCH a magpie trap. You could spend weeks just walking around finding things, and not actually making it to wherever you were trying to go. In fact, I nearly did that, since f you’ll recall it took me forever to get to the Corvega plant.

Which I did eventually do, and killed all the raiders (no sign of any nonviolent solution there), so yay, the settlement was saved and is now allied with the Minutemen. Then I helped a couple of other settlements, established a brand new settlement in a place Garvey said was a great location for it (even though it’s a block away from a massive super mutant encampment, but whatever), built guard towers, set up beds, planted food, etc. etc.

Then wandered for a while. Found the Brotherhood of Steel (although I was confused because the first limited-range radio signal I found was for the Silver Shroud, and I was like “this is not the Brotherhood”–but I’ll go back to that another time). Heard the Diamond City DJ freak out about “the vault dweller” helping the Brotherhood, which puzzles me because HOW DOES ANYONE KNOW I’M FROM A VAULT? I’ve been intentionally cagey about that, figuring I don’t know what the politics are around this issue and I want to keep things vague for a while. I haven’t told anyone I came from a vault, I haven’t been wearing a vault suit. I have a Pip Boy, but I could have scrounged it or bought it, if anyone even knows what it is. How does this guy I’ve never met know I was in a vault?

And then I was wandering with Garvey and we came across vault 81, and he said “oh, it’s one of those vaults like you were in,” and again–DUDE, I NEVER TOLD YOU THAT. It’s creepy, I tell you. Why does everyone somehow know my history?

Practically speaking it’s probably because it’s just easier to write the game that way (although why give you dialogue options to keep your story vague, if they’re not going to let you actually keep your story vague?), but in-game, I can only conclude that Codsworth, who obviously knows I’m pre-war, has been blabbing my backstory to everyone in Sanctuary, and the word has spread. Thanks, Codsworth. That’s the last time I trust a robot with a secret.

So true, though, that the XP is in the quests and not the wandering, even though the wandering may be much harder. There are some brutal fights out there, wandering! And you get 12 XP or whatever. Ah well. It was similar in TW3, we talked about that.

Anyway, yeah, I found the Brotherhood, helped them with their long range transmitter issue (Garvey did not like that…no one seems to like these guys), and then when Danse invited me to join I said I’d have to think about it. Which was me being polite and assuming I won’t actually do it, because no one seems to like them and I’m not sure I like that all that much myself.

I mean, Danse seems an OK sort from my limited interactions with him (bossy, but that’s a military commander for you), but their whole mission is a little too hardline for me. Plus he was like “if you join, you’ll be under my command and I’ll expect you to follow my orders,” and I thought “hahahahaha, no.” In practice I’m sure I’d be able to keep doing exactly as much wandering and settlement-helping and careful junk-looting as I already am, blithely ignoring his orders until I felt like following them, but just imagining I would have to do what someone else said instead of what fancy takes me is a deal-breaker.

I didn’t come out of that vault to join a military order, dude. I came out to look for my son. Whom I should really probably start looking for…I haven’t gotten to Diamond City either, although I was very close over on that side of the map. I justify my delay with the theory that I’m kind of afraid to learn what happened to Shaun, and that as long as I put it off with helping people and exploring and so forth, I can imagine that I might find him still the baby I remember (from, like, a week and a half ago), rather than long dead or a grown-up total stranger, as I fear.

I mean, what if I find out he’s a raider? I could have killed him already! It doesn’t bear thinking of. Let’s check out this junkyard over here…

Butch:

Oh dear GOD yes the magpie traps. I spent 20 minutes just looking for a distress call yesterday, at a place not even on the map. And then found another vault, and that was close to this other place…..

Huzzah! That was a tough fight, Corvega, cuz I was like, level 8. Power armor. Power armor got me through.

Yeah, the DJ is freaking out, isn’t he? And I still don’t know why…. but why THAT vault? He’s afraid of Vault 111.

Hey I found vault 81 last night! But I didn’t go in cuz I only had two fusion cores.

Though I am wearing a vault suit under my armor, and I think I did mention it. Indeed, I did mention it, and I was taken aback that this didn’t phase Garvey at all. He’s like “I’m with the Minutemen, you?” and I was all “Yeah….uh….been frozen for like 200 years, in a vault, from before the war.” and he was just like “Cool. So, wanna set up a settlement?” He didn’t question it at all.

That, coupled with everyone knowing me, and the radio makes me think shit is up. People are privy to things I am not privy to. Yet. Vault 111 is known to these people. Specifically. They know something Jessica does not know.

I got to a point where things were getting difficult, so that’s when I was like “Ok, Preston, I’ll go kill those raiders. Time to level up.”

Which isn’t a bad thing for player herding reasons. Unlike Skyrim, where you could ignore anything forever, the game is sorta kinda saying “Ok, magpie away, but eventually you’ll have to come back to the quests. At least for a little while. Unless you like dying.”

But Ok, good, we’re in the same place. I did exactly that re: the Brotherhood. And I haven’t gone back to start that next “Semper Invictica” quest that popped when that was over.

So two things:

1) The gun he gives you at the end of that, Righteous Authority, is my favorite thing in the world.

2) Synths.

This was the first time I met synths, and they were what I really wanted to talk about. Grumpy order dude does not like Synths. He says they are an abomination and must be destroyed. But did you catch what they were saying? “I don’t want to hurt you.” “I’m sorry, I don’t want to do this.” They WEREN’T mindless monsters like the ghouls or the (wait for it) HUMAN RAIDERS we’ve met. I have no idea why they were attacking, as I haven’t met any more of them, but there was something there. They didn’t want to fight.

Which takes me back to FO3. There was some of this institute/synth bit in FO3. In that one quest, you learn something about these synths: They’re slaves. There’s an outfit called the Railroad trying to free them from slavery (subtle metaphor, dudes). Indeed, though I haven’t met it yet, the railroad is in this game cuz I saw “Join the Railroad” as a trophy.

So when you go all slavery/Underground railroad, that instantly and blatantly gives it a racial aspect. Synths as minorities. And here’s a big, bossy, psuedo-government white guy (Indeed, the DJ calls the brotherhood “Cops? Soldiers? I don’t know”) hating them, and a black guy (Preston) not liking the white guy.

Phew. I’ve been waiting on that stuff for a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, if you’re at Vault 81 you’re right on top of me. Did you hear the distress signal? I’m like, a minutes walk east of you. FYI: Named ghouls. Like, right there.

Feminina:

Yeah, I was quite put off by Danse’s “synths are an abomination and must be exterminated” line. He’s an interesting character, because his voice acting and sort of ‘stolid handsome manly man’ appearance makes him seem very personable, so that I almost like him, and yet I deeply don’t trust him or his organization.

I assume you listened to the tape that the woman ‘brother’ (whose name I can’t remember) left lying around? Her doubts about the organization, voiced from inside it, make me extra skeptical. I mean, these guys are definitely to be reckoned with and I didn’t want to write off any chance of ever working with them again (and they have cool guns! although the Institute laser weapons I got from the synths are also pretty great), but…I don’t want to officially ally myself with them. I haven’t been back to talk to them again either…I’m kind of afraid that if I go, I’ll have to pick one way or the other, and either tell them to go to hell (thus possibly making them unhappy with me), or sign up with them (thus certainly making other people unhappy with me, including Garvey whom I care more about than I do about them).

Plus, as you say, the synths seem way more complicated than that, and I feel bad about killing them and want to try to talk with some instead. Especially with all the slavery/railroad/race aspects. I want to know a lot more about all this before I just cheerfully sign up with the Brotherhood’s elimination program.

Um…I’ll confess this even though it was not an honorable thing to do: I turned on the (optional) engine test while Danse was shooting at synths in that room. It vaporized the synths very nicely, which I can claim was my intention, but I admit that in the back of my mind I was thinking “if this kills him, maybe that will take care of the need to decide whether or not I want to support these people.” It didn’t kill him, though: his power armor saved him. Oddly, he wasn’t even annoyed with me for turning on a giant vaporizing engine in the same room with him…possibly he didn’t realize it was my doing. And hey, it DID take care of those synths for him! I was helping out!

I think I was more like 10 or 11 by the time I finally got to the Corvega plant, so I didn’t need the power armor. I actually haven’t used it since I got it (well, I put it on so I could get it back to Sanctuary and paint it, but I haven’t worn it in action), but it’s nice to know it’s there in reserve. Every time I see the opening load screen, with the somber music over the picture of the power armor in the shed, I think it’s my armor being sad that I don’t wear it more often. Sorry, armor. You’re great for fighting, but I don’t like just walking around in you (despite the increased carrying capacity). Too clunky.

I am curious to eventually learn what people are privy to that we are not yet privy to. I mean, we do know that everyone is gone from 111. (Many of them murdered, but also some pods were empty, right?) Maybe some of them have emerged over the years and caused some sort of trouble that makes them well known in the area.

We shall see…

Butch:

Yeah, that’s why I haven’t been back to talk to Danse. I have vivid memories of FONV where saying “Hey, sure, I’ll join you” early closed doors you didn’t even know were there later on. I’m already nervous enough that hanging with Garvey is closing doors.

What IS cool is that they’ve made the Brotherhood pretty metagame proof. Even if you’re a longtime Fallout head, as I am, they establish that the Brotherhood isn’t all that good at communicating (I mean, this IS a wasteland, after all) and different bits of it have different levels of, we’ll say, dedication. They were pretty much the good guys in FO3, but then we saw them in FONV (which you played) and they kinda weren’t. Then add to that this is the second game in a row where we’ve seen dissent even within the game (Remember Veronica?) and it’s hard to say “Oh, right, them. I know them. They’re like this” in the same way you would with say, Templars in DA or something.

I have a feeling that we’ll get a chance to learn more about synths, sooner or later. I sorta figured you had in the Constitution there when you were talking about robots.

I would have tested the engine, had I been able to figure out how. But I killed the synths anyway, so don’t feel so bad.

There is an odd irony in trying to kill someone to avoid a moral choice…..

HA! Poor, sad armor. Doesn’t help that the icon to show damage looks like Beymax from Big Hero Six. He was so charming! Poor sad Beymax armor.

It was in the Corvega plant that I figured out, mid fight, that it can run out of gas (or cores, or whatever) which was really not very good timing. Add to that the fact you can’t fast travel inside, and I had to abandon it, die a lot, then remember to find it again, limp outside and fast travel.

I was tempted to go back to get it to deal with that deathclaw, but I had other things to do. I haven’t used it much since Corvega either. But it does add a sense of chill about potential reaper moments. Actually, it’s going to be neat to see if it changes our relationship with reaper moments. We hit one, and we can go back and get the thing, which’ll change our approach to the fight, instead of turning it to easy. Add to that the fact that fuel is sparse, and that adds a cool dynamic.

And hooray for some story cuz there was nothing I gave a fuck about in Skyrim.

Feminina:

No, the Constitution was just a bunch of Protectrons and turrets and Mr. Handy style robots, not synths. I had never seen a synth before. I wonder if those two issues will cross, though, because there is a “support robots/support group of humans” choice that you have to make, and it’s not that far-fetched to imagine that if you support the robots, the synths will hear about it and see it as a sign that you’re favorably disposed towards artificial intelligence, and maybe that will influence their approach to you later… I still haven’t made that choice, though. I’ve been avoiding all the choice points so far.

“Hm…you make a good case. Let me think about this for a minute and get back to you…” [runs away]

And yeah, I worry about getting forced into choices. Not only FONV, but remember in Skyrim, there was a point where you go talk to the leader of one of the two main factions, and basically just by entering into conversation you sign up. I strongly objected to that (I reloaded and DIDN’T go talk to them for a while because I didn’t want to join either of those sides, but that’s another story), and am very wary of being auto-inducted into some order by talking to the wrong person at the wrong time. Especially now that I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say!

Butch:

Yeah, I’m not making a big choice until I get to DC, if then.

I can certainly see the allure of bigassed guns from the Brotherhood. Indeed, back in yonder day, the Brotherhood stuff was SOOOOOO much better than anything you’d get otherwise. They’ve sorta nerfed that with the availability of power armor so early. I mean, why do I need Brotherhood stuff when I have a repaired suit of hot rod painted stuff in Sanctuary? In the first couple, it was like, “Dude, I’m level 18, getting chased by all sorts of hard, and I’m wearing a leather jacket and rocking this single shot shotgun. HELP! I’ll join! Whatever!”

I’ve been ‘thinking about it’ and running away a lot. Now I’m at a point where every time I talk to Preston he’s all “So, are you ready to do that (quest thing?)” over and over. And I say “Um….no.”

YES the danger of not knowing what you’re going to say!

“So, do you want to join us?”
(I’ll hit sarcastic and she’ll say “Pfft. If I have to wear that? No way.”)
“Sure! And then I’ll get on the radio and tell all those other factions that they smell like radstags!”
(WHAT?)

Feminina:

Yeah, I noticed that was part of Danse’s pitch: “you’ll have access to powerful technology, including your own suit of power armor!”

Meanwhile I was thinking “you just gave me a sweet gun, and I already have a suit of power armor waiting in the shed, so you’re going to have to do better than that. I demand my own rocket sled!”

Oh, plus I picked up the Junk Gun in that basement, and I don’t know how much more amazing technology can get than that. Not that I’ve used it yet. I was looking at the gun and missed the tip on how to load it, and it’s damn heavy…I’m actually planning to dump it somewhere safe the first chance I get, and maybe go back for it some other time, rather than carting it around. But still, props for making all the random junk you find everywhere useful for something.

I also have been avoiding Garvey lately. I actually told him sure, I’d do his “take back the castle” mission, and he said “I’ll assemble a force and meet you there!” and took off.

See you Garvey! I’ll be there…soon. Very soon. As soon as I talk to these vault people, and defend this settlement, and check out this landmark, and go get Codsworth to help me carry all the desk fans I left stored in the ArcJet building back to Sanctuary…just hang on, any time now I’ll show up.

Butch:

That Brotherhood gun is pretty sweet. Plus, it was the first gun I got with a scope, so now it’s my “examine the raider camp from afar” gun. Doubles as binoculars. Love that trick.

I’ll tell you what I want: The car from FO2. It was basically a fast travel mechanic, but here’s the thing: It had a trunk. A BIIIIG trunk. Single handiest thing in games ever.

I haven’t used the junk gun either, but I did try it out. It’s amazingly hilarious. Not sure it’s useful, but it IS funny. You use it like you use that laser musket: press square as often as you want to load “charges,” then boom. However, I did note you can’t choose WHAT junk to fire (or I haven’t figured out how), so you run the risk of losing your precious desk fans.

Ah, man! I WISH Garvey’d go! He’s still with me, bugging me about that very quest. Like “Dude, don’t you have a….um….force to assemble? That’s it. Go assemble.” Dogmeat might not be as good at stuff, but he’s quiet.

Meh. It’s the post nuclear wasteland. Nothing else for him to do but wait.

Plus that monster sounded hard.

Feminina:

He didn’t go off to assemble? That’s weird. Pretty much as soon as I said “yeah, let’s do it” he was out of there. “Great, see you later, bye!” As if he were afraid I’d change my mind. I didn’t even have the option to ask him to stick around for a while. Although maybe he only went back to Sanctuary and will hassle me once I get there? I haven’t been back since.

And yeah, that monster did sound hard. Maybe something to wear the power armor for? I hope it turns out to be Godzilla. That would be funny. And terrifying.

Ooh, you can’t choose which junk to fire? Yeah, that’s dangerous. I need those desk fans. Also those alarm clocks and circuit boards.

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