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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Significant spoilers for the Covenant plot. Answers to important questions about bobbleheads and magazines.

Butch:

Ok, so I’m on the way to Park St. I am. Really.

Finished up Trinity Tower, which I recommend you do, as a) major themes and b) new companion. Then I ran with new companion a while, and found trinity church, which had a miscellaneous objective with it, so I did that to get loot and try out the new companion. Got loot. Then started missing Piper so back to Sanctuary where there STILL isn’t a dog, tried on some dresses with Piper, girl time, you know, then back to Copley square which is ON THE WAY to the main quest point.

Themes there, dude.

And XP. I always forget how much XP comes from, you know, quests.

Was a toughie, though. After much dying, I got lucky and did that “snipe them in the legs over and over and over from cover as they try to get down the stairs” trick. Cheap, but we do what we must.

Feminina:

As if I need a new companion! I can’t even romance the companions I have, given how busy I am with looting, and running away from super mutants, and establishing settlements in blood bug nests.

I found the ‘compound’ (a vault 101 offshoot, apparently? so maybe there’s a vault 101 around there somewhere too?). When I first crept in through the sewer tubes and aimed at Manny and the guards through VATS, they showed up in green, so I was like, “oh, non-hostiles! I will talk to these people!” Then I sauntered out and they immediately started shooting at me. Dirty pool, Manny and the guards. Dirty pool.

But I killed them all handily and made my way down to the lower levels (the turrets, at least, were oddly non-hostile, so I just let them be) to talk to Dr. Roberts. Wasn’t down with her synth-elimination program: offered to let her be if she’d just release Amelia, but she refused, so I turned down her offer to work with her.

Then I THOUGHT she said “well, you’ll just have to kill me then,” but she didn’t attack, so I was like “nobody tells ME who I have to kill, damn it” and freed Amelia but left Dr. Chambers alive and tinkering with something at the armor workbench. She’ll probably come back to haunt me later, but…I’m not going to just attack an unarmed person who isn’t attacking me. Unless it’s Whoreson Junior.

And this Dr. Chambers didn’t have the bodies of a bunch of tortured and murdered people strewn all over, so despite the fact that I do know she and her program have killed synths (and non-synths who she thinks might be synths based on a test that she could only say was “70% accurate”), I couldn’t quite bring myself to kill her in cold blood. So yeah, I probably should have killed her, but I didn’t, and as far as I know Covenant is still operating, although all those terminal messages about how much it costs suggest it may be in financial trouble. I’ll go back later and see if they need my help and maybe convert them into one of MY settlements.

Nick Valentine is still with me and he loved my “opposed to synth genocide” stance, so now he admires me. Yay!

Now I’m supposed to find Old Man Stockton to claim a reward. I don’t know what’s going on with Honest Dan. You’d think I should tell HIM I solved the mystery, but it’s not on my quest list, so maybe he doesn’t care. “Hey, I palmed that project off on you for a reason: I don’t want to know anything about it!”

Butch:

Uh…. even you wouldn’t romance this new one. He’s cool, though.

The covenant compound, yes? Manny did that to me, too. Fucker.

But….wait….Where’d you get Vault 101? I totally missed that….and…well…Vault 101 is in Washington DC, and I know it well, as Dexter (who was my character in FO3) was born there. As was James, Dexter’s dad, who worked with some people from the Commonwealth. Indeed, FO3 did a lot there. What did I miss?

I did the same thing. “I don’t have to kill you at all!” HA!

Curie loved the anti-synthecide, too. Swoon.

So….what did you think of the test? It was the test we took to get into covenant. Now you know why I was all about that baseball question. I wonder what would have happened had we said catcher. That was creepy, those tapes. Now we have to look out for people who say catcher, I suppose.

Huh. Dan came with me when I went, cuz I did it right away. He was NOT into the genocide either, and basically said when Chambers was talking “If you side with her, you’ll fight me,” which was another reason to not side with her cuz he was cool. When I freed Amelia, he siad thanks, paid me a bunch, quest complete. I didn’t have to go anywhere.

So thoughts on all of this:

FO3 was very much about America, and the American dream. I’ve mentioned this. I’ve also mentioned that this game, with the railroad and what I know from FO3 about synths and slavery has something to do with race. But I think it’s more. I think this game has taken the American thing from FO3 and run with it, specifically, this game is exploring what it means to be American, what it’s like to belong. Synths are the “other:” Immigrants, Muslims, minorities, what have you (as are mutants, more on that when you finish Trinity Tower). We’ve seen a (black) man saying freedom for all. We’ve seen a militaristic dude saying “everything different must die,” now we’re seeing a test designed to weed out “others” which rings a few bells given the current political scene. We’ve seen synths who either want to belong or completely undermine/terrorize (word picked purposefully) us, we’ve seen mutants who think they are far superior, we’ve seen both persecuted. We have a companion who wants to change her very self so she is like “us.” And it’s all very grey as to whether the people who want to welcome “others” with open arms are just, or naive fools or both, and it’s unclear if the militants are racist assholes, careful defenders of the commonwealth, or both.

I do not think it was an accident that the question they focused on in that was about America’s national pastime. I think that was very intentional metaphor.

And that went even further in Trinity Towers.

How’s that for themes? Keep an eye out for similar.

Feminina:

The walls had posters with all the questions from the SAFE test, and one of them said “Congratulations! You made one of the vault 101 baseball teams!” And one of the doctors was wearing a Vault Tec lab coat, although it didn’t have any number on it. I just put that together into “vault 101 is involved with this,” but if 101 is in DC, I guess it definitely isn’t around Covenant.

Maybe the Covenant people were just reusing promotional materials from Vault Tec that they found somewhere? I see on the internet that the SAFE test is basically the GOAT test from FO3, which I obviously didn’t take, so…some sort of connection there. Maybe Dr. Chambers found a stash of Vault Tec stuff in DC, moved north with it, and adapted it to synth-detection?

The internet also says you could pass a speech check to get escorted into the compound without killing everyone, so I guess Manny and the guards weren’t totally mislabeled by VATS, they just for some reason didn’t give me the speech check option. Even though I put away my gun and walked towards them openly, without sneaking! I don’t know what else I could have done there.

Because you KNOW I would have taken the speech option, as charming and talkative as I am, although I probably would have had to kill them all anyway once I refused to work with Dr. Chambers.

I picked up all the tapes I found, but I haven’t listened to them yet. I need to get on that. I usually get around to listening to holotapes about two quests later. It’s just a pain to load them, you know? So I wait until the end of a mission because I figure then I can do them all at once…and then I forget. And then I miss valuable information.

Good themage! Who is ‘us,’ who is ‘outsider,’ with an interesting sort of existential crisis point represented by the PC as a figure from the past, who is both most entirely ‘us’ (if ‘us’ is the lost and idolized-by-some USA of the pre-bomb years), and most completely ‘not us’ (because those years are long dead and gone and the PC is a total stranger in the post-bomb world). Our history IS irrefutably us, it’s where we came from, and yet it is not us, because it’s gone and that’s not who we are anymore…except to the extent that it made us who we are…

History is a big deal here as well, I think. But yeah, totally agree that making such a big deal out of the one question that involved baseball, with its national pastime status, is no coincidence. What if we’d picked soccer? Maybe that doesn’t signify synth, but it’s a foreign thing, very suspicious!

Butch:

Hmm. Missed that 101 stuff. Not sure if it’s supposed to be a cute recall of a game of yore or something else altogether. We shall see.

I’m not sure I agree with the internet on the SAFE test. See, character creation in FO3 was birth to teenage years, with the tutorial like a child’s view (Father asking mother “What should we name him?” Read you’re SPECIAL! Walk around the room! etc). The GOAT thing was a test to see what skills would be best for your character to use (you’d answer stuff and the game would suggest small guns, barter and science, for example. You could then change it if you didn’t like the suggestion). We no longer have skills in this game. FO3 was like Vegas in that regard. But GOAT was basically a character creation shortcut, not a plot point.

Yeah, I had to kill the guards, too, without a second choice. Add to that that the first room had a named “Dr. whatever” who ALSO seemed hell bent on killing me without any plot. Weird.

Listen to holotapes! (You know, you can hit play when you pick them up. It’s sorta like the tapes in Bioshock: they kinda frame the quest. Hit play.)

True about the PC straddling one of us/other! And, like the other “others,” there’s a weird rift between her being welcomed (say, by the minutemen) and the DJ being scared of her (I still don’t get that…..) But I highly anticipate more “How best to be/assimilate to/protect “American.” Or at least civilized.

Oddly, and perhaps not accidentally, I’ve noticed four songs from FO3 that are making reappearances: Maybe (the theme to FO1 that has been in nearly every game), Butcher Pete (just for you), I’m in Love with a wonderful guy (which is playing more and more now that I’m with Piper), and Civilization, which is about missionaries trying to convince the “savages” that “civilization is fine.” Of course the savages say “I’ll stay right here.” (Bingo Bango Boingo I don’t want to leave the Congo no no no no no no…..Bingle Bangle Bungle I’m so happy in the jungle I refuse to go….) A song about assimilation demands and refusal to assimilate. Interesting pick to bring back.

Listen to those tapes. You’ll understand some more. Not everything, as they’re cryptic, but more.

Feminina:

Yeah, I also had to kill another named doctor who ran out shooting at me. Blythe? I tried to approach without violence, but if you’re going to shoot at me, I’ll shoot back! Unless you’re too big and scary, in which case I’ll run away.

I know, I know I can play tapes immediately on picking them up, but I always instantly grab something else too (folders! Those are weightless, might as well bring them along!) and lose the opportunity. And then it’s too much trouble to track them down in my inventory and play them intentionally, so I don’t bother until I’m reminded by the ‘load a holotape’ option at some random terminal weeks later. Collecting information, good! Actually accessing information…enh, it’s on my to-do list.

BioShock sort of left them on screen for a few minutes until you played them, didn’t it? So I would actually do it. But here, I swear the option is gone 3 seconds after it shows up, and out of sight, out of mind.

The music…interesting. I have no real comment on the carryover previous games, but those are somewhat intriguing choices.

Butch:

They don’t learn. Talk or die.

You’re missing levels of story and theme by ignoring tapes, you know. They put those there for a reason. The order you find them matters.

Re: music, the songs are interesting choices. Especially as they do try to set a specific mood.

Feminina:

Well, if they want me to listen to tapes, they shouldn’t make the inventory such a pain to sort through, that’s what I say. I always read the messages on terminals! Because they do not disappear into my inventory to be instantly forgotten among the desk fans.

Specific mood…yeeeeeeees…I mean…many of the songs they play evoke quite different moods (peppy, mournful, slightly cannibalistic, etc.), so the overall mood is a bit agitated, but certainly there’s a strong theme or set of themes. “Old music with lots of references to bombs/radiation” being only the most obvious.

Butch:

Well, I mean contrast the soundtrack in FONV, which was much more western/desert. Peppier, too, as this game is darker. FO3 was even more so. Dark, I mean. There’s a certain oddness to killing wantonly while Billie Holliday sings “Crazy he calls me, sure I’m crazy….”

They have that play option for holotapes so you DON’T have to sort.

Feminina:

Then don’t make the ‘play’ option disappear a nanosecond after it shows up! Work with me here! Some of us are very easily distracted.

Also, here’s the other thing: I don’t even particularly like audio messages. I’d rather read stuff, because I can read faster than people can talk, and I get impatient.

So even when they have good info (and even when they provide interesting mood/character moments with vocal acting or sound effects), I’m less inclined to listen to messages than I am to read them, ESPECIALLY when it’s a hassle to find them in my inventory because I missed the ‘play’ option because I was too busy looking at/picking up the other loot that’s lying around and that the game HAS GONE OUT OF ITS WAY TO GIVE ME REASONS TO OBSESSIVELY LOOK AT/PICK UP.

In short, my failure to listen to messages is totally not my fault, is what I’m saying.

I totally agree, though, that the random juxtaposition of the songs with the action you’re taking in the game is often very interesting. And it’s not generally plotted out, so your “hearing Butcher Pete in a cannibal house” moment from FO3 was fortuitous rather than scripted, but the game certainly gets credit for putting the two elements–playlist and gameplay–together in a way that will inevitably tend to produce these sorts of moments, where things either match up weirdly well, or conflict in a telling way.

I’m not sure if this happens as much with the classical station…I’ve only listened to it now and then, mostly while avoiding Butcher Pete. I also don’t have the kind of background with classical music that I do with (even old) popular music, and then there’s the obvious issue of not having lyrics to go on when forming an impression, so I would be quite likely to miss some of the themes that might show up in the classical playlist they’ve put together.

Do you know any classical music nerds? Ask them to weigh in!

Butch:

No, you can play it AS you pick it up. There’s like “take” and “play.” Square, I think.

As for reading being faster, yes, but sometimes (like the ones you recently didn’t play) there’s, like, acting involved. Stuff you cannot convey with writing.

Dude, on obsessively looking at stuff, you know what’s really nuts? Magazines. Cuz they look JUST like all the other papers strewn about. But they’re SO helpful. I spend forever looking for a magazine I didn’t even know was in this place yesterday. But I had a good feeling one was. And I was right. (5% damage against mutants! Boom!)

But man it takes time.

Re music, I dunno, though, cuz, like I said, I’m hearing I’m in Love more, or thinking I am. There seem to be too many fortuitous moments for it to be totally luck. Maybe there’s some system.

Feminina:

Right, and I’ve only been trained by 800 hours of habit to always hit X to activate/pick up something that looks interesting, so naturally square is my first instinct with holotapes! Ha. I’ll get to them. One of these days.

Magazines! I’m constantly afraid I’m missing magazines. I try to make sure to look at every scattered collection of papers, always thinking there might be one there, but I’m still always afraid I forgot to check the ONE scattered collection of papers that had a precious, precious magazine in it.

It would be interesting to see their radio station system. Maybe it just shuffles more or less randomly through the playlist at first, but then starts weighting some songs more heavily than others if you do certain things…could easily happen, and would increase the odds of certain types of juxtapositions between the background music and the action.

Butch:

See I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve figured if a place has a quest point (say valentines office or a place filled with ghouls a settlement need wiped out) there’s likely something. Or a miscellaneous objective place. I may be missing others, but I don’t leave places that are “places” until I find it.

Oh and on collectibles, found my room in vault 81! It has a display stand for the bobbleheads. Nice to trim inventory.

Feminina:

Ooh, sweet! I’ll have to find that room. Although I feel like I might have sold one of the bobbleheads, desperate for cash at one point. Is there a magazine stand? Mr. O’ pointed out that there’s one in the picture on the load screen, next to your sad armor, so now I’m afraid to sell magazines in case I need to display them somewhere, sometime.

Butch:

Do you still get the bonus if you sell them? I’m paranoid that I’ll lose the bonuses.

Where’s the rack? Sanctuary?

That place is a maze. Still can’t find the dog.

Feminina:

I don’t know, I haven’t actually seen the rack–it just appears in the load screen picture, so we thought maybe there is one somewhere. But I haven’t found it, if it does exist. The fact that you found a place to display bobbleheads makes it seem more likely there’s a place to display magazines, though.

As for selling them, that is a concern now that you mention it. I had assumed that once you got the perk, you had it, like “I read that magazine/enjoyed that bobblehead and now I have permanently gained in awesomeness as a result,” but it might be more like clothing or armor, and you have to actually possess it. Hm.

Butch:

See magazine perks show up on the perks tab. Bobble head bonuses don’t seem to. I checked with and without. No difference.

I do know I’m a walking library of 20 magazines (got that trophy last night). At least they’re weightless.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m glad for their weightlessness. Otherwise I would have sold a lot more of them by now!

OK, it seems like selling them is all right. The Fallout wikia says

As in Fallout 3, each bobblehead increases a corresponding S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat permanently by one. Bobbleheads that previously increased a skill, now grant a permanent unique perk. Refer to the respective articles for more detailed information.
Taking a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bobblehead while your stat is at 10 allows that stat to increase to 11. As the Bobblehead counts as a stat gain, if you were below 10 before picking it up, you can’t level that stat to above ten via normal methods.

That’s an interesting bit about increasing your stat to 11…

Butch:

What about magazines?

It is interesting about stats. But then I’ve already won Piper’s heart. You can have Curie.

Piper and I now have marching sequin dresses. She pulls the dress and press cap look off well. We’re gonna paint the town.

Feminina:

Magazines grant the player additional perks when read, or unlock certain benefits. Perk magazines replace skill books from earlier installments in the Fallout franchise, due to the merger of skills and perks. These perks can have multiple ranks, with the rank increasing each time the player reads a copy of the magazine. The magazine may be sold, dropped or stored after being read, and the perk or benefit will be retained.

So that’s a relief. I can sell these items at will, and all I’ll lose will be the chance to display them attractively in unknown locations.

Butch:

I’m so displaying them. Who needs caps? I already have matching dresses. And heels! The dresses come with matching shoes. Cuz even nuclear war can’t stop proper accessories.