Friday, January 09, 2009

Fallout afternoon tidbits

Yes, I said "Fallout afternoon." I've now reached level 20 and completed all of the marked sidequests except for "Strictly Business," whose negative karma I just couldn't bear. Instead of accepting the quest, I murdered everybody in Paradise Falls. I think it was the right call. Now my goal is to collect a few more achievements, and then power through the main storyline.

By the way, I've been linking to it a lot in my Fallout posts, but let me take a moment to say how invaluable The Vault, a Fallout wiki, has been. I feel no shame in turning to the Internet for help with any game, but the usually indispensable GameFAQs was useless for this. It's impossible for any one person to write the definitive walkthrough for a game as sprawling as Fallout. The wiki approach is much better. The Vault answered every question I had.

Like Stephen Totilo, I too was unaware of how repairs worked until late in the game. We talked about it a little bit in comments to this post, but basically I blame my ignorance on a couple things. I think what happened is that the "repair" option on the Pip-Boy was inactive so often that I eventually stopped looking at it all together. When people said it was there, I couldn't even remember ever seeing it, but there it is, right under "equip" and "discard." I'd keep making excuses, but the truth is I just feel dumb.

On the plus side, ever since I started repairing things, the game has gotten easier and more fun. But I still can't tell you why I kept prioritizing my repair skill with each level-up, despite having no idea what the hell it did.

Speaking of which, I guess I get why they capped the level progression at 20, but it's disappointing to no longer hear the cha-ching of added XP whenever I kill an enemy, discover a new location, hack a terminal, or do literally anything else. I didn't realize how rewarding XP was until I stopped earning it. I'm just playing for the achievements now, which is not something I usually do. This game has awakened the completionist in me, the first game to do that since Crackdown.

Scott Jones wrote an interesting piece at Crispy Gamer about how he was shamed into voting for Fallout for his game of the year. I salute Scott's capacity for self-criticism, and I think he knows as well as anybody else that he should have been this honest and unsparing about Fallout from the beginning. Particularly when the game was selling 4.7 million copies in its first week, a well-written contrarian view might have been valuable. I am a little surprised at his claim that there are many like him, though, who were lukewarm on the game but nevertheless felt pressured into giving it plaudits. If true, that really sucks. And strange, considering that Michael Abbott had no problem finding 20 people with 20 different GOTY picks for his year-end podcast.

For all the Fallout criticism you could ever need, check out Sparky Clarkson's "critical thinking compilation," a collection of links to all the interesting Fallout essays he's encountered. You could probably spend hours reading everything here. Sparky's doing the Lord's work.

On a non-Fallout note, the news that UGO was buying was indeed huge. Jeremy Parish -- who still has a job, thankfully -- has some thoughts on the transaction, plus a eulogy for EGM.


Nels Anderson said...

"I'm just playing for the achievements now, which is not something I usually do."

I feel the same. In fact, Fallout 3 will be the first game where I make a point of getting every achievement. (And the PC version has the achievements too)

It has actually been fantastic as it encouraged me to seek out a number of areas I might well have missed otherwise. There's several locations that aren't tied to any quest, or ever near an area that is, but contain a Vaultboy bobblehead as a "reward" for exploring them (e.g. The Dunwich Building).

Achievements have to the potential to do the carrot-stick thing really well and I'm glad Bethesda used them appropriately (at least for me).

Mitch Krpata said...

Exploring the Dunwich building is its own reward! The bobblehead is icing on the cake.

I think I'll be going for the 10-bobblehead achievement, but not the 30 one (I think I have 9 at the moment). Also discovering 100 locations and killing all five Super Mutant Behemoths. Then it's really onto the main storyline.

Anonymous said...

The Dunwich Building was fantastic, exactly the sort of thing Fallout 3 does best. Try not to miss the hidden irradiated lake in the Takoma Park area for a nice bit of storytelling.

Also, prepared to be disappointed by the last few missions on the main quest.

All this is reminding me that even though I beat the game, I never finished exploring the Deathclaw Sanctuary. Maybe I need to load up a saved game...

garion333 said...

SR already said it, but my first inclination after reading this post was to warn you on the end of the main quest, but I'm pretty sure you've heard all the criticisms.

Still, I want to give you my quick two cents: I wish I never "beat" the game. The ending was so mediocre for me that it turned me off from the game for quite a while. I never finished Oblivion and I don't feel like I missed anything (except closing more of the same gates). I wish I felt that way about Fallout 3 because everything is now tinged with mild disappointment.

Dramatic, perhaps, but it's how I feel.

Gary A. Lucero said...

Fallout 3 has plenty of faults, and I can't even name a game of the year for 2008. For me it's probably down to one of my favorites: Fallout 3, Fable II, Lost Odyssey, Far Cry 2, Civ Rev, or Brothers in Arms. I also really enjoyed GTA 4 (best story of the year) and (are you ready) Alone in the Dark (Xbox 360 -- I sold off my PS3 after finishing Metal Gear Solid 4). To me it's not about a game's faults, though. So many games seem dead and uninviting, cold and lifeless. But hey, I'm a huge Neil Young fan, so you know I'm much more into emotional impact than pure unadulterated quality.

Ben Abraham said...

"I am a little surprised at his claim that there are many like him, though, who were lukewarm on the game but nevertheless felt pressured into giving it plaudits."

Well hell, throw me in that category... except I just shut up about it usually because I've gotten the sense that no one wants to hear criticism of the game that got more 10 out of 10's than any other game I can remember. =(

Gary A. Lucero said...

I don't think I personally mind people criticizing Fallout 3. God knows I barely liked MGS4 and that game is loved by many. GTAIV, which I really enjoyed, has huge faults, and I think Fallout 3 does too. I played Oblivion to death but having played it and seen its numerous problems, I didn't expect much out of Fallout 3. It really exceeded my expectations and I'm glad about that. Maybe 2008 is the year of the flawed game?

Allen Goode said...

You feel dumb?... I beat the game with a maxed out repair skill and never figured out how to repair anything on my own.

This was a system that was never taught to me or pointed out in the overly complex menu system which I felt I played more within then the game itself.

So should you or I feel dumb? Actually I feel irritated. Knowing how to incite that mechanic may have made the game more tolerable for me.

Mitch Krpata said...

On one hand, that's terrible, but I'm actually a little relieved at how many other people seem to have missed this as well. The game definitely doesn't help you learn how repairs work, and there's a bit of dialogue that does make it seem like only NPCs can repair your stuff for you. Argh.

Not only that, but when I went looking through the instruction manual for information on repairs, the first mention of it said to see page 31 for more on repairs, but in fact the relevant content was on page 29. Yeah, I found it, but again: They don't make it easy for you.