While writing this post, I’m on the couch sipping on some delicious Starbucks Pike Place Coffee courtesy of my apartment’s single cup touch screen coffee machine. I’ve tried all variations of Starbucks coffee…
And while I know there are better coffees out there, this is one of my favorites.
Also, since my apartment provides it, it’s basically free. So there’s that.
From looking at my weather app on my phone, it’s 62 degrees right now, and it should be up around 70 this afternoon.
Not bad for a Texas morning.
Today, I’m thinking about something close to my heart. It’s a topic I only recently considered covering in this blog in any depth, and I’ve been hesitant to do so.
Why the hesitation to write about Video games? Well, when I first started this blog, the high-priority topics were life hacks and self-improvement. As it’s evolved, its become more of a lifestyle-type writing experiment. That, and I haven’t written anything since last April, so I’ve some time to think about it’s direction.
Wisdom and Strategy is still about these things, and I expect to have more posts up on these topics soon.
The thing that occurred to me is, I have been playing video games on and off for many years (a lot more in my jr. high school years, actually, at which time a few titles had a lot of impact). Video games really are an enjoyable pastime, and I think that they’re fine, and surprisingly worthwhile in moderation.
A cool thing here too is that contemporary video games continue to get better. Nowadays, a lot of them are like immersive cinematic experiences, many with profound plot-lines and character development that resonates long after the games are done.
All this to say, the plan going forward is that this topic, among others will be fun to write about, and we can certainly discuss some value-added self improvement type content along the way.
When I think about great video game story-lines and character development, one of the first series that comes to my mind is the Fallout series. Fallout New Vegas is literally the best game I ever played, and was the reason I bought a Playstation 3 back in 2011.
The story in this game which centered around a courier seeking out the man who shot him, and ultimately saving the wastelands was endlessly compelling and thought provoking.
Along with this, some fantastic old music on the soundtrack such as Johnny Guitar by Peggy Lee and Big Iron by Marty Robbins provided a lot of extra depth and emotion to the whole experience.
Once that game was finished, I picked up Fallout 3 a number of months after. That game was also really good, and although it didn’t quite rank up there with New Vegas, it was still a lot of fun.
A few years later, I bought Fallout 4 and a Playstation 4 soon after starting a new job. This was also a good game (and still better than most), but it seemed a few steps down from the third installment, and significantly lower on the hierarchy than New Vegas.
After waiting patiently a few years for a follow up game, I jumped on the eagerness bandwagon with a lot of other fans when Todd Howard talked about the release of Fallout 76 at the E3 event in 2018. The trailer they showed that day was incredible. Along with the accompanying Country Roads theme song, and how Mr. Howard stated the world, set in West Virginia, would be “four times the size of Fallout 4” I was very intrigued.
Over next couple months, I began hearing some concerning reviews about the game. I think people really really wanted to like it it. Unfortunately, though, it seemed that many didn’t. Because of this, I didn’t just rush in to buy it.
A few months after that, I noticed the price had been lowered, which was rare for a game of this stature. For this reason, and the fact that I had some Best Buy gift cards, I decided to take the plunge and make the purchase.
After opening the box, putting the disk into my PS4, and firing up the system, I realized I needed to subscribe to the PS4’s online Playstation Network in order to run the game. I didn’t realize this at the time as I’d never played a multiplayer game before on this console.
I figured that since I hadn’t actually paid money for the game, I could justify paying for a few months of the Playstaion Network subscription fee. I mean, if was a good game with a lot of plot and content, and a world “four times the size” of Fallout 4, I reasoned that I wound’t need to buy any other games for the next year or so.
I started playing, created my character including particulars such as face, body type, sex, etc. and worked my way out of the vault into the wide open world.
My first impression was that the world was really beautiful and realistic looking. It seemed a lot more vivid than the other worlds. I was delighted to learn that there are a lot of buildings and disheveled structures to explore.
Unfortunately, that’s where the important similarities ended for me.
Speaking about the beautiful world, I did notice some bugs – Places where the physics didn’t work just right. Examples where figures were suspended in mid-air for no reason. I haven’t experienced any issues where the game would crash, but I did hear that others have had that problem.
The sound and music are good, and engaging, although it doesn’t appeal to me as much as the New Vegas music did, and is a bit dry comparatively.
I’m new to the multi-player experience, and while it is fun to be able to talk to other players, it seems that there not a lot of players on one server at a time, so good collaboration and team up adventures are few and far between. Also, a lot of the folks I encounter are just mean, and start shooting right away. So much for being a team player.
One of the things I really liked in Fallout 4 was the ability to build and design forts. I didn’t put in as much time doing this as a lot of other players, but it was cool, and there as a lot of variety as to what you could do.
Fallout 76 has the fort-building option as well, and I can see a lot of potential for this. The downside I discovered is that once you log out of the game, all of the work you put into a fort gets deleted, and when you log back on you no longer own that particular fort. I’ve read that the way around this is to not log off, but I can’t see anyone but the most super hardcore gamers doing that. My hope is that there is a work around for this, but as of right now, I haven’t discovered it.
One positive, I need to credit Bethesda (the makers of Fallout 76) with introducing me to the acronym “NPC,” which stands for non-player character. Now, while Fallout 76 has NPC’s in the sense that there are characters you can fight – super mutants, etc., there are no NPC’s with which you can engage in dialogue, and none which push the plot forward (we’ll talk about the game’s plot or its lack thereof in a minute). If this was most games, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. But since it’s a Fallout game, and since my original impression was that it would be something of a hybrid RPG / multi player online experience, the lack of characters like this was a real bummer.
From what I can see thus far, there really isn’t an overarching plot in the game. There are tasks to do – things like clearing out an area of enemies, testing water, searching for various objects, but no pre-designed plot. There are recordings that you can listen to which other vault dwellers have left behind, but that’s it. Again, this wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but the prior games had such great plots that I had some pretty high expectations of this game.
One thing that I’m really glad about is that you can make ammo in this game. Fallout New Vegas had this option, and being able to make your ammo when you were down to your last few rounds was both helpful and it also added to the realism of the experience.
Along those same lines however, it appears that both weapons and armor have levels associated with them. For example, in order to wear more advanced armor you need to have a higher level. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered this in a game before and it’s pretty frustrating.
Well, I like to do some creative exploration in RPG’s and for me, this is one of the ways I can shorten the time it takes to win and get some more powerful tools to better interact with more powerful enemies. With how things are currently, even if I go through the effort of getting these objects, I still cannot use them. I’m currently at level 12, and I recently had an interaction with another player who gave me a level 35 gun. I can’t use it yet. With how long it’s taken me to get to level 12, I reason that it will be many more hours until I can get to level 35. Ugh.
That’s about all I can comment on right now. After writing the prior paragraphs I decided to go online again last night to try the game again. I encountered a bunch of super mutants, and, because I could only equip low level weapons and armor, I died. Again.
All this to say, I still think this game has a lot of potential. My plan going forward it to probably play it a few more weeks. After that, I’ll likely move on to a different game.
If you’re a Fallout fan, I would recommend buying the game, if for nothing else to get the experience and learn about this installment in the canon. If you’re like me though, it will likely get a bit tedious after awhile, and seem like all you’re doing is scavenging through piles of refuse and redundancy.
Have you played Fallout 76? What as your experience been so far? Please leave your comments below, and we can discuss!