Weekly: The Hero’s Return

An obvious fact: the Survival mode in Fallout 4 is there for immersion. One of the things I like about it is that it really makes you realise the importance of places like Diamond City or Goodneighbor. After all, they are the safe havens and beacons of civilisation amidst the ocean of chaos and violence which is the Commonwealth. But I wouldn’t have realised it without finishing a really funny but somewhat exhausting quest.

Supermutated spoilers below!

Meet the Silver Shroud, a comic book superhero from the age before the whole US-Chinese misunderstanding happened. When in Goodneighbor, you can meet Kent Connolly, a ghoul who has been Shroud‘s fan for the past 200 years and has is own radio station broadcasting episodes of the hero’s adventures. After a short conversation it becomes obvious that he wants to revive the legend – and the Lone Survivor is to play the main character. The first step is to obtain the Silver Shroud costume and his iconic weapon from the ruins of a comic book company. Then Kent, a trained radio technician, begins to transmit the names and locations of local villains who are in need of superhero treatment (which involves lots and lots of shooting). What is really interesting, when you confront the baddies, you can choose between having a conversation in your standard voice or impersonating the Shroud in a really hammy way. Eventually, after delivering justice to some lesser minions you have the chance to meet Sinjin, the supervillain. At this point, things got really interesting and led to a wonderful conclusion.

I returned to Goodneighbor after disposing of the last Sinji’s henchmen only to find out that Kent had been kidnapped. Since I really enjoyed the quest so far, I decided to do the hero part and immediately go out to rescue him. This required a rather long journey south and clearing several floors of an old hospital. The hard part began when I reached my target, Sinji and his gang of goons, holding Kent at gunpoint. Without boring you with the details, I can just say that killing the former and saving the latter required a lot of reloads and experimenting with Charisma-enhancing drugs. Seriously, it was the most frustrating experience in my Fallout 4 experience so far. Needless to say, in the end, the hero saved the day.



The hero. The villain. The author.


Then the wonderful thing happened. It was late in the night on both sides of my PC screen. The Silver Shroud finally got back to Diamond City, wounded, tired, hungry, sick, suffering from radiation – and wasn’t feeling much better than him, minus a few gunshot wounds. After crossing the city gate, we both saw this…


…at the first moment, I didn’t really realise what was happening, but I quickly checked the in-game date on my Pipboy. 25 Dec 2287. After surviving a difficult and demanding adventure, I (we?) can finally sit down, rest and have a deathclaw steak for Christmas supper.

Hey, the game even dropped a Christmas gift on me. Here’s what I found on a Legendary Raider‘s corpse shortly before getting back home.



The Ultimate Weapon.


True catharsis. The perfect union between the player and his alter ego. You play games for moments like this.

Maybe Fallout 4 isn’t a bad RPG after all.


Weekly: It’s Good To Be a Survivor

Damn, it feels like being alive again. For the past few months, I found little joy in playing video games, constantly skipping from one title to another and finding no satisfaction whatsoever.



Maybe I’m just too old for this kind of hobby?


To my surprise, this changed after I finally got Fallout 4 downloaded to my disk.  To say that I enjoy it would be saying nothing, as I’m simply hypnotised by everything happening on the screen. So, maybe it’s the right time for little introspection. Let’s sit down and think about the reasons why I like Fallout 4 so much.

Survival of the Stealthiest

While the so-called Hardcore mode in Fallout New Vegas was a disappointment, adding only minor challenges to the gameplay, the Survival difficulty mode in F4 is something completely different. First of all, hunger, thirst and radiation are serious issues now and if you forget about them, the game punishes you by severe stats penalties. Even more importantly, even rank-and-file characters are deadly now — fitting for the highest difficulty setting — but so is the player character. If he’s careless enough, a bunch of angry Raiders can shoot him down in a few seconds, but since your basic damage is considerably higher than on lower difficulties, you can turn the tables by quietly climbing up a building or a hill and taking them out with well-placed sniper shots. Generally, sneaking is one of the most valuable skills now and I’m all happy about it.


The most important element of the Survival mode is the strategic value of beds. Since manual saving and most autosaves are disabled, you can keep your progress only by sleeping for at least one hour. That’s why it’s very important to search your surroundings for a resting place when entering a hostile territory. After all, you don’t want to lose hours of progress due to an unlucky incident with a frag mine or a genocidal ghoul. Obviously, it’s very frustrating when it happens, but it makes exploration of the wastes even more exciting.

Meet the Vault Tinkerer

Remember picking through tonnes of useless trash in Fallout 3 and New Vegas in search of Stimpaks and ammunition? Now it’s over. With the new crafting system, even tin cans and broken clocks can be real treasures. After finding a proper workshop, you can customise your weapons, armour and even the Pipboy to make them lighter, sturdier, deadlier, or simply more fancy. Add enough modifications and your weapon’s or armour’s name becomes ridiculously long, but they thought about it too and you can give it another name.



Maybe I’ll just call her Vera.


While most ingredients are common enough, some are quite rare and you’ll learn to value each piece of circuitry or nuclear material you find in the dirt. Things get even more complicated when you find out that you need the same resources to expand your settlements, but I left my settlers to their own devices so far, so let’s just leave it at that.

The Power of the Armour


There’s been a huge change in the way the game treats Power Armour in comparison with the previous instalments. Now it’s not just a piece of (very heavy and expensive) clothing you wear but rather it behaves like an in-game vehicle. The Sole Survivor enters it using that funny hatch on its back and, just like a real car, it needs fuel, the Fusion Cores, which aren’t exactly cheap but still surprisingly easy to find. Beside standard modifications increasing damage resistance, it has some new options unavailable for other types of armour, like an enhanced HUD targetting enemies or special filters in the helmet which clean your food and drink from radiation. Another minor but nice thing is that your PC sounds really badass in conversations when speaking through his power helmet. In short, for the first time in the history of the Fallout series, they really made the Power Armour something special.

Well, that’s it. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about when I spend another dozen or two of hours of playing under my belt. Meanwhile, let’s get a cup of noodles from that crazy Japanese robot and then set sail for the ruins of Boston.




Weekly: Nothing Changes On New Year’s Day

Do you have a song which makes your skin crawl? Do you feel a confusing mixture of emotions when listening to it? Here, let me share one of such songs with you.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

“New Year’s Day” was written and recorded by the former rock rebels and current rock celebrities in U2 in 1983 as a commentary on the political and social situation in Poland after the introduction of martial law. Luckily, I was born too late to remember that period, but collective memory is a harsh mistress and the song still fills me with dread and sadness every time I hear it. Now, I have it stuck in my head because I decided to celebrate the first week of the new year by returning to Papers, Please.


Winter in the glorious country of Arstotzka has the grey colour of armed concrete. I’m sitting in the inspector’s booth, scanning some innocent soul’s passport for the tiniest discrepancies and quietly wondering what is my worst fear: my superiors, the so-called resistance which keeps blowing my colleagues into tiny pieces, or simply not having enough money to feed my family. Suddenly, I discover that there’s a tiny typo in the passport. “Darżewski”, it says, while the ID tells me that he’s called “Durżewski”. With a silent sigh, I reach for the big red stamp. Entry denied. Sorry, my friend, you’re not coming in today. No, I don’t care about your wife waiting behind the barbed wire.

Perhaps this should be my greatest fear: that one day I will begin to think that this is okay and my life isn’t that bad.

When one of my Polish friends asked me to describe Papers, Please in one sentence, I answered: “It is a very wise game”. That’s right, Lucas Pope didn’t receive all the applause and rewards for simply making a satire on Eastern European communism. As simple as it may appear at the first sight, this game is incredibly profound and offers a unique experience, especially for someone living in the former Soviet Bloc. Actually, I finished it a few years ago, reaching most of the game endings, but when I saw it on the Steam sale in the last days of December, I simply couldn’t resist buying. Maybe I should write a longer post and explain why I consider it a masterpiece. Before that happen (and if it ever happens), I’m planning to revive my Soundtrack tag and make a list of songs which make playing games with dystopian theme more immersive. So, now I have a goal for this week.

Weekly: Back to the Trenchcoat Future


A coat, a fedora hat, a gun and… jumping trousers? I have you at Gunpoint!

Admittedly, my previous approach to this game was utterly wrong. While my initial reaction was enthusiastic, I simply got tired of trying to finish each level with the best result possible. Now, I’m back in the noir-cyberpunk business and a more relaxed way to play Gunpoint makes me discover how great it is. Just like mentioned in that post long time ago, all I want is to make my clients happy and get the A+ rating for every mission.

One of my favourite things is the dialogue system, even if it doesn’t reach the level of Fallout 2 writing.


Maybe it’s not much, but I really enjoy to choose between snarky and cold, professional answers – especially when my choice isn’t just cosmetic and determines the plot. Besides, just passing levels and solving puzzles (which light to turn off first?) is a pleasurable experience. Yeah, I’ve come back and now I’m ready to finish the game.

Meanwhile, it’s The Current Year and I discovered that demo versions still exist.


Too bad that the demo of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus was a huge disappointment. It’s not even about the ridiculous opening sequence, but even playing the first level feels bad. A shooter which doesn’t give you any pleasure of shooting. Still, everyone and their mum tells me that it’s a great game, so maybe I should give it another chance.

The only positive thing so far is that it made me realise how much I’ve always loved demo versions. Why don’t I write a post explaining why they are a unique experience…


Weekly: It’s Snowing In Mojave

This was supposed to be the post when I officially announce the beginning of the Winter Gaming Season. Then I would ramble how much I like spending long dark evenings with video games, make a promise to finally write a list of games which are most suitable for this part of the year. After all, it finally arrived last week and now its glorious snow everywhere and northern darkness is embracing us. So, it’s the right time to play Skyrim again and post a picture of my new character, right?

I’m sorry, it’s not going to happen yet. I’m still stuck in the desert.


That’s right, New Vegas is just too good to abandon it now just because my favourite season has started. Last week, most of my gaming time was wandering from one settlement to another and looking for Wanted posters. The funny thing is that the third and final part of New Vegas Bounties takes the player to a new location which just happens to be a snowy mountain valley. What’s wrong with playing New Vegas in December when it looks like lo-fi Skyrim?


Of course, the season will eventually begin and what would be better than celebrating it by the best winter game ever. I return to Transarctica almost every winter, but this time it has to be done right. No cheats, no walk-throughs, and I will play a properly installed HD0 version — which will require some tinkering with the WinUAE, something I’ve always hated.

Goals, goals, goals: Install Transarctica. Spend at least one hour writing that My Best Winter Games post.



Weekly: Flying with Fasces

Strange things are happening. For the first time since years, my trusted Logitech Attack 3 stick is sitting on my desktop. All because I wanted to fly for the losing side of World War 2.


Usually, I avoid playing online like the plague, but I’m always ready to make an exception if the multiplayer game is unique enough. This is why I spent a considerable amount of time crawling under fire in Verdun. For the same reason, more than a year ago I installed War Thunder on my PC, just because there were a few Italian planes to develop in the German tech tree. Now the Italians are back as a separate faction with a recent patch and I just can’t resist to play it again. At the first glance it’s more than promising and I’m planning to play it for a while to discover more advanced planes and bonuses like historical camouflage. Let’s just hope they add more tanks soon, because now the game focuses on Regia Aeronautica.


Meanwhile in Nevada, I’m hiding inside a ruined camper while a band of raiders is trying to shoot me into pieces. Somehow, their guns are powerful enough to finish my Courier in three shots despite him wearing a Power Armor. What’s even worse, I’m at the dead end of a deep canyon and there’s no retreat. Oh well, nobody said that being a bounty hunter in New Vegas was easy.

It’s hardly surprising that all three parts of New Vegas Bounties are so popular on Nexus. They have everything you’d want from fan-made content: professional voice acting, interesting characters, new unique weapons and sudden plot twists. The mod makes an extensive use of scripted events — which has led me to the current situation when I’m a sitting duck under heavy fire and no means of escape. It tells something that, even though I’m an impatient person, I’m continuously trying to survive the ambush after dying more than ten times. I will definitely have to write more about this mod when I finish it.

Goals for this week: Finish another draft and publish it here with screens.

Weekly: Family Matters

The greatest advantage of owning an Early Access version of a game is watching it slowly grow like a plant in your garden, and being pleasantly surprised every time you log into your Steam account and see that new content is ready for downloading.


To new patch for Sunless Skies adds a few important things like item storage or character creator, but the Legacy system seems to be most important. I’ve always liked the roguelite idea of inheriting talents and worldly possessions from previous Captains in Sunless Sea, not only because it made plaing in permadeath mode a tad easier, but also because it gave the game an additional depth. There was something appealing in thinking not just about reaching one of the game’s ending, but also leaving something for the future generations. However, this time inheriting works in a different way since you’re not required to have a child in-game and you don’t just get stat bonuses, but instead create a new character with the experience level the previous one had before they met their end. This sounds more like reincarnation than inheritance and I’m really curious whether it will have some implications when the game is further expanded.



For God, Emperor and Country (official promo image from Steam)


Not all is quiet on the Eastern Front! Another Early Access game I’d really like to play is Tannenberg, recently released by the makers of my favourite multiplayer FPS Verdun. Basically, it’s just an add-on to the main game which takes the players to a new theatre, Central and Eastern Europe, and adds the not-so-mighty Russian Army as a playable faction. Beside new weapons, uniforms and maps, there’s a new game mode too which supposedly reflects the less static type of warfare which was common in the East. Sure, I’m more than eager to give it a try and write about it in a First Hour post, but…

…let’s face the truth, I’m a bad, casual player, mainly because Verdun was my first online shooter since the times of the original Counterstrike. To put it simply, I’ve played it only sporadically for the last few months because I was just too embarraseed by my poor performance. Still, the perspective of visiting war-torn Eastern Europe and fighting for the Tsar is so tempting… Oh, the hard choices we vidya fans have to make 😉

Goals: Finish one draft and publish it before Monday.