New Vegas: Meet the Courier

A truism: Fallout is a Computer Role-Playing Game. My favourite part of playing cRPGs is the possibility to invent a personality of my player character which goes beyond the stats, the so-called alignment or karma. Now, let’s try to answer the question…

Who exactly is the Courier?

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Unlike most other protagonists in the Fallout series (with the notable exception of Fallout: Tactics), the Courier is not a newcomer entering the Postapocalyptia from a sheltered location like a vault or a remote tribal village. Of course, typically for a Bethesda game, he is mostly a blank-slate character, but this time we at least know his profession.

Since travelling alone through the war-torn Mojave Desert implies a certain approach towards life, I decided to give the Courier an amoral, survivalist or even Social Darwinist mindset. Maybe the word ‘amoral’ isn’t correct here and I should call it ‘an alternative morality’ instead, summed up by the motto The Strong Survive. The Courier should be equally able to perform acts of necessary cruelty or to take a more benevolent approach to other people, all the time avoiding the extremes: being a bloodthirsty psychopath on the one hand and a selfless altruist on the other.

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After all, when you survive your own execution and wake up in a grave, you’re not prone to be sentimental and trusting anymore.

Still, the Courier shouldn’t be entirely selfish and close-minded, but rather think about the bigger picture. After all, if the Mojave Desert becomes a well-governed and stable place, his chances of surviving and making a profit will increase. This should bring him close to the philosophy of the Caesar’s Legion, possibly even to join its ranks and help the tyrant overcome his foes — unless another faction convinces our antihero otherwise.

Making Life Harder

Just like when I was playing Skyrim and F3, I’ll set myself a few restrictions for the immersion’s sake:

Three Meals a Day – maybe it’s not necessary to eat so often even when playing in the Survival mode, but having regular meals creates a somewhat realistic rhythm of the day;

No Heavy Weapons – the Courier is allowed to lift a big gun dropped by the enemy and to use it within a very limited range only;

No Save-scumming – with the exception of companion’s death;

Autosaves Only – and suddenly those boring abandoned shacks in the middle of the desert become very important (I’ll make manual saves occasionally just in case of game-killing bugs).

Of course, I might add more restrictions later.

Just Finished: Hotline Miami 2

That’s it. I’m not getting the 100% completion. The requirement for the last achievement is simply ridiculous: 50.000 dead bodies. I have already passed both Normal and Hard modes several times and the bodycount is still around 43. Time to uninstall HM2 and keep the good memories.

Besides, who likes to be called a whore?

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A badge of dishonour

Shards of Glim: Zubmariner

A warning to all zubmarine captains: minor spoilers are lurking in the darkness ahead.

Waiting for the game on Day Zero felt like being 12 years old again. The game’s release was scheduled for 6 PM, so I launched my laptop and kept refreshing the Steam webpage, getting impatient with every minute. Eventually, the ‘Purchase’ button appeared onscreen a few minutes after seven. After typing my PayPal password with shaking fingers and clicking ‘Continue’ over a dozen of times, I started downloading the expansion pack. Finally, I was able to see this wonderful screen:

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I’ve been waiting for a year for this beautiful sight.

Obtaining a zubmerzible vessel isn’t a particularly difficult task even for a Captain who has just begun his adventure in the Neath. The first requirement is to undertake a long journey to the Neath’s southern rim and find a mysterious and generous patron who owns a secret laboratory. Then you have to assist the researchers working for her by donating certain items. I’ve decided to sacrifice an Extraordinary Implication and hilarity ensued.

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Creative madness.

The next step was to find blueprints for a Zonar, which requires a short journey and again is remarkably easy. When I finally returned to the laboratory with the plans and completed the task, I was surprised to find out that they didn’t construct an entirely new ship; the engineers simply helped me to convert my vessel into a zubmarine. What’s even more strange, the conversion passess to each new ship you buy in London, so you don’t have to complete the same quest again.

There are other odd things about underwater zailing. There’s no electric engine and the zubmarine burns coal just like an ordinary ship on the surface. Cannons work perfectly well. There is no periscope. There is no depth meter. Well, I shouldn’t be surprised at all, because Failbetter Games has never promised us to create a realistic simulation game about Victorian-era submarines hunting The Great Cthulhu.

Coincindentally, turning my corvette into a zubmerzible saved the Tenth Captain’s life. While he was returning to Port Carnelian with the zonar plans, his ship was ambushed by a flock of Blue Prophets and heavily damaged. For some reason, the d—-d birds kept hovering over the port and attacked again when the Captain was leaving, but he managed to hide under the waves literally in the last seconds before getting shredded to tiny pieces.

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What a promising start of the Great Underwater Adventure, isn’t it?

After having played Zubmariner for a couple of hours, I still don’t have much more to say about the gameplay. So far, I’ve visited two new locations and won a skirmish against bloodthirsty zub-pirates, but I’m staying on the surface for most time, earning money, training stats until I feel prepared to explore the depths under the Neath in a serious way. Of course, I will write another post soon to share my experiences.

Shards of Glim: The Price of Freedom

Beware! Here there be spoilers.

The Ninth Captain was a man ahead of his time: a self-hating Londoner, which would be far more appropriate for a person living in the 21st century than for one stuck in the weird version of the Victorian era. Or, at least, this is how imagined him to be, because he was meant to complete one of the hidden game endings and leave the Neath on board of a stolen Zeppelin. Since I like to have a backstory behind each of my Captains, I did almost everything to stay in-character. This included working with the enemies of London on every occasion, undermining the Imperial sea power and bringing the hated city to its knees.

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Eventually, after a failed attempt to steal the monkey Zeppelin and fly away as far as possible, I decided to pick up the Colony ambition path.

Then I learned that the price of freedom is constant grinding.

Establishing your own settlement is a complex endeavour. Since the only suitable place is Aestival, the Captain needs to find a way to protect his colonists from being driven into madness by sunlight — and finding protection requires a few rare and costly items, as well as sacrificing a part of the crew. When the brave settlers are from the wrath of Helios, the game becomes even less exciting, since it’s necessary to bring enormous quantities of supplies and scores of people develop a colony large enough to declare independence. The final stage is choosing whether to side with one of the Neath’s Powers or become a nation on your own. Whatever the choice is, ridiculously high statistics and expensive items are required to achieve the ending.

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The tree of freedom must be refreshed from time to time with cucumber paste.

Brave men have bled and died, innocent cucumbers have been smashed, but the Ninth Captain has prevailed and become the First Autocrat of his own tiny empire. Proudly alone!

What’s even more important, I managed to accomplish this feat on the last moment. The Zubmarine fleet is bound to arrive tomorrow and now I can play the first official Sunless Sea DLC with a fresh captain.

Just Finished: Fallout 3

My second, and final, Fallout 3 playthrough is over. What I’ve learned is that I’m very bad at being bad. At the beginning, my Player Character named Hagen was supposed to be the evil incarnate, but at one moment, after a long period of stealing, murdering and enslaving, I felt unable to commit acts of evil anymore, because I realised that I liked the good people of the Capital Wasteland too much. Therefore, my remorseful character finishes his journey with Neutral Karma and the title of True Mortal — very appropriate for him.

That’s enough for a summary. Now I’ll just share some screenshots I collected during the playthrough. Just some of the most memorable (and sometimes bizarre) moments I’ve (or is it ‘we’?) experienced.

Beware! Spoilers ahead!

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Hybris. The 21st century Vitruvian Man at the gates of Rivet City.

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Into the Mouth of Madness. The journey to the Lovercraftian nightmare of Point Lookout begins here.

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Altars of Madness. The Ark&Dove Cathedral, Point Lookout.

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Where’s your saviour now? Lincoln Memorial.

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“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. The Pitt.

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Kill the Xenos. The alien mothership has just lost the battle against me and me motley crew of abducted humans. Mothership Zeta.

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Paradise Lost. The Oasis, just about a minute before its inhabitants were slaughtered by Hagen.

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As the Good Book says.

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No More Heroes. It’s feels strange to find this monument in the Capital Wasteland after taking part in a VR simulation of the Operation Anchorage.

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The stones will cry out.

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Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb? The final moments of Megaton.

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The Legacy. Historical documents, including the U.S. Constitution, displayed in the Rivet City museum.

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Necessary Means. Just don’t call it a concentration camp, please.

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Beauty will save the world. One of my favourite guests has classical music as a reward.

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To the barricades! The rooftop of the Statesman Hotel, just a moment before Hagen and the Reilly’s Rangers make an attempt to break through the Supermutants.

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Harold’s corpse in the Oasis.

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A place of worship somewhere in the Wasteland.

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We’re a happy family. Hagen and Sidney enjoy the hospitality of the Reilly’s Rangers at their headquarters.

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No fancy vistas here, just our heroes enjoying a well-deserved rest.

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Hybris Punished. The Fallout’s backstory in a nutshell.

 

Daily Gamer: Magical Sound Car

Another pleasant surprise I found in the RPS Freeloaders column. At first, I thought I’ll just play it for a couple of minutes to enjoy its 8-bit retro-graphics, but eventually I decided to stay longer. What’s so remarkable about Magical Sound Car? The game combines a hellish difficulty level and standard platforming pleasures including spikes, disappearing floor tiles, gravity flipping, etc., with some anti-frustration features which actually are working. Be it the cute chiptune made by our toy car when it’s speeding up, or the two uncannily friendly kids who seem to mock my efforts and encourage me to go further at the same time, all this stops me from rage-quitting and deleting the game into the oblivion. Which is a true miracle, given how an impatient person I am.

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All right, all right, I’m staying with you, little ones

Daily Gamer: After the Fire

The writer’s block is following me like a vengeful spirit, sucking every drop of inspiration from my soul. Maybe I should return to the noble path of Kaizen and write a few sentences every day. Who knows, maybe constant practice will make me able to write longer posts again?

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My second Fallout 3 playthrough has reached its post-final stage, and it’s very pleasant: after bringing a fiery doom to the Enclave, Hagen hasn’t much to do. There’s only one side-quest to complete and then my weary anti-hero will become a post-apocalyptic flâneur, aimlessly roaming the Capital Wasteland until he’s got enough and returns to his suite at the Tenpenny Tower. Then he’ll just sit in a chair, sipping whiskey and looking at his collection of trophy weapons.

About time. Fallout:New Vegas is waiting on my Steam acount to be installed. The Legion is calling.