Have you ever found yourself wandering through a vault in the Fallout universe and wondering what it would be like to build one of those vaults for yourself? Have you wondered what it would be like to practice experiments on the vault dwellers within? Now this dream is a reality in the Vault-Tec Workshop, the latest string of DLC add-ons for Bethesda’s Fallout 4. It’s essentially a more fleshed out version of the studio’s mobile game Fallout Shelter, which is novel in concept. Vault-Tec Workshop doesn’t go without its faults though.
The add-on starts you off with a quest calling you to investigate a mysterious cave, a new location added into the game. Inside this cave you find what is seemingly an abandoned vault, although you hear a woman’s voice over the loudspeaker. After defeating the enemies that are trying to break in through the vault door, you open the vault and come into contact with a new acquaintance, Valery Barstow, a ghoul who was meant to become the overseer of the uncompleted Vault 88, the vault in which you discovered. After walking into the main area, you find a huge cave with loads of abandoned construction equipment and some feral ghouls who used to be a part of the crew. After getting to know a little bit about Barstow and her ambitions for Vault 88, she sets you free with the task of finishing Vault 88 and the experiments that it was meant to run. It might seem unethical at first, but that’s the question you will have to repeatedly struggle with as you continue to welcome in new settlers and complete different tasks for Barstow. You can either murder Barstow in cold blood or complete her unethical, and sometimes devious, experiments on the settlers you welcome in. It’s your choice, which is what I like about this add-on in particular.
The settlement space that the add-on gives you to build your vault is definitely the biggest space in the game by far. You have a massive system of caves that you can explore and clear out to make room for your vault. The game encourages players to reach level 20 before starting the DLC, because some of the enemies you will have to clear out are pretty tough. Once you have explored and cleared the cave system, you have a massive cave at your disposal…which you pretty much can’t take advantage of due to the settlement size constraints. You know that bar in the upper right corner in the workshop HUD that indicates “size”? This size constraint unfortunately still applies to your vault, even though it gives you a massive space to work with. If you’re on console (I have been playing on PS4) then you can pretty much forget creating a vault that spans the entire cave system. If you want a vault that’s nice and furnished, then you’re pretty much going to have to stick to the main area for now, until mods come out that allow you to remove the size limitations. It’s a pretty large oversight, but I understand that console limitations prevent you from creating vast vaults. At the end of the day it’s a hardware constraint, but it’s still rather unfortunate, especially when your teased with such a massive building space to play around with.
When you take into account all of Bethesda’s previous workshop add-ons for the game, Vault-Tec Workshop is probably the biggest and best addition to the constantly growing workshop feature set. The add-on gives you a pretty hefty set of new workshop elements that give you the ability to create your very own Vault-Tec vault. There’s a bunch of pre-sets that allow you to build hallways, atriums, dining spaces, living spaces, overseer offices and much more. There’s also a host of new furniture options that relate specifically to what you typically find in vaults around the world. Everything from Vault-Tec posters to diner benches have been included, allowing you to personalize your vault to your liking. Perhaps the most practical addition to the workshop is the Vault-Tec generators, that have the ability to produce 150 or 500 electricity. These generators are powerhouses that will allow you to power up even the heftiest of vaults. You can build all of these elements outside of the add-on’s underground area in any settlement of your choice, which can potentially lead to some unique creations as well.
For all you diabolical folks who want to conduct experiments on your vault’s dwellers, you get a pretty nice array of experiments to choose from. In all, there are four objects that allow you to conduct three experiments each, which totals up to twelve experiments in all. These objects range from elliptical bikes to soda machines to slot machines. These experiments are not as crazy as some of the others that you have seen in other vaults, but they are enough to suffice. You also can’t create your own, so your stuck with what the add-on gives you. There’s a population management terminal that allows you to manage all of your vault dwellers, which provides a nice and easy way to get a glance at what everyone is doing. You can also equip your dwellers with their very own Vault 88 jumpsuits and Pip-Boys, which is a nice touch in itself. The add-on goes pretty far in letting you create what feels like an authentic vault.
Despite the size limitations that inhibit you from creating expansive vault systems, the Vault-Tec Workshop is a nice addition to Fallout 4. Sure, in the end it’s just a console version of Fallout Shelter, but the add-on provides enough items and features to make it worth taking a look at. At the end of the day, I would have preferred a little more story add-ons like the previous Fallout games, but these workshop add-ons will suffice for now. Nuka World, presumably Fallout 4’s final piece of DLC, is coming out next month, but Vault-Tec Workshop should be enough to hold over fans in the meantime.
Because of the nature of the article, spoilers might be littered throughout. If you haven’t gone through the DLC already, proceed with caution.
Here it is, the Fallout 4 add-on we have all been waiting for is finally here. The two previous pieces of extra content, Automatron and Wasteland Workshop largely centered around the main game’s workshop component. While this necessarily isn’t a bad thing, their certainly a far cry from Bethesda’s normal post-launch content rollouts. The two pieces of DLC had some cool stuff, but they pale in size to Bethesda’s normal expansion content. The latest piece of DLC, Far Harbor, is the first piece of major story DLC that adds a substantial questline, Bethesda’s largest landmass for a DLC, new characters, and new enemies. Like I said before, this is the DLC that most fans have been anticipating since it was first announced, alongside Automatron and Wasteland Workshop. Now that it’s out, I have spent some quality time with the new content and I have some thoughts…some positive and some negative.
Your adventure begins when a new case gets sent into the Valentine Detective Agency. It involves a young woman who has run away from home, leaving her parents in distress. It’s up to you and Nick Valentine (a companion I highly recommend bringing along with you for the adventure) to get to the bottom of her disappearance and the reasoning behind her wanting to leave home. Upon arriving at her coastal home, clues lead to her whereabouts in Far Harbor, a deadly island in Maine that’s enveloped with the Fog, a radioactive nightmare. This thus kicks off your boat ride to Far Harbor, where you discover a deeper conflict, much bigger than the case of Kasumi Nakano, the girl you are tasked with finding.
There’s three main factions that call Far Harbor their home, the harbor men and woman of Far Harbor, the synth colony of Acadia, and the Children of Atom. Upon setting foot on the island, it doesn’t take long to grasp the amount of tension brewing between the three groups. There all at a standoff, and it’s up to you to bring peace or to cause chaos. There’s a variety of different endings that result from your actions. If you play your cards right, you can leave far harbor with all three factions living in a sort of harmony. You can also leave with all three factions destroyed. Let’s just say that it’s insanely easy to mess things up if you’re not careful…which is where I found myself upon Far Harbor’s ending.
When you give a visit to Acadia, you meet the synth named DiMA, the weird-looking synth that you probably saw from the trailer. He seems like a nice, peaceful synth who doesn’t want to cause trouble, but you soon learn that there’s a darker secret he’s keeping from you. Upon unearthing some of his dirty deeds, I demanded that he travel to Far Harbor and fess up to his deeds. During my play-through of Fallout 4, I was a big advocate for the truth. I didn’t like to lie if I didn’t have to. I thought having DiMA be honest with the citizens of Far Harbor would be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, this is where I was sadly mistaken. The harbor men carried out the justice that needed to be done for DiMA’s doings, but despite my pleadings, they also found Acadia, and all the innocent Synths (including Kasumi) within, guilty as well. Before I knew it, DiMA and Acadia were brutally murdered and wiped from existence…all because I thought the truth was the way to go. One of the island’s main factions was destroyed, and I was only two hours into the DLC. What have I done?
This bothered me. After kissing up to the different factions, I made the decision that I wanted Far Harbor and Acadia to survive to the end, while the Children of Atom could be destroyed. I understood that there were some innocent souls in the Children of Atom, but they seemed like the bad guys with the bad intentions of wiping everyone off the island. In my eyes, they had to go. But here I was, two hours in, and Acadia was killed right before my eyes. I then had to carry out my mission of destroying the Children of Atom, which left the citizens of Far Harbor the sole survivors on the island. This isn’t necessarily a “bad ending,” but it felt pretty depressing. Especially since when all was said and done, I had to travel back to the Commonwealth and break the news to Kasumi’s parents that their daughter was brutally murdered in cold blood because of one synth’s actions. At least that’s what I told them. How was I supposed to tell them that it was my actions that killed their daughter? In my pursuit of honesty and truth for Far Harbor, I ended up telling a lie in the end. It’s this kind of irony that sucks… In the words of Nick Valentine, “case closed.” It wasn’t the way I wanted things to turn out, but the truth was indeed found and Kasumi was brought home…in a body bag, unfortunately. Just another cruel day in the wasteland.
As a result of my choices, Far Harbor was sort of a bummer for me. There’s nothing wrong with the story, in fact, Bethesda did a fantastic job with the story. There’s a lot of great and interesting ways in which you can resolve the island’s issues…it’s just unfortunate that my way, which in my eyes was the right way, turned bad…pretty quickly. Sure, I could load up an old save and replay the events to work more in my favor…but that’s just not my style. I live with the decisions that I make and move on…it’s what makes these games so great.
Despite the story’s strength’s I did have some issues with some of the smaller aspects of the story. For instance, DiMA’s monologue about synths and their identity didn’t really hit home like it probably should have. At one point she even poses the question, “are you a synth?” It made me step back and think…but then I realized the holes in DiMA’s thinking. The player was clearly alive before the bombs fell, a time in which synths weren’t even in the picture. You then black out in cryo-sleep in the vault, waking up years later, but c’mon, does the game really expect me to believe that in that time the player was switched out with the body of a synth? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an inherently interesting idea, but it’s also half-baked, especially considering the fact that it was never once mentioned again for the rest of the story. A thought cast into the wind. There’s also issue with the game’s ending. After destroying the Children of Atom by setting off a nuclear bomb in their facility, the DLC was essentially brought to a close. I “cleansed the land.” After traveling back to Far Harbor, where I expected to get greeted with fanfare, I was instead met with silence and…well, nothing. Everybody was carrying out their own business, with not a care in the world to talk to me.
Umm…guys, did no one notice the gigantic nuclear explosion to the west? No? What about the whole, “Let’s destroy the Children of Atom!” thing? Yeah…I did that! I took them out, just like you wanted. Does no one care? Hello? Oh god…someone talk to me so I don’t go crazy…
Okay, maybe it was a bug or an issue with the game, but it still dampened the experience. I was expecting the bow to be tied on the story…but instead I was left to my own devices. There was no closure. Just a “quest completed” notification. I didn’t let this get to me too much, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed…even if it was just a bug. I also understand that I might be in the small minority that was bothered by this. That doesn’t make it right though.
But enough of this negativity, huh? Let’s talk about where this add-on really shines and that is with its locales and its enemies. The island of Far Harbor is by far the biggest landmass Bethesda has ever created for a DLC. To give you an idea of how big it is, I’d say it is probably around a fourth of the size of the Commonwealth. The environment hearkens back to another piece of Fallout DLC, which was Point Lookout. There’s a lot of coastal locations mixed with swampy bogs as you make your way towards the mainland. Although some areas seem to be recycled from some of the main game’s locations, like the bowling alley, there is still a good bit of variety in the island’s landmarks. Probably one of the coolest places for players to explore is Vault 118, a full-size vault hidden away under a cliffside resort. It marks the first time Bethesda has put a full-scale vault inside one of its expansions. It’s also home to a quest which might be one of the best parts of Far Harbor.
Then there’s the creatures that roam the island. Far Harbor is no walk in the park. It’s a hostile place with a bunch of new monsters that want to have you for dinner. Some of the new enemy types are rehashed versions of Mirelurks and Ghouls, while others are completely new, including Anglers and Gulpers. There’s also some larger enemies that will mess your day up if you’re not careful. There’s a hermit crab that uses the back of a bus as its shell. It’s as terrifying as it sounds and it made for a pretty lengthy encounter. That’s just a sampling of some of the enemies that you will encounter during your travels. Want to know a pro-tip? Maybe pack some Radaway before you leave for the island, because you will surely need it.
Far Harbor left me conflicted in the end, but I still can’t deny that I had a lot of fun with Bethesda’s first major expansion pack for Fallout 4. The story is engaging and the characters that you will meet along the way are just as great. You will even get a new companion, who’s old but still a bad-ass. There’s plenty of places to explore and things to do, with around ten to twelve hours of content to tackle. It’s without a question that this is the best piece of DLC that the game has to offer right now and it makes me excited for what’s to come in the next three add-ons. Just promise me Bethesda that you leave the workshop expansions at home…please. We need three more add-ons like Far Harbor.
The notion of a perfectly tamed Deathclaw roaming around your settlement in Fallout 4 is rousing and perhaps a little concerning. Why would you want Deathclaws and other ferocious beats of the wasteland making themselves at home in your settlement? Well, there’s no reason at all. You can have them fight your settlers and each other though! This is the driving force behind Bethesda’s latest add-on for their acclaimed RPG Fallout 4. The expansion, titled Wasteland Workshop, offers some new stuff for your settlements and the ability to house a battle arena…but that’s about it.
Maybe the biggest draw this time around is the prospect of essentially starting up your own wasteland petting zoo. The expansion adds a variety of cages into the workshop mode, the aspect of the game that allows you to customize and build your own settlements. These cages range from small to large, depending on the type of creature you want to capture. You can capture a good majority of the monsters that Fallout 4 has to offer, including Deathclaws, Yao Guais, Mutant Hounds, Brahmin, and more. You can also house sentient beings like Raiders, Gunners, and Ghouls. There’s even cats, although putting a cat cage in the same arena as a Deathclaw doesn’t bode well. Trust me, I learn from experience.
When you initially capture these creatures, they’re hostile depending on their type. This is where the Beta Wave Emitter comes in, a new workshop item that pacifies any and all creatures within its reach. This is the item that allows deadly creatures like Deathclaws to roam around your settlement without the urge to rip your lungs out. Unfortunately, you have to have certain perks like Wasteland Whisperer and Animal Friend to build this item, which is pretty much necessary if you want to have these creatures in your settlement. I often found my creatures out of their cages either because of generator failure or you know, just because. It happened enough that my settlement started to become a littered mess of monster corpses. I would kill them, reset the bait, and then repeat. It started to become tedious. Having creatures locked up in your settlement is also a good way to bring unwanted attention to your settlement. You’ll find your settlement getting attacked a lot more when you have creatures in the cages. It was almost comical how much times I started to get attacked as I built more and more cages. It started to get real annoying after a while and I later just abandoned the settlement…it started to become too much.
Another big feature that Wasteland Workshop brings to the table is arena fights. These fights can involve your settlement’s inhabitants or your creatures…or both. New workshop items let you build your own battle arena in your settlements, which sounded pretty exciting at first. Unfortunately, the battles are a little cumbersome to set up and they’re not that exciting to watch either. There’s a little value to be found in the first couple of fights…but it started to become too much work to be enjoyable. Your settlement’s moral goes down as well if settlers are killing each other so there is really no point in having your settlers duke it out, unless you’re a maniacal psychopath that loves to watch the world burn. If that fits your bill, then this DLC might just be up your wheelhouse. This add-on does a lot more to destroy your settlements then build them up.
Perhaps the best part about the add-on, and maybe the smallest new feature, is the addition of customizable neon signs that you can adorn on your settlement’s structures. The workshop gives you the full alphabet, allowing you to basically light up whatever word or phrase that you want. It’s only cosmetic, but there’s a lot of value. I was littering my settlements with neon signs in no time. You can make some pretty silly stuff with these neon signs, which is half the fun.
Unlike past Bethesda expansions, Wasteland Workshop is a barren wasteland in terms of content…or at least content that matters. The monster cages and arena fights sound really cool on paper but the actual reality of these ideas doesn’t translate the same amount of excitement. Besides the neon signs, there really isn’t that much else. I was hoping that we would get a lot more workshop items but instead we only got a select few. If you’re an owner of a season pass, like me, then none of this really matters anyway. No harm no foul. However, if you decided to play it safe by picking and choosing what add-ons you wanted to purchase, then there is really no reason you should pick this one up. Just wait for their next expansion, Far Harbor.
Fallout 4 might have been released last November, but the game is far from being drained out. New content is on the way, starting with the latest piece of DLC for Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG, Automatron. The add-on is small when you compare it to the DLC that was released for Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, but there is a substantial bit of content that adds some pretty cool features to the base game.
Robots get the spotlight in Automatron. The DLC is all about robots. During the add-on’s first moments, you stumble upon a fight in progress between a caravan of wasteland survivors and a band of rogue robots. You lend your fighting skills to the battle, but ultimately can’t do anything to save the caravan. You defeat the robots, but the only survivor from the battle is a robot companion named Ada. She informs you that the rogue robots are a product of the mysterious figure known as the Mechanist. The Mechanist has been developing a high number of heavily armed robots and setting them free across the Commonwealth to help the people they come across. Misinterpretation can be deadly however, as the robots take it upon themselves to “kill” the people of the Commonwealth, instead of “help.”
With your newfound robot companion Ada at your side, it becomes your mission to investigate who this mysterious Mechanist is and why he is doing what he is doing. The new DLC contains a short little quest line, consisting of four new missions. The quest line is short, requiring only about two-three hours of your time. The story is short, but sweet and tells an interesting story that wraps up pretty nicely. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it will keep you entertained. It will give you a chance to revisit some existing locations as well as some new areas, including a new RobCo facility full of deadly robots that want your blood.
The quests and storyline that that DLC provides are nice, but let’s get into the aspect that everybody comes for; the robot building. Yep, the DLC gives you the ability to modify Ada or construct your own robot. As you make your way through the DLC, you will pick up various robot parts that you can use to customize your own robot. You can modify things like armor, weapons, special abilities, and the paint job of your robot. There’s a lot of customization tools at your disposal, giving players the ability to make some intense looking robots. The customization and modding pretty much works just like the base games’ weapon and armor customization, so familiar players should feel right at home. There’s not too much you can do in terms of paint jobs, which is a little unfortunate. Players have the ability to give their Power Armor some pretty neat paint jobs, so I was hoping it was going to be the same for the robots. Base colors make up the only paint jobs you can give your robot…which is a small bummer.
During my play-through I only modified Ada, so I can’t speak too much for what it’s like to create your own robots. However, it was a lot of fun and had enough tools to let you be creative in the type of robot you want to make. You can develop Sentry Bots, Mr. Handy Robots, Assaultrons, and other robots similar to what you can find in the world. Speaking of robot enemies, there’s a plethora of new robot enemies that you’ll encounter in Automatron. They range from simple junk bots to massive, and slightly terrifying, Sentry Bots with skulls for faces. These new robots will prove tough to fight and there were a number of battles were getting overwhelmed was pretty easy. The game sets the level requirement to 15, which makes sense. Any level one player will get mowed down in seconds. The robots aren’t too tough, but they will put up a fight unlike some of the other enemies from the base game.
A mark of a good DLC is if it enriches existing content in addition to providing something new. New stuff is always nice, but if the DLC doesn’t give you a reason to go back to the base game, then what’s the point of making it an add-on? Automatron gives players a whole new set of customization tools that give the incentive for you to go back through the wasteland to collect materials for your new robots. I was a little lukewarm at first when the first two Fallout 4 add-ons were small little experiences, but Automatron proved its worth pretty quickly. The pack’s price, $9.99 (the price if you didn’t pick up the Season Pass), is worth it if you are hesitant on picking up the, now more expensive, Season Pass.
I would be scared to find out how many hours I have put into some of the games on my top ten list this year. No really, there were a lot of capital B big games that released over the course of the year. This was due to the influx of open world games, which might be daunting to some but I brought them in with open arms. On the other hand, we had some smaller, more story-focused games that made way for some of the best gaming moments of 2015. As usual, it’s worth noting that this list is my top ten games that I played this year and is not indicative of the entirety of games that released in 2015. The simple fact is there were a lot of games that came out this year and sometimes I didn’t have the time (or money) to play all of them. I’m sure that my list would be different if I was able to play all of the games that I wanted to play over the course of the year. I can’t speak for games that I haven’t played so I wouldn’t feel right putting them on my list, regardless of their critical reception. With that out of the way, let’s get to the list…
Best Game from a Previous Year: Grand Theft Auto V
I was a little late to the party when I first dug into Grand Theft Auto V back in March, but I was instantly hooked. Rockstar has developed a living and breathing Los Santos with seemingly endless activities to take part in and crimes to commit. Since I was playing the PS4 port, I also had the ability to play the game in first-person, which was a real game changer. Unlike previous games, players control three different characters; Michael, Franklin, and the crazy Trevor. Each character is great in their own regard, bringing their own unique qualities to a surprisingly fun story. I can’t believe I have gone this long without mentioning the elaborate heist missions, which were the highlight of what GTAV had to offer. Although I didn’t get too deep into the online offerings, GTA Online (a first for the series) offered some fun moments as well.
10. Lego Dimensions
I’ve been playing this game recently, which makes it my last minute addition to the list because it deserves some recognition. What makes this game different from all of the other Lego games is the fact that you can actually build the Legos, for real. It’s a toys-to-life game which means the little Lego minifigures and models that you build outside the game can be put into the game via the Lego Dimensions gamepad through NFC technology. The other plus about the game was the amount of properties that the game includes, like Scooby Doo, Dr. Who, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, Batman, Lord of the Rings, The Lego Movie, and a lot more. This made for some crazy situations, like Homer Simpson getting excited every time he passed Batman. It’s a whole bunch of fan service that no other previous Lego game was able to offer.
9. Broken Age
What started off as a mysterious Kickstarter turned into one of Double Fine’s best games. Broken Age mixed adventure game tropes with some modern elements that didn’t make it feel out of place in 2015. The story follows two different characters, Shay and Vella, whose paths connect thanks to destiny. It was actually one of the biggest surprises of the game. The two seem to be living totally separate lives, but you quickly find out that this might not be the case. The writing is fantastic and the puzzles are clever and make you think, because this is a classic adventure game of course. The game’s art style is gorgeous as well, with every screen mimicking the look of a painting that you could find in an art museum. If you are a fan of the golden age of adventure games, then Broken Age should be on your radar if it wasn’t already.
8. Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange is one of two episodic adventure games on this list, but this one doesn’t come from Telltale, but instead, Square-Enix. This game probably provided some of the most memorable moments of the year as well. You follow Max Caulfield, a girl who finds out that she has the power to manipulate time. This power becomes one of the game’s main mechanics, allowing you to rewind time to change the decisions you make in the game, making it stand out from all of the other episodic games out there, where your choices are final. Being able to rewind time makes you really think about your decisions, giving them more weight. The game also isn’t afraid to get real and doesn’t shy away from some heavy topics like depression, suicide, and some other things that make you cringe. The game has some minor flaws here and there, but they don’t detract from Life Is Strange’s best moments.
7. Until Dawn
I’m not the kind of guy that you’ll find playing horror games, but Until Dawn had a bunch of exceptions that made me want to get my hands on it. Imagine your favorite teen slasher flick merged with a video game. That is the best way to describe the game’s presence. You play as eight different teens who get together to spend a night in one of the friend’s mansion on a haunted mountain. Things quickly start to take a turn for the worse as tensions rise and the mountains horrors rear their head. It turns into a survival fest as the hours count down until dawn. Most of the action is handled through quick time events which do a fantastic job at providing thrills and excitement. The game also revels in its horrific moments and there are plenty of them that will make you jump if you’re not expecting them. It’s a game that you can poke fun at while being scared at the same time. Also, play with a group of friends that can help you make decisions along the way. It makes for a cool experience unlike any other on this list.
The PC space is a perfect place for some good ol’ fashioned indie innovation. Undertale, a small little indie game on the PC, was a game that blew me away. I was not expecting myself to get so attached to it. It has the look and feel of an 80’s era RPG but has gameplay elements that make it new and refreshing. You play as a nondescript kid on a zany adventure, meeting some different and hilarious characters on the way. It’s hard to put humor in a video game but Undertale was a game that really made me laugh out loud at certain points. You can also go through the entire game without hurting a soul thanks to the game’s unique battle system, with each battle being different from the next. Undertale’s ending goes places that I wasn’t expecting, topping off the neat little experience with a bang.
5. Tales from the Borderlands
Here we have the other episodic adventure game, this time from Telltale games. Up to this point I have never played a Borderlands game but Tales from the Borderlands actually made me care about the series’ lore and the story it has to tell. You play as two characters, Rhys and Fiona, who with the help from their friends go on an adventure around the harsh world of Pandora on the search for a legendary treasure. If you have ever played a Telltale game, then you should already know what you’re getting from this game. This game however has some fantastic writing that makes it one of the funniest games of the year. Rhys and Fiona are always getting themselves into trouble in hilarious ways. If you have gotten tired of the Telltale formula, don’t let that stop you from playing Tales from the Borderlands. The Walking Dead games that they put out are their best, but Tales from the Borderlands follows closely in their footsteps of greatness.
4. Rocket League
I’m going to be honest with you, I really wasn’t expecting Rocket League to be as good as it is. It was released as a free PS Plus game so I decided to give it a fair shake. What I got was one of my top games of the year. The game’s premise is that of a pipe dream. It’s soccer, but with rocket powered cars! Sound fun right? Yes, it’s as great as it sounds, and the fact that it is so simple to play makes it that much better. Within no time I found myself getting better and perfecting my skills. Let me tell you, nothing was more rewarding than score a goal. I soon took my skills to multiplayer which was a ton of fun. I might not play Rocket League as much as I did when it first came out, but it was still one of the best multiplayer games of the year. Also, it was a free game! I got my money’s worth, for sure.
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This was my first time playing a Metal Gear game but I got the sense from others that the series has come a long way. Metal Gear Solid V is a massive game, with a huge sandbox for players to tackle missions in a plethora of different ways. As Big Boss, you manage Mother Base and you can recruit people to your team to deepen the ranks of the Diamond Dogs. You then put these people into different divisions to advance and improve your base. You can also put people into research and development which churns out new gadgets and weapons that you can take to the field. The game’s story might not rival some of the series’ previous entries but it is still epic in scale. When all’s said and done, it’s MGSV’s gameplay that makes the game so special. The game just feels good to play and I loved hearing how other people completed missions their own way.
2. Fallout 4
I can’t say I’m that surprised when I see Fallout 4 so high on my list. This was probably my most anticipated game of the year when it was first announced back at E3 this year. The game takes the best parts of the previous Fallout games and adds in a ton of new things to make it stand out as my favorite Fallout game. The story this time around is similar to the story of Fallout 3, but instead of searching for your father you are searching for your son in a post-apocalyptic Boston. Bethesda has created a fully realized city with Boston and I spent countless hours just walking around and stumbling upon unique buildings and settlements. Junk that you find around the world also plays a vital role because now they can be used to craft everything from weapon mods to armor mods. You also have the ability to build your own settlements, which is something completely new for the series. The game has it’s issues with bugs and other jank, but that’s now why I come to a Fallout game. I come for the exploration and the world, and Bethesda delivered.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
If you think about it, this was a year of firsts for me. Just like Metal Gear Solid V was my first Metal Gear game, The Witcher 3 was my first Witcher game. Boy am I glad I took the dive because much to my surprise, The Witcher 3 actually surpassed Fallout 4 as my game of the year. You play as Geralt, a Witcher who roams around taking down monsters harassing villages, usually for a nice reward. The game’s story is basically a game of cat and mouse as you try to find Ciri, Geralt’s old friend, who is being pursued by the evil and ruthless Wild Hunt. It’s CD Projekt Red’s non-linear storytelling that really shines however. The game’s world is massive, spanning a whopping three open-world maps. Each map, with the exception of the introductory area, is massive and full of people to meet, ruins to explore, and monsters to kill. The combat has a little bit of a learning curve to it, but one you start to get the hang of it, it is super satisfying. The game punishes you for rushing into battle unprepared, requiring you to step back and really think about your actions. Each victory felt like an accomplishment, which is something I didn’t feel in a game like Fallout 4. The game also wraps up with a super satisfying ending due to the choices that I made in the story. The characters are super likable (The Red Baron is one of the best and most dynamic characters in the game) and the monsters you have to fight can be horrific. The Witcher 3 might seem daunting to some, but it is a game that you have to play if you haven’t already.
It’s been almost seven years since Fallout 3, one of my favorite games of all time, was released by Bethesda. The game included massive amounts of exploration in a rich world with stories and adventures around almost every single corner. It was impossible not to get lost in the Capitol Wasteland. The novelty of seeing familiar historic landmarks with a post-apocalyptic lather over them was also unique, especially for an RPG of Fallout’s size. It was only this past summer when Fallout 4 was introduced to the masses and it took gaming fandom by storm. It’s pretty rare these days to have a game announced the same year that it comes out. Excitement and speculation were everywhere leading up to last month’s release. However, what’s the one downside of massive amounts of hype? Overhype. Luckily, Fallout 4 met most of its expectations and delivered one of the year’s best experiences in gaming.
One of the most unique and different aspects of this iteration in the series is the game’s introductory sequence. In past Fallout games, you only saw what life before the war was like through billboards or posters that could be found around the wasteland. In Fallout 4, you finally get a glimpse into what life looked like before the bombs dropped. You play as a married military veteran (man or woman) with a kid named Shaun. It’s just a normal day in Sanctuary Hills when things start to go south really quickly. Your personal Mr. Handy, Codsworth, alerts you to the television where news of nuclear fallout starts to rear its head. It’s then a full on sprint with your newborn child in hand to nearby Vault 111 where you will wait out the Great War. Unfortunately, things are not so happy and cozy in the vault, as you emerge from the vault 200 years later as the sole survivor. I’m not going to sit here and spoil what goes on in the vault, but it’s pretty easy to draw conclusions.
After you gain the knowledge that your child Shaun was taken from the vault, your mission to find your son begins as you take your first steps out of the vault into the harsh wasteland, courtesy of a couple of nuclear bombs. (Sound familiar to the plot of Fallout 3? Well, just switch out “your son” with “your father” and bam, you have the same exact plot.) As you explore the wasteland, you’ll find settlements and factions that will help you with your quest to find your son. There are four factions in the game, including the Minutemen, the Railroad, the Brotherhood of Steel (which should be familiar to anyone who has played Fallout), and the mysterious Institute. Each have their own motivations and enemies and it’s up to you to decide which faction you want to carry on with to the end. This promises four different endings, with minimal differences between them, aside from the Institute ending. The story is not the strongest aspect of the game, but’s its serviceable and it acts as a device to get you exploring the world, which is in my opinion the best part of any Fallout game.
Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are the home of Fallout 4. Its immediately apparent that the nuclear bombs did not do a number on the city like they did Washington D.C. Boston still lays in ruin, but the scenery is much more colorful and there’s an abundance of buildings that are largely intact, including some tall skyscrapers. For one, it makes the world a lot more enjoyable to explore. The boring drab atmosphere of Fallout 3 got old after a while, but Fallout 4 changes it up a bunch with locations ranging from metropolitan sprawls to swampy marshes to coastal beaches to rural farmland to suburban neighborhoods. The map is also massive with tons of locations and points of interest. The best part? None of it seemed to be filler. Almost every nook and cranny had a story to tell. Bethesda has managed to create a living and breathing world where NPC’s do their own thing and random events happen all around you. My story exploring Boston will most likely be totally different from another player’s experience, which is a good indication that you have done something right.
Fallout 4’s gameplay and combat mechanics have also gotten a massive overhaul. Combat is actually more fun this time around. In previous games you had to rely on V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System) to take out your enemies because aiming with your gun was a joke. Although the game does not compare to your modern FPS, Fallout 4 manages to make it easier to aim you gun and play the game like you would a normal shooter. A more updated, and now dynamic, V.A.T.S. system is in place (and still highly recommended), but you can use your sights again.
Dialog options have received an overhaul as well. Gone are the days of scrolling through a menu of dialog options during a conversation. Instead, you have four options which are paraphrases of what you are going to say. You now have options like “Sarcasm” or “Threaten,” but without the exact words that you would utter. This dynamic system also allows you to leave a conversation at any time you want by just walking away mid conversation. This dynamic system seemed cool at first, but it had its troubles. I often found it hard to determine if I was in a conversation with someone because the classic conversation camera zoom from the previous games is gone. I often found myself walking away from characters who would then get annoyed that I was ignoring them. It’s too bad there wasn’t an “Apologize for Being Rude” option, because I would have used that one a lot.
The level up system has also changed, giving you a chart of all the perks in the game right up front. Depending on your initial stats that you set in the beginning of the game, you can place your points that you receive from leveling up into the different perks, ranking them up to get more advanced versions of those perks. This allows for more customization based on the way you want to play. Some people have been put off by this new approach, but I found it more enjoyable. Finally, there are a lot more options for modding your weapons and armor. Now, all the junk that you find in the world has a purpose beyond just populating the world. You can use the junk and materials that you find to develop more advanced versions of your weapons and armor, giving you the advantage in battle. There was a surprising amount of customization options for your guns, armor, and power suit.
This leads me to one of the craziest parts of the game which is settlement building. Fallout 4 gives you the tools to create your own settlements from the ground up using all of the junk that you find throughout the world. You construct buildings with beds and then defenses and power. You also have to make sure you provide your settlers with water and crops as well, keeping them happy. The mechanics can get pretty deep, especially when you start talking about trading between your settlements. You can create trade lines between your settlements, which in turn give you more supplies and resources. Although some of the mechanics and systems are a little janky and hard to use, I spent way more time then I originally imagined I would in this mode. There’s no real point to creating big settlements, but it was still fun anyway. It’s something that you can show off to your friends.
My only real complaint with Fallout 4 are the bugs and jank that are scattered throughout the game. It’s hard to fault a game as large as Fallout for technical glitches and hiccups, but it’s still frustrating. I imagine the QA process for a game like this is a nightmare but I still think it’s inexcusable for a game to be so buggy in this day and age. Look at a game like The Witcher 3. That game rivals Fallout 4 in size and scope and still manages to look better and run better as well. It leaves Bethesda with no excuse for why their game is technically less superior. Fortunately for them, the game’s other aspects more than make up for these problems. However, future Fallout games need to clean up their act.
I have put a borderline unhealthy amount of hours into Fallout 4 because the game basically combines the best parts of the previous Fallout games with more updated and modern mechanics. Anyone who has played the previous games will feel right at home while new players will find the game to be a nice springboard into the rich and engrossing world that Fallout 4 has to offer. In a year that has been full of great games, Fallout 4 caps off the year just like a bottle cap on an ice cold Nuka Cola. Okay, that was a bad Fallout joke…
In Bethesda’s Fallout games there is only one source of news available to the survivors of the nuclear fallout, and that is Galaxy News Radio. However, that wasn’t the case before the Great War. In addition to GNR, the Capitol Post was a major part of the pre-war landscape. Hubris Comics, although they didn’t deal with news, provided another print medium that entertained many kids and adults alike back before the nuclear fallout.
Galaxy News Radio, run by the always charismatic Three Dog, is the only surviving remnant of the Galaxy News Network. (Although, this may no longer be the case. The Fallout 4 reveal trailer contains a billboard advertising GNN. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to explore more of GNN.) The network was the leading source of news, especially in Washington D.C., the location where the network’s radio division is located. Any attentive listener will realize that a lot of the pre-war advertisements can still be heard playing on the air, most likely due to pre-programmed reasons.
Now, lets get into some of the real life inspirations that provide the foundation for the radio station. We’ll start with the studio Interplay’s logo, which is actually inspired by the Galaxy News logo. In the original Fallout, the logo appeared in the introductory scenes and due to the series’ popularity, Interplay, the publishers of the original Fallout, adopted the logo as inspiration for their own.
Almost everybody that I talk to loves Three Dog, the charming radio DJ that graces the Capitol Wasteland with his wit, humor, and most importantly, a good taste of classic music from the era. The character, voiced by Erik Dellums, shares the name with the character Dog 3, who is actually played by Dellums himself in the
movie She’s Gotta Have It. Dellums had a pretty big say in Three Dog’s character development, including his signature howls. As you would imagine, a lot of the things that Three Dogs rambles on about on the radio sprout from a variety of pop culture. Lets break down the most notable ones:
“You can’t stop the signal.” – This line is muttered after fixing the atenna that needs worked on at the Washington Monument. The line is actually borrowed from the 2005 movie Serenity, directed by Joss Whedon.
“Trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in Rivet City!” – This line is more of a deep cut. Anybody who is familiar with the 1950’s musical The Music Man will recognize this line though. The musical takes place in River City, and one of the characters says the line, “Trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in River City!”
“Your friendly neighborhood disc jockey” – Three Dog sounds a lot like Spider-Man when he howls out this line. The line references the 1960’s cartoon where Spider-Man is referred to as “Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
Ding, dong, the Presidential asshole is dead!” – This one comes from the film classic Wizard of Oz. In the movie, we hear the cleaner “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!” It is clear that Three Dog has watched his fair share of movies at this point.
“One small step backwards for man, one giant evolutionary rewind for mankind.” – This one will be instantly familiar to any connoisseur of American history. This is a reference to a quote from Neil Armstrong when he took his first step on the moon. The only difference is that he was taking a step forward instead of backward.
Finally, one of the featured radio shows that plays on the GNR is The Adventures of Herbert “Daring” Dashwood. The show tells the wacky stories of Herbert Dashwood and his sidekick Argyle. The show is actually a reference to the 1930’s radio program The Green Hornet, which features vigilante Britt Reid fighting crime with his trusted sidekick Kato. The radio show’s story lines also contain references to the original broadcast as well.
Before the war, most citizens of Washington D.C. received their news from the Capitol Post, which had its offices in L’Enfant Plaza. The company doesn’t take a prominent place in the Fallout games, but in Fallout 3 players can read some of the articles published in the paper at the paper’s HQ. You can read up on the fictional news stories about the disbanding of the United Nations or the Pint-Sized Slasher, a super weapon that was being developed by the US Government.
The newspaper is an obvious reference to Washington D.C.’s actual newspaper, the Washington Post. One of the interesting things about the Capitol Post is the price of the paper, which was set at a whopping fifty six dollars, obviously due to inflation from the war.
Finally, lets talk about Hubris Comics, the Marvel Comics of the pre-war era. Branching from Hubris Publishing, the company has been making comics ever since 2021. The company had a part in war propaganda, similarly to Marvel Comics who produced a number of comics featuring propaganda about World War II and the Cold War.
Probably the most recognizable comic that the company has put out is Grognak the Barbarian. The series, which contained fourteen issues is an obvious reference to the real life comic Conan the Barbarian. The references don’t stop there though. The cover to “In the Lair of the Virgin Eater” bears resemblance to Conan’s “Lair of the Ice Worm.”
Another popular comic and television series from the company was The Adventures of Captain Cosmos. The TV show that accompanies the comic aired on Thursdays at 8:00 prior to the war, which is strikingly similar to Star Trek, which aired during the same time slot during it’s first two seasons.
Vault hunters, the wait is officially over! Fallout 4 has been officially revealed this morning after what seemed like a long 24 hour countdown. What greeted us at the other side of that countdown was a very good looking cinematic trailer introducing us to what looks to be Boston, along with some other things.
The trailer begins with the camera zooming out of the TV with some classic jazz playing in the background, a familiar sound to any fan of the series. The camera than moves around what looks to be a destroyed house, fizzling in between shots of pre-apocalypse and current day. Over a radio, we hear a man talking about Vault-Tec, but we do not hear to much as the man starts to sound more worried as the trailer goes on. Perhaps they have a hand in what happened. We also get to see a German Sheppard walking through the house, which makes it seem like he could be one of our trusty companions.
Things take a turn for the worse as the bomb alarms start to go off and people start to panic. We hear the iconic, “War. War Never Changes,” as people scurry to and fro in attempt to make it to the vaults. What we see in the trailer is a shot of Vault 111, which looks to be the vault that players will start from at the beginning of the game. This is evidenced by a shot of a vault hunter exiting the vault after all is said and done.
What he sees is a wide expanse of war-torn wasteland, in what looks to be the Boston metropolitan area. The fact that the game is taking place in Boston was not explicitly stated, but some shots of various landmarks as the trailer goes on reveals that the game will in fact be taking place in Boston, and possibly some surrounding areas. Other things we see as we view some shots of the wasteland is what looks to be a futuristic looking pirate ship. We also see a huge dreadnought looking thing fly high over the sky towards the end. I would not be surprised if this has something to do with what Vault-Tec was working on before the war, but we do not know for sure.
Finally, the trailer ends with the dog walking up to a abandoned gas station, which holds a lot of familiar sites for Fallout fans. We see a Nuka-Cola vending machine, along with a Vault Boy bobble head and some comic books that we have seen from previous games. The centerpiece of the shot however is the piece of Power Armor that hangs in the middle of the garage. The trailer ends with a Vault Hunter walking down the road, crossing path with the dog. The hunter bends down to pet the dog, and the two venture off into the sunset. Trailer ends.
It was everything that we were expecting from the heavily anticipated trailer. We did not receive any information in terms of release date, but that will most surely come at their press conference on June 14th, along with a 20-30 minute demo. However, we did find out that the game will be coming out for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Pretty much expected.
The trailer obviously leads us with some questions…and a whole bunch of excitement. I am already on board as I am sure a lot of other people are as well. More info will be coming in the foreseeable future, but in the meantime, we have this trailer to watch over and over again…
All it takes is a little digging around to realize that the countdown appears to be teasing the announcement of the heavily anticipated Fallout 4. Previously, it was leaked that the game was going to take place in Boston, but those rumors where shot down by Bethesda shortly after those accusations were released. However, there is still a good chance that Boston could still be home to the next addition to the franchise. We also have heard that Guillermo Del Toro’s production company is behind the game’s cinematic trailer, that could be released as early as tomorrow.
The rumor mill has been churning and it is only going to get busier as the countdown ticks down to tomorrow’s big reveal. Is it going to be the announcement of an HD remake of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas? I sure hope not, but rest assured, all signs point to the announcement of Fallout 4.
The announcement of Fallout 4 might seem like a sure-fire guess, but what about the release date? Some say that it would be crazy for the game to come out this year, but others hint at the possibility that the game might be coming to fans sooner that you would think. In my opinion, I would believe that the game is pretty far in development. Just think about it: Fallout: New Vegas came out in October of 2010. This October will mark five years since the game’s release, which means the studio has probably been working on the next Fallout for a while now. Bethesda has also noted that they will be debuting a 20-30 minute demo at E3 this year, which also leads me to believe that the game is already in an alpha state, or something more. I am going to guess that the game will be coming out this year, around the holiday time frame, which seems par for the course in terms of the studio’s releases. However, with the emergence of game delays, we can never be too sure.
Side note: if you dig deeper into the countdown page’s source info…you find this:
Does the Masterbrain ring a bell for anyone? If you remember, the Masterbrain was the robotrain that controlled all of the other security robots in the Vault-Tec Headquarters.
In Fallout 3, players could shutdown the Masterbrain, which in turn would shutdown the security robots in the facility, letting them explore the administration levels of the Vault-Tec Headquarters in peace. As of now, I have no clue if this will mean anything in terms of Fallout 4. However, with this and the standby screen, there seems to be a lot of references to Fallout 3. Weird…
Update – 6/2/15 @ 4:02 PM EST
Upon further inspection of the html source code of Bethesda’s countdown page, I saw this little tidbit of information:
We see a reference to “institute,” which possibly confirms two different things. First of all, it confirms that this will most likely be the announcement of Fallout 4, since “institute” has been tied to Fallout 4 as a code name. It also leads me to believe that the game will indeed be taking place in Boston, since the institute, also known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before the Great War, is a mysterious organization in the commonwealth (post-apocalyptic New England area) that possesses pretty advanced android technology, capable of creating beings more intelligent than humans.
We shall stay tuned, and this post will get updated as information gets released.