Tag Archives: wasteland

Fallout 4: Far Harbor Impressions

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.

far harbor 1.png
via Find My Soft

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.

far harbor 2
via Attack of the Fanboy

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.

far harbor 3
via 4Players

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.

far harbor 4.png
via PS4 Daily

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.

far harbor 5
via Imgur

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.

far harbor 6.png
via Find My Soft
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Review: Fallout 4

fallout 4 cover
via Giant Bomb

Fallout 4 (2015)

PS4 / Rated M

RPG / Shooter

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios


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.

fallout 4 1
via Inquisitr

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.

fallout 4 2

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.

fallout 4 3
via Softpedia News

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.

fallout 4 4
via US Gamer

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.

fallout 4 5

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…

fallout 4 score

Also available on PC and Xbox One

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

via The Reel World
via The Reel World

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

R / 120 min

Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Director: George Miller


There is always those scenes in a movie that involve intense car chases and long-winded action sequences that lead to people walking out of the theater saying, “yeah, that was kind of amazing.”  I mean, all you have to do is look at the Fast and Furious franchise and you will know exactly what I mean.  These action sequences are a staple of summer blockbusters and they provide what movie goers long to see.  With that being said, I am going to recommend a movie to you.  It’s called Mad Max: Fury Road and the entire movie is one big action sequence.

What’s cool about this movie, which has been in production for a while now, is that it is being directed by George Miller, the guy behind the previous Mad Max movies.  It has been a while since these movies have filled theaters, which makes it crazy that Miller decided to bring back what can almost be considered a revival to the franchise.  I have not seen any of the previous Mad Max movies, but I have only heard good things.  After all the talk about the breed of movie that Fury Road is, I decided to give the movie its due process.

via Screen Rant
via Screen Rant

The title role of Max Rockatansky is played by Tom Hardy, who most people probably know from some of Christopher Nolan’s past movies.  He is a man of little words with his actions taking the place of most of his words.  Fury Road begins with Max, broken and reflecting on his past.  He ends up getting caught up with a bunch of bandits that end up taking him to The Citadel, a place ripe with greenery and water; two hot commodities in a desert wasteland that is hot and unforgivable.

The Citadel is run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who has the look of a clown mixed with the body of a seventy year old.  He is a weird and scary looking fellow that has a lot of weird ways.  The movie is quick to establish this weird villain as a quirky and slightly insane character.  His prized possessions?  Perhaps his five wives who act as breeders played by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie-Huntington Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abby Lee, and Courtney Eaton.

via Movie Pilot
via Movie Pilot

However, the character that basically steals the spotlight for the movie’s entire runtime is Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron who dons a shaved head and a mechanical arm.  She’s a rough, but skilled, driver who is in charge of one of Immortan Joe’s supply runs.  Furiosa has her own plans however and uses the run as a smuggling mission to get the five wives out of The Citadel and into freedom on a quest for hope.  Thus begins the almost two hour-sand covered action scene.

Furiosa was one of my favorite characters because she turns out to be one of the movie’s biggest bad-asses.  Max ends up escaping from his captor Nux (Nicholas Hoult, who also happens to be another intriguing character), and joining forces with Furiosa, but he does not have the same flair that Furiosa brings to the table.

via Black Film
via Black Film

Fury Road is the definition of a high octane summer blockbuster, siding with thrills and explosive excitement rather than a story and fleshed out characters.  This would be a pretty big problems with most movies, but Fury Road knows what it is doing and it never tries to accomplish more than it can handle.  You know the countless explosions and flipped cars that you see during the movie? (Not to mention a pretty sweet looking flaming guitar)  Yeah, those scenes were done primarily with practical effects.  What makes this movie even more appreciable is its use of practical effects over the visual effects that dominate the medium.  I often found myself marveling at the sights and sounds, and wondering how they were able to accomplish this kind of madness in practical nature.

A movie like Fury Road is a big risk in this day and age, but George Miller pulled his vision off with his fiery spectacle of a movie.  It’s a movie that might not be for everyone given its heavy emphasis on action over story, but that is okay.  It seems like Fury Road knows its audience and gives them one hell of a concentrated dose of what its audience wants, which is flaming car upon flaming car flying through the air in a lovely orchestrated manner.  Both Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy give two great performances, while the five wives, played pretty much entirely by super models, surprisingly serve as another key addition to the movie, despite some minor flaws in character.  Fury Road is one long (literally) ride through a sand-stricken wasteland, and I liked every minute of it.  Its dumb insane fun at its finest.

fury road score