Fallout 4: Fear and Loathing in the Commonwealth

We were somewhere around Parsons, on the edge of the Commonwealth, when I felt the drugs begin to take hold.  I remember saying something like, “Holy crap, why won’t this raider die?!?” and then there was a huge roar and the sky was filled with vertiberds and the next thing I knew I was standing over her corpse with an axe in my hand.

I hacked at her body a few times just out of spite, but something was wrong; my hands were shaking, I was trembling in a cold sweat and hallucinating giant monsters.

OK, so that part was real.

I was addicted, and not just to senseless murder.  My mind was fuzzy as I tried to recall the past few days, but I remember bits and flashes, like landscape seen from a motorcycle going 100 mph down the rain-slick midnight concrete of memory lane – not my memories, but that larva-kidnapping Kellogg’s memories, accessed from the cybernetic implant I looted from his dripping cerebellum.  It might have been easier if he’d just told me what he knew, but I think fatal overconfidence is a job requirement for third-tier villains.

Bits and flashes before we round another curve – his father beating him, his own wife murdered, his own tiny maggot baby murdered –

Someday, I’m gonna make a shirt that reads, “I killed my family so I wouldn’t have a cliche backstory.”

and blah blah blah … I don’t really care.  You’re still the bad guy.  I’m sure you got your fair share of angst, but in case you hadn’t noticed, the world ended.  I mean, suck it up, Buttercup; I watched you shoot my wife and steal my baby larva while all I could do was pee popsicles and you don’t see me going all crazy Kill Bill on the …

We call it “long-range therapy.”

… well fine.  But I’m the PC.  I’m supposed to do that.

So after a bunch of self-narrating angst, it turns out the Institute (they really mean MIT, but there was probably a problem with copyright) had developed teleportation, so the only way I was gonna be able to finish that quest line was to go find some scientist out on the Glowing Sea.

Right.  Glowing Sea.  This ain’t my first post-apocalyptic cyber-brahim rodeo, you know.  Using “glowy” in anything that also includes words like “atomic” or “nuclear” or “mutant” is pretty much a guaranteed one-stop rocket hop to the Planet of Pain, at least until you’ve got Power Armor and probably sum Bactine.

No problem – let’s go do some side quests.

I decided to check out something called “The Combat Zone,” which turned out to be, basically, Fight Club1. I went all “Ed Norton” on them, provided you understand that by “Ed Norton” I mean “shot them all until they stopped moving,” and then I bought me a companion.

Wait … what?

Well, technically, the guy handed me her contract because I’d just murdered his entire client base, but any way you want to read that, it basically comes out to “chattel slavery.”  Fallout really does the hard sell on companions.  Between her and that super mutant who asks “please will you help me find the milk of human kindness” you really get the high-power guilt trip from these guys, which makes it awkward when you have to tell your current companion, whose guilt trip you’re still trying to work off – especially ’cause they tend to have … odd quirks, like not being happy when you gun down a room full of people because apparently “it was gonna happen, and that way I got the drop,” isn’t a good excuse –  but anyway, you turn to your current companion and tell them, “I know we’ve had a heartwearming bonding session and we are on the road to really building a trusting relationship, but beat it, kid.”

Anyway …

The very, very Irish Cait.

Who’s into ultraviolence, chems, wanton theft, wanton murder, just general wantonness, and also possibly wontons2.  She lasted about ten seconds before I sent her off to the Red Rocket Truck Stop to cool her heels by brewing up some meth.  I’d also just sent my supermutant buddy Strong back to Abernathy Farm (which, as I acquire more followers, will mean planting more food – did I mention the settlements are only “optional” in the same way that Mafia insurance is only “optional”) because he goes down after about 2 hits, especially since

  1. he likes to run into melee and
  2. I like to use explosives

which is why, after dollar beer night at the casino, when I found myself looking down the wrong end of a laser rifle facing what the HUD told me was

  1. a “Legendary Supermutant Brute” and also
  2. certain death

and 154 of his buddies were crawling up the hill at me with knives in their teeth, I flipped out and began taking all of the drugs I had listed in my inventory – stimpacks at first, but once you start into a serious drug connection, the temptation is always to just keep going – jet, cram, psycho, mentants, orange mentats, grape mentats, stimpacks, and iguana onna stick.

“There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a mutant in the depths of an iguana onna stick binge.”
— Dr. Ra-Ghoul Duke

then everything got … realslooooow … and sounds were muffled and I didn’t seem to be taking any damage.  I heard circus music playing somewhere, and I realized it was my own mind.  I noticed I had an axe in my hand … by the time the music stopped, there was nothing left but little bits of mutant parts scattered all over the wasteland.

So when I found those legendary raiders, I decided I had a winning strategy on my hands …  until the next day, when I woke up naked in an alley somewhere in Boston, covered in cheez-whiz3, and realized

  1. I’d accidentally taken the “mysterious serum” I was supposed to have recovered and
  2. I was an addict.

Because, as I remembered from New Vegas – and why I’d avoided it this long – one dose of any chemical at all in Fallout will turn you into a strung out addict with only one arm and no teeth, sitting in an alley shuddering and rocking yourself back and forth, muttering to invisible beings.

Or looking like this guy … you didn’t really think it was the radiation, did you?

Drugs in Fallout are like something out of a bad after-school special; I wonder if Bethesda took money from the DEA.

Makes you wonder if they’ve ever really sat there, looking over a raider camp through the scope of a sniper rifle, with half a crumpled soft pack on their shirt, sipping on a hip flask of Old Crow as they wait for the order to unleash death, the methamphetamine turning their blood to pure electricity …

… or maybe it’s just me.

Fortunately, I also happened to be carrying a couple of doses of addictol, which, even though it sounds like “addict-all,” actually cures your addictions.  Within moments, I was clean and sober.

I decided to go to Sanctuary to sleep it off, where who should I run into but Cait?

“Are ye taking me with ya?” she said, her brough so heavy you could cut it with a shillelagh4.

“You’re an addict, Cait,” I said, ’cause I’d read her backstory on the Fallout wiki.  “I can trust my back to a person, but never to a drug.”

She sighed and battered her eyes at me.  “It’s good luck to love an Irish girl,” she said.

“Don’t think you can tempt me with your redhead Irish charms, ” I said.  “Lucky or no … wait a minute.  Lucky Charms?  Kellogg?

Is this somehow just a convoluted ad for breakfast cereal.

Well, ok, maybe that was a bit of a stretch …

But if I see this guy in the game :

Super Mutants – they’re grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

I’ll know what’s really going on.  Either that, or I’ll know the drugs are kicking in again.

  1. First rule of Fight Club, kill everyone in Fight Club. (Wasteland Director’s Cut.)
  2. I’m sorry; it won’t happen again.
  3. My character, of course. In real life, I woke up covered in yogurt and cat hair, same as every morning.
  4. Yes, I know it’s a club. Her accent’s that thick.

2 thoughts on “Fallout 4: Fear and Loathing in the Commonwealth

    1. Fallout 4 has a problem with drugs, by which I mean, all of their names for drugs sound kind of stupid. I mean – Jet? Cram? That sounds like some corny name someone’s grandmother came up with for the afterschool special after the lawyers told them they’d couldn’t actually say “black tar heroin” on TV. Buffout? That’s the best they could come up with, something that makes me think I’m huffing car polish? I dunno – maybe that’s all that’s left in the Wasteland – all the real drugs got lost in the War, so they’re reduced to huffing Turtle Wax and paint thinner. Maybe my character should start some drug education classes: “Attention, Raiders! The following drugs are considered by the Brotherhood as terms for illegal psychoactive medications: weed, dope, smoke, blow, ganja, meth, speed, crank, coke, E, acid, Arkansas Polio Weed, and redheads. Drugs named after cooking ingedients, Disney characters, and car polish are not. Thank you for your time!”


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