Fallout 4: Minecraf … er … Far Harbor

Sigh.  Should have known they were gonna screw it up.

I’ve really been enjoying running around Far Harbor; it has an atmosphere to it, a sense of place that I think was missing in the base game.  Between the fog and the dark and Maine’s primeval forests

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If this is Far Harbor, that’s probably a preschool.

bordering on the ancient and unchanging ocean depths that probably hide horrors too unspeakable to contemplate …

… I am really craving sum fish and chips.  And it didn’t help when I met this guy:

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Trust the Gorton’s fisherman

I developed an excessive interest in the doings of Far Harbor, from Small Bertha and Tom’s undeveloped stories to wondering if I could romance the Mariner.  (Ans: no.)

Plus I found me some cool armor that makes me look like Boba Fett:

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At its best, it became rather like Skyrim: a fun place to spend a few hours, a place you might want to live, if it didn’t have all that radioactive fog.

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And like in Skyrim, I spent a lot of time hunting.

Heck, I didn’t even mind when I ran into this guy, despite him looking like the black and white TV I used to watch Petticoat Junction on as a kid:

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Have you tried adjusting the rabbit ears?

After all, Fallout’s gotta have its robots, and a moody, philosophical robot who quickly draws you into a conspiracy centering around his vague, shadowy, and best forgotten past is just what the game needed.  It was a good plot twist, and they did it right.

So, of course, they turned it into Minecraft:

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Why, Fallout?  WHY?!?

You have to access Dima’s memories, and rather than just have you hack a terminal, like you have been doing in Fallout for the past 10 years, they turn it into a minigame where they replace the relaxing, somber colors you’ve been enjoying with something out of an 8-bit nightmare.  I swear to Tron, I think this is where bad cartridges go when they die.

The point is to destroy firewalls, which look like (get ready for this one) walls.

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Oi!  Where’s my lightcycle?!?

Then you can build bridges over the ridiculously inconveniently incomplete pathways using “code blocks” because apparently “code” isn’t the important part of that term

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Master Control Program?  Is that you?

so your “Data Retrieval Bugs” or whatever they’re called can go upload the data

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And … bloody hell this is not what computers look like!!1!

Look, I don’t even write code and it hurts my geek brain to look at this!  The Internet is not a giant Lego!  You don’t need visual metaphors to write a freakin’ program!

Worst of all, the old hacking minigame was fun! It also fit the vibe of Fallout perfectly.  If they wanted to make it harder, there were probably a dozens ways to do so while still keeping that retro future feel to it.

But no.  Minecraft’s popular, so they made Minecraft Lite!  Oh, and did I mention it involves puzzle solving?  You have to figure out which paths to take, how to align the “decoder” (it’s a fcking laser, ok?  Just call it a laser.  A decoder is an algorithm, it doesn’t shoot green energy.) and yada yada yada.

I play Fallout to fck sh1t up, not to solve physics puzzles.  When I want to solve physics puzzles, I play Portal, or – just to up the geek ante – I tutor physics.

Oh.  And there are 5 levels of this.  Longest part of the game so far.  By the time I was done, I no longer craved fish and chips.  I craved beer and bloody vengeance on whoever designed this stupid level.

I even tried doing some hacking in the metagame, but I couldn’t even use console commands to clear the quest.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part?  Are you still with me here?  Remember when all we wanted to do was take the Mariner out, buy her some clam chowder and go sailing around the island?  Those days are over, buddy.  No clam chowder for you.  Just endless hate when you discover that the mechanism they used to build their hated minigame was the equally hated settlement workshop mechanic:

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Perspective is for sissies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fallout 4: Dead Mo … er … Far Harbor

I have a problem.  Well, I have a lot of problems, but I don’t want to talk about my incipient alcoholism today.  I wanna talk about pattern recognition, which I got from studying too much math, and is one reason I don’t have any friends – people don’t want to analyze everything, they just wanna watch sum lightsaber fights.  So they get upset when I explains why Star Wars: The Force Awakens really should have been called Star Wars: The First One Did Okay, So We Made It Again.  They also don’t want to hear how every Marvel super hero movie is just the same damn origin story told over and over again – I mean, we get it, Stan, great power = great responsibility, ok?

But I can’t help it … what has been seen cannot be unseen, at least not without massive quantities of Lost Coast Brewery’s Tangerine Dream.

So after I’d spent ten minutes wandering around Far Harbor, I sensed a certain … familiarity …

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Sure is foggy on this island …

They’ll tell you in Far Harbor that the fog wasn’t always this bad.  But it was always radioactive.  Yeah, that red counter on my health bar?  Wasn’t there when I got here.

It’s not that terrible – you don’t need a power suit, as it’s less than a rad a turn or round or however they count time in the game.

Which is good, because your first missions take you to the far sides of the map.

Hope you like walking.

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This is about as bright as it ever gets in Far Harbor.  Most of the time I had my Pip Boy light on, which was okay, because most of what you encounter (spoiler) are ghouls, and ghouls have better enemy detection sensors than frickin’ DARPA.

Partly it’s that the damn fog is everywhere, partly it’s that somehow, some way, it always seems to be night …

… well, I guess that kinda makes sense.  Fallout 4 is set near Halloween, and Far Harbor is farther north than Boston.  I know where I live, the sun sets at 4:30 PM in the winter, which is one reason re: alcoholism.

So maybe it’s just that there isn’t much daylight.  But not really.  Really it’s so that can have these:

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What …what … is making this hellish glow?  It feels like I’ve wandered into the set of Blair Witch …

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Ah.  OK … so, there is a fungus, that is literally called “blight” that glows hellfire red?  IS this the Steven King school of botany?  Between the dead trees, the poison mist, the endless darkness, and the ghouls …

oh, it’s not Blair Witch.  It’s Dead Money.  OK, OK.  Thank Bokrug, it’s not actually Dead Money, because Dead Money really, really, really sucked:

On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 7:20 PM, Donald Raymond wrote:
> I hate Fallout:Dead Money so much.  So very, very much.
> The Nazis were bad, yes, but not even they demanded you make a blind jump
> onto an invisible catwalk in a room filled with poisonous gas that causes
> auto-damage.  Nor did they put traps on time-limited pathways (ok, they
> might have done that).  Cruelty, thy name is Dead Money - but since it's
> about a woman, I guess that just makes sense.

Actually, I take that back.  Dead Money had some really good qualities – a complicated storyline, some fascinating characters, and phenomenally depressing ending that moved me to tears, plus that gut-wrenching slideshow music

… it just sucked as a game.  It was like they wanted to make a movie, then realized too late they were working for a game studio.

So no, from the roughly 5 hours of play I’ve put into it, Far Harbor isn’t anything like Dead Money.

But it is the Halloween episode of Fallout 4.

There’s that old pattern recognition ruining everything!

The DLC for New Vegas basically took a post-apocalyptic science fiction game and morphed it into other genres – Dead Money was survival horror, Honest Hearts was a western, and Old World Blues was cheesy 50’s SF comedy.  I don’t know what Lonesome Road was, since Old World Blues annoyed me enough to stop playing.  Srsly, the resource limiting in OWB, and DM, were frustrating beyond measure.  That’s really the problem with themed DLC – I had created a great character for the base game – a fast-talking scientist who specialized in energy weapons, and who was hopelessly useless in the more melee-oriented OWB, because every damn enemy in that game, including the food, had like +100 energy resistance.

Fallout 4 doesn’t seem to be following that trend – Automaton seemed to build on Wasteland Workshop’s concept of “you WILL experiment with our building minigames” but added a small adventure that did have a neat twist at the end.  (I should probably do a blog about that, but I’m lazy.)  And since their settlement mechanism is still hopelessly counterintuitive, time consuming, and vastly unrewarding (Look!  I spent two hours building a shack that looks so terrible even jet-addicted homeless ghouls wouldn’t sleep there!)

But Far Harbor is definitely bringing the creepy.  I mean, all of Fallout 4 is bringing the creepy, but Far Harbor … well, allow me to demonstrate:

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This hulking monolithic granite tomb brooding beneath an eldritch sky … THIS

… turned out to be …

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Aldersea Day Spa.

It’s a resort – For.  The.  Damned.

No, not really.  I mean, I don’t know.  I haven’t gone there yet.  That wasn’t my destination, it was just a distraction.

Along with this:

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Glowing plants I could except.  Glowing skulls?  Now you’re not even trying to be reasonable.  This is the point in the horror movie where everyone knows the monster is real, and they’re all scrambling around for weapons and someone inevitably decides to go off alone and get help.

Speaking of being eaten by monsters, my actual destination for that mission turned out to be filled with

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Which look like little glowy marsh lights but are actually attached to ginormous fish that erupt from the swamp and try to devour you.

So my advice while playing Far Harbor is to remain tense and nervous at all times.  Drink lots of caffeinated beverages and develop a nervous facial twitch, just to be on the safe side.  Ideally, you’ll reach a state of such extreme paranoia that even the trees will look like they’re out to get you:

It’s Bethesda.  They are.