Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Okay, let’s do this. Let’s get started.

Let me tell you, friends and neighbors, happiness is cleaning out your Medicine Bag and contemplating the dry months to come but finding one last bowlful of joy. I’m going to deviate from what I usually do and talk about a video games series. Don’t worry, it’s pertinent.

I do this for two reasons. One, because I saw the Psych Doc today, so I’ve got all my talking out of me for a month. We’re going to monkey with my medication to see if we can’t do something with my chemistry. I’ve been too moody too often for too long. I have dysthymia, or persistent mild depression, and anxiety, just usual old being a bit high strung despite appearances. However, as I’ve noted, my moods have been swinging fairly severely and it’s getting in the damn way. I could be Taking Care of Business. TCB is the goal, y’all, we must not lose sight of that.

The second reason is that it has been a stupid day in politics, and I frankly don’t want to deal. The morning saw Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Drunken Moron) lead a gaggle of House Republicans to disrupt the questioning done by House investigators concerning the Ukraine questions, which they did, to throw them off their games because shit’s about to go down, I think. Washington D.C. is actually pretty gutless and disinclined to rock any boats, but this is the GOP panicking or at least looking like they’re losing control. Apparently this rubs up against the actual law, but these dumb sons-a-bitches just Tweeted it out there.

That started the day. The afternoon comes to a close with Our Dumbass President announcing he’s going to put a border wall on the southern border of Colorado – no, really – which causes one to wonder if he know New Mexico is a state. Plus, he’s using a state-funded speech to piss about the Democrats trying to find dirt on him while moaning about “disloyal” Republicans like Mitt Romney.

And of course the cult is still ride or die, coming to the surprise of no one. Between that Alexandria OcasioCortez feeding Mark Zuckerberg his shoes, I think we all need to step back. So, as I noted above, we’re going to talk about something stupid in the world of video games. Namely, Bethesda quite possibly shooting themselves in their already quite mangled foot once again.

Now, I have not played Fallout 76 and there’s a couple of reasons for that. One, I just don’t care for the multiplayer thing at all at all. Be it a MMORPG or whatever set up Fortnight or Overwatch is, it’s just not my thing. If I want the frustration of desperately wanting to slap someone who dearly needs it but are protected by miles and internet, I already have Twitter. The only reason I I keep it on for Elite: Dangerous is so’s I get the Fuel Rats to bail me out when needed.

The other reason I haven’t is because I found Fallout 4 duller than dirt, which caused me to be, quite frankly, done with it. We’ll come back to that, but right now let’s deal with the here and now. For reasons I’m sure made sense of them at the time, Bethesda has announced it will start charging a $100 annual subscription for “exclusive features” to the base game. Everything I’ve seen concerning the motion has been resoundingly mocked. It’s apparently a “premium membership” that, from what I can tell, makes the game slightly less shit.

Again, I don’t know for myself, but apparently Fallout 76 has failed to satisfy the common gamer. There are any number of reasons we’re given for that, and if you care, you’ve already heard plenty.and I can’t add anything. I like the series, though, but I wonder if my personal history with Fallout colors the perception.

By the time I got back into gaming, Fallout: New Vegas was fairly new and it was a few months shy of Fallout 4’s release before I got a rig that could handle Windows games. I was out of the gaming world while the rest of the series came to life, though I was aware of it. The first ones I bought were New Vegas and Fallout 3, getting the first two and Shelter when Good Old Games had a deal. Of the lot, I prefer New Vegas but like 3 and never could get into the rest of them. I like the top-down RPG usually, but they haven’t moved me yet. I dig me some New Vegas, though, and it might be one of my all-time favorites.

It’s a tightly wrapped game with a better-than-average story, excellent DLC For the most part, anyway; I thought the Ulysses business was a bit up it’s own butt and getting comfortable.That being said, what really makes it special is the player character. You’re just someone who was trying to make a living in a post-apocalyptic alternate universe where culture and science never really moved past the ’50s who gets caught up in the politics of the area.

You’re not the Chosen One or the Sole Survivor, you’re just a working stiff dealing with someone else’s bullshit messing up your business. How much impact you have on, well, anything is up to you. You could merely Finish The Job or you could upend the entire political structure of what’s left of the Western United States. Whatever the hell you wanted to do, and if you wanted more, there were mods. Lord god, were there mods.

I like that. There are way too many Bhallspawn or Nerevarines in games, people who’re the only ones that can save all of creation, and Bethesda makes a mess of them. Telling that story again, we got no problem with that, no, but it’s sometimes nice to be just a cog in the machine. That’s one of the appeals of Elite: Dangerous for me: just one guy against the entire galaxy.

But it was Fallout 4 that broke me. It’s way too bloated and creaky. Don’t get me wrong, I dig me a nice, fat open-world game. I’ve put maybe 200 hours into Skyrim and may’ve got a third through the story. Richard Garriott’s Ultima series made me appreciate a game that gave me lots to do besides just playing it. Unfortunately, 4 went to the well once too often and instead of a nice, comfy puddle to wallow in, it’s a sticky mess to slog through.

So while it was pretty, I always get bogged down with too much to do way, way too quickly. The opening fight with the Deathclaw using your newly acquired power suit is a blast, but the game comes to a clanging halt right after. And there’s a goddamn crafting system and town-building system when there really doesn’t need either. It gets put aside for Pillars Of Eternity or XCOM. Those stories are tighter and, well, more interesting.

Anyhow. Time will tell. Like I said, everything’s been negative that I’ve seen so far, and Jim Sterling’s one of the few voices in “games journalism” that’s worth a regular listen. From what I understand about MMOPRG’s, a regular fee isn’t unusual. It’s just the price that gets up the nose, but gamers have shown themselves to be easily parted from their cash.

Again, your mileage may vary.

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