Tag Archives: bethesda

What Mid-2000’s Blockbuster Games Might Come To GOG Next?

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This post has been updated.
Bethesda Softworks just let Fallout 3Fallout New Vegas, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion onto GoodOldGames to be bought and played without any DRM. This is a surprising addition to a trend Electronic Arts evoked last year — that of blockbuster games from the previous console generation becoming old enough to be considered “Good Old.” What could be next? Continue reading

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Fallout 4’s Early-Game Pacing Is A Huge shift From What Should Be Bethesda’s Forte.

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A few hours into Fallout 4 I have one general issue with it that none of the reviews I read touched on. It’s a bit of what I said I was afraid would happen in a previous post. The opening hours of Fallout 4 in my opinion run completely counter to what Bethesda does best and what is most unique to that developer… even if the result isn’t necessarily a bad game.

Basically, Fallout 4’s beginning feels paced like an action game and not like an RPG. I’m not specifically talking about the combat, but rather what you do and encounter when starting out. It feels very odd compared to Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. In addition to this, how Bethesda has handled Fallout 4’s player character launches it headfirst into the main quest urgency problem so many open-world RPGs have while also hampering player agency a bit. Continue reading

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Fallout 4’s Physical PC Version Is Unusual And Inconvenient

Ever since that bit of news about the physical PC editions of Fallout 4 came out I was worried as to what would actually come in the box. According to multiple people who have that box now, it’s even worse than I imagined, a pretty surprising move by Bethesda Game Studios, and a sloppy attempt at blocking piracy that once again only hurts the legitimate customer.

Through twitter, a few weeks ago Bethesda noted that Fallout 4 on PC would require users to download at least some amount of data from Steam even if they bought the retail version, as an extra precaution against piracy. The problem is if you look at all the stories reporting on this and the tweets themselves, they’re really vague about the fine details. Bethesda never said how much of the game would be in the box and how much was essentially digital-only. I had to wait until several people on reddit and the Steam forums confirmed Fallout 4 only comes on one DVD-ROM containing about five gigs of the game, requiring you to download the remaining 19 GB. This is almost as bad as when the physical PC version of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain came with only a Steam install file printed on a disc. I’ve seen a lot of comments from people confused about how physical PC games are usually packaged these days and how measures like this inconvenience people, so let me explain for a bit. Continue reading

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What I Really Want Out Of Fallout 4

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So I’ve been reading the reviews of Fallout 4, watching a few videos (but not enough to spoil the whole game), and checking out the tech teardowns. They all talk about how much there is to explore in the game, how average the graphics look, how the character building system works, and a lot of other qualities you’d expect to hear about a new release. I kind of just glazed over it all because they spend almost no time talking about the real reason I’m anticipating Fallout 4 — it is basically going to be the first immersive simulator game released on this generation of hardware.

I have made several other posts over the last year or so trying to explain what that term means. In the last one I laid out what I think Bethesda’s games are best at, and it’s this which actually has me anticipating Fallout 4. If you don’t want to read those links, in short, Bethesda’s games, for all their bugs and technical ugliness, provide a kind of gameplay sandbox almost no one else does these days. Continue reading

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What Skyrim Is Actually Good At

I think I’m done with Skyrim.

I mean “done” as in I’ve played all the parts of the game I care about. I’ve spent a total of $80 on Skyrim and its extra stuff over the last four years and even though playing 100 percent of it was never the goal, after 170 hours I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Same thing happened with Fallout 3 (in which I intend to start a new character before Fallout 4 drops) and New Vegas. Anyway, I want to do this post to talk about what I think Skyrim’s and Bethesda’s real strong points are compared to other RPGs and other RPG developers, maybe even why Bethesda’s games have been some of the most commercially successful RPGs of all time.

I’ve actually been thinking about this ever since Skyrim came out in 2011. If you think back, 2011 was kind of a big year for RPGs. At the very least you had three notable ones coming out: Skyrim, From Software’s first Dark Souls game, and CDProjekt RED’s The Witcher 2. Coincidentally the developers of all three of those games are releasing new games this year. More importantly, ever since the release of The Witcher 3 and the unveiling of Fallout 4, some people are wondering if the latter can match up to the supposedly new standard the former has set for open-world RPGs. I think Bethesda and CDProjekt RED make different kinds of games, but not completely different, and each is better than the other in different areas. From Software has its own advantages that when you think about it are almost unique to it in the RPG space. Continue reading

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Wolfenstein The Old Blood: Have Publishers Finally Figured Out DLC?

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For some reason my favorite announcement during GDC 2015 has been the new DLC packs for Wolfenstein: the New Order called The Old Blood. The fact that I’m hotly anticipating a piece of DLC as one of my main purchases of May tells me something has changed.

It’s been going on for at least a couple years now, but I think we’re turning a corner in regards to how publishers and developers handle DLC. The annoying stuff is still there, but I’m noticing a lot more valuable DLC these days as well. Continue reading

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Back to the Wasteland

My Review of Lollipop Chainsaw is live at the Squadron of Shame now.

Getting back into Fallout New Vegas after a roughly 18-month break, I’m only realizing more and more how well it handles the relationship between the player character, NPCs, and the world at large.

With so many games trying to offer some semblance of player choice in the storyline, New Vegas is the first RPG I’ve played where endgame choices have felt difficult, and where those difficulties spread throughout a large part of the game. It accomplishes pretty much exactly what all these branching storyline advocates have been trying to do, and it works precisely because the choices and branches permeate every corner of the narrative and mechanics.

As of this typing I’m fairly late in the main quest – at a point where I basically have to decide which faction I’m going to help gain dominion over the land. Typically choices like these are made quickly and at most might affect one quest at the end of a game. Looking back and looking thorough the Fallout wiki though, I’m impressed at how many directions the main quest in New Vegas splinters into fairly early on.

I’m further impressed by how nimbly the player can swim through those branches. Most of all I’m impressed at how there actually seems to be a central theme behind the overall story that you’re affecting. At my current position in the game, my choices in the immediate future won’t just affect the game’s ending, but will also have repercussions specifically because of choices I made in the past, altering faction allegiances and switching sides myself. It feels less like branching paths and more like an actual dynamic web of decisions which is what interactive storytelling is supposed to be.

Even though the game came out back in 2010 I’ve decided not to spoil any major points about the plot, but I can still talk about what New Vegas is really about – civilization. Everybody who’s heard of Fallout knows it’s a game about post-nuclear war America, the breakdown of society, and the breakdown of the land. New Vegas takes the society aspect and examines it on a bit of a deeper level.

Faction systems have actually been fairly common in open world games since the PS2 era, and back in 2010 I applauded how I could skillfully play them against each other in New Vegas. For some reason I’m only recently realizing how New Vegas uses the system to basically display the tribalism that has grown on top of the ruins of America, as well as the juxtaposition between those tribes and the march of civilization in ideological terms. That’s what I call using gameplay mechanics in order to convey a narrative theme. That’s what video game storytelling is supposed to do.

That said, my options this late in the game are strange ones in my opinion. I’m essentially playing as a single character that holds the fate of an entire region and several factions in his hands. That’s kind of a lot of pressure.

I’ve expressed some disappointment before at how so many RPGs set the stakes so high and pin them all on either the protagonist or his immediate peers. You always seem to be a veritable messiah – the center of all major events in the world, the guy who has almost total power over what happens to whole populations of people. In New Vegas I liked it when I could just play my character off as a simple mercenary drifting through the world, but how he’s being forced to take a direct hand in its fate, and it’s kind of heavy for him.

The Witcher and its sequel are praised similarly to New Vegas for the complexity and finality of the narrative decisions they give players. Although the Witcher games probably aren’t nearly as complex as New Vegas in that area, their advantage is that they don’t thrust the protagonist into the absolute center of events. Geralt gets thrown in the middle of things alright, but in both games he’s simply wading his way through situations larger than himself in order to reach more personal goals. There are definitely other RPGs like this, but I feel like they are too far in between.

I’m sort of trying to play one of my Skyrim characters like this by not initiating the main quest at all. The Nord/Empire conflict could be compared to the conflict in New Vegas, but in Skyrim I have the choice to pretty much ignore it (and it technically isn’t part of the main quest). I’ve chosen to do that in order to turn the game into my character’s personal journey. I think that kind of dynamic world to set your choices into, instead of a relatively straight storyline, is the logical conclusion of what Bethesda is trying to do.

BULLETS:

  • See this is one way Steam just keeps getting better: http://t.co/VgtIx5y0 Y’know that grid view you can select to display your whole Steam library? Y’know how non-Steam games just show up as little icons in that grid view. Well with the latest Steam beta update now you can set custom images for Steam games in grid view to fix this problem. It’s a bunch of little things like this that make Steam the best service for online gaming and digital distribution.
  • If EA needs to sell 5 million copies of Dead Space 3 either they’re trying to make the franchise bigger than it is, or they didn’t do a good enough job expanding the audience for horror games.
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