Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just When I Think I'm Out

Something pulled me back into Fallout: New Vegas this past weekend. I just wanted to get in there and get that Desert Ranger armor, so I played through the Honest Hearts DLC first, and then continued on to finish up some miscellaneous side quests around the Mojave. Honest Hearts had some really great writing, and it wasn't all contained in the primary quests. I felt like the journal entries of the "Father In The Cave" told one of the greatest stories in all of New Vegas. Then, to top it off, I came away from it with his cool Desert Ranger Combat Armor and Survivalist's Rifle, along with a sweet new pistol from the Burned Man, Joshua Graham, called A Light In The Darkness. I really am playing a badass wasteland drifter and gunslinger gal, now. There is still a bunch of content to get to in the game, as well.

Simultaneously, I am also now farther into Morrowind than I have ever been, before. I've climbed a good way up the ladder of the Thieves' Guild, and I've acquired some great weapons and armor even though my character is still only level 2. I still haven't decided my approach to playing through other guild quest lines and the main one, though I am leaning toward multiple characters. I think Elder Scrolls games work best treated as giant worlds to really role play in as though you were a somewhat plausible person, and not the focal point of all the worlds' goings-on--aside from the main quest lines, of course, where you are often The Chosen One.

There is an interesting point of contrast here between Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, which always cast you as the fulcrum of the world's future, and where every choice comes with an opportunity cost. In Fallout, going down one path will close off the other to you, and that is almost never the case in the Elder Scrolls. In Oblivion and Skyrim, they even make it so key NPCs cannot be killed and your reputation is very malleable, meaning that you can at any time go from being head assassin and dread lord to high paladin and mighty savior with relatively little effort.

Here and there, I've also gotten in quick hits of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and even New Super Mario Bros. with my daughter watching. I finally found how to get to that stupid warp pipe in World 1. I've even played a bit of some iOS stuff, though I try to make it a policy not to think too much about that platform of mostly disposable games. I may make exceptions here and there, but not today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Guess I'm Playing Morrowind Now

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and I go way back. All the way back to 2002, and its release, as a matter of fact. I had just gotten a sweet (for the time) new Sony Vaio laptop--that, get this, you could separate the main section from the base docking station/disc drive--and was looking to explore my favorite gaming genre, the RPG, on this hot new platform. Little did I know, it had next to zero video memory, and the best I could get the game to run was at probably 10 FPS at 400x200 with minimum settings. Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot of questing done at the time, though not for lack of trying.

I had tried installing the game on subsequent computers I encountered, but always met with either similarly poor performance results or a lack of time to really dig into the game. I even briefly had the game running on my current PC, modded, a few years back, but did not follow through on actually playing it very much probably due to playing WoW or something. I think I did a complete OS update and re-install since then, as well. 

Fast forward to the present, and having just finished up New Vegas, and not wanting to dive into its DLC just yet, I had almost out of nowhere a hankering to play Morrowind. I couldn't explain why, but I decided to roll with it, found the best suite of modernization overhaul mods, and got started. I decided I wanted to play a stealthy character, and so I created a thief and got started in on the Thieves' Guild quests. So far, so good. I'm five or six quests in, and still level 1, though, so I'm a bit worried about venturing out into the countryside around the town I've found myself in, Al'duruhk or some such, a desert town, by the looks of things. This is by far the deepest I've made it into Morrowind. I think it'll take, this time. 

I am enjoying the keyword-centered dialogue system, as well as the greater lengths the player has to go to just to find out where to go and what should be done to best complete the current quest. Later Bethesda games, of course, made it trivialized that process with the ever-present map marker. I'm torn on whether I prefer it to be there or not. I feel like not having it forces the player to invest more in the world to puzzle out where they should go, but at times you don't want to play the guessing game and just want to know what stupid thing in the environment needs to have 'E' pushed on it in order to carry on.

I found, with Oblivion, that I enjoyed the game more if I rolled a new character for each guild's quest line, so that I could tailor their build around what I thought my play style would have to end up being for that part of the game. I may end up doing that for Morrowind, too. Or perhaps use the same character for the equivalent of the Dark Brotherhood as for the Thieves' Guild, and then if I roll up others, pick whichever I like the best to run the main quest line with.

Much remains to be determined about my playing Morrowind. I'm not feeling very antsy about moving on to much else, though, at least not until July 25th, and the release of Shadowrun Returns (which I backed on Kickstarter, and looks really cool). Maybe I'll make this an RPG-focused summer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Independent Nevada

In the end, I decided that the NCR was overextending itself, and that the dwellers of the Mojave Wasteland should be able to live independent of their strained and corrupt bureaucracy, the tyranny of Mr. House's rule, or the brutish enslavement and likely extermination Caesar's Legion would bring. I picked up what was left of Benny's plan to seize New Vegas for himself, and used the power of Mr. House's upgraded securitron army and a deft diplomatic touch to wrestle control of Hoover Dam and New Vegas away from either the NCR or the Legion, and let its power flow across the Mojave for the benefit of the locals.

I envision Nevada as an independent, neutral buffer zone between the NCR to the west, Caesar to the east, and a new Great Khan/Followers of the Apocalypse empire to the North. Most of the epilogue slides in the ending I left me confident in the future of the Mojave, with a few exceptions due to undiscovered or incomplete questlines. I still have the four DLC questlines and a lot of other sidequests in the main game to do. There are apparently some Enclave remnants I never found, as well as the home of the Powder Gangers left to clean up, and several companions' questlines undone, as well. Neither did I ever get any of that cool looking NCR/Desert Ranger armor featured in the game's promo materials. The non-factionalized variants are only found in DLC locations, from what I have seen on the Fallout wiki. I didn't want to join the NCR, and I didn't want to kill one of their veteran rangers or otherwise acquire their armor and then have to deal with everyone taking me for NCR, since wearing it identifies you as such even if you are not (it doubles as a disguise).

I wanted to remain an independent force acting on my own for the Mojave, and wanted to keep myself outfitted as such.