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Revisiting Open Worlds: Assorted Thoughts on Obsidian and Bethesda

Lance Noble Aster

did his best!
(he/him)
Fallout: New Vegas
Obsidian Entertainment
Published by Bethesda in 2010

Recently I played New Vegas again. This isn't unusual for me, New Vegas is my favorite WRPG that has separate combat mechanics (this qualifier brought to you by Disco Elysium), and I have done a number of gimmick runs, such as Richard "Dick" Johnson, everyone's favorite cannibal. If you're curious, the gimmick for that run was to be as evil as possible while getting every town and faction I could to Idolized status. Thanks to the excellent way crime and especially murder is handled in New Vegas, that is very easy.

This run, a bog standard Guns And Also Speech run, was my first play through with a couple of new mods (I've tried several major overhaul mods): Project Nevada and Stewie Tweaks. And it's the best New Vegas has ever played?

I think I discovered the biggest problem with the gunplay in the Fallout 3 / New Vegas engine has very little to do with the controls and far more to do with how long you're doing it. Project Nevada makes a number of stat changes (most significantly stripping level out of HP scaling) that make combat far more deadly in both directions. Combat ends up about as difficult as vanilla New Vegas but there's a ton less of the "okay I'm out of tricks so I guess we're just gonna stand perfectly still in this hallway and pour 30+ bullets into each other, huh?" phase of combat.

As for Stewie Tweaks, it's impossible to say exactly what it does because it's a huge list of optional tweaks in an .ini file that include things like "worn Power Armor is weightless if you have Power Armor Training," "you can only wait if you're sitting down," "you can hotkey swap weapons while doing xyz," and "hide hotkeyed items in container and shop menus." The biggest single thing that changed how I played the game was the option that hides the skill check info on dialogue options. The game has a number of dialogue choices that are based on whether one of your skills is high enough or not, but they're all clearly labelled like [Speech 25/30], and if you meet the requirements, they always work.

By hiding the requirements and whether you meet them, it introduces a level of uncertainty to the dialogue that makes the system sing. I found myself with some frequency picking options I thought were probably skill checks that I didn't meet but thought that maybe I did, or maybe they weren't skill checks at all! I don't know! It's so good ya'll.
Eventually, I ran out of enthusiasm for the run around Vegas itself (Vegas is usually where I find myself running out of steam), partially because I discovered I had engaged in enough petty larcency that the game labelled me as Literally Satan, and I just kind of rushed through the House Always Wins ending.

And then I got a vertical ergonomic "gaming" mouse. The thing that makes it a "gaming" mouse is that it has a little digital stick on it. I was thinking about how I could use that to get used to the mouse, and it occurred to me that mapping weapon swapping to up, right, down, and left would free up a ton of keyboard space, and then started a second "quick" run of New Vegas starring a Courier I was too lazy to name, specialized in Energy weapons and Explosives.

This nameless Courier ended up being my longest New Vegas run to date. I realized I was alarmingly close to having every New Vegas achievement, so I just started intentionally doing some of them, which led me to playing in weird ways I never had before. For instance, it was the first run I've recruited every companion. Have ya'll even met Raul? He's great, I love Raul. Both very helpful and also constantly astonished at his own ability. I also really recommend listening to Black Mountain Radio when it's in range instead of Radio New Vegas. Not only is it very informative about the history of Super Mutants and Nightkin in the Fallout universe if all you've played is Fallout 3 and/or 4, it's also very funny.

I think there are essentially four things that make New Vegas so appealing to me:
  1. Despite being a game with, I would argue, Only Bad Choices for the main plot, the writers know what ideology is, and have at least some understanding of material pressures. The reason there are Only Bad Choices is that the privilege of having a choice in the situation requires an army, and factions who have sufficient military force are limited to the kinds of factions that have, say it with me, sufficient military force.
  2. The game world is open to be explored, but the path that is least likely to murder you dead at level 1 is shaped like a donut you start on the middle left of and walk the long way around to the top of. This allows the game to have a very good idea of what locations a player will visit and in what order, so they can use each location as a set of vignettes to introduce facts about life in the setting, what's at stake, the major and minor factions, and what political interests those factions have.
  3. There are zero throwaway quests. There are some quests that serve a similar purpose to Bethesda's Radiant Quest system, but they're still hand-crafted. The most generic quest in the game, I think, Return To Sender, starts with "hey can you go to each of these ranger stations and give them new radio encryption codes" and ends with "I know I screwed up tampering with reports, I'm just trying to get the people back home to give a damn about us. If you want me dead for that right now, so be it. If not, I'm going to stand on the front lines with my men at the second battle of Hoover Dam and die with them on the suicide mission we've been given over petty political bullshit."
  4. The game shows great respect for Fallout as a setting but also isn't just imitating the iconography of the franchise for maximum brand appeal. It's a work in conversation with Fallout, not a work making Fallout again. The Brotherhood of Steel isn't the Bethesda Power Armor Super Heroes in New Vegas, they're a dying ideology that can't keep up with the changing times. There are barely any super mutants present at all, and the majority of them are in a peaceful settlement that doesn't want trouble with humans and a different settlement that doesn't want trouble with humans, so they kill any humans that come there on sight. Even in the second case, given a good enough sneak and/or lockpick skills, you can completely resolve that situation diplomatically without firing a single bullet.
 
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Lance Noble Aster

did his best!
(he/him)
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian Entertainment
Published by Private Division in 2019

After completing a very comprehensive 50 hour run of New Vegas, I still wanted more. I decided to give The Outer Worlds a second chance. After all, The Outer Worlds has the same brand name as its developer, certainly it must be at least similar in quality!

I'm not going to mince words here: The Outer Worlds is the worst and most frustrating game in this genre I've ever played. Even Mass Effect 2's "now you're the secret police for the space fascists instead of secret police for the space empire that... mostly tolerates people who aren't Krogan" is more palatable to me. Hell, Borderlands is as far from this genre you can get while still kind of being related, and while Borderlands is bad in a ton of ways, at least it's honest with itself about what it is.

I don't have much to say about The Outer Worlds because I could only push myself to play part of the first zone. Lots of people have said that The Outer Worlds is an anti-corporate work. I don't think anything is further from the truth. The Outer Worlds absolutely thinks that suffering happens under corporations. But there is a factor that complicates this: The Outer Worlds hates poor people. Absolutely despises anyone who works in manual labor. I encountered four kinds of character in The Outer Worlds: Rick from Rick and Morty; one person with any idea of how to live a different way; a pile of people who are suffering but are too incompetent or convinced that suffering is virtous to do anything about it; and a class of ideology-free masked gunmen who exist solely to be shot at because leaving society as it exists in The Outer Worlds resulted in... checks notes becoming extremely violent and apparently incapable of speech.

The first interaction with a gang of raiders in Fallout: New Vegas is overhearing an argument in a bar. Joe Cobb, a Powder Ganger, is arguing with Trudy, the local bar owner in the town of Goodsprings. Joe is after a man named Ringo because Ringo dared to fight back while Joe and his crew were shaking down a Crimson Caravans caravan. Joe believes (correctly) that Ringo is hiding in Goodsprings. He demands Trudy hand over Ringo. Trudy refuses. Joe storms off, saying that he'll be back with a crew and is going to burn Goodsprings to the ground. At this point (or any other point in the argument), you can put a bullet in Joe Cobb's skull and immediately fail two quests: Ghost Town Gunfight and Run Goodsprings, Run. When spoken to, Trudy tells you she wishes you hadn't done that; now trouble with the Powder Gangers is inevitable.

If you don't immediately kill Joe, you can talk to Trudy, who can point you to Ringo. Ringo is jumpy, but if you offer to convince the town it's even possible, he's open to the idea helping the town (and himself) fend off the coming Powder Ganger assault, starting Ghost Town Gunfight. You can also turn around and follow Joe out the door. Talk to Joe and you can help with the assault in a mirror-image version of Ghost Town Gunfight: Run Goodspring, Run. Goodsprings has done right by you, but the Powder Gangers do have a ton of explosives and also if you're friends with the Powder Gangers you don't have to worry about running afoul of, you guessed it, Powder Gangers. Get in with them good enough and the Powder Gangers, again a faction with a ton of explosives, will even aid you in combat.

In The Outer Worlds the first interaction with the one kind of raider that exists, marauders, is that there are some of them in a field, they spot you, begin yelling and screaming and shooting at you in a generic "psychotic video game enemy" way. (put in pin in that, we're coming back to it later) Incidentally, this is also how every interaction with marauders goes. There is a faction of non-marauders who have left the safety of the walls of Edgewater. The defining difference between the two appears to be, uh, hmm. Oh! More of the marauders know how to use guns than the deserters do.

The deserters refuse to return to Edgewater because of the mistreatment and incompetence of the middle-manager in charge of the town, Reed Tobson. If you ride the elevator up to Reed Tobson's office, crouch so hostile actions do not immediately trigger combat, and kill him in one shot, the game barely even acknowledges it happened. Not only does it not change your options in the situation (incredibly you can still do the main quest the way Tobson wanted you to), you can't even tell the deserters that Tobson is dead. Where New Vegas presents only bad choices when material realities prevent anyone with a good idea from weighing in, The Outer Worlds presents only bad choices because it believes the poor are too incompetent to survive without their corporate overlords.

I intentionally used the word psychotic and mentioned Borderlands earlier because marauders are just capital-P Psychos imported directly from the enemy roster of the loot-shooter series, Borderlands. See, they're called marauders because The Outer Worlds understands that its audience (ostensibly you and I) will find psycho a reductive and harmful term that stigmatizes people suffering from mental illnesses (also very possibly you and definitely me). But all they did is change the label without changing the context or intent. New Vegas offers motivations and humanity, The Outer Worlds offers "i don't know i guess they just have brain problems!!" I can't think of a better metaphor for The Outer Worlds itself. It believes it is very smart because it understands the world, but it doesn't realize that its understanding is only superficial aesthetics grounded in a deep disdain for everyone else.
 
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Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
New Vegas is probably the pinnacle of open world games in my experience (haven't played Outer Worlds at all, probably won't), and even that highlights a core problem with RPGs based off the conceits of tabletop games in that they depend on the interaction between the games master and the players to really work, and their computerized siblings lack that instead depending on the developers to provide a series of scenarios for the players to bounce off of.

Unless the developers are really, really good and careful with it, it leads to a Skyrim situation where individual storylines may be cool and/or interesting but they're all divorced from each other with very little overlap or influence on each other. If the developers don't care about the story instead (your Ubisofts, generally speaking), then they fill the map with samey activities instead that all blend together in one homogenous mass of boring in place of that.

And that's why the "open world" tag is one that's an instant ignore from me alongside procedural generation.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
Regarding the Marauders in The Outer Worlds: The first of the expansions goes into detail about what caused people to turn into Marauders. It’s an addiction to an experimental drug designed to increase productivity, and was leaked out of the manufacturing facility and into circulation. One of the routes in the DLC is to create a treatment that will eventually help the addicted people to recovery. It’s real slog of an expansion, but it has some of the best writing in the game and treats the subject with respect that the base game sadly didn’t.

As someone who loved New Vegas and holds it up as some of the best world building and character writing in the medium, yeah, Outer Worlds doesn’t come close. I still think it’s a good game and sad so many people dislike it so much.
 

Lance Noble Aster

did his best!
(he/him)
I will praise The Outer Worlds for one thing: structurally it's a step forward for the genre. Setting TES / modern Fallout-style gameplay into segmented Mass Effect / KOTOR-style chunks is a pretty brilliant move. Also the game handles like a dream, even if it is far too generous with healing resources. When I quit playing I had more heals in my inventory than I think I could use if I was actively trying.
 

Lance Noble Aster

did his best!
(he/him)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda
Published in-house in 2011 and again every fifteen minutes afterwards

Spoilers: this post is here to rescue you from buying Skyrim a second/third/fourth/fifth/sixth/seventh/eight/ninth/tenth time. I had so little fun with Skyrim that I initially decided to scrap doing a post about it at all, but then it was resurrected by Todd Howard who wishes for humans to pay him tribute.

This post is based on vanilla Skyrim, specifically the Switch version, which I bought, because I'm a dumbass who is obsessed with determining how to gel with games that appear to have lacking mechanics on the surface for maximal effectiveness and fun. For the same reason, it was played exclusively on the default difficulty slider setting, though in my experience the difficulty slider effects the game so little it may as well not exist.

Some people think Skyrim has no melee combat mechanics, but that's not actually true. Skyrim has a ton of combat mechanics that are largely about denying your enemies the opportunity to act. Any character with a shield can press attack while blocking to perform an interrupting shield bash. The objective is to use that shield bash to cause enemy melee combatants to waste their stamina and lock mages down long enough that they can't utilize their magic to fuck your day up with ice.

If we're looking at destruction magic, we see a similar theme: while fire magic... makes enemies more vulnerable to damage or is a mild damage over time or maybe it just deals more damage straight-up...? - the game doesn't make it clear - both ice and lightning magic serve resource depletion secondary purposes. Ice magic depletes stamina, denying melee combatants their options, and lightning magic depletes magicka, denying spell casters their options. If we go exceptionally broad with it, we can interpret many conjuration spells as serving a similar purpose: summoning spells essentially trade some of your magicka in exchange for more offensive actions per second that are harder to deny. Illusion magic, by the same logic, is this on overdrive since it directly converts enemy action economy into allied action economy.

Similarly, the very first Shout you get is Fus, which has the same functionality, but is usable by anyone with any equipment setup, reinforcing the central gameplay mechanic of Skyrim being action economy manipulation. Sure, you can use Fus Ro Dah to push enemies off of cliffs and such, that's a neat effect, but the Shout is far more effective as a wide-area action interruption or in its faster-to-cooldown Fus form where it stops a single action.

The weirdest part of Skyrim is that "mashing attack" isn't part of that action economy, it can be thought of as auto-attacking in a MMO, even though you have to do it manually and it looks like ass. Instead, the melee combat action economy is all about power attacks and shield bashing. But because many power attacks are unwieldy (never power attack while moving forward, you will miss) and just don't feel good to use, shield bashing is often the smarter option. Upgrading the trivial-to-train Block skill lets you turn your shield bash into a power attack of its own with comparable damage, while power attacks for weapons get upgrades like "maybe it deals some bleed damage now i guess?" Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 actually solve the unwieldiness of power attacks by giving them a dedicated button, and even Fallout New Vegas has specific special melee power attacks you can learn, generally as a quest reward. However, Skyrim is a decade old so none of those iterations have shown up in The Elder Scrolls to date.

Effective Skyrim play involves keeping more actions per second in combat than the enemies. It means using a follower because a follower is a free action economy buff even though working around a follower in Skyrim's combat system is awful; friendly fire is a huge issue due to Skyrim's forgiving attack arcs and indiscriminate AoE magic damage. Just so you know, the best follower in the game for a melee character is Lydia, the one you get for free as part of the plot. Take away her melee weapons, give her a bow. She has the highest bow skill of any follower in the game. Remember this because I'm going to bring it up again later.

It also means picking the right tool for the right encounter: ice for warriors, lighting for mages. Even if you're a warrior-y type character yourself, carrying appropriately enchanted weapons will ease your time with the game significantly, which unfortunately means you'll also need to micromanage soul gems, so you'd better learn Soul Trap or make a Soul Trap-enchanted weapon (that itself will also need fuel) and expend resources to have a reliable source of soul gems on hand. Congratulations on adding Alteration and/or Enchantment to your list of mandatory skills for a successful melee character.

Finally, success in Skyrim's combat relies on pulling enemies and dealing with them individually: stealth attacks are very powerful in Skyrim because they are a guaranteed massive damage bonus with no extraneous fuss. If an enemy dies before you've had to engage with the action economy at all, the Skyrim experience is much smoother and comprehensible. If you've ever found yourself drifting towards sneaky archers every time you play Skyrim, this is why. It's a first-order-optimal solution. It Just Works. That said, it's entirely possible to pull enemies and position yourself so that you only have to engage with one or two at a time - the old roguelike strategy of door fighting works just as well as utilizes chokepoints works in actual combat involving actual humans has historically.

Behind the action economy management is resource management. Unfortunately, characters in Skyrim have way too much HP for action economy management on its own to be sufficient for survival in even moderately difficult encounters. Enter Restoration magic, which burns some of your action economy in exchange for recovering HP. In other words, sandbagging. Restoration isn't going to help you win a fight, it'll help you recover after a fight or make your death slower. Alteration magic would be a better use of your resources, since reducing incoming damage is more proactive than healing with Restoration, and because you already have to use it because of Soul Trap. Enter potions, the nail in the coffin of resource management.

There is nothing in Skyrim preventing you from carrying six heck billion potions in three flavors of "get out of jail free" card: health restoration, magicka restoration, and stamina restoration. There is no limit on how many potions you can pause the game and chug, and often due to how long combat lasts, even minor action economy mistakes on well-equipped characters will extrapolate out to pausing the game and drinking any number of potions to get back in the game. But you can't get potions for free. So look forward to investing in speech to soften the economic blow to your resources or investing in alchemy so you can make your own potions (not as a reliable method of obtaining useful potions mind, as a reliable method of obtaining money to buy actually useful potions with).

Between soul gems and potions, a melee-centric character has a lot of micromanagement to juggle to be effective. I haven't even mentioned how a melee-centric character should also probably learn Smithing so they can improve their weapons and army to eke out any numerical advantage available. So make that three inventory-based micromanagement challenges they face, not even to be effective right now, but to do enchanting, alchemy, and smithing enough that they might one day be effective enough that their gains from adventure begin to outpace their resource needs for adventure.

You might notice I haven't said anything about Skyrim's quest design, narrative, characters, or setting in this post so far. That's because it's nothing. You're in a place that is sometimes green and sometimes snowy. Between the dozens of followers and hundreds of NPCs in Skyrim there are easily two or three available personalities: proud but tough, pompous but smart, and khajiit. A note on the khajiit bit actually: all khajiit are nomadic, drug-addicted, thieving, drug dealers that population centers in Skyrim universally reject. Thankfully there are no real-world social groups that face prejudice because people believe these things to be true about them, otherwise Skyrim Khajiit would be exceptionally racist. Honestly unraveling all the ways The Elder Scrolls is racist is so hard that I'm not remotely up to the task, but beyond the obvious stuff like "see the Dark Elves have dark skin as a curse from the gods because of the bad things they did in the past," the Khajiit stand out as especially heinous to me.

From those three personalities, you will receive broad strokes tasks including and limited to "kill guys in a cave," "kill guys in a fort," "kill guys in some ruins," and the ever elusive "steal something but also you could and probably will need to just kill guys to get to it instead." Everything you do in Skyrim will be played as seriously, straight, and gruff as physically possible; nothing you do will have any meaningful consequences; and characters reliably are only involved in one quest unless they're part of a canned faction quest chain, so your relationships and past work with characters matter exceptionally little. No matter what the context of what you're doing is, you can be assured that Epic Norse Music will be playing while you do it.

You fight some undead, some other kinds of undead, spirits which are slightly different undead, bandits, wolves, bears, sabertooth tigers (which are the bear equivalent of cats), underground elves (which are a lot like undead or bandits depending on your perspective), and if you've been very good this year, Saint Jiub will occasionally bring you a robot imported from Morrowind. Of course, who can forget about dragons, the enemy type that spends so much time in the air or sitting jankily on top of buildings using projectile attacks that you spend more time waiting on them than fighting them. The enemy type central to the game's plot is so incompatible with the majority of character builds that they had to give every player a follower who is obscenely good with a bow. Also they attack via shouts which don't use resources so you can't even use the action economy mechanics to mitigate their threat. It's like a D&D dungeon master who thought "you know, if you think about it, dragons would be very difficult to fight in reality" and never stopped to consider how little fun a "realistic" dragon fight would be for their players.

Now luckily, since the game scales to your current abilities, you can never reach a high enough level of power to ever escape the resource dynamics of Skyrim's gameplay loop. In conclusion: Skyrim's combat mechanics make you work hard as hell to survive extremely mundane encounters and rewards you for your tedious and intensive work with more tedious and intensive work to do. Considering Dark Souls came out at the same time and is more decisive in its combat, more (in the context of the time) creative with its lore and storytelling, and requires less micromanagement to survive a single area as Skyrim asks of you in a single fight, it is astonishing that people keep buying Skyrim.

Games you can play instead of Skyrim:
  • Breath of the Wild
  • Dark Souls
  • Valheim
  • Monster Hunter
  • Dragon's Dogma
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Divinity: Original Sin
  • Morrowind
 
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Pajaro Pete

(He/Himbo)
i used a mod to turn off dragon encounters because lol at dealing with those

anyway hope we get to see skyrim 2 at some point, but given that they're still putting out concept art trailers for starfield, a game that's supposedly coming out in november 2022..........
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
For all their problems, and they are many, Bethesda's open-world games are the only ones you can get these days that retain that old-school CRPG sensibility of fine-grained simulation. The world is full of details that are fully interactive for the sole purpose of being interactive. Every NPC has a house and every house has shelves full of bowls and books and other sundries. Every book on every shelf has text in it that you can read. The bowls aren't worth enough to steal, but you can use the stealth and inventory systems to steal them and the shopping system to sell them and the bounty system to get caught trying to unload stolen goods and the reputation system to make enemies for resisting arrest. You don't have to go to any specific place to engage with the rules of the game; it's all everywhere.

It contributes greatly to the illusion of a world that isn't just an obstacle course for the player to run through or a puzzle for the player to solve. And that's a feeling I really appreciate, something with an undeniable appeal even when that world doesn't have a single interesting character or fun activity in it.
Enter potions, the nail in the coffin of resource management.

There is nothing in Skyrim preventing you from carrying six heck billion potions in three flavors of "get out of jail free" card: health restoration, magicka restoration, and stamina restoration. There is no limit on how many potions you can pause the game and chug, and often due to how long combat lasts, even minor action economy mistakes on well-equipped characters will extrapolate out to pausing the game and drinking any number of potions to get back in the game.
The immobile warrior is never fatigued. He cuts sleep holes in the middle of a battle to regain his strength.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Oh, did they patch out potion weight at some point? Old school Skyrim had each potion (of any kind) at .5 lbs a bottle.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
I won't deny that Skyrim has problems. I mean, there's these three things that shortly happened after one another* in one of my longer files...
...and then when I decided to just start a new file this happened...
...and on top of that, attempting to do the main quest is a great way to have new hostile encounters ambushing you all the time. Heck, a patch was added to the newer versions that come with the expansions 'cuz having all your shopkeepers slaughtered by random vampires showing up unannounced was a bit much.

But that said, even though the locations may be kinda samey and there's no overarching effects for things I do enjoy just diving in every now and then and exploring where I can, having fun trying out different stuff.

Usually I go for a stealthy build. Often I'll throw in some Conjuration and Illusion with it; a sneaky troll who can make mooks is far more effective than just shooting or stabbing from the shadows. Rarely I might go for a melee class. Most of the time I go Argonian or Khajiit but I've played everyone at least once.

Sometimes I might even find something I didn't notice before when treading old ground. Could be a piece of loot (valuable or no), or a secret passage, or an entire treasure chest.

And occasionally, the glitches might be amazing instead of merely annoying or infuriating. Random dead soldiers rolling down the rooftop, elks and mammoths falling from the sky, that sort of thing.

* I should also note I had stalled out on this file previously 'cuz J'Zargo got mad and tried to kill me after he stubbed his toe on a boulder one too many times and I realized it had been a while since the last autosave.
 
Oh, did they patch out potion weight at some point? Old school Skyrim had each potion (of any kind) at .5 lbs a bottle.

Potions still weigh that much, but it never stopped me from feeling like I essentially have infinite health/magick/stamina. (I'm not complaining about this, personally.)

Now luckily, since the game scales to your current abilities, you can never reach a high enough level of power to ever escape the resource dynamics of Skyrim's gameplay loop.

I find that you inevitably reach that level of power and completely break the game on its default difficulty setting as long as you enchant equipment.
 

Lance Noble Aster

did his best!
(he/him)
Potions do still have a weight, yes, but when dropping one great sword frees up space for 36 additional health potions, I don't think that weight is a meaningful limitation. Also I have a grudge against games with action combat that allow you to pause them and use as many consumables as you want before unpausing them; I think it enables creating a combat system where spamming potions is a viable or even optimal solution, and I don't play video games to drink potions during mid-combat time-out. I feel like there is also a trend of moving away from that in the industry, but Skyrim is so old it doesn't have any of the innovations of Fallout 4 and 76.

yes i do have bizarrely strong opinions on how to handle consumables in video games
i'm upset with Breath of the Wild for the same thing
dark souls did this to me

I think I was probably too harsh in the tone of my post on it, there are certainly reasons someone other than me could enjoy Skyrim. Hell, if I ever get another VR headset, I'm absolutely playing more Skyrim VR because VR completely changes and recontextualizes any game you play it with. My primary goal was to remind people who have had less than a great time with the game why that is, and thereby rescue them from a rose-tinted glasses-enabled repeat purchase. I feel like a post-Fallout 4 Elder Scrolls would probably have good combat, but it may be another decade before we find out.
 
I think it enables creating a combat system where spamming potions is a viable or even optimal solution, and I don't play video games to drink potions during mid-combat time-out. I feel like there is also a trend of moving away from that in the industry, but Skyrim is so old it doesn't have any of the innovations of Fallout 4 and 76.

What's funny is that it's not even purely an age or a linear progression issue, because as far as spamming potions is concerned Skyrim doesn't have any of the innovations of Oblivion, either.

Skyrim is a shift away from a system that prevented spamming potions to a system that allows it.

(I like this, personally. I don't play these games for difficulty or balance, just let me spam the potions.)
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Can I use this thread, to talk about my playthrough of New Vegas? If not just tell me.

More then ten years ago, I played Fallout 1 and 2. Liked them a lot. Then, some years later, I played Fallout 3. I was sad about the lack of real turn-based combat, but it was no big deal. What WAS a big deal, was that I was promised a world, where I could do anything. Which was nothing but a lie. You can kill people in a ton of different ways. Elsewise? Nah. I remember in either the first or the second game, you very soon find a settlement, that has trouble with some gang. Which you can settle violently, of course. But you can also go to the hideout of the gang, and talk things through, peacefully. In Fallout 3? Megaton has a problem with some random gang. So you go there, and never get a chance to talk to anyone. You just have to kill them, no alternative exists (at least, I didn't find one). When you are done with Megaton, I found the whole game world lacking in quests. I know now, you can run around and find stuff like other vaults. But I always preferred a stricter structure, and simply talking to people. There wasn't much of that. Every place had one quest, that was it. Later, I started thinking of F3 as an action-adventure with RPG elements, but it lacks what makes an RPG for me. So, disappointment.

I did hear better things about NV, so I bought that, some years ago. Played it for a bit, but got distracted by something else. I decided to try it again, and am now near the place, where I will meet up with the guy who shot me in the intro.

I really like it. I mean, when I play it for too long, say two or three hours (which is too long, anyway), I start losing interest. But, yeah, I shouldn't play for so many hours. Elsewise, I talk to everyone, and find at least a few quests, but often enough more than that. Just Good Springs, as Lancer mentioned, has this really cool starting quest, where you have multiple possibilities, and which is later structured like a simplified version of a Monkey Island puzzle - get help from other town people, with everyone wanting something different from you. Except that you don't have to do that, it just makes the fight against the Powder Gang easier. It's a really nice introduction.

For my character, I don't like guns, so I created a fist-fighter. Also, I play on Very Easy, which is pretty much what it should be. I can still die, but only if I get overwhelmed by enemies, or fight against something completely out of my league, like an Alpha Deathclaw (and I would win, if I could survive one, single attack). Also, very talky, and I try to solve everything peacefully, because I just prefer talking, which often lets me learn more about the world, instead of killing everything in my path. I planned to be pacifist, but Good Springs alone made that not the case, and it is just easier to sometimes kill enemies. Battling became very easy, after I found something better than boxing gloves (though it was funny to fight stuff like Radscorpions, by knocking them out, and then slooowly punching them to death). The Powerfist I found later made nearly everything die in two or three hits, even Deathclaws.

Speaking of killing enemies, I met the some of Ceasars Legion in that one town in the South, saw crucified people, read a bit about this assholes online, and decided that I don't mind killing them. They can go straight to hell - I don't care what your great philosophy is, but I DO know that crucifying people is BAD. I don't care how bad the NCR shows itself to be, the Leagion is not a viable choice. I'd rather choose nothing, and make sure that these fascist assholes will have no place in this world. I mean, the NCR is obviously not perfect (maybe don't abuse your criminals as slaves, it would have saved the region a bunch of jerks building the Powder Gang), but, as I said, the Leagion is garbage, no matter how bad the NCR is.

Come Fly With Me was pretty nice. I killed some Ghouls on the way, the ones who attacked me, but, in the end, solved everything peacefully, with the Ghouls, the Super Mutants and the Ghoul in the basement, all going away peacefully. Cost my three of my Stealthboys, but I guess situations like this are the reason why I collect them.

I still dislike a bit of how the setting works - one character talked about her grandmother in Modok, which implies that this plays at least 50 years after the bombs fell. I mean, I get that there are no ressources to pretty everything up, but I don't really buy, that everyone still has so much garbage in their houses. Like, why are there pilot lights in fridges? I mean, why at all, how did they even get there? And why do I find caps everywhere, even in places like pre-war offices? Did people collect them? I know, that sounds petty, but considering these games are supposed to be immersive, I find stuff like that lacking. Again, the people here don't have the ressources to rebuild stuff, and I get that it would be a waste of time to carry former cars away. But at least throw away the burned books inside your houses.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after the nuclear war. New Vegas and 4 take place not too long after 3, respectively. Yet, you can still find edible pre-war food.

The world of Fallout makes no sense.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Oh, right, I forgot about one thing. The pre-war world sounds pretty interesting. Has this already been a corporate dystopia? The way corporate stuff from the old days are written is really creepy. Alone how they push employees to see their corporation as a family is really, really gross. I dunno, I didn't find that much yet, but it is pretty off.
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
It’s very heavily implied that the pre-war world had been spiraling out of control way before the bombs dropped. Obsidian really took that idea and ran with it for Outer Worlds where corporations replaced nations after it’s own Great War.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
A quick search gave me this piece here. Which is some of the bleakest and most depressing things I have read in some time, and actually makes some parts of the Fallout world seem like a better place. Like, Goodsprings is a decent, nice settlement. Sure, it's not comparable to our reality, but the people seem to have ways of getting food, the community is nice, and they are capable of defending themselves. Seems way better (and seems to offer WAY more freedom) than the awful, orwellian state that the US was before the war.

But just the pre-war posters everywhere are so horrible and absurd (which, thankfully, makes them partly funny). For the record, I like the game, it sometimes is just exhausting to play. And seriously, infos about the pre-war world shouldn't be more depressing than the postapocalyptic world that I'm exploring here. Like, that museum on the way to the north is hilarious, but also so, so grimm.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Ok, I'm at the point, where I can talk to Mr. House, Caesar and the NCR guy. Can I talk to all three, or do lock myself out of two invitations, as soon as I take one? I'd like to hear all three positions, even though I already have an idea where I'm heading.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Iirc you can talk to each one, but once you complete a quest for one, you're going to be locked out of the others, unless you pull the rip cord and go for the Yes Man route.

As always, I recommend making a save before you begin.
 
The Outer Worlds presents only bad choices because it believes the poor are too incompetent to survive without their corporate overlords.​
The key piece of context here is that it's fairly clear corporations have owned the home planet for ages and have been actively grooming the general populace into exactly this (plus hyper-dependence on those corporations). It's even more cartoonishly evil and a lot deeper into the theoretical limits of a capitalist dystopia than a lot of writing bothers to go but all decent anti-capitalist fiction is going to include some degree of showing poor people getting shit on (at least I've never seen any without some explicit exposition or representation of it). As far as I can tell the only reason you come across ANYONE with any competence in the colonies is actively because the actual best and brightest were involved in colonizing as advertised. I'm not going to say the game doesn't hate poor people because you're right, it still has all this grotesque stuff happening to them in it. But as far as I'm concerned showing the very real consequences of such cartoonish evil is exactly what makes the writing work. It can actually get even worse than you've seen! Edgewater is where it does nearly all of the heavy hitting with the concept though. It tones down quite a bit for quite a while after that. It would've been more effective narratively (though probably less so as a videogame) if it took itself a bit more seriously and didn't give you the usual Fallout style ending options because that cartoonish tone and the option to side with the corporate overlords are the main things that drag the execution down.

-edit- annnnnnnd I wasn't paying attention and didn't realize this was from months ago. My bad, thought I was responding to something a little more fresh than that.
 
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