Saturday!

Pillsbury Sugar Cookies 1979 Christmas commercial

There are a lot of different criticisms of Fallout 4 swirling around out there but the two most devastating I’ve seen follow:

1) “It doesn’t feel like Fallout.”

2) “I’m only going to beat it once.”

Now, if you remember Fallout 3, you remember how there was a total Good Guy way to play and, having beaten it like that, you’d want to explore and see what happened when you went Full Dark Side.

And then, if you’re like me, going through and playing it again in order to leave the world in the state that a good guy would have left it in. The ability to do *THAT* in particular made the game feel especially Fallout-y.

Isometric design, moral choices, and the ability to find logs, logs, and more logs explaining what happened at the end of the world. If your main take on Fallout 4 is that you miss Fallout 1 and 2 more than ever, wander on over to Underrail and read some of the Steam reviews. (I’m looking forward to playing it myself over the Winter Break… between Fallout runs, of course.)

So… what are you playing?

(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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21 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. I never played earlier Fallouts, so I can’t comment directly on the criticisms. But as a long-time Oblivion/Skyrim player who was disappointed by Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 4 feels like a worthy successor to Skyrim. (And I replayed Skyrim several times: on different sides, focusing on different skills…)

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  2. Callous 4 does a better job of silk-pursing the sow’s ear of Elder Scrolls: clutter. You need money, and selling heavy junk is an easy way to get in the game. So you weigh yourself down with stuff that has no in-game use, drearily walk halfway from Mortgal back to Whuterun, and dump it all on a merchant for 32 gold pieces. That’s a half hour of game time that Bethesda gets out of you to marvel at the fluidity and beauty of the world they created (and to pump up total game-p,ay ing time statistics).

    Bethesda loves making you choose between the Junk Crawl or not having money. But at least in Fallout 4 they’ve made junk scrappable and the resulting scrap useful. You have a reason to be picking through pre-war toothbrushes and potsherds. You need the ceramic and plastic material to build a radio receiver or a water purifier. Plus the site construction mode applies lessons learned from other builder-sims: it might matter where you put the defenses and amenities in the event of a raid.

    So you’re still tediously hauling junk around the Commonwealth. But at least the junk has potential utility.

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    • I’ve played ES Skyrim and Oblivion and I never had that problem. Sure I could gather too much crap, but I usually ended up with several 100k of coin too and spent it all on stuff. I don’t consider that a real issue at all. What I like about Fallout is that I could pick up several weapons of the same type and repair them, increasing the money I’d generate from scrounging and not having to pay some NPC to fix my gear.

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        • The blacksmiths and enchanting I usually did to customize armour and weapons, giving my books add’l carrying magics, etc., rather to generate creds, but since I usually did ALL the quests I ended up with coin galore anyway.

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          • Sure, but for me the road to 100 blacksmithing and 100 enchanting was paved with quite a few iron daggers and dwarven metal bows of banishing, and those thigns sell for a pretty penny. same for teh random potions of whatever I happen to have on me at the time I made on my way to 100 alchemy.

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            • Indeed, I don’t recall now, but there was some enchantment, maybe anti undead or something to do with the undead, that was a high coin item. Any weapon enchanted with that would sell well, but I also went through several iterations of armour, crafting the low stuff first, then the higher up as I found it or made it.

              Regardless, it got to the point that I no longer really needed to worry about money and could either buy or make anything I wanted or needed. I also pissed my money away on houses and upgrades and such.

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    • If you really want to take your pack muling to a new level:

      Strong Back 3 allows you to use action points to move normally when overencumbered. This apparently counts as “sprinting” to the game engine.
      Thus, you can pair it with Moving Target 3, which halves the AP cost of sprinting.

      With these two, you can go quite a distance at a normal speed before running out of AP, even carrying ridiculous amounts of junk.

      Strong Back 4 will allow you to fast travel with all your stuff and Action Boy/Girl 1/2 will replenish your AP quicker.

      This doesn’t work too well with power armor, however, as it depletes cores.

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      • Don’t even bother with Moving Target. Just go straight to Strong Back 4.

        And unlike previous games, you aren’t stuck with fast travel and the *slowly walking* (If you were smart and *drank* or used chems, you could wedge in another ten pounds…and it would wear off when you arrived.) to somewhere.

        That was actually a huge problem in previous games that I can completely forgotten: In neither Fallout 3 or NV could you fast travel to *your house*. In 3, you landed about 40 feet away from the door to your house, so had a slow walk and another load screen. In NV, having learned their lesson, they…exactly doubled that…land, walk 40 feet, load screen, walk another 40 feet, load screen.

        In 4, not only can you fast travel to whatever settlement you’re calling home, you can place containers and shops right in front of where you land…or even *move the landing* to somewhere else. (The fast travel target is under Resources/Misc.)

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  3. I’ve been playing through KotOR 2 again, which I do every couple of years. I picked up a copy for Steam a bit ago so I could get the Restored Content Mod, which lets you play the cut HK-47 solo mission where he takes out the HK-50 factory on Telos. It’s a ton of fun and like everything else related to HK-47, the dialogue is delightful.

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  4. Surprisingly, still playing Thea: The Awakening… From online guides I learned that I’ve been playing it too much like a 4x game and not enough like an RPG, and in the past couple of days I’m seeing what might be improvement in the midgame. I’d still recommend this to people who like that sort of thing – I’m now well under $1/hour, which is pretty decent for entertainment.

    I’ve also downloaded the computer version of the classic board game “Empires In Arms”, which was over $100 before they realized that online sales meant that they didn’t have to produce expensive boxed stuff.

    And on the gripping hand, the XCOM sequel is coming out in Q1 2016, so if you’re at all interested in it – which I am – you’re going to want to spend some time spinning up after the new year.

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  5. I am, under waves of peer pressure, slowly dipping my toe into Fallout 4. Just a very tentative start. Some early thoughts:

    The opening menu and opening song is brilliant, beautiful, melancholy and clever. Panning over your garage is inspired though it makes me less inclined to build a base elsewhere even though I gather other settlement sites are superior?
    Codsworth is wonderful, I want one. That makes me fret over the wrecked robot in the opening menu, is this forshadowing? Don’t worry about spoiling me, I don’t care.

    My biggest problem is character creation, all the stats seem so important! And you start with so few points! How high is high? How low is gimped? Like is 3 an average? Or 5? What are the most useful stats? I am told charisma dictates how much of the story you can access and I love me some story but intelligence seems extremely important plus endurance if you want to haul stuff and isn’t perception and agility needed for fighting (with guns??) I mean argh!

    My second biggest problem is stuff. I like collecting crap. I have only an hour or two into the game and I’ve accumulated like 40 coffee mugs. If these damned things aren’t useful then why can I pick them up? I’ve stacked them on the workbench in the garage and fortunately all the neighbors are dead so I’m not getting any sideways looks but I am worried that if I play a lot of this game I’m going to get a visit from Mutant Horders. Any suggestions for how to tell the waste of effort items from the hidden diamonds?

    How the flipping flip does hacking work? The game seems to assume I know from Fallout 3. Guess what game; I don’t. You probably don’t need to bother- I’ll google it once it becomes important.

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    • Panning over your garage is inspired though it makes me less inclined to build a base elsewhere even though I gather other settlement sites are superior?

      Other settlements are superior as *settlements*. Well, most of them. What the hell you’re supposed to do with Paradise Falls I have no idea. (I *do* know what you’re supposed to do with the airport, but I’m still baffled you can’t plant stuff. And that and the other settlements that stop *feet* from giant bodies of water are, uh, stupid.)

      What the truck stop is good for is *your home*. Build all the workbenches there, throw some beds there for your companions and you, and there you go. (You can also buy a house in Diamond City but, inexplicably, you can’t send your companions there?!) The small size of the truck stop keeps all those guys nice and findable.

      I originally build a doctor shop there for healing myself (More from rads than health.) and had a settler manning it, but then I realized that Sanctuary is literally one quick sprint away, so I destroyed that shop, built right on the bridge at Sanctuary, and now I have no settlers in Sanctuary at all, except for some annoying drunk guy I recruited that I can’t seem to move who keeps telling me that he doesn’t drink anymore.

      Well, to be technical, I have no settlers *living* there. I send new settlers there to get weaponed and combat armoured, and then send them back out. (And since no one lives there, I don’t have to worry about what they are doing there.)

      Codsworth is wonderful, I want one. That makes me fret over the wrecked robot in the opening menu, is this forshadowing? Don’t worry about spoiling me, I don’t care.

      The sad thing is, I didn’t realize you could use Codsworth as a companion for like half the game.

      My biggest problem is character creation, all the stats seem so important! And you start with so few points! How high is high? How low is gimped? Like is 3 an average? Or 5? What are the most useful stats? I am told charisma dictates how much of the story you can access and I love me some story but intelligence seems extremely important plus endurance if you want to haul stuff and isn’t perception and agility needed for fighting (with guns??) I mean argh!

      Charisma needs to *eventually* get up to 7 if you want to do the settlements.

      But don’t worry too much about your starting stats. You’ll quickly put more points into them.

      How the flipping flip does hacking work?

      Hacking is basically playing a game of mastermind. You click a word, it tells you how many letters are correct.

      The slight oddity that isn’t obvious is that you can click pairs of brackets and parens and remove possible words. Like you see (*&%$) and click it, and a word is removed. So first you go through the entire thing, hovering your mouse over each non-word character and seeing if the hover area turns out to be longer than a single character, at which point you can click it to remove a word. (Or, annoyingly, sometimes it reset tries instead, which would be *awesome* if you knew it was going to happen, but is sorta stupid here, where you want to remove words at the *start*, so have no used tries yet.) And note if it’s something like (#(*#^$) that you can click *both* opening parens.

      Then you pick words. If there are -ing or -er words, I usually pick one of them first, so that if it says I have 3 or 2 matches I know it’s (probably) one of those. But, generally, it’s not as hard as it seems. Usually after 2 words you can solve it in your head, although there are perks to add more.

      Unlike in previous Fallouts, you can’t actually get locked out. If you use all your tries, you exit and have to wait 20 seconds to try again, which only matters in combat. Or you can do what everyone did the previous games, and stop when you have one try left, and then start again.

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    • My biggest problem is character creation, all the stats seem so important! And you start with so few points! How high is high? How low is gimped? Like is 3 an average? Or 5? What are the most useful stats? I am told charisma dictates how much of the story you can access and I love me some story but intelligence seems extremely important plus endurance if you want to haul stuff and isn’t perception and agility needed for fighting (with guns??) I mean argh!

      I put 7 points in Intelligence and buffed it up to 10 as soon as I could. Int gives a bonus to experience points, you see, and I thought that that was very important in the early game. For some reason. I probably could have gotten away with a mere 5 or so but experience gives you more skill points which gives you more experience which gives you more skill points…

      Anyway, find the workbench. You’ll get the option of “transfer”. Put everything in transfer that you don’t need to carry with you. Constantly and continually. Eventually, you’ll start modding your guns and your armor and you’ll need various screws and aluminum to turn your piddly pea shooter into something you’ll want to name. (But save it for a gun you get from a legendary creature that drops something awesome rather than an off-the-shelf model.)

      As for waste of effort items, I’d say anything that is composed of wood, steel, or wood and steel. (You’ll have no shortage of those.)

      Anything else, you’ll probably run out of. Stuff you’ll always want more of: adhesive, aluminum, and screws.

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    • It almost seems worth it to get intelligence up to 10 right from the start. I didn’t do that but I did start it out at 8 and bumped it up to 10 pretty quickly. Intelligence governs how fast you gain experience, which governs how fast you get to bump up other statistics.

      Get Charisma to 7 and get the local leader perks. You need them to set up supply lines to interconnect your settlements and set up shops to sell off the stuff you aren’t going to use. You’re going to have LOTS of bases, not just Sanctuary and the truck stop. The heart and soul of each one of them is the workshop. Put everything you’re not going to use or liquidate for caps in the workshops. Especially junk.

      It’s important to set up a trade network between the settlements. Find a settler who isn’t doing anything. Don’t used a named settler, use one whose name is “settler.” Enter workshop mode. Highlight the settler. Then use the bumper button to tell the settler to set up a trade route between her home settlement and somewhere else. A few seconds later, she will stop being called a “settler” and start being called a “provisioner.” Next time you see her, she’ll have a brahmin with a heavy pack, and she spends the rest of the game walking back and forth with her Brahmin between the settlements you designate, unless you catch her en route and direct her to something else.

      What she does is link up the junk in the workbenches of the two settlements she links together. All those coffee cups and tin cans and broken light bulbs you’ve been hauling around out of blown-out buildings have use. 1) Dump them on the ground right near a workshop linked to your trade network. 2) Enter workshop mode. 3) Scrap everything you just dumped on the ground. Doing so will reduce them to their useful component parts and you needn’t cloud your mind about a sniper rifle being made from a plunger and Jangles the Moon Monkey.

      Don’t set up multiple trade routes to the same settlements. Try not to have the trade route distances be too long in case you need to access the settlement again. I’ve created a network with a central spot radiating out — the drive-in movie theater — radiating out to most places, with the eastern settlements serviced out of the Castle and the western settlements serviced from Sanctuary. If a settlement is anywhere in the network, it can tap in to all of the workbenches in the entire network. In theory, a daisy-chain would work too, but I find the hub-and-spoke model works better because settlements attract settlers at different rates.

      The rarest things are oil and crystal.

      You need oil especially to set up turrets as defenses for the settlements, which are really handy when the ghouls or the raiders come. Use Machinegun Turret Mark I, which doesn’t have a lot of damage but harasses the enemies and more than one at a time can take a ghoul out before it ever gets within striking distance, they add defense points most efficiently, and they use the least amount of oil.

      Crystal you need to scope your rifles and set up communications and electric gear. So junk like cameras, lighters, magnifying glasses, and gas cans are really valuable.

      Copper, screws, gears, and aluminum are important too. There’s a function that lets you flag junk with a little magnifying glass icon to tell you when you’ve found something that you’re looking for.

      Wood and steel can be found in abundance almost anywhere, including right there in most settlements themselves. Cloth is easy to carry around too, since it’s found in cigarettes and destroyed magazines which have zero weight. I have so much wood that I have built my settlers multi-story apartment complexes that have the boxy architectural charm of an Eastern European command economy — in part because it’s an efficient way to house a large number of settlers while leaving lots of open space for farming, and in part because it creates elevated platforms to mount my defense turrets on, increasing their range and diminishing an invader’s ability to shoot them out.

      Something’s going to slip as you build the character. I’m at a point where I can hack and lockpick most anything, have got mods set up on armor and guns, but I need to beef up my actual gun use skill so I can do some real damage with what I’ve got available to fight with. The “scrounge for ammo” perk is something I’m wishing I’d built up more, too, because I’m constantly running out of shotgun shells for the up-close work. So that needs to get remedied.

      I forced myself to switch companions a few times and it’s always hard. I too did not realize I could have Codsworth as a companion. I still like Dogmeat the best for aesthetic reasons, but have spent more than half the game with Piper as my companion because I did the romance thing with her and it seems wrong to leave the girlfriend at home while you go out and have fun shooting deathclaws. Besides, she’s got good pistol skills.

      But you need to flip through several companions to get their special max-out-the-affinity perks and you don’t need to seduce them all, just make them all think of you as their BFF and maybe do a special mission for them, and then you get the perk, which is really useful for your build.

      I like the hacking mini-game a lot, and rarely do it during combat. Protectrons and enemy turrets are usually easy enough to take out directly anyway and they give good salvage. ‘s summary is right; I didn’t know that about the parenthesis, but I’ve never had a problem figuring out the hacking in 4 tries or less.

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      • High intelligence has the added benefit of making hacking easier by reducing the number of words.

        You can actually get 11 INT at the beginning of the game using the You’re SPECIAL book. It normally prevents you from going over 10, but if you drink alcohol, which has a temporary -1 INT effect, you take your INT to 9 and the book will allow you to add a point. Once the alcohol wears off, it’s a natural 11. With the bobblehead, you can take it to 12. Plus with certain clothing and sharp armor, as well as Night Person and chems, you can boost it higher for even more xp, especially when it’s time to turn in quests.

        You don’t need to manually break down junk items. If they’re stored in the workshop, they will be used automatically.

        Oil can be produced from the chemistry station. Cutting fluid breaks down to 3 oil.

        Adhesives can also be in short supply if you do a lot of modding of your equipment. They can be produced by cooking vegetable starch. It’s made with purified water, mutfruit, corn, and tatos. all of which are renewable. I generally only have my settlers growing those 3 crops, and have plenty of purifiers to produce excess water.

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      • Use Machinegun Turret Mark I, which doesn’t have a lot of damage but harasses the enemies and more than one at a time can take a ghoul out before it ever gets within striking distance, they add defense points most efficiently, and they use the least amount of oil.

        Yeah, that took me a while to figure out.

        Mark I turrets add 5 defense using only two oil, whereas Mark II turrets add 8 defense using 4 oil. And, importantly, two Mark I turrets take twice as long to destroy as one Mark II.

        The rarest things are oil and crystal.

        If you do the Paradise Fall Treasure thingy, you can get an infinite supply of crystal because of weirdly disarming traps. Walk down the crazy laser hall, disarming every single thing, flip the switch to rearm them, do it *again*, walk back to the switch, repeat. Infinite crystals. (I think *all* laser tripwires work this way, but you can’t rearm most of them.) I picked up like 200 before getting bored, haven’t needed more. You can even keep doing this after you complete the quest.

        You can also technically make Oil as ‘Cutting Fluid’ on the Chem station, the same way you to make Adhesive on the stove…although to do that you need ‘Bone’, which is even more rare than Oil! Gah, thanks, that’s real useful. You can get some Bone at the Rotten Landfill, at least. (Also, why the hell are 90% of the skeletons in the game not collectible?)

        Copper, screws, gears, and aluminum are important too. There’s a function that lets you flag junk with a little magnifying glass icon to tell you when you’ve found something that you’re looking for.

        The Mahkra Fish Factory is full of aluminum trays. It’s way in the northeast corner so easy to miss. And if you grab every fan you see, you’ll usually have enough screws.

        And, of course, eventually you’ll run across places you can buy shipments of those.

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