Fallout 4 has been out for over eight months now. Even for a procrastinator like myself, that is more than enough time to formulate an opinion. So now I’ll endeavour to document my thoughts on Bethesda’s latest open-world post apocalyptic role playing game
Massively multi-player role playing games have, with very few exceptions, a standard motif. You create a character, complete a few “orientation” or introductory quests, and are then left to your own devices. Thousands of boring and repetitive quests combine with your character having complete lack of any perceivable impact or even place within the background story to encourage a kind of hamster like behaviour. You run in your little questing “wheel”, seeking levels or gear to help you continue to run in that wheel. Your long term goal: running in the wheel long enough and fast enough to eventually jump to the big, shiny end game hamster wheel of raid content. Raiding is where you get to spend all of your time staring at a wall, or the back end of some other person’s character, for hours on end as you beat some giant monster to get more shiny gear so you can do the next bigger raid. Most people don’t even read the story associated with each quest, and in many MMOGs that is a blessing: the stories are vanishingly thin and comically trivial. They have to be, since your character has no impact on the world whatsoever.
Star Wars: the Old Republic (SWtOR) breaks out of that motif. It plays more like a single player RPG, where your character is the hero of his or her own story. Other players and “group” dungeons (flash points, operations, and Heroics in SWtOR parlance) certainly exist, but the personal story your character is playing through is paramount. It is a refreshing and welcome change, even though the basic mechanics of the game are otherwise pretty traditional.
I have played a few games in the Elder Scrolls series, and each successive one seems to be a little bit better- at least in my opinion. I played Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and now Skyrim. And, with a few caveats, Skyrim is basically the best computer RPG I’ve played to date.
Risen is an old-school role playing game that does very little to make itself appealing to the more “casual” gamer. In terms of overall characteristics, Risen is similar to games like Oblivion- but whereas Oblivion tries to make it easy to progress and overcome your mistakes, Risen makes no such allowances. Interestingly enough, although I generally like “easier” games, I’m actually really enjoying Risen… on the PC. From what I’ve seen and heard, the XBox version should be avoided. Continue reading Risen: Spiritual successor to Gothic 3→
Dungeons and Dragons arguably started its life as a simple set of miniature rules called Chainmail. But it wasn’t until Dave Arneson‘s Blackmoor that the concepts most people think of when they contemplate “role playing games” came together. Instead of simple sets of stats and numbers played out like a war game, Arneson and his rules focused more on story and acting a role, with combat being arguably less important. These rules and concepts formulated by Dave Arneson were the foundation of Dungeons and Dragons, and although Gary Gygax is often credited as being the father of D&D, Arneson played a huge role as well.
Dave Arneson passed away in his sleep on April 7th. He was only 61 years old. I’m am personally indebted to Mr. Arneson for the many years of joy his ideas brought me. But an entire industry of paper and computer games spanning several generations, parents, children, and grand children, owe their enjoyment of an entire genre of entertainment to this man. My thoughts are with Mr. Arneson’s family: many thanks for sharing this man with those of us who know him only through his ideas.
Fallout 3 is the third chapter to the Fallout series of games, brought to life by Bethesda rather than the original developers Black Isle/Interplay which went bankrupt before they could release their version of this episode. Bethesda started over from scratch, using the same underlying engine as was used in Oblivion, the most recent episode of the Elder Scroll series.
It is important to note that I have never played any of the previous games in the Fallout series. Set in a post-apocalyptic world with a rather unique blend of idealized American 1950’s “better dead then red” culture and high-technology/cyberpunk, Fallout’s strengths have always been providing players with a massive “sandbox” game world combined with a somewhat twisted sense of dark humour.
The fans of the original episodes have been rather critical of Fallout 3- it is, after all, a quite different game. I have played the game without any preconceptions, and can personally say that it is an exceptionally enjoyable and deep experience. It may not be the same game as the older entries in the series, but it stands on its own as a worthy adventure in its own right.
Lionhead games released a game called “Fable” (note: site uses Flash plugin) a few years ago. I dismissed it because a few folks who liked “goofy/cartoonish” style games thought it was a great thing.
I picked up a discounted XBox version of Fable over the weekend. Not XBox 360, but XBox- it runs under emulation mode in my XBox 360, though. This means that the graphics aren’t great. But after playing the game for (according to it’s in-game stats) a bit over 7 hours, I can say I truly regret not trying it sooner.