Tag Archives: Fallout

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Pax Day 4: No, YOU Calm Down

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And so we say goodbye to another PAX. We can’t wait to see how much more VR will be at the next one, and how that will drive non-VR content. For now, we’re going to rest our strained muscles and settle into waiting for all the fun stuff  to come out IRL. Here’s what we saw today:

  • We wanted to like Don’t Starve more than we actually did, but Klei’s new game looks like it’ll keep us happy. It’s called Oxygen Not Included, and it’s a space colony sim that feels like Fallout Shelter with legs. There’s a lot more to do, the art looks just as sweet as Don’t Starve, and the interface seems to have learned a lot from other sims.
  • We liked watching Objects in Space, a “modempunk” stealth space trading game, but were too intimidated to give it a shot ourselves. It’s built by an Australian brother and sister team (he designs, she codes), and it came to PAX with an insane Arduino controller set that looked delightfully scrungy. The garage/DIY aesthetic is lovely,and the gameplay revolves around stealth combat avoidance, with occasional battles using remote sensors. Madness, but seemingly good madness.
  • OMG YOU GUYS. [Mary here.] OMG FALLOUT VR. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever played a demo that I loved as much as this. Paul and I waited two hours in line for an eight minute demo and it was worth EVERY SECOND. We’re easy marks since we’re such huge Fallout fans, but I’ll be as objective as I can be. At E3, Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 will be available in 2017 on the HTC Vive, which is the device we used. The demo takes place at the Red Rocket truck stop. When you phase in, your good buddy Dogmeat is there and I can’t tell you how great it was to see him there. You have a Pip-Boy on your left wrist and a pistol in your right hand. You are able to cycle through the Pip-Boy modes with the Vive controller. It’s relatively intuitive, and I imagine with more time it becomes second-nature. You can then pick up a laser rifle, a shotgun, and a Fat Man from a table and cycle through them with your right controller. That’s when the action begins. The first wave is a few raiders, pretty easy to take down. Sadly they shot the Fat Man off the table before I had a chance to grab it (I might have been distracted by the fact I was IN the Commonwealth) and it glitched and disappeared so I stuck with my pistol and shotgun. (Paul used the Fat Man on everything and made short work of it all.) The next wave is feral ghouls… I screamed SO LOUD. It’s one thing when they’re hurling themselves toward you in 2D, but in a virtual environment it’s absolutely frightening. I got a little disoriented making sure I’d taken them all down and the next thing I knew, a Deathclaw had come up behind me… If the feral ghouls were frightening, the Deathclaw was pants-shittingly terrifying. I finally killed him and spent a few minutes exploring, which was just wonderful… Being fully transported into a world I love so much was entirely satisfying. Pretty much anything you can interact with in the game is also available to interact with in the VR version, including the crafting table, though the demo didn’t have crafting as an option. VATS wasn’t available in the demo either, but presumably it will be in a full version of the game. The only downside for me was not enough time to learn the interface, a problem that will certainly be solved with time on my side. Others have noted that this is more a proof-of-concept tech demo than a game, but if you’re familiar with Fallout it’s impossible not to see the potential. Also, you guys, feral ghouls and Deathclaws in your face! [/Mary]

    Paul checking out the wasteland of the Commonwealth. That's just wall art in the background, they asked that we not share images of the content.
    Paul checking out the wasteland of the Commonwealth. That’s just wall art in the background, they asked that we not share images of the content.
  • The extremely charming roguelike Rogue Wizards drew us in with its vivid graphics and fun interface, but we swooned when we read this on their site: “A narrative with a core message of gender and class equality.” Awwwww! It’s out shortly on Steam.
  • If you, like us, missed out on the PAX screening of the live-action Lookouts short film due to the injustice of our universe’s temporal laws, you’ll be glad to find out you can watch it online. Please, though, try to watch in on a big screen if at all possible. (Speaking of the Lookouts, read about Thornwatch in Saturday’s post and get in on the Thornwatch Kickstarter while the getting is good. It has now tripled its goal, if you’re keeping track!)
  • Let Them Come is a soon-to-be-out mobile and PC game that essentially lets you relive the sentry gun scene from Aliens—but with you on the trigger, prosecuting an endless stream of alien extermination in the strobing light and staccato sound of your trusty mounted space gun. This was one of those games that sucked us in at first with a fun idea and art, and then we were kind of surprised (given the game’s limited scope) to still be playing it 20 minutes later. That addictiveness bodes well for mobile! You fight enemies in waves, with new and more tactically interesting aliens (and bosses) getting thrown into the mix.When you inevitably succumb to the onslaught and get overrun, you get a chance to buy active and passive upgrades to improve your odds next time around. A fun touch: you get to the upgrade screen by clicking on your “BoomBox,” which is sitting behind you blasting out tunes appropriate to the task at hand. You also collect “mixtapes” and choose your soundtrack. Fun! A bonus: Let Them Come is published by Versus Evil, which also publishes two other games we love, Guild of Dungeoneering and Banner Saga 2.
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  • Elder Scrolls: Legends entered beta at the beginning of August and there was a pretty huge booth dedicated to it at PAX. Joining the ranks of Hearthstone and Magic Duels, Legends is an online deck-building game featuring familiar characters from the Elder Scrolls universe. [Editor’s note: Yeah that’s great… Did I mention how awesome Fallout VR is?! I mean, I love Elder Scrolls, but can I fight an enormous virtual dragon?! You guys. Seriously. Fallout VR.] When Legends launches, it will be available on iOS and Windows.

    Elder Scrolls: Legends booth at PAX
    Elder Scrolls: Legends booth at PAX… there was about a 90 minute line to play.
  • How can there still be undiscovered arcade ideas that are this elegant and fun? Inversus is in this year’s PAX 10 and it’s like frantic high-speed murder Othello. The trailer below can modem a description of it into your brain faster than we can describe it:
  • We can’t wait to explore Moon Hunters more. We first saw this helping judge the PAX 10 and it accomplished the unlikely feat of mixing a meditative mood involving world-building with sprinting Robotron-style arcade combat. Read some of the impassioned reviews on Steam if you need convincing, it’s designed for 1–2 hour playthroughs with 1–4 players coop, where you relive the same fateful few days building your individual reputation and legacy. (How can you not love this from the developers: “Moon Hunters could be described as a mythology generator.”)

Check out our long-ago PAX coverage right here.

[Editor’s note: Did I mention how much I love Fallout VR?]

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PAX West 2016 Day One: We have to call it “PAX West” now.

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We’re back at PAX, which has finally succumbed to the reality of large, successful organizations and renamed itself “PAX West.” We’re super-psyched for the success of our favorite nerd show, but it was nice to experience Northwest privilege while it lasted. PAX Prime is dead, long live PAX West!

Other than that, the vibe and essence of the con haven’t changed, as far as we can tell. Everyone is still super-friendly, the scene feels super-inclusive, and the focus on fans and players is clear as day. They’ve put together something special for sure, and we’re grateful for all they do.

  • We swept through the Indie Megabooth, scouting it out for more focused time during the rest of the show. One very noticeable difference was the massive number of VR games available. This was also true of the main show floor, but it was fascinating to see that tech get adopted so quickly by small, scrappy devs. Rob tends to experience IRL nausea when he’s set up with VR, but Paul and Mary welcome the new hotness.
  • We may have more to say about this later, but we wanted to give a quick shout out to Open Sorcery, which is on display at the Indie Megabooth. It’s a text adventure that incorporates modern elements to damp down frustration (it’s based on Twine, which is a big help) (can we just take a moment to reflect on how great Twine is? Like really?). You are a magical being that is also a firewall protecting community sites from intrusion, which should send some of you straight into the Smile Zone. Maybe its premise is a little hard to explain, but it’s well worth a look—check it out free online. It’s also on iOS and Android if that works better for you.
  • Mary wandered into the Bethesda booth and was immediately mesmerized by the trailers, standing open-mouthed and staring for a very long time. You won’t be surprised to hear that we’re all really looking forward to the latest Fallout 4 DLC, Nuka World. We saw both the adorable animated trailer and the gameplay trailer, the highlight of the latter being feral ghouls getting run over with a roller coaster. We really want to do that.

  • When we walked up to Republic of Gamers’ booth and there were only three or four people waiting to play Minecraft on the Oculus, we were like, “Did this come out last year?” But no! It was just the magic of Friday. (And perhaps the distraction of the ridiculously huge ARK T-Rex across the way.) Minecraft VR is pretty much brand new—less so for Gear VR—and it is hell of fun. Our nine-year-old nerdling henchmen very excitedly said, one to the other, exactly what you might expect: “It’s like you’re in Minecraft, dude!” We talked to the nice RoG guy about the future of more and more games being VR ready, and the coding hurdles required in basically creating simultaneous tandem left-eye and right-eye renderings. He was partial to playing Project CARS on Oculus (games where your avatar is stationary, e.g. in a driver’s seat, are of course ideal for VR), and he said that Project CARS 2 will likely be built even more for that experience.

    Oculus Steve! #minecraftvr #paxwest2016 #meatspace #republicofgamers

    A video posted by Nerdhole Podcast (@nerdholistic) on

  • We have little experience with Dishonored, but the trailer for the sequel looks fantastic. In a very general way you could say that it’s steampunk-meets-Assassin’s Creed, but that’s not really doing it justice. Both the cinematic and the gameplay trailers show a neat mechanic that involves the player character turning into a smoky, ethereal form to sneak up on enemies and squeeze through tight spots. There’s architecture that literally folds up and transforms as you pass through it and an eerie conspiracy driving the plot. We’ll post more if we’re able to try out the demo.

  • Rob was intrigued and a little nostalgic about the trailer for the rebooted Prey, coming next year from Bethesda. It’s one of the first games he picked up for his Xbox 360, and it had some fascinating physical mechanics—like portals, a year before Valve’s Portal made us fall in love with magical door-like contraptions. It also gave a taste of social justice issues, as it starred Native American characters and used some kind of problematic Native American spirituality in what was basically a bug hunt. It turns out that the developers did a fairly decent job of reaching out to Native communities, and the protagonist is nothing like any stereotype we’ve ever seen. The new game is a “reimagining,” which could mean practically anything, but Rob will keep his eyes on it.
  • We were surprised to see that Blizzard had an entire booth dedicated to their brand-new World of Warcraft expansion, Legion. Blizzard makes relatively few appearances at PAX West, and generally it’s been well before an expansion drops. On the other hand, they’ve been working hard to make WoW even more accessible to new and returning players, and this is most likely part of that push. Mary will certainly have an entire post dedicated to Legion at some point since there’s plenty to say about it, but here’s the tl;dr: it has launched much more smoothly and with more fanfare than the last few expansions, so if you’re thinking about trying the WoW, now is a good time to do it.
  • We took a quick look at Yukon Salon, which was being touted in the board game zone by our podcast pal Andrew of A Podcast For All Intents and Purposes. It’s a fun-looking card game that involves (among other things) giving afros to miners and bears. More like BEARSTYLES, right? Anyway, there’ll be a Kickstarter coming your way in the very near future, and we’ll let you know when that goes live.
  • Our nine-year-old nerdling henchmen took us on a tour of Kaladesh, i.e., into the depths of a completely Magic’kd-up Paramount Theater to celebrate the debut of the new expansion. These were the highlights:
    IMG_9559For Seattle gamers who have probably seen everything from the Pixies to Soundgarden to Yo Gabba Gabba Live! here (we’re not judging), it’s exciting to see the Paramount all dolled up for one of our favorite games.
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    These guys were playing in the “Inventors’ League,” a free casual competition in which you grab a small deck (you pick your favorite color, plus a random one), put on a lanyard to identify your inventiveness to other Inventors, and then play five matches for a $2 discount on tourney play. There are many OP events (including 2HG, Mini-Master, and Deck-builder’s Toolkit Challenge) all weekend.
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    Or you can simply bask in the Magic World Championship happening on center stage, with the top 24 players in the world playing quietly in the background and duking it out for $70K. The stage is also home to many great Magic panels and an M:tG improv show on Saturday night that we kind of can’t not go to. (Is “Yes, and…” an instant? I need the name of a planeswalker and an enchantment! We’re here all weekend, folks.)
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    You can also just stand in the lobby and fog up the glass looking at REAL LIVE KALADESH BOOSTERS!
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    Last but not least, follow Magic on Twitter to learn about how they’re giving away these over-sized cards from the new set several times a day. This one went to the first person to bring a “vehicle” (in this case, a Magic Carpet card) to the corner of 9th and Pine at the appointed time. BTW, even if you don’t have a PAX pass, the whole alley beside the Paramount will be bustling with Kaladesh madness that you can partake in starting at 10am every morning, including Kaladesh cosplayers, glass-blowing, and a build-your-own-ornithopter(!) area.

Check out previous years’ PAX coverage at the Stranger right here. We’re also posting tons of stuff on Instagram!

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Robots Ate My Lunch

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Automatron
Automatron

This week’s podcast (coming soon!) is all about our return to the world of Fallout 4 now that the DLC is live and available on consoles. But first, a tale of hubris that took place after we recorded:

I was feeling pretty smug, as I often do. This time it was because I had breezed through the end game with a ton of Luck perks and a tricked-out Gauss rifle, one-shotting fools on all sides and loving the hell out of VATS. I would have bumped the difficulty up a notch or two from Normal, but I wanted to get to the end a little faster.

And I did! And there’s neat stuff when you get there, at least in the Railroad-aligned finish. But then I started to check out the Automatron DLC, and, well, my lunch got eaten. By robots.

I stumbled into a one-sided firefight between a bunch of junky-looking robots and some wasteland folk and thought I’d save the day as usual, ho hum, shut up Preston. After murdering hundreds of Institute synths, these rusty jokers would make easy kills. I popped one with a quick VATS sneak attack and then took some time to check out the rest of the opposition. While scanning, I was quickly surrounded by my kill’s grieving friends, and before I even thought to look at my health bar, I’d been pounded into a slo-mo death animation.

Invigorating! I managed to take them out the second time with the help of some chems and a deeper investment in self-preservation, and I’ve found every battle since then to be challenging and life-affirming. I even had to drag a power armor out of storage for one battle, breaking my looooong chain of Silver Shroud cosplay.

And so I recalibrate my expectations and ponder cranking up the difficulty in search of punchier adrenaline squirts. Maybe a quick, smooth ride to the end isn’t what it’s all about. Maybe I need to wander through my settlements and build them up from the sleeping-bag-infested work camps I threw together in my rush to read the last page. Maybe death really does make us appreciate life more.

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Episode 50: Apologies 2015

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Sorry everyone!
Sorry everyone!

It’s New Tradition Time here at Nerdhole! Rather than round up another tired old “Best of the year” list, we offer you our sincere apologies for our ill-considered opinions. What did we get wrong this year? Listen and find out.

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Also: WOW, 50 episodes! Feel the commitment, kids–you’re stuck with us now.

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Episode 47 – Fallout 4

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2 out of 3 Minutemen are women.
2 out of 3 Minutemen are women.

It’s been out for a few weeks, and we’ve finally managed to pull ourselves away from our platforms of choice (Rob’s on a PC, while Mary and Paul are burning it up XBox-style) to chatter excitedly about the unstoppable coolness of Fallout 4. They’ve improved elements that needed work and left plenty of good stuff as-is. By the time you listen, we’ll have easily clocked over 200 hours between us. Please send food!

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Episode 33 – Fallout Shelter

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Fallout Shelter screenshot
How deep is your love?

We run the gamut of nerd emotions from wild enthusiasm to sputtering envy as we discuss the delightful iOS-only mobile game Fallout Shelter. It’s sweet, fun, and as thoughtfully executed as every other Fallout game (except that mythically horrible Xbox game we never speak of). And Rob will never play it.

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Fallout Shelter screenshot
Happiness is a warm fetus.
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WARNING! Fallout: Shelter Is Massively Addictive

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My vault.
My vault.

Nerdhole’s email thread regarding Fallout: Shelter:

Mary:
Ugh I can’t help it, I’m totally doing in-app purchases. Fallout: Shelter has taken over my iOS life. I don’t play SimCity, I don’t play Frozen, I ONLY PLAY FALLOUT: SHELTER.

I’m constantly worried about my vault dwellers! And if I send one out into the wasteland to forage I have to keep checking my phone to make sure he or she is ok. I’m about to spend my third $4 on supplies. I’m writing this in an effort to put it off, but who am I kidding? Eventually I will spend it!!

Paul, have you been playing?

Paul:
I got about five minutes into Fallout: Shelter and backed away in fear of just what you’re describing! But I think I may try again. The min-maxing pressure of where to place things and what things to place and being locked into your choices stresses me out—but I’m sure there’s an IAP to help with that!

Mary:
Yeah my first vault I just started placing things, so then I made a second vault to try to be more organized, but actually my first vault is thriving better. I just had a crisis where I couldn’t figure out why my dwellers were all sad and then I realized they all had radiation poisoning, and now they’re getting happy again.

I do wish you could shift stuff around like in SimCity. Even though you start with a core area and just start plunking stuff down, you can always move and reorganize.

Also you can NAME your dwellers, which is awesome. I haven’t started doing that yet, but it’s cool you can customize.

Rob:
Wow. Just throw this thread up as a post, title it “WARNING,” then walk away.

Mary:
Done and done.

More screenshots from my vault:

The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin' it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)
The kids born in the vault wander from room to room until they reach adulthood. This kid, Will, wandered in on a couple doin’ it. Creepy. (The little green smiley faces from behind the cabinet indicate that baby-making is happening. If you put a male and female vault dweller into the barracks they WILL have babies.)

The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
The Radio Station can lure wastelanders to the vault where they can live in comfort and harmony. Mostly.
Tim and Pam, gettin' it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller's happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
Tim and Pam, gettin’ it on for the second time. (Will is their kid.) Sexy-time takes a dweller’s happiness level right to 100%, and pregnant lady dwellers will stay at 100% their entire pregnancy. Which is obviously 100% accurate.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
In this picture you can see Will, the kid from earlier, all grown up. He enjoys working with his dad, Timothy, in the power plant. Will is equipped with a rifle, not the BB gun he wished for when he was little.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam's been working in water treatment and something's gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
OH NO! Disaster! Pam’s been working in water treatment and something’s gone wrong. Pregnant dwellers and children will run from disasters, and you need to bring other dwellers in to deal with the trouble.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
The fire spread a bit, but the dwellers got it quickly under control.
Cynthia's intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the "I" in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Cynthia’s intelligence is high (you can see the bar over the “I” in SPECIAL is taller than the rest). I also equipped her with a lab coat that gives her another +5 to intelligence (the blue part of that bar is the boost). She is happy working in the science lab.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He's now reasonably well-equipped so I haven't had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he's out.
Timothy heads into the wasteland to forage for supplies and caps. He’s now reasonably well-equipped so I haven’t had to stay glued to my phone the entire time he’s out.
Tim's journal lets me know everything that's happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
Tim’s journal lets me know everything that’s happening to him. The green bar at the bottom will fill up with supplies as he picks them up. On his last expedition, which was four hours long, he picked up five guns and about 600 caps. It takes dwellers half as long to get back as the length of their expedition, so a ten minute mission will take five minutes to return from.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you're thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
The in-app purchases are lunchboxes filled with mystery items. You may get caps, food, power, water, weapons, armor, or dwellers. Whatever you’re thinking now, you WILL be purchasing some lunchboxes. Good luck.
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Fallout 4 or Dog Simulator?

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I’m as excited as can be about the hot new Fallout 4 trailer (see it here), despite viral shenanigans keeping my body in check. Bethesda is mostly just teasing their E3 presentation on June 14 (watch it live here), but there’s a lot packed into the three-minute clip.

Let’s start with the setting: Boston! Okay, it might not have been my first choice, but it’s got plenty of landmarks and history to mess around with. Each title in the franchise has built in more and more setting-based Easter eggs (though New Vegas did recycle some from Fallout 2), and the clip is full of Boston landmarks. If there’s not a Tea Party side quest, I’ll eat my three-cornered hat.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, which in the Fallout world can only mean the dog. First-time viewers of the trailer could easily think that the friendly, inquisitive German Shepherd is the game’s main playable character, and while the ending suggests otherwise, who am I to say for sure? Canine companions are another fixture of the series, but maybe they’ve flipped the script this time so it’s more like Peabody and Sherman.

And then comes the fan service. There’s a lot to take in, from the Ink Spots song to the Power Armor in the garage to the insanely dangerous household robots to Ron Perlman’s iconic line “War…war never changes.” The brahmin, the deathclaw, the ghouls, the vividly detailed city streets, it all adds up to a $60 direct debit from my checking account.

My only concern is the emphasis on pre-Apocalypse flashbacks. Most likely this is just non-game storytelling juju, but that was a lot of pre-war animation, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It might be neat if they worked that into character creation, like the infancy-to-adulthood sequence in Fallout 3. Time will tell.