Nothing S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Just My Big Boy – Fallout 4 Impressions

Games like Fallout 4 only come around every 5 years or so. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out in 2011, and for the last 4 years, it was the game to which all open world RPGs have been compared to. Fallout 4 is going to be that game now for the next several years until Bethesda outdoes themselves again, and make no mistake, they’ve outdone themselves, big time. I won’t be reviewing this game, heck, I probably won’t even finish it this year, and we all know it’s a great game, so here’s my impression of it so far.

Choices matter. In any open world RPG, if your choices don’t affect the story, it’s a bad game. The amount of choices I’ve been given in the last few days of playing Fallout 4 have been staggering. First off, you have to choose between being a male or female protagonist. No big deal for Bethesda, right? Wrong. Unlike previous entries, this game is fully voice acted, much like The Witcher 3, and so far, it’s done just as well. Gone are the days of your silent protagonist, character interactions are mostly small cutscenes now, and sometimes, being blunt gives you blunt results like in the video above. I expected maybe a little pushback when I said “Kill the Synth,” but nope, he was dead 2 seconds later. I have no idea what a Synth, or The Institute for that matter is, but that happens in open world games. Sometimes you’re thrust between factions without even knowing it. There’s also a million weapons to choose from, my personal favorite so far is a Chinese Officer’s Sword. As you’ve also seen, I also have a Big Boy, but I’ve yet to find any ammo for it, so who knows, shooting mini nukes may become my favorite weapon. There’s a bunch of different guns, melee weapons, and other stuff, including a freeze gun. Personally, I suck at using guns in Fallout 4, and I’ve done just fine with a melee build so far, occasionally pulling out a gun for unreachable enemies, so there’s plenty of choice in weaponry. The biggest new addition to Fallout 4 are settlements, where you tear down and rebuild places so that you have safe territories to send workers, store items, mod weapons, or just take a break from killing raiders, and there’s more than one. Settlements take a lot of time to work on, so it’s up to you to choose how robust your settlements become. Aside from story, battle, and settlement choices, you also have to decide at the beginning of the game where to dump a lot your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points.

Stats in Fallout 4 are kind of complicated, but here’s the dumbed down version. Each category has 10 levels with a perk for each level. Some perks have multiple levels. Unlike previous Bethesda entries, there is no level cap, which means you can eventually get every perk and every level. Unless you’re playing on PC, getting all those perks will take a very long time. So choosing what to pick first will set your tone for the rest of the game, because you can’t respec later on. Are you going to focus on crafting, or survival, or maybe hacking and lock picking? There’s a lot to choose from. You start off with 20 something points which can only be used for category increases, but no perks. As you see above, I put most into Intelligence because more intelligence gives you more experience, but depending on how you play, you might focus elsewhere.


So, I’m going to get back to playing Fallout 4. I’m only level 7. I am not prepared for what lies ahead. Let us know in the comments below how you’re enjoying the game. This is my first time playing a Fallout game, and I’m sorry I wasn’t sooner. I’ve played my share of Elder Scroll games, so I’m familiar with a lot of the basic mechanics, but I’m enjoying the hell out of this new setting.


Game Information
Name: Fallout 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Game purchased by reviewer and reviewed on the PS4.

Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC Review – Trespasser

Nearly ten months after the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the story comes to an end with the Trespasser DLC.

Set two years after the events of the main game, Trespasser begins with the Inquisitor arriving at the Winter Palace for an Exalted Council. The purpose of this meeting is to decide the future of the Inquisition. While Orlais wants to control the Inquisition, Ferelden wants it disbanded.

Of course, things get complicated after that. Qunari complicated.

This DLC is, like The Descent, is a linear story with a few side quests added to make it seem like more than it is, and while most of them are largely unnecessary for anyone who is not a completionist, they do provide a fair amount of lore.

Now, after the next image, there will be spoilers, so if you don’t want them, don’t read!

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Ok, the reason why I’m going to make this review slightly spoilery is because I want to talk about how this may feed into the story for the next Dragon Age game, mainly because they made it kinda obvious: Solas wants to tear down the veil. His reasons, however, are important: he was the one who created it in the first place. Solas’ talk about how a world without the veil would be a beautiful thing wasn’t just the fanciful wishes of one who walks the fade in dreams; they’re his memories. The world before the Elves destroyed themselves (yep, the Vints are not to blame) was like that, and in sealing the mages who wanted to elevate themselves to Godhood behind the veil, Solas, also known as Fen’harel, limited the amount of magic in the world.

All of this is revealed after the final boss battle. Solas leaves, promising that he will destroy the veil in a few years. The Inquisitor is left with the hand bearing the mark removed, and…

Well, you’ll just have to play and find out.

If you only buy one DLC for the game, buy this one. There are some very cute moments with your companions, and, depending on the romance path chosen, there’s even a wedding! The replayability of this particular DLC is all about the various endings, and not so much about the gameplay itself, which was fairly standard. It may even be a reason to play the game all over again, more so than the previous DLC, because this one shows the effects of your choices.

Ayoub’s Review – Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Full disclosure: I backed this game on Kickstarter, and I backed it because I loved playing Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall.

The game starts out with our hero, after you create him or her, getting off a boat to meet their childhood friend and foster brother in Hong Kong. You’ve been asked to go there by your foster father.

There are three battles before you even become a shadowrunner; one of them is avoidable, but yeah, there’s a high probability of being killed first time out. There’s even a Steam achievement for it.

The Shadowrun games involve a lot of reading. The writers seem to be more novelists than screenwriters, so they’re really not concerned with anything seeming too much like a monologue. The balance between reading and playing is good, though. The reading lets you take a break from trying to shoot, fight, or magic your way out of the many encounters. Talking to your group is also encouraged, as some of them will give you missions. Some of the side characters you’ll meet along the way will also help you in surprising ways.

In addition to the character quests, there are many hidden little things in the game that can be easily missed if you don’t look around. There are other runners you can meet, more goodies to buy if you have the cash, and some entertaining characters.

There’s also a heavier necessity for a decker, which seems to be why the decking virtual world has been given a major upgrade since the last game. It looks much better, and has a few more challenges to it. There are times in the game when a decker is absolutely necessary, and other times when a decker can help to avoid a battle, or even save everyone’s lives.

Ultimately the Shadowrun gameplay experience is looking very dated, especially after XCOM, and the upcoming XCOM2. Ideally, for the next Shadowrun game, I’d like to see more 3D, a rotatable map, and a lot more voice acting. Harebrained Schemes have improved their storytelling immensely since Shadowrun Returns, but now it’s time for them to improve the gameplay experience with some new technologies.

This is not to say that I’m dissatisfied with backing the game – I had a lot of fun playing, and I think that it’s definitely worth the purchase price. It also comes with a full set of mod tools keep an eye out for awesome mods in the future!

For a Shadowrun game, I rate it 9/10

As a modern turn based RPG, I rate it 7/10

Have you tried the game out? Are you a fan of the Shadowrun games? Let me know in the comments!

Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC Review – The Descent

The second major DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition dropped yesterday, so being the easily excited BioWare geek I am, I jumped on it.

In my excitement about playing new stuff, I forgot how poor BioWare are at DLC stories in general for the Dragon Age series. Having been spoilt by the good quality DLC for Mass Effect 3 (Leviathan and Citadel in particular), this DLC just felt lightweight and a long, linear setup for a discovery that had already been hinted at.

That’s not to say it wasn’t fun to play.

The main storyline for the DLC wasn’t much more than four hours of game time, and I haven’t yet explored all the side-quests and additional areas. It had all the elements that you’d expect from Dragon Age; exploration, conversation, new loot, crafting, and something to push you forward to find answers. One of the complaints about the Jaws of Hakkon was overpowered enemies, and the same complaint applies here.

Looking at this DLC in isolation, though, without comparing it to others, there’s some fun stuff. Right at the beginning, a little searching finds a very useful merchant who sells dragon parts, and just near that merchant there’s a loot chest with a rather nice weapon schematic. As a twin dagger wielding rogue, I got a schematic for a dagger that would be a one-hit-kill weapon for most of the foes found in the Hinterlands.

dragon-age-inquisition-the-descent-price

The story brings in two characters; a shaper, and a member of the Legion of the Dead. In conversation with them, they hint at the existence of the Titans. These creatures reshape the stone. If I was a betting man, I’d say that this is the DLC that offers some insight into the next game in the series, much like the Legacy DLC did in Dragon Age II. Of course, I could be wrong.

The subterranean areas in the game are gorgeous. There are a great many places to explore, and some searching involved in accessing them. There’s also a mini War Table in the DLC which lets you send Inquisition resources to unlock new areas in much the same way as the main game.

The enemies are Darkspawn for the most part, but once you get down far enough, to an area beneath the Deep Roads, we find a new enemy with insanely powerful weapons and armour.

And that’s my biggest peeve with this DLC – We get to see these weapons and armour, and we get to have to try and survive them, but looting bodies to get them? Nope. At no point can you get their weapons to use as actual weapons. It’s bad enough when you kill an enemy who looks like he has an awesome bow in the main game, and loot him to get a freaking hammer, but looting these guys yields only gold, 90% of the time, and the rest of the time it’s a plot item or a trinket. Why introduce what is essentially a freaking minigun into the game and not let us have the thing?

So, after that mini rant, we get to the end of the main story in the DLC and find that there is a lot more to Lyrium than anyone (other than Bianca) imagined.

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I’m going to keep exploring the other parts of the DLC, because I like exploring, but ultimately, this DLC like many others in the Dragon Age series adds nothing of note to the main game. It can, frankly, be skipped until it drops in price (if BioWare deign to do that).

The next DLC is supposed to be the last hurrah for the Inquisition, like Citadel was for Mass Effect, but on current evidence, unless it brings back various characters from the first two games and delivers something massive, it’s just going to add to my suspicions that while the Dragon Age team can come up with a great game and a good main story, when it comes to DLC, they work too hard on inflating the significance of a minor detail of lore, which makes their DLC a lot less replayable than the main game.

PlayStation 4 Just Went MLG Pro: Competitive Call of Duty Now On PlayStation

Gamescom is here, and while no giant blockbuster announcements are expected like at E3, we got news on Day 1 that rocked the competitive gaming world. Back at our coverage of the Sony E3 Event we found out that the tables had flipped, and unlike last generation, PlayStation 4 would now get timed exclusive DLC when it comes to gaming’s largest FPS franchise, Call of Duty. Now to put the nail in the coffin, Call of Duty: Black Ops III Game Designer Director, David Vonderhaar, announced that all official Call of Duty eSports competitions will now be using Playstation 4 at their events, and “PlayStation is the new home of Call of Duty eSports.”


Now all Sony needs is a Mountain Dew and Doritos sponsorship deal and the Consoles War is officially over. The PlayStation 4 is currently outpacing the PS2 in sales, despite having massive issues(like constantly being DDoS’d causing PSN to go down so often they had to create their own version of Is It Down which isn’t always on top of things anyway). Despite those and other issues, the biggest takeaway from this is Microsoft was again blindsided in a big way by Sony.


During Microsoft’s E3 Event this year, Microsoft unveiled their new Xbox Elite Controller which was made with competitive gamers in mind expected to come out October 31st, a week before Call of Duty: Black Ops III, along with a hefty price tag of $149.99. A lot of time and money was put into it, including marketing. Now it’s dead on arrival. As we say on the battlefield, real and virtual….SHOTS FIRED!

15 Days: How The Witcher 3 Ruined My Life – Official Review

Morgan Spurlock spent 30 days eating nothing but McDonald’s in the movie Super Size Me. He had doctors monitoring him, a girlfriend who looked after him, and a movie budget. I had none of those things. When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt came out on May 19th 2015, the developers at CD Projekt Red told us a full playthrough of their massive open world RPG would take 200+ hours, and they were not kidding. You may have noticed I’ve been fairly absent from Geeks of the Round recently with the exception of our Game of Thrones Vidcasts. That’s because for 15 days I ate, slept, and dreamed only of the adventures of Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3. With the release of The Elder Scrolls Online coming next week for consoles, and then the Electronic Entertainment Expo the week after, I knew some serious dedication was needed. I cleared my schedule, took time away from the site, and sat down in front of my Playstation 4 for over two weeks. I logged 190 hours in The Witcher 3 going by the in-game timer, but from all the times I died and reloaded, which was often because I did it all on the highest difficulty known as Death March, I’m guessing it was probably more like 240 hours. Yeah, I died a lot. Turns out our Executive Producer DeAno Jackson used to be a mathlete and informs me that means I averaged 16 hours a day. So I feel confident in telling you The Witcher 3 is the greatest video game of this generation, and one of the greatest stories ever told. I’m even considering buying The Witcher novel series written by Andrzej Sapkowski, which is really saying something because the only novel series I’ve read in the last decade is A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Now I am not a doctor, but I can tell you from how sore my legs are, the deep bags under my eyes, and my increased blood pressure you probably shouldn’t try to finish this game in 15 days like I did. What more is that immersing myself in this rich world and leaving it so abruptly has not only damaged my health but my psyche. I want more but I don’t think my mind or body can handle more.

The Exploration

To say this game is massive is an understatement. Its map is larger than Grand Theft Auto V and Dragon Age: Inquisition (DA:I), but unlike those games, the world of of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn’t just massive for the sake of being massive so that you’re riding a horse or driving a car for 5 minutes through empty terrain to get to your next quest marker, it’s filled to the brim like an overstuffed suitcase. Filled with monsters, with points of interest, with treasure. Oh treasure, how I missed you. One of my biggest complaints of DA:I, which looks like Two Worlds II in comparison to The Witcher 3, is that it punished you for exploring. You’d come across ancient ruins in DA:I only to discover what awaited you in its deepest chambers was a weapon that you wouldn’t have used 40 hours earlier and wasn’t worth a damn. In The Witcher 3, loot scales with you. You can craft the best swords and Witcher Gear Armor sets, but that doesn’t keep The Witcher 3 from throwing unique gear and weapons at you that are of the same and sometimes superior strength anyway, and even if you don’t keep them you can always sell them for a handsome price or dismantle them for essential crafting materials. So many games get this wrong and it was a pleasure to discover this wasn’t one of them. This also encourages you to pick up anything and everything you can when you explore, because everything can be used for something, whether it’s a plant for alchemy, ore for crafting, or a book that tells you where to look for treasure. Speaking of exploring, the landscapes are often jaw dropping and beautiful. You begin the game in White Orchard, a small farming community which is also the prologue area of the game. It’s filled with fields, small hills, and even has some swamps in the outskirts. Once you leave the prologue area you wind up in The Royal Palace of Vizima, after which point you are free to explore most of the world except for Kaer Morhen, the lowly populated(like 3 people) Witcher fortress where Witchers used to be trained, but you’ll come back there later, much later. The largest free roaming areas in the game are the regions of Velen and Skellige. Velen also contains The Free City of Novigrad. Velen is filled with swamps and small villages, as well as large cities, lakes, and lots of terrain packed with quests and run down ruins and towers. The region of Skellige on the other hand is an island region, filled with a large ocean, snowy mountains, caves, and ancient ruins on each island. The only thing richer than the landscapes in The Witcher 3 is its population, which includes humans, dwarfs, elves, and a huge variety of monsters, beasts, specters and ancient creatures

The Combat

The combat, while not without its flaws, is deep, varied and engaging, especially on Death March. While it can be frustrating to die 3 or 4 times in the game’s first real fight, it demands you learn how to properly fight enemies. It demands you discover their weaknesses. It demands you prepare. You cannot block most attacks by monsters, and sometimes you cannot dodge either. Lucky for you, Witchers were made for this. As a Witcher, you have access to more than just swords and a crossbow, but basic magic combat spells called Signs. Quen is a force field spell, Axii is a mind control spell, Yrden is a trap spell, Aard is a telekinetic blast spell, and Igni is a fire spell. None of them can be solely relied upon, but you will need to learn how and when to use them, in and out of combat. Witchers also brew potions that have different side effects which can also make a huge difference, though I only found myself using them for the toughest battles. Witchers also apply different oils to their swords which enhance your attack power against specific enemies. Witchers also make throwing bombs, which can blind, poison, or ignite enemies, which often act as much needed distractions mid battle, and in few instances the only way to stop a tough monster from healing faster than you can do damage. Each enemy type also has unique patterns, which makes them all the more dangerous, especially on harder difficulties. A single encounter can kill you if you let them, so I found myself saving after almost every fight. Especially in the early stages of the game, you could get torn apart by a simple gang of bandits, a pack of wolves, or a group of Drowners which are annoying amphibious humanoid enemies that are quick and travel in groups, and are deadly in and out of water. Then of course there are mutagens, which enhance your abilities. As you level up and find Places of Power, you’ll gain ability points, which you spend to level or learn new skills, such as Sign intensity, improved sword damage, increased alchemic effects, or regenerating health. You can only activate so many skills at once, so invest wisely, though at some point you will be able to buy potions to respec your ability points.

The Story

The most disturbing subplot I’ve ever taken part in

 
The adventures of Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3 are not just one overarching plot with a few side missions thrown in. There are many large stories told here, with characters as interesting as Geralt himself, and complex, very complex. Geralt finds himself tasked with helping them all, often in exchange for information on his missing apprentice Ciri, who is like a daughter to him. Ciri is the blood daughter of the Nilfgaardian Emperor, and also happens to have an ancient lineage which gives Ciri her power to travel between different worlds. Ciri is pursued by a mysterious army called The Wild Hunt that can also travel between worlds, and seems to sense when and where Ciri uses her power. This is the overarching plot. The stories you encounter along the way take you through the whole gambit of emotions. Uplifting, depressingly sad, disgusting, disturbing, vengeful, hilarious, and oh yeah, lust. While you do not have to sleep with anyone, Geralt of Rivia is known for being a lady killer as well as a monster slayer. All of these amazing stories are only made that much better, however, by the impact your choices have on them, and sometimes you don’t even know when you’re making a huge choice, and you find out the consequences 2 or 3 hours later. In the 190 hours I played, I never once found myself bored by the story, or one of the many side stories, or even a small side mission that’d turn into an hour long Scooby Doo-type who-dun-it mystery.

The Experience

This isn’t like Skyrim, it’s better

To think that there are still epic journeys to be had in today’s world of gaming makes me hopeful for the future. As more and more small developers move on to mobile gaming, it’s great to see that there are developers out there like CD Projekt Red who can do twice as much with less than half the budget of bigger names like EA or Bethesda. The lore in The Witcher is as deep as anything found in The Elder Scrolls games, the action is unique and fun, and the world is brimming with character. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I still have plenty to do. There are so many side missions I didn’t do that I could easily spend 100 more hours on this game and still be playing original content I haven’t seen yet, and I plan to this summer. There’s also more to come with 10 more free DLC items(for a total of 16) and 2 expansions. That’s not to say this game is perfect, far from it, but the imperfections mostly come from bugs and things that aren’t intentional, for example there’s a known game breaking bug in the quest Pyres of Novigrad, which stopped your story progression and hasn’t been fixed yet(look for it in the next patch if you were affected). Or when you can’t attack an enemy because the game doesn’t recognize you’re in combat or worse you put your fists up instead of grabbing a sword and you end up getting sliced(not often, but often enough for me to bring it up). But show me an open world game not plagued by bugs. This game got so many things right that it’s easy to forgive the flaws that come with a game of this scale, much like it was easy to forgive Tom Brady for #DeflateGate because he’s just so darn handsome. So if you’ve been playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt what are your impressions? Do you think it’s cemented itself for Game of the Year? Let us know in the comments below.


Game Information
Name: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: CD Projekt RED
Platforms: PS4, XBox One, PC

Game purchased by reviewer and reviewed on the PS4.