3 days later…

Note: I had to download some pics from the web. I normally don’t do that but I’m on my laptop and all my screen shots are on my computer at home. I’ll do better next time but the images I found are similar to the in game experience so it’s not going to be markedly different other than the gear I might have had on.

The start


All Fallout (and Wasteland) games have started somewhat similar. You’re a dude in a vault given a task or motivation to leave and you step out into the blinding site overlooked a wasteland of broken remains of the old civilization and the blight that is now and left after hundreds of years in the vault. With a few exceptions of course.

Fallout 4 starts you out just before the nuclear war starts so you can get an idea of what suburban life is like and give you a small motivation to get you started once you get that far. SPOILER: You end up watching your wife die in her cryo tube and your son taken from her.

Once in the vault you’re told you need to be decontaminated but instead you’re put in a tube of some sort and flash frozen (cryo technology). This is different from all other installments where you end up being a living member either in a vault and then leave or outside the vault in a later date.

So after a short romp inside the remains of the vault, picking up a gun and some ammo and dealing with some pesky rad roaches you’re out in the start contrast to the suburban area you ran from in the beginning.  And you’re motivated by one single thought in your mind – to find the guy who took your son and get him back.

Outside in the town you once lived in


Your former life is located not far away from the vault itself. Here you’ll run into your former Mr. Handy Codsworth and he’ll aqaint you with the lowdown and also reminiss about what was lost. It’s clear that Bethesda have invested in actual voice acting and a little bit more meaningful dialogue compared to previous version. It’s completely voice acted, including your characters responses or questions and it feels emotional enough to be believable.

I’m not stating that it’s a brick of gold – such as with the many fleshed out characters like in Borderlands 2, but it’s a much more solid attempt to ‘humanize’ the story elements without adding too many repetitive voices with more canned responses.

Eventually you’ll end up (perhaps) saving some people stuck in a further off town that’ll resettle here and you can try out the new crafting/SIM experience tool that allows you to take a settlement and ‘improve’ it (more about that specifically in a different blog post.

Dog companion, stat


I other versions of Fallout the dog companion was something you worked to obtain. In general it was immediate or basically automatic. I have a sneaking feeling that Bethesda wanted you to get back in familiar territory quickly instead of going through the same motions as before giving you that ‘it’s almost the same’ feeling, but repackaged and prettier. You’ll find this guy across a bridge from the town you start in by a gas station and another area you can pimp out. Just as with the first town it comes with all kind of crafting stations and a hole in the ground (if you check out the clues left behind) with your first fusion core.

Just a simple interaction with the dog will make it your first companion and a useful addition when fighting basic enemy critters, not so much against well armed raiders and death claws. One thing tho. There’s a perk that makes it more useful against armed raiders (he can grab the raiders weapon arm and hold it, making your shots easier) and I have also observed him dragging around feral Ghouls on the ground that makes it easier for you to nail them.



Another difference from previous games is that you will get your hands on a minigun and power armor not long after you meet up with dog and walks into the next town over. This is where you end up saving a bunch of people holed up in a Museum from some nasty raiders. And given the task to find a fusion core and take the power armor on the roof and the mini gun and deal with the rest of the attackers.

It is also where you get a first hand experience of a deathclaw.

First – deathclaws much like all other creatures now have more interesting attack patterns. Most of them no longer just run towards you (altho sometimes you’ll see them running logged against an object without getting too you – familiar pathing issue for Bethesda products using this engine). Mole rats will surprise attack, then run off and dig themselves into the ground and pop up elsewhere, raiders will peek out from objects and fire at you and the deathclaw like this one will bob and weave from side to side making firing at it harder. And it’s fast. And hits very hard. Even when you wear a power armor.

This adds to the game itself. Creatures don’t appear too predictable and stupid eventho they’re not perfect. And it provides a tactical element where you sorta have to think on the go and try to get the upper hand on them.

The one exception to this are feral ghouls. They’re pretty much will go right for you so they can rip you open.

Personally I like the fact that you get your hands on these things early. It gets you familiar with how things work now (power armor isn’t just something heavy you wear, it’s a portable tank armor). And I like the new power armor because it’s not just damage reduction – it’ll pretty much deflect almost all shots until one segment gets damaged enough.

It also lets you jump off buildings without taking fall damage. But there is one catch and it’s big. It runs on fusion cores which are at least in the beginning very rare. So while you have a few badass moments you won’t be walking around everywhere in power armor stomping mole rats and mongrel dogs. You’ll save it like I did for when it’s needed – like when I saved a bunch of people from a raider gang that had taken over some factory or something and you have to fight off more than a dozen of them. Having a ‘can’t hurt me now’ thing is for better words ‘useful’. Until concentrated fire blows parts of your armor off that is.















Welcome to Falloutlicious and Craftbigbangers

Fallout 4 is here. And while I’d love to be the guy who played Fallout 4 from the midnight launch till the wee hours and went to work with a 12 O’Clock Shadow, morning skunk mouth of coffee, mouthwash and peppermint gum, I’m’ too old for that shit’ or rather, my boss boss is visiting today.

I could conjure up le old ‘I’m so damn sick today’ but I’m already taking tomorrow off.

I did spend the early morning hour doing the intro. Which is figuring out looks, watch the early stuff and see ‘my’ son get kidnapped by a scruffy looking guy and ‘my’ wife shot. Then there was the bit about walking around scrounging the innards of the rusted out vault, pick up stuff and go ‘hmm, looks interesting’, smack some rad roaches and get the hell out of there.

Then the regular bit about covering the eyes because not having seen the sun in forever tend to do that. And of course realize that the cute 50’s looking suburban area with blushing fall trees, new houses in a row was nothing but a sun bleached wilderness and the gutted remains of the old civilization. With overturned rusted out cars and trucks and the skeletal remains of whomever got caught in the blast whenever the bomb went off.

Unlike other games in the series you’re not just a vault dweller that spent several hundreds of years in the underground. You’re not like the previous one (Fallout 3) where you began as a toddler in the vault, grew up and leave looking for your dad.

No in this vault they cryogenically freeze you and you only wake up once to see the scene of your buy getting taken from you and your wife killed. I have my suspicions that since you go back into sleep that boy is now grown up or something like that.

Anyways – I will still dip my toe in the waters of DDO just to do a raid or two, but for now I’m taking a longer break until Lam opens up – checking that out – and then until U29 drops. Plainly speaking DDO is wearing thin and Fallout 4 is an excellent excuse to immerse myself in the wastelands again.

To think I’ve played every single Fallout since the first excellent Wastelands. Every one – from the first, to tactics to the remake of Wastelands. I’ve played – AND – loved it all. So my post from now on will be mostly about Fallout 4 until Lam and u29.

the night revels

The Many Faces of…

I like the Event. Moreso than any others before it. I think I made that pretty clear in my last post so there’s no reason to rehash anything. But primarily I think because unlike Crystal Cover I don’t have to depend on hirelings to perform their minimal function while I place torches and such or that the group I’m in enters at the right level without some highlevel person ruining everything before it’s too late to fix.

Plus unlike previous events this does not rely on complicated schemes for material or unlocking function. Get a key, do a challenge. Done.

But one thing that I didn’t cover last time is what class might be the best to use. In the featured Image is my Vanguard straight fighter tank. Now level 22 I think and just a hair from being able to use the Bsword from the MOTU Raid. I did make a cosmetic out of that armor (clearly not the one meant for a level 19 when the image was taken) and the hood – that one is from the event. It makes an excellent cosmetic for that setup. I definately want to get the spinaltap for cosmetic and mirror that shield – from U28. That combo makes for an excellent setup for that toon.

Anyways; as vanguard goes it’s not entirely ideal for the event. Everything is undead so while trip and stunning shield works, stunning blow won’t (unless you’re smacking shadarkai’s in the public area).

Plus the DPS isn’t the best for these type of events. Maybe in the highest level but not at level 19-22 even with a good unlocked destiny.

In previous years I’ve recommended divines and even Arti’s. Arti with the animus (or similar like the glass cannon) and a good repeater is still pretty nice. But on the higher level even with a good pumped Arti those tactical detonations and such seems not all to effective.

Divines definitely are. But high end divines comes with the negative of high resource use in order to get the most bang for the bucks, so this year since Warlock is out, I’ve been running alot of that. And it’s pretty nice.

I know – people don’t like the easy button playing, but Warlocks works nice in these events for several reasons – least of all because they got superior DPS – that’s not true at all.

First and foremost. Bursts. A good warlock running ES will have access to 2 okay bursts and either twisting in energy burst or running Draconic adds more burst options. Here most of the Warlock centric elements work just fine. Such as fire, sonic and acid. Plus if you also run ES you’ll have an okay amount of Light on top of that.

That’s not to say you can run a good Sorc and do an impressive amount of damage, but some undead are immune to specific elements (like cold and electric, not all but some) and therefor makes the choice of savant element that much more important – and possibly painful dependent on gear.

With Warlock you’ll have cheap main attacks in the average damage range such as bursts and possible blasts. But if you combine these with some more useful destinies it gets even better.

I like Draconic for acid or fire. Excellent destiny adding a breath, cortex and energy burst to the mix that goes well with the Warlocks pew, pew and possible ES bursts.

I also like Exalted Angel. It might not have a good synergy with your pact element but it does with ES adding not only light damage but also several nice SLAs. True, this is a more SP thirsty destiny due to the SLAs, but you still get good bang for your bucks.

Of course we should forget Paladin on the melee side. All melee will do just fine in the event but Paladins add a nice barrage of undead killing power – making them uniquely adapted for some undead bashing fun.

Note – I prefer Warlock for public area killing. The different bursts allows you to quickly dispatch mobs to get as much out of say a Draught or for that matter grouping.

For the challenges anything will work fine, since there will be smaller mobs and they’re generally not that long. Any which way you seldom have enough space to fully exploit ranged advantage so you’ll end up in close combat often enough.


The Night Revels

The new Mabar event is much like the old – in that the public area is still being over run by undead (well most of them are anyways) in Deleras Graveyard. And similar to the last couple of years, it’s divided into several level instances so you don’t have the wonkiness of level 5’s spawning tiny skeleton in an area where level 28’s run. Altho I don’t think it stops people from entering those instances I do believe they only spawn creatures for that level.

And like before you do this for a new base material and a more rare chance for a key. Draughts work as well, but for some reason it doesn’t proc in the public area (only challenges). Hopefully this will be fixed. The Draught of Midnight and the key can be bought in the store. The key drops about 1 every 15-20 minutes (seems to be the average) and you can turn in material for the Draught.

There are 4 challenges/quests/events or whatever you like to call them. The level range is low (whatever the lowest might be) to 35 – so for once you can underlevel from 28. However these new 4 materials are capped at 23 which seems to be the max amount you can get. So it’s going to be 23 if you say step in as level 25 and do 35 or 28 and do 35. Each of the 4 drop a new type of material but all in all you only have to worry about 4 different ones in a very simple scheme compared to any other type of schemes in the other or previous events.

That goes for any of the old Mabar gear. None of the saved materials work anymore and it has all been translated into this new scheme.

There are some new items with a ‘spooky’ stacking mechanic including +2 int and wis augments, and several BTA clicky’s in the shape of armor, docent and hats.  I prefer the idea of hats – the armor is less useful since only the docent is an instant switch. If you’re a caster type that use light, medium or heavy armor, it’ll take a while to re-equip it after applying the 90 second clicky.

Perhaps the most controversial idea is that some of the materials including consumables vanish at the end of the year. Part of the claim is that this prevents duping.

Personally I think it’s silly. First – most players don’t run these events 24×7. Perhaps the worst part is that if you want to make any of the old materials you have to start from scratch and it takes an increasingly higher pile of material to make since you buy at lowest level and upgrade each item up till 24. And THAT is a chunk load of stuff.



However, putting these gripes aside, this is by far the best version of ‘Mabar’ and probably the easiest material scheme compared to any other event. Crystal Cove have a bunch of different gems. Granted you can now ‘downgrade’ but it’s still way too many different types of materials for essentially being able to upgrade items similar to Night Revels. And it’s far simpler than any other previous Mabar gear scheme.

The challenges are also fun – it takes 4 existing low level quests and makes a quick challenge/quest out of it. 2 are very short. Replacing Sharn syndicate thugs for undead in the quest where you save that tavern.

One is the harbor quest where you’re going down into a room to clean out scorpions. This time of course it’s a bunch of undead with a boss ambush. Again – just as quick as it sounds.

The third is another harbor quest using a Kobolds new ringleader to fight zombie kobolds lead by a Lich where even the traps remain from the original quest (a few doors don’t work tho including that passage to the spiders – pity).

And finally one of the quests out the Carnival series in house of P – the Snitch. It’s actually not the entirely thing. Only the last portion of it where you sorta do it in reverse to end up fighting a Lich in the court yard where you can either evade a bunch of dogs or kill them.

I like that at most they’re medium long and that with a full group you’re going to hit through this in quick succession. You can of course solo it and dependent on class it’ll be either relatively drama free or with specific class dependent on boss somewhat hairier. I also like the mechanic of finding keys to unlock the events.

You could spend one day farming keys and another looking for groups to do the challenges – and you can still join up to 12 people for a group farming in the public in order to drive up spawn rates.

All in all – I like this event much better than previous event mechanics. No longer an error prone ‘raid event’ with an unlock mechanism that tend to break down when people are fed up running or very late at night when there’s not enough people running it.

Finally – the vanishing material is a silly mechanic. But it should detract from just how streamlined and clean this is. Turbine tried to revive the Mabar stuff through another abysmal scheme during the Mimic event. I loved the mimic event since it added an extra unknown to all chests in all quests – but the scheme to turn in for stuff was terrible. If I remember it correctly you got things from the event, turned them in for a random card and THEN combined these cards for a reward.

It was so dreadful that while I enjoyed the event I never turned anything in since it wasn’t worth the hassle.


A story about Challenge

Last Thursday after update/patch 28.1 dropped, I ran what was perhaps to most painful group experience I’ve had in a while. For most part, and the few times I do group up when the synergy of what I want to run and what other runs (like this weekend and a full run of Vale) coincide in a good way, the experience is usually good.

We run EH or EE, on full or semi full groups and by all accounts it goes well. But this was a big time snag group where I – with my sub optimal fighter/warlock vanguard tactical dc build had to pull most of the weight.

It was the third quest we tried; the first was the maze one in E gianthold and I stepped in just when it was finished. Then we did Madstone – and thanks to this guy running some kind of exploiter hybrid toon we did well. The fact that the others ran their way and kept dying should be a sign. A sign of just how bad things was about to become.

Then we ran POP. And that turned out to be a fun house of frustration.

I mention this because there have been some myth about just how terribly un-challenging things are overall. A myth perpetuated mostly by people with completionist toons, fully geared and that have a great knowledge of the quests they play. Apparently these factors are entirely negligible in the overall scheme of things in what should be more nerf’s, deeper nerf’s so they can barely scrape by – never mind the many other regular players.

Players like this group where dying seemed to be happening around every corner.

On of this myths is of course that once everything is awesomely hard, cats and dogs will live in harmony and people will be forced (but in a good way) to assume their natural roles and it will be swell. Like healbot to the meatbag SP sponge. The tanking guy. The crowd control casting guy. The pew, pew guy and of course the evasion McRogue guy that disables and unlocks.

Here we had the rogue guy (able to do unlocking and fight – altho dying quickly). We had a caster guy that well….casted….but not very good at dps or anything. I don’t know if he was on a terrible destiny while doing EE but there was very little stuff going on. I think he was doing some melee and had lots of sorc levels. But he wasn’t very good at it.

We also had a cleric. That didn’t do any raising, any healing, any buffing (other than the mass stuff in the beginning which I think was really meant mostly for his own build). He died all the time. Of course running a POP EE with 400 something HP isn’t all that smart, but being unable to heal yourself well enough is inexcusable.

What followed was a disaster on many levels. Clearing out the corridor to the top went well enough. Few mishaps and mostly easy stuff. The cleric of course blew all his SP doing trash mobs where it doesn’t even count.

The red named skelly can be an issue but my vanguard did most of the tanking and altho a time consuming problem, not the worst.

Now the different prisons. In every single of them (and we avoided ice, fire an the beholder) people died, I ended up tanking everything with my low DPS build and if half the group wasn’t dead before it was over it was probably a fluke. Most often it was the cleric and the ‘sorc’ dying quickly.

Worst was of course the fact that I kept throwing resurrects during combat which was ignored by the people who died. Which of course made me mad. But the worst was yet to come; the end.

I ended up taking on the head boss – slapping him down to about 10-15% while people attacked everything but the head boss and died. Well I lie – the rogue (or whatever he was) died last – without throwing out one single resurrect to get people up. I of course couldn’t since my demise came from it turning over to Xoriat, the dream creature slammed all my Charisma so I couldn’t really do anything and the mindflayers munched up my brain.

Once we were all dead, I said my ‘have a good evening’ and dropped.

Mind you – this is not about them. This is about the notion that the super group zerging through every quest without a problem is an altruism. This week as I did a IR with my hybrid build as it hit cap for a pure fighter vanguard, I played at one point with a group doing Missing in the harbor (level 15 quest chain). On Elite certain portions like the end quest can get hairy. And people died.  These were awesome players. The difference here is that this quest chain was done before the new ones and therefore are not up to par when it comes to difficulty against the latest enhancements sweeps.

On the other hand I also did update 28 heroic quests and that was a lot hairier. There was one guy that got his arse handed to him all the time. Probably from poor agro control and started pulling all the creatures before I could intim them. And died.

And the damage was very nasty as well. Mine is a pure vanguard fighter build with many of the armor feats and such. So he got plenty of PRR and MRR despite the changes. And there were times when half the 600+ HP was chewed up in a split second. But thanks to 3 effective tactical feats I could knock down or stun to clear up some of the issues.

Again – there was plenty of challenge to be had despite running with mostly competent players.

I hope this is the end of the silliness of ‘lets nerf everything’. Because it’s not going to fix whatever the issue might be and no amount of magical thinking will bring back the good old ‘everything is awesome and pigeon holed’ again. The best way to make people group up is to have group XP weeks now and then because it works. Even if the grouping experience runs the gamut of awesome to deplorable.

buddy hug

Hug a dummy weekend!

So the Buddy XP event have now expanded from one weekend to one week and it’s a great thing to see. Not only is it demonstrably a success in just how many LFMs goes out of their way to fill up a group, but it’s a great incentive to forgo the ‘hmm not running my thing’ to actually maybe even advertise your own LFM or jump on something you wouldn’t normally do in the train of things you do.

Like me jumping on the Wheelon chain eventho I normally save that for maybe 26 (now 25) or 27.

But that’s the allure of a smartly crafted bonus meant to entice people to get together. The raid one however is not as interesting. Partly because a Raid XP weekend lacks the same appeal as regular grouping. How many group up to raid for XP? Not many – my idea of a raid bonus would more be expanded chance to pull raid items, or maybe a bonus for running raids. It could be say 1/2/3 percent higher chance per difficulty setting to pull  named items/shard/seal etc. Provided you’re talking full group. Or maybe a increase dependent on how many are in the raid. The more people the higher the chance. That could naturally be done in fractions of an increase not to make the chance too high.

It could also be an increase for everything worthwhile in a raid chest. Once per day per raid, with a higher amount of say heroic comms, higher chance for named loot etc. The point is to entice people to run these raids for the reasons people do it – if it boils down to XP I’m afraid only the ones normally running raids would do it and it wouldn’t really increase the amount of people running raids.


leaves of the forest

BTW, am I the only one that think Leaves of the Forest medium armor looks silly? The docent version actually looks nice. This is definitely not my favorite one.

This weekend I decided to level up Ulgord my experimental hybrid tank. It was originally very pure Fighter Vanguard and did well as such. Back in the MOTU days it was a pure tank build (before the release of the Vanguard) and it was with mixed results. Particularly since as Turbine kept on releasing higher and higher end quests, it was clear that whatever tiny amount of healing you could get on a heavy armor melee (cocoon) wasn’t enough to offset the grievous amount of magic damage. Once armor up happened and the release of Vanguard I was eager to take advantage of the new features.

I’ve since done some other things with it including now running as a Warlock/fighter hybrid, taking advantage of bursts and Aura as well as trying to use tactical feats.

First – tactical feats are a waste (by large) on Warlock hybrids. Particularly improved trip since it requires such a steep investment. Stunning Shield is fine of course – relatively low investment and it uses the best stat (in this case Charisma since I’m using a purple knight). However anything else is more or less wasted.  Now, with the re-balancing and nerfs Warlock is quickly becoming a tedious pay 2 play class with lower damage output and clearly less of a DPS prospect. That combined with no MRR on armor. While there are a few good medium armor, such as this one and Shadowmail (perfect for a caster type melee) it’s not enough to compensate for the lower PRR and no MRR, not for my liking anyways.

So I’m going back to pure fighter vanguard and I’m going to invest in 2-3 of the Armor feats and 2 at least for tactical feat.

That would make stunning blow, stunning shield and improved trip useful again and the PRR and MRR somewhat competent again. It’s not perfect – but it does allow me to go back using the better armor, shields and such. So as soon as I hit 28 again I’ll be iconic reincarnate to purple knight and remain pure.

I must say – the buddy xp stuff is a nice boost and it’s almost fun running with mostly competent players. And not to put a bad spin on things – at best you zip through most content without issue and worst you end up in groups where every nook and cranny need to be explored (and some quests are long and you’ll end up wasting xp potions on flower sniffing). However there’s no denying in the success of the event. More LFMs across the spectrum and almost full groups every time.

There will be BUDDIES!!!!

Buddy week is upon us. This is the second time Turbine experiments with group up type XP (last time was a weekend) and to me it was an astounding success.

I hear people wistfully thinking that ‘if we only add a few more thumbscrews it might force people to buddy up again’. Because, you know – nothing says – lets be friends and play the game – like being forced to do it because soloing is evil and need to be combated.

I hyperbole of course – but it does make me laugh when people think that making things worse for regular players will make grouping all that more palatable through increased pain. Yeah, that’s how things work – if grouping is seem like the lesser of two evil people might just not play at all (or something else instead). Which is a more likely scenario than ‘lets stay together’ ’cause the dental drill to my fun gets better if we hold hand.

To me the grouping event was a nice driver to strive to group up and many times waiting for a full group since that also increases the XP value. I don’t mind grouping up at all, but with a smaller player community there’s also less chance that people play the stuff you want to accomplish or willing to put up instead of just doing it with their closest friends or guildies.

The last buddy weekend had me play with many different groups and there was a lot of LFMs up for a diverse amount of content.

And I think having a week like this extends the sample group. Maybe they can simply make this type of thing permanent. Altho from experience the effect of things like these tend to flatten out over time.

But anyways – buddy week it is. Looking forward to EE content for maximum effect so I can take some of my guys (particularly my Arti) to 28 again. Arti is increasingly dreadful to level past say 24-25. The diminished return from the enhancements and the lack of synergy with destinies makes it feel grindy against increasingly high HP targets. Outside knives eternal (best rune arm in my book) everything else gets dreadful.

So grouping up and spreading the pain works just fine to me. They get buffs, I add some rogue features and a smidgen DPS. And we can haul arse all the way to the end.

In would also want to redo my one Warlock into a sorc. I was planning on doing it anyways (emptying that TR cache is a pain however) since having 2 Warlocks are a little excessive. I like sorc and I liked how a pure Air Savant plays and the spell it uses. I also like Earth Savant, but it’s hard to argue against chain lighting and its like.

My former Earth Savant, also Warlock will remain Warlock until Turbine nerf it to oblivion. They’re already on their way. Granted, most of it is because of the prolific use of ES, but seriously. Once you get out of the ES burst bangers regular Warlocks are not all that impressive. The crit damage is below what I experienced as a Shiradi Sorc and the only real benefit is the low resource usage. The procatastic nature and speed of fire of a good Shiradi caster far outpaces the slow firing and often inaccurate Warlock.

So buddies, here I come. With my Arti for sure, and maybe my Warlock. We’ll see.