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New Vegas DLC on the horizon? -or- How Dead Money killed Fallout

Yes it has been a while since my last post, and I apologize. I have been busy running around finding a job and playing Fallout: New Vegas. I have to say that New Vegas is pretty addicting. It is my first step into the Fallout universe but I wish that I had started with Fallout 1’s isometric(think Diablo II) view.

New Vegas is produced by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks. If it is anything like Fallout 3 there will be numerous DLCs to be had. Yet as of now there is only one offering and it is kind of a let down. But more on Dead Money later.

Due to some trademark filings made by Zenimax speculation has arisen that the next set of DLC for New Vegas will be titled Honest Hearts and be released on or around April 19th. Quite a bit of time has passed since Dead Money was released, which is a good thing… there would have been ample time to make it into a fitting DLC for the main game. Two more names have been brought up as being potential DLC in the coming months, “Lonesome Road” and “Old World Blues”.

The Honest Hearts DLC will more than likely deal with The Burned Man, Caeser’s former right hand man who was burned alive and left to die in the wastes after the first Battle of Hoover Dam. Graffiti in the wastes points to this – ‘The Burned Man Walks’. There is no word yet on when or where it will take place or if it will possibly continue the free roam after the main quest(not likely). There is however a snowglobe for Zion National Park in the game and some believe this is a location in Honest Hearts.

Now, on to Dead Money. Sheesh.

This DLC was a real pain in my ass. It was *very* linear and while the writing and story and characters were all great, the gameplay mechanics and the reasoning behind them fell way short.

First off there is a poisonous gas cloud that shrouds the Sierra Madre casino, and yes the entire DLC takes place on the casino grounds so there isn’t all that much to explore. This gas cloud is maybe the best part of the DLC as it is explained in pretty good detail. There are numerous accounts of how it came to be and how the workers building the casino had a very hard time because of it. If you are exposed your health drops fairly quickly and it makes some areas pretty challenging.

Then there is the collar. *shudders* Oh god the collar! This really got my goat, for some reason(to ensure cooperation) the antagonist of the DLC straps collars around your necks that will explode whenever he needs to kill you, read: when you tell him you aren’t going to help him. This is all well and good, except for some odd reason simple radio signals make the collars go into a countdown to doom. So you have to go through all of the areas searching for a radio that is making your collar beep and turn it off. For an even odder reason the collar also goes off when there is a speaker playing any sort of sound near it as well. This makes absolutely no sense what so ever and detracts from the experience very much.

Some of the speakers are able to be destroyed(they are blue) while some are ‘armored’ and have to be taken off line before you can blow them up(they are … red). Some of the speakers can’t be deactivated so it just puts a time sensitive barrier on certain portions of the map. Very disappointing game mechanic. Oh, did I mention that if your companion dies it sets off your collar? No? Well it does, so good luck on hardcore mode.

The level design is reminiscent of old-school FPS like Doom or Heretic. Where you had to go to X room for Y key to Z door before you could progress. The antagonist needs you to do some very specific tasks and while there may be multiple quests they are really just sub quests for the main quest. Yes you heard that right, there is really only one thing to do in the DLC. Spoilers follow.

Spoilers. You first must get 3 people who have either been brought to the Sierra Madre or been there since the war. Once you have located one you ‘convince’ him/her to go back to the start area. Once you do that you need to take them to a different area so they can do a task that ‘only they can do’. Having gotten all the people to their spots you trigger the event and are let into the casino, where you are promptly rendered unconscious.

Spoilers. For some reason each person is dragged to different areas of the casino by holograms or something and you must interact with them again(go find them and talk to them) to further the story/get a key/stop the casino from being exploded by a gas leak. Once you do all this you get access to an elevator that takes you to the vault. After a bumblefuck with the speakers you enter the vault where the antagonist finally comes downstairs and you either A)Kill him or B) lock him in the vault. Regardless of your choice you are able to take as many gold bars as you can carry (I only got 4 they each weighed 35 lbs) and thats about it. Each gold bar is worth roughly 5-10k depending on your barter.

Spoilers are over.

The title was a bit harsh, the DLC had it’s moments. Mostly these moments came in the form of reading what had happened before the war on terminals or in journals. The plot and the ways the plot was advanced were absurd. I mean, holograms that can interact with you but you can’t do anything to them? AND they drag you around the hotel after knocking you out? Cmon. I didn’t even go into how there were only 4 different kind of enemies in the entire DLC, and there were only 4 NPCs that you could interact with, and that there is hardly even any good loot in the entire ‘level’.

Meh, I am confident that the reason there is such a huge gap in the release of these DLCs is Obsidian learned from its mistakes and is actually trying to make a good DLC offering for their game. At least that is what I am hoping.

 

 

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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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Brink. Bringing the FPS genre to change, kicking and screaming.

Bethesda, the RPG giant who brings us Fallout, The Elder Scrlls, among other great titles, is breaking new ground with a multiplayer based FPS. Brink is their new high polish, action packed, blend of story driven narrative and multiplayer fragfest. Set to launch May 17th, it is gaining some headway on the more traditional FPS we have come to know and love(or loathe depending on your point of view).

In the world of Brink mankind has come to an impass. The future has lead us down a long and narrow path of excess and oneupmanship that cannot be sustained. In comes ‘The Ark’; thought to be the saviour of the human race, this man-made floating city was to be a hive of scientists and activists who together would solve the world’s eco-crisis.

The Ark, the highlighted areas are what have been revealed by Bethesda. (link)

Now, after the polar ice caps have melted and drowned most of the world The Ark is isolated, floating alone away from what little mainland remains. It has degraded into a fair bit of chaos and thugs abound to use what little resources it has left for their own selfish needs. Another group seeks to lock down The Ark and try to salvage what they can for the sake of humanity.

Features, as far as the eye can see, or the draw distance allows!

There are a host of innovations and tweaks to the FPS formula that Bethesda/Splash Damage know all too well. There will be huge amounts of player and weapon customization, the ability to seamlessly move about the environment, a complete mesh of single player and multiplayer components, as well many unlocks for the four classes.

As far as classes go the four available to players are Soldier, Operative, Medic, and Engineer. How these core models differ is largely a mystery as of now but we can make some assumptions based off of this video.

The Soldier will be the beefier of the characters. Allowing for more damage output and intake. It will probably be largely solo play based with most of its abilities catered to killing and movement rather than team support.They are able to be equipped with charges and other explosives that are used for destroying objectives and/or clearing the way for others on the battlefield. He also is able to drop ammo packs for himself or allies.

Soldier equipment, a HE charge, ammo pack, and specialized grenade(flash)

The Operative is most likely a stealth class, able to disguise himself as an enemy and hack computers. The hacking is used for slowing demo charges planted by enemies, opening new areas of the battlefield, using hazards against the other team, and a whole lot more undoubtedly. It works at range or up close, the only difference is the time it takes to hack… the closer you are the faster it goes. Other abilities available are placing a beacon on an enemy player while disguised that shows his movement, placing a timed explosive on an enemy that only another operative can diffuse, and ‘interrogation’ of downed enemies… which gives the team a radar for a short period.

An example of what an Operative might look like

Engineers are a support class capable of building and trapping the game world. They can build or repair an objective as well as diffuse soldiers high explosive charges. Some other objects they are able to construct are stairs at certain points in the map, and turrets that will automatically fire on enemies within range. They also can throw out weapon buffs for allies which will increase damage done. Laying mines also is an Engineer only ability, which is able to be upgraded and the Engineer can choose from different types of mines for different needs.

Engineer repairing a crane(right)

Lastly the Medic is another support class. They deal in healing allies and buffing their health. On top of this they are able to revive downed enemies and buff other aspects of characters such as speed or accuracy. Healing yields a much higher XP gain than killing for the medic so this will be a class chiefly for those interested in keeping teammates up rather than dropping enemies. One unique equipment of the Medic is the Lazarus grenade, capable of reviving multiple downed allies within its blast radius.

Medic throwing med kit(left)

 

On top of all this goodness is character and weapon customization. Brink offers unfettered access to clothing and accessory options for players. There are so many options available, even the face has up to 5 ‘slots’ for sunglasses, earrings, and face masks. And the best thing of all is your character is persistent. The same guy you play in offline campaign is used for your multiplayer experience. This will allow you to grow attached to your avatar and feel more emotion when you do something really badass, or get a bullet in the throat.

The amount of customization doesn’t falter with the weapons. Each gun has many options for many attachments. There are opticals such as scopes and sights, underbarrel attachments like grips and lasers, as well as clip/mag extensions and silencers/muzzle breaks. The level of detail with the weapons is surreal, often times players will feel as if their gun is their own and not just an ‘Ump 45 with a Holographic sight’.

Compare this...

... to this.

Still with me? Good… this isn’t even as long as my last post >.>

One of the big things about Brink is the addition of S.M.A.R.T. movement. This stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain and it looks pretty beastly. Gone are the days of ‘bumping’ when you try to go¬† up a tiny height change and your characters foot doesn’t want to go 1/2″ off the ground. Gone are the days of not being able to leap up onto a wall and vault across a gap. GONE are the days of having railings and tables get in your way as you traverse a map. S.M.A.R.T seamlessly moves your character over obstacles, onto obstacles, and through obstacles.

The player is able to use parkour style moves to get up on the sides of walls and run short distances and other sort of maneuvers. Sliding is possible, and you can shoot while doing it too! Freedom of movement is a big thing with Brink and the developers have made it known in a big way.

Mark the date on your calendar North Americans (May 17th)! Brink will redefine the FPS genre, whether Activision and Bungie want it to or not!

 

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Console, FPS

 

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