Nitpicking My Post-Apocalyptic Honeymoon

Two weeks have passed since my last entry.  An entry about Fallout 4.  What has happened since then?  More Fallout 4, of course.  It's a damn big game, and I wish I had more time to play it.

At about 89 hours of play time, I find my old Bethesda Software Gamebryo Engine pattern of gameplay still applies to Fallout 4:
A beautifully lit abandoned church provides all the illumination I need to pick off enemies.
I start by gearing my character towards stealth.  This is partly so I can take fights on my own terms, but it carries the bonus of allowing me to witness the behavior and flavor text of the various NPCs that have yet to be alerted to my presence.  To many players of open-world Bethesda games, it may seem as though all the enemy NPCs can do is rage and try to kill you, but the players of stealth characters know of the whole other world of their idle activities.  Fallout 4 introduces a slew of new settlement-mechanic idling activities to an NPC regimen that was previously limited to wandering around at random and spouting one-liners.   In this way, I find playing a sneaky character really brings the game alive.

At higher levels, being sneaky is essentially developer-sanctioned god mode.  This was a problem even in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, where you were allowed to enchant your armor in such a way to as to have a permanent invisibility effect.   In Fallout 4, the balance is somewhat better, but four pips of the stealth perk and a specialized suit of armor is still enough to make me practically invisible in many circumstances.  Enemies are usually alerted by my sniping them from afar, but I usually get the choice to hide until they decide they just imagined their friends' heads exploding.
An "instigating" laser musket was quite the find, but I can only imagine how nice an instigating gauss rifle would be.
For the more durable "legendary" enemies, I utilize an "instigating" six-crank laser musket.  It's louder than my silenced sniper rifle but, at six cranks with the rifleman perk, it's able to do a base of 360 damage.  The "instigating" perk doubles its damage as long as the foe has yet to be hurt, to 720 damage.  If it's a sneak attack (and it will be) then that damage is doubled yet again, and not too many foes can survive taking 1,440 damage to the head.   The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim suffered from similar upper-level damage scaling, but apparently this was not deemed a real problem by its developers.

If I encounter a combat situation that my stealth alone isn't sufficient to utterly defeat, I can mop up with a semi-automatic assault rifle or shotgun (both of which benefit from my "rifleman" perk) and chuck a few grenades for good measure.  I can't help but feel that toe-to-toe combat is a lot more interesting, and I have some regrets that the game is balanced to favor stealth.  In previous Bethesda games, my regrets blossomed into rerolling my stealth ranged-kill characters into something that I hoped would be more interesting but, so far, I've managed to resist the urge to reroll in Fallout 4.
I still maintain that most of the gameplay takes place here.
Core combat grousing aside, I have the same general complaint of the flow of the gameplay in Fallout 4.  For about 75% of the time I've played the game, it's just poking around ruins to salvage everything that wasn't nailed down and then dragging it to the nearest settlement.  Having lots of salvage translates to better equipment and better settlement amenities.  However, it bothers me how little progress I am making on quests and general story progression.  Admittedly, the power to choose to do something else is in my hands, but I nevertheless find that Fallout 4 has its incentives set in the wrong place.  Perhaps the ideal solution would be to make what I like doing count towards completing the game, instead of distracting from it.

Despite my nitpicks, I really can't say that Fallout 4 is a bad game.  It may even be among the best, and perhaps the current best I am not completely bored of.  It goes to show that Bethesda has been improving their Gamebyro-engine games with each one released.  While Fallout 4 isn't perfect, it's still better than Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the next game will be similarly incremented in all around features.  In the meanwhile, Fallout 4 is still the best game of its type, even if The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt raised the bar a bit above it in certain ways.

You'll notice I'm not playing Fallout 4 tonight; tonight, I am blogging.  Honestly, I'm feeling a bit despondent.  Between full time work and all this procrastinating, there's been less time than ever for my creativity to manifest, and I feel my wasted life slipping between my fingers.

I am looking back at my last development-related blog entry in August, and the recent success of Undertale, and thinking it might be time to give GameMaker another chance.  I was thinking of using Unity, but I don't need all the development and engine overhead it has attached to a 3D engine, and neither do I want to spend a lot of time coding my own pathing routines.  It leaves GameMaker an attractive choice, if less specialized than I would like.  I wish GameMaker's coding IDE was more intelligent... but there's always something, isn't there?


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