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Apocolyptical Compromise

The niece and nephew have their own roof now, so I was able to have most of the weekend to myself.  Following last blog entry's trend, it went to Fallout 4.

I have settled my cognitive dissonance about how to build my character through compromise.  The point of contention was simple:
  • Should I prioritize taking perks that make playing my character more fun?
  • Should I instead prioritize perks that make my character more capable of overcoming the challenges in the game?
This could not be resolved conclusively on one side or another; ideally a character needs to be both fun AND capable of overcoming the challenges in the game.

So I did both.  Every time I gained an odd-numbered level, I chose a fun investment for my perk point.  The even-numbered level perk point were spent towards better overcoming the challenges in the game.  Although this bad for my efficiency in achieving either aims, it has nevertheless proven highly satisfactory for resolving what was essentially a psychological hangup on how to best play a game.

Now at level 22, wearing armor with decent ballistic protection, and possessing rank 3 of the Lifegiver perk, I seem to be surviving well in Survival Mode.  I still need to backtrack to find a bed when I have made significant progress, as I can still be overwhelmed by particularly nasty encounters, but getting one-shot killed happens less than earlier levels, owed partly to how many enemy spawns have fixed levels.

Of course, this being me, it was not long until I had another bit of indecision to resolve.  What main weapon type should I specialize?  Of the five types of weapons, I have narrowed it down to the three basic firearms, each tied to a perk:
  • The Gunslinger perk prioritizes semi-automatic pistols, and is good for spending a lot of time in V.A.T.S. because the action point cost of those attacks is somewhat small.  However, one-handed sidearms have a fairly low per-bullet damage, so you either supplement that with additional multipliers (critical hits and sneak attacks) or you won't last into the endgame just counting on pistols.  Another downside is that there is little variety of pistols in Fallout 4, a mere 12 weapons in the entire game (not counting unique variants) and the main tactile difference between them is whether or not they are revolvers
  • The Rifleman perk prioritizes semi-automatic rifles.  These are capable of the greatest per-shot damage in the game, which multiplies beautifully, but the V.A.T.S. action point cost is a bit higher (especially with a scope attached).  The variety of rifles are quite good, with 17 weapons to choose from, many feeling entirely different or specialized to operate at different ranges in different ways.  An important consideration in Survival Mode (which I am playing) is that the character's encumbrance limit is lower and rifles are heavier than pistols, so covering all ranges by lugging around both a shotgun and a sniper rifle is a costlier choice than in the other modes.
  • The Commando perk will work with most weapons capable of fully automatic fire (but not heavy weapons like miniguns). Auto fire has the highest cost per action in V.A.T.S., but typically fire three bullets per action.  Automatic fire is modeled with less damage per bullet, but collectively more damage overall, so you pay a steeper price in ammunition.  Bear in mind that, in Survival Mode, ammo has a carrying weight.  The variety of automatic weapons looks to be as low as pistols, but this is a little misleading because most pistols and rifles can be modified to become automatic. With a few perk points invested, automatic weapons can stagger foes, which (as experienced Skyrim players can tell you) makes a big difference in combat.
I definitely need to invest fully in at least one of these perks because this literally doubles the damage of the affected firearms.  That not only trivializes many combat encounters, it also makes ammo consumption much more efficient.  Despite the obvious benefits, I have been putting off this decision because there is no clear cut choice; all three weapon types have their ups and downs.
A heavy combat armor and assault rifle setup looks very formidable but, in Survival Mode, it is enough to floor many characters' encumbrance limits.
Again, I am left wondering if my interest in Fallout 4 will wane before I find my answer.  I have fallen into a pattern of setting out towards a quest destination, loading up on junk long before I get there, backtracking to the nearest settlement, unloading, building up the settlement a little, and resting to save my progress.

It is rather tedious.  The greatest problem with playing this way is that Fallout 4 was designed for the consumption of content (e.g. quests, NPC dialogue, and unique locations).  All this settlement building, creates a huge speed bump in front of that.  Yet, despite the tedium, as the territory of my settlements expands, progress is happening, quests are being reached, and this redeems my efforts somewhat.

I know that I do not truly have enough free time to keep doing this... but what exactly would I be doing instead?  For all the virtual world significance it provides (settlement building being a large part of that) Fallout 4is a tough act to top, and knowing this sours even my enthusiasm for indie development somewhat.


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