Under New Management

Best described as a hostile takeover.

Despite what the corporations might suggest, Halcyon has issues with everything from providing basic necessities to an infestation of aggressive wildlife. Starvation and sickness plague those within settlement walls while lawlessness and indecency plague those outside of them. Due to the incessant mismanagement, it’s time for a change, and I can think of no better candidate than a recently defrosted colonist. They couldn’t do any worse at least. The Outer Worlds is a delightful narrative-driven RPG which tasks you with uncovering the truth behind the colony of Halcyon.

Which is exactly what I did.

I didn’t get immediately distracted by numerous side quests and miscellaneous objectives. Or by aiding companions in their personal quests. Or by revisiting the Groundbreaker to acquire new equipment. Or by repeatedly looking for the UDL Lab Weapons Terminal Keycard. No. Not at all.

I certainly didn’t revisit (and search) the facility multiple times to no avail, only to discover that the UDL Lab Weapons Terminal Keycard was on the table upstairs the entire time. That’d be silly. Definitely not something that the captain of the (aptly named) Unreliable would do. Exploration is where The Outer Worlds is at its best, though. Travelling from planet to planet and discovering new locations, then obsessively searching those locations for their secrets. I wasn’t anticipating the experience to be as content-dense as it was, and I was pleasantly surprised by how Peril of Gorgon seamlessly built upon its impressive foundation. Seldom does the opportunity to become wholly absorbed by an open world present itself, but the developers’ dedication to this nightmarish universe have made it possible.

I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

Companions have a similar prominence. Not only are they surprisingly useful, but they have distinct personalities and motivations which help them feel like they’re a part of this universe. They’ve often got contextual dialogue to share when encountering factions, visiting locations, and making decisions. Supporting them during their personal quests will unlock additional benefits, further improving their effectiveness and developing (or altering) their personality. They’re reasonably capable in combat, too. Despite their proclivity to mindlessly soak up incoming damage.

But you’d expect them to do that.

They’re also customisable and can be developed much in the same way as you develop the protagonist. However, the character development mechanics are underwhelming, and you’ll rarely find anything that fundamentally alters a build in the assortment of skills and perks available.

I had hoped for greater depth to the character development mechanics and for a wider variety of equipment, but the lack of either doesn’t detract from the experience. The Outer Worlds isn’t your typical adventure, though. It leans on its narrative-driven approach throughout the main campaign, and is defined by its action-orientated combat, and it favours build diversity through skill checks in dialogue, but the majority of character builds lack individuality due to uninspiring mechanics. It might not have been exactly what I’d expected it to be, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. It was just, at times, an overly simplified one. And I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it to those who enjoy first-person narrative-driven RPGs but are looking for something refreshing and unusual.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Space Farin’ Capitalist

Cue an appropriate corporate jingle.

Alex Hawthorne, the principled captain of the Unreliable, who was most assuredly not dismembered in a horrific accident, believes in the stability of corporate leadership. Even if their employees are paid abhorrently low wages, have no job security whatsoever, have even less personal security, and are as likely to be eaten as they are to retire. But it’s better than the alternative. Living in the wilderness in a mostly competent self-sufficient society unshackled from the chains (and woes) of capitalism, only for an aspiring captain to arrive and destroy all that you’ve built.

Not exactly his finest moment.

But if you can’t dismantle capitalism you might as well embrace it. Martin Callahan can attest to the rewards afforded by a lifetime of corporate servitude, as he wearily advertises numerous Spacer’s Choice products while confined to his spherical prison. Not that he’d escape if he could.

Irreversibly altering the lives of the general populous is the ambition of any decent protagonist, though. Often without prior consultation with them. And usually while considering what’s best for you- or what yields the best rewards- rather than what’s best for them. The Outer Worlds does this particularly well, with the majority of decisions not necessarily resulting in a good or an evil outcome. There are (often significant) repercussions for your actions but they’re subtle. You’ll need to revisit locations, speak to NPCs, and consult your companions to fully appreciate your decisions. For those reasons, exploration is arguably the most enjoyable aspect of this adventure. Combing desolate ruins for abandoned equipment, exotic technology, or valuable information may help you to resolve quests in unexpected ways.

If you’d met his mother you’d understand.

However, character development is not nearly as impressive, and what appears to be comprehensive at first, is fairly shallow upon closer inspection. Flaws should appeal to me, but I don’t feel that weakening my build (in certain circumstances) is worth an extra perk. Especially when the majority of perks are unexciting statistical adjustments. Skills (and skill tiers) aren’t incredibly exciting, either. But I’d rather have extra skill points instead of an extra perk. I had expected better from The Outer Worlds but they’re still functional mechanics, even if they’re not inspiring ones.

Companions are equally perplexing.

I’m not sure whether they gain any benefit for equipping weapons that best suit their abilities. Or whether their proficiencies are adjusted by wearing equipment with appropriate statistical bonuses. Or whether I should just favour defensive statistics and equip them all with heavy armour.

The Outer Worlds is a competent narrative-driven RPG if not a simplified one. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the experience is pleasant enough. Despite not having an abundance of planets to travel to, and revisiting those planets with new landing locations, exploring each new planet is delightful. I’ve scarcely enjoyed picking through desolate ruins as much as I have here. I just wish that the character development mechanics were as impressive. Especially when modifying and upgrading equipment, which becomes so absurdly expensive (even with Science) that it encourages you to replace your equipment. Thus nullifying the bonuses from tinkering it. But my criticisms shouldn’t dissuade anyone, as I’m certain that everyone can find something that they enjoy about it.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Valorous Vindication

Bathed in purifying light.

Unholy creatures shy away from her dazzling radiance, stunned by her zealous assault, while those who stray too close only harm themselves, as her faith pierces their blasphemous flesh. Following the full release of Chronicon, and after much deliberation, I settled on a lightning Berserker build, and most recently I’ve built a holy Templar. Hence the flowery exposition above. Originally I’d intended for it to be a fairly typical holy Templar build, but the acquisition of a legendary shield, Vindicator, fundamentally redefined the build and encouraged its reliance on thorns damage.

Which then encouraged the use of multiple auras.

Reprisal (despite being in a different skill tree) is arguably the most beneficial, as it massively increases her thorns damage, while the damage multiplication (and radial burst) afforded by Vindicator allows Salvation (also in a different skill tree) to consistently regenerate health and mana.

It’s a somewhat unconventional- but surprisingly effective- build that doesn’t have the raw damage of the aforementioned lightning Berserker build, but does have heightened survivability. Heightened survivability that ensures that she can inflict excessive damage to those around her. Prior to this I’d never been entirely sure what thorns damage was, and believed it to function as damage reflection, when it’s actually retaliation damage, which is only slightly less absurd. Were you able to reflect damage on the higher Mythic difficulty levels the challenge would be lessened greatly. Unfortunately, by relying on thorns damage this build has low direct damage potential, as Holy Bolt and Holy Nova are her only direct damage skills. But she can deal ludicrous amounts of retaliation damage when surrounded.

Blood soaks the scorching desert sands.

Her direct damage skills were slightly bolstered by shuffling the gems in Vindicator to guarantee critical hits, but continued investment into various Mastery trees is required to improve her meagre offensive capabilities. It’s a wholly defensive build. One that, through Grace, and her multiple auras, is impressively hard to kill. But it feels unusually slow. Which is understandable as I’m basically relying on enemies to hit her for her to be able to damage them. But I’m glad that I built around thorns damage, as I’ve never done so before and every new experience is appreciated.

They’re exceedingly rare nowadays.

Chronicon has always been outstanding because of the diversity (and creativity) of its character classes and resulting builds. Regardless of whether they’re viable at the highest Mythic difficulty levels or not, the opportunity exists to build towards something that best suits your intentions.

I’ve enjoyed building this character and consider the experience to be a pleasant one, which I hope to repeat in the coming months when I inevitably revisit Chronicon to build a Warden. I’ve not built one of those before. I’d also like to build another Warlock, as I’m curious about how they’ve changed (if at all) since Early Access. I’ll likely build another Templar, too. One that relies on direct damage more than this build did. I’ve got far too many ideas and not nearly enough time left to do them all. Which is exactly the kind of existential commentary that you’ve come to expect from my posts, as I begin to question my sincerity towards things. That and chocolate gateaux analogies. These posts are sprinkled with moments of wisdom much like sesame seeds on a burger bun. Delicious and nutty. Just like me.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Render Unto Caesar

A bleak future for humanity.

At the end of her surprisingly long campaign, Murderous Mabel delivered one final gift to the Mojave Wasteland and its people which ushered in a new era of oppression and slavery. No faction was left unscathed (even Caesar’s Legion) as disharmony became the foundation for future generations. Her actions won’t soon be forgotten should anyone be alive to remember them. No-one can be entirely sure of what the future holds, but the recently promoted Legate Lanius, who became Caesar following his predecessor’s untimely death, minted a coin in her honour and that’s neat.

Sure to be worth the hundreds of lives that it cost.

Of the many builds that I’ve attempted in Fallout: New Vegas, Murderous Mabel is definitely one of my favourites. Being unable to rely on Speech to resolve quests, the (most convenient) answer was usually violence, and that often meant aligning with factions that I don’t usually align with.

Of her achievements, of which there are a few, successfully completing Return to Sender was arguably her finest moment, and perfectly illustrates how diverse her approach to things had to be at times. Which is especially true of her time with Old World Blues, where scrounging and crafting ammunition was the only way for her to successfully complete its campaign with her conventional weaponry. Dead Money was (oddly) less challenging for similar reasons. Despite the opposition being super-absorbent bullet sponges, the abundance of Police Pistols (and varied ammunition) meant that I was able to avoid using Knife Spears. Using weapons adjusted by Guns or Explosives was always preferable, even if they weren’t affected by her perks, as her middling investment into Melee Weapons offered few viable alternatives.

Ensure that the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated in the future.

This is also the first time that I’ve experienced Dead Money in its entirety. It’s certainly an interesting concept, but one that feels absurdly convoluted as you haphazardly dash through hallways haunted by the ever-present beeping of your bomb collar. Searching for radios or speakers only to discover that the majority of them are shielded or otherwise inaccessible. Wondering why anyone would construct this elaborate scheme, when a single mistake would result in the deaths of those that they’ve brought together for this specific purpose thus nullifying their efforts.

It was a truly perplexing expedition.

Given that one of the reasons that I conceived this build was to see things that I’d not seen before and do things that I’d not done before, I’m quite pleased with how this build has developed. I don’t tend to stringently adhere to the ideas that I had at their conception and this is why.

I like to see how builds adapt to the challenges that they face and Murderous Mabel has faced many. I was most impressed at her ability to effortlessly complete numerous Gun Runner’s Arsenal challenges, while being a walking arsenal ensured that she always had a weapon suited to the situation at hand. Whether it was the explosive fury of Thump-Thump or the deadly accuracy of La Longue Carabine. The versatility of All-American or the thundering shells of the lever-action shotgun. There was always an answer. I didn’t intend for these posts to form a short series, but I’m glad that they did as I wouldn’t be able to express everything that I enjoy about Fallout: New Vegas in a single post. Nor would I want to. Even ten years after its release it’s still one of the most engrossing post-apocalyptic RPGs that I’ve ever played.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Return to Sender

A trek across the Mojave.

In what could be considered Murderous Mabel’s finest hour, she infiltrated the NCR by wearing a disguise that fooled very few NPCs, to complete a quest that she shouldn’t be able to complete, and earn an achievement that she shouldn’t be able to earn. Wearing the disguise allowed me to accept the quest and roam their camps, but the majority of named NCR NPCs saw through it and immediately became hostile. Which, surprisingly, wasn’t a problem. As I was able to complete the Gun Runner’s Arsenal challenge to murder named NCR NPCs with certain weapons while upgrading radio equipment.

I strive for efficiency in all things- even murder!

I hadn’t really considered Gun Runner’s Arsenal challenges when conceiving this build, but it’s oddly capable of completing them. These challenges along with certain quests (such as Talent Pool and Arizona Killer) have allowed me to earn achievements that I’d missed with other builds.

I could’ve completed Return to Sender earlier and more conveniently but that would’ve been too easy. Murderous Mabel is quickly becoming one of my favourite builds due to the adversity that she faces, and to neatly conclude my business with the NCR before moving forward with Caeser’s Legion would’ve been unexciting. I could’ve murdered Benny and retrieved the Platinum Chip at The Tops, but decided to let him escape to The Fort because I wanted to meet Caeser before meeting Mr. House. Yet, despite orchestrating these events, I let Caesar die during the surgery, because I’m exploiting Caesar’s Legion as much as any other faction. I can’t think of any other build that I’ve done which has been this interesting or diverse. It’s been a wholly unique way to approach Fallout: New Vegas and its various DLC.

Light that gives us the strength to continue through unending hardship.

I doubt that I’ve ever completed Old World Blues in such a way before, either. Nor will I ever do so again. You’re required to remain at Big MT until its conclusion, which, given the immediate access to The Sink and the crafting facilities found therein, is not usually a problem. But Murderous Mabel relies on explosives and conventional weaponry. Old World Blues is brimming with science-y weaponry. Which is terrible when you’ve never invested in Energy Weapons. So I had to scavenge, scrounge, and craft every form of ammunition that I required. Even raw meat was scarcely available.

It truly felt like surviving in a foreign land.

I’m incredibly fond of how this build continues to develop and evolve. I’ve invested in the majority of the aforementioned Perks, and I’ve been increasingly diverse with my choices since then. They’re mostly true to my original intentions but some are opening up entirely new opportunities.

Following the completion of Old World Blues, Honest Hearts, numerous Gun Runner’s Arsenal challenges, and the majority of the main campaign I’m now adequately prepared for Dead Money. I’ve no idea what I’m going to encounter in that hellish domain, but I’m looking forward to seeing content that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve got a vague recollection of certain events but that’s it. I know that my investment in Melee Weapons will serve me well. I also know that I’m going to be stripped of my equipment once there, and that I’ll be surviving with limited supplies, but I don’t know whether I get any equipment back prior to its completion. Or how long this expedition is expected to take. So I’m not sure what (if anything) I should take with me and how much I’ll be able to bring back to the Mojave.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie