Fallout: New Vegas - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Denis Ryan)

oldworldblues-header

Democracy is on the brink of collapse. Caesar’s Legion, the authoritarian slave state across the Colorado River, has launched a massive assault on the last, best chance for freedom in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout. It’s a grim certainty in Old World Blues that the New California Republic will fight Caesar’s Legion: they’re the wasteland’s two superpowers, diametrically opposed ideologically, each expanding towards the other. I just thought I was better prepared. While Caesar was annihilating every ill-defended tribe to the west, I was rearming, inviting new states into the republic, and admittedly annexing a few tribes myself. With the game paused, I assess my options, reorganise my armies and ask, finally, does democracy die in 2279?

Old World Blues is a mod for Hearts of Iron IV which transports the World War II grand strategy game hundreds of years forward into the post-apocalyptic American west coast of the Fallout series. Players select a faction in the year 2275 and attempt to survive and thrive in the west coast wasteland. Structurally, it’s similar to Hearts of Iron IV, but the content and style has been transformed. Old World Blues is tremendously fun, comparable in quality to the standard Hearts of Iron IV game, and it does a terrific job of translating Fallout to grand strategy. (more…)

PC Gamer

Being evil in an RPG is no easy feat. Not only do you need the stomach for it, but developers aren't always the best at making evil choices feel as nuanced and satisfying as their morally righteous counterparts. It's rare for a game to present you with a decision so evil that it actually upsets you, but there is also an undeniable joy in being a monstrous jackass—even if your reason for detonating a dormant nuke in the middle of a small town is just for the lols.

That's why we forced some of our writers into the confession booth to finally fess up about their favorite evil decisions in PC gaming. It's some pretty dark stuff—from smothering babies to forcing someone to murder their lifelong best friend—but if you've got a kink for the chaotic, here are our picks for some of the most sinful choices we've made in games. 

Tyranny - Hush little baby 

To be fair, Tyranny is an RPG that has no real shortage of evil choices to be made—you do murder millions of people in the introduction alone, after all. But later in the story, Tyranny trades mass murder for one decision that is hauntingly terrible. See, to undo your overlord's Edicts that, like magical natural disasters, are tearing apart the land, your character must help fulfill certain contractual clauses. When you first venture to the Blade Sea, that clause is killing the last of its traitorous ruling family. At first this seems like a pretty easy task after you besiege the castle, corner the Regent Herodin and make ready to end his life. But after he is dead, the edict remains mysteriously intact. It's then revealed that there is another heir—a child born out of love between Herodin's son and the kidnapped daughter of your commander, Graven Ashe.

It's a hopelessly complicated situation made even more complicated by the fact that the mother, Amelia, will die to protect her child. But if the child lives, the Edict of Storms will continue. True to developer Obsidian's great storytelling lineage, there's a few different ways to handle the decision. But if you're the ruthlessly pragmatic type, you can simply kill Amelia and then smother her child in its crib. Or if you're a real monster, you can force one of your unwilling companions to do it for you, probably subjecting them to a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing. Whichever way you go about it (or however you might justify it) smothering babies isn't exactly heroic.— Steven Messner

Fallout 3 - The Big Bang

The big, obvious one from Fallout 3 is such a grand moment that it's almost impossible to resist. I blew up Megaton for two reasons: one, I wanted a nice apartment in Tenpenny Tower, where I could have a little break from the depressing nuclear post-apocalypse and chill with my robot butler. Secondly, the layout of Megaton is really annoying, and needlessly tricky to navigate compared to other locations in Fallout 3. It had to go, really. I activated the nuke and watched that baby go off. I regret nothing—it's still one of the most shocking and exciting moments from any game in the last ten years. — Samuel Roberts

Dishonored - Lust for vengeance 

Despite being an assassin, Dishonored rightly punishes wanton murder and instead encourages players to seek their vengeance through more creative means. Each kill pushes the city of Dunwall closer to complete chaos, so finding an alternative is necessary if you hope to ultimately rid the city of evil and corruption. Instead of murdering the pope, for instance, you can brand him with a mark of shame and force him to live out the rest of his life as a beggar. It's poetic justice at its finest—except in the case of Lady Boyle.

This capitalist is the financier behind many of Dishonored's villains and is rightly deserving of justice. But Dishonored's non-lethal way of dealing with her is pretty abhorrent. During the Lady Boyle's Last Party mission, Corvo can choose to simple murder Boyle (and her lookalike sisters) or instead deliver her into the hands of a creepy-ass stalker named Lord Brisby who, in addition to confessing his love for her, promises to make her disappear forever. While his suggestion is vague, it's just insidious enough to make me believe that handing Lady Boyle over is little more than human trafficking. That, by knocking her unconscious and letting Lord Brisby have her, I'd be condemning her to a life of sexual slavery at the hands of this creep. I mean, I get it, she's a terrible person and absolutely deserves punishment—but I think we can all agree that this is a bit much.— Steven Messner

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow - No questions asked  

Okay, obviously this isn’t an RPG, but I’ve pulled rank in order to include it because it’s such a juicy moral dilemma. What, dear reader, would you do if your boss ordered you to shoot someone—and only gave you a second to decide. Luckily for Steven, that’s not a situation I’m ever likely to be in. But for Sam Fisher, double-tapping a colleague is all in a day’s work. So it goes when midway through Pandora Tomorrow you step into one of those elevators with a mesh door. Suddenly you get a call from your handler, Lambert. “Fisher, we need Dahlia Tal dead. Kill her.” The elevator starts moving. “Don’t think, just do it.”

To this point as far as you’re aware Tal is an undercover agent in the Israeli secret police who’s been helping Fisher infiltrate a terrorist base, and has been portrayed as the kind of entirely sympathetic ‘goody’ NPC you expect from the series. The game barely gives you a second to make the call—I shot her, as did the guy in this video—and afterwards I remember feeling something close to actual actual shock.

If I’m being honest, there was also some exhilaration that the game had thrust such a horrendous decision on the player with zero foreshadowing. Brilliantly, at least in terms of design, if you kill Tal you don’t get any explanation as to why it was necessary. Whether or not I’d made the right decision was just about all I could think about for the rest of the game.

A quick trip to Wikia now reveals that Tal was in fact planning the ol’ switcheroo on Fisher, and had a team of snipers waiting to ambush him outside the facility. If you decide to let her live, Lambert gives you a bollocking and explains the deal with the double cross. It always disappointed me that although subsequent Splinter Cell games also came with tough decisions, none felt as startling as that murderous phone call. It’s also a pity that Pandora Tomorrow doesn’t appear to be on GoG or Steam currently. Time for a stern talk with Ubisoft.— Tim Clark

Knights of the Old Republic - Do as I command 

Playing the Dark Side in Knights of the Old Republic was way more fun, but this bit was twisted. Towards the end of the game, as you take on the mantle of the Sith and confront your party about their allegiances, things get pretty heated. The purehearted Mission Vao wants to redeem you, while her loyal wookiee friend Zaalbar is stuck in an impossible situation. He has a life debt to you, but loves Mission dearly. What's the most evil possible thing you can do, in this situation? Use Force Persuasion to convince Zaalbar to stab, strangle, or shoot Mission to death, while she shouts "It's me, Big Z! Noooo!" I don't think that's how the life debt is supposed to work.— Wes Fenlon

Planescape: Torment - I have no body and I must scream 

Planescape is full of potential bastardry, from selling your companions into slavery to, well, everything involving Deionarra. But in the Nine Hells of Baator there's an especially memorable moment. The Pillar of Skulls is where sage souls whose lies resulted in someone else's death are punished by being turned into chattering heads trapped in a column of flesh for eternity. The heads trade their knowledge for sacrifices, and know things you can't learn anywhere else. 

This is where you discover that one of your companions, a wisecracking floating skull named Morte, is an escapee of the pillar who has been trying to atone for his sin by serving you. Knowing this, you can put him back into the Pillar of Skulls in return for which it will answer one question. I don't know if shoving the first friend you make in the game back into a mass of bone and putrid flesh for eternity in trade for some information counts as Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, or Neutral Evil but whichever it is you are a dick for doing it.— Jody Macgregor

Fallout 2 - All is fair in love and war 

Fallout 2 was the first game I can recall where you could be truly evil—like, really, really evil. If you, like me, ended up sleeping with Miria (or her brother Daven), you'd be forced by her father into a shotgun marriage, straddling you with a completely useless companion. If you're truly evil, you can make the best of a bad situation and profit in the process. If you head over to The Hole or New Reno, you can pimp off your spouse for some extra caps or, if you encounter trappers, have Miria earn you some gecko skins by doing the dirty. That's probably not what her father intended to happen when he forced you to marry her.

Even worse, if you tire of any of your companions (and you don’t just let them get killed in a fight), you can sell them into slavery and be rid of them forever. ‘Losing’ Miriam to Metzger in The Den was my eventual choice, and when I happened to return to Modoc and mentioned what happened to her father, Grisham, the old geezer had a heart attack. RIP, dad, and thanks for the shotgun wedding.

— Jarred Walton

PC Gamer

Chris Avellone is an RPG machine. His credits stretch back two decades, to games including Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, KOTOR 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, and—in 2017 alone—Torment: Tides of Numenera, Prey, and Divinity: Original Sin 2. He also had a hand in Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, which is why a recent bit of activity on his Facebook page has caused quite a stir among fans. 

It might be nothing—it's probably nothing—but Avellone posted an image of three Vault Boys on his timeline on September 29, one of them with his hand on an RPG Bible, one reading a plot outline, and one apparently in love with his big brain, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the original Fallout. That in itself isn't necessarily a big deal: 20 years is a big number, and one worth celebrating, after all. 

But a few days later he updated his profile picture to a hand-drawn image of what is presumably meant to be himself hugging the Vault Boy, under the words, "I missed you so much." That's a little more on the nose, and the reactions are about what you'd expect: Heavy breathing, "take my money," and at least one Daniel Bryan meme.   

Avellone is a busy guy these days, with projects including Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the System Shock reboot, and Bard's Tale 4 on the go. And aside from this image, I'm not aware of anything he's done to indicate that he might be involved with the Fallout series again. But at the same time, I can't help thinking about what InXile boss Brian Fargo said a couple of years ago about its 2014 filing for a Van Buren trademark

"There were some things, some ideas, that Chris Avellone had for doing something that made the post-apoc—a twist on the whole what-was-being-done that we really loved," Fargo said. "So we talked about it and we thought why not grab the rights so we can entertain this one of these days." 

I've emailed Avellone to see if he's willing to wink or nod or otherwise give a sign that something (or nothing) is afoot. I'll update if he does. 

Fallout: New Vegas - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Rick Lane)

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Since its foundation in 2003, Obsidian Entertainment has worked with seven different publishers. Commencing with LucasArts on Knights of the Old Republic II, Obsidian has since signed contracts with Atari, SEGA, Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft and most recently, Paradox Interactive. In fact, up until Pillars of Eternity [official site], every single game Obsidian had made was funded and distributed by a different publisher.

This is a highly unusual state of affairs, and has proved precarious more than once in the company’s history. But it has also provided Obsidian with a unique insight into how the world of publishing works, and how the relationship between developer and publisher has changed in the last couple of decades. This topic is especially pertinent today, as new methods of funding and distributing games have seen a significant shift in the power dynamic between developers and publishers.

I spoke to CEO Feargus Urquhart about how it all works (and doesn’t).

(more…)

PC Gamer

It doesn't sound like a particularly fun task, but someone had to do it: speedrun every single Fallout game in less than two hours. Speedrunner tomatoanus (tomato anus, geddit?) has managed to do so in 1:37 (one hour and 37 minutes), and you can watch them do so in the video embedded below.

The run tackled each game consecutively without a break, which for most non-speedrunning players, would probably take around six months of playtime. Tomatoanus has earned the number one spot in the Fallout Anthology speedrun.com leaderboard, but they're also the first to give it a red hot go.

Check out the video below:

PC Gamer

The worst thing about Fallout 1.5: Resurrection using the old amnesia plot is that the main character never has to explain why, on the run from mysterious ghouls, he/she opted to seek solace in a cave so infested with mutant critters that even the people in the nearby town apologise for it. But that s OK. Punching and stabbing a few rats and mole rats and scorpions is a fine reminder that this isn t your modern, fancy, VATS-enabled Fallout 3 or 4, but the far more brutal original.

Resurrection is a Czech-made mod, ten years in the making and two and a half years in the translating. It s a Fallout 2 mod easily installed over the top of any copy, from GOG to Steam to the original set between the first two games, and with an installer that packs in a few handy features such as support for high-res, unlimited saves, and mousewheel. They don t make the experience feel all that much more modern, but they smooth out a few annoyances.

What awaits past the old interface and annoying starter dungeon is a great new Fallout adventure that keeps very true to the originals, while still putting its own stamp on things. The action takes place around Albuquerque and a few other smaller settlements such as corrupt Rat City, and all of them have quests and characters. Tonally, it s something of a mix between the first two games, settlements are in better condition and more characters are around, as in Fallout 2, but minus most of the silly stuff that divided the fanbase.

There s a real sense of threat in wandering around: that sense of being unwelcome anywhere, with everyone you meet thirsty for blood or caps. How you handle them is, as ever, up to you. The areas aren t densely packed with characters, but those you meet offer plenty of potential for missions and ways to stab people in the back, as well as acts of bastardry such as persuading a poverty-stricken girl prostitution is her best way of making a few caps and then running off afterwards instead of paying her. Even in a tough world, that s a dick move. Literally, and figuratively.

Calling Resurrection tough isn't simply just recognition of its '90s lineage, when RPGs didn t hold your hand. This is a Fallout game for Fallout fans, and it pulls no punches. To give just one example, while Fallout 2 didn t particularly mind you walking across the whole map (handy for the 15-minute speed-run) and fleeing enemy encounters, Resurrection quickly throws you against a gang of angry ghouls who can take you out with their high-powered rifle before you get close to the exit marker. Get past those, and the game s not averse to encounters where you start off surrounded by wild dogs. In short, rushing this one isn t a great idea in as much as you can rush a game promising around 25 hours of content.

Not that you d want to, anyway. Resurrection does a good job of not just setting a story in the old Fallout universe, but understanding its appeal, flow, and general maturity level when dealing with the darker side. Fallout itself occasionally took things a touch too far, such as the porn star options in the second game, while here it s part and parcel of a brutal world where the meek have inherited slightly less than jack shit.

Given the new setting, it s easy to forget that this is even a mod. Really, the only major things it lacks are the close-up animated portraits for key characters, since those would have been too much of a headache to model and implement. You get around 80 maps, just in case you thought any corners were cut here. This is very much a modding labour of love, and one well worth checking out if you re a fan of the original games. If you haven t played those, you re better off doing that first, and not just because they re classics for a reason and well worth playing.

They also offer a smoother introduction to 90s-level-difficulty nuclear wastelands without expecting too much know-how on your part. As long as you ve taken advantage of the manual that comes with most purchasable copies of the originals, anyway. For longer-term fans, especially those disappointed that we never got the cancelled Van Buren (parts of its story, yes, but not the traditional Fallout style), this is as close to a proper third instalment as you re ever going to play.

Fallout 1.5: Resurrection is out now and can be downloaded here.

PC Gamer

Bethesda has done some great things with the Fallout franchise, but no matter how much you may like modern Fallout, there's no denying that it is not the Fallout of old. For those of you who miss that old isometric experience, Fallout 1.5: Resurrection, a Fallout 2 mod set between the events of Fallout 1 and 2 hence the name might be just the thing.

Resurrection takes place in New Mexico, east of the future NCR territory, with all new locations, characters, and organizations. Geographically, it's roughly the same size as the original Fallout, but features a much greater number of quests to complete. It also promises a darker experience than the relatively light-hearted Fallout 2.

As big fans of Fallout, we've tried to take the best from all of the classic Fallout games. Easter eggs and jokes, with which Fallout 2 was literally overfilled, have been folded into the background, the developers say. Instead, the great atmosphere of decadence and hopelessness enjoyed by so many in the first Fallout game returns. The world is still chaotic, with only a few, small, independent communities connected by tenuous trade relations. The wasteland is an unfriendly place where law is on the side of whoever has the biggest gun.

The setup is trite you wake up in a cave with amnesia and, beginning with only the most basic of supplies, must discover who you are and how you ended up in such a state but it can't be any worse than that ridiculous Temple of Trials that kicked off Fallout 2. It's also free, which is a big plus, although you will need a full install of Fallout 2 to use it.

The Czech version of Fallout 1.5: Resurrection was actually released in October 2013, but the English translation only became available today. I haven't tried it yet (I am working here, you know) but you better believe I'm going to. More information and download links are available at resurrection.cz.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Yes, Fallout 4 is dominating the agenda this week, but the previous Fallout games still exist, you know. Most have already bought the original isometric Fallouts at a heavily reduced price, but if you haven't, then here's a good deal: Bundle Stars is selling all Fallout games for just over US$20. 

The bundle includes the original Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas with all associated DLC. You end up saving around forty bucks, but also probably four years of your life, so proceed with care.

Product Release - Valve
Purchase Fallout 4 on Steam and get the exclusive Fallout 4 Announcer Pack for Dota 2, starring Mister Handy.*

The Dota 2 Fallout 4 Announcer Pack will replace the Default announcer and Mega-Kills announcer with the voice of everyone’s favorite robotic butler, Mister Handy.

*The Fallout 4 Announcer Pack is expected to be available in Dota 2 by mid-November. Limited Time offer.

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