Fallout 4: The Slump

Continuing a perma-death diary in Fallout 4, in which I begin with absolutely nothing other than a plan to to voyage around only the outermost periphery of the world.

Oh great, now I’m addicted to booze. And in the game, etc.

It’s surprisingly how long this took, to be honest. I’ve been swigging grog and guzzling pills like there’s no tomorrow since this journey began, and I’d become complacent. The worst thing is that I was only downing the bottle of whiskey which triggered my addiction in order to clear some weight in my inventory. Move the burden from my back to my belly. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I was also sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the booze roll into my stomach because I’d just survived a series of gruelling fights at the most Easterly point of the world. What I’d figured to be a short journey down a short peninsula before returning to the mainland coast turned out to be the greatest timesink I’d encountered to date.

I’m frustrated by my slow progress across the map now – I’ve only completed one and a half sides of it, but feel as though I’ve been going for months. I’m not quite at the ‘praying for the sweet release of death’ stage yet, but this moment-to-moment survival, living only off what I scavenge, almost never encountering a friendly face or somewhere to hang my hat for a short while is an arduous existence. My goal, if I am to reach it, seems further away than ever.

Nothing individually dramatic occurred on the peninsula, with the possible exception of a huge group of ghouls bursting out of a large wooden church. I was as terrified as I’ve ever been, but rapid backwards-sprinting followed up with a single grenade killed or crippled the entire herd. For a moment, I confess, I was sure I’d be overcome, and I almost welcomed it. It would have been a spectacular death.

The trouble was that the ghouls were just one of far too many aggressive tribes clustered across this peninsula. I’d already fought a pair of deadly robots, one of whom’s lethal flame thrower necessitated my sprinting in a constant circle around it until I finally wore away its mighty armour. I’d already survived a rolling fight across a series of docked boats with a group of raiders. A dog lunged out of nowhere at me a short time later. Shortly afterwards, I battled against what seemed like all the world’s Mirelurks, even down to their tiny but no less aggressive hatchlings.

None of these, the ghoul-grenading aside, were quick fights. As death would be the end of this journey around the world, I must exercise extreme caution. Quite often, a battle involves firing a single shot, retreating to cover and necking food or medicine, then repeat ad nauseum. The Mirelurk fight, at the dock at the very tip of the peninsula, took a good half an hour, most of which was spent sprinting onto car or boat rooftops so the blighters couldn’t reach me, only for them to run away in exasperation when they realised this, then loop back to me when I descended.

I’m proud of my survival skills, of my ability to survive against enemies far, far tougher than I am, but it’s taking a psychological toll now. I miss my power armour. I wish there was somewhere I could buy ammo, rather than cycle constantly through a half-dozen different weapons, each of which have just a few bullets.

My guns are good now, you see. I’ve encountered a few crafting stations, picked up a few modded variations and been able to cobble it all together into firesticks which pack a punch. I’m still extremely fragile, but I can dole out the damage if I can get in there quickly enough. But shells and fusion cells and .308 rounds are in short supply, so I often find myself resorting to a pipe rifle or a 10mm pistol. They’ll do the job – but slowly.

I am not Superman. I am a scavenger, and this is the scavenger’s lot.

But I am losing faith. I am losing faith because all there is is violence. Slow, relentless, difficult, exhausting violence. I don’t get to save anyone. There’s no-one to thank me or praise me for my efforts. I can’t talk anyone out of a fight, can’t let anyone know that I am not a raider or a ghoul or a supermutant. All I can hope to achieve is to clear an area of enemies in order to safely pore through the environment for mouldering food and a fistful of caps. The church that housed all those ghouls, for instance, was a magnificent sight: towering, white-wood, minimalist grandeur. A beacon of comfort which could offer me no comfort whatsoever.

I found a few cans and bullets and a decent pistol, but sadly could see nothing to illuminate why the church’s congregation had become ghoulish, so I moved on. Another place of safety abandoned. On to a Nautical Society, which really meant on to a fight against almost a dozen Mirelurks. Though I did find a computer terminal which suggested that Mirelurks were descended from lobsters, so there’s that.

I’m tired. That’s all. I’ll be off this tiny yet endless peninsula soon, and I’ll feel like I’m making progress again. If I can get all the way to the South, I’ll be happy. I’d be at the halfway point. Whatever happens after that, it’ll be a critical milestone.

The good news is that, at the bottom of that Mirelurk-guarded nautical society, I also found a chemical crafting station, at which I was able to knock up a potion to cure me of my booze addiction. Perhaps that’s why I was so blue. Now my mind is clear. Onwards!

31 Comments

  1. yabonn says:

    Y’know wot I think?

    They need quite the tooling to fill that big map with interesting places. Maybe this will be keep improving so that, someday, there will be procedurally generated open world games.

    … Maybe some fixed zones to meet other players, but this is so 00’s.

    • klops says:

      The new Fallouts have always had interesting places on the map. The problem has been that the places have lacked content.

      • Archie _Toothis says:

        To be fair, most of the points of interest on the map have quests associated with them somewhere, but Mr. Radiatin isn’t going to find those by sticking to the coastal wastelands (as he is by choice). To find the more interesting structured sidequests like the Cabot line, he would have to travel inland and interact with the npcs in the cities.

        Just yesterday on my way to another mission, I stumbled across a young boy in a refrigerator, and ended up escorting him home while fending off the attentions of a creepy Gunner merc who wanted to buy him from me (ew). Now the Diamond City radio jock talks about that little sidequest on the broadcasts, which I thought was cool. But that happened inland, closer to civilization.

  2. Krazen says:

    Struggling for survival against all the odds, eking out an existence on what meagre scraps you can find while trying to cope with feelings of futility and depression. Isn’t that exactly what life after a nuclear apocalypse should be like?

    If you played like Bethesda want you to you’d just be firing teddy bears at zombies while carrying enough wood and metals to build several pre-fab houses for other zombies to sleep in.

    • krimhorn says:

      The irony of this statement is that Bethesda doesn’t WANT you to play in any particular way. They want you to play the way YOU want to. The teddy bear factory in Fallout 3 was a funny piece of color that fans took to and so we have dressed up teddy bears in Fallout 4 as a bit of fanservice.

      That’s the reason that no one piece of Bethesda’s games stand out as any more important than any other and they don’t tend to make you lock yourself out of factions. This is your little post-apocalyptic sandbox so play in it the way you want to.

  3. Zenicetus says:

    If you haven’t done it already, get the first level of the Scavenger perk on your next level-up. There is no level requirement and you only need 2 points in Luck. I took that early, as soon as I realized that I couldn’t craft ammo like New Vegas, and they shifted the emphasis to crafting weapon mods instead.

    You’re not going to meet many (or any?) vendors skirting the map like that, so Scavenging ammo is a worthwhile perk. The second Scavenger level is available at Level 7. I took that and stopped there. Ammo was never a major problem after that.

    Press on, Michael. Some of us are having fun following the journey. But do take a breather and come back later if you need a break from the game. I’m at about that point myself, but I’m close enough to the end of the main story that I want to power through it and then play something else.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Sorry, that should be the Scrounger perk. Damn lack of edit button.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      You’ll have your extremely fancy merchants in the next episode or the one after, if he survives that is, but then again he cleared Libertalia so the odds are pretty decent.

  4. PancreaticDefect says:

    I hate to point this out, but the game gets harder the further south you go. Like Deathclaw Alphas,and Assaultrons, harder. Protip: Aim for the legs. Especially against Assaultrons. Good Luck! You’re going to need it.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I hated the Assaultrons more than anything else in my first playthrough. I’m a semi-auto, headshot junkie, and to my horror the thingers seemed almost immortal that way.

      Turns out they take what looks like 2.5 more damage to the chest. Go figure.

    • mrbright01 says:

      I know! I am waiting eagerly for his first Legendary Deathclaw in an open world… or his first legendary suicide super mutant.

  5. Archie _Toothis says:

    Oh, I do hope Mr. Radiatin meets the Atom Cats on the South Eastern coast if he’s going there, before he succumbs. I love those kooky kids, and it would be a good spot to shop for power armor supplies.

    Unfortunately the Southern coast is one of the most dangerous areas in the game. There’s more than one Mirelurk Queen waiting to erupt from the murk to mencace the overly curious explorer.

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      Carra says:

      I met my first Mirelurk Queen in a basement at around level 17 at which point it was a half an hour fight to get her down.

      Met one again today at level 39 and took like 2 minutes to kill her. Kind of does make me wonder if there’s still a challenge left.

      • PancreaticDefect says:

        You’re the second person I’ve heard with a story of struggling against a Mirelurk Queen at first. It’s weird because I encountered my first one at The Castle at around level 20 and I killed it in less than 10 seconds with a shotgun. I wonder what I did differently with my build that made it so much easier for me.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          I screwed up my first build and the difference with subsequent playthoughs was flabbergasting, it’s incredible how certain little things can add up some times.

          Oh, and the cheat gun you can buy in Vault 81.

        • Archie _Toothis says:

          I play on survival difficulty. A single hit from a Mirelurk queen poison spit is generally a death sentence for my low HP character builds.

    • machineageproductions says:

      Oh yeah. He’ll be coming up on Spectacle Island soon enough. That has some ridiculously difficult monsters for low-level characters.

      • mrbright01 says:

        Except he’s keeping to the shoreline, so he’s unlikely to wander that far into the ocean to get there, unless it comes to a vote.

  6. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Well Alec, cheer up, the Atom Cats are on the way!

  7. amaranthe says:

    Sucks you’re getting discouraged! I’m really enjoying the series =)

    I understand what you mean (and others’ criticisms) about nothing but fighting — I am rather disappointed in FO4 (and 3 to a lesser extent) that there are is much less diplomacy. Fallout 1 and 2 you could have a pacifist run, for Christ’s sake! You could defeat the game by saying “Gee, this is a terrible idea”! I think Bethesda really missed a step when they lessened the effect of Charisma and negotiation in the games.

    Like, why do the Children of Atom attack me on sight? Would they not want to convert me first? Maybe find a new messiah?

    And don’t even get me started that [SPOILERS] the only way to beat FO4 is to kill every other faction you don’t ally with (well, OK minutemen get a pass because they’re cool). You can’t convince ANY of them that they’re stupid and wrong, even with 11 CHR, the sexiest dress/tuxedo you can scrounge, and all the booze you can drink. It’s just a real shame.

    Rant over – I would advise putting more points into endurance up to 9 and take “Ghoulish” – first point makes radiation heal you! 3 points (max at level 48, if you get there?) can sometimes make feral ghouls friendly! Haven’t tried it myself but it sounds fun. Cannibal (END8) would also probably be helpful on this journey – if you can bring yourself to believe Mr Radiation would feast upon the flesh of his fallen foes?

    • Archie _Toothis says:

      Like, why do the Children of Atom attack me on sight? Would they not want to convert me first? Maybe find a new messiah?

      They *don’t* always attack you on sight. Depends on the group you’ve encountered. The CoA are actually helpful on one of the main story missions.

  8. celticdr says:

    “A fistful of caps” that sounds like it should be the title of this story, and you should turn it into a pulp novella with a 70’s style Sci-Fi/Western cover – I’d buy that for a dollar!

  9. tur1n says:

    “All I can hope to achieve is to clear an area of enemies in order to safely pore through the environment for mouldering food and a fistful of caps.”

    You summed Fallout 4 up real nice there.

  10. Ben King says:

    If it makes the experience less of a grind I totally support an extra leg of your journey devoted to a quick town supply run for bullets. Even michael Palin’s crew must have had shipments of video tape, and phone calls home. What’s the point of being an explorer if you can’t return to civilization every once in a while and share your story, trade your exotic finds, and sit down for a good drink and a decent bed before heading out again? Don’t dispair Michael Radiatin’ you’re journeying for us readers.