Author Archive

A Life In Ruins: Rebuilding Fallout 4’s Settlements

Jonathan Morcom has spent almost two hundred hours with a single Fallout 4 [official site] character. Thanks to the settlement construction system, he hoped to find a home in the ruins of the old world, and as the game’s expansions draw closer, these reflections on the game’s building and management features capture a world on the verge of another dramatic shift.

I swear, if Minutemen stalwart Preston Garvey gives me one more unsolicited quest to go and rescue one of the dopey bastards from Abernathy Farm who’s managed to get themselves kidnapped again, I’m going to punch a hole clean through my monitor and send the repair bill to Bethesda. I’ve just fast travelled back to Sanctuary Hills, my home of choice in Fallout 4, and after storing my junk in the workshop I accidentally bump into Preston who’s pretending to do something useful to a tato plant.

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What Makes A Videogame House A Videogame Home?

Oh boy, am I conflicted. Fallout 4’s main plotline requires that I do this thing and as far as things go, it’s a pretty major thing and a major thing that you’d expect someone with the maternal instinct of my character Halle to crack on with straight away. The trouble is, rather than doing this major thing, for at least an hour now, she, and when I say ‘she’, I mean ‘I’, have been poking around Sanctuary, scrapping anything that glows yellow so I can salvage enough materials to build a house big enough for me and my Minutemen companions. I had largely avoided Bethesda’s drip-feed of Fallout 4 pre-publicity but when I somehow found out that the game had settlement building, I think I might have involuntarily passed a little wind in joyous anticipation.

That’s because I’ve felt a similar rosy inner glow while hanging around other hubs and houses in many other games I’ve played. I think it’s easy to underestimate the value of having a ‘home’ base option, especially in open world games where there is a free-roaming element, but it’s a part of why I love certain games.

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Life’s Too Short: How I Learned To Embrace Easy Mode

Jon Morcom ruminates – not entirely seriously – on trying to overcome difficulty spikes in games.

“Slick, you dozy prick! How can you miss with a shotgun from point blank range?” I recently shocked myself by saying this rather too loudly at some pixels on my screen arranged into the shape of a nondescript bald man firing a gun very badly. I’d bought Wasteland 2 [official site] off the back of some good reviews and approached it with no real pre-conceptions. Shock, horror I’d never played the original Wasteland, only a few hours of genre stable-mate Fallout and Fallout 2 not at all; please forgive me hardcore gamers (in the interests of full disclosure I’ve also never rolled a hoop with a stick or flicked a juggling diabolo high into the air). But I make mention of my futile, out-loud admonishment of a party member who just happened to miss, as the combat dice rolls in Wasteland 2 will occasionally have him do, to exemplify the degree to which I’d invested in the game.

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Retail Blues: Lamenting The Demise Of Game Stores

Writer Jon Morcom sent us this elegy for physical game boxes and physical game shops, and its very British, melancholy portrait of the older habits of our hobby was too lovely not to publish.

The spidery writing on a sign that’s been stuck to the whitewashed windows of what used to be my local GAME store tells me that the nearest still-operating branch is in Vladivostok. Actually, no it doesn’t, I’m lying. But it is somewhere far-flung enough from where I live to make me baulk at the trip. Now HMV too has, in its reduced circumstances like GAME, closed many of its outlets up and down the UK and I’m starting to wonder where I’m going to go to buy boxed PC games in the years ahead.

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