Tag Archives: Morrowind

May Vidya

“Stay busy at all costs! Don’t become bored!” This is one of my ‘rules’ I’ve been following when I decided to stop drinking. I’ll toss a list together whenever I get the motivation to do so, but this one I found is key to not drinking. Boredom leads to misery which leads to drinking. Obviously it’d be best to do something useful and productive to stay busy, but sometimes you need to do whatever you can to get by. When motivation is near zero, when your mood is trash, when you don’t want to actually do anything productive, what can you do? Video games!

So here’s a little bit about the three games I’ve been playing as I get back into sober swing of things.

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program deserves it’s own post; it’s one of my all-time favorite games ever. As a kid I loved the Flight Simulator series, have always been passionate about spaceflight, and enjoyed building Legos. This game combines all three into a fun and accurate game about spaceflight. You build your own rockets/spaceplanes and explore the solar system; the only limit to what you can do is your own stubbornness and creativity. Kerbal Space Program also has a fairly accurate physics system; you really learn orbital mechanics in a hands-on way. Seriously, you’ll understand why we can only launch to Mars every two years, understand what the hell delta-v is, and learn the massive difference between orbital and sub-orbital flight, among a ton of other things.

Kerbal also has a way of keeping you playing even if you’re done with the game. It’s really easy to screw something up like running out of fuel or becoming stranded on another planet/moon which naturally leads to the inevitable rescue missions! No Kerbal left behind! There is no real need to rescue stranded Kerbals — they live forever — but something about fixing your screw-ups is immensely satisfying. So even if you’re done exploring the solar system there are usually a handful of Kerbals that you can rescue. Sometimes your rescue missions also get stranded meaning you need to rescue the rescue crew as well. Kerbal Space Program is rescue missions all the way down!

In my current game I have a crew of Kerbals stranded in a very high orbit around the sun. In terms of our real solar system, these Kerbals orbit between Mars and fucking Pluto — they’re way the fuck out there — and I just now got a rescue ship to them. They’ve only been in space for 70 years so I think they’re happy to see the rescue ship! Sadly the rescue ship doesn’t have enough fuel to make it back home, so I’ll have to piss away another 20 in-game years doing gravity assists until I can actually get them back to Kerbin, the home planet. After 100+ years in spae I’m sure my Kerbals will love to finally walk on the surface of the planet they call home. Those poor guys…

A bit about PS Now…

We somehow ended up with a PS Now subscription. It happened the way all things at our house happen; one of the kids wanted to play one of the PS Now games and only played it for a few days sticking me with a recurring $10 per month subscription charge. I figured since we had it maybe I should see what games are on there. I can always cancel if they don’t have anything.

PS Now, in case you’re not aware, is PlayStation’s game streaming service. You don’t download the games onto your PS4/5, you play them over the internet. This sounds like a great idea — you can play a fuckton of older games that you might’ve missed without purchasing them or storing them on a limited space hard drive — but has some glaring downsides. You might already be aware that latency comes into play here, and you’d be correct. By streaming the game, all information, button presses, audio, video, has to be sent over the internet. Can this even be done fast enough to yield a playable game?

No. At least not with our totally ass internet. I’m blaming Comcast again. Let’s say I want to open the menu on a game. I hit ‘O’. The signal goes to the PS4 via Bluetooth, via the PS4 to our Wi-Fi router, via the router to the modem and onto our ISP, then it gets sent to the PlayStation servers where the ‘O’ button press is actually received and processed. Shit happens there and the “opened menu” command gets passed right back along via the same path back to my TV. Sure the internet is fast, but even a few hundred millisecond delay is painful. PS Now works great if you can deal with the slight delay to everything. I could not imagine playing a Dark Souls-esque game via streaming though.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Ace Combat 7 is a one of these PS Now games I’ve been playing. For some reason I’ve been wanting to play one of these shitty flying/shoot shit games for awhile and it scratches my itch well even if it isn’t realistic at all.

Not that I was expecting it to be realistic. I knew what I was getting myself into: a dramatic and chaotic shoot-airplanes-down game with zero realism to it. Sure the planes are real — you start with an F-16 — but beyond this the game is a joke. You have 70 missiles for some reason. Your radar only locks onto enemies within a few thousand feet (or meters, does it matter?) of them. Dogfights only happen at 5’000 feet. Hell, there isn’t even a button to retract your landing gear, it goes up automatically when you take off. Flaps, speed brakes, fuel management, what the hell are those things? There’s a ‘go fast’ button and a ‘slow down’ button. That’s all you need to fly a technologically complex fighter jet.

If you’re looking for an accurate combat flight simulator, don’t play Ace Combat 7. (I played Jane’s F-15 a long time ago. That game was accurate and therefore boring. You take off and fly for two hours before reaching your target. You lock onto airplanes 30 miles away and lob a missile at them. If you blow them up you don’t even notice anything beside the blip on your radar screen disappearing. Targeting a tank with a laser guided bomb is a pain in the ass. Most missions you get shot down by a surface-to-air missile because that’s what really fucking happens IRL.) If you want to pretend you’re a badass fighter jet pilot zipping around the sky with no regard for realism, go for it. It is a fun game, but please don’t sign up for the US Air Force after you play it for a few hours.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the precursor to Skyrim and the sequel to Morrowind. Most people have played Skyrim and this was the sort-of-popular game that came before it. And Morrowind? One of my favorite games of all time. When Oblivion came out in 2006 I was super excited — finally a new Elder Scrolls game! — only to be sorely disappointed.

Oblivion is boring. Nearly everything about it is boring. I know I should consider it on its own merits but if the company that made Morrowind churned out shit-ass Oblivion how can you not be disappointed? I was also an angsty teenager so this transgression by Bethesda was especially egregious.

Morrowind has a varied and alien landscape, Oblivion is trees and mountains. Morrowind has a unique culture inspired by Eastern and Native Americans, Oblivion is Middle Ages 2.0. Morrowind had gameplay that could be used and abused, and you can’t even levitate in Oblivion! Morrowind had boring faction quests making you feel like some unknown piece of shit (which you were), in Oblivion you’re the hero of everyone you introduce yourself to. (Oblivion didn’t go as far as Fallout 4 or Skyrim though, thank God.) There are more examples but I need to stop otherwise I won’t play Oblivion anymore.

It’s actually fun though. I’m looking through some nostalgia goggles to be sure but Oblivion does have a few perks to it. Sure it’s shitty and boring, but in retrospect Oblivion pulls off questlines like no other Elder Scrolls game has. Morrowind’s faction quests were shitty and boring, and Skyrim’s a bit over the top (that whole you show up on day one and the entire group fucking loves you for some reason), but Oblivion hits that perfect middle ground. There’s good progression in the questlines of factions; you show up as a nobody and slowly turn into a somebody and it feels like you’re contributing something to the group. I also have fond memories of the daedric quests in Oblivion while not remembering any of them in Morrowind or Skyrim.

A big gripe though: PS Now fucking sucks. The slight delay makes combat in Oblivion nearly impossible. You slightly move the stick and it doesn’t register. You move the stick a bit more and your aiming cursor moves 45 degrees across the screen; try shooting a goblin with an arrow as he’s charging at you with those wonky controls and tell me how it works out. It doesn’t. Anything that requires precise aim, like bows, magic spells, and magic scrolls are nearly unusable. It seems I’ll have to have a melee build because when you’re smacking someone with a mace you don’t have to be as precise with your aiming!

As I write this I realize I haven’t played Oblivion in a week. Am I already burning out on it? Maybe. But maybe I’ll play it later today, we’ll see. If anything it feels like I should make a dedicated post on this game someday because there is a lot to bitch about and to praise. It’s a conflicting game to be sure.

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Fallout 4 Sucks

I got Fallout 4 during Christmas of 2015, not too long after it was released. I played it, got sort of far through the game, and then just burned out on it. I didn’t remember much about the game, and didn’t feel very into it. It didn’t seem very memorable. And now, in March at least, I decided to pick the game back up and finish it properly. I don’t want to write a proper review to the game, because it’s 1.5 years old and no one cares now, but I can still write a post about how damn shitty it was thanks to my refresher course over the past few weeks.

In case you’ve been stuck in a real life vault somehow, Fallout 4 is a post-apocalyptic RPG (role-playing gaem) from Bethesda. You might know Bethesda from their other games, all of which have very stiff characters and tons of stupid glitches and shit. Shit clips all over the place and their games can randomly freeze, usually after you’ve forgotten to save in the past 20 minutes. Hell, in Fallout 4 I seen a rock from the “back side,” and there was no texture at all.

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My coat slicing through my wrists as I relax.

Half the rock had a face and texture, and the other half was invisible. That’s a stereotypical Bethesda trait right there. Nevertheless, people love their games because they offer decent role-playing and adventuring elements as well as interesting quests and storytelling (sometimes). These make up for the awful technical aspects that Bethesda games are known and “loved” for.

But Fallout 4 just sucks and here’s why. Obviously, spoilers, but if you haven’t played the game since it came out then that’s your fault.

Ugly Overworld

My first gripe about the game involves what everyone sees most of the time (besides the damn Pip Boy menu): the overworld. Getting directly to the point, the overworld looks like shit. I don’t mean it looks like shit because it is a post-nuclear wasteland; that part is understandable. I mean it looks like shit because that’s how the game was designed to look. Everything is grey, dreary, and ugly looking. Plants aren’t really green; they’re sort of greyish-greenish-yellowish. Even far up in the northern terrain of the game, the world is as ugly as everywhere else. They cities and towns are junk. The sky is often covered in an ugly haze with radioactive thunderstorms half the time. You’re probably thinking “Duh, nuclear wasteland, idiot.” but still. Not everything in a post-apocalyptic world will look like shit. Having some really gorgeous terrain would contrast the shitty areas in a shocking way. Maybe away from the destruction there is a pretty forest that reminds us of what the world was like before? Nope. Grey. Shit. Everywhere.

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Looking North from some bridge. At least the sky looks nice.

The world looking like shit has two consequences. First off, I don’t give two shits about exploring because the world looks the same everywhere I went. In Skyrim, another Bethesda game, I could climb snowy, rocky cliffs, go look at ice floes on the Sea of Ghosts, watch animals graze in the grasslands, or see some hot springs caused by the eruption of Red Mountain to the East. There were places to go and things to look at and they gave the overworld some delicious variety. In Fallout 4 I have nuclear wasteland to explore here, and some nuclear wasteland to explore over there, and guess what?! Some nuclear wasteland over there as well! I guess the swampy shit to the south was kinda cool, and the Glowing Sea was amazing, but everything else looks gloomy and vomited out onto the screen which overkills the whole nuclear wasteland motif.

The second aspect of the world looking like shit is that you don’t care about the world because it’s a dump. Everything is a nuclear wasteland, and there isn’t much left to be enthusiastic about. Many games have you attempting to stop the end of the world; since the end of the world already occurred there doesn’t seem to be much at stake. There isn’t that pretty forest depicting life before the war, there isn’t any beauty yearning you to return the world to it’s pre-war days. It’s shit, everything is shit, so why even care? More on that later…

But what about exploring inside the places you discover in the overworld?

There’s Nothing “Special” in the Game

Nope. Those all suck too. Every building or “cave” or whatever I go inside has the same shit: enemies to shoot at, loot to haul off and sell, and a wrecked and fucked up interior. The underground areas don’t look as bad, but those only go as far as “generic underground factory” shit. Bethesda games have always had an issue with that as far as I can remember, with the interior areas you can explore seemingly very boring and copy-pasted, but The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind made it work just fine. They did this by having cool shit you could actually find in its fairly bland dungeons.

Most of Morrowind’s dungeons were shit just like Fallout 4′s except they were caves and tombs instead of buildings. The one saving grace with Morrowind was that there was cool shit you could find inside certain caves. Most of the dungeons had generic shit you’d haul away and sell, but some had overpowered and/or unique weapons/armor/spells/magic items that made dungeon diving feel useful. You really could stumble upon something special that would make your character overpowered. This isn’t the case in Fallout 4. I think there are certain special items, but they don’t feel really special. Like I might find a gun with a certain effect, but it looks the same as the other guns I have and isn’t much cooler. It’s special, but it’s still just a shitty gun to pew pew the bad guys with.

In Fallout 4, confronted with boring dungeon after boring dungeon, you simply stop caring about exploring. You won’t find anything special or interesting, and any location you happen to discover, even though there are over a hundred locations, you won’t explore because it’s all the same. Junk, ammo, enemies, and guns.

As a side note, I think I did find a few “unique” dungeons, such as Vault 81 that might’ve been interesting, but they were locked off and are only accessible through a dedicated quest. That’s good for making the quests better, but awful for exploring. Basically if I found a locked door that required a key or a special password, I’d know it was a quest location that was currently off limits.

Stupid Quests and Factions

How about the quests and the factions? As stated these can be the saving grace of Bethesda games. The Brotherhood of Steel is okay at first, but the logic they show in their factions belief system is fucking ridiculous. They want to wipe out the synthetic humans (called “synths”), not because they have a clear reason but because their scared of them and how they might be harmful to humans in the future. There are no complexities to this train of thought and it really seems to be “synths are bad, kill them.” Okay.

The Railroad (a faction dedicated to freeing synths) isn’t any better although they are the complete opposite. They believe that synths are people too! While the Brotherhood is totally anti-synths The Railroad is totally pro-synth. Now, I don’t know if a synthetic, robotic human could be considered a person or not, or if these things would be dangerous, but that isn’t my complaint here. These factions have simple, one-sided views with no subtleties or anything. Robots are either good or bad, to be saved or destroyed, and no one seems to stop and think about the larger, complex issue at all.

Another gripe about the factions and the quests is that they give you some serious responsibilities almost immediately. No one thinks twice if you’re a good fit for their faction, and you never have to “prove your worth” to the group. You show up, do a single quest, and suddenly you’re the savior of the organization and are given some ridiculous influence even though you literally just showed up a few days ago. Where the fuck does this occur in the real world? No where. You get a job and you’re stuck there for years until you can notably move anywhere in the company. According to Fallout 4, some people can get hired at a place and in 3 or 4 days be a mid-level manager, or maybe even higher up, like a director on the board! This makes the factions lose their element of immersion. You show up and you’re amazing. It’s not hard and you don’t have to do any work. You’re that special.

Then I Almost Cared…

I must admit this entire post so far was written without me making it through the main quest. Well, I finally discovered The Institute and suddenly started to enjoy the game a bit more. The Institute isn’t a fucking dump like everywhere else in the game, they seem to actually want to improve and fix the world, and that spurred me on to actually care a little.

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Hanging out at The Institute. It doesn’t look like shit.

Here I found a place that was wonderful, and it would be great if I, as part of this group, could bring this level of society to the rest of the Commonwealth! So even if the game does get better, I still have to ask why the fuck it take so long to actually become interested in the main quest. The fact that it took me twenty or thirty hours to actually give a damn is sad, and I gave up a year ago because I couldn’t bother with the game anymore.

…Almost

So I finished the main quest – the meat-and-potatoes of the game – the one thing that should’ve been great, and it was just as shitty as I’d had feared. It started off sort of meh, got slightly better when I found The Institute, and then went downhill quickly as the questline drew to a close.

In case you didn’t know, the leader of The Institute is your son, Shaun, who is also a dick. The final few missions he sends you on are to assassinate an enemy faction’s leader and to totally fuck over the Brotherhood of Steel. I was hoping I could reason with him a bit (“Maybe we could let the Railroad survive, and adopt their view on Synth morality?”) but nope, Shaun said to kill their leader, and there was no other choice even though I was #2 in the entire organization. So I walked in and put a shotgun shell in her face. When I was told to wipe out the Brotherhood I tried to argue against all out war (“Maybe we should wait a bit? I don’t think they’re that big of a threat.”), but nope! “You’re wrong. Go wipe the Brotherhood out!” I had no choice other than to destroy them with the help of a giant, Communist-hating robot. Damn, it sure is cool to know that my abducted son who I was desperate to find turned into a ruthless leader on par with Kim Jong Un, with hardly any sense of morality, and no qualms against using me, his own father, as his personal pawn and assassin. I’m so proud of you son.

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The flaming wreckage of the Brotherhood of Steel. This means you’ve won!

So anyways, the game ends, The Institute wins (in my playthrough), and nothing really happens. The main quest is just a power struggle for the overworld. That’s it. Remember in Fallout 3 when you had to fix a water purifier to help the people around Washington D.C. and you felt good for helping people? Remember in Skyrim where you had to save the world from some dragon that wanted to destroy it (for some reason) and you were a big-time hero? Remember in Oblivion when you had to save the world again from some demon dudes? Remember in New Vegas when you were stuck in a power struggle but you actually seemed to have an influence in the world and weren’t just a stupid errand boy? Yeah. Those were the good ole days…

I Just Don’t Care

By far the worst part about the game was its inability to make players give a fuck about the world. This was also a problem I had in Fallout: New Vegas but luckily the game gave you a way to not care. They had a faction in that game called The Legion who we’re basically a knockoff of ancient Rome down to their leader being called “Caesar.” They were also a terrible organization that wanted to bring the current fractured society under the wing of their Legion and even enslave everyone. My not giving a fuck about post-apocalyptic society could manifest itself by joining The Legion because they didn’t give a fuck, I didn’t give a fuck, so why not say to hell with trying to have a nice, peaceful society?

Fallout 4 doesn’t even give you that option. The world is shit – everywhere you travel is full of rubble, junk, horrible monsters, and radiation – and no one is trying to fix it. They all simply want power in the world. The world is bleak and shitty, the NPCs and factions boring and one-sided, and it’s just so hard to give a damn about the world and the people in it.

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This is probably the best part of the game IMHO.

And somehow, even though the game is an “open world” game, I figured it wasn’t really, and you’d still have a limited amount of ways you can help people. Like I said, at the end of the game, nothing really changed. The organization you picked wins the power struggle, and maybe that will have some lasting effect on the world, but…who cares?

I did sort of enjoy the game, and it has its moments where it’s fun, but more often than not it felt like a chore where I wasn’t sure why I was doing anything in the game. It’s a game to keep you busy with no purpose. Gun modding was fun, and there were a few characters that were memorable (detective Valentine?), but the game had some insane ability to just make me not give a shit, and that apathy isn’t a good thing to have in a game. It leaves you with no reason to play, no reason to get involved, and in a world meant to be engrossing and interesting, you end up just being bored as hell.