E3 2015: Some Big Changes to Fallout 4’s Character Development


I gotta give Bethesda credit for announcing Fallout 4 just five months before it will hit shelves on November 10th. That doesn’t leave yours truly much time to be consumed with the task of deciding my character’s SPECIAL stats! As you may recall, Fallout builds were my specialty back in the blog’s early days, and not much has changed–I still love thinking about how to get the most out of my character.

And so, after watching today’s Bethesda press event, here are some thoughts I had about character development and combat. Naturally I payed close attention when SPECIAL was shown. These seven attributes have always played a big role in your character’s development and what weapons they can use.

This image right here confirms that you can sprint in Fallout 4–something you couldn’t do in Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Running consumes AP, and Endurance determines how quickly it recovers. AP, you may recall, is the same resource used by the series’ trademark aim-assisted VATS mode. That’s a pretty huge way to distinguish how character builds will function. AP can either be used to target enemies at a distance with projectiles, or run up and hit them in the face. This will make Endurance even more important for melee and unarmed fighters since it boosts their HP and ability to close in on targets. Conversely, Endurance will be even less important for those seeking long-range stealth kills.

Next up is Intelligence. Once the obvious choice for the “max” in min-max approaches, Intelligence used to provide your character with additional skill points upon leveling up. This meant smarter characters could master more skills. Now…

intelIntelligence simply gives you more EXP. Which, uh… In a game very likely to have a level cap… Well, that means at a certain point having high Intelligence will do nothing for you! “Well then, it’s settled! My character will be dumber than a mole rat!”
Not so fast, intrepid wasteland wanderer! Remember that in today’s reveal it was made clear that crafting will play a huge role in Fallout 4. Your base, your weapons, your armor–they can all be crafted, enhanced, and maintained through crafting. I’d wager there are some excellent crafting-related perks with Intelligence requirements to make this stat worthwhile.

Luck is a stat that I kept low in Fallout 3 because why rely on RNG for critical hits when getting a sneak attack always results in a critical hit? I dumped a few more points in Luck for Blackjack games in New Vegas, but otherwise Luck is a stat I’ve never really cared much about. Now, it looks like the Fallout 4 team may have made another smart balancing decision by attaching some form of timer to critical hits. I’d wager this timer also applies to sneak attack criticals, meaning an even more patient, stealthy style of gameplay will be required if this is your M.O.

Some other things to note:

  • Perception now determines your accuracy in VATS
  • Agility governs your ability to sneak
  • The game will have a layered armor system

Have you noticed a trend? It seems many of the SPECIAL stats directly control a variety of aspects of gameplay once controlled by skills including sneaking and accuracy. It also seems there is no SPECIAL stat that affects how many skill points you receive upon leveling up. Could it be that the game has done away with skill points and the skill-based system in favor of just SPECIAL and perks? Examining the stat screen, I only see options for STATUS, SPECIAL, and PERKS, so that seems to back up my crazy theory.

Character builds in the last couple Fallout games were pretty similar, with maximizing skill points being the clear objective to end up with a character who was essentially good at everything. It looks like Fallout 4 may be taking a more balanced approach, making your abilities directly tied to your SPECIAL. I would definitely welcome this much needed change! Rest assured that I’ll be keeping my eyes out for any future evidence to back up or refute my crazy theories.

Here are 4 of My Favorite Guns in Splatoon

Nintendo doesn’t bring new IPs into the world very often (last one was Pikmin circa 2001), but when they do; fuck man, they do it right. Equal parts Portal and Jet Set Radio, Splatoon somehow provides all the joys I imagine one gets from the real shooters without the stress or the gravely narrators talking about alien invasion. My first weekend with Splatoon is a blur of vivid colored paint, fashionable clothes, and squid memes. I just couldn’t stop playing.

Recently I’ve been on a quest to find the gun that’s right for me. One that can cover a lot of territory but is still reliable in a firefight. And call me a hipster, but I also like to use weapons I don’t see other players rocking all that often. What can I say, I like to feel like a unique snowflake.

tent splatAh, my first love: the Tentatek Splattershot. Splattershots in general are very well balanced in terms of rate of fire, paint consumption, and accuracy. I prefer this version to the standard model since its Special Weapon–the Inkzooka–is super effective at clearing paths or wrecking child-shaped squids. Got a lot of mileage out of this gun.

blasterWhen I see someone with a Blaster, I worry about 2 things:

  1. Guy Fieri somehow got a hold of a Wii U and is hunting me down like in that nightmare I keep having
  2. I’m gonna get destroyed because, in the right hands, this thing is frightening.

The Blaster has a very low rate of fire, but it packs a paint-filled punch with each massive paint projectile. The bullets burst in mid-air, leaving plenty of room for error in aiming. This gun is better for holding the line against would-be Picass0s (I’m lookin’ at you, rollers) than it is for covering territory. 52 deco galThe .52 Gal Deco is a uniquely decorated variant of the .52 Gal. Not only is it bejeweled to be fresh as fuck, it also has one of the most fun loadouts for a gun you’ll find early on (Level 11). Its Sub Weapon, the Seeker, is a remote controlled car combined with a proximity mine that leaves a trail of paint in its wake. These things are tons of fun and splatting your enemies with them makes you feel like a suave secret agent. Its Special Weapon is a missile that blasts a huge area, great for keeping your team’s color on the map.

96 GalFinally, my current sidearm: the .96 Gal. This baby really burns through paint, but it can cover wide swathes of the map quickly or splat foes in relatively few shots from a great distance. Its Sub Weapons are throw-able sprinklers that lay down a radius of your team’s paint color. These are great for playing defensively or getting sneaky by using them as distractions. The Special Weapon, the Echolocator, will show you what directions your enemies are. I use this ability to sneak into empty areas to lay down a coating of paint and rack up some major points.

Fun fact: did you know that when you activate your Special Weapon your paint tank is instantly refilled? This is huge on weapons like the .96 Gal where you will quickly extinguish your supply!

The character that Sarah and I are sharing is level 15, so there are still more weapons to try out between leveling up, clearing the story, and future updates from Nintendo. I look forward to trying them on for size and seeing how they compare to my favorites as the community becomes more and more skilled. Hope I can keep up!

We Have a Patreon Now!

Hey all, just wanted to let you know that Sarah and I have launched a Patreon! It’s to help support our various projects which include:

Once we hit our $100 a month milestone, we’ll select a random patron each month who will receive the featured prize in our Patreon store! Doesn’t matter if you donate even just $1 a monthyou’re still eligible to win. Our featured prizes are awesome, limited goods we find while exploring Japan. So yeah, this way we can kinda give back and make our experiences a little more tangible. Plus it validates all the shopping we do, heh.

I realize the blog has been slow lately, but I’m fixin’ to get back on the wagon… Or ball or whatever it is that one ride in a serious and methodical manner. So please consider checking our Patreon out and look forward to more from us, as always!

Dat Pre-Heavensward Animus Glow

*Blog Status Update: Ignore if You Don’t Care*
I’ve decided to take my blog in a different direction. I know what you’re thinking: “Ha, you mean NOT the post-nothing-at-all-direction?” Yes, yes–that’s enough snark from you. No, I’ve thought a lot about what would get me motivated to start writing again and I think I’ve figured it out.

It’s not following PR announcements with all the the actual detail/shelf life of a ripe avocado.

It’s not writing long, sweeping articles about threats to the future of the industry as a respectable artistic medium.

Naw, I just want to play games and write about what I’m doing in ‘em and why. So that’s what I’ma do. So sit back and enjoy my accounts reflecting on what I’ve been doing with my gaming time. Or don’t. Whatever.
*End of Blog Update*

Now this is a change of pace. I’m hanging out in a forested path with two friends I’ve known on Twitter for years. We’ve taken down Elder Dragons in Monster Hunter together, podcasted together, and now we’re waiting for a certain quest to spawn in Final Fantasy 14–the MMO I just can’t stop playing (when I actually have the time, that is). We’ve been waiting a while, but wasting time with friends? Way better than flying solo. We’re chatting about our various in-game goals, the best ways to get cute gear, and why green tea candy is popular in Japan.

Flying solo had been my MO for nearly a year until I just recently payed Square Enix real money to change which server my character can sign into. Haven’t regretted this decision in the slightest. My friends definitely make me feel at home, eagerly helping me with tasks just like this one.

I’m trying to work my way through the worst grind I’ve probably ever faced in a game. Nine books. Each one demanding a trio of dungeons, 100 specific enemies, and these randomly timed quests. My reward for completing these formidable tomes? An upgrade of my current weapons–fists resembling white tiger heads–only they gain a GLOWING AURA. Fuck. Yeah. Is there a better thing to punch someone in the face with than a glowing white tiger head? Well, yeah, two of ‘em, duh.

I want to do this thing before Heavensward, Final Fantasy 14‘s beefy expansion, supposedly packed with a whole game’s worth of content. Gotta have some glowing fists going into that. And it don’t hurt to punch a little harder  when everything is bound to hit a little harder right back.

When the random quest finally spawns, my friends and I cut the convo short and quickly set about punching, slashing, and poking a group of enemies attacking some bumbling NPCs. Once the dust settles it’s clear to me this would have been a pretty stressful (potentially impossible) task solo. But instead, I had a great time even through the dullest moments (i.e., the waiting).

I completed those books the other day and my upgraded weapons are glorious. I’ll probably take it easy now that the main goal I set before Heavensward is crossed off my list. It’s pretty great knowing I’ll be diving into the expansion with some friends and a pair of glowing predatory cats at my side.