There are tears in my eyes. As I step carefully through the dead halls of a long-opened vault, the haunting voice of Skeeter Davis serenades the end of the world. Skeletons of drug addicts, dead for centuries, lay around in their final poses, boney arms still grasping for their next fix. I know what happened here, about the experiments and the desperate, doomed struggle these people faced while imprisoned with the very things they sought to escape on the surface. And as I explore the remnants of their homes, I see the small stories that made up their lives. Two people, probably alcoholics, lay on the floor in front of a liquor cabinet. Another locked themselves in the bathroom and overdosed on psycho. One of the last rooms contains a small, scattered pile of supplies and a PC that holds the final journal entries for an inhabitant that tried to stay clean, but eventually gave in to the temptation and died with his friends.
I see all these small tragedies play out as I explore the vault and I can feel my heart constrict in my chest as Davis sings of loss. “Why does my heart go on beating? Why do these eyes of mine cry? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” croons Skeeter Davis as I take in the stories. It all comes rushing in: The destruction of the old world; the callous cruelty with which the end was prepared; and all the rage, sorrow, and despair my character must feel after the incredible losses she has endured. It’s all brought to a sharp, poignant moment of empathy through Fallout 4’s brilliant storytelling and characterization.
Many people think of story as something that is delivered through dialogue and text. However, games also tell many little stories through environment design. While Bethesda has a long tradition of skillfully telling stories through their environments, Fallout 4 has some of the best instances of this. There are hundreds of small stories waiting in the wasteland. Some require some detective-like snooping to uncover and others don’t even have markers on the map, but observant players will find these glimpses into pre-fallout life scattered everywhere. The stories themselves aren’t always the most interesting, but the sheer number of them give weight to the Boston area. This was a place that once teemed with human life and could again one day, if the factions at work in the Commonwealth could be left to their own devices.
Unfortunately, the different factions of the Commonwealth can’t seem to leave one another alone and that tension ties in with the profound disaster that takes place in the opening minutes of Fallout 4. The journey to resolve the initial conflict that begins the protagonist’s journey serves as the crux of some of the game’s most interesting ethical dilemmas (that consequently have sweeping ramifications for the wider game). Those hard choices are kept grounded in a personal reality by the relationships that players build with their companions, NPCs who serve as actual characters with opinions on how the protagonist interacts with the world and its inhabitants. This improves dramatically on the follower system that has appeared in previous Bethesda titles, by endowing these friendly NPCs with real character bonds become stronger and decisions farther down the line become more difficult. You will remember the likes of Piper, Nick Valentine, and Curie long after your time with Fallout 4 comes to an end.
Fallout 4 impresses me with the many improvements that take the elements established in Fallout 3 and brings them to the next level. The most easily seen improvement appears in the graphical presentation, with lighting and details that can sometimes draw gapes and awe. Most critically, the facial animation has drastically improved, with compelling facial performances matching vastly improved voice acting (with a few exceptions). Facial expressions in particular are very expressive and characters are given the chance to show a wide range of different emotions. And, after so many years of being irritated by hair clipping through faces, Bethesda has finally devised a system that creates decent facial hair and long hair that generally avoids clipping. It’s a small improvement, but for me it eliminates something that I’ve found irritating for a long time. Also, explosions look absolutely stunning.
While a new sheen of graphical paint does the franchise a world of good, subtle changes to underlying systems create a familiar experience that offers fresh gameplay and narrative experience. The new dialogue system has been trimmed down to four responses for any given conversation. Some might see this as a limit to the number of choices you can make in any given scenario, much less than the various options Fallout 3 could potentially offer, but I think that the presentation and overall storytelling benefits from the more fleshed out dialogue. This also allows for the protagonist to be voiced and deliver lines, which leads to an actual character that feels more real than the voiceless husk players projected themselves into in Fallout 3. There are undeniably less dialogue options, but those that remain feel more meaningful.
Bethesda’s overhaul of the gunplay is certainly the best improvement made from Fallout 3 to Fallout 4. It is actually possible to play the game entirely without using the VATS targeting system, as the shooting can now hold its own as a gameplay mechanic. It leads to a combat system that feels fluid, effortless transitioning between the tactical VATS view that allows for players to call their shots on specific body parts while slowing time and the often frantic shooting in real-time. It’s a simple, straightforward change, but it feels like the most necessary update to the franchise.
While most of the changes have been overwhelmingly for the better, some wrinkles persist. The user interface for Fallout 4 feels muddled and messy. Forgetting the name of an important audio tape or note could leave you searching through your inventory for several minutes. Spending a scant few minutes searching through an inventory pales in comparison to one of Fallout 4’s biggest irritations: Finding dismissed companions. Every time a new companion is recruited, the previous companion can be sent to any settlement under the player’s control. At first this isn’t a huge problem, but once the pool of companions expands and you learn that you can only send one or two companions to the same settlement it becomes a colossal issue to track down a particular sidekick. At one point I spent almost two hours trying to find Preston Garvey, one of the first companions the game throws your way. Even if you manage to track down the right settlement it can be difficult to spot a human NPC milling around with the twenty other settlers living in your settlement. A small UI tweak noting where to find each of your recruited companions on the list of controlled settlements or a companion-only base would have been a huge help.
One of the main systems that Fallout 4 introduces early on is the ability to control and build in settlements. Players are supposed to build structures that feed, water, and shelter potential settlers. The building mechanics are actually really fun and reward players who can’t help picking up everything they see. Building possesses one huge drawback: There is almost no incentive to do it. Building successful settlements doesn’t have a reward and never expands much past the initial concept. These settlers never come to your aid in a Wasteland war or provide amazing, unique items; they just wander around and sometimes do the jobs you assign to them. The building is fun, but that fun is its own reward. That doesn’t make it bad, I certainly enjoyed more than a few hours building settlements and growing them as large as possible. However, the lack of tangible benefits does make building defenses and homes feel like a time sink when you ultimately realize you could be exploring new locations, meeting new challenges, and interacting with interesting quests and characters.
Despite the issues a new era have ushered into the franchise, I don’t feel like I’m being hyperbolic when I say that Bethesda’s latest venture into the post-apocalypse could very well be their best game to date. I’ve poured over 100 hours into Fallout 4 and, while I’ve finished the main campaign and a decent amount of exploration, there are still vast areas that remain undiscovered and unexamined. The irradiated area around Boston jealously guards some of its most potent secrets. To see and find everything would take hundreds more hours.
That Fallout 4 managed to reach something raw and emotional in me after dozens of hours spent becoming desensitized to the misery and violence of the Commonwealth’s new world testifies to the underlying power at Bethesda’s fingertips. While almost every single Bethesda title has been revolutionary in some way and highly polished, Fallout 4 strikes me like the herald of something even better. I don’t know what that might be, but the developers have the talent to do something not just good or great, but something earthshattering; glimmers of that potential can be seen in Fallout 4.
My time with Fallout 4 has been a roller coaster, both inside the game and in the real world. I started playing it the day it released, the day after my great aunt Winnie passed away. I continued to trek through the post-apocalypse as terror attacks unfolded in France, Lebanon, and Nigeria, an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and as I received news that one of my aunts has cancer. The world has seemed like a pretty horrible place for the last couple of weeks. Fully aware of the irony, I found comfort in the war-strewn, harsh, and violent landscapes of Fallout 4. Our world is a complicated place, full of shades of grey, competing agendas, and people who are perfectly willing to exemplify the worst of what humanity can be. Bethesda’s Fallout 4 has a lot of that, too, but it is also full of compelling characters that bring out the good in people. Even in that world of radiation and unchanging war, a city can rise from the ashes and people can stand up for one another. It reminded me that good exists out in our world, too; it can be easy to forget that when faced with hate and happenstance. Like Diamond City rising from the ruins of Boston, We can build our own communities while embracing our differences and looking out for one another… and that’s something I’d like to believe that’s what we’ve been doing here at Extra Life. So, thank you to all of you for being a force for good in a world that sometimes seems to have gone completely mad.
Bethesda teased hope out of a scorched and tortured world and that hope is worth experiencing for yourself.
One day you sit down, a mild mannered YouTuber, and wonder what kind of a video you'll make today. Then it hits you like a bolt of lightning thrown by Zeus himself: I will combine Teletubbies with Grand Theft Auto V and it will be good. You know some might ask you why you would release such an incredible abomination into the world, but you also know that you have no choice. You were chosen to bring this unspeakable creation to the world. Earlier today, VG247 discovered that YouTuber Merfish, well known for their videos set in Grand Theft Auto V, had created a Frankenstein's monster of a video that recreates the two-minute-long intro to one of the strangest children's television shows ever to somehow find a broad appeal. It is definitely something that everyone should see at least once because... well... how could you not watch it now that you know it exists? For those of you who aren't familiar with the Teletubbies intro, Merfish has thoughtfully uploaded a side-by-side comparison to show how closely the GTA V version follows the original. You can hardly tell the difference. Truly, this is a glorious time to be alive.
The classic Super Nintendo title Super Star Wars has made its way onto the PlayStation Store as a cross-buy for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. The last time Super Star Wars was re-released was 2009 on the Wii Virtual Console. Sony touts the various ways in which they have updated the new version of the 1992 SNES game. The update brings saving, leaderboards, achievements, display modes, and controller layouts. As a cross-buy title, a single purchase of the game unlocks it for play on both PS4 and PS Vita. Currently Super Star Wars is listed as $9.99 on PSN.
Two years after the release of Age of Empires II HD, Skybox Labs and Forgotten Empires have teamed up for their second Age of Empires expansion titled The African Kingdoms. Players can take control of the Berbers, Malians, Ethiopians, and Portuguese. Four unique campaigns focus on each of these civilizations with full voice-acting. The Berbers' campaign centers on the tale of Tariq ibn Ziyad; the Malian story follows the path of Sundjata; Portugal's missions relates events in the life of Francisco de Almeida; and the Ethiopian campaign follows the career of the legendary Queen Yodit. The two developers have also made improvements to the AI. Twenty-three new maps have been added, as well, encompassing balanced maps, real world locations, and randomized map types. Ten new terrain types make appearances. New units and technologies and a sudden death mode round out the additions The African Kingdoms make to Age of Empires II HD (along with numerous balancing improvements). The African Kingdoms expansion can be downloaded through Steam starting today.
Over 350 games are on sale as of right now over on the Good Old Games website along with a number of bundles and time sensitive deals. New games will go on sale every 12 hours, while new bundles will become available every 24 hours. Some of the high profile deals at the moment are The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (-30%) and its Hearts of Stone expansion (-10%), Pillars of Eternity (-50%), Age of Wonders 3 (-75%), Legend of Grimrock 2 (-75%). As for bundles, you can pick up the massive 36-game Interplay Ultimate Collection bundle (-90%), The Elder Scrolls Classics bundle (-66%), Fallout Originals (-66%), and the ability to build your own Daedalic bundle (up to -85%). Not only that, but GOG.com is offering three games as rewards for people who make purchases during the sale. Those who spend $5 will receive a free copy of System Shock 2. For $15, customers are given a copy of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. People who spend $30 or more obtain a copy of Banished. The Big Fall Sale goes from today through November 15. This could be a good opportunity to pick up a last minute game or two for Game Day on Saturday.
Hey everyone! Just was notified that our Dropbox's public links were temporarily shut down due to high traffic (holy smokes!). We'll be moving all of the Broadcasting Toolkit items to the Downloads section of the Community Site shortly! Thanks for your patience.
Update: You can now download the Broadcasting Toolkit from the downloads area: http://community.extra-life.org/files/category/13-broadcasting-toolkit/
Can you believe that Extra Life Game Day 2015 is just 4 days away?! It seems like just yesterday we were launching this year’s website and brainstorming what we can do to help make 2015 one for the record books. While you certainly don't need to stream your Game Day fun, we know some people in the Extra Life community choose to do so on services like Twitch. I want you know that we’ve heard you loud and clear about needing streaming tools. If you are planning a Game Day broadcast, we're excited to announce that the Extra Life Broadcasting Toolkit is here! Inside you will find: Extra Life Donation Alerts Depending on how tech savvy you are, there are a few different ways that allow you to integrate Donation Alerts into your Extra Life Broadcast. All options are 100% free and connect directly with your Extra Life account through your unique participant ID.
Miracle Story Videos & Commercial Breaks Want to show your viewers the impact of their donations or just need to step away from your stream for a few minutes? We have tons of patient stories from families who have been treated at our hospitals, promotional videos and thank you messages you can run. The videos range from 30 seconds to 7 minutes!
Customizable Buttons for your Broadcasting Page Personalize your Twitch profile with Extra Life themed buttons! There are dozens of pre-made buttons and even templates for you to make your own.
Stream Overlays Not the Bob Ross of designing overlays? No worries! We’ve designed a couple different overlays that you can choose from and we’ll continually be adding more as time allows.
Talking Points about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Ever wondered how many kiddos are treated at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital each year? How about every minute? The numbers will shock you and your viewers. Our hospitals treat every patient and their family, regardless of their injury, illness, or ability to pay!
Again, you definitely don't need to stream your Game Day fun in order to participate in Extra Life, but if you are, we hope we just made your day much easier! For The Kids, Mike Kinney Team Extra Life Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
While most of us will be focused on Extra Life on November 7, it might be worth sparing a glance or two at the Mass Effect and BioWare Twitter accounts. There will be opportunities throughout the day for people to win a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One emblazoned with the N7 logo. "I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite console on the Citadel" - Commander Shepard (probably) BioWare will also be streaming the entirety of the Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC as part of their Extra Life charity stream. All donations to the stream will be matched by the company up to their $10,000 goal. They'll be giving away a number of prizes directly on their stream, as well as taking audience input as to what decisions they should make throughout their stream. They will start streaming on Twitch this Saturday at 9am PST.
Have you been dying to see backwards compatibility for the Xbox One? The wait is almost over. Microsoft will be releasing a list of over one hundred Xbox 360 titles that will be playable on the Xbox One on November 9, next Monday. This was confirmed by lead Xbox engineer Mike Yabarra in a tweet earlier today.
Hey there friend You don’t know me but we’re friends because we’re both involved in Extra Life. Maybe you got into it because you’ve got kids and know first-hand how important Children’s Miracle Network hospitals are. Maybe you’ve been in one of those hospitals yourself. Heck, maybe you are right now. Or maybe you want to feel a part of something bigger. Whatever your reason, giving back feels amazing. It’s what’s keeping me going. My name is Sean Rooney and I live in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. It’s a three-hour drive to our nearest CMN hospital, Alberta Children’s in Calgary. Once my 11-month-old son Dominic was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, I made that trip twice a week for the better part of 18 months. My wife Trish stayed in hospital with him while I went back-and-forth to work. Dom instantly made friends with everyone — fellow patients, nurses, the music therapist and child life support team members. When we were re-teaching him to walk after his first rounds of chemotherapy he’d chase the cleaning staff around the hallways of the cancer ward. I started a blog early on, dominicaml.blogspot.ca. Then, a friend introduced me to Extra Life. Our first marathon was the 25-hour one in 2013. Curse you, daylight savings time! I raised US$4,315, which in Canadian dollars is, like, a million bucks. Last year I raised US$8,100. I shaved my head and danced and made silly videos and whatever it took. More importantly I found a network of people all across the continent who were giving back with me. I met people in my own community. Brayden’s sister had died that summer. Krista had heart problems and still has the scars from her time in hospital. I met people outside my community. Kye, a 19-year-old gamer who’s battling cancer himself. Lexi, our guild president who puts so much time and energy into it. And Jeromy, who started this whole thing seven years ago and whose heart is legendary. Dom’s treatment was supposed to last four months. Then we found out it was worse than we thought, and he needed a bone marrow transplant.
Another six months.
But the cancer returned. We started some experimental treatments. He laughed and giggled, started giving people thumbs-up at every opportunity no matter how bad it got. On Dec. 24, 2014, we were told the cancer was back and there was nothing else we could do. He was given weeks to live. Dom defied the odds for 34 weeks. He visited Vancouver, getting blood transfusions every second day at the B.C. Children’s Hospital and having the time of his life riding horses, meeting pro hockey players and visiting the aquarium. Then, in Orlando for a wish trip, we got to Disneyworld. We had two hours at the Magic Kingdom because we had to go to Arnold Palmer Children’s for a blood transfusion that afternoon. They were the best two hours ever. He fell asleep in the Buzz Lightyear ride which is basically a moving video game complete with laser guns in every car.
He was done.
Two days later, Sept. 3, 2015, Dominic died.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, we asked for donations to Extra Life. Our #dominicstrong team has raised more than US$40,000 as a result.
I hope you never have the same motivation that I do to give back. But you’re my friend, and I want you to know how important what you’re doing is. The money you earn for your local hospital helps kids like Dominic stay sane in the insanity of their situation. It provides research dollars to doctors working to cure things like cancer. And it makes parents like me feel confident everything possible is being done for our kids. So as we head into our marathons this year, let’s remember to give thumbs up at every opportunity, and put our hearts into doing what we can. These kids don’t get a break. For many of them, their entire life is a marathon. Let them inspire us and let us inspire each other. Thank you for all you’re doing to support families like mine and little boys and girls like Dominic. #DominicStrong, Sean Rooney Fellow Extra Lifer
The latest trailer for Spiders' upcoming sci-fi adventure set on Mars shows protagonist Zachariah making use of his technomancer training to manipulate electricity at will. The gameplay on display highlights the different technomancer fighting styles and powers as well as how players will advance through skill trees as the game progresses. We're briefly shown some of the supporting cast and a short snippet of the trailer outlines the crafting and equipment systems. The shanty-filled environments in the background are part of the markets of Noctis, a major location in the world of The Technomancer. The trailer ends with a glimpse of the monster shown at E3 earlier this year. The Technomancer seems to be shaping up into a really confident project that holds a lot of promise. It releases next year for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
If you're looking for something creepy and unnerving to play around Halloween, Pathologic Classic HD might just be the perfect choice. Players choose one of three doctors: The Bachelor, The Changeling, and The Haruspex. The Bachelor possesses a refined education, while The Changeling is a young girl who believes she can heal the sick with her hands. The third doctor, The Haruspex, has no education, just a natural talent and a penchant for twisted surgery. As one of those doctors, players arrive as strangers in town just as a the deadly Sand Plague breaks out and threatens to wipe out everyone. Pathologic is interesting because, while its primary antagonist is the plague, the townspeople are capable of turning against the player as well. When players begin in town, all the residents have pre-existing relationships with one another, which governs how they behave and react toward the player. Each person has their own motivations and intentions and you can never be truly sure of anyone's true allegiances in town. As the residents of the town become ill and die, their relationships will be tested and their minds could break leading to panic, chaos, and even deadly violence. You cannot save everyone in Pathologic and no one will save you. A decade after it's release as an indie oddity, Ice-Pick Lodge has gone back to fix and revamp their original work. Updated graphics and effects make the game look and run better on modern systems. A new translation of the script from its original Russian makes it easier to understand, while new voice overs give nuance to the characters. Ice-Pick Lodge is currently working on a complete redesign the classic Pathologic called Pathologic Remake. The remake will be completely different from their remaster, which captures the essence of what they envisioned the original game to be. Pathologic Remake will be released sometime next year. Pathologic Classic HD is available today for PC.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE WEEKLY BUNDLE! What's the Day of the Devs? It's an annual gathering in San Francisco hosted by Double Fine, giving developers from far and wide the chance to show off their games to guests of all ages. Oh, and the admission is free! We figured what better way to mark the occasion than a bundle of great indie titles! Pay what you want for Hack 'n' Slash, Costume Quest, and Lumino City. Pay more than the average price to also receive Escape Goat 2 andMercenary Kings. Pay $13 or more to get all of that plus Massive Chalice and Grim Fandango Remastered! Choose the price. Together, these games ordinarily cost up to $142. Here at Humble Bundle, though, the price is yours to choose! Cross-platform and on Steam. All games except for Lumino City are available on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux on Steam. Lumino City is available on Steam for Windows and Mac. Select titles are also available DRM-free. Pay $1 or more for access to Steam keys. Please check out the full system requirements here prior to purchasing. Support charity. Choose where the money goes -- between the developers, Extra Life and Humble Bundle