I’ve been playing The Witcher on Steam. (I know, I just gave away my copy of The Witcher 2 and I used to rant about how stupid PC gaming is. I’m weird.) It’s a fine game, and it’s got me thinking about playing characters whose backstories are pre-ordained.
Let me say right away that this piece is not about how I feel at home in the world of video games. That’s a very different post, one which I sort of already wrote. Also note that this piece has a spoiler in the final section (“Bethesda Does It Right”) about Skyrim’s Dark Brotherhood questline.
I’m beginning to realize how much I prefer open-world games to linear experiences. So much of my life is dictated by outside forces that I treasure the option to explore or goof around or experiment in a game world. Indeed, a case might be made that linear games don’t really let us experience a game world so much as one narrow strip of activity within a world. But there’s something else too.
I’ve realized the importance of home in an open-world game.
That time-lapse video I posted from Red Dead Redemption made me wonder what other similar videos might exist out there? Quite a few, I’ve found, and most of them come from Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry. Watch these in full-screen mode, and have your screenshot key-combo ready for instant awesome wallpapers.
First up (of course) is Skyrim.
Assassin’s Creed, LA Noire, Fallout, and GTAIV after the jump!
We’ve often said on the podcast that the Collector’s Edition of Fallout New Vegas should have contained a full set of poker chips that could be used for an evening of cards. Well, if you’ve got $1400 (£881), an eBay account, and lots of patience, you can put one together yourself.
I’ve played Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas more than any other game. Three playthroughs of each at around 50 hours apiece — yeah, I’ve spent some serious time in the DC and Mojave Wastelands. There’s so much to love: The VATS system is a perfect blend of real-time and turn-based combat. The characters are intriguing and (often) multifaceted. The storylines provoke laughter and heartbreak.
There is something unconsciously unnerving about these games, however, and I’ve always had trouble putting my finger on it. Obviously many things about the wastelands are unnerving: glowing radioactive ghouls, hard-to-kill mirelurks, homicidal super mutants, and every manner of depraved behavior you can imagine. But there’s something else.
During my most recent odyssey through the Mojave, I think I figured it out. The wastelands of Fallout are awash in false fronts — facades — which reveal the hideous, desperate desire of decimated people trying to convince everyone else (and, ultimately, themselves) of a reality they can’t quite achieve.
(It should go without saying that spoilers abound in the following sections. However, most of the New Vegas bits are short and don’t reveal much.)