Fallout 76 Frustrations – February 2023 Humble Choice

One of the reason’s I like Humble Choice is getting to try out games I wouldn’t have bought in the first place. I’ve found a couple games this way that, at first glance, didn’t look like my thing but turned out to be really fun. Sometimes those games just don’t click for me. Fallout 76 is one of those games this month.

I tend to reserve judgement on games that the wider internet labels as “bad” until I play them. I’ve found too many that have been fun for me over the years that didn’t appeal to the masses. I figured Fallout 76 would be one of those. I remember there being all sorts of drama around it’s launch 5 years ago and then the game seemed to fade away all together. No one I knew was playing it and I kind of just forgot about it until it appeared in this month’s choice. In the spirit of trying new things I decided to take this one for this month’s Blaugust community review.

Here’s my initial impressions after about 2 hours: If you want to play a Fallout game there are better options. If you want to play a survival game there are better options.If you want to play a multiplayer Fallout game this may be your only option.

I came away frustrated from those 2 hours of gameplay. For one, the game kept crashing on me. It crashed on startup, it crashed during character creation, it crashed to desktop while I was playing. Could it be something with my setup? Sure, but there sure was a lot of crashing going on. It didn’t make for a great experience.

Then there’s the inventory system. For a survival crafting game with a lot of materials and items to manage the inventory is beyond clunky. What I want for a survival game is to see my inventory at a glance and it is very hard to do that when your inventory is text based and in one long list. Not only that but in order to find anything you have to sort between the item category tabs. The keyboard and mouse controls don’t make that real intuitive. I get that a Fallout game needs the Pip-Boy in it but it just takes way to long to do anything in your inventory through that interface.

My hastily constructed base.

The whole game was clearly built for consoles and controllers in mind. The keyboard bindings are super weird without a lot of re-binds and even then they can still be awkward. The controls make the building system particularly clunky to use. Keyboard and mouse have awkward bindings and even with a controller it just feels like it takes forever to do anything. I’m not much of a builder in these games but I usually try to give it my best effort. This time I didn’t even attempt to make my base look nice.

It’s not all bad though. The few quests that I did had that signature Fallout style of writing. The combat feels solid and the exploration is fun. The map is large and it seems like a game with a lot to do if you can get past the awkward controls and interface. I can’t, or more accurately, I don’t want to so I’ll be leaving this one collecting dust in my library.

Is Fallout 76 worth buying this month’s choice for? It’s one of the “big” games this month after all. You can probably guess my answer…In my opinion, it’s not worth buying February’s Humble Choice for and, honestly, it’s not worth playing if you do pick up the bundle this month.

A Look at Blade Assault

Blade Assault is 2D, action rouge-lite, platformer with an emphasis on action. It’s available in this month’s Humble Choice and it’s the game I’ve taken for a spin for UnwiseOwl’s communal monthly Humble Choice Review.

The first thing that drew me to Blade Assault was the flashy, fast paced combat featured in the trailer. The combat turned out to be just as satisfying as it looked and has kept me playing for five hours now. The main character, Kil, has three weapons to choose from before each run There are three other unique characters to unlock, each with their own weapon, which keeps things fresh between runs. So far, I’ve mainly played Kil but I’ve tried them all. I enjoyed the few run’s I’ve spent with Zett who has a shield and is much tankier than the other characters making things more forgiving.

Each run consists of a series of stages and bosses. The bosses appear to be in the same order every time with only the stages changing layouts between each run. Each stage consists of two waves of enemies to fight and a third wave, usually with stronger enemies, at the end of the stage. This third wave starts to fill up the threat meter depending on how long it takes to finish the wave. Each time the threat meter is filled up, the difficulty level increases and enemies get fun new modifiers to kill you with.

During the stages you’ll find chests to open that contain gear which applies passive bonuses. At the end of every stage, a core can be upgraded which adds different elemental effects to your primary weapon, sub-weapon, and dash. There are also some that provide passive bonuses like damage reduction, sheilds, crit damage and more. There are others that will enhance or add new effects to a characters active skill as well. The gear and cores are what you’ll make your build around each run. With the difficulty always increasing I’ve found there’s a fine balance between increasing your damage to deal with tankier enemies while also managing your damage reduction, health stat, and MP stat along the way.

Of course, with Blade Assault being a rouge-lite, each time you die you’re sent back to the beginning with currency you’ve obtained along the way to purchase permanent upgrades. There are three types of permanent currency that carry over from run to run, coins, chips, and dice. The coins are used for the character upgrade system. This allows you to purchase passive effects that make your character stronger from run to run. As your character levels up there are additional tiers of passive abilities that open up. I was surprised to find that there is one tree for all four characters so you don’t need to level them up individually. The chips are used to level up the passive abilities on your weapons and also purchase drones that provide additional benefits. The dice are used to increase your Friendship level with the various characters you’ll find throughout the world. These allow you to unlock the three additional characters, buy items from vendors at a cheaper cost, and add characters to your base that will provide more effects before each run. I’ve always liked this style of meta progression. It makes each run a learning experience with the added benefit of providing a reward of some sort every time you die.

I’ve been enjoying Blade Assault in short bursts. I’ve only made it as far as the third boss but each attempt only takes 15-20 minutes. This would be the perfect game to play on the Steam Deck but the text is just a bit too small where I’m straining my eyes to read each item’d description. Once I become familiar with all the items by their icons this will be an easy one to boot up on the Deck when I’m short on time.

So, is Blade Assault worth buying December’s Humble Choice for? Not on it’s own, as seems to be the case for most of the games I pick. Greedfall and Wasteland 3 sold me on this month’s choice but Blade Assault is a welcome addition.