Diesel vs Rock

They say your willpower evaporates as the day passes, used up with each little choice that you make. With that in mind, I hope you appreciate the honesty that comes with a 6am blog post. I just tried to drunkenly wipe the piss stains off the left hand wall in my bathroom... besides finally learning that I part to the left, I've little left to give.

The other night I watched three movies that stared the Rock; Rampage, San Andreas and Jumanji 2. Tonight, I've watched two films that start Vin Diesel; The Last Witch Hunter and Babylon A.D.. You might consider the fact that I watched one more movie with the Rock than Vin Diesel in the lead as a sign that I prefer the Rock over Vin, but that would be a miscalculation. I watched one more movie with the Rock in it because I've already seen everything Vin has done and typically I couldn't be fucked watching anything the Rock stars in...

 I honestly don't even care...

I honestly don't even care...

A few years back, on set of one of the Fast & Furious films, the Rock made some comment about butting heads with another male lead. It didn't take a fucking rocket scientist to figure out that he was butting heads with Vin Diesel, the series previous male lead. Vin had been doing his thing for years, the Rock had been making waves in Hollywood and the two had finally met in Vin's money maker series - the Fast & the Furious.

The thing with these two actors is that they've got vastly different philosophies when it comes to their careers. While Vin Diesel is not above doing a film to make some money to fund his passion projects, the Rock is all about the money makers. Vin Diesel will go from mainstream blockbusters to arthouse films that barely make a dent, but you can tell that they're something that he's personally invested in. The Rock, on the other hand, never takes a risk and only ever stars in roles that he knows are going to make mega dollars.

You see, while Vin Diesel is an artist, the Rock is an entertainer. 

 You can take the actor out of WWE, but you can never take the WWE out of the actor...

You can take the actor out of WWE, but you can never take the WWE out of the actor...

I've got a cousin who married a sports and wrestling fan, the kind of douche-bag that works a dead-end job while he buys every video game console and gambles his kid's lunch money away then complains that my cousin doesn't put out enough. He's a big fan of the Rock.

Me, on the other hand, I've been a fan of Vin Diesel for years now. He misses the mark a whole lot, but he puts his money and name on the line for what he believes in. Vin Diesel is an artist to his core, and he's not above doing a shitty studio acting gig to gather the cash required to produce the films he really wants to be in. Vin Diesel wants to be in movies that make you feel something, that tell a decent story, the Rock wants to be in films that make money.

 Easy to make, guaranteed to make bulk cash. Do what you gotta do to make the art happen...

Easy to make, guaranteed to make bulk cash. Do what you gotta do to make the art happen...

While Vin Diesel has done films such as Pitch Black, Knockaroung Guys, Babylon A.D. & The Last Witch Hunter, the Rock has only ever done blockbusters. The most artistic films the Rock has done are Southland Tales in 2006 and Moana in 2016, besides that it's back to back trash that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Don't get me wrong, the Rock works his arse off, it's just that he puts all that effort into making drivel that appeals to the widest audience possible. 

 A reboot with the most vanialla cast possible...

A reboot with the most vanialla cast possible...

When's the last time the Rock took a risk? When was the last time he made a small budget film that he made for himself, as opposed for a massive audience? Snitch, or maybe Faster? Even they had a cast of big name actors to lend the film some weight. The dude is a money making machine, no doubt, but he's not exactly making anything of worth...

Vin Diesel misses as often as he scores, but at least he's fucking trying. The Rock makes shit for school boys and beta losers who knock up chicks just to tie them down. Explosions and tits and corny one liners that appeal to the perpetual boner in every male in existence, he's got them all following his cookie-cutter career like he's bloody samoan-jesus. The Rock is 50 Shades of Grey for men, mass produced trash that appeals to their lizard brains but offers nothing of any substantive value. 

 Concept art like this had me hooked, for years, just waiting for a film's release

Concept art like this had me hooked, for years, just waiting for a film's release

I get excited when another Vin Diesel movie is announced, I look forward to seeing what he's devoting himself to next. I can't even be bothered yawning when the ninth movie with the Rock in it this year is announced, because I know it's going to be some WWE/Michael Bay-esque tripe. 

Pay attention to what actors spend their time on, some are passionate about crafting stories while others are only passionate about gathering fame and money. Figure out who you want to give your money to, because you get a say in who succeeds. 

 

The End of the Walking Dead

I was chatting with J. Porteous yesterday, the conversation started about Trump, switched to Futurama and then we finished on The Walking Dead. Life moves fast on Twitter. The thing with The Walking Dead, and I hate to beat a dead horse here, is that it's turning into a shambling zombie. While it was once a show that was leading the charge in television ratings, it's had pieces falling off of it for a while now. By the end of season 8 it's been going through the motions but all signs of life are gone. Okay, I'll stop with the zombie metaphors now...

Carl was killed off under suspicious circumstances. The father of Chandler Riggs, the actor who portrayed Carl, suggested that something fishy was going on behind the scenes. And while Rick and Maggie were set to butt heads over Rick's choice to keep Negan alive, both Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan have stated that they're bailing on the show. The show is hemorrhaging at every conceivable angle and the producers have apparently offered Norman Reedus an exorbitant amount of money to take over as lead. That's right, they want a character who wasn't even in the comics, to take over as lead for the show.

Don't get me wrong, I really admire Norman Reedus' work, and I actually grew to like Daryl Dixon. But while I've no doubt that Norman Reedus could lead, I don't think Daryl Dixon could. He's the right-hand man of the lead, the trusted warrior, and there's nothing wrong with that. But that's the way the show looks like it's going, and while I've no doubt that it could continue for a few more seasons I doubt it would do so in any meaningful manner.

 They're a team, Daryl is what Shane could never be, it's why their separation was so hard on them both.

They're a team, Daryl is what Shane could never be, it's why their separation was so hard on them both.

I get that television shows are a business and people create them to make money, but there is something to be said for artistic integrity. Why not have the show finish up after season 9? How many television shows even get to season 9 these days? Or 5? Or even 3? The Walking Dead is riding high, and although it's already looking like it's peaked and now on the downward trend, there's still dignity in cashing out while they're ahead.

The thing with a zombie apocalypse is that the zombies are just the backdrop, they're a force of nature, the real drama comes from the other humans. The Walking Dead has always done this well, so much so that the title of the series actually refers to the humans and not the zombies. The television series sort of lost touch with the zombies after a certain point though, a bit too much, and it became more and more about the politics between the different groups of survivors. As much as I'm for well fleshed out characters and communities, it's only been a few years after the outbreak and so realistically the show shouldn't have turned into The West Wing quite so soon.

I know this will never happen, but I've an idea for what I think would be a satisfying end to the series. 

 Biggest. Herd. Ever.

Biggest. Herd. Ever.

The war with Negan was hard won, and loud, and unbeknownst to those involved it's been bringing in multiple herds from all across the countryside. Season 9 is the build up of this event as each of the communities comes under siege from different zombie herds, and one by one they all fall. Each community loses some key characters when it falls, but the survivors retreat back to one of the other communities. This just keeps happening over and over across the season, dominoes falling one by one. Oceanside falls, Hilltop Falls, The Kingdom falls, hell even the remnants of the Saviors and Scavengers are overrun and those that survive fall back to Alexandria.

All the petty politics that has been playing out over the last few seasons is dashed upon the rocks as the show reverts to its roots - humans vs zombies. Multiple herds are zeroing in on Alexandria and former enemies are forced to become allies as every character that still lives is given a gun and told to fight. A few die in the siege, dying valiantly or pissing themselves, but eventually the walls of Alexandria are broken under the sheer weight of multiple hordes.

The final episode of season 9, of The Walking Dead, is about the last moments of each of the main characters as they try to survive in an overrun Alexandria. Ezekiel and Michonne are back to back with their swords, like the knights and samurai of old, holding their own until they're crushed and consumed from all sides. Maggie is doing well but sees Negan and goes for some revenge for Glenn's murder, she knows it's stupid and but she can't help it and she dies in the process. Eugene thinks about shooting himself in the head, but in a final act of bravery he sets off a bomb that takes out hundreds of zombies, as well as himself. Carol sits in a chair in a locked room with her back to the door, just waiting for the zombies to burst through.

 You all know the drill by know...

You all know the drill by know...

Rick is in the streets, gunning down zombies left and right with headshots, he's seeing survivors falling where ever he looks. With each shot fired we see flashbacks of everyone he's lost over the 9 seasons. Someone calls his name and he turns to see it's Negan, swinging wildly with Lucille. The two men, formerly bitter enemies, meet up and fight back to back, supporting one another against the herds. They share a moment about missing Carl, then reveal that they're both already bitten, before fighting to the bitter end. Swinging and firing as chunks are bitten from them and their guts are torn out. Rick and Negan die the way they both lived - fighting.

 Negan's just as bad as Rick... or is that the other way around?

Negan's just as bad as Rick... or is that the other way around?

When it all calms down we see a lone figure staggering along the road, and it's Daryl. This is where the hypothetical story splits, depending on what the show runners want. If they really must have more Walking Dead to milk, Daryl is badly wounded but not infected and still alive. He goes on to lead his own spin-off, just like Fear the Walking Dead. It may not have worked for Joey from Friends, but it might work here. If they producers take the artistic approach over money, however, Daryl is a zombie. The hope that he made it out alive is dashed as the camera pans around and we see that he's dead on his feet.

It's a fucking zombie apocalypse, there shouldn't be any happy endings to this story. The survivors held out against the living dead as long as they could, but then they fell to infighting and forgot about the threat posed by the billions of ambulatory corpses that were scattered across the globe. The thing is that everybody dies, even your favorite TV show characters will die one day. If not on the show, then at some undefined time after the show ends. At least with killing them all off in the last episode of the last season their inevitable deaths can serve the narrative.  

 The promo for season 8 didn't even have any zombies in it... it had a tiger, but not one zombie. Not even a severed head! 

The promo for season 8 didn't even have any zombies in it... it had a tiger, but not one zombie. Not even a severed head! 

The Walking Dead has been a great ride, it hasn't been perfect but it has broken records and it will be the envy of television series for decades to come. Let it go out with a suitably dramatic bang, rather than let it peter out and get cancelled with a whimper.

Or, for one last zombie metaphor, shoot it in the head instead of letting it shamble on as a zombie. I know it's tough, but if you truly care about them then it's the right thing to do.

Fallout 76 - Overcrowded No Man's Land

It's been revealed that Fallout 76 will be an always online multiplayer game, which means you're not able to play offline or alone. To reinforce this, there are no human NPC's that will be present because every other human you meet in the game will be another Player Character. Whether those players are role playing as Raiders, Traders or Scavengers, every interaction you have with another human will be an interaction with a real human.

 That 3rd character is wearing a Pre-War Power Armor under-suit, they could have at least given it a color scheme change to differentiate it from the Brotherhood of Steel.

That 3rd character is wearing a Pre-War Power Armor under-suit, they could have at least given it a color scheme change to differentiate it from the Brotherhood of Steel.

Now, Fallout 4 copped some grief over it's voiced protagonists. A lot of people didn't like the scaled down response ques that had them saying something wildly different from what they expected. But it seems that in order to correct this, Bethesda have gone and taken out all the NPC's that you can interact with. How many dialogue choices can you have with a human player character? Wouldn't they just let you talk to them via a microphone? With all the human NPC's gone, who are we going to be talking to? I guess we could chat with a Robot or a Super Mutant, but neither are going to be giving us any kind of decent conversation. For a series that revolved around fantastically deep dialogue to convey it's characters, story and themes, this is certainly a strange move for Bethesda.

 Can I talk to the Giant Mushroom Sloth? Because I'd really like to know what the hell it's doing in the ruins of the United States...

Can I talk to the Giant Mushroom Sloth? Because I'd really like to know what the hell it's doing in the ruins of the United States...

Being forced to interact with other people is another "interesting" move. I know a lot of people play video games for the competition and the team work, but a lot of us play games specifically to get away from people. I am an introvert, I will happily say that I play games to escape and recharge. While I will no doubt try out Fallout 76, I am unsure how I will be interacting with it's always online, forced multiplayer elements.

The developers are saying that there's going to be safeguards in place that stop people from griefing other players. This is good, on one hand, but on the other it raises the question - why even put forced multiplayer in then? I can see myself running around Fallout 76 and either avoiding other players or just outright ignoring them. I don't care if that other player wants to kill me, trade with me or if they want to team up and go questing together - I just want them to fuck off. 

 This is my Fallout... walking through the ruins, alone. 

This is my Fallout... walking through the ruins, alone. 

I play games to get away from people, and if Fallout 76 refuses to provide me with a way of doing that then I'm probably not going to be spending much time with it. I get enough grief dealing with people in the real world, I don't need to be getting shot in the head by some 12 year old twitch gamer from Liverpool while I'm trying to relax at home. I don't care if there's a whole crew of player controlled Raiders that're approaching me, if I've got an option to avoid interacting with them then I'm going to take it. Which brings us back to the question of why they even bothered to include multiplayer?

If other people are in my game, then they're an annoyance. At worst they're going to be forcefully initiating some form of interaction, violent or otherwise, while at best they're going to be buzzing around trying to coerce me into interact with them. Even if they have to get through some anti-harassment safeguard to initiate combat, they'll likely be trying to get me to bring down that safeguard so they can get the experience they want - PVP. Again, as much as I want the option to opt out of interacting with other players, having that option there makes the multiplayer aspect of Fallout 76 pointless.

 What do The Chosen   One  , The   Lone   Wanderer & The   Sole   Survivor all have in common?

What do The Chosen One, The Lone Wanderer & The Sole Survivor all have in common?

If I don't want to interact with this other player but they're buzzing around because they *do* want to interact with me, nobody is going to be having a good time. Nobody is getting what they want from the game because we're being forced together when we've got woefully different play styles and reasons for being there. I don't understand why they couldn't just let the multiplayers play online while letting the solo players play offline. Well, actually... now that I've written it out I'm betting it's for financial reasons. They'll probably provide solo-servers down the line, for a fee. 

Dying doesn't do anything anymore because you just respawn, so how exactly is it dying? If previous Fallout games, your protagonist never died because if you were killed you reverted back to your last save and tried again. But in Fallout 76, because it's always online you can't do that. Instead of dying and reverting to a point where you hadn't died yet, you die and just keep on going. How is death dealt with in the game? Other series have lore reasons for why characters can respawn, but Fallout is going to have to come up with something original to justify this game mechanic. Which raises the question of continuity, if respawn technology is present in Fallout 76, why isn't it present in all subsequent Fallout games? This all seems like minor points to niggle over, but death is a pretty important component in terms of game play. Apparently you don't even lose your gear when you die, so again - what exactly is the point of multiplayer? That was half the point of killing enemies in previous Fallout games, so you could get their stuff.

 Great settlement... but what player will actually want to stand at a guard post like an NPC Settler would? 

Great settlement... but what player will actually want to stand at a guard post like an NPC Settler would? 

Settlement building is back, but it looks like they can be destroyed by random mobs and other players. Part of the appeal of Fallout 4, at least for me, was being able to run around on Survival Mode and set up little supply caches. Survival Mode was hard, and it made sense to set up outposts that you could travel between, they gave you a safe haven to rest and recuperate before setting out once again. But if bases can be destroyed by other players, who can now literally nuke the game world, then what's the point? Why bother wasting time and effort to build something that can be torn down or outright destroyed in a mushroom cloud? 

 If the guy in Power Armor in the trailer couldn't survive this, why can the players?

If the guy in Power Armor in the trailer couldn't survive this, why can the players?

I could understand it if Fallout 76 was a hardcore Roguelike game, where you get one life and if you die you lose your character. I would hate it, but at least it would be better than this half/half game they've got going at the moment, where I can opt out of interacting with other players but I'm still forced to see them impotently scamper around my world. Not only are there people in my game that I don't want to interact with, but they've replaced the human NPC's that I actually enjoyed interacting with. It's almost like Bethesda replaced all the human NPC's with other Player Characters so that they didn't have to waste time and effort on creating compelling NPC's for your character to interact with. 

 I'm worried that Fallout 76 will turn into this... a dudebro game that's basically all about running around Power Armor, just fucking shit up.

I'm worried that Fallout 76 will turn into this... a dudebro game that's basically all about running around Power Armor, just fucking shit up.

I guess you could say that I should just change my expectations, appreciate the game for what it is and play it the way it's meant to be played. But, how about no? Fallout has always been a solid single player experience, but Bethesda are attempting to make it a multiplayer experience now as well. In their misguided attempts to get the best of both worlds, it seems like they've created a misbegotten bastard mule of a game that will likely suck at both. But I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

However it turns out, the fact is that I'm skeptical and not at all excited. I was at the midnight launches for Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4 and I'd pre-ordered each and every one of them. I won't be pre-ordering Fallout 76, I won't be buying it as soon as I'm able and I certainly won't be at the midnight launch. That is a terrible state of affairs for someone who has been a fan of the Fallout series for two decades.  

 At least the setting looks nice...

At least the setting looks nice...

Gears of War - The Fall of the House of Fenix

Anyone who has heard me talk about Gears of War in the past knows that I love the series to death. I think there's much more going on in this series than the Dude-Bro chainsaw-fest it's purported to be. I think the novels were great, but some of the comics and games are better than others. When you've got a series this big though, it goes without saying, you're going to find some flux in the quality of the storytelling. Overall though, Gears of War is a franchise that I love and I know I'll keep coming back to. 

The trailer for Gears of War 5 was released at E3 this year, and it's immediately obvious that the series has taken a turn. Not necessarily for the worse, I haven't even played the game yet, but it's certainly going along a new track.

In the original trilogy you played as Marcus Fenix, a Gear who was already a war hero turned war criminal before the series had even begun. The games, books and comics all built this character up so that by the time of the closing scenes of the final game, you were invested in not only how much of a badass he was but in how much of a struggle the journey was for him. Marcus Fenix is an action hero icon, right up there with Master Chief, The Terminator and Rambo. That is a tough set of shoes to fill, for a studio trying to continue the story and for a son trying to establish himself.

 He's 63 and he's still running around in full battle gear...

He's 63 and he's still running around in full battle gear...

Gears 4 had you take on the role of JD Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix. While Marcus had fought in not one, but two, great wars before his series had begun, JD hasn't really fought in any kind of real conflict. He's young, he's green and he's run away from the military because of some incident that we still don't know about. Straight away, JD Fenix is not the badass warrior that his father ever was, and this is only compounded by the fact that his father is still hanging around being the biggest badass on scene. JD suffered because of this, and Gears 4 suffered because of this.

 Busted arm, and a weak scar on his face that mimics that of his father.

Busted arm, and a weak scar on his face that mimics that of his father.

Gears 5 will have JD stepping into the background so that one of his companions from Gears 4 can be the protagonist. He's got some sort of infection that's being held back by technology, and he's a Captain now. The higher the rank you climb to the further removed from the conflict you become, so JD is firmly in the background. Now, I doubt the creators of Gears of War decided to have a female protagonist because they were buckling to public pressure. Unlike the first trilogy, the second trilogy only really gave us three main characters so it makes sense for each installment of the new trilogy to explore each of these main characters. JD had the first game, Kait will have the second and if this theory that I pulled from my backside holds true, Del will be the main character in Gears 6.

That's great and all, it gives us a broader view of events and we get to learn a little more about each of these characters via their time in the spotlight. The problem with this approach, however, is that this breadth comes at the cost of depth. We're never going to get another Marcus Fenix, who had three games of his own, because each of these new characters is only ever going to get a single game. 

 Three characters, each leading one of the three games - it makes sense, but no one will ever be as strong as one that lead all three. 

Three characters, each leading one of the three games - it makes sense, but no one will ever be as strong as one that lead all three. 

As I stated in a previous post, Marcus needs to die for JD to ever surpass him and become anything close to the same badass that he was. Well, that was on the assumption that JD would get three games of his own to grow, which he's just not going to get now. He'll be there, doing stuff in the background, but he's not the centerpiece. It needs to be his story for him to truly grow, within himself as an individual but also as a character for the audience. While this rotating cast of protagonists is great for representation and all that, it's crippled this new trilogy because it's never going to surpass the old one. Marcus Fenix is still this looming presence that overshadows all of these new characters, and even if he dies no one character has had enough time in the spotlight to replace him.

 There's some skeletons buried under her family tree...

There's some skeletons buried under her family tree...

I don't care that the next Gears protagonist is a female, my favorite character in the series is still Bernadette Mataki, a female sniper who was 60 at the end of the first trilogy. I think Kait is an interesting character in her own right, her ties to the Locust/Swarm make that plainly obvious. People are saying this is great because she's more interesting than JD, but to that I say - so what? That's not an achievement, JD got one game and he spent the whole time being in his dad's shadow. Kait being more interesting than JD is not an achievement. I do hope we get a game that focuses on Del though, because out of the new trilogy's trio of characters he's the one I like the most.

 I want to know more about this guy, is he singular or is he just a new mob type?

I want to know more about this guy, is he singular or is he just a new mob type?

The fact remains though, because we're not getting an entire trilogy that focuses on a single protagonist, no single single protagonist is ever going to replace Marcus Fenix. We may get an interesting story, we may finally unravel this mysteries of the Locust, the Swarm and Imulsion, but we'll never get a new action icon. Just like JD had trouble stepping from the shadow of Marcus, this second Gears trilogy will probably never step from the shadows of the original Gears trilogy.   

The Brotherhood of Steel

Anyone who has read this blog, or spoken to me on Twitter, knows that I have a love/hate relationship with the Fallout series. I am a diehard fan from the late 90's but I've watched as the series has gone down some creative roads that I don't agree with. It's not all bad, far from it, but there's enough there to elicit a sigh and get me shaking my head.

The Brotherhood of Steel is one such aspect of the series that I find troublesome. They were fantastic in Fallout 1 & 2 because they played their part well, primarily because they had a thematic role to play. But in subsequent games they became that friend that hangs around the party after it's over... it's nice to see them but at a certain point you just want them to bugger off. If you haven't already, go check out this blog post for a more broad view of the Fallout. This post is going to be focusing purely on the Brotherhood of Steel. 

 Walking tanks or tin cans of 'Strange Meat', depending on your size and strength. Either way, they're heavily armed and armored! 

Walking tanks or tin cans of 'Strange Meat', depending on your size and strength. Either way, they're heavily armed and armored! 

The Brotherhood of Steel has it's roots in the Mariposa Military Base. During the months leading up to the Great War, the soldiers stationed at Mariposa witnessed the horrors preformed by scientists who were experimenting with the Forced Evolutionary Virus. Eventually when it's discovered that the scientists are using military "volunteers" for the experiments, the soldiers execute the scientists. Three days before the Great War breaks out in October of 2077, the soldiers announce to the outside world that they are seceding from the United States of America, but they get no reply. The soldiers figure that if an entire military base going rogue and deserting their post isn't the pressing for the USA, then something bad must be happening. With this in mind, the soldiers rightly call their families inside Mariposa just two days before the Great War breaks out.

Now, beyond a really awesome origin story this part of the Brotherhood's history is important for a few reasons. First, it separates them from the United States. Unlike the rest of the soldiers who survived the Great War, they are not remnants of the United States Military because they seceded before it began. Because of this they're not bound by that old doctrine anymore, they are their own faction. They weren't bound to help other survivors or help rebuild the United States. They went rogue and so while they had no obligation to anyone else, that also meant that they were entirely on their own. This speaks to their isolationism, one of the beliefs that would end up defining them. 

Second, the Brotherhood of Steel and the Super Mutants are intimately tied. The Master's Super Mutants come from Mariposa Military Base... which is exactly where the Brotherhood of Steel came from. They have the same point of origin, and it could be said that they only reason there are Super Mutants at all is because the soldiers who went rogue didn't finish the job. They may have killed the scientists, but their science was still there and the ability to continue their horrific experiments was not destroyed. The Master's Super Mutants and the Brotherhood of Steel aren't just random enemies, they're linked by a common origin and this is what makes them fantastic enemies.

Third, and finally, the Brotherhood learned what happens when technology is allowed in the hands of those too immature, stupid or callous to use it properly. They saw the horrific experiments that were being preformed in Mariposa, they witnessed the Great War first hand, and that's why they're so obsessed with technology. They don't just hoard technology because they like big guns, they have a zealous respect and reverence, even fear, of technology and thus think they're the only one's who can be trusted to safely own it. The Gun Runners, the Gunners and Talon Company, they all know weapons as well as how to use them, they even know how to manufacture them. The Brotherhood is more like the Children of Atom, they're a religious organisation that is fanatically devoted to technology and advanced weaponry.

After things settled down after the Great War, the solider's travelled south to the Lost Hills bunker to establish themselves and start anew. The journey took several weeks and many soldiers, and members of their families, died or were killed along the way. This is another contributing factor to their isolationism, they were hounded by scavenging survivors on their initial journey through the wasteland. This was their exodus from their old lives, and it left them scarred both outside and within. 

 Lost Hills Bunker - home of the Brotherhood of Steel

Lost Hills Bunker - home of the Brotherhood of Steel

Once at Lost Hills bunker, the brotherhood went quiet for a while, turning inward to establish and define themselves. They were out in the wasteland, scavenging or trading for supplies and tech but they were largely minding their own business. Their first real big foray into the Wasteland is in 2134, 57 years later, when a group of Brotherhood Knights sneak out of Lost Hills to go explore the Glow for lost technology. The reason they had to sneak out was because the Brotherhood Elders had initially refused their request to leave Lost Hills. So already at this point we're seeing their character being formed, and the internal conflicts that arise from a desire to collect outside technology and a desire to isolate themselves. Somewhat fittingly, the Knights who stole away in the middle of the night never returned home. 

By 2050 the Brotherhood notice that a group of raiders known as The Vipers, originally Vault Dwellers from Vault 15, are gaining a bit of power in the region. By 2055 they start going after the Vipers directly, not out of any sense of obligation to the surrounding Wastelanders but more to protect their own interests. The Vipers are a massive group of raiders, a veritable army, they pose a threat to the Brotherhood. It was only after the war with the Vipers that the Brotherhood officially set up a trade relations with the outside world, a full seventy-two years after their inception.

In 2161, a year before Fallout 1 begins, the Brotherhood come across the corpse of a Super Mutant and this is their first real clue that some nasty shit is going down. It's not until the Vault Dweller arrives in 2162 that they realize that it's tied in with their own origins. The thing is, they almost didn't learn any of this because they tried to scare off the Vault Dweller by giving him an impossible mission to complete. When he finally does complete it, he finds out that he's the first outside to be admitted to the Brotherhood of Steel in *decades.* That's how isolationist they are. Once they learn that the Super Mutants are originating from Mariposa Military Base, their own point of origin, they decide to help the Vault Dweller. 

All this ties together really well, we've got a faction that has firm roots and motivations in the Wasteland. They've got an enemy that's not just an opposing force but an enemy that could arguably be said to be of their own creation, one that they are responsible for.

After the events of Fallout 1, the wasteland starts to evolve. The New California Republic is formed, and thanks to their part in the war against The Master, the Brotherhood of Steel is invited into the NCR and given control of the lands around Lost Hills, which becomes the state of Maxson. But the Brotherhood haven't changed, they're still the techno-hoarding zealots they always were. A faction wanted to open their doors to the outside world, now that the NCR was formed, and invite new blood in. This was too much of a radical change in thinking for the elders so they sent these Brotherhood members off in airships to chase down the remnants of the Master's Super Mutant army across the eastern moutnains, effectively exiling them.

 Obviously things do not go well for them, hence the story of Fallout: Tactics

Obviously things do not go well for them, hence the story of Fallout: Tactics

By the time of Fallout 2, in 2242, the Brotherhood is a shadow of it's former strength and influence. While it was once a powerhouse of advanced technology and research, it's isolationist ways weakened it and crippled it's reach. The NCR had grown into a powerful new nation, because it was looking ahead, and people outside the NCR had often regressed, or evolved, into tribalism. Either way, the outside world was changing with the times. The Brotherhood was a small state within the NCR at best, because it was stagnating and always looking to the past. In a world that was progressing, the Brotherhood of Steel was being left behind.

 This is one of their bases... the dude isn't even wearing Power Armor! 

This is one of their bases... the dude isn't even wearing Power Armor! 

All this makes thematic sense, because it's a natural progression of events. The Brotherhood doesn't want to grow, they're stuck in the past and they want to hoard technology and keep out the filthy outsiders who they abandoned and who subsequently hurt them so much during the Brotherhood's exodus. This has very real repercussions however, because you cannot isolate yourself and hope to advance - that's just not how it works. The Brotherhood never advanced, and they never made anything new, they only ever gathered the best technology that the old world had to offer. That strategy works for a while, but eventually the rest of the world catches up. And while the Brotherhood were focusing on hoarding the rest of the world was focusing on advancing. By the time the Brotherhood realized what had happened, it was too late for them to do anything about it because they were set in their ways.

This was all Interplay/Black Isle who put this together, so it was the original creators taking their story to it's logical conclusion. When Bethesda took over however, they wanted to set their story far away from the originals but they didn't have the courage, or lacked the originality, to create all new factions. Because of this, Bethesda made it that in 2254 the Brotherhood traveled across the wasteland to the East Coast for three reasons. First, they were to search for the members they'd sent after the remnants of the Master's Army some 90+ years earlier. Second, they were to search Washington D.C. for advanced technology. Third, they were to respond to reports of Super Mutant activity on the East Coast.

All of this is just weak storytelling. Bethesda should have made wholly new factions for their game on the East Coast, they didn't need to drag factions and creatures from the West Coast. The Brotherhood of Steel had faded into obscurity by the time of Fallout 2, and they didn't even have the manpower to help the Chosen One defeat the Enclave. They didn't even get a mention in the end credits because they weren't important anymore. With that in mind, how does it make sense that they have the manpower to mount an expedition across the continent twelve years later? They get there, and yes there are Super Mutants, but they're not the *same* Super Mutants that share an origin story with the Brotherhood of Steel. The Brotherhood is in D.C. fighting a totally different breed of Super Mutants because... that's just what the Brotherhood does?

 Elder Lyons and the Lyons Pride Unit... you could not get anymore knightly if you tried.

Elder Lyons and the Lyons Pride Unit... you could not get anymore knightly if you tried.

I have to pay respects to the Outcasts in Fallout 3 though, Bethesda knew enough to know that not all members of the expedition would be cool with their Elder's new humanitarian bent, and so they split away and became a traditionalist faction. The Brotherhood in Fallout 3 are basically knights in shining armor battling monsters, while the Outcasts are the xenophobic techno-monks that want nothing to do with you. Which of them sound more like the real Brotherhood of Steel?

 Funny how they're 'Outcast' for being more traditional...

Funny how they're 'Outcast' for being more traditional...

When Obsidian Entertainment, basically a new company comprised of the original creators of Fallout 1 & 2, made Fallout: New Vegas, they knew they had a problem with the Brotherhood. This was a faction present in 2281 that was meant to have been little more than a shell of it's former self in 2242, so why were they still around? New Vegas is a lot closer to Lost Hills than Washington D.C. is mind you, so at least it made sense for them to be present in the game. Obsidian knew they had to incorporate Bethesda's ridiculous contribution of the Brotherhood being powerful enough to travel all the way to the East Coast, so they worked with what they had on hand.

The Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout: New Vegas is in hiding. The once powerful group who battled raiders and Super Mutants was now hiding in a bunker, because it was at war with the NCR. Their repressively isolationist and technology hoarding ways brought it into direct conflict with the NCR, a nation that was interested in advancing the world. The Brotherhood might have advanced weaponry and power armor but the NCR had thousands upon thousands of soldiers, who were all similarly trained. Their devotion to technology was so all-encompassing that an Elder, who was a Scribe and not a Knight, had them try and hold a facility against the NCR that any solider knew to be almost indefensible. The NCR crushed the Brotherhood in the New Vegas region and they've been in hiding ever since. 

 This is how they greet you. Still the same old anti-social assholes. 

This is how they greet you. Still the same old anti-social assholes. 

You can talk to the Brotherhood, even join them if you help them out enough, but even they're starting to realize how untenable their situation is. They're at war with a nation that has the manpower and weaponry to wipe them out, and they're so isolationist that most people end up having kids with someone they're more than a little related to. The Great War was 204 years earlier at this point, and with minimal fresh genes being dumped into their gene pool since then there has to be some serious in-breeding going on. You can broker peace between the Brotherhood of Steel and the NCR in New Vegas or you can wipe them out, either way they're not doing real well.

 If they're allowed to stay in New Vegas after the events of the game, they just patrol the wasteland, taking advanced technology off whoever they please. Because they haven't changed at all. 

If they're allowed to stay in New Vegas after the events of the game, they just patrol the wasteland, taking advanced technology off whoever they please. Because they haven't changed at all. 

By the time Fallout 4 happens in 2287, the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel and the Outcasts have reunited and headed north, from Washington D.C. to Boston. They've been bringing in fresh blood for years, recruiting talented wastelanders who show the qualities the look for in their members. They've traveled north to destroy the Institute and their Synth creations, which sort of makes sense, but doesn't for a few reasons.

 You have no idea how much I groaned the first time I saw this thing fly over. 

You have no idea how much I groaned the first time I saw this thing fly over. 

First, the Brotherhood's isolationism isn't just a story element that needs to be worked around to make them a viable faction - it's an integral aspect of their character and history. Recruiting wastelanders willy-nilly does "solve" their numbers issue but it's not something that's meant to be solved, it's an inherent flaw in their organisation and belief system. Bethesda didn't evolve the Brotherhood of Steel by opening up their ranks, they destroyed it.

Second, the Brotherhood is all about collecting and hoarding technology. The Institute is arguably the most technologically advanced organisation in the Wasteland and the Brotherhood just... blow it up? How does that line up with their character, or history, at all? They're techno-centric, not techno-phobic Luddites. Wouldn't an organisation that is fanatically dedicated to securing advanced technology want to secure all the technological advancements created by the Institute? Wouldn't an organisation that has historically had issues with manpower look at technology that can literally create soldiers from nothing and at least entertain the idea of utilizing it? If anything, the character of Danse just proves that Synths can make fantastic soldiers.

 Even on death's door he's gives a rousing speech about why he's a dedicated Brotherhood solider. 

Even on death's door he's gives a rousing speech about why he's a dedicated Brotherhood solider. 

Third, the Super Mutants present in the Commonwealth are different from those present in the Capital Wasteland because these ones were created by the Institute with experiments on FEV. Furthermore, they're even further removed by the Super Mutants created by the Master, so why exactly are the Brotherhood fighting them? Bethesda turned the Brotherhoods xenophobic views of *anyone* not part of the Brotherhood into a xenophobic view of anyone that isn't *human.* There's a big difference there. The Brotherhood fights Super Mutants in Fallout 4 because that's just what they're there to do, to kill anything that isn't human.   

If the Brotherhood had stayed true to their roots and stayed isolationist and continued to hoard technology I could get behind their inclusion in Fallout 4. The Brotherhood taking out the Institute just so they could utilize their Synth-creation technology would have been a fantastic twist for the organisation. The chance to create an endless army of Synths who are fanatically dedicated to the beliefs of the Brotherhood, how could any Brotherhood of Steel member realistically pass that up? That sort of technology would allow them to scour the ruins of the old world and establish themselves, and their beliefs, as the central power. If the only thing keeping them in check was their lack of manpower, what would happen when that was no longer an issue?  

If you don't think something like that would happen, take a look at one of the endings that can happen in Fallout 1 if you happen to kill a key character. 

"The Brotherhood of Steel, under new leadership after the death of Rhombus, becomes an overzealous, techno-religious dictatorship. In 20 years, the Steel Plague devastates the newly formed New California Republic, and starts a Dark Age that could last a thousand years."

The Brotherhood of Steel are not knights in shining armor, they're not the police, they're not human-purists and they are certainly not the good guys. They're a faction that turned their backs on their fellow countrymen in their darkest hour, and when they found themselves pitted against their former countrymen they isolated themselves and turned inward. They do not trust anyone outside their ranks and they do nothing that doesn't further their own goals, which often bring them into conflict with any and all outsiders. They're a religious organisation who's beliefs are incompatible with the outside world and in the long run these beliefs were meant to spell their doom. 

The Brotherhood of Steel is a faction that had a time and a place where they designed to make sense, and taking them outside of the parameters of either weakens the series as a whole. The Brotherhood of Fallout 1 & 2 isn't the same Brotherhood present in Fallout 3 & 4. It's not an evolution of the organisation either, but a heel-face turn designed to shoe-horn a previously important faction into the narratives of the sequels. In Fallout 1 & 2, the world is advancing while the Brotherhood is left behind, in Fallout 3 & 4 it is the world that's stagnating while the Brotherhood advances.

The Brotherhood of Steel was meant to be a faction that perpetually looked to the past in favor of reaching for a future, they were meant to fade from relevance and memory until all that remained were mentions of them in the history books. At least, that's what was meant to happen until Bethesda got a hold of them...

 

Fallout 76

Whelp, I was totally wrong about Fallout 5!

I'm actually okay with this, any new Fallout game is sure to be something interesting so I'm pretty keen to see where this goes. I've seen a few sources stating that this will be an online game, which is something I am decidedly against. I'm fine with a little co-op, but not fully online like Elder Scrolls Online or anything like that. I know Bethesda has been making the series more of a Shooter, but it's an RPG at heart and I'd hate for it to turn into something akin to Destiny.

Now, gameplay interests me less than the story does, so let's dive into that!

 We've got a time and a date, 27th October, 2102!

We've got a time and a date, 27th October, 2102!

The first big shock is that the game is set in 2102, a full 59 years before the first Fallout game was set. Which actually makes sense, because this game is about Vault Dwellers from Vault 76 which was mentioned in Fallout 3. Vault 76 was a control vault, where there were no crazy experiments and people were just meant to leave and reclaim the surface world after 20 years. The more astute of you have probably already noticed, if the Great War was in 2077 and this is set in 2102, that's 25 years! Why the extra 5 years? Who knows... but I'm sure we'll find out. 

 Vault 76 actually had numerical importance for the United States of America.

Vault 76 actually had numerical importance for the United States of America.

Vault 76 was dubbed after the Tercentenary of American Independence, which actually makes perfect sense in thematic terms. You'd want your control vaults, those who are intended to be used to reclaim the United States, to be as patriotic as all hell. These are the people that are going to go out and take back what's rightfully theirs, so you'd want them to be as pumped up as you can make them. It's a small detail, but I like that it builds the narrative.

 Ron Perlman shows up again... 

Ron Perlman shows up again... 

A minor point here, but this guy is the same guy who narrated Fallout 1, 2, Tactics & 3, and was the news reader in Fallout 4. What he's doing speaking in front of a vault I don't know, maybe he's playing a different character? Also of note in this scene, is the Zetan space ship just below the television. Also, the television is in color - a first for Fallout.

 Reclamation Day!

Reclamation Day!

Seems like their was a big party and everyone has already left the vault. Since we already know that Vault 76 was a control vault, the Vault Dwellers would have been preparing for this day since they entered the Vault. That banner, and the general festivities, is rather indicative of their outlook and motivation. They're pumped and they're headed out to retake America. I doubt it goes well, since we know what happens in the future and we've never heard of these guys. They're headed out into a nuclear wasteland full of monsters... what could possibly go wrong?

 Retro!

Retro!

That Pip-Boy looks a little different to what most people are used to, but that's because it's an earlier model. This Pip-Boy was used in Fallout 1 & 2, the only difference is that the screen was reversed with the buttons and dials. This was done because back in the day of Fallout 1 & 2 you never saw the device on your arm and it made sense to have the layout with the buttons on the left and the screen on the right. But if the device is designed to be worn like a watch, on your off-hand, you'd want the buttons and dials on the right so that you're not reaching over the screen. This same issue arose in Fallout 3 before the developers managed to get it right in Fallout 4. So while this Pip-Boy looks a little different, it is clearly meant to be a throwback to the earlier Fallout games.

Now, there were a few plaques in the teaser but they're hard to get a decent screenshot of, but basically their awards for 'Best Haircut' and 'Best Halloween Costume'. Besides this, there are two that stand out. I can't get screenshots but I can transcribe them.

"Excellence in Bravery - In recognition of the canned mystery meat experiment. You volunteered to eat when no one else would. We are proud of you and glad you are not dead."

and
 

"Outstanding Achievement Award - In appreciation to your commitment and dedication to our isolation program. Sacrificing many so some can live."

That first one sounds like a joke but that second one sounds ominous as fuuuuuck... While it's probably related to the extra 5 years they spent in the vault, who knows what went on in there? I'm sure we'll find out though! 

In terms of the outside world, there's a few things we can speculate. Judging by the song in the teaser "Take me Home, Country Roads" performed by John Denver, I'm pretty sure that the game will be set in West Virginia. Which works, because it's East Coast - Bethesda's territory, and it's close to Washington D.C. which is important for one reason.

 Vault 87 Super Mutant concept art.

Vault 87 Super Mutant concept art.

Bethesda made their own Super Mutants for the East Coast. As we discovered in Fallout 3, East Coast Super Mutant come from Vault 87 and started appearing in the Capital Wasteland in 2078, a year after the Great War. With Fallout 76 being set 25 years after the Great War, it's no stretch to imagine Vault 87 Super Mutants crossing the border from Washington D.C. into Virginia. They're big and stupid but they're hard to kill, so they should make for good bullet sponges.

 Ghouls, Ghouls everywhere...

Ghouls, Ghouls everywhere...

Ghouls are going to be in Fallout, that's just a fact. Despite how much it grinds my gears, prolonged exposure to radiation causes people to turn into Ghouls in the Fallout universe. There may be some stuff to do with the FEV (Forced Evolutonary Virus) in there, I'd be happy with that, but I'm pretty sure it's just the radiation. Anyone who has played the series will know that a lot of Ghouls were alive before the Great War, and that the radiation gives them a very long lifespan. If we're playing a character who was around before the Great War, or is the child of someone who was, then it's not inconceivable that we've got some Ghoul family out there in the Wasteland. Just because it's Fallout and we need some enemies to mindlessly kill, I'm sure there will be plenty of Ghouls who have gone Feral and will attack us on sight.

 Deathclaws, a pain in the arse where ever you are.

Deathclaws, a pain in the arse where ever you are.

Deathclaws could actually be present, in a fashion. I've covered this in a previous blog post, but Deathclaws were actually created before the Great War to supplement human soldiers on the battlefield. It's just that the Master, on the West Coast, found and messed with them a bit using the FEV. I'd hazard a guess that we'll see Deathclaws, but a much less advanced version of them, more akin to their Pre-War genetic design. 

Robots will be around because they are robots and have always been around, the same with Raiders. Besides that, I'm sure we'll get the usual mutated wildlife present in Bethesda Fallout games - Yao-Guai and Mole Rats, and maybe some mutated version of an animal local to Virginia. I don't know, I'm not American, what the hell lives in Virginia? (A quick Google search just revealed it's basically Mountain Lions and Wolves, which would both be badass for a Fallout game.)

In terms of factions, I am praying to the gods of old that we do not even hear, let alone see, the Brotherhood of Steel. Those incestuous techno-priests are all the way on the West Coast at this point, and they don't even control the area surrounding their base until the 2150's. The Brotherhood of Steel didn't even encounter a Super Mutant until 2161, so there's no way they can be all the way out here. I'm okay with another faction that is a remnant of the United States military, but I just really do not want to see the Brotherhood of Steel. They shouldn't have been in Fallout 4 and they sure as hell don't belong in Fallout 76. 

Besides that, anything could happen... almost. The fact that this is set in the past likely means there's going to be some sort of downer or subversive ending. We can't really do too much in the past because it'll affect the future too much, which is already set in stone. I'd say that any sort of events in Fallout 76 will be extremely localized so they're not able to reach out and affect the surround areas. Not even Washington D.C., which is right next door. It could be that we'll see some large scale events, it's just that they're so far back before Fallout 3 that they're no longer an influence in the region. Whatever happens, we know that the Vault Dwellers of Vault 76 do not achieve their dream of reclaiming the wasteland. 

 It's big and it's empty, even 185 years after they set out to reclaim it...

It's big and it's empty, even 185 years after they set out to reclaim it...

I'm excited. As long as there's still a focus on single player I'm keen to play this game and see what they do in the wake of a far more recent apocalypse. 

My thoughts on Fallout 5

With talk of another Fallout game being on the horizon, I figured I'd throw out an idea of what I'd like to see. Anyone who has played Fallout knows that there's always rumors of another Fallout game on the horizon, so this is more of a thought experiment than anything else. With that in mind, while I prefer the Fallout games made by the original creators; Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas, I'll take the Bethesda games if I've got no other choice. 

I think the whole East Coast vs West Coast set up is a fantastic way to keep the works of the two development teams separate. As much as Bethesda probably wanted the distance to differentiate themselves, it's become more about them not being able to sully the works of the superior development team. Bad enough they've watered down almost every aspect of the game and story...

Sorry! I'm bitter and rambling.

Because money comes first I'll just assume that Bethesda is making the next Fallout game and that it'll be located on the East Coast. We've already had DC, we've recently had Boston, and now we're at a point where we're running out of iconic East Coast American cities. Miami, maybe, but there was a Fallout Tactics 2 game that was going to be set there. With that out of the way, I think the only other realistic East Coast city for the next Fallout game to be set in is New York City.

 Some concept art from a lost Fallout sequel.

Some concept art from a lost Fallout sequel.

Now, obviously NYC got nuked to shit during the Great War. If China was going to war with the United States then NYC is the first place they'd atomize back to the stone age. The fix here is that the United States of the Fallout universe is insanely advanced, just look at Boston's skyline in Fallout 4 to see what I mean. With NYC having a population nearly double that of Boston, it stands to reason that it would be a gargantuan cityscape that once dwarfed all others. Im picturing a skyline so tall that the nuclear blasts didn't even reach halfway up the buildings.

 When NYC gets hit, it gets hit *hard*

When NYC gets hit, it gets hit *hard*

Along with this very vertical map, I imagine there wouldn't be much of the usual blasted wasteland that is so iconic to Fallout and other nuclear war games. They'd have to include Central Park, but there's a lot of other greenspaces in NYC that could feed this need for radioactive desert sands. Finally, a lesson I think the developers should take from Fallout 4 is that just because the city is next to an ocean, that doesn't mean you have to devote a quarter of the game map to being under water.

 We get it... there's a lot of water. We can just look at it, we don't need to actually go out there.

We get it... there's a lot of water. We can just look at it, we don't need to actually go out there.

Anyway, my final idea for NYC would be the headquarters of Vault-Tec. The main Vault where they ran the experiments upon all other Vaults across the United States. This thing would be massive and it would take up most of the NYC underground. As high as the skyscrapers stand on the streets above, that's how far beneath those same streets the vault would go. 

 Just picture a massive vault having been broken into by that crater.

Just picture a massive vault having been broken into by that crater.

Because it's Fallout, there's going to be Ghouls everywhere, and because it's Bethesda there's going to be Super Mutants and Deathclaws and Brotherhood of Steel... despite all that making no damn sense. Since it's NYC we'd need to get the giant rats, that were once so iconic to Fallout 1 and 2, back into the series. No, not weird looking Mole-rats, actual mutant rats like we finally saw in Nuka-World. We'd need mutated creatures unique to the New York region as well, it can't all be the same madness otherwise what's the point?

The big power players, and probably the antagonists, would be Vault-Tec themselves. They'd have pre-war tech, as well as the mass advancements they've developed since, that would make the Institute look about as threatening as an orphanage of sick children. People were worried about the Enclave, well Vault-Tec are the ones that supplied the Enclave. When Vault-Tec decide it's time to take back the world, they do so in force. Pre-War mercenary armies that were frozen on ice, and safely housed robotic juggernauts that could take on any behemoth that spawned from the radioactive goop. The Brotherhood has one Liberty Prime... Vault-Tec would have ten.

 Trash-strewn streets, crumbling towers above... NYC would be hell. 

Trash-strewn streets, crumbling towers above... NYC would be hell. 

Whatever the story would be, I would hope that Bethesda takes a leaf out of Obsidian's book and makes the world of Fallout 5 one that's full of grey. No black and white, no easy answers... just a quagmire of tough calls and unforeseen consequences. Heck, maybe your character is actually with Vault-Tec and you're part of the effort to take back the world. It'd let your character be new to the world, so the player could learn alongside them, and it would be a fresh take on an old setting.

This is just a random idea I had, it's probably way off the mark. I'm okay with that. Whatever the story may be, we're up to our 5th installment in the main series and there's still a lot of answers we've yet to receive. Let's head to New York City and lets unravel the mysteries of Vault-Tec, it's been long enough.  

Whatever they do, I just hope that Bethesda don't pull a Dark Souls 3 and end the series with more questions left unanswered than otherwise.