Thursday, 11 June 2015

Fallout 4, XCOM 2, and Mass Effect 4

E3 is just around the corner, and there are a number of potentially great sci-fi videogames coming out soon, so I thought it’d be a good idea to have a little look ahead.

NB there will be some general spoilers, but nothing too specific. So, you’re probably fine reading this unless you’re on a full-blown blackout.

Fallout 4 has been announced, and the release date has not. Well, not officially. Unofficially, it’s rumoured to be 23 October (this year). If that’s the case, expect it to be confirmed at E3 this month. It’ll be out for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

XCOM 2 (an intriguing title for a game which is either the 11th or the 3rd instalment depending on whether you consider the reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown to reset the counter or not) has been announced for November (again, this year). Maybe they asked Xbox for help with the numbering. Anyway, it is PC only at launch, though some think it’ll come to the consoles in 2016.

Mass Effect 4 [which may well have a different title when properly announced] has been confirmed as in the works but very little beyond that is known. I’m hoping we get more info at E3. I’d be very surprised if it were cross-generation (as Dragon Age: Inquisition was).

It’s quite nice to have games announced just a few months ahead of release. Sometimes by choice, and sometimes due to delays, games can be announced a year or more ahead of time, and that just feels too damned long. So, what do we know so far?

Fallout 4

The game appears to be set in Boston, perhaps later than Fallout 3/New Vegas, and/or with a correspondingly superior level of technology. Lots of series favourites return (power armour, the protagonist appears to be a vault-dweller, and Dogmeat’s back).

The trailer ends with the protagonist’s voice. This has led some to believe there won’t be character customisation and you’ll be destined to be Johnny Whitechap. My gast would be flabbered if that were the case. The suggestion of the protagonist having a voice (or perhaps multiple, as per Inquisition) could be true, but I’m not sure.

The world’s also a bit more colourful (huzzah, Fallout 3 was the Land of Brown), and there may be gameplay in the pre-war era as the bombs drop (if so, it could well be a prologue).

It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s a ‘hardcore’ mode, like in New Vegas where you had to eat/drink regularly or suffer the consequences. The only thing we can be sure of right now is that it’ll sell by the bucketload.


Massively disappointed this is PC-only. Enemy Unknown was one of the best games of the previous generation, all the more so because it was originally going to be another shooter before fans old and new pestered Firaxis into making it a strategy/tactics game [kudos to Firaxis for listening, and thus selling a ton of copies]. Anyway, it might yet move to consoles, but the initial launch will be just for the PC.

So, what’s new?

Well, you lost the war (or someone did, anyway). Aliens have conquered Earth and have been running it for what seems like a few decades. This time, you lead insurgents (although I suspect the aliens would consider XCOM terrorists) trying to free our beloved homeworld from the slimy grip of the extra-terrestrials. Insectoids have become humanised (whether due to genetic manipulation or human-insectoid frisky time is thankfully unclear), very cool-looking snake aliens are introduced (technically re-introduced, as they were in older games), and your base is now a mobile mothership rather than a subterranean refuge.

Gameplay hasn’t been revealed much, but one thing we do know is that if one of your veterans gets gunned down, you can save him/her by taking the wounded hero back to the evac point. Players of Enemy Unknown will be familiar with the problem of getting your whole A-team massacred, so the ability to withdraw with some but not total losses will help reduce that problem.

It also seems that customisation options will be improved, although details are scantier than a nudist’s bathing suit.

Mass Effect 4

We know this is in the works, and that, alas, Commander Shepard will not be the protagonist. I’ll miss you, FemShep. No date yet announced, and it’ll be interesting to see whether we get a trio of great sci-fi games close together or if Mass Effect comes out a little time apart [which may make more commercial sense].

The game occurs in the same universe as the three previous. So, expect Krogans, Turians and so forth to feature. However, it’s rumoured to be in the relatively distant future (compared to the original trilogy), so it’s unlikely we’ll see returning characters (perhaps excepting those with enormous life-spans). It’s also unknown what degree of character customisation will be available, or whether we’ll be human-only.

It’s said that the plot will involve civilisation looking for a home in a new galaxy, and that the protagonist will be a Path-finder, tasked with exploring the new galaxy for safe haven. And that’s about as far as whispers go for the plot. Reapers will not, I think, make a reappearance, having been dealt with one colour or another in Mass Effect 3.

Worth noting that all three are likely to have significant DLC (all preceding instalments did), so if you want maximum bang for your buck you could wait awhile and save [well, spend less] getting Game of the Year/Ultimate Editions.

It’s been a little while since the last blog. Personally, I blame The Witcher 3 for this (I think I’m near(ish) the end of my first playthrough. When I complete it, I’ll put up a full review).


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