Alright then, welcome to “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 35”. This article will be focusing on a number of awesome action RPGs (and one other great game), some of which many of you have heard of, and one other one that wasn’t quite as popular, but nevertheless was a heavy hitter that still received lots of attention. Without needlessly extending the intro, let’s kick things off!
Fallout 3 (PS3)
Even though I never played the first two games in the Fallout series, that didn’t stop me from trying out this game. I usually prefer to know all the lore to a particular series of video games before I become invested in it, but this is one of those series that makes each entry enjoyable to veterans and newcomers alike by not making its games so damn serialized (like Metal Gear Solid, Mass Effect, etc.), therefore, I was able to play Fallout 3 and enjoy its story without being lost. As a resident of the nuclear fallout shelter of Vault 101, you are forced out of the safe haven due to your father causing some trouble and leaving the vault in disarray. Now set loose in the vast wasteland of Washington, D.C., you go on your journey to find your place in the lawless post-apocalyptic lands and find out what happened to your father (if you want). When it comes to setting the mood and providing a world that truly makes you feel like you have an influential effect on it, Fallout 3 is virtually unsurpassed. It’s possible I’m just biased since this game was my first foray in the open world RPG genre, but compared to the other games I will discuss in this article, I honestly feel like Fallout 3 is a standout title.
After choosing how your character looks and how effective you want him/her to be with different skills like the use of medium weapons, heavy weapons, explosives, being stealthy, healing wounds, etc., you can choose to tackle any and every mission you go on however you wish. You can be a merciful diplomat, a murderous bastard/bitch, or anywhere in between. Different decisions you make will affect how many of the missions end and whether you will make friends or enemies out of the many characters you encounter. A select few of these characters can become followers who will stand by your side through thick and through thin (though pretty much everyone sticks with Fawkes after they encounter him near the end of the main quest, and for good reason). The many enemies you encounter include many human enemies like raiders, mercenaries, and Enclave minions, as well as lots of weird, mutated monstrosities like feral ghouls, super mutants, and deathclaws. Oh, and robots too.
Simply exploring the wasteland is quite the adventure since you never know who or what you’ll run into out there, though it normally is hostile. Thankfully, you’re normally more than capable of defending yourself against anything that comes your way with the vast collection of weapons you can find or buy like assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, laser rifles, missile launchers, and the miniature nuke launching weapon known as the Fat Man (which I absolutely enjoyed using to blow the shit out of Enclave dropships). The VATS (Vault-tech Assisted Targeting System) feature which freezes the action and lets you target specific body parts on enemies (head, arms, legs, etc.) so you can cripple them works well and adds an extra bit of fun to all the shooting you will be doing, and it can actually save your life in tougher encounters. As is common in Bethesda games, this game can suffer from bugs and glitches here and there which can be devastating to your game if you’re really unlucky, but thankfully I never had any serious glitches in my playthroughs (except for one instance where almost all the residents of a particular village disappeared without a trace for absolutely no reason). The freezing can be annoying too, but that wasn’t too much of a problem either.
As for the DLC, to this day I still haven’t played them all. In fact, I’ve only played the Broken Steel DLC which extends the main quest and even lets you continue playing the game after completing the main quest. I have yet to play the other DLCs Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta, but someday I will because they sound awesome. This game really is as great as the “legends” say, and all fans of open world RPGs should give it a go. Fallout 3 gets a score of 95%.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3)
I’m sure you all probably saw this one coming, right? I held off on playing this game for a long, long time, mainly because I don’t want to own too many games like it that take hours and hours to complete (or come relatively close to completing), and since I already had Fallout 3, I didn’t want to overload myself by getting this one as well. But my love of the fantasy genre overpowered my weird little misgivings on getting Skyrim, so I just said “F#ck it” and took the plunge. This was actually the last new game I played before joining Gaming Respawn, and I was still playing it a few months after joining this site before I finally had my fill and hung up my swords. And unlike with Fallout 3, I completed the story-based DLCs for this game, Dawnguard and Dragonborn, which were fun, though I didn’t bother with Hearthfire since that just adds the option to build yourself a bunch of homes and have yourself a family, which I wasn’t very keen on.
Anyway, in Skyrim you are the Dragonborn, a warrior (who can be either a human, elf, orc, cat person, or lizard person) with the soul of a dragon who is fated to battle the evil dragon Alduin and prevent him from destroying the world. Much like Fallout 3, Skyrim lets you build your character however you see fit. There are a plethora of different skills you can choose to grant your character and build them up as you gain experience, whether it’s using one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, armor that is light, medium, or heavy, as well as using different magic spells like launching fireballs, healing yourself, boosting defenses, fooling enemies into attacking each other, and more. And all that is not including other skills like crafting weapons and armor, enchanting weapons and armor with different magical attributes, and using alchemy to craft potions. My only complaint about having all these attributes you can spend points on is that it’s easy to spread yourself thin, so I made it a point to just concentrate on select skills (one-handed and two-handed weapons, heavy armor, attack and healing magic) and level them up sufficiently so I can deal with enemies. Of course, this left my skills in crafting weapons and armor pitifully low, let alone improving them to make them more effective, so it would have been nice to be able to hire craftsmen to do this stuff for you, which sadly was not an option.
Despite that issue, this game is addicting as hell. This game really is HUGE, perhaps almost too huge, and the number of quests you can find in the many different towns, cities, and dungeons is truly staggering. Just the size of some of these dungeons is amazing; some of them took me a couple of hours just to get through. The different enemies you can battle like wolves, bears, draugr (undead warriors), bandits, mages, ghosts, trolls, giants, werewolves, vampires, and, of course, dragons are certainly fun to fight, though the combat itself does leave something to be desired. The controls and general character movement are almost exactly the same in this game as they were in Fallout 3, but they worked better for that game since you were mostly shooting enemies with all manner of guns and rarely used melee weapons. Skyrim has a much stronger focus on melee combat by comparison, so most battles normally boil down to bashing the attack button until your enemy is dead. Attacking with magic and arrows is better at a distance, but since most enemies eventually get in close to try to kill you, you’ll normally have to rely more on melee combat. And also much like with Fallout 3, Skyrim lets you make many decisions that affect the outcome of many missions, as well as who will become your friends or enemies. I wouldn’t call this game a masterpiece, but its scope and sheer amount of fun content cannot be discounted, plus the game looks great. Finally, the option to turn your character into a werewolf and tear enemies to pieces is just awesome, in fact I wish more games had a similar feature. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gets a score of 90%.
Dragon’s Dogma (PS3)
This game had a ton of potential. Overall it wasn’t quite as good as Skyrim, but it was still a great game by its own rite, especially considering the fact that this was Capcom’s first time developing an open world action RPG. You are the Arisen, a warrior whose heart was consumed by the entity known simply as the Dragon. It is the Arisen’s duty to slay the Dragon and reclaim his/her heart, as well as save the land of Gransys from the Dragon’s wrath (hmmm, a strangely familiar set up). The first standout feature for Dragon’s Dogma is the use of Pawns, inter-dimensional beings that resemble humans but lack actual souls of their own who serve as the Arisen’s allies. You have your own Main Pawn who will remain by your side at all times and you can also hire two other Pawns created by other players (Arisens in other universes). Just like the Arisen, the Pawns can switch between different classes at the whim of the players who created them. The main and advanced classes are Fighter (uses a sword and shield), Warrior (uses two-handed weapons), Mage (the only class that uses healing magic, among other spells), Sorcerer (uses more powerful attack magic), Strider (uses dual daggers and shortbows), and Ranger (uses dual daggers and longbows). The hybrid classes, exclusive only to the Arisen, are Mystic Knight (combines Fighter and Mage), Assassin (combines Fighter and Strider), and Magick Archer (combines Mage with Strider).
No matter what class you pick, the different attacks and combos available to all classes are truly astounding. Slashing surrounding enemies, summoning tornados and meteor showers, shooting homing arrows, and so on are just a small sample of the many different ways in which you can do away with enemies. Another impressive combat feature is the ability to climb onto larger enemies and strike their more vulnerable areas continuously, even when the enemies fly into the air. Enemy variety is great, with the list including wolves, bandits, goblins, undead, skeletons, saurians (lizard people), harpies, trolls, griffins, cyclopes, chimeras, golems, hydras, dragons (surprise, surprise), and many more. The larger enemies in particular make for some epic encounters, and most battles in general are quite satisfying when you work with your Pawns to bring them down. The Pawns themselves, as far as NPC allies go, are quite helpful and usually obey all your commands, though they’re not entirely reliable when it comes to taking advantage of enemies’ weaknesses. Still, Pawns are mostly very helpful, and players’ Main Pawns normally learn from their masters’ actions in battle and will adjust their combat tactics accordingly.
There are some issues with Dragon’s Dogma though. For one thing, the narrative is almost non-existent, and the world of Gransys, while large, has a strangely linear layout and mostly consists of forests, caves, and ruins. There is only one village and one city, so overall Gransys is rather barren; there are plenty of monsters, but not many people. And what few people there are don’t really have much to say because unlike Fallout 3 and Skyrim, dialogue options with NPCs are woefully inadequate in this game. The game is also not very informative when it comes to explaining certain features, namely how all the classes affect the Arisen’s stats (strength, speed, health, etc.) in different ways, and let’s not forget the affinity system. The game tells you in the beginning that as NPCs interact with you, your affinity with them increases and they may give you discounts or react more favorably to your presence, but the game seems to go out of its way to not inform you that the NPC who has the highest affinity for your Arisen automatically becomes your “beloved”, no matter what gender they may be. This feature ended up almost completely ruining the ending of my first playthrough of the game when my tall, strong warrior, who I never planned on having involved in a relationship, ended up becoming romantically involved with some short, hairy faced blacksmith who strongly resembled a hobbit, and this was all sprung on me without any warning whatsoever. Thankfully, I was able to pair my warrior with a more appropriate mate (a buxom, female merchant) by the time the credits for the second and final ending rolled.
Finally, the Dark Arisen expansion adds another area to explore, basically a huge multilevel dungeon known as Bitterblack Isle, and this place is full of newer and much more powerful enemies, so it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s addicting and fun as hell, but also intense and taxing. So yeah, this is an awesome game, and if a sequel is ever made that improves on (or removes) this game’s affinity system and provides a more engaging narrative, then it could very easily be absolutely perfect. Dragon’s Dogma gets a score of 87%.
I wasn’t initially all that interested in this game when it released, but something about it got my attention and I ended up giving it a chance, and boy am I glad I did. While I’m not that into first-person perspective games, Dishonored is so much more than that. Its mixture of combat, stealth, and branching storylines make it a rather unique experience. For a more detailed look at the game, check out my review of the Definitive Edition of Dishonored right here.
So ends my penultimate article of this beloved series of mine. Do join me next week for Part 36 (a.k.a.= the finale) of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will discuss the last two newer games I played (not counting Skyrim) before joining this wonderful site: Watch Dogs and Evolve. While you struggle to come to grips with the impending end of my feature, check out more Gaming Respawn goodness below:
Ian spends some time slaying monsters (and drinking wine?) in the new Blood and Wine DLC for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so check out his review over here.
Kjell raises armies and conquers countries in Hearts of Iron IV, so find out his take on the game right here.
Will’s love of, as he puts it, “quintessentially Japanese games” starts to really show itself with his next review of just such a game, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, which you can find here.
Kane kicks some animated ass in Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, so take a look at his review of the game here.