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Fallout New Vegas Day#4: The Dangers of the Open Road

Day 4 is a complex mix of the good and bad of the game. The good: all of the wonderful exploration and hidden narrative that’s just in the wilderness of the game and the way that emergent features of NPC and location can make good scenes. On the other hand, the level design seems to be skewed to the difficult in places and it makes the game frustrating, especially when you can see an easy tell step to walk to. Overall it’s a good session that ends on a sour note of bad balancing. Spoilers within.

I begin by wandering around Primm a little getting my bearings, and then heading towards NCR station to deal with Meyer’s pardon. I kill a couple of Powder Gangers on the way to gain karma. As I walk to the NCR station, I find a patrol station location by spotting it on the side of the road. This is what is OSSIM about Fallout — seeing a landmark on your route and releasing it’s an area with its own plot.  I go inside and immediately have to kill a bunch of Jackal gang members (that’s a new gang for me for those keeping score at home) and mantises inside. They are easy fights, and along the way I level up to 4, where I upgrade my guns and talking and lockpicking and also take an Educated perk to get me more skill points per level. I get a shotgun from a dead prospector in a jail cell in the back, but there’s not much else here so I leave. Wow, there’s another location right around the other side of the street (Dry Lake). I notice some giant ants here so I chose discretion and move on. Back on the road again, I’m now attacked by radscorpions. Fuck they are tough. I run into a rest station (another new location!) to escape from them. I get some stuff inside – nothing special. But when I  I step back outside, the radscorpions are still waiting for me and they kill me right away. I respawn right outside the building in front of the radscorpions and run. The radscorpions chase me down the road. I run into a traveling merchant and he and a nearby merc attack the scorpions. The merc dies in fight, but we then kill the scorpions. That was a lucky meet up there, and just another example of how beautiful the emergence of this game can be. I talk to the merchant and buy some actual armor. As I continue, I see a radscorpion stuck in the ground. I guess that’s one of those bugs everyone is talking about.

I keep moving over the car-ruin-strewn highway.  Giant statues up ahead look like cowboys shaking hands. As I approach, I see a plaque for the statue. Oh it’s a monument commemorating the unification of the Desert Rangers and NCR to protect Hoover Dam. I’ve arrived at the outpost. Cool. I talk to a local sergeant. He tells me that this is a checkpoint where they protect traders and caravans,  but since I’m from the north I’m clear to move freely. The caravans are currently being stopped because of dangers on the road. I explore the camp and talk to a major inside a building. I bring up Meyers in the dialogue and and then speech the major to get Meyers his pardon and thus his freedom to be sheriff of Primm. I then talk to the ranger in charge of the camp and get a quest to clear out the road south for caravan travel in exchange for some “overlooked” supplies. Of course, that’s the path I just walked. I guess I didn’t clear it out? Okay… I head back to Primm to tell Meyers he’s pardoned and I walk just in case there’s more enemies to wipe out. I do kill some giant ants along the way, mostly by shooting their antenna off and thus getting them to frenzy and kill each other.

Killing the ants completes the ranger quest, so I fast travel back to the outpost to tell the ranger. When I ask for my reward, he tells me he can’t pay me directly, but then he gives a better 5.56 mm rifle (hooray) and some other stuff. As  long as I’m hear, I go to the barracks and there I talk to Cass, a caravan driver whose stuck here because of the dangerous roads even though her caravan was destroyed by the Legion. I choose to tell her I cleared the road. This cheers her up a bit, but she’s still stuck here while as long as she has a caravan title. I decide to sleep six hours to heal. When I wake up, I take some ramps to the roof of the building and I talk to Ghost (an albino sniper on the roof). She wants me to go to Nipton to see if they’re survived what she think is a recent attack given the snow she sees on the horizon.  I agree since I’m heading there anyway. I leave by fast travel to go back to Primm

Man, I’m getting dehydrated a lot. I guess that’s the big effect of this hardcore mode. Oh well, I have enough food and purified water to get by. I arrive at Primm and tell Meyers the good news. He’s happy and then I level up to 5, for more guns, talking, and sneaking. I figure it’s time to head to Nipton, so I fast travel to an rest stop closest to Nipton.  I start to head to the new city, but I first have to outrun a horde of giant ants and then I am ambushed by Jackal gangers. I kill a lot of them, but there are a LOT of them and they take me down. I restart back at Primm, and jump immediately back to the rest stop. I die again in exactly the same fight against the Jackals. Man that ambush is hard. I die two more times at the same spot. Damn it’s REALLY hard. How do I get past that ambush.  Oh I decide that I’ll go to Novac first. I just back to Goodspring and start walking to Sloan, a city I haven’t been to yet that’s on the way to Novac. I kill a couple of coyote and then I find an abandoned shack. I go inside and get some stuff. When I exit, I can see on my directest route to Novaco on my map, but the path ahead has signs that warn of deathclaws. I remember how nasty previous Fallouts make those monsters  so I go a roundabout way. It’s a long way because there are mountains everywhere that I can’t climb. As I go back down, I killed by giant radscorpions. I respawn outside of the shack and die several times from the scorpions. I don’t think there’s a way through here at my level, so I try a route past the correctional facility. It’s another long walk around mountains to find the pass, and oh it’s actually called Primm Pass. As I cross the path, a blind deathclaw jumps out and destroys me with two blows. WTF? Is there NOWHERE I can go that’s safe? Not sure where to go left, I decide that’s enough for tonight.

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