Friday, April 12, 2019

Modded Fallout 4 The Solar Canon

First order of business: this character—Kylie—and her weaponry was created using mods available on Xbox 1 for Fallout 4. The character’s look, apparel, and weapons won’t be available on all platforms.

That being said, the Solar Canon is available for all platforms as it comes from the Creation Club. For anyone not familiar with the Creation Club, it’s a downloadable product available from Bethesda that works as a substitute for in-game microtransactions. The DLCs (I use the term loosely) are purchased with real money unless they’re specifically offered for free of a period of time.

As I mentioned in the video, I believe the writing is poorly executed. And I’m not sure the story itself is well articulated. A bit more time—and a proper editing—would have done wonders for this quest.

Overall, I don’t think this purchased content is worth your money, even if you’re a weapons hoarder. Wait for sale or free. There are enough base game weapons that are more than equal (several excelling) to this purchasable content. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Skyrim SE: My Mods

Unlike many people using mods to play Skyrim, I only use a small handful. And some of those are completely convenience mods. Some mods just allow me to continue growing my characters without the need to declare skills legendary, and they let me build more rounded characters, but they certainly aren’t needed so I won’t include them here.

To be fair some of the mods I am going to share aren’t necessarily must-haves but the do make the game more enjoyable from my standpoint. And essentially that’s all this post offers: my experience with the mods I use and what they might offer you in turn. Now, keep in mind some of these mods may be viewed by you as cheats and that’s fair. But since this is a single player game you’re free to do whatever you want and only have the right to judge yourself.

Anyway, enough disclaimer jumbo-jumbo and let’s get to the mods, which may or may not be available on the platform you play on. I’m on Xbox One X.

The mod I use to make the environment more better (ha ha) is Dolomite Weathers and Lighting Overhaul by Megaloblast. A significantly darker evening requiring artificial light, more intense rainstorms, and different weather options. I’ll also include the A Quality World Map-Vivid with Stone Roads by Chesko. This is simple, it makes the map readable. And finally Dawnguard Map Markers by Arthmoor. This adds markers to nearly all Dawnguard related maps like the Soul Cairn and Forgotten Vale.

Now onto the gameplay mods. Immersive Citizens by Arnaud.dorchymont, which allows you to hear cut dialog and keep all your NPCs alive as you can set them to flee from danger and not attack you when you’re rampaging guards as a werewolf.  Immersive Patrols by Ameermohamedtt. This just adds various patrols throughout Skyrim, which may or may not be hostile. It also adds civil war battles in various locations and forts, which is a great boost to build your skills in my next gameplay mod: Moonlight Tales by Brevi 11. If you want to play as a werewolf this is fantastic. More werewolf perks and skins (even werebears but the skins are the only differences), the ability to be a werewolf right out of Helgen, the ability to cure lycanthropy at any time, the ability to set involuntary werewolf transformations, and the ability to summon blood kin (werewolves and/or wolves) to aid you in combat. I do not believe this mod is available for PS4 users. The mod Werewolf Perks Expanded does offer some additional perks to the beast form though. Moving on to Alchemist Respite, which is a small mod that changes the weight of potions from .5 to .1. Next up is Stones of Barenziah quest markers. This mod flags each location for all 24 gems except the on inside the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. And finally my favorite mod for gameplay: Complete Smithing by ThordTV. A simple but exceptionally useful smithing mod. It completely overhauls smithing after Steel smithing. With this mod you no longer have to choose heavy or light as they are combined as you go. So Elven and Dwarven are level 30, Orchish and Advanced at level 50, Arcane and Faction (allows crafting of unenchanted faction clothing like Thieves Guild and Nightingale armor), Glass and Ebony at level 70, Daedric and Dragon at level 100 and Orsinic (higher quality lower-level armor using dragon bones) also at level 100. The mod also grants XP for turning hides into leather and ore into ingots.

Onto character creation. Unfortunately most of these won’t be available on PS4. Better Males by Alaan, Apachii Sky Hair Lite by Apachii, CBBE Body Slim from Jeir, and the superb clothing mod from Jeir: Keo’s Skimpy Outfits for CBBE Slim. Just go with the Forsworn Armor set and avoid the Nightingale armor. Most armor sets are changed to two piece and not one. Thieves Guild Armor, fur armor, elven armor are all tops with skirts. Is it realistic? Of course not. But neither is wearing glass against a warhammer or battleaxe.

Short and sweet. I’ll give my thoughts on the best Creation Club content I’ve purchased in the next post.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Fallout 4 Charisma Attribute

On my very first playthrough of Fallout 4, I maxed my Charisma as soon as possible. Truth is I believed Charisma was the best attribute in Fallout 4. Thousands on hours later it still is essential for all my play throughs. Without good Charisma you possibly leave a lot of experience points on the table. I recently earned 100 XP for a Charisma check with a sniper build. That’s a huge amount. But anyway enough of my gaming history and onto the breakdown of the perks in the Charisma attribute.

Tier 1 is Cap Collector. If you aren’t building settlements this perk isn’t all that necessary. Although the first two ranks give you a significant price discount over any other option it’s true value is in the settlement building as you must have the first two ranks to build stores at settlements. The third rank, which grants you the ability to invest caps in shops is a pass. You’ll have plenty of shops built at each settlement to sell all you loot. If you aren’t building settlements and still want the caps, you’re better off investing two perks in Fortune Finder under the Luck attribute.

Black Widow/Lady Killer perk is Tier 2. If you’ve built a female character this is a more useful perk as there are more male enemies than female and the bonus damage is nice. But it isn’t world beating, either. By the end game when this perk shows its most usefulness in combat, your weapons will be plenty powerful enough. The other benefit come from Charisma checks as it’s easier to convince the opposite sex and the Intimidation perk is more successful. Perk points best allocated elsewhere.

The Tier 3 Lone Wanderer Perk is the premier perk under Charisma and one of the best perks in the game. Let’s face it, companions are stealth killers and at best are poor shots and have little use in combat, except an overhauled Codsworth or Ada, both of whom can be devastating in combat and have a high carry weight. With the Lone Wanderer Perk you get a significant boost to carry weight +100 with rank 2, outdoing Stongback by 50. At rank 3 you also inflict 25% more damage while taking 30% less damage. And with rank 4, with the Far Harbor DLC, you get an addition 25 action points, a good bonus for V.A.T.S. users. And if you need to carry more loot bring Dogmeat along as he doesn’t count against the Lone Wanderer perk.

Speaking of Dogmeat, the Attack Dog perk can be had at Tier 4. The perks sound good but they really aren’t worth the investment unless Dogmeat is integral to your play through. Holding an enemy, maybe crippling a limb, and causing bleed damage isn’t likely worth the perk points as there are far better damage multipliers available. Give these a pass unless Dogmeat is with for the entire play through.

Tier 5 brings Animal Friend into the mix. You can pacify, incite to attack, or give specific commands to animals of the Wasteland. Other than provide to comic relief by bringing in a bloatfly to cause chaos, these aren’t worth the points. Easier to just kill the animals and the raiders. Maybe a Beastemaster-style play through is worth it or building arenas but honestly it’s more gimmick than useful.

Local Leader at Tier 6 is primarily for settlement building. You’ll need both ranks to combine with Cap Collector to buildshops, it only one rank to create supply lines and be able to build workstations in every settlement, which is beneficial as you can stop anywhere to improve armor or weapons, cookfood or make chems negating the need to always go to Sanctuary or Red Rocket or the Castle.

Like to drink? Well, the Partyboy/girl perk at Tier 7 is for you. This is actually a great perk for a variety of builds, especially and melee character as you can get even more strength by consuming alcohol. Plus your Luck goes up, and if you’re running a low Intelligence build with the Idiot Savant Perk, you can imbibe before turning in quests to 8mprove the chance of your XP multiplier. It’s a high investment into Charisma but probably a worthy set of perks.

The Inspirational perk at Tier 8 is mostly a pass. Yes it prevents you from harming your companions and them from harming you, but are companions worththis very high investment in Charisma to get? Since you’re far better off with the Lone Wanderer Perk, I would say no. Unless you already have high Charisma adding points to get here and then take these perks isn’t a great option.

Tier 9 and 10 are essentially identical to Animal Friend only they apply to wasteland creatures and people. Now maybe having a pet deathclaw is your thing or having arena fights with humans, creatures, and animals is also your thing. Either way these aren't worth getting until later in the game for any reason other than role-playing. Of course I'm going to be hypocritical under the Intelligence attribute in the next post as it has an option just like these only for robots.

Being able to manipulate others and have them do your bidding can be a fun and entertaining option, but the real strength in Charisma is the ability to dig out additional information and earn XP while doing it. I mean it is equally fun to squeeze more caps out of the tightwad residents of Diamond City. And, of course, the settlement system isn't fully optimized without the appropriate Charisma perks to make it happen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Fallout 4 Endurance Attribute

Endurance is the next S.P.E.C.A.L. attribute on the list and it's the most polarizing of all the attributes. Not because it's always argued as one of the worst or best attributes, it's clearly one of the best, but rather because all the perks associated with Endurance are unnecessary. I'll do my best to give a decent argument for some of the perks but none of the perks are absolutely worth early investment unless that's how you're building your character. No more delay...

Tier 1 you'll find the Toughness perk. This perk grants you +10 to your damage avoidance for a total of +50 if you get all the perks. Much like the Refractor perk from Perception, the additional damage resistance is attached permanently to the character in or out of armor. So you could run around in your skivvies and have 50 damage resistance. Good enough for the Corvega raiders but not for the Quincy gunners. All that being said, if you were to play using only the Silver Shroud costume, the plus 50 damage resistance will go along way toward beefing up your armor as the cap of the Silver Shroud costume is in the 80s. And unless you use a mod the Silver Shroud costume cannot be upgraded at a armor bench. So be sure to keep Kent alive and compete the Silver Shroud quest line before level 45 or you'll wait for level 100 to maximize your armor. (Note: The Refractor perk would also be of great benefit it only using Silver Shroud costume for your play through.)

The Lead Belly perk plumps down at Tier 2 Endurance. Aside from survival difficulty I can't see any reason to pick these perks unless you have nothing else to pick. Aside from the early stages of the game, radiation isn't a problem. You'll end up having so much RadAway in your inventory you can clear up a good 10-15 encumbrance by storing or selling RadAway. Besides, cooking foods removes the radiation anyway, and unless you're eating fruits (why bother?) just take cooked food along and use some of the over-abundance of RadAway.

Life Giver perk at Tier 3 is another you could easily pass on. Although the final perk carries an additional benefit of slowly regenerating your health when not in combat it's still probably worth a pass unless in survival mode. That's three perk points you could spend elsewhere and reap more benefits than +60 health and health regeneration. In fact, the final perk in Endurance gives additional boosts the Life Giver perk doesn't. Plus you'll already be getting maximum health by having 10 Endurance. Or maybe invest more into Smithing and negate more damage.

Chem Resistant is the first perk in Endurance that is worth a close look and it comes at Tier 4 and only has 2 levels, which can be achieved at level 22. You earn a 50% resistance to addiction to all chems, including Med-X, and then complete immunity to chem addiction. I will give one caveat to this perk, Refreshing Beverage. The Refreshing Beverage you can craft at a chem station will completely cure all addictions plus remove 1000 rads and restore your health. It's actually the best medical aid you can carry because you have nearly zero wait time for you rads and health to be restored, but it's heavy. Still, the weight of a couple of bottles of Refreshing Beverage might be worth it instead of using two perk points on Chem Resistant.

Tier 5 grants us the ability to use the waterways as a means of travel without drowning and taking radiation damage from water. This is the Aquaboy/girl perk. This is one of my must have perks. Not because you need it, as you certainly don't, but there are enough areas in the base game where water is available to explore or peaceful travel, and Far Harbor even more so, I find this perk invaluable. I don't have to carry extra radiation meds, I don't need the Rescue Diver Suit or a Hazmat suit. Although those options are more than acceptable, they all carry weight to them and for that reason I always pick up the first rank of this perk. To me it's worth one perk point.

Rad Resistant at Tier 6. Much like Toughness and Refractor this perk just gives the player character up to +40 radiation resistance if you have the Far Harbor DLC, and like those previously mentioned perks it offers little value for the high cost. Refreshing Beverage, RadAway, RadX, Baked Bloatfly only cost encumbrance. I would argue for it's value with ballistic weave armor if armor pieces can't be added or the Silver Shroud costume. Otherwise this perk is another skip. And a pro tip for reducing radiation in Far Harbor: stay off the main roads as that's where you'll encounter the most fog. Go cross country to avoid the clickety-clack of the giger counter.

A fairly legitimate perk comes in at Tier 7 with the Adamantium Skeleton perk. If you take all three perks your limb damage goes away permenantly except from fall damage from high elevation, but instead of dying (depending how high the fall is) you'll just break a limb. This also means explosives and explosive turrets do no limb damage as well. A decent investment under Endurance as it's the only way outside of power armor to negate limb damage.

Cannibal takes a bite out of the eighth spot in Endurance. This perk is a complete pass. As it suggests feeding on humans, ghouls, and Super Mutants will restore health. Just use a Stimpak and RadAway. One of the worst perks in the game.

The Ghoulish perk at Tier 9 is another pass unless you are building a radiation based character or plan on using the Assaultron head from Automatron. The early ranks allows radiation to restore lost health. Later feral ghouls may randomly become friendly. Not worth it as you can just kill the ghouls for XP and spend more perks points on better perks.

Finally, we get to Tier 10 and maybe the best perk in the Endurance attribute. Solar Powered is a situational perk like Night Person but instead of increasing Perception and Intelligence you get a boost to Strength and Endurance, plus 2 for each. So for a melee character this is wonderful as you inflict more damage and can take more from six in the morning to six in the evening. Maybe you're building a hybrid character who snipes at night and goes hand to hand during the day. Rank 2 will slowly heal radiation damage and rank 3 regenerates your health, maybe negating the need for Life Giver. Plus you get additional health during the daytime hours with the +2 to Endurance.

A few closing thoughts on Endurance. The higher your Endurance the less action point cost for sprinting, the more health you get each time you level up as well. Maybe a good character build would be a melee or unarmed character with 10 Strength and Endurance combined with the Chem Resistant perks and Solar Powered perks. With that combination and basic perk investment not including clothing you could have 12 Strength and Endurance during daylight hours and you could take all the Jet and Psychobuff you wanted and be able to knock down the Mass Fusion building with one swing of Grognak's Axe.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fallout 4 Perception Attribute

Next on the list for attributes is Perception. The Perception attribute is useful for a wide variety of play styles. And even more robust for role-playing or character creation than the previous Strength attribute. Perception grants the ability to shoot through cover, see at night, craft explosives, and increases your accuracy during a VATS firearm play style. Let's get started.

Tier 1 in Perception gets you the Pickpocket perk. For the most part, this set of perks aren't of any benefit. There isn't any real need to pickpocket anyone in Fallout 4. At the later ranks you have the ability to steal weapons but by the time you get that perk you can already plant explosives in your intended victims inventory which will instantly kill them if not detected, which negates the need to actually steal and equipped items. I will definitely give this perk a thumbs up for fun factor though as placing live explosives is definitely worth spending a few perk points in the late stages to spice up the play through. Plus, it give you a legitimate reason for keeping all those fragmentation mines you've collected over 30 or 40 levels. A fun perk but not all that useful.

One of the best perks in the game is next in the Rifleman perk. Non-automatic rifles and shotguns in Fallout 4 are incredibly powerful. In fact the most powerful rifle in the game is only usable with the Rifleman perks, and that weapon is the Gauss rifle. No other rifle even comes close to the overall power of the Gauss rifle. With proper perk investment and smithing you can have your Gauss rifle exceeding 440 damage per shot. And if you find a VATS enhanced or two-shot legendary variant...look out bad guys. Not only do you get super powerful one shot per trigger pull weapons but with the Rifleman perk rank 5 your non-automatic rifles and shotguns also ignore 30% of opponents armor with the chance to cripple a limb.

Perception tier 3 introduces the Awareness perk. This perk is a total pass. Knowing the resistances of particular enemies isn't all that necessary and it's a good idea to give this entire perk a miss. Even rank two isn't good enough to spend a perk point to get unless it's late game and you want that extra damage. And if you aren't using VATS this perk is worthless anyway. A non-VATS play through won't be taking the time to pull up VATS to target a certain spot. Besides head shots are always best.

Locksmith is Perception tier 4 and this perk fits in they convenience perks. Although, I find Locksmith a necessity as I don't like leaving any XP on the table. As you can imagine Locksmith grants you the ability to pick higher level locks in the game and can even grant you an unbreakable bobby-pin. Now bobby-pins are so common you'll never need to get the last rank of Locksmith but if you do you can always sell the extra bobby-pins. Locksmith also allows you to uncover more loot and ammo, especially rarer ammo types like missiles and 2mmEC ammo for your uber-powerful Gauss rifle.

If explosions really get your blood pumping then the tier 5 Perception perk Demolitions Expert is a must. This perk enhances the damage from grenades and mines, and allows you to craft your own (although I say pass on crafting grenades due to the high adhesive costs). With rank two you get a throwing arc which is incredibly helpful for tossing grenades through windows. Additionally, the Demolitions Expert perk also enhances weapons like missile launchers, Fat Mans, and the awesome Spray N Pray sub-machine gun.

The Night Person perk at Perception 6 is an absolute pass if you're running a low intelligence character who levels up with the Idiot Savant perk found under Luck. But if you aren't and want to get the maximum XP then this perk is for you. But also the ability to skip the awful night-vision scopes is a huge plus when you grab the second rank of Night Person as you get the ability to see at night while in sneak mode. Word of caution with the second rank, though, and that's to get out of sneak mode before reading any terminals as the text can become hard to read around the edges. The third rank of Night Person (if you have Nuka World) gives 30 extra HP. Give this rank a miss and add another perk to Endurance or something else.

At tier 7, the Refractor perk is certainly a perk that isn't worth the high investment to get to if you don't already have high Perception. And even if you do have high Perception you can eat foods that increase your energy resistance enough to get your through a fight. I would pass on this perk and add the points into Endurance for more HP overall. Much too high of a cost for any value.

Sniper, Perception level 8, is a good perk that goes to a niche perk as do the final two tiers in Perception. This is a high cost perk that gives you some overall value to scoped weapons with the first two ranks and its next bonus turns to VATS users. The second rank of this perk is where the real meat is as you have the ability to knock down your opponent. This frees you up to zero in on the next target while that other poor fool gets up again. Given all that, this perk could be passed on if you have the sneak attack multipliers from the Agility attribute. With those the ability to knock down an opponent is like a moot point as they will most likely be dead anyway. Some food for thought: A maxed Gauss rifle using the Sandman perks and the Ninja perks can sneak attack at over 2,000 damage (weapon damaged plus 30% for silenced weapons multiplied by 3.5 for Ninja sneak attack), enough to one-shot nearly every enemy.

Perception tier 9 and 10 are for VATS users only as the perks themselves require the use of VATS to be effective. The Penetrator perk is first at tier 9. The first rank grants the ability to shoot through cover with a reduction in accuracy. Now cover does include mirelurk shells and a piece of armor, but...If you decide to use a Critical Hit on your target, you will have the ability to penetrate everything. For example, targeting a fusion core from the front behind cover, which equates to multiple pieces of cover. This won't matter as Critical Hits always hit. At rank 2 you suffer no lose of accuracy when shooting through cover.

Finally, the Concentrated Fire perk. Perception tier 10. This perk offers some significant bonuses for VATS users. At rank 1 you earn a 10% accuracy for every attack on a specific body part. What this means is if you target the head of your enemy with VATS six times you get that 10% bonus for every shot not just the overall attack. At rank 2 your accuracy bonus goes to plus 15%, and the creme de la creme rank 3. With the final rank you get an amazing 20% accuracy bonus AND 20% more damage. For some perspective let's go back to the maximum damage from the Gauss rifle at 2,000. Now add an addition 20% to that amount for an unbelievable 2,400 damage.

Notable weapons in the non-automatic weapons category: The Last Minute (the Castle), and variant of the Gauss rifle that does an additional 50% limb damage. Righteous Authority (ArcJet systems) a reward for helping Paladin Danse, double damage for critical shots and critical meter fills 15% faster. The Railway Rifle, a powerful weapons that uses railway spikes. A reward from the RailRoad or can be found at Big John's Salvage, and Bedford Station after level 20. Old Reliable, a two-shot lever action .45-70 found in Acadia with Far Harbor DLC.

The Perception attribute, unlike Strength, offers many valuable perks. Some are quite specific but most are an overall benefit to playing Fallout 4 as an explosives expert, a shotgunner, a sniper. And of course, if you're into raw power with awesome damage output you'll want to trick out your Gauss rifle and snipe away.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fallout 4 Strength Attribute

Welcome to a new series on my blog where I dive into each SPECIAL attribute from Fallout 4. There are seven attributes from which to create and design your character. I’ll be dissecting and analyzing each perk related to a specific attribute. I’ll also be sharing my opinion on the best perk set and if they are needed, and what type of character would benefit most from each attribute.

Strength. This attribute is the character’s power. It’s related to carry weight, melee and unarmed damage output, heavy guns such as the missile launcher, and the Armorer and Blacksmith perks, Rooted and the power armor specific Pain Train perks. You can also find perks related to gun bashing and hip-fire accuracy for all guns, big or small.

Although, the Strength attribute looks sexy on the surface it is mired with bad perks and perks that aren’t necessarily essential. And I’m directly referring to the Armorer perk. The one and only time the Armorer perk is essential in Fallout 4 is the use of ballistic weave. Otherwise a player can pick up all variants of armor throughout the gameplay. And if a piece of armor comes with a specific modification like muffled for example, it can be return to an unmodded version thus storing the muffle mod in your inventory to be placed on a different piece within a same armor set. Metal to metal, combat to combat, synth to synth. And you can do all this without the Armorer perk. You aren’t able to transfer muffle for metal armor to synth armor. And you cannot transfer legendary modifications from one piece to another. Besides, you can get a fantastic suit of armor early in the game at Hubris Comics. Just take the Silver Shroud armor to Kent in Goodneighbor. Once you agree to be the Silver Shroud, turn off the radio. Start the Silver Shroud quest around level 23 and you’ll get armor upgrades in the mid-twenties -thirties -forties levels providing you save Kent. You’ll need 10 Charisma to do that so go prepared.

Before I get too far off track I’ll jump back to the first perk in Strength which is the Iron Fist perks. You automatically have access to this perk as each attribute requires the first level be the default. Iron Fist along with the second tier perks, Big Leagues, add to the damage output of either unarmed and punching weapons or melee weapons. Each perk point invested adding 20% more damage than before and maxing out at double damage. The Iron Fist perks have different specialties than Big Leagues. Most notably in Iron Fist is the last rank where a critical hit in V.A.T.S. will paralyze an opponent. And if you’re using a lot of V.A.T.S. for your melee character you would be better served with high Agility (Blitz and Ninja perks) and Luck (Critical Banker, Better Criticals, Grim Reaper's Sprint, and Four Leaf Clover perks). Whereas rank four in Big Leagues all enemies in front are struck. Important note concerning Big Leagues rank four: this perk is NOT settler friendly. If a settler is in the line of fire damage to the settler is a distinct possibility. In one of my playthroughs I killed both Connie and Lucy Abernathy with Grognak’s Axe when I attacked a raider they were engaging.

The next perk is Armorer which I’ve already discussed and then the Blacksmith perk. Much like the Armorer perk this isn’t an absolute need. Again you’ll often find the weapon mods during the gameplay. And to use some of the mods you’ll need the Science perks anyway. So, I would skip this perk altogether unless you’re building a power armor based melee/unarmed build, which is important to note you cannot use punching weapons in power armor.

At Strength level 5 you’ll find the Heavy Gunner perks. These perks increase the damage output of heavy guns the same way as Iron Fist and Big Leagues. The trouble with the Heavy Gunner perks are twofold. The high investment cost into Strength and the heavy guns themselves. Fundamentally, I find the heavy guns to be lacking. Unlike semi-automatics, snipers, and full auto weapons, heavy guns aren’t diverse. Sure there are some specialty weapons like the Cryolator and the Striker, but these weapons have extremely rare ammo types much like the Fat Man, which I would argue is one of the worst weapons in the game due to its high ammo price and rarity coupled with a poor area-of-effect damage compared to other explosive type weapons like grenades. You can easily launch a mini nuke at three enemies in close proximity to each other and only kill one. I think grenades are much, much better than mini nukes. And much like the Blacksmith perk you’ll need to invest in the Science (and Gun Nut and Demolition Expert) perks to maximize some of the Heavy Guns if you lack the patience for one to drop in the game.

Next is rank 6 in Strength and here you’ll find one of the more unnecessary perks in Fallout 4, the Strong Back perks. These perks are simply not that valuable. “But what if I’m a settlement builder and I’m a big hoarder?” you ask. Well, there’s a better solution for material management called Scrapper under Intelligence, and it costs fewer perk points overall. And with Scrapper you can collect one automatic assault rifle and you’ll get almost a shipment worth of aluminum and various other options. This frees up space for something else. Sure being able to fast travel while over encumbered is handy but there are better options to collect building materials. Skip these perks.

On to Steady Aim perks at 7 Strength. These perks aren’t worth the high investment to get. Some improved hip fire accuracy from all guns sounds great but is more a waste of perk points.

This also goes with level 8 perks Basher. Seriously? Melee weapons already do more melee damage than bashing does. And at level 8 Strength you’ll have plenty of power with a gun bash without these ridiculous perks. If you have your gun with you why do you need to pistol whip the enemy too? Just shoot them.

Rooted is a great situational perk and its rewards bear this out which is why it takes 9 Strength to get it. At the first rank you’ll get plus 25 damage resistance and you’ll also be inflicting 25% more melee or unarmed damage. The next rank gets 50 for each and the final rank may let you automatically disarm any enemy using melee attacks against you. Not sure if the final rank is worth the perk point though. Of course there’s a catch, you cannot be moving, and must be standing still, for this perk to work. But it will work with the fabulous Blitz perk from Agility. If you wanted to be a melee god combine Rooted with Blitz.

And finally Strength rank 10. This is another poor perk. I don’t want to say bad because it works well, but the exceedingly high cost and the situational nature of Pain Train just isn’t a good investment. Yes the perk offers some comic relief to the clunky power armor and it can get you out of sticky situations, but then again, you are in power armor. To make the most of this perk you’ll have a high investment in Intelligence as well to get the Nuclear Physicist perks so your fusion cores last longer because to use Pain Train you’ll need to sprint, which depletes the fusion core at a much accelerated rate.

Notable unarmed and melee weapons: Pickman's Blade (Pickman's Gallery), Furious Power Fist (Boston Common), Grognak's Axe (Hubris Comics), 2076 World Series Baseball Bat (Jamaica Plane), Deathclaw Gauntlet (Devil's Due quest), Rockville Slugger (Diamond City), and Kremvh's Tooth (Dunwich Borers).

Overall. I belief the Strength attribute the least useful in Fallout 4. You will almost always find better perks under other attributes. So unless you have a specific need (non-sneak, non-VATS characters) for Strength-related perks, save them for late game options.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Skyrim SE: Light Armor vs. Heavy Armor

Welcome back to the blog. In this post I’m going to provide an argument for choosing light armor over heavy armor for all character builds aside from one. Now I realize this concept will go against popular sentiment but once the information is fully broken down I think you’ll agree my argument for light armor is more than valid.

I won’t actually be covering any true mage builds in this post because I haven’t spent enough time working on mage only characters. I’m not a fan of magicka-focused builds. I enjoy magicka but it’s far from a first choice and has thus far only been supplemental.

The most important aspect of armor we need to get out there straight away is the game’s armor cap. This number represents the most damage resistance a player’s character can withstand. And that number is 85% damage resistant. This figures out to 567 armor rating in total. What this means is your super powerful Dark Brotherhood armor set with 1,200 armor rating is only good for 567 armor. With the introduction of dragonplate (heavy) and dragonscale (light) armor with the Dawnguard DLC you can reach the armor cap with both light and heavy armor and light armor is within shouting distance of heavy armor in overall armor rating.

After doing a bit of digging and mathematics I came up with the base armor ratings of both Dragonplate and Dragonscale armor. The final numbers include double improvement and the 50% bonus from the combined Well Fitted and Matching Set perks available in both the heavy armor and light armor skill constellations, which are called Deft Movement and Unhindered. The Dragonplate (heavy) armor went over the armor rating maximum with an overall rating of 612. The Dragonscale (light) was below the armor cap with a 492 rating. Now, looking at these numbers you might say, “See the proof is in the pudding. Heavy armor eclipses the armor cap and guarantees I have the most damage resistance available and the light armor doesn’t.” Of course you are correct by saying this. And if you were not using any enchanting or potions in your gameplay then heavy armor would be more beneficial than light. But, I have one more card to flip over: The Dragonscale Armor misses the rating cap by 75 points. This seems like a lofty number but it actually isn’t all that lofty. With a weak blacksmith potion or a weak smithing piece of apparel (20%) the Dragonscale armor also eclipses armor cap at 590. And a potion of only 15% brings it to 565. So for the armor cap each type of armor, heavy or light, will easily reach 567.

Now that we’ve witnessed light armor being equally protective as heavy armor it’s time to explore the perk constellations for each set. There’s a significant detail that I can’t leave out. If you’re using the Guardian Stones to improve your character be aware heavy armor is under the Warrior Stone while light armor is under the Thief Stone. I always recommend using the Thief Stone as it boosts the only skill you can always improve, in or out of combat, which makes it invaluable for leveling your character and that’s the Sneak skill. As long as you’re in sneak mode and undetected your character continually levels up just by exploring Skyrim. You can also use the Illusion spell Muffle to level your character while outside of combat or the Alteration spell Transmute. But neither are as beneficial as Sneak.

I’ll start with the Heavy Armor constellation. I’m only focusing on non-armor rating improvement perks. It’s fairly obvious to use rating boosts so there’s no need to discuss those. Aside from the Juggernaut, Well Fitted, and Matching Set perks, you’ll find Unarmed, Conditioning, Reflect Blows, Tower of Strength, and Cushioned. You’ll find versions of Conditioning and Reflect Blows in the light armor constellation so I will discuss those with light armor. As for the other perks, two have benefits while one is practically useless. Unarmed and Tower of Strength are the beneficial perks that are specific to heavy armor. Unarmed will do the armor rating in damage, which is awesome, but is only needed for an unarmed build. You should never lose a brawl. Tower of Strength reduces stagger from incoming attacks by 50%. Another great perk but not necessarily all that special. You will better off by blocking the attack, or better yet, using a shield. I can promise you getting hit with Ebony arrows will cause a stagger with this perk. As for the most useless perk in heavy armor we find Cushioned. This perk reduces fall damage by 50%. If you’re jumping from any location far enough to take fall damage you need more than this perk. You can walk straight down a cliff face or use the Become Ethereal shout and leap off anything.

Let’s move on to the Light Armor perks constellation. Like heavy armor, the Reflect Blows and Conditioning perks are available but with different names, Deft Movement replaces Reflect Blows, both giving a 10% of taking no melee damage, and Unhindered replaces Conditioning, which makes armor weigh nothing and not slow you down. Conditioning is more valuable in terms of more encumbrance freed up as heavy armor has significantly more weight. A full set of Dragonbone Armor tipping the scales at 64 encumbrance whereas a full set of Dragonscale weighs in at 20 encumbrance. Now onto the other Light Armor perks and I’ll save the best perk, which also tips the scales to light armor being superior to heavy armor for last, which is the only other perk available for light armor. Light armor has 10 perks in the constellation and heavy has 12. So for the final perk left we will find Wind Walker. The Wind Walker perks grants the character the ability to regenerate stamina 50% faster. At face value this perk doesn’t look so special but hear me out.

Stamina may actually be more important than health. Stamina is used for sprinting, bashing, slowing time in archery, and power attacks. It’s also used for getting out of the way of giants and mammoths bearing down on you at level ten. Or maybe you use it to quickly avoid a fire/frost-breathing dragon. No matter what the reason stamina is critical for survival. So having the ability to regenerate stamina without enchanted armor or jewelry is invaluable. You won’t need to carry stamina potions or waste an enchantment slot of stamina regeneration or even carry supremely heavy food items like vegetable or beef stew (both regenerate stamina). If you recall the heavy armor perk Tower of Strength reduces stagger by 50%. But what if you could just close that gap against the archers and, using that stamina, perform a sprinting attack that staggers them instead. And with your stamina regenerating so quickly, you can follow up the sprint attack with another power attack. So long archers. And this is even better against mages as they typically have no armor.

In my two-handed build I used heavy armor for a long time but ended up switching over to light armor because of the stamina regeneration perk Wind Walker. I still used a stamina enchantment slot for an additional 35% stamina regeneration which basically makes me completely unstoppable in pitched battle. Using the Sweep perk in the two-handed skill, which requires stamina, gives me the ability to attack multiple foes while avoiding damage at the same time. And with my stamina regeneration at 85% these attacks are back to back to back to back.

In summary, we know light armor is equal to heavy in terms of overall protection from damage—with a little help. We know the unique perks in heavy armor are very specialized and often unnecessary or not too useful. We know that light armor requires two fewer perks to fill out and you get to ultra beneficial Wind Walker perk, which regenerates the all-important stamina at a 50% faster clip.

So the next character you build, be it a two-handed, one-handed, dual-wielding, or sword and shield, would you still opt for the ever popular heavy armor or consider the better option light armor?

References: http://en.uesp.net/wiki/Main_Page