Part 28: Revenge... of the Bad PacingRevenge... of the Bad Pacing
Last time on ATOM, we interacted with a Wacky Time Traveler, broke up a couple at the circus for the promised 1 million rubles, and then it turned out we'd actually made him an evil future dictator. It legitimately did not fucking matter except for the realization that the time we spent reading ATOM text could never be gotten back.
Today the thread unanimously voted for us to get revenge on the evil cutscene bandits who robbed us at the beginning of the game, so we're gonna do that. First, however, I tried to deal with the request to resize the UI or something to make text more legible.
I can mess with the UI scaling but this is super difficult for me to actually play. See the HP/attack thing? It's hidden under the giant ass game console, so I'm not sure if I can actually see what attack mode we have set on Bear. I believe this was a result of lowering the resolution? It is extremely obvious they didn't bother to test the accessibility options they supposedly offer, because everything in this game is lazy and shitty.
You can't scale the text, you can only scale the UI elements. Terribad!
I'm sorry. I'll keep summarizing the dialogs. Anyway, astute ATOM readers might realize we've done absolutely nothing storywise with those bandits, even though as the first NPCs we meet they might be kind of important.
We need to do the coal shipment quest.
So I know I have been very vocal in this LP that rubles are worthless, but I'm going to trade as much crap as we can spare for an armor upgrade on Bear. The upcoming fight with the cutscene bandits is low key one of the most difficult fights for our build for all the wrong reasons.
This takes all our cash, but the cutscene bandits are packing more firepower than almost any random encounter group in the game.
This is a rarer encounter where you can jump two groups of hostiles fighting and kill them all. It's not worth showing off, it's just ATOM combat.
Well, ok, I'm going to bitch that Bear can't jump this fence and has to go around, but we all saw that coming.
Also 240 damage is insane for this game.
I don't know if I've shown this off yet, but when you lose money in a trade you get the "It's a great deal!" message.
I kind of screw up here. This guy isn't the ticket guard, he has an extremely boring quest for us.
There's not much more to say. Go to place. Fight wolves.
Wolves are no match for Cossack Steel.
We get some ammo for our troubles.
Our dog levels up.
Anyway, we need to go into the Peregon ship to find Mambetov. There is a dog fighting ring where we can make poor Dzhulbars fight other dogs. We will not be doing that.
We'll need to get past this guy later.
This is our target, who keeps these women around for their conversational skills. Mambetov is NOT on the creepy list of Pizzagaters, he's just a regular sleazeball.
: I go where I want. Go call a judge if you've got a problem with it.
Despite the women telling us it's Mambetov, we have to ask like a moron.
: Who are you? Can I maybe help you with something?
: Mambetov, I'm here to talk about the coal shipments to Krasnoznamenny.
: Let's not waste time. Why are the shipments so infrequent?
: Why? Sheesh! Don't know if you've heard, but the roads aren't safe these days, especially near Peregon. I don't have enough people to provide every caravan with an escort.
: I was sent here by the Chamber of Commerce to help you with security on the coal shipments.
: By the Chamber of Commerce, huh?
: [Mambetov fixes you with a long, hard gaze. Finally, he signals his female servants to cover their ears]
: What do I get in return?
: Heh, we'll see. Now go, and don't forget to talk with the driver.
: I won't forget. Bye.
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Goddamn this fat guy loves watching women do chores.
: Ha ha look at this wimp!
: Excuse me I am a master of the Cossack sword, deal with it.
: Fair enough.
: Who are you, and can you help me grind out money and XP?
: I'm Mambetov, and I'm good.
: Hey, the Chamber of Commerce sent me about the coal shipments. What the hell is going on?
: Road bandits, and I don't have a lot of guys!
: Well, the Chamber of Commerce sent me to help with security.
: Cool, go down to the not suspicious skull truck and tell them I sent you. There probably aren't a lot of bandits even though they have somehow paralyzed this critical trade route that an entire city with multiple military forces cannot put down. Have fun!
This jackass is always here to remind us when we've wasted a Peregon ticket.
This is a totally not suspicious truck.
I really enjoy how the passable dialogue is shit up with this pointless narration.
: Here you go.
There is a particular bit of fuckery to this quest the game doesn't warn you about.
: [The man nods with approval and lights the ciggy you gave him. He inhales the smoke with deep delight]
If you ask if he's a bandit he denies it. Whatever.
: I was sent here by Mambetov. Should I talk to you?
: Hold on for a sec.
: Fine, I'll settle a few things and then we can leave.
There is - okay, there's more than one, but there's one unannounced gotcha to this quest because the ATOM devs were lazy and incompetent.
If for some reason the love of your life has agreed to marry you but only if you do a 100% complete run of ATOM RPG, you both need to really rethink your standards and also be sure to completely clear your hunger here. Telling him it's time to go gets this:
The movie clip budget died here, it seems.
: Well, here we are...
: Now we're gonna get robbed probably. Get out of the truck and do a bit of recon. I'll stay here.
You fucking suck, guy.
: [You shrug your shoulders and get out]
: Hold on, hold on... Why, that's...
So yes, there's not actually a quest to track this guy down or anything. We don't go to a shady bar, or ask Dan or our other criminal friends or any of that crap. The ATOM protagonist can never show any agency or have an effect on anything at all, so our rematch with this guy comes as a result of a completely unrelated quest where he's apparently the only guy robbing the coal trucks from Peregon.
I'm not even gonna pretend we're taking the peaceful way out here. They tell you they sold all your stuff from the beginning of the game, if you care.
: [Quietly look the man over and spit on the ground]
Incidentally, the ATOM devs patched the beginning of the game encounter because people were winning it. There's even a fallback where these guys get replaced with generic bandits, so it's not a technical thing, it's a fart huffing vision bullshit thing where the true ATOM experience is getting mugged like a dumbass.
There is an 11 minute speedrun of ATOM that also got patched out for what it's worth.
: [Strength] Don't make me mad, man. You were lucky last time, but now I can break you like a twig!
Last time he actually was scared of us, but the railroad "plot" demanded we get robbed.
He's not kidding. This gang is stupidly well armed for no reason.
There is, of course, only one acceptable answer.
: Fuck off, buddy. You won't get anything from us. Prepare to die!
: No, you will die! Take aim, guys! Ready, fire!
: Let's show them![Attack]
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: Hey man, got any smokes?
: I was saving them so the bunker guard at Krasnoznamenny would smoke himself to death, but I guess I don't need to anymore. Go nuts.
: Gee, I sure love smoking. What's up?
: Mambetov sent me, we can go to Krasnoznamenny now. Actually, wait, I need to eat a full meal because I sense an extremely incompetent survival game mechanic failure. Let's roll!
: Oh, man, here's two entire screens of dull realism prose to tell you there's a tree in the road!
: Out you go buddy. I'm gonna sit in the truck and fantasize about Aubrey Plaza playing the Dune boardgame with me. Oh yes, I'm gonna land my Saudaukar all over her fa -
: Oh shit, is that -
: Ha ha! I'm back to rob you again, isn't that a bitch?
: You fools! Before, I was stuck in a cutscene, but now, I am a master of the Cossack Sword!
: I'm not afraid, we have a fucking machine gun and the developers have one more bullshit surprise for you! Uh...uh...shit, it's not a cutscene! Shoot him, men!
: My name is Bear Bearovitch. You robbed me in a cutscene. Prepare to die.
So the bandits have a Moison-Nagant, two unrusty AK variants, and a rusty RPD machinegun, but that's not the true bullshit of this fight. Remember how our hunger was at 0?
Fuck you, player! Max hunger per the Russian wiki inflicts a strength and endurance (max HP) debuff, and there's nothing you can do about it. This has to have been deliberate, as riding in Ivan's car doesn't saddle you with hunger at all.
Anyway, it's not completely clear from our stats, but I shoot Bear up with painkillers and stimulants. We need the AP back that withdrawal takes away, we need the AP bonus to actually get to these guys and kill them, and we want the minor armor bonus painkillers give us.
This fight is absolute hell as a Cossack Swordsman for several reasons. The first is of course that the bandits are all spread out with powerful guns throughout the area in ambush positions, and running them down takes a ton of AP.
The second is this game's shitty design where the melee autocrit perk only works on full health enemies. The guards - and our party members - damaging an enemy before we can get to them drops our damage output from its usual three digit eye gouges to pathetically low numbers not worth the AP to move into attack position.
As much as it shames me to say it Hexogen and Fidel are more useful in this one fight then Bear is. I've actually handled out ammo so they can help the guards focus fire.
We're not even going to pretend Dhulzibars is more than a bullet sponge here, let's be honest.
At least two of these guys are using high quality weapons that have crit bonuses. I never finished this quest on my original playthrough because the robbers will massacre the guards if you don't have any party members and then you just get torn to pieces by automatic weapons fire you can do nothing to stop.
Thus Bear's goal here is to use the telekinetic inventory to hand drugs off between party members to ensure that everyone is on their feet. I don't know how he's stuffing all this Kasparamid down this poor dog's throat and I don't want to know.
Look at those extremely tiny damage numbers. No one tell Zhanna, Devi Christu, or that nameless adulteress.
At this point we're running awkwardly to the other side of the truck while everyone else is shooting guns. I guess Bear killed a dude?
Turning up the battle speed would have been a great idea.
Game plays itself.
That's it! The bandits just get killed. I hope you weren't expecting them to be part of the conspiracy plot or anything, they're a literal random encounter that we just ran into and were forced to lose to by cutscene.
I wasn't kidding when I said they were well armed.
This takes decently common ammo. The player is never going to flip it to full burst fire every encounter because ammo is rare and annoying to get (somehow these post apocalyptic societies never seem to start ammunition factories despite the prevalence of guns) but used against you the AI will absolutely dump fire into your unprepared ass. Remember, there is absolutely no hint that this fight is going to be anything special or important.
This goes to Hexogen immediately. I believe the damage listed is per shot of burst fire, so it's not bad. I'm not sure if the 5% stun chance is per bullet though, and I don't care because I don't normally need to jump through hoops of maintaining ammunition for these guys.
Somehow despite being an assault rifle that fires more rounds per burst than the AKMS this uses the rifles and shotguns skill instead of the automatics skill. I don't even know, wikipedia lists it as an automatic rifle and I don't know shit about guns.
The point I'm making is that all of these guns will absolutely fuck up a lone swordsman once all the meatshields are gone, and you can't even one-hit them because the guard NPCs you're saddled with "helpfully" deplete their hit points so the perk that makes melee useful won't trigger. This is on top of your surprise hunger debuff because your character refuses to eat in a truck (and if you get in the truck hungry I believe you will take damage) and the fact that there is absolutely no warning that this is a story encounter instead of just being a bunch of random bandits with trash weapons. It's a complete mess. I knew this was coming, but this will fuck you up as a first time player.
I make sure to eat before moving the tree.
: [Help get the tree out of the way]
This throws us right into a loading screen.
: [You are finally in Krasnoznamenny. The driver is braking the car and informing of his successful arrival via radio. He is apparently talking to Mambetov. After the report, he addresses you.]
: That's good.
: Glad to hear that.
: Yeah. Listen. One more thing. You showed yourself pretty well when we were in that ambush. I will spread rumors among other drivers that you are a person that can be trusted. If you ever find a truck with the Peregon sign, feel free to stop it. They will gladly accept you as a guard.
No idea how this works, we'll give it a shot sometime. Also those aren't really rumors, are they?
: I'll keep that in mind. Thanks and good luck.
Now, it seems to me that this could be avoided by mounting a machinegun on the truck or using that armored car randomly lying around Krasnoznamenny, but what do I know?
TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:
: We made it! Us truck drivers are safe from cutscene robberies! You did so well I'll tell all the other truck drivers to stop and hire you as a guard when they see you. Take care my dude.
I missed this while recording and, uh, I don't even know.
Going back to Sablin just has him remind us that the electrician in the coal plant gave us the quest and we need to turn it in there.
I'm not gonna dignify it with a summary, he offers us 700 rubles and we talk him up to 900. You can turn down the money to get XP but we honestly don't need more levels.
That's it! Really! We encounter the cutscene bandits just randomly on the road and kill them. While I personally despise cutscene losses, most games at least use them to try to clumsily show that someone like Sorceress Edea is actually really dangerous and you're going to fight her again. ATOM patched the game to prevent people from winning the first encounter so you could randomly stumble across these guys in the middle of nowhere, run into their extremely dangerous automatic weapons, and fight them under a bullshit debuff only to reveal they have nothing to do with the actual story except to rub in the theme that everything in the post-Soviet era is shit. It's an idea we'll be coming back to.
Next time: Good question! Are we finishing up Dan's bandit misadventures, fucking around with the Peregon election,, wandering into the wilderness in search of dumb shit or doing the Tunnel of Death?