The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 43

: Sup, one and all. I'm finally getting around to doing a supplementary playthrough, showing off various things of interest. As a challenge \ to differentiate our character, he's going to be a pacifist. In fact, I'm concurrently writing a a guide to the rare pacifist achievement.


A true pacifist abhors murdering any living being. At least personally...

As you may imagine, the implication here is that kills made by companions don’t count. Regardless, I’ll try to figure out a way to complete the main game quests without any casualties whatsoever.

As ever, when forced to choose between skipping \ abridging info that's of little interest (our character build \ the tutorial) or devoting a full update to them, I'm going for quantity over quality. Feel free to skip this if you’re not playing along \ not interested in the game's mechanics.

: Meet our protagonist - the most white-bread 1980’s Komsomol leader imaginable, because that’s how I roll. His name is Arthur. Or rather, Артур, because I keep skipping between Russian and English, and some things don’t really update. Obviously enough, we’ll be taking the Leader trait, as our companions will be doing all the fighting for us.

You’d imagine this is our other trait, but instead, we’re going to go with:

Skill points are abundant – character points are very rare. This seems like a decent tradeoff (I'm mostly improvising here, so we'll whether I'm right later), even if it ends up making the early game slightly more difficult.

: Final stats. As you can see, our skills are fairly awful. That +20 to Gambling is utterly worthless, as we won’t be using that Gambling skill pretty much ever. We’ll need 30 in throwing weapons at some point, so that's pretty much a full level that's going to be devoted to raising that skill, just to show off an interesting bit of the game. Our character points are selected with relatively little thought, and could probably be altered quite a bit.

Luck = 8. There are some interesting interactions that require high Luck (9 thanks to the Roaring forest idol, 10 with a certain item) that I’m planning to show off. An argument can be made for Luck of 1, particularly as we’re not fighting anyone and have no use for crits, and the saved character points would be handy pretty much anywhere else (probably would go with Diplomat as our other trait in that case)
Personality = 6. Not, strictly speaking, optimal – you can smoke two joints to get +2 to personality for quite a while, and slather yourself with two colognes for another +2, which means that 4 Personality would still allow you to pass the vast majority of tough checks. Meh – I don’t feel like hunting down Axe body spray, so we're going to play a pacifist stoner.
Attention = 6. Needed for certain checks, and there’s practically no way to increase it. (A few interesting checks require 7, which I would have gone with if I could spare the character points).
Intellect = 8. We mostly need skill points in the early game - this build is actually less INT hungry than most, what with not needing weapon skills.
Endurance = 8, just to survive in those circumstances where we have to talk to someone to start a fight and will be the first on the firing line. Eh – more HP is always good, but I might as well have put 2 of those points into Dexterity.
Dexterity = 4. We won’t be fighting anyone, but having more AP to run away wouldn’t have hurt, actually.
Strength = 4. The only use this build has for strength is carry weight, as we won’t be punching anyone. OTOH - I’m a compulsive scrounger in videogames. I could have dropped it further – we're going to be bee-lining for companions that can act as mules, and at least the Duffel Bag is easily obtainable (as shown in TGEK's previous update) and would increase our carrying capacity quite a bit.

We’re playing on Expert (Survival limits your ability to save, which I cannot bear). As I looked up the kickstarter codes online, I have some additional outfit \ starting item options.
The STALKER gas mask (which you get with the Ranger outfit) gives you 100% toxicity resistance. Very useful, but on fairly rare occasions.

The Ranger’s hat gives you +10 to Survival. Mildly, yet consistently, useful. My years of TF2 playtime simply don’t allow me to bypass a unique fancy hat.

The other (generic) kickstarter items are a neat knife (that we’ll never get to use)

And an ATOM dog tag, which you should be wearing for the majority of your playtime. You only get these items once you start the game proper, post-tutorial (since the mugging empties your inventory)

: Starting the game proper gets you the achievement “Atom Agent” (I don’t think I’ve ever seen another steam game where over 99% of the owners actually played it. Helps that it was never in a bundle or heavily discounted). Starting the game with 11 in any character stat gets you the “Savant” achievement.

However, before we get to the game proper, we're going to spend the rest of the update reviewing the tutorial, both in terms of important tips (where it's fairly decent), and so I can bitch about the game’s peculiarities. We’re starting off where TGEK left off – being tasked with finding the key that will let us outside.

First things first – “Isometric Mode” takes control of the camera and limits its rotation to a few fixed angles. I hate that in principle, and I particularly hate how that stops you from spotting \ clicking on certain items. Unfortunately, it automatically turns back on every single time you exit the game \ reload your save.

ATOM RPG doesn’t have Nuka-Cola, it has Atomic Kvass. Or Atomic “Fizzy Drink”. Except it doesn’t, really, since you won’t see Atomic Kvass in the rest of the game. That’s the sort of bad gag you should either commit to or abandon, IMO.

Annoyance N+1 – if you want to use items in the gameworld (as opposed to using them in dialog) you need to equip them in the use slot, click on them and click on the item in the world. Just having them in your inventory or even interacting with the object in the gameworld while they’re equipped is not enough.

It's worth going through several minor tutorial steps just for the xp.

We're going explore and thoroughly loot the ATOM base before heading out. The tutorial is fairly good, btw - you can engage with each element at your own pace and time, or skip directly to the briefing whenever you feel like it. Mind, you can also miss on some things inadverently.

There’s a storage facility dedicated to teaching you how the crafting system works (I completely failed to spot this, and the infirmary building, on my first playthrough)

I’m using a mod which highlights locked containers (unmodded, every container is green, turning yellow once you’ve emptied it \ checked and found that it’s empty), which saves a fair bit of time and definitely should have been in the game proper from the start. That, and outright marking empty containers to begin with (if eliminating them would hurt the game’s precious “huge empty spaces” verisimilitude)

Can’t open the safe, but there’s a note with the code nearby

Of course.

The contents. Glasses are fairly rare in the wastelands – you’ll mostly be able to loot them from civilians in settlements.

: Pickpocketing tutorial.

: (Which doesn’t tell you that your pickpocket skill minus the NPC’s alertness skills [which you can’t see in the base game] = your chance of filching something [maluses for size and quantity probably apply])

Into the infirmary we head.

: Dang it. Where did I put my glasses? Oh, hello there! Didn't notice you, cadet. That's a good thing. A stealthy soldier is a long-lived soldier, after all. Did you need something from me this beautiful morning?

: What were your glasses doing in a secure safe?

: A safe, huh? I'm afraid I'm not entirely sure.

I: One of the very few time someone's portrait actually changes. Would be neat to see, say, the slaver truck driver with his bruises healed. There are a lot of portraits which have a terrible paste-job hat, never taken off.

: Reward please.

: Hah. I do appreciate how "Name, Job, Rumors, Feelings about the collapse of the Soviet Union" are the standard questions our RPG protagonist was trained to ask.

: I do have a first aid tutorial for you, not that it works that way in the game proper

: Here's my report: Taras is bandaged and resting.

: We also loot a stimpack and a superstimpack

: I mean, stimulator and super-stimulator.

Shooting gallery – pistols, rifles, automatic gun, grenades (but not crossbows, the other throwing-weapon). Neat enough – allows you a chance to see whether your skills are up to snuff before you start the game proper. We literally can't hit anything with grenades or rifles, even the nearest target. No xp for us.

Apparently I forgot to take pic of the training items, assuring us they're all extremely non-lethal.

There’s a pair of ATOM agents by the firing range you can have a training shootout against. I don’t think you get xp if you win though. My introduction to the game’s companion AI involved Alf running back and forth between two spots of cover during his turn. You can sorta ignore cover for the majority of the game, but the UI not really showing sight-lines and what counts as cover is still pretty annoying.

Spar with Alf to test out your melee \ unarmed skills. Pretty good xp if you win, but we don’t stand a chance.

Cooking heals you AND provides you with buffs. I like the fact that buffs are generally ubiquitous and long-lasting in this game. But, in another dumb decision, you can’t actually construct a cooking fire – you either camp in the wilderness or hope the settlement you’re in has one.

Reminder to raid waste bins for junk and crafting components.

We now have so much junk in our inventory that we’re encumbered (easy enough, with our low strength. I didn’t give much of anything to Alf).

Time to smoke up and go to work. Wastepaper \ toilet paper + tobacco can be crafted into a cigarette. Each cigarette gives +8 to your crafting skill (all buffs can be stacked twice over, so we smoke two ciggies for +16)

We now stand a semi-decent chance to convert all the wood, bricks, empty bottles and other junk we’ve got into useful items.

Our skill is still bad enough that items break once in a while. Turns out that trying to create a "Broken Bottle" via the application of brick to a glass bottle might break the brick. Who knew? You can save-scum or at least pre-plan your crafting root to optimize things, so that items that can be used for several different crafting recipes don't end up orphaned. Oh well.

Tinkering doesn't really get you top-quality items, and you won't be able to craft an equivalent of an M-16. But considering that our tinkering score is abysmal, and we're still managing to craft decent early \ mid game items out of literal garbage, I guess it's not too bad.

So... what was the point of hoarding and crafting all that junk? While all the items we've crafted will be taken away once the game proper starts, the xp remains. Rolling into Otradnoye at level 2 (which we juuuuuuuuust missed out on) and leaving it at level 3 helps a lot. Particularly if you're playing on the hardest difficulty and really need the skills points to avoid potentially deadly fights. Besides, I just like exhausting every scrap of xp possible.

Tune in next time, as we explore the game proper - in far less obsessive detail.