Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tech: Fallout 76 review (Wastelanders update)

After a heated legal battle, Bethesda brought multiplayer to the Fallout series with "Fallout 76." Unfortunately, when the game was released in late 2018, it was an unfinished mess with little content and plenty of bugs.

Bethesda has worked to improve "Fallout 76" steadily in the year and a half since that rocky launch. The latest free update, "Fallout 76: Wastelanders," grafts in a new main story quest, two factions of human NPCs, and a wide variety of enemies and allies:

The update doesn't change how "Fallout 76" starts. Like most games in the series, you emerge from Vault 76 into a post-apocalyptic version of West Virginia, complete with an opening tutorial and cinematic that could have been lifted straight out of "Fallout 3." From there, you have total freedom. You can follow the main quest, group with your buddies to hunt dangerous monsters, or operate your own dive bar (or hotel, or restaurant, or convenience store) with the basebuilding system first seen in "Fallout 4."

I never played FO76 before the Wastelanders update, but I don't think I would have wanted to. Roughly half the content I've seen was either added in or substantially modified by this update - FO76 must have felt pretty barren on release day. It's also disappointing that there are still so many broken quests and crashes-to-desktop, even 18 months after launch. However, this is finally a functional multiplayer Fallout game, so if that sounds appealing to you, I think it's worth a try.

Rating: 76/100

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Guns: Quarantine reloading tools

I usually don't have the time to handload ammunition, but there isn't much else to do right now, what with businesses shuttered due to COVID-19 and the unrest following the George Floyd tragedy. So, I decided to dig up some Unique and get to work. Here are a couple tools I've picked up since my law school days that make the job a lot easier:

RCBS 10-10 Scale (formerly made by Ohaus, now discontinued)

Ohaus used to make a nifty mechanical powder scale that could measure up to 1010 grains, more than enough for any handload. The scale had magnetic dampening and stored in a sturdy, self-contained package. For awhile RCBS put them out under its name, though they were still stamped as manufactured by Ohaus on the bottom. Alas, this scale is no longer made...I guess most people prefer electronic scales.

Lee Precision Perfect Powder Measure

I've used almost exclusively Lee Precision products to reload ammunition, because they emphasize compactness and simplicity. For example, when mounted on a small piece of wood, the Lee "Perfect Powder Measure" becomes a nice portable setup which throws reasonably consistent powder weights. It speeds up reloading immensely when you don't have to weigh every single charge.

Miscellany: Colter Co. bandanas

Nowadays, people are wearing facemasks, neck gaiters, and bandanas like extras in a Mad Max movie, so I thought it'd be a good time to plug a cool bandana designer, Colter Co. 

It's a small outfit in Oregon selling U.S.-made cotton bandanas with a wilderness survival focus. The "Stargazer," for instance, contains a neat glow-in-the-dark star chart of the night sky, complete with simple orienteering directions:

But not all Colter Co.'s bandanas are practical-minded - some are just fun, like the "Sasquatch Face Mask" bandana: