Mothership Zeta Crew [spoilers]

Mothership Zeta Crew: I installed this one on recommendation from RaffTheSweetling, and it is really good. It’s a pretty big mod, and game-changing, because you end up commanding an entire faction, comparable to the Brotherhood of Steel or the Enclave. It starts when you stumble across a group of people who are wearing Enclave uniforms, but they’re not attacking you. Ok, so let’s talk. Turns out they deserted the Enclave because Col. Autumn is (or was) a complete xenophobic asshole and the president is a computer (not that they know that, but Autumn got his xenophobia from further up the food chain). They were going to join the Brotherhood (I’m assuming the Outcasts, but it’s never specified), but when they showed up to the rendezvous, the Brotherhood shot at them. So now they’re being hunted by both of the large factions in the Wasteland.

And that’s where you come in. You just happen to have a huge UFO that’s populated by a kid, an agoraphobic medic, and an ancient Japanese samurai. So you offer them a place to get away from the BoS and the Enclave, and in return, they figure out how to get the alien technology working and you’re their commander. Awesome!

There are a few hiccups, of course, like when one of the scientists claims he can use the big teleporter to transport things to and from anywhere in the Wastes, and you get to test it out! Oops, you got transported to the Deathclaw Sanctuary! But before you get savagely mauled, you get transported somewhere else, way back in a cave, out of which you can see some building that definitely doesn’t look like anything in the Wastes. (It’s actually Skyrim, which was a nice touch.) Then you’re transported somewhere else… about a mile up and you’re falling, crap! But before you hit the ground and are turned into a wet red paste, you’re back in the transporter room. Whew! Sudden, inevitable death averted! Except… you don’t look the same. At all.

After you get turned back into the correct gender, you have to go to the Deathclaw Sanctuary to get back the part that went missing and caused all the trouble. After that, the scientist decides that it would probably be better to just have a few places that have a teleporter link, so you fly down in a smaller UFO to negotiate an alliance with Rivet City. Naturally, they want you to prove your good intentions, et cetera. Eventually, of course, you have the alliance.

At this point (I think), a representative of the Western Brotherhood of Steel shows up to offer their research services. You have a choice of whether to send the representative away or ally with the WBoS. I chose not to ally, because I was suspicious of their motives. After all, the WBoS has ideals closer to the Outcasts than the group that Elder Lyons is part of.

Then another scientist says that they need a working generator, and there just happens to be another UFO crashed on the moon! You, of course, insist on leading the away team, and it doesn’t go right. What a surprise. Having the choice between staying in an exploding UFO on the moon and jumping into a teleporter with an unknown destination, you sensibly teleport to somewhere that’s not exploding.

The new location has its problems, naturally. To begin with, you don’t know where you are. Additionally, the place is locked and there’s nobody around. So you investigate and eventually find out that this is where the aliens went after you defeated them, and they were planning to unleash some sort of horrific monster on your ship, but it got away from them and slaughtered all of them. Oh, and you’re at the bottom of the ocean. On Earth. Ok then! Awesome, that means we don’t have to worry quite so much about where we are. And there’s a hole in the complex, but fortunately there’s a force field holding back the water.

After deactivating a really annoying alarm, you get back to the Olympus, so named because you originally quipped to the leader of the group, “How would you like to become a god?” or something to that effect. The scientists determine that they can fix the underwater base, yay! But it’s going to take 10 days.

There’s a meeting of the council and they determine that this requires a speech and a public appearance. Sure, no big deal. Oh hey, it’s already scheduled, too, that’s kind of convenient. And it’s tomorrow. Oh. Ok then. Your intelligence dude seems ok with this, although he gives you an emblem to put in your pocket. Just go with it, I guess.

You’re making a speech at Rivet City, woo! It’s a party! And suddenly there are gunshots and… wait, is that the BoS? There’s dead people! What the crap?!? Another council meeting, and you’re the deciding vote on whether the Terran Starship Command should attack or defend against the WBoS. I went with “attack”, although I suspect that will lead to other complications.

Someone brings up the Hammer Head power armor, and it turns out the Intelligence dude has a line to Moscow, and they have some Hammer Head armor, so whee! We’re off to Russia! Which is called something else, but I can’t remember what. So you show up, talk to the leader, discuss ideologies and their roles in the world post-apocalypse, and find out that there are lots of differing ideologies, including the Fourth Reich and the Bolsheviks. You spend the night, including a conversation with the Intelligence dude that’s been stationed there, and are woken up by GLORIOUS REVOLUTION!! Except it’s not so glorious, as they’re targeting you. Stupid revolutionaries, don’t you know I have a combat shotgun? You make it back up to the roof, where your ship is, and find out that your pilot was downstairs in the bar when things went to hell in a handbasket. Yay, rescue mission.

Down in the bar, you are informed that, oops, he got taken hostage along with the leader! But look, here’s a scientist who has access to the Hammer Head armor and that will enable you to rescue your pilot and the leader, yay!

Hostages rescued, you head home, and that’s where the mod ends, for now. Apparently the author is working on more story.

There are some very good things about this mod. The story, obviously, is really engaging, and it didn’t feel too much like I was being railroaded. Certainly no more than Fallout’s actual storyline, anyway. There’s also actual voice acting! It’s not the greatest, but there’s some amusing bits with accents that I have to give credit for. The environments are very well done, too.

Of course, there’s some things that detracted from my enjoyment. One thing was the subtitles and spelling. There were quite a few typos, and while I get the sense that English isn’t the author’s first language, it should be a fairly simple matter to get someone else to proofread. But what bothered me more was that the voice acting was sometimes hard to hear, and there were important parts where there were no subtitles at all. I can’t be the only one who relies on subtitles to know what’s going on, but I had to infer what some of the council, in particular, were saying, because I couldn’t hear them, nor were there subtitles. It’s hard to make an informed decision on how to deal with the WBoS when you can’t figure out what your advisors are saying!

The other aspect of the mod that bothered me was that it was sometimes very hard to figure out where to go for the next quest or objective. I understand that some authors have a problem with quest markers, and that they want things to feel a little more natural, but when I’ve been relying on quest markers for the whole rest of the game, leaving them out makes it more difficult for me to make it to the next objective. The challenge should be in the puzzles; figuring out where to go shouldn’t be the puzzle itself.

Two small things that are important to note: first, this HAS to be run with FOSE (Fallout Script Extender). Without FOSE, some things don’t work. Second, when getting the Hammer Head armor, make sure you’ve done everything in your PipBoy that you want to BEFORE you put it on. You don’t have access to your PipBoy while in the armor, and it weighs about 50 pounds, so unless you make sure that you have the available carry capacity, you’re going to be walking very slowly for at least 15 minutes.

Overall, though, I found the mod to be very enjoyable and entertaining, and there’s optional air support, as well. I should mention that there’s a short scene with the WBoS that shows the outcome of your decision earlier, and it’s quite foreboding. It’s almost enough to make me want to uninstall and replay the mod. Almost. It is a long mod, after all.

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