One gamer’s review for Project Valkyrie and Depravity Quest and Companion Mods.
Active players taper off as a game has been out for awhile, but it’s cool to see nearly 5 years after Fallout 4’s release how many players are still at it. I’m certainly one of them, having taken breaks from the game but ultimately coming back to give it another go many times.
When you’re on what seems like your 100th play through your thirst for mods really starts going beyond simple rule changes, cool new guns or outfits, or companions. You want something that changes the journey itself and makes the world you’re diving into for the 100th time palpably different.
In some Reddit threads discussing these mods I saw people who apparently didn’t like the author’s earlier Fusion City mod urging other people to avoid these ones. I could agree that I prefer these newer ones, with no disrespect meant to Fusion City. But that’s exactly why I wanted to point this bit out so players aren’t unfairly discouraged from trying this author’s work.
Some people’s criticism of Fusion City was that it was hard to navigate or caused crashes, or that it went deliberately over the top in a way that was totally lore-breaking. I’ll say that on my zillionth play through lore bothers me less, but while Project Valkyrie and Depravity still feature a fun, “don’t take things too seriously” vibe they feel much more at home in the Commonwealth.
^^ TL/DR: Let me tell you why these mods are worth adding.
I’ll begin with a brief overview of both, one at a time, and then discuss my larger impressions of their impact in the game.
If you’d prefer to skip straight to the conclusion/impressions, click here.
Depravity Review – A Fallout 4 Faction and Early Game Experience
Three of the big things this mod addresses are things that frustrated a lot of Fallout 4 players:
- Feeling forced into working with the Minutemen early on with a super linear track toward Diamond City — not to mention the wasted potential and annoying nature of Preston Garvey.
- Why can’t you reason with Kellogg when you confront him, especially when he basically knows the Institute sold him out? Wouldn’t it be cool if he threw in with you and helped you infiltrate the Institute?
- Why are the Gunners basically just re-skinned raiders with better gear, and why is fighting them so unsatisfying? Why do we never know their motivations, or have any real motivations for fighting them ourselves other than to defend ourselves?
Depravity brings some grit to the game that I found appealing. You can meet the mod’s core characters just after leaving Sanctuary, and it provides some plausible framework for not only why you’d fight the gunners early on, but also a totally alternate track for going to Diamond City and finding Kellogg that doesn’t involve the Minutemen or rescuing Nick Valentine for the 50th time.
This actually gives me a reason NOT to skip over Concord like I’ve done so many times (where I’ve thus never encountered Preston and played as much of the game as possible pretending the Minutemen don’t exist).
The mod works itself well into existing quests, giving more depth to your motivations for quests you can do in Goodneighbor that ultimately help the town, as well as expanded ways of living in (and dealing with) Diamond City.
One thing that surprised me a bit with Depravity is that the name and mod description made me think this was going to be a hardcore “bad guy” set of play options, whereas most of the principle characters seem like reasonable people (especially Murphy), albeit ruthless. There are certainly still new ways to play a darker character in this mod, but I guess I would say it struck me as less overtly “bad guy” and more “a better set of options for being a variety of characters.”
For instance with no real spoilers, when you first meet Murphy (center of the mod’s quests) he mentions being involved with slave trading, but it doesn’t come up again for the majority of the mod unless choosing an optional path later. Over the course of the quest line I came to see him as more of a guy interested in securing the Commonwealth, even if he has to play dirty, and less a guy involved in seriously shady stuff.
That’s just an observation, not a knock against the mod. For me that took nothing away from having a good time.
For a more comprehensive list of mods I recommend for a new play through, check this out.
Depravity’s Companions Quick Review
And, of course, the mod features 5+ new companions, most of which are available very early into the mod. Most of Thuggysmurf’s companions seem better-scripted than vanilla companions in the sense that they followed me more coherently, shot more accurately, and spent less time cowering in cover and not really helping me.
Journal/terminal entries add a lot of depth to Kellogg and flesh out his reasoning for various things, humanizing him and making it more plausible for your character to optionally join up with him rather than just shoot him down upon confronting him. Also makes it feel more plausible that you take down a Courser, which everything in the game seems shocked at, knowing that you’re badass and you have the Institute’s most badass fixer in tow.
Some companions are more tongue-in-cheek like Harley, a girl who is fascinated by comic book Harley Quinn and wants help finding an outfit to look like her. I actually found this cool and amusing since in earlier play throughs with Cait I thought she reminded me of a Harley Quinn character, just too serious. Having the opportunity to (sort of) actually have Harley Quinn tagging along was fun.
In one of our early battles with supermutants coming into downtown, right after I shot the last enemy I laughed as I heard Harley say, “What’d I tell ya? We got game.”
The vocal inflections in the voice acting are, in my opinion, often better than the vanilla game’s companions. And the recording quality is also on-par, which I appreciate since poorly recorded vocals have ruined a couple otherwise promising mods in the past for me.
Project Valkyrie Overview – Companion and Better End Game Options
As the author says, if Depravity could be thought of as a solution to some early/mid-game roleplaying shortcomings, Project Valkyrie would be the solution for shoddy endgame scenarios. (Though you can certainly enjoy the quests of this mod mid-game.)
- Have you always wished that becoming the Director of the Institute meant you could force coexistence with the Railroad? After all, as Director you could stop a lot of the shady stuff the Institute does with synths and use all that science for beneficial things.
- Think Arthur Maxon’s way of running the BOS is just BS, as is the fact that you can’t do anything about it?
- Want a way to deal with both of them that doesn’t default to being Preston Garvey’s lackey?
- Liberty Prime… as a companion?
There’s an answer to all these things in this mod.
Everything starts earlier into the game, potentially, as you work through the Cabot House quest line that brings you to the Parsons Asylum. You discover that Jack Cabot is a much shadier cat than you imagined and has been using his dad’s blood for more than just keeping himself and his family immortal.
About halfway into your infiltration of the asylum you’ll come across Valkyrie, who will join you once you free her. After completing the Cabot quest (either way you choose to do it) she’ll offer to join you more permanently. I successfully used her with AFT (Amazing Follower Tweaks) using Thuggysmurf’s instructions to leave AI intact, which gave me the ability to command Valkyrie as needed and didn’t break any of her quests.
Valkyrie is kind of like a female Captain America (in terms of powers and not ideology). I often roll with a couple companions at a time and therefore have to rotate some out to accommodate new ones throughout the story, and Valkyrie quickly earned herself a permanent spot on my team.
I think Valkyrie strikes the right balance of features as far as mod companions go, which is to say…
- Has quests and a plausible reason to exist in the game world and feels like she belongs. It doesn’t seem forced or overly contrived.
- Quests aren’t so numerous they feel like they overtake the game, or that it feels unrealistic that your character wouldn’t feel a gigantic sense of urgency and have to do them all at once (instead of playing other parts of the game).
- Her importance to the mod’s plot doesn’t outshine the player character.
- Good voice acting and lines and legit useful in combat without being so powerful it makes the game stupid.
Normally companions with higher than vanilla strength (over 10) and health bug me because they just feel like the author is like, “My character is awesome because… reasons.” In Valkyrie’s case there’s at least a story reason for her physical strength and health, and it doesn’t come off as overkill because she doesn’t come with a crazy weapon that one-hits everything she shoots at. And as tough as she is, I’ve still had her go down in tough fights.
I’d say that’s true of all the companions in these two mods. They’re capable without feeling like activating cheat mode to have them tag along with you.
This mod ties directly into the author’s Outcasts and Remnants mod throughout helping Valkyrie.
In general I appreciate the mood both of these mods add to the game. The mod characters make observations and criticisms of things in the game world that players can probably agree with, and it’s amusing to hear game characters questioning those things as well. It’s not quite 4th wall breaking, but adds some levity.
At the same time, both mods (particularly Depravity) add some grit and seriousness into a game that could use more of it in my opinion. This is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic land, but a lot of the game feels somewhat cartoonish. Not to the degree that it wasn’t fun to play before, but once you start darkening it up a bit with these kinds of mods it becomes obvious how much better the game is.
The backstory Depravity adds to various key elements of the game make everything feel more logically tied together, providing more depth even when those reasons and motivations are sinister.
For instance, we already knew the Institute was full of shady cats who are arguably wasting amazing tech on nonsensical projects where their own motivations aren’t clear (outside of simply filling the villain niche). But what if Kellogg’s relationship with them had devolved from a willing mercenary to something of a captive, where it’d become clear to him there was no escaping them or denying their wishes, so he had to simply buckle in and survive the stuff they made him do?
It doesn’t redeem him as a person for all the terrible things he’s done, but then again your own character is something of an angel of death in the game even if you try to play the “good guy”. It deepens the dynamic with one of the game’s main plot characters and provides opportunity for meaningful CHOICES in the game rather than feeling railroaded (pun intended) into a certain path.
One of Depravity’s main mod characters aptly points out that it seems weird none of the other factions in the Commonwealth seem all that concerned with the Gunners. After all, he says, they’ve taken control of every major bridge, overpass, several hospitals, Quincy, and the area’s major radio broadcasting HQ. Other than the Institute there isn’t any group that is that organized, nor has strategically taken control of that much of the Commonwealth.
Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?
None of the vanilla game quests in Goodneighbor or Diamond City that involve the player helping the cities have any observable effect. What good does it do to help Abbot repaint the wall green other than giving you some XP and caps, for instance? Mayor Hancock wants the Triggermen out of Goodneighbor’s warehouses and appreciates the Silver Shroud cleaning up the streets.
But after those things are done, does Goodneighbor actually seem better off for it? Depravity addresses these concepts well and gives the player’s involvement in these cities some real weight.
And as you get further into the main story, Project Valkyrie offers the player some much-needed options in how to handle the major factions.
Becoming the Director of the Institute felt superficial in the vanilla game and was a common complaint among players. What’s your reward? More fetch quests by your subordinates, to the degree that you wonder who’s working for who. Can you actually make decisions and, you know, direct the Institute? No.
But now you can to a degree, and force cooperation with other major factions.
One thing that always bugged me in the vanilla game is when Father asks you to murder everyone in the Railroad to prove your loyalty. It’s not that he asks that bothers me, but HOW DOES HE KNOW WHETHER YOU’VE DONE IT?
The Railroad’s HQ is a secret. The whole in-game reason given for why the Institute hasn’t already wiped them out is they don’t know where the Railroad is hiding. Consequently, how could Father actually know whether you obeyed his order or not? Why couldn’t you lie and say you did it? If he knows enough about their whereabouts to know they’re still alive, he knows enough that he wouldn’t have even needed you to do it.
This whole conflict is contrived, and being able to avoid it is a big deal.
Review Conclusion / In Summary…
It’s clear the author and his team put a lot of work into these mods. The voice acting is solid, as are the technical bits of the mods. I’m using a whole bunch of quest mods alongside these two, including Tales From The Commonwealth, and everything runs totally stable. There are no FPS issues, no crashes, and no quests randomly becoming borked.
Given the complexity of the things these mods change about the main story, that’s impressive.
(Medford Memorial hospital had a couple weird issues with walls not showing properly during Valkyrie’s quest line, but I’m not sure if it was because of these mods or something else. In any case, I could work around it, it was brief, and the rest of the game was fine.)
The only caveat I’d mention is that including these mods causes a noticeable slowdown in load time when you initially launch Fallout 4 (a black screen before the title cards). Other than that things run smooth. And in case you’re wondering I’m using an i7 6-core CPU and a Samsung EVO SSD.
I recommend these mods to all players of Fallout 4 — especially if you’ve played the game through several times and are looking for ways to make your next play through feel notably different.
Not to mention that if you’re bored as hell with the vanilla companions, these two mods add over 10 new options. In my case alongside other mods like Tales From The Commonwealth (another excellent mod), you can effectively ignore all vanilla companions and play exclusively with new teammates and have a huge variety.
I think the companions from Depravity and Project Valkyrie are generally superior to all other companions available on the Nexus, with the exceptions of Heather Casdin and Kit from The Machine and Her. And let’s not forget I’m Darlene.
By superior I mean better fleshed out, less buggy, and better voice acting. And in the case of the two exceptions, I’d say they’re all on par.
(No disrespect meant to the efforts of anyone else who’s made companion mods — I simply say this to illustrate how well done these companions are and not to imply others are bad.)
The fact that the author was able to accomplish that while also adding this much depth to the main game, to me, makes these mods a must-have in your load list.
This has been a Fallout 4 Quest Mod Review. #companionmods #questmods #modreview
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