Thoughts on Power Armor

Discussion in 'Future Fallout Game Discussion' started by aboniks, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    I'm just thinking out loud. If I offend your sensibilities, feel free to call me on it, but please don't be a jerk. I'll try to return the favor.

    I'm making the assumption that the FO games are intended to be RPG's in the sense that they offer the *ability* to role play. From my perspective, this ability is essentially founded in the depth of the possible player interaction with the environment. Based on that assumption, more complex, rational interactions make for more options, thus creating more space in which to become immersed in a role.

    If you don't agree with those assumptions, I can dig it. Just letting you know where I'm coming from.

    I'm sure some of this has been addressed, but I'm new to NMA.

    Where to start... Let's face it, Power Armor is an iconic part of the fallout universe, but in-game it's reduced essentially to a handful of basic stat modifiers. None of the real benefits or disadvantages of it are well treated. It could be so much more than it is...

    1. Batteries: Why don't we need to charge them? It's bizarre to posit a 100 year power plant that fits in a suit of armor, especially when your car runs out of juice on a regular basis. Suspension of disbelief is all well and good, but you're getting near godlike power in return for...well...nothing. TANSTAAFL

    2. Helmets/Sensors: More useful, please. A fully functioning PA helmet should be much more than just a plate steel noggin shield. Perception modifiers, night vision, party radio contact, enemy radio interception, jamming, weapon interfaces, spotlights, IFF, compass, etc.

    Make a certain number of slots available for those extra functions and make the player choose which, if any, of the functions they will use. Find a way to make the BoS armor a viable role-playing option once you've discovered Enclave armor. What extra functions would the BoS gear have that the Enclave would not? Who has access to the GPS sats, the best targeting software, or thermal imaging, etc. What sort of power armor did the Chinese whip up before they lost the war? Have the outcast BoS retrofitted stealth systems to their armor that the enclave hasn't figured out?

    And then there's the recognition factor... "Aren't you a little short to be a storm trooper?" If you're wearing a full suit that covers your face, how is anyone supposed to know it's you? FO2 at least partially addressed this by letting you blend with Enclave troops, but dropped the ball with all the other NPC's. If I roll into the NCR bazaar in full Enclave kit, the first response should be hot lead, not an offer to watch my car or sell me iguana on a stick.

    3. Durability: Applicable to all types of armor, but particularly vital for very high tech stuff. Rationalize the process of damaging and repairing armor. Rather than ignoring durability, or going half way with a blanket "condition" for a suit of armor, critical mechanical damage to body parts should require a replacement of that specific part.

    If you blast the arm off of Joe Enclave with a Bozar, that part of his armor should be damaged when you loot it, so maybe those called shots will get a little more important. Component level failures for sensor systems; if you take a shotgun blast to the face, some of your helmet electronics should be degraded or completely destroyed. Repair/science and appropriate replacement parts remedy the situation.

    A serious battle where you take direct mini nuke hits or critical plasma hits could easily render that fancy BoS rig into nothing more than a well ventilated pile of scrap with a few salvageable components. You find a suit of PA in a military base. Is it perfectly preserved? Unlikely. Which components have failed? Can you scrounge replacements? Is your science/repair skill high enough to recognize the components if you found them on a shelf? Do you even know how to turn PA on? Who do you go to to learn about it?

    4. Training: Make it skill based, and hold the skill back as a goal to be attained. You do X for Y and now you can suddenly use power armor like an expert? That's just irrational. Better if you can receive basic PA training at some point and then spend skill points to improve it, like anything else.

    Even better if your skill only improves as you spend time wearing it and making use of it in applicable tasks. Higher skill reduces logical PA associated penalties and increases associated bonuses. Remember those technical manuals? How about technical manuals that confer the ability to use certain PA functions?

    5. Protection: PA should provide more protection, or combat armor should provide less. The relative armor class of the two just doesn't make sense, as it stands.

    6. Weight: Yeah, this shit should be way heavier. If you're wearing PA, you should be able to carry out a buddy in PA who has been incapacitated. That's just common sense, from a military perspective. If you're an average human, carrying a full suit in inventory should be a hell of a stretch. Carrying two or three full suits off to the local merchant should be impossible.

    TL;DR This isn't just a bullet-proof vest on steroids, it's a complex prosthetic weapon system at the pinnacle of human technical achievement in the Fallout universe; If you're going to include it at all, treat it as such.

    Thanks for reading; Any thoughts?
  2. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Guest

    Nice post man and welcome! I agree with you on many points that you made. I do think that mods have fixed some of those complaints like making Power Armor more resistant to damage and what not. I know that the FWE mod for Fallout 3 made it where you had to fit your armor at the workbench, so many have attempted to make the armor more realistic. I agree that the armor should provide some sort of Helmet functionality, but am not totally convinced on the batteries thing. I also don't totally agree with the weight issue, but see where you are coming from.
  3. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    Thanks for the feedback TR :)

    Sadly none of my machines are equipped to run modern games, so I'm reduced to playing 3 and NV on my 360. If I could get into the mod scene for those games I'd be a happy camper.

    On the batteries and the weight, I'm looking at it from a modern grunts perspective. (I just retired from the Army.) The infantry's biggest hassles are armor weight and the number of batteries needed for all the whiz bang gizmos that they keep getting issued.

    My IBA alone weighed about 35 pounds, and that's just the upper body armor with ceramic inserts good enough to stop a 7.62mm round. Most of it was kevlar...good to stop a 9mm, maybe a .35.

    If it's akin to anything in the fallout universe, it'd be the baby brother of combat armor. Trying to imagine powered armor that weighs anything less than 200 pounds is hard for me. Of course this is fallout, not reality. :D

    With scifi materials and all, I could see cutting the weight in half, even two thirds, at a stretch. There's a limit to my credulity though.

    On batteries I have to admit that until I played FO2 for the first time last week (yes, I'm late to the party) and having the car run out of power... I'm standing there in enclave armor with a built in reactor the size of a grapefruit, recharging my car from a microfusion cell. Just struck me as all wrong, somehow.

    I notice you're in OK...I'm actually in Haskell right now :) Small world.

  4. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Guest

    Small world indeed! I was in the Army as well( Artillery Mechanic), and I know where you are coming from with the weight issue. I hated carrying around all that fucking weight. It was heavy enough, but then they started adding the side plates, shoulder guards, and groin protector. That shit was even harder to move in after that. I felt like the old Batman movies where he couldn't turn his neck, so he had to turn his whole body.

    If you haven't yet, read Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. They have some badass Power Armor that is pretty realistic.

    Oh and don't call me a POG! :wink:
  5. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    You would prefer REMF, Batman?

    I was a Signal puke, so I can't throw stones. At least you got to to fix the stuff that went boom, I just got to talk help other people talk about it. :lol:

    Starship Troopers was an excellent read. I recommend Armor, by John Steakley, if you haven't read that one yet.
  6. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Guest

    Actually in Iraq I only worked on Humvees but I got ya. I ended up being the mechanic that had to work on every fucking vehicle imaginable. No complaints though. I got to drive the M1A1, Bradley, M109A6, FAASV, PLS, and my personal favorite the M88. At least if a zombie apocalypse breaks out I know how to drive a bunch of military equipment!

    I do think REMF sounds cooler though! :)

    Oh and I will check that book out when I get the chance.
  7. Richwizard

    Richwizard Carbon Dated and Proud

    Jan 18, 2010
    1. Batteries, no. In the Fallout world, such compact power plants are supposed to be possible.
    2. Helmets/Sensors; this has been done to some degree with mods. (Pity about your console situation) My favorite PA mod gives me night vision, zoom options with all firearms, including iron sites, and a VATS bonus.
    3. Durability; agreed, mods again.
    4. Training, maybe. A new skill would probably not be doable with the game engine, but having a PA Training perk with 3 levels might be appropriate.
    5. Protection; agreed on this point. Mods, yet again.
    6. Weight; it's called "Power" armor. Being ex-military, you may already know that the military has been experimenting with robotic exoskeletons for years in the real world. Check out this video, if you haven't seen this tech already. The video is over 4 years old. Real world Power Armor may not be too far in the future.
  8. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    I'm jealous, actually. You got to drive some cool stuff. I got to sit in a very very very cold signal shelter and be a glorified telephone operator and network admin. I guess if I'm in town for the zombie apocalypse I can make sure we still have zombie-proof SIPRnet access and delivery Chinese food. :lol:

    I've always wanted a surplus FAASV. If you stripped out all the AHE crap in the back the you could make the coolest RV ever.
  9. Oppen

    Oppen FIXT n°1 fan

    Dec 26, 2011
    About power, I agree with you. I just want to add that the car needs to refuel maybe because it's civilian tech, while PA is military tech, which is usually more advanced, and the plot seems to push that point further.
    About the weight, I think he means the weight of the unequipped PA, which should add weight to the one who carries it. And, if I get the OP correctly, he thinks it should be far more heavy.
  10. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    Hey Wiz :) Thanks for chiming in.

    Agreed, it is supposed to be possible. What got me thinking about it was the Highwayman in FO2, needing batteries constantly. I could just kluge up a power cable from a spare PA suit an throw it in the trunk, neh? No more power problems. :) Following the same logic, any energy weapon should either be plugged directly into your power armor (if small), or have it's own plant (if large).

    Good to know I'm not the only one thinking along these lines.

    A multi-level perk might be an option, true. Seems like a pretty big investment to have to make. Skill points don't have quite the same premium attached to them that perks do, though. On the limitations of the engine, I was thinking more towards FO4 than modding existing games, as I know fuck all about modding anything other than Angband. :)


    Yeah, I've seen the Bleex rig and Hulc. I posted (a rant?) on that very topic earlier. I don't know how to link straight to the post, but it's currently the last post in this thread:

    I'm willing to suspend disbelief on this point though. It's just a game, after all. :lol:

    TL;DR on power armor in the real world, I'm not optimistic. "Power" being the operative and currently insoluble problem. If we see it in our lifetimes it'll probably end up being more like a tethered version of the power loader from Aliens than anything you'd want to try to have a gunfight in.
  11. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Guest

    The vehicles lose their novelty when you have to fix them all the damn time. After a few years I never wanted to see a military vehicle again, but now that I am out I kinda miss it....

    Yeah those ammo racks take up too much room. The only problem with track vehicles is they wear out so easily. The damn track pads and road wheels get worn out way too quick. I can imagine running zombies over for awhile, but then the track would break, and leave me stranded in a big metal coffin.
  12. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    On weight, yeah, that's what I was getting at. When you're wearing it, it would be useless if it couldn't support itself and give you a significantly boosted strength. HULC can do that now, and let you carry about 200 lbs, if I remember. But HULC is totally unarmored, and has none of the other functionality of Fallout PA.

    So you're a monster while it's on...when you have to hump it back to the FOB because your battery died, you're sucking.

    In any case, I don't insist on realism, or I'd be bitching about an economy based on bottle caps, rather than picking nits about cool armor. :)
  13. aboniks

    aboniks Still Mildly Glowing

    Jan 17, 2012
    Agreed on the novelty...every once in a while around midnight I find myself thinking..."I should go to the DFAC". And then I slap myself.

  14. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Guest

    I know what you mean. That is one of the things I miss about Iraq- Walking to the DFAC at midnight with my friends, complaining about how shitty it was, and drinking excessive amounts of Rip Its! :lol:

    I remember going home on leave, pulling up in the Wal-Mart parking lot, getting out of the car, walking towards the store, and thinking to myself:

    "Wait a minute....I forgot my weapon!"

    Routines can screw with your head.
  15. Sub-Human

    Sub-Human -

    May 31, 2011
    I really love the skill idea. It should totally be included in the next game. As for batteries, I think it should work for T-45b (since that's the version that needed those) but as I remember, the 51b had a rechargeable battery pack or something.

    I imagine this in the light of an isometric game.
  16. Renegadexss

    Renegadexss It Wandered In From the Wastes

    May 26, 2011
    I agree with the op for the most part but on batteries and weight. I'm stuck on the 360 as well wish we could dl mods.
  17. Stanislao Moulinsky

    Stanislao Moulinsky Vault Fossil

    Jul 16, 2009
    PA in FO1-2 was (in theory) something rare and precious. Finding one and then use it to power a car could have been seen as a waste, not to mention that mechanics maybe had no idea how to do it (after all it was army tech).

    As for why it doesn't power the weapons you use...that can be rationalized with the generator being calibrated to power the PA and nothing more as a cost cutting measure.

    Using a whole skill just for the PA would be an even bigger investement. Especially considering that even with an INT of 10 you'd need at least 5 levels to max it.

    Levelling it with perks is a better idea.
  18. Oppen

    Oppen FIXT n°1 fan

    Dec 26, 2011
    Also, powering a weapon or a car is likely far more power expansive than powering an armor. I mean, freaking lasers which can cut a person on a half, that require a lot of energy, more than just moving a few servos. A LOT more. And that's why the PA can be powered for hundreds of years. The total ammount of energy is probably the same a load of plasma requires. And a car, likely more than two tonelades of steel which probably will need to get to a speed of more than 100km/h, against 130lb and a person at a normal speed. Just do the math.
  19. Knight Captain Kerr

    Knight Captain Kerr Still Mildly Glowing

    Nov 27, 2011
    I think I read on the vault that T-51b has a enough power to last 1000 years. I actually like the power armour training perk because the stuff should be hard to use and pretty rare. The "you can only put it on in certain places" idea I like. Same with the helmet stuff. Overall make it rarer and harder to use but also stronger and more helpful.
  20. Oppen

    Oppen FIXT n°1 fan

    Dec 26, 2011
    What I mean, a thousand years or hundreds is pretty much the same. I'm sure that's because a single load of the energy for a plasma rifle shot can fuel the servos for at least ten years.
    The time it can be fueled by the same energy depends on how much energy it takes to work.