Monday, January 18, 2016

Fallout 4's MILA Placement

Fallout 4’s a pretty big deal. It’s got a strong plot (far and away the best of the series), a good cast, and, like all Fallout titles, a ton of allegorical (and sometimes direct) commentary and analysis on United States history, culture, and mentality. There’s more intellectual content, subtle nuances, and cultural and historical references to contemplate and discuss in this game than you can shake a bladed swatter at. And, of course, today we’re going to ignore every last one of these worthy topics of discourse, and instead nitpick an utterly meaningless detail that you could not possibly care about whatsoever.

Because I’m me.

So! MILAs. They’re observational doohickeys that you have to place at high places throughout the Commonwealth in Fallout 4 during a series of quests for Tinker Tom of the Railroad. Tinker Tom wants them at the tops of various buildings around the area so he can measure atmospheric conditions out of an irrational paranoia that the Institute is filling the air with mind control or something, and his boss Desdemona wants the MILAs up there for the completely rational paranoia of being able to monitor potential Institute movements throughout the Boston area. Either way, if you want to get in the good graces of the most moral and humanly decent group in post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, you’re gonna be climbing some stairs.

So here’s how it went for me on my first MILA placement quest. I travel over to the assigned building, MILA burning a hole in my standard-issue physics-defying RPG pocket. I get there, go inside, and begin to systematically wipe out the super mutants within as I climb stairs and fallen debris from 1 floor to the next...all the while grabbing every random piece of trash I can see, of course, because somehow my character can perform whatever forbidden alchemical arts are necessary to turn a packet of pencils and a few kitchen knives into a 12 x 18 foot solid wall of steel. I finally find my way to the top floor, and step out onto the roof. Time to find the little green box that indicates the exact spot to place the quest item doohickey.

...Wait. That can’t be right. There?

Allow me to explain what I am seeing right now. I have located the little green quest box that indicates the exact location of my mission objective. It is hovering over a loose board of wood, 50% (often more than that) of the length of which is extended over the side of the roof, weighed down by a single cinder block to keep it from succumbing to the seductive caress of gravity and falling 6 stories down to the ground. That is the spot where I am to place a large (think about the size of a big microwave), sensitive piece of equipment.

You know what? You need a visual. Here’s an example of a mission objective spot like that which I just described:


And here is what it looks like with the MILA placed:


Just look at that. Look at it! I know this really isn’t anything that matters, but the logistics bug the hell out of my nitpicky fan nature. Here you are, on a perfectly solid, serviceable roof where you could just put the atmospheric thingamabob down and know that it’s relatively safe and secure, and instead you’re sticking it on a single, extremely unsecured board of wood to jut out over a fatal drop. There are just so many things that make this a dumb placement!

First of all, the damn MILA is twice as wide as the board of wood it’s sitting on. There’s nothing to stop a playful breeze from unbalancing the thing and sending it hurtling down to the ground. And the weight! The MILA definitely looks heavier than the single, halfheartedly-placed cinderblock counterweight. One radroach larva happens to flutter over and land on the wrong end of that board, and the whole thing is toppling over, mark my words. And that’s all just assuming that board of wood, which has clearly seen better days, won’t just snap under the weight of it on its own* Do you really think that thing’s stable enough resist gravity when some nearby huge explosion (there are a lot of those in the Fallout Commonwealth) shakes the roof? Or when a Brotherhood of Steel vertibird flies low overhead, its rotors pushing air down from above? Hell, the heavy footfalls of a big supermutant exploring the roof might be enough to dislodge this damn thing. Or a raider in scavenged power armor. Or a Brotherhood of Steel goon in considerably better power armor. Or a deathclaw. I’ve seen all these things on roofs during my explorations, most more than once.

Even assuming that gravity does not claim the MILA for its own within 10 minutes of your having placed it there, the thing is jutting over the edge of a building, completely and totally visible to anyone looking up from the ground, or over from another building’s roof! Tinker Tom thinks that the Institute is monitoring absolutely everything everywhere, yet he wants to have his junk hanging out for all to see!** And even beyond his paranoia, it’s a fact that the Institute DOES have many agents, be they conscious or unwitting, active in the Commonwealth. Any of them could travel by 1 of these MILA points and happen to see this device and wonder about its use, which could lead to massive disaster for the Railroad. Even just a regular traveler happening to look up would be a bad thing--any given tech scavenger would probably see such a doohickey as a prize to acquire and sell off.

And hey, let’s not forget the other enemies of the Railroad, the Brotherhood of Steel...yes, the intelligent, scientifically advanced individuals with enormous resources who are specifically out to collect any and every piece of interesting technology they come across. The BoS is also the group whose members are always zooming around the Commonwealth in their vertibirds. Meaning that all they have to do is fly over a MILA, happen to be looking down at the time--which I can only assume is usually where vertibird passengers are looking; that’s kind of the point of aerial patrol ships--and they’ll see a cherry piece of tech they’ve never encountered before, just begging to having the information it’s sending out traced straight to the Railroad HQ!

And that’s STILL not the end of why this placement is so dumb. Let’s say that, miracle of miracles, the MILA does not fall and does not get noticed by anyone who would steal it or use it to harm its creators. It’s still out in the open, exposed! Say some idiot super mutant decides some time that he wants to have a staring contest with the sun. He looks up, and happens to see this weird box sitting on a board jutting out from a rooftop. Will he know what the hell it is, or have any interest in taking it? No. But will he be struck with the notion of using it as target practice? Quite possibly! Hell, we know from Fallout 3’s Galaxy News Radio dish quest that mutants have taken potshots at machinery located high above them before; there’s no reason they wouldn’t again. And if a super mutant doesn’t try shooting the MILA for shits and giggles, a raider certainly might, or a Gunner might decide to hone his aim with it. Hell, even totally unnoticed, the thing’s still not safe if it’s out in the open--the Commonwealth, particularly the Boston area where most of the MILAs get placed, is a constant warzone. There’s every chance of a MILA getting damaged in crossfire or by a stray missed shot, out in the air as it is. That’s especially true considering that a lot of fighting occurs between the Brotherhood of Steel and the dregs of the wastelands, meaning a ton of bullets and lasers firing up from the ground and down from the vertibirds.

And, that’s about all I have to say on the matter. MILA placement is dumb several times over. At any rate, congratulations on making it to the end of my most pointless rant ever! You have my condolences.

* Yeah, okay, so the MILA doesn’t actually have a weight value when it’s in your inventory. I contend that’s for gameplay purposes, so you don’t accidentally exceed your carry weight with a plot item, not because the kitchen sink-sized device of steel, copper, and plastic actually is supposed to weigh less than a marshmallow.

** You’re welcome for that image.


  1. This is really impressive, if only because of how long it is when the issue is so minor. I guess it might be a useful reference if you want to show an employer you pay attention to even small details...

    Anyway, I played and finished Eternal Senia after your previous two rants. It's a good game and reminded me of Ys i and ii because of its gameplay, which I haven't played in ages. You said in your Annual Summary that ES was made by only a single person from what you understood, but I thought it might be worth correcting that (the story writer was apparently someone called Migu and the music was outsourced to another company according to the credits). I enjoyed it though so thanks for the recommendation(?)

    1. Glad you enjoyed Eternal Senia! It really is a terrific RPG. Thanks for letting me know about my mistake on that--I'll verify it and change my rant accordingly, when I get the time.

  2. FFT and Ogre Battle inspired game on Kickstarter if you're interested:

    There's another game inspired by Ogre Battle on 3DS eShop but the translation is bland.

    1. Children of the Zodiarcs does look interesting, but I'm somewhat leery of the emphasis they give to its gameplay. Yes, the project does assure me that there will be a worthwhile story and cast, but then, so did Lords of Xulima. I'm gonna sit on this one for a week or two and see if they add or say anything that reassures me that there really is going to be more to the game than cards, dice, and geometric movement. The (so far) predominantly female cast, with a non-white female protagonist, is somewhat encouraging, but I still need more. And the fact that some of my money would go to SquareEnix doesn't help.

      Still, thanks for pointing it out to me. Always interested in seeing what's going on in the Kickstarter RPG world.