Axe of the Blood God Episode 32: The Highs and Lows of Bethesda RPGs. Plus: Another Giveaway!

Kat and Steve share their favorite and least favorite moments from the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, rail against lore bloat, and ponder the ways in which RPGs as a whole can improve. Plus: We're giving away a free copy of Fallout 4!

Column by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey. You can find the show notes for previous episodes here.

In this week's episode of Axe of the Blood God (download link here), Steve returns to discuss Elder Scrolls and Fallout, rail against lore bloat, and ponder the ways in which the RPG genre can improve. Plus, we're giving away another game!

Bethesda has been in the open world RPG for quite a long time at this point, and they have the formula pretty much down to a science. For better or worse, they have their distinguishing quirks (and a lot of bugs), but they remain one of the more compelling gaming experience on the market today. Steve and I go over some of the more recent examples, focusing in particular on Fallout New Vegas, which seems to be remembered as a modern classic now. Because I have a nice big mailbag backlog now, I'm also doing a mailbag question of the week, with this week's question focusing on how the genre as a whole can improve.

With the previous being so successful, we're giving away another game! Next week we'll be giving away a free copy of Fallout 4 for the Xbox One. How do you win this game, you ask? Send your best RPG screenshot to my Twitter feed (@the_katbot) or to It can be funny, meaningful, scenic, or a moment of triumph. If you have a good story to tell about the screen, so much the better. The best screens will get published here, with my favorite getting a copy of the game.

By the way, I haven't forgotten about Trails in the Sky Second Chapter. I've got an interview with its localizer set for next week, so please look forward to it!

One more item of interest: we're now available on Stitcher! Please do me a favor and review us there so we can get more exposure. Also, if you enjoy the show, you can find Axe of the Blood God on iTunes by following this link. Please subscribe, rate, and review the show! The more we're rated, the more visible we'll become.

Our RSS feed is here: We're also on Soundcloud along with Retronauts and our flagship podcast From US to You.

Show Description

Steve Tramer returns to discuss the high points and low points of Bethesda RPGs over the years and the one way RPGs as a whole can improve. Plus: We're giving away a free copy of Fallout 4 on Xbox One! Listen to find out how to get your copy.

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for Don-Rumata #1 Don-Rumata 2 years ago
    Good to hear about the upcoming Trails in the Sky podcast!
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  • Avatar for orient #2 orient 2 years ago
    While I completely agree with Steve's main criticism of Fallout 3, the repetitive dungeons (for me the vaults were worse than the subways), it was the first Bethesda RPG I could get into and so it had a profound impact on me. The V.A.T.S. system meant I could eschew the godawful combat inherited from Oblivion, which was my main issue with Bethesda's previous game (and the fact that it felt like Generic Fantasy 101).

    And while I enjoyed New Vegas, it never hooked me in the same way Fallout 3 did. It was more of the same, despite being a great game in its own right.

    What genuinely shocked me was that Skyrim never hooked me, either. I was extremely hyped for it, bought it, put 25 hours in, lost interest, started again 6 months later, put another 20 hours in, lost interest again. The second time I even went straight to the mage's guild because I'd heard that's where it's at. I'm still bummed I never got into it.

    But Fallout's been long enough since NV that this game's going to make me fall in love with Besthesda RPGs all over again.
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  • Avatar for Da_Beerman #3 Da_Beerman 2 years ago
    These days there is more a divide between AAA and other RPGs than Japan vs. Western nations.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #4 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago
    It's not that lore is bad or good, it's just that some can pull off the characterization, world-building, dialogue, theming, and such and others suck ass at it (and shouldn't bother).

    I've always felt Megaten and Pokemon cribbed from each other reguarding character building (breeding/fusion, learning skills via level up, skill ideas).

    I don't blame you for holding off on SC; it's so damn great and special but you have to play FC first (35-45h) and SC is way bigger (I'm ~halfway thru at 45h). Looking forward to that interview.

    Pretty much. There's no more of that being used to prop up that sickening anti-Japanese game Double Standard either.

    If anything, these (often magnificent) throwbacks various KS/indie/AAA escapees make allow for diversity of the CRPG form to reassert itself after a nasty tumble into this samey "shitty ARPG/TPS" event horizon thruout Gen 7. Multiple standards, criteria, and goals are good.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #5 Kat.Bailey 2 years ago
    @Da_Beerman That's an excellent point
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  • Avatar for Hubertron #6 Hubertron 2 years ago
    @Kat.Bailey Thanks for answering my questions! I really enjoyed the discussion. Great episode.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #7 Neifirst 2 years ago
    Great discussion, as always. Fallout 3 remains the only western RPG I could ever get into, spending upwards of 80 hours on just the vanilla PS3 version. It was almost entirely due to the aesthetic: I have put down every single Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls game after just a few hours because I hate the fantasy setting and all of its associated characterizations so much. Give me a first person shooter view where I don't actually have to play it like a shooter, though, and you've got me hooked!

    I'm really looking forward to the Trails SC interview next week; the first ended in such an awesome way that I can't wait to continue the storyline. Now I just need to find a good deal on a Vita and memory card.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #8 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    @Neifirst or you could get it on PC. You don't need much to run it. I have to say the pc port of the first one is fantastic!
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  • Avatar for NightingaleXP #9 NightingaleXP 2 years ago
    This episode was just kind of a downer, really-- I have a hard time wrapping my head around the general feelings of negativity about the genre in a year where Undertale came out.

    I do feel like AAA RPGs aren't in a great place, on the whole, so you're warranted there, but the indie scene could use a little more attention on this podcast in general, particularly if you're looking for innovation (I know Undertale specifically got a fair amount of attention, but there is more to the scene than that). I guess I feel that the laser focus on multi-million dollar development cycle games is, itself, a little hidebound and conservative.
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  • Avatar for Lord-Bob-Bree #10 Lord-Bob-Bree 2 years ago
    I feel like providing lore can be a useful tool for world building, but it can often get out of hand. Once there are a number of games in the same world, let alone tie-in novels, comics, etc., it can feel like feel like building up the lore becomes and end to itself. Although I do get that people like digging in to stuff like that.
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  • Avatar for awesomestiv #11 awesomestiv 2 years ago
    @NightingaleXP I almost (almost) mentioned Undertale, but the truth is that it's a pretty singular game that succeeds mostly because its writing is emotionally resonant. Knowing I'll get to talk about it more on a future podcast fills me with determination.

    Also I'm willing to take recommendations for some of these theoretically amazing indie RPGs, but I sure don't have a lot of time to spend on them!
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #12 Kat.Bailey 2 years ago
    @NightingaleXP There are plenty of indie RPGs, but a lot of the ones I've played outside of Undertale have a pretty narrow focus on the "good old days" of the genre, whatever that might entail. I'm pumped for Cosmic Star Heroine!
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #13 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago

    Exactly, we're refreshing the mix after some real watery RPGing. :P
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #14 Kat.Bailey 2 years ago
    @SatelliteOfLove Older does not always mean better. There's a tendency for RPG devs of all stripes to look backward rather than forward, which I discussed on the pod
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #15 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago

    Er...well, yes but you misinterpreted me. This ain't no Codexer here (note my previous post; it's the same message of freshening and remembering ideals and lineages once lost).
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