New Vegas takes place in a world not as blasted as the ruins of Washington DC from Fallout 3. It’s a new world, with plant life and a semblance of order.
You start by digging your own grave before waking up in the ramshackle home of a small-town doctor. He patches you up and takes you through some basic orientation that doubles as character creation.
The world of Fallout Vegas is one of the best examples of what a modern RPG can be. It avoids the trap of scale that some sandbox games fall into and is packed with things to do and see. Exploring a new area is always rewarding, whether that’s finding a unique weapon or some high-level wildlife to slaughter.
It also has multiple factions to engage with and doesn’t force a binary good vs evil choice. The lofty ideals of the New California Republic aren’t borne out by their overstretched bureaucracy, while the slave-owning Caesar’s Legion and centuries-old Mr. House have their own morally grey agendas.
There’s even a reputation system incorporated into the game, letting players build relationships with towns and factions while reaping rewards or incurring penalties.
The world of Fallout is bleak, but New Vegas takes the idea of the Wasteland further. You can choose your alliances, and each faction has its personality traits. There is also a reputation system that gives you benefits or penalties depending on your actions.
New Vegas was made by a group of Black Isle developers, and they knew how to make the game feel alive. They reintroduced traits and tweaked systems like how your armor was calculated.
Players can decide who they want to fight at the Battle of Hoover Dam, and each choice affects the story. The writers do not push a particular point of view, and morality is more gray than in any other game. This is a reason why many consider it the best Fallout game.
Despite inheriting some of Fallout 3’s flaws (dead-eyed character models, janky animation, and feeble FPS combat) Obsidian pulled off a near-miraculous feat with New Vegas. Taking on the massive task of creating an entire world and its inhabitants in just 18 months, they managed to make it all feel cohesive and alive.
Whether it’s palling up with the Brotherhood of Steel to get access to their safehouse or antagonizing Veronica and getting them to send a hit squad your way, the game provides plenty of morally grey moments. Plus there are plenty of good-quality characters to meet and interact with; from gangsters and thugs to scientists and religious zealots.
There’s also the Legion, whose crazed misogyny and lack of empathy are hard to ignore.
The soundtrack is one of the best parts of Fallout Vegas. The game features a licensed soundtrack broadcast as diegetic music on in-game radio stations. The song choices run the gamut from country-western to 60s Rat Pack-era classics.
The Media Location Controller has 3 boxes: The first box is used to create an intro and outro to your music track. The second box is used to determine the number of seconds to cross-fade between combat music and ambient/dungeon music.
The third box is used to select a specific version of the song to use. For example, the version of Kay Kyser’s “Jingle Jangle Jingle” used in New Vegas is a re-recording made after Kyser retired and was recorded by former members of his orchestra for Capitol Records.
The game’s world feels like a post-nuclear western, yet it still gives the impression that you’re in a completely new place. The Mojave desert may have had a rough time of it during the nuclear apocalypse, but there’s plenty of life and variety to be found here.
New Vegas also puts more emphasis on RPG elements, with a much better companion management system and the hardcore mode that places more realism and strategy into combat. A reputation system that allows you to earn rewards from competing factions further enhances the replayability of the game.
The gameplay, on the other hand, has not held up quite as well – the guns often feel floaty and the impact of your shots isn’t always clear. Luckily, there is a wealth of mods that help make the game look and play better.