Fallout: New Vegas Is A Mojave Marvel

Grier And Roving In New Vegas

Back in 2008, Fallout 3 rewrote the RPG rulebook with a gratifyingly evolved post-apocalypse sequel, the likes of which we had never seen before. Boasting a massive irradiated wasteland, zillions of dialogue options, and a zesty compendium of missions, characters, and memorable moments and monstrosities, Fallout 3 appeared to be an unbeatable modern RPG…until Fallout: New Vegas came along. Swapping out a nuclear Washington DC for a rechristened Las Vegas known as New Vegas, this Obsidian Entertainment-developed sequel propels the hallmarks of Fallout 3 to greater heights, thus becoming the ultimate progenitor.

Thrusting you into a shallow grave where a suave Elvis lookalike plants a bullet in you before leaving you for dead, you wake up in front of a doctor who nurses your wounds, puts you through a Rorschach Test, and gives you leads and a warm welcome to the friendly wild western town of Goodsprings. From here, the search for answers begins with meets, greets, and undertaking a beer bottle target practice tutorial,  a spot of gecko clearing in a nearby settlement, and a dab of resource gathering and crafting. Suffice it to say, New Vegas settles you in nicely and comfortably before the hard graft begins, but like with any good and addictive challenge, it’s tough but always fair.

A Sin City Welcome

New Vegas isn’t without its security robots who’ll shred you like a chainsaw on a Christmas turkey if you dare trespass and try your luck entering New Vegas without permission.

Goodsprings plays as a welcoming microcosm to what you can expect from New Vegas. Your first big decision involves a local band of ruffians known as The Powder Gangers, who are causing a stir, so it’s up to you what you want to do about it. Do you side with Goodsprings and rally the troops into fighting the good fight, or do you treacherously turn your back on them, join the Powder Gangers, and annihilate the friendly townsfolk? The decision is yours. In both circumstances, it pays dividends to have access to enough skill points for bartering, speech, and explosives, as they’ll be of significant value when repelling the hostile scourges. Easy Pete is very protective of his dynamite, and he doesn’t want you blowing yourself up into decapitated meaty chunks, so get your explosive level up to snuff, Sonny Jim!

There’s a tremendous sense of empowerment to Fallout: New Vegas, and similarly to the much-celebrated Fallout 3 before it, New Vegas does an outstanding job of drawing you in by making you vitally crucial to the welfare of the folks around you. Everywhere you tread in the Mojave Wasteland is fraught with tough decisions to make that’ll shape the future of the various settlements and outposts you come across.

Many of these decisions are related to the ongoing war between New Vegas‘s leading factions, the New Californian Republic and Caesar’s Legion, over the control of the Hoover Dam. Which side you choose to favour will incur both beneficial and consequential outcomes, though, thankfully, you aren’t tied down to black-or-white decision-making for the most part, which allows players time to play around with choices until you need to make a definitive decision regarding which side you want to take. However, by the time you reach the endgame you could be gladhanding and carrying out favours for new personalities, and yes they shape the tasks you perform and the endgame too.

Dens of Iniquity

The Novac dino’s mouth: a perfect outlook for dead-shot snipers to pick you off from.

Unlike other Bethesda RPGs like Skyrim and Starfield, Fallout: New Vegas is comparatively smaller, but this is by no means a bad thing as it’s also homelier, and this familiarity allows the locations you visit to be a continuous part of your journey, rather than the disposable and samey catacombs you’d find in Skyrim. All of the buildings and settlements stand apart in New Vegas, which gives each place you wander into a distinctive aura, whether foreboding, pleasant, or jolly.

As for the Mojave jewel that is the New Vegas Strip, the light that beckons your way shines bright during the nighttime, acting as a centerpiece to the gambling and debauchery inherent within its confines. Stepping inside New Vegas is no easy feat, though, as you’ll be greeted by a security robot at the front gate who’ll ask you to show either a pass or a whopping 10,000 caps so you can enter freely. You may call such requirements unnecessary hurdles towards progression, but such a preamble gives New Vegas a sense of luxurious importance – after all, it is the main special attraction of the game, and being able to just waltz in like an intoxicated hobo looking for pork n beans would diminish the specialty of New Vegas’s den of iniquity. In addition, you should be thankful that New Vegas is safer than the unpredictable and inhospitable wildernesses beyond its walls.

And what a safe and secure jewel New Vegas is! You won’t find much trouble on The Strip unless you cause it. Still, there are some disturbing secrets to find. And the Mafia-run casinos are seedy, but hey, it’s damn sure better than Freeside, where all the Elvis impersonators hang out, and the rugged hoodlums run wild by randomly clobbering you with melee weapons. Still, thankfully, there are trusty citizens who can put a stop to their bedlam through means of evisceration – teaches them for getting froggy.

The casinos of New Vegas are the prime place for gambling, no need to travel to PRIMM with all its mayoral hootenanny, you want to go where the lights are bright, and where one of their casinos like their meat raw and fleshy. Watch the Rad Pack Revue at The Tops Hotel and Casino, or play Blackjack or Roulette and try to get lucky. There are loads of options to relax and take it easy in New Vegas, but first you must track down man in checkered suit, he’s quite important to the overall shape the game will take.

Survival of the Sinners

The Novac dinosaur is a huge landmark, gift shop, and perch for sneaky snipers who protect the outpost.

Fallout: New Vegas, like its predecessors, is about surviving an irradiated wasteland by replenishing health with food and drink items, arming yourself to the gills with an assortment of firearms, melee weapons, and incendiaries, and, of course, performing jobs and getting paid in caps. On the standard difficulty setting, these essentials are somewhat relaxed as you can find a bed and sleep in it to recover all your health, and food, drinks, and stimpacks are in plentiful supply; however, these fundamentals are turned on their head on the Hardcore difficulty setting, whereby your reliance on food, water, and doctor’s bags are vital to your health and wellbeing. Hardcore Mode is undoubtedly worth doing if you’re at all interested in testing out the apex of the New Vegas experience.

The scum and villainy are wildly diverse in New Vegas, from trouble-making gangsters and general human hostiles to mutant pests such as wretched ghouls and geckos, to an assortment of flying nuisances, arthropods, and wild dogs. Then there are the ginormous savages that roam the wastes like the super mutants, Nightkin, Yao Guai, and the most dread-inducing threat of all: the flesh-ripping Deathclaws.

Partners In Crime

There’s always a tool for the job of bludgeoning in New Vegas.

You won’t venture very far out of safe haven without encountering a deadly threat, but with a myriad of NPCs you can choose to travel the wastes with, your excursions don’t need to be lonely. You can ask a select few of the Mojave Wastelands’ wanderers to join you as you brave the dangers of the unknown, but many of them won’t side with you unless you fulfill a few requirements, such as completing certain missions or reaching a certain character level.

Craig Boone is one potential recruit, a pinpoint overwatch sniper who acts as the insidious tongue of the Novac dinosaur and also a hard-headed, no-nonsense type who’ll pick you off with ease if you get on his bad side. If you ever fancied a Nightkin to fight alongside you, then you’ll find the friendliest nightkin in the game, courtesy of Lily Bowen. Maybe you wanna know how the daughter of a notable Fallout 2 character is doing, so you may want to drop by the Mojave outpost and chit-chat with Cass, who’s busy boozing by the boozer.

NPC companions are as characterful and delightful as any other character, and they can be abandoned at any time you decide you want to venture out alone or obtain the services of another. Using these helpful temporary counterparts makes the open roads a little less lonely and a little less tough, but their unique personality traits and skillsets ensure you can pick and choose which companion best serves the purposes you’re looking for.

If traveling with another isn’t your thing, then New Vegas‘ golden soundtrack will soothe you with smooth tunes as you go about your business. There are two major radio stations you can tune into. Radio New Vegas is hosted by the illusive Mr. New Vegas with an emphasis on golden oldies, and Mojave Music Radio with an emphasis on western and country music. From Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole to Peggy Lee, Marty Robbins, and The Ink Spots, New Vegas is loaded with a litany of emotional, classic, and badass hits that perfectly encapsulate the vital essences of the Fallout franchise.

There’s so much going on with Fallout: New Vegas that it’s incredibly easy to forget to mention a bevy of cool things. This feature hasn’t even delved into the crafting, nor the wicked awesome upgrade perks with abilities such as the Terrifying Presence that doles out a range of alternative dialogue options, and  Better Criticals make you a more ferocious courier than you’d ever be without them. Mind you, writing a 3,000-word novella of Fallout: New Vegas wouldn’t cover everything; it’s that enormous and filled with intrigue and lore. New Vegas is one heck of an RPG, like a citrus fruit that never stops pouring out juicy sustenance, no matter how many times you squeeze it. There are hundreds of hours to deliciously gnaw on, but there are four DLC desserts to ravenously consume afterward. What Obsidian has achieved here is something that surpasses the already almighty Fallout 3, featuring a slew of amazing new additions, new perks, a brand new neon-pulsing setting, a new overarching conflict, many new missions, dialogue options and choices that ripple throughout the Mojave Wasteland. New Vegas is undoubtedly one of the most colossal RPGs there is, and it’s as worth playing today as it ever was. If you haven’t already, go and explore this mastodon and witness for yourself just how enormous it is and how it’ll completely swallow you up.

 

James Davie
I'm a crazily passionate videogamer and writer. Not only can I churn out stonkingly insightful critiques of videogames, but I play just about any game from any genre. I also have a joint-honours degree in Film and English, and I like to write silly stories about a Welsh friend of mine for personal giggles.

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