The fallout series holds a very special place to a lot of people. Whether it be in its retro isometric 1990’s form of the Bethesda creations Fallout 3 and 4. However there is a black sheep in the series, a blend of the two game styles and what people love most about the both of them. This is Obsidian’s spin-off title… Fallout New Vegas.
Bethesda presumably gave this to Obsidian to allow for lucrative sales in the successful fallout series, whilst they went onto bigger and better things. Except in regards to a lot of people New Vegas is the best game in the series. Now before I get into the reasons for this thought it’s worth noting I’ve played every single fallout (even including tactics) and have taken away good things from each. But to me New Vegas encapsulates what fallout should and could be. Illustrating how fallout 4 just missed the mark.
I think with New Vegas it’s best to start where the game starts… Goodsprings. After an intro cinematic that scratches the surface of the world and your character you’re dropped into this town to create your character. Actually wait, just the fact that your character has been shot, is a simple delivery man and loses his memories does something right for open world games. You’re not looking for your dad or your son, something isn’t forced on you. It makes sense if your character wants to hunt down a guy in a checked suit that shot you, or if he wants to just go and play slots. If a game claims to be open world it shouldn’t restrict it’s story to a narrative of a linear experience.
Back to Goodsprings. Okay you’ve made your character and it’s time to begin, but Obsidian needs to introduce the way to game works. After a controls tutorial the true majesty of the game begins. You can just leave, go and gamble, go north to be killed by Deathclaws or just explore and gain money and items, all rewarding different play styles. But then you wouldn’t know what the game truly has to offer. Firstly you are faced will walls, speech and skill ones that is. If you choose to help the town of Goodsprings (keep in mind you can ignore them or side with the ‘villains’ here too) you can get dynamite, guns, medical supplies and even convince towns people to help you. These all require skills, explosives, speech, medicine and more. You chose some perks that could increase a few of these when creating your character. So now as a few options are locked off to you the game establishes it’s founding rules. You always have multiple choices, and your skills reflect which ones you can make. Also after Goodsprings is saved (or not) you gain a reputation with its people and those who attacked it, the Powder Gangers. This mechanic will allow for help from one faction, or hatred from either, teaching you that in an open world actions have consequences, as they do when the game comes to a close.
Fallout New Vegas builds on the open world system laid out in Fallout 3, but also says, wait what if do things the way they used to be done and included consequences?
None of this even mentions the writing from Obsidian, they create a world that’s vibrant in its concept, characters and general world building. As when you think of a post-Apocalypse narrative a functioning economy build around gambling and security robots probably doesn’t come to mind. Or how a ‘reincarnation’ of Caesar plans to control Hoover Dam as it’s the Nevada’s biggest source of power. New Vegas manages to impress with its ideas, simply from what the world is uniquely structured around.
New Vegas took an existing engine and beloved series and didn’t just churn out a cash grab with a new coat of paint. This new coat was actually given an interesting concept and the games mechanics were changed slightly to corroborate with the idea Obsidian had… to make an open world game that was actually open, not just in map size.
Joseph Anderson’s video on the games opening also encapsulates the games aims: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JyzVIjmj_Q