It’s hard to believe that Fallout: New Vegas was released almost a decade ago, in October 2010 to be precise, even if the graphics might seem slightly dated compared to some of the latest action-RPG games. The gameplay has stood the test of time and amongst the Fallout games published by Bethesda, it has gained a cult following and proven to be arguably their most popular release in the series, amongst gamers and critics alike, despite the usual teething problems and a plethora of bugs upon initial release.
Compared to Fallout 3, Fallout 4, or the more recent and much criticized Fallout 76, what perhaps sets New Vegas apart in the series is how it harks back to the essence of late 1990s isometric classics, Fallout and Fallout 2, which are both still regarded as being amongst the greatest and most influential action-RPG games ever made. They were both published by Interplay during a heyday era which also brought classics such as Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.
The secret to the success of Fallout: New Vegas, particularly for fans of the original games, is quite likely the fact it was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, who rose from the ashes of Black Isle Studios, the developers who had created the original Fallout and Fallout 2 games in the first place. Many of the same writers, designers and artists participated in crafting New Vegas, bringing back gameplay, storytelling elements and characters from the originals, many of which had been notably absent from Bethesda’s first kick at the franchise with Fallout 3.
War, War Never Changes
Set around four years after the events of Fallout 3, in Fallout: New Vegas we are transported west from the post-apocalyptic landscape of Washington DC, to the Mojave wasteland, which incorporates parts of Nevada, California and Arizona; though obviously with the fabled “Sin City” restored as the central location of the game. Playing as “The Courier”, we start the game by witnessing the apparent death of our protagonist, albeit in a failed assassination for possessing a mysterious platinum casino chip.
So begins the central quest to discover the identity of the assassin, the significance of the platinum chip, and why it was so important to kill for. We soon learn of the New California Republic (NCR), a key faction which returns from Fallout 2, their war against Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless army of slavers styling themselves on the ancient Romans, as the two battle for control of Hoover Dam and its power. In the midst of all this is the mysterious Mr. House, who controls his own army of Securitron robots, aiming to ensure neither gains control of New Vegas and the Mojave wasteland, for which he has sinister plans of his own.
Inevitably in such an open world RPG, we as the central character get to shape how the story unfolds, leading to many branching arcs and numerous possible outcomes which directly affect all the key factions, plus a wide variety of characters we encounter along the way; some of whom can be recruited to aid our cause as companions. They all have their own view on how events unfold, based upon our decisions, along with quests which reveal more about their motivations and interests, making New Vegas such a rewarding experience no matter how you choose to play.
You can be a goody two-shoes, indifferent and uncaring, or even downright evil. Mix and match any approach to suit different circumstances too, though be warned, NPC factions and characters will remember what you do, and that adds great variety to every playthrough. Speaking of variety, compared to Fallout 3, in New Vegas has a bigger and broader arsenal of weapons you can use, more crafting options to customize what you use and wear, more perks and traits to shape your character with, along with more skills to learn and utilize to your advantage.
When the Chips are Down
Given that this game is themed around the fabled “Sin City” and casinos, inevitably, gambling is a central theme throughout, be it taking a chance on which factions or characters to side with, or placing bets at one of the are six casinos the player can visit, where mini-games include blackjack, roulette and slots. Within the New Vegas strip itself there’s the den of debauchery known as Gomorrah, the high-class but sinister Ultra-Luxe, or Fallout equivalent of a mafia-themed casino, The Tops, filled with all the clichés you’d expect from classic gangster movies.
The casino mini-games in New Vegas are somewhat reminiscent of those we might play at real online casinos, although when gambling with real money at stake, it’s obviously a good idea to do a little homework first by using resources like Oddschecker to compare casinos and bonus deals, before parting with your cash. In the New Vegas Strip, of course, we’re playing with pretend money, whether it’s the traditional main Fallout currency of bottle caps, faction cash such as NCR dollars, or the coins used by Caesar’s Legion.
Outside the main New Vegas Strip, there’s also the Atomic Wrangler in Freeside, and further away from the bright lights, the Vikki and Vance Casino in the town of Primm, although being able to gamble at the latter requires successful completion of a quest. Likewise, playing at the Sierra Madre Casino requires the Dead Money DLC expansion, which is usually packaged together with all the other DLC content in the Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition sold by GOG.com, Steam, and other digital download games stores.
The Joy of Modding
One of the hugely appealing aspects of any Bethesda release over the last decade or more, whether it’s the Elder Scrolls series or the Fallout series, is the amazing modding communities surrounding each of the games, with Fallout: New Vegas no exception. There’s a vast array of modifications available at Nexusmods.com, where there’s an entire section dedicated to the game with almost 20,000 free user-created mods currently available. What’s even more impressive for a game that was released over nine years ago, there are still new mods being released almost every day in 2019 and even older mods are regularly updated.
From minor tweaks and changes to the user interface or gameplay, complete overhauls that bring hours of extra adventures, new lands to explore and new characters to meet, to some that are just downright bizarre and silly; there’s something for every New Vegas fan to try out. That said, using mods also requires great care so as not to break the game, because there are many that push the old game engine far beyond the limits of what was originally thought possible.
While you can browse through Nexusmods and use their mod management tools to help make things a little easier, shaping New Vegas into the game you want it to be, it’s useful to follow some basic and straightforward guides, such as this handy 2019 Reddit thread for beginners. Not only does it list essential mods that are highly recommended, but it also offers advice on how to avoid potentially game-breaking conflicts, aimed at making the journey into modding as smooth as possible. After all, nobody likes a hard crash or the blue screen of death.
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