Fallout: New Vegas came out back in 2010. At the time, it seemed like it might be less popular with fans because it was less mainstream. New Vegas is, after all, a spin-off of the successful Fallout franchise instead of being a more direct continuation of something like Fallout 3.
However, Fallout: New Vegas has proven the test of time. Many fans now consider it to be the best in the franchise. Are these fans correct, or have they been wandering the irradiated Vegas desert too long?
Let’s find out!
Not Reinventing the Wheel
Fallout: New Vegas came out two years after Fallout 3. And the new game looks and controls exactly like Fallout 3 did. This may be disappointing for fans who wanted something bold and completely new. But it’s reassuring for someone who wants a more familiar gameplay experience.
That experience focuses on completing one main story while getting pleasantly distracted by all of the side quests and the open world environment. If ever there was a game where you could just spend a day walking around and discovering something new, this game is it!
A Different Kind of Shooter
Someone unfamiliar with Fallout: New Vegas might think it’s a first-person shooter if they look over your shoulder while you play. After all, first-person is the default point of view, and most players survive in the desert by wielding an insanely large arsenal of guns.
However, this franchise doesn’t really work well if you try to play it as a standard shooter (a lesson I wish the makers of Fallout 76 had learned). Instead, most combat is handled through the VATS targeting system. This allows players to freeze time and take careful aim at specific parts of an enemy.
Such combat is symbolic of how most players experience Fallout: New Vegas. Instead of a frantic shooter gameplay style where you constantly rush around, you are given a combat experience that lets you slow down and take in every little detail around you.
A Colorful World
The Fallout franchise has a well-earned reputation for being bleak and miserable. That extends to both the gray malaise of color all around Fallout 3 as well as to the miserable characters and their plodding plotlines.
Part of the conceit of Fallout: New Vegas is that this area never experienced direct nuclear impact. Therefore, the environment is more colorful than in Fallout 3, even when you’re just wandering out in the desert.
The characters, too, are certainly colorful. The world has an unlikely mashup of archetypes such as “ruthless gangsters” and “crazy tycoons.” In the wrong hands, they would come off as nothing more than silly cartoons. But with the ace writing of Fallout: New Vegas, they help bring this colorful and crazy world to vivid and vibrant life. It probably helps that much of it was written by Chris Avellone, the man famous for creating the series bible for Fallout.
Beyond Good and Evil
Earlier Fallout games suffer from something that affected other RPGs (including Bioware classics like Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic). Specifically, there was a morality system in which you aligned yourself either fully with the “good” side or fully with the “dark” side. Such systems are problematic because they limit roleplaying by instantly labeling player actions.
Fallout: New Vegas still has a “karma” system that mimics this approach. But most of the emphasis is on a kind of reputation system that should be familiar to anyone who has ever played an MMORPG. Players can choose which groups they do various quests for, and this builds up their reputation. And your reputation can affect both the missions you are offered and how other characters perceive you and your actions.
All of this combines to achieve the ultimate goal for any RPG: making players feel like their choices matter. On the basis of this alone, I highly recommend this game.
The final measure of whether a game stands the test of time is the replay value. Will you come back to a title for years to come, or is this a “one and done” kind of experience?
Fortunately, Fallout: New Vegas packs a ton of replay value. First, there is the character customization. Custom designing the look of your character and the stats means you can literally play a different way each time. And trust me: vastly different character builds result in vastly different gameplay experiences.
Fallout: New Vegas also has three distinct endings and four different DLCs that expand the world and the story content. Once you fall in love with this game, you’ll be able to keep experiencing new things for a long time!
My verdict? Go ahead and buy this game. It’s an amazing and unique experience. The only downside is that you’ll start realizing all of the potential that was squandered by later Fallout games.