Las Vegas has always been well known as the city to let everything go…where “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It is only fitting that the latest entry in the Fallout series heads west to the lights, glamour and mayhem of New Vegas, a city that was spared by the bombs that ravaged the rest of the country but was left fending for itself by prospectors, travelers and warring factions. This is no summer vacation in luxurious casinos, lavish hotels and bright sunny skies; this is a fight for survival…Fallout style.
What’s It About?
Fallout New Vegas is the sequel to 2008’s Fallout 3, which was set in Washington D.C. after bombs fell on the city years before. Now heading west, New Vegas focuses on one man’s journey through the Mojave as he learns of the truth as to who left him for dead in a ditch and why the package he was carrying was so important. While it can technically be considered a Fallout 3 expansion pack since it features the same layout, visuals and gameplay structure as the previous game, New Vegas offers plenty of new ideas that make this trek through the Wasteland even more exciting than before.
Why Should I Care?
New Vegas is essentially the same game as Fallout 3 with new locales. While some gamers might shrug off that idea, there really is nothing wrong with that. The Mojave Wasteland is a lot different than Fallout 3’s landscape, mainly in part to the fact that the bombs that ravaged the lands to the east did not directly affect Vegas, but rather indirectly affected the land around it. While vegetation died and people are still struggling to survive, New Vegas emerged as the shining beacon of humanity’s endurance to continue on, a bright light in an otherwise dark and gloomy environment.
The world of New Vegas is massive, with desert as far as the eye can see and hundreds of people for you to interact with. While interaction with characters has always been a staple in Fallout games, New Vegas pushes it further with the ability to align you with numerous factions to gain control of various pieces of land. What makes this scenario so intriguing is the fact that there are nearly a dozen groups which you can choose from, with two primary leading factions that will ultimately impact the way you play the game. What’s great is that you can generally choose to join a faction and then turn on them later on, either when they don’t seem helpful to you anymore or you just had a change of character. The choices you make decide who ultimately likes you or attacks you on sight, and it’s a system that works extremely well in a game so large.
While the smaller factions (such as The Kings, Omertas and White Glove Society) have control of smaller cities and locations, the two bigger factions have control of massive amounts of land and are constantly fighting amongst each other over control of the Hoover Dam, a resource that would reward the victor with electricity as well as a valuable vantage point. The New California Republic, otherwise known as NCR, exhibits a military-based order. They are calm and poised in battle and have far more resources than their counterparts. On the other side of the battlefield is Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless group of barbarians that own slaves, exhibit brutal training methods and kill victims with ruthlessness. For example, we walked into a burned down city to see helpless victims tied up on crosses ready to be crucified, with the mark of the Legion resonating nearby. It truly was a scary image to behold and one that will determine who you see yourself aligning with.
Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?
There really is so much to do you will literally spend dozens of hours working for various factions and groups, upgrading your character and gathering allies before you even have a chance to tackle the main story mission. Once you do decide which route you want to take, there is a bevy of other dubious characters for you to align with as well, characters that oversee the ultimate resolution of New Vegas. Mr. House vows to give you complete control of New Vegas, complete with the allegiance of whichever factions you sided with, Yes Man, a hilarious Securitron robot who can’t lie tells you of the future with an Independent Vegas, where everyone is allowed in, while NCR and Caesar’s Legion each have their own brand of what New Vegas holds in the future. Even with your choices of which factions to align with, it ultimately comes down to how you see yourself in the end, and the choices you make lead to many different and alternating conclusions, requiring multiple playthroughs.
The fact that each faction is so widely different is a welcome addition. While we did try to remain neutral on our first playthrough, both sides eventually saw through our ploy and started attacking us on sight, requiring us to find an alternate route to successful completion. Even after we had smaller factions vowing their support in the final battle, they ultimately followed us as we shifted sides constantly because of the choices we made.
Besides this main theme of faction alliances, there are a bevy of other activities you can partake in to spend your hours in New Vegas. One of the best new additions to the series is the inclusion of companions, NPC characters that can follow you around the Wasteland and offer tactical support, quests, or even an extra person to hold onto inventory for you. There are about ten companions you can track down and recruit throughout the game, and all of them range from cross-dressing Super Mutants to a ghoul with an identity crisis. Each companion also brings with them special abilities, such as the ability to spot enemies from a long distance or health boosts that can be further enhanced by doing specific quests. Also, since you can only have two companions at a time (one human and one “other non-human”), it is often difficult to decide who should tag along with you. But the knowledge that you will never be truly alone in the Wasteland and all companions’ kills are awarded as experience for you should be reason enough to seek these characters out and remain together throughout your adventure.
Of course the core gameplay mechanics of Fallout 3 are abound and you can level your character up to learn specific traits such as lockpicking, speech and bartering skills. New skills and perks, such as jury rigging, the ability to repair any items with similar items, is a welcome and needed change to the skills set. We found leveling up to be a bit too easy, mainly because companions award you experience as well, but the old and new perks do give you plenty of diverse options to tackle with, even a new one called Mysterious Wasteland which pits unusual circumstances in your way at random points of your adventure. Of course this wouldn’t be New Vegas without casinos and gambling, and there are plenty of those throughout the game. From the lesser, run-down casinos in cities stretched across the wastes to the upscale, ritzy lights of the Strip, you will surely find one casino to please your inhibitions. The wide range of casinos is what truly stands out in New Vegas, with casinos themed around Gomorrah, The Tops and Ultra-Luxe (an upper class resort run by the White Glove Society). As a fun side quest, finish the White Glove Society’s faction mission, you will surely be surprised by the ending. While each of these casinos has their own theme, faction and motif, each one still supports gambling and there is plenty of roulette, blackjack and slots to make you rich or really broke. A new game called Caravan can also be played with players around the world, but it is a really confusing game that requires more luck than skill. Still, if you can become an expert at it, you can become exceedingly rich.
As stated before the hours you will spend in New Vegas is what really matters here. From the warring factions you can align with to the companions you can recruit, no adventure will ever be the same the numerous times you play through. New Vegas is essentially just an enhanced expansion of Fallout 3, but there is really nothing wrong with that. Fallout 3 was a superb game full of brilliant storytelling and great gameplay mechanics. New Vegas takes all that and adds a new layer of paint and ideas and releases a game that could probably rival Fallout 3 in terms of playability. We have never been this engrossed in a game in a long time, and your time spent in New Vegas will surely be memorable no matter how many times you play it and how many factions you align with…or double cross.