Preview: Fallout: New Vegas's Opening HourBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Aug 13, 2010
Fallout 3 was a long game -- over 100 hours if you played through man sidequests and DLC -- but I still finished it wanting more, so I was pretty excited when Fallout: New Vegas was announced. I wanted more. Recently, I had the chance to try out the first 60 minutes or so of the game, and my first question was: How much more is there? The answer: Plenty. According to the game's developer, New Vegas is comparable to Fallout 3 in terms of sheer size, but the map is packed with even more stuff. More sights to see, side-quests and other awesomeness.
Even the most epic story has to start somewhere, and New Vegas begins with the main character, a courier, being waylaid while trying to deliver a package. In a cut-scene, Vegas-y thugs unceremoniously shoot me and lay me in a shallow grave. Luckily, rather than die in the Nevada heat, I'm saved a by a kindly robot named Victor with a cowboy's face on his tele-screen.
Victor takes me to the local sawbones, and Dr. Mitchell patches me up and allows me to choose my character's traits. This is done through a Rorshach style test (interpret the inkblots) as well as the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system that will be familliar to everyone who played Fallout 3.
An important new addition to the character creation system is the addition of Traits. Unlike Perks which always provide advantages, Traits have drawbacks as well, so if you take the perk that allows you to shoot faster, you'll shoot less accurately -- life is all about the trade-offs. My characters, Butt-Face (shut up; I'm juvenile) chose the intriquing Wild Wasteland trait. This one causes your Wasteland experience to verge on the bizarre -- you basically become a magnet for all the craziness of New Vegas, good or bad-- kind of like my actual life
After loading up on "Luck" -- this is Vegas, after all, baby -- I leave the doctor's office to find the men who shot me and left me for dead. My pistol is fully loaded and I'm ready to deliver some frontier justice... but to whom?
I help a local resident of the charming post-Apocolyptic town of GoodSprings clean up some giant Geckos. I choose Boxing Gloves to try out New Vegas' improved melee combat instead of the obvious choice of a gun. Melee weapons will have secondary effects, so each time I landed a right cross on a lizard, there was a chance that I'd knock him back on his Gecko ass. I highly recommend boxing with Geckos, both for cardio health and video game fun.
Gameplay wise, New Vegas is like slipping on your favorite pair of Post-Nuclear slippers. It plays like Fallout 3, right down to the V.A.T.S system that I relied on way too much. But it feels smoother. The color pallette and scenery, however, is subtely different from Fallout 3's as well. It's obvious a lot of time and effort went into the look of the game, so it feels familliar, but different enough to not seem like an add-on or some DLC. The Western states haven't been as obliterated as DC in Fallout 3. They largely avoided full nuclear strikes, so there's less rubble and more people, but that brings the problems that come with society -- specifically, lots of different factions.
Another change in the New Vegas universe is the addition of Faction alliances. While the familliar Karma system is still in effect, it seems like the faction system is the more important mechanism -- in other words, it's easy to overlook the fact that someone is evil, if they're good to you. It's hard to tell from such an early look at the game, but it seems strange that Karma is in the game at all, given the moral relativity of a faction alliance system.
Anyway, I'm sent from the saftey of GoodSprings out into the world to the Nevada city of Primm to search for my would-be murderers. Along the way, I run across some unfriendly members of the Powder Gang -- miscreants with a pathological love of explosives and a generally malicious nature. I eschew my boxing gloves and take them out with a a flurry of bullets, thinking, "mmmm... Fallout" as I drop 'em.
Then over the horizon, I see it: A huge roller coaster rising into the sky -- the defunct ride welcomes me to Primm, Nevada. Like many of the real-life locations represented in Fallout: new Vegas, Primm exists in our world, but unlike real life, New Vegas's Primm is surrounded by burned out buildings and razor wire fences, and the city is populated with escaped convicts. They had been members of the Powder Clan.
"Awesome," I think. "I stole a powder gang outfit when I offed those two gang members on the way over. I'll just slip this on, and waltz into town."
Bad idea. The convicts accept me all right, but I hadn't figured on the fact that the Powder Gang was engaged in a high octane firefight with the forces of Law and Order who surround Primm. As soon as I got in sight of the soldiers, they lit me up from two sides, tearing me apart with gunfire while I fruitlessly ran for cover. Bang -- dead. Life in the Vegas wasteland is cheap and ends fast, and I never even found out which sons of bitches shot me.
I start again back in GoodSprings. Night had fallen, so I did a little darkness sightseeing. On a ridge on the outskirts of town is a makeshift graveyard -- the very place I'd been dragged from. There are a million stars in the sky, and far off in the distance, I can see the neon and spotlights of Vegas -- my destiny -- shining. Victor the robot stands next to me as I gaze at Sin City, surrounded by death but headed toward the bright lights of New Vegas... Mmmmm... Fallout.