Fallout: New Vegas
Obsidian co-founder and Fallout: New Vegas senior designer Chris Avellone recently treated us to an extended look at the new post-apocalyptic rpg. Here’s everything you need to know…
1. You’ll start the game dead
Rather than choosing your stats at birth as in Fallout 3, you’ll start New Vegas dead with a bullet in your head. Found by security bot Vegas Vic, you’re soon revived by Doc Mitchell, and you’ll start the game at his place answering a series of psychoanalytical questions, telling him what you make of the images in his Rorschach tests, and choosing your physical attributes. You’ll then use the antiquated ‘vigour-tester’, an almost Victorian-looking device which enables you to choose your perks and skills, before heading out into the Mojave wasteland to find out who killed you and why…
2. Check your Pip-Boy
Before you leave Doc Mitchell’s, he’ll give you a wrist-mounted Personal Information Processor pretty much identical to the RobCo Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout 3, that will enable you to track all your items, perks, stats, weapons and quests. In fact the entire game’s HUD is much the same as its predecessor’s save for the fact that it now comes in a California-friendly hue of neon orange, rather than a Capital Wasteland shade of stately green. The graphics engine and dialogue system will also be familiar to anyone that’s played Fallout 3.
3. It has new weapons and mods
One of the most major tweaks to Fallout’s gameplay mechanics. Obsidian has responded to the popularity of the PC community’s Fallout 3 mods, enabling players in New Vegas to upgrade their weapons on the fly as they see fit. Want to add a scope or extended mags to a pistol? Easy. We also saw some of the new weapons on show, the most impressive being the grenade machinegun – a minigun-sized weapon that does exactly what it’s billing suggests. During Obsidian’s demo the weapon made short work of a gang of Super Mutants, as did a minigun coupled with a quick-fire mod. There’ll also be more variation and incentive to use melee weapons…
4. VATS and SPECIAL are back
The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System and SPECIAL (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, luck) skills tree return in Fallout: New Vegas. VATS still enables you to pause the action during combat to pick your best shot while taking points off your action meter. One neat addition sees new unique attacks for melee weapons appear in the top right hand corner for an altogether more entertaining attack. We saw one unfortunate opponent succumb to the ‘Fore!’ move, the unique attack for – you guessed it – a golf club.
5. You’ll get a reputation
In addition to Karma, Obsidian has added a faction/location based reputation system to New Vegas (similar to that in Fallout 2) which will see you treated differently depending on how you engage with people. Successfully complete lots of quests for a community and they’ll welcome you with open arms in future, maybe even treating you to perks along the way. Bear in mind though, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction – the example we saw had us helping a slacker scientist get a power station to reach maximum efficiency – under the proviso we rerouted power to the strip. When we got to the command console however we had the option to power a handful of different areas exclusively, or all of them equally. Suffice to say disobeying instructions had a knock-on effect…
6. You can go hardcore
Fallout 3 not difficult enough for you? Admittedly, after amassing certain weapons, areas of the game were easier to tackle offensively. Obsidian has added a little something for the hardened player this time round, with a ‘hardcore’ mode. If you complete the game on hardcore you’ll get a trophy/achievement to show off, but it won’t be easy – stimpacks will heal you over time, rather than giving you an instantaneous health boost, unlike before ammo will weigh you down, you’ll receive an added dehydration meter that requires replenishing via the intake of water, and if you get a crippled limb in combat, you’ll need to see a Doctor to get it sorted. You can choose to play hardcore at the beginning of the game, but if you find it too challenging you’ll be able to switch to normal mode at any point – beware though, as there’s no going back, and you’ll need to restart the game for a shot at that hardcore achievement.
7. It’s the same size as Fallout 3
Avellone confirmed to us that New Vegas is roughly the same size as Fallout 3; the game doesn’t link to its predecessor at all either, bar being set in the same universe 3 years after the events of the Capital Wasteland. The desert contains various terrain as well as the so far unseen Las Vegas strip. We did get to see the communities Novac and Black Mountain, as well as the base at Helios One. There are plenty of references to the current Vegas too, with Novac’s observation post housed in the head of a T-Rex statue affectionately called ‘Dinky’. The dinosaur’s mouth provides a great view of the surrounding Mojave wasteland, and there’s a gift shop at the base, should you want a Jurassic-themed memento.
8. Companions are easier to control
Obsidian has also streamlined the way you boss companions around. In Fallout 3 a dialogue system enabled you to trade with, arm and instruct your cohorts, but the new companion wheel puts it all at the flick of an analogue stick making decisions much easier to select dynamically and mid-combat. If you insist your comrade go into a battle against a gang of super-mutants with nothing more than a sharpened stick, he’ll now pick you up on it – we were shown a ghoul that displayed a neat line in sarcasm and self-preservation when told to arm an inferior weapon before a fight…
9. You’ll fire a satellite laser system
Pretty much every possible sub-genre of sci-fi was referenced in Fallout 3 and its various DLC, but one thing missing was a Gears of War-style satellite laser weapon. New Vegas fixes this oversight with the Archimedes II orbital cannon which can be fixed by realigning an array of mirrors at the Helios One solar energy facility. From our vantage point in the control tower we could see men on the surface below before a series of medium explosions hit the ground, followed by a triangle of Predator-esque targeting dots. The resulting devastation caused by the beam-weapon made the Hammer of Dawn look like a laser pointer – and you’ll be able to call on the Archimedes cannon at various points throughout the game.
10. New Vegas is home to new factions and enemies
Humans, ghouls, super mutants, oversized geckos, dogs and even the Brotherhood of Steel are all back in Fallout: New Vegas; in addition the series longstanding group the NCR, or New Californian Republic, are back, and there are now two generations of super-mutants running around. At one point at the mutant camp on Black Mountain we were shown how players will be able to get the two types to fight each other. Broadcasting on the mutant’s radio channel and posing as a first-generation ‘dumb dumb’ you’ll insult the second-gen super mutants to cause fatal in-fighting between the group, leaving you to pick off the survivors…