Fallout: New Vegas: Back to California

Ahnold wants you back in California nearly as much as Obsidian and Bethesda. Well, the New California Republic, but that’s the same thing. Fallout: New Vegas represents a return to the franchises roots, and not just geographically; much of the development team was the same group involved in making “Van Buren”, the mythical third original Fallout game, when they were laid off by Interplay.

Expectations are high, especially from some people on this site and now there’s some concrete information floating around about the game, so we can temper our expectations in the forge of fact.

The first thing we’ve got to mention is the engine: Fallout 3 wasn’t the best looking game, though it looked pretty nice, and this game looks almost exactly the same. Which is mildly disappointing, considering the fray is starting to show around some of the edges. I’d hardly call it awful, but the graphics are starting to fall off, especially when compared to newer games.

In terms of content (you know, the important stuff), the game looks to mark a return to the original two Fallout games. Both Kotaku and 1Up seem to emphasize that elements from the original two Fallouts are returning. Old creatures, old, tougher super mutants, and a return to the atmosphere cultivated by the second Fallout game.

And I don’t know how I feel about that (you thought this was a preview but didn’t click on the link earlier in the article or didn’t see that “opinion” tag on the left side of the screen. To me, Fallout 3 was pretty plainly the best, most playable game in the series. I’ve heard all the complaints about it not being a “proper” Fallout, but what is a proper Fallout? 1 and 2 had very, very different atmospheres. The original was all about cultivating a feeling of desolation, an empty, post apocalyptic world. There was humor, but the humor wasn’t the star of the show. 2 really pushed up the humor factor, and wasn’t as much about the isolation. I feel Fallout 3 wasn’t a “true” Fallout game to those who loved the second game, but it was to me, because it really carried over the spirit of the first game: the empty, sweeping wasteland, dotted by absurd situations. Fallout 1 did the same thing: the humor came mostly from the absurdity of how these people were dealing with their situations, rather than more obvious jokes.

I see New Vegas carrying on the tradition of Fallout 2, which might make a lot of fans happy, but it makes me wary of the game. Also making me wary is Obsidian’s reputation as a sequel factory (they have released Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2, the former markedly worse than the original, the latter at best on par with the original) whose ideas haven’t been proven to work in the modern world of game design.

Like, there’s the potential for some cool stuff here. Patricia’s post, and the previews, obviously signify that. But my question is how the new Fallout engine will translate to an open, desolate desert. Fallout 3 cultivated the feeling of a desolate wasteland, but it was actually pretty busy at times. There were lots of towns, lots of villages, lots of things to do. Sure, Nevada could be as interesting, but Fallout 3 represented a denseness of stuff not shown in either of the previous games, and hopefully Obsidian will realize that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited for New Vegas. I just see how it could go wrong, and new previews have pushed that claim a bit more home to me. There’s a lot of potential, but still a lot we don’t know.


  1. The IGN post that I linked to was a preview that said all the stuff in the kotaku and 1up posts, only first!

    Also, there was way more humor in the 1st than the 2nd…but most of it was in easter eggs that most people never found because they were either random or you had to play the game extremely thoroughly. So in my mind 1 and 2 are very much linked, though some take 1 to be darker…but you can make choices in 2 which have consequences of equal “darkness”, especially if you don’t complete the quest on time.

    • Tom

      I don’t know if humor’s the right word. Silliness, maybe? Fallout 1 had humor, but it wasn’t silly. It was, “Hey, this is kind of depressing, but it’s okay because you’re walking around and found a Tardis!”

      Fallout 2 was more overt. The pornography aspect being kind of exhibit A, and actualizing the difference. Fallout 1 was serious but had lots of easter eggs and optional things (though I think the Lieutenant at the end of the Super Mutant Base was the funniest guy), while Fallout 2 felt a little more…silly. Part of this may be emphasized by the fact that you lived in a tribe in a post apocalyptic world. 😛

  2. Pornography aspect?

    Anyway, look up easter eggs in FO2. You will be surprised at how many exist, and they’re all comedic in nature.

    • Tom

      I know there are comedic easter eggs in FO2. The thing is, that Fallout 1 was really serious outside of the Easter Eggs (usually; getting Dogmeat being the exception I remember, and the Lieutenant looking like Kelsey Grammar or that guy who looks like him), and Fallout 2 had funny easter eggs but also tried to be a lot more over the top in terms of gameplay. Like, sidequests were funny, and a fair bit of the plot was comedic, and…I dunno. It doesn’t do it for me.