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Letters from the Front

Left for dead, you wake up in the town of Goodsprings and begin a quest of vengeance to try and find the man who shot you in the head and left you for dead in the desert. It’s a beautiful set up for a game which makes the vault beginning in Fallout 3 simply long and tedious. After a quick chat with the local doctor of the town, you’re set free to pursue the man who left you for dead.

When Bethesda released Fallout 3 in 2008, it was lauded as one of the greatest RPGs of the late 2000s. Two years later, Fallout: New Vegas released to the world upending Fallout 3 in every way possible. Fallout: New Vegas was in many ways an expansion pack to Fallout 3 as Obsidian didn’t need to change much from the core formula that proved to be great in 2008 with Fallout 3. Since Fallout 3 was so beloved, it’s not a widely bad thing to change from the core formula that proved to be so successful the first time around. In 2020, has Fallout: New Vegas and its core formula has held up? Let’s take a look.

The Mojave Desert is synonymous with the old world, it encompasses southern Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and parts of California along the Long 15 and Highway 95. Compared to the Capital Wastes and the ruthlessness of Washington D.C and the eastern seaboard, the state of Nevada remained unscathed during The Great War with many of the atomic bombs falling short of Vegas. And thanks to that, the Mojave has retained some of its color and life following the collapse of the United States. Fallout 3 was a sea of grey and brown, but New Vegas sizzles with a sea of orange and red and it’s a more vibrant wasteland as opposed to the desperation and desolation of the Capital Wastes but the Mojave is still as desolate and desperate as most of the wastelands across the United States. You begin in the edges of the wasteland and move forward towards the center where the bright lights of Vegas shines bright across the Mojave.

You’re a courier with no defined background in these troubled times as tensions are at an all time high in the region as the NCR and Caesar’s Legion butt heads over the Mojave Desert. You’re just a seemingly regular old joe whose tasked with bringing a chip to the New Vegas strip, but complications arise when you are shot in the head and left for dead out in the desert and that’s where the game begins with you waking up in the town of Goodsprings and beginning a quest for revenge. The story is just as long as Fallout 3 but it ends up being predictable all the same; three different endings and a definite endgame, much like Fallout 3. But the secret sauce recipe is not in the mainline quest but what’s inside the game and that’s what made New Vegas such a standout hit and a better game than Fallout 3.

Apart from the main quest, there is a lot of side quests and a couple hundred hours of playtime to dive headfirst into and that’s where the game truly shine. The open world of New Vegas offers a very few boundaries to explore, and much like the Capital Wastes, there’s an overwhelming amount of places to discover. There’s hidden sewers to brave, ruined towns to explore, small towns to walk into and look around, or enter the strip where a world of sin awaits, much like the old world once offered. Some of the side quests are short while many overshadow the main story, and if you travel off the beaten path, you might discover deception, cannibalism, space travel and drug use alongside some quite memorable quests. Expect to spend roughly 100 hours if you truly want to complete the whole game from top to bottom.

In terms of roleplaying, New Vegas is the dream. New Vegas allows you to be whoever you want, unlike Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, you can be a complete asshole if you want to be and that is thanks to the same system that is implanted from Fallout 3. Using S.P.E.C.I.A.L determines your character’s stats and skill sets, perks are back which allows you to roleplay however you want. Choose wisely and you’ll think have to think carefully about how you want your character to engage properly with the world. I usually go with a high speech character so I can sweet talk my way out of anything and a character that’s handy with firearms and large weapons, Obsidian crafted an excellent RPG using the systems brought forward. Perks allow you to help you build your character by increasing V.A.T.S accuracy, increasing your speech level, increasing your handling of firearms or your repair skills, you can be whoever you want truly.

When it comes to combat, Fallout: New Vegas uses the same combat system from Fallout 3 with the ability to now aim down the sights and its aged poorly although the combat isn’t the primary reason to play the Fallout games. Since, Fallout: New Vegas uses the same engine as Fallout 3 the same issues from that game remain.

But in basically every retrospect, Fallout: New Vegas is the better game as many of the companions are rich, interesting characters and there are more ways to talk and think your way out of trouble. And the faction system makes it enormously replayable with many missions being walled off to you making the faction system and reputation system very important. Although, the debate about which is the better Fallout game will rage on forever but for my money, New Vegas is the clear winner and the true Fallout 3 as many of the characters and quest lines return from 1998’s Fallout 2. Obsidian’s historical ties to the franchise makes New Vegas a much more consistent, authentic take on the franchise. It’s a shame that Obsidian will never make another Fallout, but I would love to revisit the American West.

Fallout: New Vegas has definitely held up in 2020.

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