Fallout: New Vegas
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Genre: Open World Shooter / Role-Playing Game
Release Dates: October 19, 2010 (NA) / October 22, 2010 (EU)
Price: 9,99€ / 19,99€ - With DLC (Steam)
Fallout New Vegas starts off unlike any other game, with your character, a courier on his way to deliver a package to the Strip, being shot in the head and buried in the opening scene, luckily for you a lone Securitron manages to find your body and get you to a doctor who will fix you up in no time and without putting you in debt for the rest of your life too, which makes you think about the efficiency of post-apocalyptic medical services. From that point onward you embark on a quest to find your shooter and take revenge, or not because that's just the type of game Fallout New Vegas is. Choices are a very important element of the game that take center stage, allowing you to craft your own destiny with more depth than many modern RPGs that have come to market since as you are free to align with any factions and if you ever have a change of heart you can just walk up to any character and shoot him or her dead. Naturally that locks you out of some questlines and depending on who you decide to kill the path forward may change in an irreversible way, putting you on a road towards a specific ending, so each action you take feels like it has a significant consequence and that's what makes New Vegas special.
The reputation system keeps track of who are your friends and who are your foes and even if you want to please everyone that will become impossible at some point as conflicting interests between factions arise and you are forced to choose who to turn against in order to progress forward, but the greatest thing about the way quests are set up is that you can always change your mind, you might start off allied with one faction and then reach a point where they want you to take out another faction that you like, moment when you can just refuse to do so, turn against the faction that gave you that quest, kill the NPC and be on your merry way.
The main dispute across the Mojave Wasteland and more specifically the control of Hoover Dam, the only source of electricity and clean water, is between the NCR, a militaristic democratic republic which currently takes hold of a majority of the Mojave territory steered by President Aaron Kimball, and the Legion, a slave taking dictatorship shaped after the Roman Empire and ruled with an iron fist by Caesar. Lastly you have Mr House, a shady character who introduces himself once you first set foot on the Strip, the only area of New Vegas free of conflict and powered by massive trade and the thirst for gambling just like in the old Vegas. This creates four possible main endings, one where you side with the NCR, one with the Legion, one with Mr House and the last one opens up if you decide to take over the Mojave for yourself and as mentioned before turning against either one of those will lock you out of that faction's questline, so multiple playthroughs are required to see it all, or at least reloading a previous save from before turning against one of them which may be quite a while into the game if you decide to go off the path from the main quest and explore doing side quests.
Aside from the main factions you have secondary factions that you may choose to work with such as the Powder Gangers, the Omertas, the Great Khans or the Brotherhood of Steel, but just like the main factions those people also have beefs with one another, once again forcing you to take sides and choose who your allies are moving forward. Aside from the faction questlines you also have many side quests that are not related to a faction, many of which outshine the main story itself, with many characters making their own living in the Mojave who could use your help for various tasks. Following such quests will lead you to many different areas such as deathclaw infested mines, large desert areas populated by Radscorpions and other mutated animals, small communities trying to make a living and survive and of course vaults.
If you have played or at least seen gameplay of any of the modern Fallout games you have an idea of what New Vegas plays like as it's an open world shooter RPG at its core with a focus on relation building and exploration, allowing you to create your own path forward and giving you the ability to choose how you want to play it. There are traditional guns, energy weapons, explosives such as dynamite & grenades and melee weapons, and even though some of those work better in some cases depending on the enemies you're fighting, you are still free to use whatever weapon you prefer at any time. Whether you're playing in first person or third person the shooting works decently enough, although you will encounter many cases in which a shot that should've landed misses and that's because Fallout isn't made as a traditional shooter and wants you to use VATS as often as possible in order to ensure your shot hits. Using VATS requires AP which regenerates over time or can be regenerated using consumables, so you should always use VATS when the hit chance percentage is high and free aim only in between while your AP recharges, however as you level up and become more powerful weaker enemies become easier to kill using melee weapons or just a few well placed shots, but when fighting tougher enemies using VATS is highly recommended.
Aside from combat you have other RPG elements such as dialogue which is highly emphasized in New Vegas due to the reputation system which aligns you better or worse with a faction depending on your actions and responses, but not all lines of dialogue will do that, as a matter of fact most won't and only provide additional story bits and deeper dives into a character's motives as you ask more questions, but for a game that relies so heavily on building trust with a faction, understanding its motives and goals is something of importance. There are also mechanics like inventory management, maintenance and crafting, although if you come to this after playing Fallout 4 you should expect all of those to be less accentuated and more basic. Consumables are quite varied starting with Stimpacks that are your most basic method of recovering health, food items that in addition to regenerating health can give you some buffs, Radaway and Rad-X packs that help you deal with radiation, drinks that increase some of your stats temporarily and skill books that increase some of your skills for a limited time, allowing you to pick a harder lock that you normally couldn't with your base stats for example. In Hardcore mode managing those consumables is much more harder as Stimpacks will heal overtime instead of all at once and drinking water and eating regularly are mandatory even if you are at full health.
Just like Fallout 3 and 4, New Vegas also has a companion system allowing you to have one human/ghoul/mutant companion and one dog/robot companion at a time, this makes adventuring easier than on your own not only because your companion will also attack enemies, but they also give you different perks that you will find useful. There is also a twist to this in Hardcore mode as a permadeath system will be introduced, meaning your companions will stay dead permanently if they die in combat, something that I was not a fan of, especially since there are only a few companions in the game, so if you get all of them killed you are on your own for the rest of the game.
Bethesda has a long lasting reputation for making buggy games that they never bother fixing, but New Vegas wasn't even developed by them as Obsidian Entertainment took the ropes and yet they still managed to beat Bethesda at their own game of who can make the buggiest open world game; in my nearly 100 hours spent in New Vegas I've seen everything you could possibly encounter in an open world game from the X360 era, NPCs and enemies getting stuck into the map, items disappearing, NPCs running into walls, character models expanding and glitching out, NPCs starting to run in a random direction just as you're about to talk to them or disappearing in front of your eyes, quests being glitched and many crashes. On top of that you have the limitations that came with that era of gaming including invisible walls and the world being fragmented into sections that you must enter because the game couldn't load everything at once. Loading was a huge issue when the game first came out and if you look up any review from 2010 when the game originally came out there's a high chance that review will mention the incredibly long loading times and while I couldn't tell you how fast it would load on a PC with 2010 specs, on a modern PC using an SSD the loading times are almost instant so this was never a problem for me.
The engine on which New Vegas was built was already old in 2010 as it's the same one that was used for Fallout 3 and 10 years later that doesn't feel any better, there are so many areas of the graphical fidelity that have been outdone as early as other games from 2010 and the game clearly shows its age now. On PC mods might improve the graphics a bit, but the environments are still lacking the details seen in Fallout 4, the character models haven't aged well and the lip sync is absolutely horrible.
On top of that you have the traditional problems that come with open world games of such size such as floating objects and empty pointless areas. The visual effects haven't aged well either as explosions look like any other during that time period and even though effects such as sandstorms were praised back in 2010, it is now common for visual effects to be there and in much higher detail. Just to be clear, the rating reflects the graphics compared to other titles from 2010, but as mentioned before even then Fallout New Vegas wasn't the shiniest thing around.
The voice acting varies in quality, some of the main characters have really amazing voice acting and dialogue, while other side characters aren't as well thought out and keep repeating the same thing over and over again, if you want proof of that count the times you've heard the nuclear winter line in one playthrough. The written dialogue is also overlook in many cases when it comes to side quests as it doesn't have that many reply options and some NPC responses will be the same regardless of the option you choose, but considering the amount of NPCs in the game perfecting every one of them isn't something you should expect.
The audio effects are decent although they have been outdone by a long mile in the time since the game's release and even by some games from that year. The soundtrack on the other hand is excellent although a bit repetitive, you will hear Johnny Guitar and Big Iron more times than you'd like, but you can choose whether you want to play with the radio turned on or not and you also have a few different stations to choose from.
If you focus on the main quest alone you can finish the game in around 20 hours, but if you are a Fallout fan you know that there's a lot more content on the side and New Vegas doesn't disappoint on that note either, as there are dozens of side quests, faction quests and the map is simply so big it would take over 100 hours to explore every location fully. The DLC also add a few more hours of gameplay and it's something I would highly recommend picking up if you're looking for the full experience, although they do vary in quality and playtime, with Old World Blues being my favorite. Fallout New Vegas is the type of game that you can easily sink over 100 hours into if you want to see it all and the multiple paths that you can take provide many reasons to replay the game a second time or at least try different paths from a previous save to see other outcomes.
Fallout New Vegas' strongest trait is its story and the way it shapes the outcome of the Mojave depending on your decisions and allegiances, as an open world RPG it's still an enjoyable experience that you can sink dozens of hours into, but if you want a more complete Fallout experience from a gameplay perspective Fallout 4 is probably the better option. If you like Fallout or open world RPGs in general New Vegas will still be a blast for you regardless, but 10 years later from its release you can point to a lot of areas that could use an update.