Two years after the release of Fallout 3, Bethesda released Fallout: New Vegas. In two years, Bethesda did nothing to upgrade the game.
If you were a fan off Fallout 3’s perfect blend of open-world exploring with a compelling storyline that drove itself over countless hours of happened-upon side quests and subtle nuances hinted upon by days of scavenging, you’ll love Fallout: New Vegas. If you lost sleep over Fallout 3’s sub-par graphics, dated gameplay mechanics and ridiculously ubiquitous face-mapping and voice overs, you’ll be equally sleepless after playing New Vegas.
In short: New Vegas is Fallout 3 for those who wanted to keep playing after spending 100 hours only to reach a lag-infested end. Everything is pretty much the same apart from a few additives, like any expansion on an established game franchise.
But now for what makes New Vegas different.
While in the last Fallout your character was born into the captivity of a bomb shelter housed within a post-apocalyptic rendition of a 1950s-modelled nuclear society and grew from there, New Vegas drops players into the Mojave Desert as a courier in the same world who is set up and must start from scratch after magically healing from a bullet wound to the brain. It’s a bland premise with no emotional investment that leads to a similarly bland storyline.
Somehow after a global nuclear war, whole buildings in Vegas and the Hoover Dam have remained perfectly intact, and fascist factions like the New California Republic and Caeser’s Legion are at each other’s throats to control these key points of (un)civilised society. While a new faction-linked system of karma lets players either buddy up or go up against individual factions based on their interactions with the groups, this shouldn’t fool players into thinking there’s more free choice going on. Every faction is evil in one way or another, only the game has dictated that the NCR is the lesser of two evils as killing Legion members is the only group that’ll give you good karma. Free roaming just got a little less free.
There are various other factions roaming around, like the Great Khans, and helping out certain groups will gain favour and infamy with certain others, all with their own perks. This is where Fallout shines, giving you the choice of what and who your character will become. Linked to this is the extensive upgrading system, which allows a thorough personalisation of character, from appearance to attributes.
Players now also have a larger range of escorts (not that kind, though you can find that kind in the New Vegas Strip) that’ll follow them around and be genuinely helpful, gaining you experience instead of just taking your kills, and even holding your excess junk in the often cluttered inventory. While the shoddy gameplay mechanics come into play with the terrible AI of your helpers, they’re still a welcomed addition since Fallout 3.
Essentially, everything that made Fallout 3 the gem it was two years ago is here. Shoot a main character in the face mid-quest and the ball keeps rolling. Ignore the main story and go explore some caves, it’s all good. But with that comes all the cons from two years ago. It’ll feel like you’re playing an out-dated game, but if you loved Fallout 3, you won’t care.