It’s easy to look at Fallout: New Vegas and assume that it’s merely Fallout 3 in the West instead of Washington, D.C. But while New Vegas is the same type of game, and it’s running on the same engine, and you’ll be doing a lot of the same kinds of things you did in Fallout 3, making that assumption is not only selling the game short -- the assumption doesn’t really hold up at all.
Fallout: New Vegas (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed], PC)
You play as a courier in New Vegas, and as the story opens, things aren’t looking bright. You regain consciousness in front of three mean-looking men, and one of them explains your fate:
You’ve made your last delivery. Sorry you got twisted up in this scene; from where you’re kneeling, it must seem like an 18-carat run of bad luck. Truth is... the game was rigged from the start.
Then he shoots you in the head, and his friends start shoveling dirt onto your body. The next thing you know, you’ve awakened in a dingy house, where the kindly old man sitting in front of you introduces himself as Doc Mitchell. He rescued you from your shallow grave after the gang left you for dead, and nursed you back to health.
After I had set up my attributes, Doc Mitchell -- who lived in a Vault as a child -- handed me a Vault suit and a trusty Pip-Boy. Before I left his place, the game asked me if I wanted to enter Hardcore Mode. I declined, but according to Bergman, about half of the game’s QA testers are playing in Hardcore Mode. Mitchell suggested that I visit Sunny Smiles at the local saloon to learn some desert survival skills, so I did. She brought me out back to practice shooting at sarsaparilla cans, and then asked me to come along with her for some gecko hunting.
He noted that New Vegas has “a very different feel from Fallout 3.” This game has a much more warm color palette -- Fallout 3’s Capital Wasteland was a bleak, “almost monochrome” world, but New Vegas features blue skies and the array of colors that you would expect to see in the American West. I thought of Red Dead Redemption as Bergman told me that the sunset in this game is “very red.” Another effect of the Nevada setting of New Vegas is that the game is much less urban -- “while we do have cities, they’re kind of smaller,” explained Bergman, noting that “Nevada is very spread-out.” Not only is the world of New Vegas more colorful, it’s more varied: “We have a lot of deserts; we have a lot of canyons; we have valleys; we have mountains,” said Bergman.
The communities in New Vegas are “more functional” than in Fallout 3, but they’re not exactly well-off. You’ll be able to see how they’ve been living -- some get by through tourism; others subsist by scavenging -- and one of the ways in which you build up your Reputation is by helping people do what they need to do in order to survive. A few places are even able to grow crops. That’s right: there’s real, living vegetation in New Vegas; I saw some plants and thought of Galaxy News Radio’s Three Dog, who asked in Fallout 3, “Have you guys and gals ever seen...a tree?” You can pick plants for the game’s crafting system. According to Bergman, it works like Alchemy from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion -- at any campfire, you can cook and make things like poisons and healing potions.
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