Gamescom 2010: Fallout: New Vegas Preview - Viva New Vegas!
Written Thursday, August 26, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Fallout 3 is possibly the finest example of a western RPG as you are likely to find in recent years. With a massive open-ended world, intriguing characters and a wonderful mix of superb storytelling and sly humour, it pretty much has it all. A sequel was inevitable, though considering the gap between the last two games it's safe to say that no one expected it quite so soon.
Luckily we were allowed an hour of hands-on time at this year’s Gamescom in which to immerse ourselves in the game, hopefully to find out what makes it tick while at the same time, seeing if this title could step out of the shadow of its older brother. Considering the game world on offer, the real problem here was simply that an hour was nowhere near enough.
A lot of the voice cast from the last game make a welcome return, and hearing the gravelly tone of Ron Perlman during the intro brought fond memories of the last game flashing back. Gone is the Capital Wasteland though to be replaced with the Mojave Desert and sunny New Vegas, a town that still welcomes anyone with money as long as you steer clear of the seedier elements and don’t tangle with the local law droids. However, this time around you do not start cooped up in a Vault trying to figure out the world above as you go. Instead you begin as a courier who seemingly gets wound up in a spot of trouble and has to go looking for some payback. It does seem a trifle clichéd, but the opening sets things up perfectly and prepares you for the kind of open world experience that this series thrives on.
While the game looks a lot smoother than its predecessor, those looking for a total overhaul are going to be in for a bit of shock. The game still has vast swathes of open areas made of little more than rocks and shrubs, but thankfully, the real difference comes from the gaudy lights of Vegas itself which looks superb; not to mention a wide variety of friends and foes that you can tussle with. The character models seem like a vast improvement this time around, although you can still have some issues with questionable AI path finding.
This being Fallout, you can pretty much make anyone into a foe depending on how you approach the game. But the real change is the fact that every township now comes with a level of acceptance towards you depending on how you act. If you help out a town then your reputation in that area will increase, which in turn can lead to new dialogue, missions and the like. Obviously not every town thrives on good deeds, so some places may well be more welcoming if you stray into evil behaviour. Obviously it is impossible to keep everyone happy, but that has always been at the heart of Fallout: how every moral choice has a consequence. Only now those repercussions could be far more damaging in the long term.
Other little tweaks come in the form of the new ability to create beneficial items, which is something of an extension to the workbench areas from the last game. As well as being able to make new weapons and helpful equipment, you can now mix up health draughts and statistic boosting elixirs. Obviously you will be required to scour the wasteland for suitable ingredients, but the results are well worth it. On another note, the skill books seem to have been subtly changed. Now they give you much more of a boost but will actually wear off after a certain amount of time. Whether of not you can still get permanent boosts remains to be seen, but this way may well stop the creation of practically invincible player characters.
It was impossible to see everything in such a short amount of time, but the major addition we did see is a pretty intriguing one. Welcome to Hardcore mode, where your equipment deteriorates faster, Stimpacks and Rad-X only heal over time rather than instantly and ammo now weighs you down. Not to mention the fact you will need to eat, drink and sleep regularly or risk exhaustion. These may seem like small changes but trust me when I say they make a big difference. Now your weapons will break down during combat with alarming regularity, not to mention the fact that if you take too much damage, then you can’t rely on just a Stimpack to get you back on your feet, so you may have to flee or end up face down in the desert. It is also surprising how much you can take for granted the weightlessness of ammo – once it starts to become a burden you really have to pick and choose your equipment with care as you cannot possibly carry it all. Gone are the days of being a one man tank. This mode will truly separate the men from the boys and is the perfect addition to those that blitzed through Fallout 3 and wanted a bit more of a challenge.
Being a trophies site it was obvious that we would take a sneaky peek at what was on offer and the list is pretty much what you would expect. There were plenty of rewards on offer for story based missions, as well as tasks off the beaten path. There were also a lot of challenges that required you to dish out 10,000 points of damage with a variety of weapons and even your fists. The real reward though was a juicy trophy for polishing off the game on Hardcore mode – without once changing the difficulty during your entire playthrough – so good luck with that. Thankfully with so much going on the game has added a nice tracking system that pops up on screen when you are closing in on certain challenges and trophies.
Any minor quibbles aside, the real lure of Fallout is just how easily it draws you in. The second you step out into the desert you have a wealth of choices at your fingertips and every time you turn around there is a question of “What do I do next?” That is the brilliance of this game and one that will keep you coming back for more. The New Vegas desert offers a whole lot more to see and do, plus the varied storyline and interesting characters all combine to make this a vastly different experience to Fallout 3. Be prepared to step into New Vegas and lose yourself for months.
Fallout: New Vegas is scheduled for an October 19th and October 22nd release in North America and Europe respectively.