At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Matt Bailey Xbox 360 Bethesda Softworks Obsidian Entertainment 1 October 22nd 2010

Fallout: New Vegas preview

The apocalypse is old news in Fallout: New Vegas. Bethesda and Obsidian's latest dispenses with the idea of starting in one of the nuclear bunkers, known as Vaults, as we saw in the highly regarded action-RPG Fallout 3. In that game you began your life in the Vault, growing up amongst friends and family (well, your father), before breaking out to discover the world outside. In New Vegas you’re already a part of that outside world, getting into trouble before you even begin playing.

We've moved a bit further into the future in Fallout: New Vegas, and well away from the Capital Wasteland. Now over on the other side of what used to be the United States, we have the Mojave Desert and, of course, a new version of Las Vegas. Having escaped the bombs, the Strip remains filled with casinos, dodgy dealings, and even a power supply, thanks to a restored Hoover Dam. Such luxury brings an important difference to New Vegas over Fallout 3; it's more colourful.

In the hour I got to spend with the game at Gamescom I actually didn't get to see any of New Vegas itself, instead concerning myself with the very beginning of the game. After getting shot in the opening scene, you find yourself being fixed up by a doctor and in the process, you get to set up your character. The background events and aptitude test from before have been replaced by psychometric tests, where a series of questions about what words you associate with others, and what you think some shadow images look like, determine your stats. You get to fiddle afterwards if you want to customise, but if you don't want the hassle it's a nice story-driven way of producing a character.

Once you're done with finding out who you are, you want to find out who shot you, and so begins the quests. Things here are working pretty much like Fallout 3 with the game offering flexibility over which missions to take and when. I found myself spending most of my time in the desert, crossing from town to town, but despite the lack of Vegas, I still got to enjoy some colourful neon lights, some new enemies, and a guy taking shots at me from a rollercoaster. I also had experience of some of the new gangs who took a disliking to me very quickly; though I blame the dodgy beard for that. You will find yourself spending time to gain both good and bad reputations for the various gangs, tribes and alliances in the game, but in my playthough I decided the consequences of getting in trouble were fairly minimal.

Combat in Fallout: New Vegas works just like before, with the return of the VATS system which allows you to pause the action and select which part of your opponent's body you wish to take aim at. It may come across like a first person shooter again, but this is certainly an RPG underneath, with what amounts to dice rolling determining whether a shot has any effect. VATS exposes this by showing you the percentage chance of your shot being a hit. What is different, however, is the ability to customise your weapons, maybe modifying the magazine count, adding a scope, or more adventurously, playing around the ability to switch ammunition type. Everyone wants rapid-fire grenades, right?

Also making a return is the Pip Boy 3000 where you can set up your inventory, bring up a map, or enjoy a new selection of interesting and entertaining radio stations as you make your travels through the desert alone. The deserts themselves feel less barren and depressing than the wastelands of Fallout 3, but some music and talk helps to keep you moving on the long roads ahead.

Overall, Fallout: New Vegas doesn't look and feel significantly different from Fallout 3. But with customisable weapons, a completely new story, and many other tweaks aside, visuals included, it certainly seems like it will be another worthy entry in the Fallout series.

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