Fallout New Vegas(1)

Genre: Action RPG
Year: 2010
Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
#289
Feeling Like: Going to Freemont Street

Without checking my notes, I believe this is the first instance where I’m wrapping up a major franchise. Is that a milestone?

I need small checkpoints and little victories. The list is gargantuan. I should’ve picked a smaller number. I’m never going to finish it.

BUT, I’m getting closer and closer. The halfway point is within striking distance. The games I’m reminiscing about get better and better…or at least, they were gradually more fun to me.

No more Fallout games after this one. I never played the first 2, and I don’t plan on playing any future iterations. Not that new entries make it onto the 500, but I will make an exception or two for something brilliant.

What’s the main reason Fallout: New Vegas is higher than Fallout 3 and Fallout 4?

Truth be told, I don’t really know. I had the same frustrating crashes, inexplicable disappearances of key items, a general sense of confusion and combat that felt too loose for me to get a proper handle on. That’s a Fallout game for me, in a nutshell.

Fallout New Vegas(2)
But, you also get to punch 9 foot tall mutants in the face. 

I’ll get the bad out of the way – I had a hell of a time stabilizing Fallout: New Vegas. I’m going through Doom: Eternal at the moment and unless 2020 is the best year in gaming history, it’s very likely to be on my Top 10 of 2020. With caveats.

The crashes are unforgivably frustrating. I did everything I’m supposed to; meet the recommended system requirements, verify the Steam files, un-install and re-install the game, lower the graphics settings, disable the Steam overlay and ensure my graphics card has the latest drivers. Everything.

For a few levels, it would crash. All the time. With no warning.

I nearly gave up.

Look, I love PC gaming, but when you get into a circumstance like this, you start to wonder if having a mouse and keyboard is worth all this hassle. No wonder consoles still exist!

Thankfully, nearing the end of the game, the computer demons seem to have given up and left me alone so I can fight the other computer demons. Doom Eternal is a phenom, when it ran perfectly.

Fallout:New Vegas introduced an equally maniacal rage thanks to shoddy performance on my computer.

Sometimes the game would suddenly stop. No warning. Sorry, were you playing a video game or something? Your Desktop was getting lonely.  Switching to windowed mode seemed to make it work, but now I had to experience this expansive, post-apocalyptic world on half my screen. Harrumph.

Fallout New Vegas(3)
AND these giant, killer flies made me a little woozy!

I was only able to finish the game entirely by reloading an earlier save. I needed an item to complete the final quest and…no item. I went back and forth between the place I was coming from, and the place I was going to. I looked everywhere, talked to everybody. No item. Turns out, the game didn’t give me the item when it should have, and there was no going back. A quick scouting trip to the internet forums assured me I wasn’t the only one that had this issue.

This was the most egregious example of Fallout: New Vegas convincing me that I wasn’t ever going to be falling head over heels for a Fallout game.

Fallout New Vegas(4)
Fallout Boys

Ah, but then there’s the incredible variety in gameplay style, the irreverent and clever writing, the crazy cast of characters and the freedom to do almost anything you want. Choices in story and skills have real impact on how the story progresses. It gives the player a huge amount of agency, and that holds a huge amount of appeal. Other games may advertise that they have “choices that matter” but few can hold a candle to the Fallout series, and it’s a main reason why it’s more than just a cult following of fans that adore these games.

Many would agree Fallout: New Vegas is a series highlight; the diverse factions surely have something to do with it, but I would also say the story drew me in a little more. A revenge plot is a simple, encouraging way to get you motivated and explore as much as possible right away. Obisidian had an advantage that Fallout 3 didn’t – they assumed that many of their players were already familiar with the previous Fallout, so they didn’t have to spend a lot of time explaining how the systems work and thrust the player into the deep end without a lot of fanfare. Very few areas felt like a tutorial to the world. Aside from that, to me, they’re equitable in terms of both enjoyment, and frustrations.

Fallout New Vegas(5)
“Cities” like this kept me coming back. 

The single greatest thrill I got in any of the Fallout games was using the speech skill. I would always max it out as soon as possible. The idea of persuading an enemy to surrender, give me their gun, blow themselves up, or joining me was always hysterical and the idea of a conflict free resolution isn’t something you see often in video games. And it’s usually not just a single line of dialogue either; oftentimes the more intelligent baddies required a maxed out Speech of 100 to defeat in a battle of wits. The written lines you choose were rational, well thought out and convincing, even to me. The amount of effort put into these choices is staggering, considering how many NPCs you can talk to in Fallout: New Vegas. Equally funny is the options available to you when you’re a brute with an IQ of 40. “You go smash!” is hardly the exclamation of a wordsmith, but can also be convincing in its own way.

With the pandemic ongoing, I don’t foresee my 11th trip to Las Vegas in the near future without a Hazmat suit. This Vegas will have to do, for now.

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