Fallout: New Vegas Playtest: What Happens In New Vegas Stays In New Vegas

By Jenni . October 25, 2010 . 1:09pm


The star of Fallout: New Vegas is an unfortunate courier. He (or she) was tasked with delivering a platinum chip. Except some jerk in a hideous checkerboard tuxedo shot the courier in the head, stole the chip and left the body in a shallow grave. Fortunately, a cowboy robot named Victor found the courier and brought him/her to the town of Goodsprings. Now the courier sets off on a New Vegas altering quest to recover the chip and get revenge.


Fallout: New Vegas is a mission-based, action RPG with some sandbox elements. Right from the beginning of the game you can go anywhere and pretty much do anything you want. Depending on choices you make, some missions may become available or others may not. You can be good, evil or neutral.


Like Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas retains the V.A.T.S. system that allows people who aren’t fantastic at shooters or fans of active combat to slow things down and make it more like a standard, turn-based RPG. You pull it up with R2, and the game will automatically lock on the nearest target. Cycling through is done with the right analog stick and choosing targets (head/limbs/torso/weapons) on an enemy is done with the left analog stick. You get a certain number of action points that determine how many times you can attack. There are even certain perks that make your V.A.T.S. aim better, give you more AP to use in it, reward you with AP for kills or makes Miss Fortune or the Mysterious Stranger show up to help in battle.


Speaking of perks, they can open up dialogue choices, make survival easier, and give you opportunities to collect more. Each perk has requirements, you may need a certain level or stats to unlock them. But once you do, it definitely enhances your experience. My favorites were the Black Widow, Mysterious Stranger, Action Girl, Silent Running and Explorer perks.




In a way, the Explorer perk is almost a necessity. Fallout: New Vegas covers a massive area. There are plenty of areas of interest, towns and other buildings begging to be explored, and (maybe) raided. If you choose this perk, it shows where every location is on the map so you don’t have to guess. Since all traveling is done by foot here unless you use fast travel to visit a location you’ve already been to, it helps to see places you could go. You can’t go into all buildings, but most can be explored and are filled with trinkets and treasures. Or gigantic ants.


There’s also a massive focus on relations between factions in Fallout: New Vegas. From the moment you come back from the dead, people are forming opinions of you. So you have to be very conscious of your actions and how you treat people. One slip and you may accidentally make Caesar’s Legion very, very mad. (Like I did.) The game makes you think about how you should or shouldn’t treat people.


It also means you can sometimes exploit faction tensions. For example, there was a side quest (I can’t recall the title) found in Nipton where you can set free two Powder Gangers captured by Caesar’s Legion. I wasn’t on bad terms with the Legion when I found it, so I didn’t want to set the captives free and risk being attacked. Instead, I did the Cold, Cold Heart mission, then returned to the Legion camp. Suddenly NCR troopers popped up to attack the Legion. So while they fought it out, I saved the Powder Gangers and completed the quest.


You also have to be careful about which companions you have with you too, since they might inadvertently ruin your reputation. Boone is an former member of the NCR, and will go after any of Caesar’s Legion. He also won’t like you if you are friendly with the Legion or disliked by the NCR. There are plenty of available companions though, and you can have two with you at a time (one humanoid, one not), so as long as you plan ahead, you’ll be fine.


Don’t expect to get too close to your Fallout: New Vegas companions though. After you complete their side mission (if they have one) and talk to them once, you’ll pretty much know everything you can know about them. I guess I’ve been spoiled by other RPGs (especially some of Bioware’s recent releases), but I expected more of a reaction from characters after taking part in story events. For example, after completing "Ring-a-Ding-Ding," one of the main story missions, I decided to talk to Boone. He only offered one brief sentence commenting on what happened, even though he’d been a constant companion since I recruited him in Novac. It would have been nice if the companions had more dialog options and things to say about themselves and what was going on around them as you traveled together.




One thing that has been coming up in a lot of Fallout: New Vegas forums and news stories are glitch reports. I’ve spent over 40 hours exploring the Mojave and only encountered a few minor quirks in the PlayStation 3 version. Here’s a list of the game-related troubles I’ve seen, from most annoying to least annoying.


  • Crashed at the Helios Solar Power Station. Worked fine upon reloading.
  • During a Heck Gunderson’s side-quest, I couldn’t seem to get his son back to him alive. Even if I went there, with the kid alive behind and no enemies chasing, Heck wouldn’t recognize or open a dialogue option to accept him.
  • Froze once while exiting the Tops casino.
  • No matter how hard I tried, or how many times I walked in/past/around it, the East Pump Station just outside the New Vegas strip wouldn’t register on my map.
  • Character would occasionally get trapped behind a door or stuck in rocks/fence. Jumping usually alieviated the problem.
  • Sometimes my character’s body would be invisible while the head and arms would still be visible. Like part of her was using a Stealth Boy and the other wasn’t. This would usually happen after using Pip Boy to fast travel somewhere, and only lasted about a minute.


Which means you’ll probably want to save often. Even if you forget, the game does auto-save. So, if some kind of crashing or freezing glitch does happen, you should be covered. Auto-saving takes place when moving from one area to another or after resting, which can be a factor in making load times longer. I guess that’s the price you pay for security. Fallout: New Vegas has a lot of potential as a game. Yes, there are glitches, that will pop up when you least expecte it, but the constantly growing save files and mandatory 5gb install bothered me more than having to restart twice. (I mean, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 crashed on me twice and I still think that game’s adorable.)


Fallout: New Vegas may not be perfect, but it still manages to be a lot of fun. There’s a lot to do and see, and if you have the time to explore it all then it’s worth it. And if you don’t have the time, then the assorted exploits unintentionally littered throughout the game can make it easier for people with day jobs or very little spare time to still make it through and enjoy the experience. It might crash on you, it might freeze, your courier’s body may be temporarily invisible after fast traveling, but I’d say it’s still worth the trouble.


Food for Thought

  • There are multiple difficulty levels, and the Vikki and Vance Casino and Helios "That Lucky Sun" exploits are a great way for beginning players to optimize their character so the rest of the game isn’t a struggle.
  • I loved the V.A.T.S. system and only tried going into combat once without it. It helps you focus on strategic attacks.
  • Fallout: New Vegas was much easier and more manageable once I started finding companions. Prior to recruiting Boone, and then EDE, groups of three or more could get quite overwhelming. Having two almost makes it too easy.
  • You should probably keep a cheat sheet nearby to remind you of where your companions will be when they’re not traveling with you.
  • The save file (at least in the PS3 version) gets larger EACH time you save. It started out as about a 2mb file, and now mine’s almost 5mb. Also, the 5gb mandatory install for the PS3 version is annoying.
  • There are lots of trophies/achievements and missions that can only be completed in multiple playthroughs, so you’ll definitely be able to find a reason to replay it.

  • What was that quote again, ah.

    “The worst bugs arent always the radioactive ones”…

    Anyway, whats wrong with the third image it looks SD and lacking the normal things that graphics in the HD era has (bloom, etc).

    I think the writer mentioned it can be played like a turn based RPG? Care to expound?

    • Hraesvelgr

      Believe me, the game is not lacking in bloom.

    • DDanny

      It kinda goes into a turn like mode once you are in VATS time freezes, then you select the enemy/body part you want to hit, and each hit costs AP.
      Once you are out of VATS it gets real time again and your AP heals over time. You can always use VATS as long as you have enough AP for a single hit with your weapon.
      Your max AP/recovery rate/AP cost can be increased/reduced depending on your stats and certain perks.
      Yeah, you can do a VATS only game if you want to, you’d just have to take cover/flee while your AP heals.

      • This.

        There are some great perks which help optimize AP use in VATS. I can’t name them right off the top of my head, but there are ones which add AP points, optimize hit percentage, add a Mysterious Stranger who may kill whoever you’re targeting and one where you gain AP back after successfully killing your target.

        I’m actually doing a VATS only game, because it makes it more feel like a turn-based RPG.

  • malek86

    I remember the savegame problem in Fallout 3. By the time I had finished the story, my game folder had some 800Mb of savedata.

    • Hraesvelgr

      It was also an issue in Oblivion, if I recall correctly.

    • Ereek

      It happens with Oblivion as well. If you play on the 360 it can actually corrupt your save file.

  • Ereek

    You also have to be careful about which companions you have with you too, since they might inadvertently ruin your reputation. Boone is an former member of the NCR, and will go after any of Caesar’s Legion. Haha, this same thing happened to me as well. Boone forever gets the kick because of it.The bugs can get pretty bad at times. I’ve had a single game-changing bug that pretty much broke all of my companions permanently making it impossible to recruit or use any new ones. Fortunately, I don’t really like using Companions so it’s not horrible, but I’m amazed something like that happened.I also had some areas where the FPS spiked so far down the areas were literally unplayable until I turned the PS3 back on. Yay for taking one step every 10 seconds!I wish they had spent a few more months in QA. Then again, I can’t really expect otherwise, it’s a Bethesda game (even if only published) and their games are some of the glitchiest. I’m eagerly awaiting the fan-made patches so I can play the PC version in a cleaner state.

    • malek86

      Yep, the original version of Morrowind was also a bugfest. Totally worth it though. And the Robe of St. Roris hadn’t been nerfed yet.And what about Daggerfall, it wasn’t even really playable until the ninth patch or so. But then, where also could you find a game with a map so big?I wonder what would come out of somebody tried mixing a WRPG’s ginormous map with a JRPG’s combat system and story.

      • Ereek

        Oops, forgot to reply, Sorry about that. Despite its problems, for its time Daggerfall was brilliant and led to the beginning of a gaming era, in a sense. I’m pretty sure there are fan patches out for it now, making it a good deal better. It makes me want to play it and see.Even a patched Morrowind has a lot of problems, but I suppose the same can be said of Oblivion and Fallout 3. That’s why things like the (amazing) Unofficial Oblivion Patch exist, making the games a lot better. I’m not a big fan of what they started doing with the Unofficial Morrowind patch though. Despite that, Morrowind is still my favorite Bethesda game. Oblivion just went too “high fantasy” for me.I love open worlds, so a JRPG+WRPG would make me so, so happy. One might say FFXIII tried it a near the end but it wasn’t really open-world enough. They went halfway, like they were trying to be cautious with the idea. Nier gets close and allows for free exploration right from the start, but the map is tiny. Skies of Arcadia also plays around with the idea a bit and gives you a bit more freedom from the start than most world maps, but you’re still limited by the story.
        Everything I’ve seen so far points to Versus XIII going for this idea, even down to the Fallout 3-esque feel.

    • Sorry it took me so long to reply!

      I’ve experienced a few more bugs since. I ended up doing one quick playthrough to get through, then reloaded an earlier save to get more of the extra quests done. I had the game crash in the middle of the G.I. Blues quest, and a few times it seems to get a little hung up when the Mysterious Stranger comes to help me out in VATS.

      But, patches are on the way so that should help a bit. I’m waiting to patch though, as I like that Lucky Sun exploit. XD (Ah, doctor bags galore!)

  • Oh man, I still haven’t able to get mines yet. Did hear that there’s a lot of bugs and I’m not surprised since FO3 had a lot as well. Though it’s not Bethesda made, it seems like it was lol……

    I’d say that if anybody is kinda/slightly interested in the game but haven’t bought it yet since they’re worried about all these bugs, maybe wait for the eventual Game of the Year edition till everything is usually patched up along with having extra DLC. That’ll be a while though…

    • Ereek

      FO3’s GotY edition was buggier and froze more often than the vanilla, though, at least on PS3.

      I’d actually recommend waiting until some fan patches roll out and play on PC.

      • Oh yeah, I forgot the PS3 version was full of bugs….made the community really mad IIRC. I played mines on the 360 version so I didn’t find get much bugs but it sucks to hear about it. Only bug I’ve really encountered a lot on the 360 was the “Flying Deathclaw” thing.

        Hopefully for FO:NV, they patch up both 360 and PS3 versions equally.

    • I’m waiting for the PS3 GOTY edition next year, too. No need to wait for bug patches and for the eventual DLC, which will be released later on PS3 anyway. Might as well just suck it up and wait.

  • DDanny

    What I liked most about NV was the dialogue/script, which I thought was a lot more interesting and engrossing than Fallout 3, especially with the whole faction vs faction tension.
    Well, I guess Obsidian’s strong point has always been storytelling. The script writer here is also Chris Avellone, same that wrote the masterpierce that is Planescape:Torment’s script.

    • DDanny

      Something else I really enjoyed is the roleplaying aspect that sadly is missing from most JRPGs: you always have multiple ways of doing quests and the dialogue tree is quite robust. Your stats and skills also influence the things you can say. Try having some very low intelligence to see how you characters speaks :p
      Also, I liked how they expanded Unarmed/Melee. Yeah, an Unarmed/Melee only playthrough was perfectly viable in Fallout 3, but there’s quite a lot more perks focused on it this time around.

    • Ereek

      Funny, I feel the opposite. Now I won’t deny that NV has a far more interesting main story and character interaction than 3, but what made Fallout 3 so interesting for me was the world itself and the direction, which is severely lacking.

      F3 feels a lot more dead and “post-apocalyptic” than NV does. NV doesn’t feel as dark, gritty, lonely, or twisted. There are farmhouses in NV, but you don’t usually find the dead bodies of the families in them. Going through houses or areas and piecing together what happened to the families in their last days was one of my favorite parts of Fallout 3 and there was very little of that in NV. There is one specific area I can think of that does this in NV (you’ll know it when you see it) and it feels like a big hole in the experience for me.
      Even the Vaults aren’t as twisted as those in Fallout 3. 11 is the most twisted of the bunch in the game.

      • DDanny

        Yeah I guess we enjoyed different things about it.
        I thought the lack of radiation/nukes in NV allowed an atmosphere I enjoyed more, with more focus on the characters/story and lesser massive rocky wasteland filled with empty metro tunnels and destroyed stuff.
        While it has the usual gritty stuff considering pretty much every faction in the game besides a single one are evil or couldn’t care less about what happened to others, in the end it does not have the same feeling of solitude and despair Fallout 3 did. I guess it’s all thanks to no nukes hitting Vegas directly :p

    • I agree. I really did like the story, and how there seemed to be so much going on with all the different people living around New Vegas.

      I didn’t like how most people tended to sound the same though. XD

  • Awesome Review!!

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