Fallout New Vegas

Special Edition Blast from the Past

FBT & TheMorty’s pleasant reminiscing about Fallout New Vegas quickly descended into them mocking each other. Now they’ve decided to revisit Fallout NV and see who is the king of the wasteland … What happens in New Vegas stays in New Vegas.

The Past

FBT - My memories of F:NV are mostly around not playing it. Almost anything could trigger a crash, even walking for any length of time. F:NV had its moments, but it’s an add-on for Fallout 3; a listless game with recycled missions. When it worked.

The Morty - True, but there were little spots of beauty that resonated with a seasoned sand-boxer. Like myself. FBT, you think every game is Borderlands. RPG is about finding your place in a world, not just going around shooting everything.

There was nothing to do in F:NV except shoot things. Name something memorable in it.

Like Primal vs Far Cry 4, F:NV took a congested RPG and made it compelling. The story was refreshing too, not being Vault-based was a welcome change.

I knew you couldn’t remember anything about it. All I can recall is some old duffer owned Vegas and a plot to gain control of it, and a secondary story which Skyrim ripped off; a civil war between locals and Roman Empire conqueror types; oh, and sex with a robot.

Of course you’d remember that bit FBT. Not traversing the vast desert, the repercussions of your choices, being a nomad; robot sex was all you got out of it.

Well, now we know who struck-out with the sexbot.

I’m not denying F:NV has its faults, but it was an alternative look at surviving the wasteland. Like all good RPGs, it was what you made it. And you made it sex tourism.

And you wandered around like that bloke off Highway to Heaven and not getting laid.

Highway to…what? Look, what I propose is we go our own ways, then meet in New Vegas and see who actually gets RPG. I’m assuming I’ll find you in the Vegas robo-brothel.

You’re on. And yes. See you there.

Still a Blast?

FBT - After being shot in the head by some guy called Benny, I’m patched up by a Doctor and let loose on the wasteland. With no allegiances or background, my only mission is finding Benny. New Vegas is mob-territory so I’m playing this like a crime revenge thriller, my Courier is a James Ellroy or Jim Thomson character.

TheMorty - *Googling James Ellroy and Jim Thomson*… could you stick to references from this century? I imagine my courier being a cross between peak-Josh Brolin and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan. This is exactly what RPG is all about, creating your character and how they’d behave. I’m weathered and weary, bearded and robed. Ask questions first, shoot later - but more than happy to put the gun between your eyes and pull the trigger if he doesn’t like your answer. Not quite the usual Fatal Femme that FBT tends to opt for.

Okay so yes, I’m parading around the wasteland in a negligee. I bet TheMorty is compensating with some Power Armour. He’s right about roleplay though, and if I’m gonna Gina Carano this thing I need level-ups. I need XP. And the easiest way to do that is the DLCs. RPG DLCs always include higher XP-rewards and better weapons, and F:NV had a ton of them. But I recall them as linear self-contained slogs. It annoys me when DLCs are closed off mini-adventures set after the main game; you come out battle-hardened with nothing to battle, but doing them early should give me an advantage. Problem is getting to them. It’s not the distance I’m worried about, it’s the anticipation of all the crashes. I step out of the Doc’s home and straight into my wallpaper.

Snap. My original F:NV experience was the infamously unstable Xbox 360 release. Once you got a few hours in, the game got slower, the loading times increased; I made so many coffees waiting for a load screen I matched my Courier’s Jet addiction. Now the backwards compatible Xbox One version has made F:NV so quick I barely have time to boil the kettle.

It’s the same old Fallout world, and eight years on it’s harder to be amazed by it. But F:NV is trying. There’s an eerie, desolate feel and that makes sense, everyone gravitated to the bright lights of New Vegas and I’m quite enjoying the ghost town feel. When you do come across a settlement or group they’ve got a great Rat Pack 50s vibe but Vegas is still some way off and I’m going to avoid entering until I look like I’m in LA Confidential.

So you’re playing the Basinger role?

I do look fantastic. Soon I stumble onto a group of crims, the Powder Gangers – instead of just being raiders to take down, I have the opportunity to side with them, which I do for the XP before betraying them to local militia the NCR.

I loved this aspect of the game. Playing both sides is great and F:NV is less about repercussions - I lost count of the amount of times I’d randomly shoot someone in FO3 and then get “Mission Failed” pop-ups; I feel a lot more in control of my character and their fate. I’ve maxed my Speech perk and my Obi-Courier is a charismatic rascal, charming both sides and taking double the score without any repercussions.

It’s also nice touch that F:NV lets you play a character rather than balance karma. It’s all down to faction reputation, and mine is chaotic neutral ... until I blunder into my first encounter with the Legion. I hated those guys then and now. I can’t see why anyone would want to side with them. They’re such dicks. I’m too low-levelled to take them on, but once I’m far enough away I take a few petulant sniper shots then keep going. Where am I going?

Total dicks. I remembered my first encounter with the Legion in Nipton. Given how much I know Boone hates the Legion I decided to avoid Nipton all together and come back later when I have a levelled up Boone in tow… it’s going to be one hell of a fire fight.

I never bother with sidekicks, I’m not here to make friends or babysit, I’m after revenge. I pass Novac with barely a look-in. Boone can carry on being a cuckold for all I care.

His wife was sold into slavery and murdered you absolute monster.

I’m beginning to think TheMorty doesn’t have the Pipboys for this. Everyone’s got a sob-story - it’s the apocalypse. F:NV does make a real effort on the RPG front though, not just in the missions - there’s camp fires for cooking, you can build your own munitions, alter weapons, but I don’t care. I’ll take weapons and food out of cold dead body parts.

Typical FBT, looking for shortcuts. He’s the guy that will spend ten minutes trying to get over a mountain instead of taking five just walking around it. Why would you over-balance the game grinding for XP? That’s not RPG playing. This is supposed to be about our wasteland experience not who’s auditioning for the cover of Guns & Ammo. It’s not a competition ... I’d better get a move on.

The first DLC I reach is Lonesome Road, which suggests level 25. I’m nearly 6. This is going to be tough. But quickly I start to get up there. The XP you earn for taking out the endless Rad scorpions or discovering locations is generous, and there’s Perks to increase your XP further; within a few hours of poking about, I’ve reached level 12; close enough. Oh...

One thing that does boil my blood when levelling up in this game is that you only get a new Perk every two levels. You had to be careful what you picked and when you picked it, because it could be a long time before you got the chance to select a new one. I’m betting the first thing FBT picked was Black Widow. Those robots won’t seduce themselves.

I regret picking Black Widow over offensive perks. This is some tough, joyless linear shooting. What I didn’t realise is Lonesome Road is actually the final DLC, explaining various events that I’ve not experienced yet. Why even have this as an option rather than a continuation?! Still, I adopt an eyebot, Ed-E who is adorable. I’m gonna spend all my time protecting you aren’t I? No! Cos when Ed-E does go down he’s just unconscious. Result.

I always wondered is it pronounced Eee Dee Eee or Eddie?

E-d-iot. As I get constantly overwhelmed and murdered, I can’t help but feel like all of this could have been resolved with a cut-scene or dialogue choices. It’s pure padding while an ominous voice bangs on about some past deed I’ve either forgotten or not done yet. We get a weapon that can detonate atomic bombs which isn’t quite as good as it sounds; trying to get Deathclaws to stand near one while I microwave it is more a frustration than fun but eventually I reach a rival courier who’s intending to fire a missile at my hometown. Go ahead. After putting him down I can redirect the missile and have a choice – sacrifice ED-E to disarm it, or … aim it at faction strongholds in the wasteland.

While FBT is working out whether to cut the blue wire or the red wire (always the red wire!), I’m wandering the wasteland - my Courier isn’t as callous as FBTs. I frequented various Drive-Ins, Truck-stops and abandoned Vaults which have a great feel to them and I get into meeting characters and doing their chores. I take the time to go flower picking for Xander Roots while avoiding Deathclaws. I’m digging into the map rather than following FBT’s straight toward Benny route, and while having fast travel makes it a whole lot easier, it was nowhere near as much fun as FBT’s route. Well, fun to hear about. For him, not so much.

Back in the wasteland, a distant mushroom cloud vaporises the Legion. Hope I hit TheMorty. I just don’t get this, why have such a huge event kept to a DLC that’s set after the main game? What if I’d already destroyed the Legion? Still, this should liven things up. I really tortured myself there, but I walked in a boy and came out a man – I’m now level 22.

I never got into the DLC at the time, mostly because it was released bang in the middle of Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim. I remember them coming in at around £9 a piece and thinking… nah. There’s more than enough to do in the main game. Okay, so picking flowers didn’t reap the same rewards as blowing up an entire faction of enemies but I am in character.

TheMorty is out picking flowers?! He’s like Danny DeVito to my Arnie at this point. Heading towards the next Radio signal, I encounter some Legion assassins who are upset – good – but then I pass multiple Legion patrols and camps and they’re pally. How, why?! You missed the giant mushroom cloud? I thought RPGs were about repercussions.

For Godsake, a Twins insult? It’s thirty years old. And I like meandering the wasteland, experiencing it. And that approach led me to a lovely lady named Trudy. She asked me if I could fix her radio; I donned my overalls, obliged and earned 100 caps. This is riveting stuff.

Can we check, has TheMorty loaded up F:NV or a video game based on The Waltons?

The hell is the Waltons? Can you please make pop-culture references for people who haven’t retired yet? At some point FBT’s nurse will make him log off and eat his prunes before nap time. Come on FBT, lets shuffle to the TV room, Cliff Richard’s on.

Eventually I reach Dead Money, where I commit a heist on a casino that was sealed off when the bombs dropped and is filled with zombie-like inhabitants and a deadly gas. It sounds like an Ocean’s 11 style caper but it’s not; we spend forever lost, roaming the streets getting poisoned or attacked. The heist isn’t a heist either, it’s just the same looting process we always go through. Still, the characters we team up with, a schizophrenic super-mutant, a horribly mutilated Brotherhood scribe and a Dean Martin-style crooner ghoul are great. It could have been a great parody of heist movies, or just a great heist, or even a commentary on those isolated, gated communities in America but it’s just more of the same.

Isn’t Dead Money the area that already existed but then they decided to lock it so we’d pay extra for access? I remember finding a computer which prompted it but it didn’t go anywhere. Many speculated it was a nod or an Easter Egg, but no, it was Bethesda being Legion-sized dicks. Either way, sounds like I’m not missing much… now, where are those flowers…

At this rate I’d not even hire TheMorty as a follower. Old World Blues finds me stuck (again) in a scientific base where, in a pure Star Trek plot, I wake to find my spine and heart have been removed and my brain stolen by a mad scientist called Mobius. I'm a lab experiment.

What?! Can the nurse check FBT’s meds? I’m actually sticking to the point of all this and exploring a Vault. It’s totally overgrown with radioactive plants and has giant, mutated Praying Mantises lurking in camouflage. I have the vague memory that this may be mission critical to one of the Brotherhood of Steel missions so I bottle it before I lose any more health or ammo. I’ll be back angry grasshoppers.

First TheMorty picks flowers, and now he’s retreated from a Vault because he didn’t want to shoot plants? He isn’t Obi-wan he’s Alan Titchmarch.

All right that’s it. FBT’s not playing F:NV, he’s in the carehome lost in daytime telly.

Old World’s fifties sci-fi parody and characters are awesome, and even the Courier gets some zingers, but it’s a mini Fallout with some 35 locations and tons of petty little quests fighting ‘lobotomites’ - unsuccessful tests of the experiment we survived - with man-eating plants (TheMorty’ll love it) and frustrating robo-scorpions Mobius sends after us; can’t complain though, there’s tons of XP to be had. I’m going Borderlands on F:NV’s ass.

Goddamnit I knew it. Can't FBT do one review without mentioning Borderlands? Okay, so now I’m getting serious FOMO. Where’s this Mothership Zeta on d‘roids?! I found the Brotherhood of Steel and Veronica. Just need her to get loyal then it’s back to Vault 22…

I don’t know what a FOMO is. Hold up, don’t the Brotherhood turn out to be dicks in this as well? I’m sure I remember tearing them a new one then blowing up their vault.

Old World Blues also has some incredibly powerful weapons and power-ups too, including self-aware armour like those turrets in Portal and the nagging gun in Borderlands (ffs, FBT). She occasionally chats and flags when an enemy is close (“ready, steady, fighty”). We also gain a new home with modern appliances that have eccentric personalities (such as light-switches that bicker and a psychotic toaster) – even they have side-missions, all of which I dutifully do to get those perks, and thank god I did. I have a dialogue-based boss battle with Mobius - which reveals a cracking story twist - and even have an argument with my own brain who refuses to go back in my head.

I am not surprised FBT’s brain is thinking twice about returning. Staying on point, I’ve managed to get Veronica loyal and together we rescue a non-feral ghoul, purge the plant spores and – now I have Veronica – fixed the Air Filtration System. Glad I remembered that - could have ended up with an unfinishable mission in my quests. Nothing worse than that…

My mission log is full of missions I’ll not do or now can’t because I shot everybody, but I’m staying true to my character. Ms Courier is a badass looking for Benny’s blood. I want my Vegas penthouse, my robo-trophy wife, I want to be Chairman of the Board. Old World Blues was a fantastic DLC, it’s just frustrating this was kept back; what would I do with talking armour if I’ve already shot everything? Just coming across this in the wasteland would have changed my mind about F:NV - if I had a mind. Fine, stay in the glass jar.

You ready yet? Done with your XP-cheating? I’m bored waiting for you to catch up. I’ve found all the places on the map including a Vault that had nobody in it. Although, amazingly it did have an interesting side-mission where I had to read all the terminals to find out who had won an election which would result in the martyring of a dweller.

So I lose my brain and TheMorty’s tidying up vaults now? New Vegas’ population is going to be surprised when we proclaim ourselves their new leaders. Maybe not; TheMorty’s right, F:NV is filled with off-kilter, self-serving characters that make sense in this scorched earth. They say war never changes, but F:NV shows people don’t either.

Not everyone in F:NV is out for themselves, just you FBT. Try talking to them instead of shooting them. Still, F:NV is both apocalyptic and prophetic; my encounters with the Brotherhood of Steel are a vision of a post-war Trump/Farage army.

With my brutal XP and weapons the main game can’t compete with, I don’t need to scavenge anymore. I start passing up locations because I have no need to go looting. I’m wandering the wastelands like Cobra, shrugging off bullets and melee’ing Radscorpions for sport. I rebuild ammo when I need it, zip back to my sci-fi gaff to refill water thanks to my self-aware sink and sell junk to my AI butler.

Cobra?! Actually you can have that one. Wait, you have a butler? In stark contrast, I’ve now been through almost every follower in the game, enough to trigger a good few loyalty missions. I help Boone uncover what had happened to his wife like any sane, decent person would. Okay, not totally altruistic, solving the mystery turns Boone into an absolute badass and arguably the most influential follower in the game.

See, that’s even more unethical than me not saving followers.

An ethics lesson from the guy who has sex with robots. Having a sniper on your six was the best form of defence. We can’t all be Dwayne Johnson. Not that I’m Kevin Hart, just to be clear. With Boone watching my back, occasionally the game goes slo-mo and you’d see a super-zoom of a Legionnaire’s head exploding. Saved my bacon several times and it’s awesome. Besides, I need the company, milling about waiting for FBT to finish his DLC reps.

I’m going all out and into the last DLC, Honest Hearts where again, I’m trapped – this time between two native-American style tribes fighting over the land. As I’m trying to decide if it’s offensive or not, F:NV crashes. No surprise, but when I reload, it doesn’t. Yup, the save file is corrupted. Autosave? That’s corrupted too. The only save I have is when I left the Old World Blues. Five hours of gameplay and multiple level-ups down the drain. I channel my rage towards Benny.

That’s what you get for being greedy. Literally, Fallout bad karma. I can see FBT in the distance, a big hulking numskull in a nightdress. I on the other hand have naturally gravitated to New Vegas. To be honest though, FBT’s not missing much. It’s is very cool, gawdy sight after the samey wasteland but by the time you reach it, you’ve amassed all the weaponry you need and the skills to keep them sharp – caps are irrelevant. It’s a cool RPG element that I’m totally self-sufficient but while the casinos in San Andreas’ Las Venturas were addictive money-earners, NV is actually a little shallow and samey with little to do.

Most of the casinos have some sort of self-contained drama you can involve yourself in, but it feels a little false, like the real Vegas. All the guys are mobsters who have watched too many movies rather than The Sopranos. They’re just time-wasters, there to fulfil the game’s mobster-Vegas trailer, but a standout is the White Glove Society who I discover when I stop off in the Ultra-Luxe for a beer and a steak while waiting for FBT …

If I wasn’t so pissed off and levelled up, I’d visit the slots and the robo-brothel, but can’t be arsed now. I convince Benny to meet me in his room later, where I kill him during sex.

Of course you did FBT.

That was disappointing (the killing, not the sex). I made Benny my focus, and now it’s done just like that. Benny was intending to overthrow Mr House, Vegas’ Howard Hughes-style benefactor, and I realise my courier would do the same. I link up with The Yes Man, a Securitron who has all the answers - the gambling chip I got shot for contained codes to control Vegas. And upgrades to the Securitron bots roaming the strip. Whoa. A robot army is exactly what my Riddick-like Courier would want. I barely even interacted with The Khans, the NCR, the Legion or any other middling faction; I just x-out House, commandeer the robo army, obliterate the Legion (again), chase off the NCR and proclaim myself ruler of New Vegas. Where the hell is TheMorty? I need a gardener.

This is what irritates me about the entire FO franchise. It builds up to a wonder moment but never really delivers. I opted for the hard way, paying a guard to slip me an undetectable weapon and ensuring an all-out fire fight with a good few deaths and restarts ending in an epic firefight with around 50 of his henchmen on the Casino floor. I had to make it exciting, rather than the game build to something exceptional.

Playing as a pure RPG experience I realised just how few story missions there actually are and that there’s nothing at all stopping you from rocking up to Vegas, heading straight to the Tops Casino and either shoot, stab, punch or, in FBT’s case, shag Benny to death. It’s been our overwhelming focus but turns out the game is more interested in the Strip. But I’m not. Leaving Mr House as a popsicle, I call it a day.

Wait, did TheMorty just leave? Get back here and show me some goddamn respect!

As I stare at my Pipboy map and try to ignore the weirdo yelling at me from Mr House’s balcony, I realise the F:NV map feels a lot, lot smaller than its predecessor and without a focus, it’s very empty and void-like. I lost hours wandering around, but that’s exactly what it was – time lost. Nothing mattered. I didn’t feel satisfied when I finally ejected the disc.

When FBT the Great saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer. Benefits of a Die Hard education. Even though my playthrough was tactical and focused, I still changed the landscape (and not just with a giant, radioactive crater). Many times side-missions I took purely for the XP turned into me doing some good. Or I slept with the mission giver. Red Lucy, I’m gonna need my Sexy Sleepwear back.

FBT the Great? Jesus Christ. He might have shot and shagged his way through the wasteland, but he has a point; it’s not as epic or as impactful as Fallout 3, but that’s it’s idea. You’re not saving the world, you’re finding your place in it; that’s the beauty of RPG and the Fallout series in particular, and when it comes to the characters and side-missions, and the experiences, F:NV does nail - wait, you can sleep with Red Lucy?!

While TheMorty and I both loaded up Fallout New Vegas, we played a different game; that’s the beauty of RPGs but while F:NV is flawed, shallow and crashes constantly, it’s actually a lot better than I remembered because it’s purpose is to let you experience the wasteland in a true RPG setting, more so than Fallout 3 did. It’s certainly not better than Fallout 3, but I couldn’t have played FO3 as freely as I did F:NV. It is the second-best Fallout game.

Okay, you’re right. Your approach of running into everything like Leeroy Jenkins is idiotic, but that’s your choice and it works just as well as my Courier bringing civility to the wasteland. There’s no wrong way to RPG and New Vegas gets that so well, it really tries to ensure experiences are unique to you. It’s not about who maxed out their Level Ups –


- or who got all the Perks –


- OR who found all the locations or had an empty mission list by the end; F:NV is no classic but I’ll concede it’s a great RPG. It’s certainly more satisfying than FO4. Neither of us ‘won’ this, F:NV allowed us to play the character we wanted to be.

Who owns New Vegas?

Fine, but my choice was to leave Vegas and it’s just as right as you turning it into a police state. I might come back, that’s what an RPG is. Who knows what's out there?

So what have we discovered with this play through? That RPGs let you play how you like? That was already fairly well established …

True, this time I didn’t have sex with a robot.

*TheMorty has fast-travelled TF out of the game*

2010 | Developer Obsidian Entertainment | Publisher Bethesda Softworks

Platforms; Win (Steam) | PS3 | X360