Fallout: New Vegas Review: 6 Reasons to Buy

A promotional image of a character in NCR Ranger armor from Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas Review: 6 Reasons to Buy

Thirteen years after its release, many fans still consider Fallout: New Vegas the best the series has to offer. The venerable post-apocalyptic RPG franchise has had many entries, dating back to 1997. Fallout has had several ups and downs in that time. The most recent entry, 2018’s Fallout 76, launched to a negative reception due to the numerous bugs present at launch. In spite of this controversy, fans still love Fallout, due in no small part to classic entries like New Vegas.

While Bethesda’s director Todd Howard has confirmed that Fallout 5 is on the way, it’ll be a long time coming. Other major entries from the studio, such as Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6, will arrive first. Since there’s no hint of a release date for Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5 likely won’t show up for years. This drawn-out wait makes it a perfect time to revisit classic entries such as the timeless Fallout: New Vegas. Here are a few reasons why New Vegas is still so beloved, more than a decade after it came out.

The Iconic Setting of Fallout: New Vegas

A securitron in a cowboy hat standing in front of a car on a casino floor in Fallout: New Vegas
A robot in one of the many casinos of Fallout: New Vegas.

Fallout: New Vegas is technically a spinoff for the franchise, developed by Obsidian Entertainment instead of Bethesda. Its contemporary main series entry, Fallout 3, took place in the region around Washington D.C. Fallout 4 followed suit in 2015 by shifting the action a bit northeast to Massachusetts. This physical proximity gives the games a lot of shared lore to build on.

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Fallout: New Vegas is very much separate from these two games. As the title suggests, it takes place in the Mojave desert in and around Las Vegas. While the overall aesthetic of the franchise still colors New Vegas, it’s a stark contrast to Fallout 3‘s ruined metropolis. The game leans more on foundational lore from the earliest games in the series. It incorporates major US landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas itself to make a setting that’s impossible to forget. DLCs incorporate even more exciting locales, such as Zion National Park. Seeing these vistas through the atomic age apocalypse that has always defined the Fallout franchise is integral to the game’s charm.

The Immersive Open World

The town of Goodsprings in Fallout: New Vegas
The town of Goodsprings in Fallout: New Vegas.

The Fallout series is well-known for its open worlds. While publisher Bethesda is especially famous for such large settings, Obsidian knocked it out of the park for New Vegas. The Mojave Wasteland is one of Fallout’s most immersive settings. A lot of care has gone into the game’s locations, and the result is a setting that truly feels alive.

The driving conflict of Fallout: New Vegas is the growing hostility between the New California Republic and Caesar’s Legion. These two major factions are growing toward an explosive confrontation that will decide the fate of the entire region. Obsidian has done a masterful job of setting up this conflict. The tension and hostility can be felt in just about every corner of the map. Even tiny settlements on the edge of the region have been touched by this brewing war in some way. Every camp and military base you travel through just makes the inevitability of the final battle that much more palpable.

Of course, the Mojave Wasteland has much more to offer than just the threat of destruction. Fallout has always boasted strange and eye-catching locales, and New Vegas is no exception. Players wandering the Mojave will find things like a city built around a dinosaur sculpture, a ski lodge turned super mutant commune, and a golf resort converted into a military base. Of course, being a Fallout game, New Vegas also features plenty of the series’ iconic underground vaults. These infamous fallout shelters protect and torment their inhabitants during the apocalypse that defines the franchise.

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The Story and Factions of Fallout: New Vegas

A member of Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas
A member of Caesar’s Legion in Fallout: New Vegas.

Like other games in the franchise, Fallout: New Vegas allows you to make your mark on the world. You can truly guide the development of the Mojave Wasteland however you see fit. Several different organizations call this game home. This includes minor factions like the Brotherhood of Steel, a franchise mainstay struggling to survive in a hostile world, and the Boomers, a tribe of former vault dwellers whose isolationist philosophy and massive armory make them a potential threat or a valuable ally.

In charting the future of the Mojave, Fallout: New Vegas players are not bound by traditional morality. You’re free to side with Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless army fueled by slave labor if you so choose. You can even form relations with ruthless gangs like the Fiends or the Powder Gangers. Thanks to the game’s dynamic reputation system, though, more altruistic factions might resent you for this. One of the game’s most impressive features is the way that it lends weight and importance to the actions of even the smallest, most minor faction, bringing life to every corner of the Mojave Wasteland and giving the player’s actions real consequences.

Lovable and Indispensable Companions

Raul Tejada, a companion from Fallout: New Vegas
Raul Tejada, a companion from Fallout: New Vegas.

Companions and adventuring parties have been a hallmark of the RPG genre since its very earliest days. This tradition is alive and well in turn-based RPGs like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, to say nothing of the tabletop juggernaut Dungeons & Dragons. Fallout: New Vegas won’t have you command a party of adventurers like these games do. It will, however, let you form deep, meaningful connections with unique companions throughout the game.

There are several excellent companions you can meet in Fallout: New Vegas, and each one offers a deep and engaging story of their own. You can connect with Boone, a grim ex-military sniper, and slowly unearth the tragic details of his sordid past. You can form a bond with chipper Brotherhood of Steel member Veronica, and help her try to save her home from its own failing ideology. Or you can help Cass, the surly caravaneer, confront the horrific attack that ended her trading career. These are just a small handful of the companions that can travel by your side throughout the game.

Deep RPG Mechanics

Fallout: New Vegas' Vigor Tester
Fallout: New Vegas‘ Vigor Tester.

Fallout: New Vegas’ combat might not be the most advanced; the genre has had over a decade since its release to refine shooting mechanics. But the real star of the gameplay in New Vegas is its RPG systems. There are many skills to choose from, and each one will impact your gameplay experience and your interactions with NPCs. Many interactions will call for skill checks, which can greatly impact the course of a quest. This may include resolving a difficult decision in a way that satisfies both parties, bypassing a challenging fight, or even rendering an out-of-the-way quest objective completely irrelevant.

The franchise’s iconic and extensive list of perks enhances the gameplay. These perks can have a massive effect on your playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas. The variety is staggering; while there are plenty of straightforward perks that give you a damage bonus with certain weapon types or boost the effectiveness of healing items, there are also stranger offerings. One of the game’s most iconic perks, Weird Wasteland, doesn’t even influence your gameplay stats at all. It’s worth picking up, though, as it greatly increases the number of strange things that can happen to you.

Widening the Wasteland with DLC

Fallout: New Vegas' Old World Blues expansion
Fallout: New Vegas‘ Old World Blues expansion.

The base Fallout: New Vegas experience offers hundreds of hours of content to satisfy players, and that’s before you factor in the game’s multiple endings. But for players who want more Fallout, New Vegas also offers several high-quality DLC expansions. Each of these campaigns features an exciting new region to explore, from the aforementioned natural beauty of Zion National Park to an abandoned luxury resort clouded with toxic gas and an even more deadly past, to a massive crater turned scientific compound, crawling with abominations both robotic and genetic in nature.

Each of these DLCs offers plenty of adventure and exploration, but they also do an excellent job of adding depth and complexity to the world of the base game. Story threads that Fallout: New Vegas teased and hinted at are expertly picked up and resolved by the DLC expansions. The experience culminates excellently in Lonesome Road, a climactic showdown in a ruined canyon that offers a very intimate finale.

Fallout: New Vegas is an absolute treasure trove of a game, with a hard-hitting and massive story that’s just as extensive and deep as its rich open world. Obsidian has excelled in crafting a world that feels real, full of relatable and lovable characters caught up in a conflict that’s vaster than them all. The video game market in the modern day is full of extremely high-quality open-world games. There are titles that offer much larger worlds, and more engaging combat, but there may never be another game that can truly recapture the magic of Fallout: New Vegas.

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