fallout new vegas

Late to the Game: Fallout: New Vegas

This is another game I got during the summer Steam sale. As you can see, I take my time on these things. I’ve never played other Fallout games and the closest I’ve come to an FPS RPG are those simple “you can upgrade your weapons” mechanics. Little customization beyond abilities.

I’ve only been playing in short spurts because, to be honest, the game is kinda boring. It takes a long time to get past the world-building, then the main character’s backstory, then the character customization which goes on and on. And I have no idea what character I want to be, so I just end up being myself. The simple fact is I don’t know how the different skills and perks factor into the gameplay, so it’s like a bunch of quiz-taking for nothing. Like in the beginning of Kingdom Hearts.

fallout new vegas screenshot guy
“Sarah Connor?”

I’m not sure why bother making an FPS game with RPG attributes. You can either do battle the “run and gun”/”strafe and aim” way or switch to “matrix time” and target limbs a la Vagrant Story. Neither of these elements feels particularly immersive.

Maybe it’s just because I got done playing Dishonored, but it feels really dissonant when a character walks right past a corpse and does nothing (not that the guards in Dishonored were any smarter beyond that). Here’s the thing. I should be able to sneak behind a guy and do a one-hit kill — slice his nads open or tase him in the rectum. But instead, you make a hit, do a little damage, then he turns around and you trade bullets like snowballs. I know this was made three years ago, but you should be able to choke the guy out if the game gives you the ability to be stealthy and sneak up on people.

fallout new vegas screenshot road
Let’s see… I can go to that brown hill or… that brown mound… or that brown area over there.

Maybe it’s cause I’m starting early, but the game is just going really slow. I run slow, I reload slow, my weapons are slow, the story is slow people die slow. To be honest, I’m still not sure what my main goal is.  And battle is ridiculous. It’s not like these guys are demons or zombies. They take bullet after bullet after bullet and don’t die.

fallout new vegas screenshot guy
Armor can’t protect everything

I don’t like the amnesia thing. And it’s sooooo common for that in RPGs or character creation mechanics. I’m alone all the time. I miss the old days where I had a party. Where I had a relationship to the characters instead of drop-in/drop-out like a ronin.  Your character is generic, so you can’t form a relationship based on personality dynamics.

I wish it was more like Final Fantasy 7. You still had the amnesia plot, but it wasn’t like you started from zero. You had a relationship with Tifa. Through Tifa, you knew Barret. Through one of Barret’s missions, you found Aeris. And so on and so on as the adventure continued. You formed a cohesive team with characters you grew with and cared about. The characters in Fallout: NV feel like animatronic robots at Disneyworld.

fallout new vegas screenshot jukebox dog
“I… am… job…”

The dialogue has no guff because it can’t go based on your personality because you don’t have one. You can’t roleplay because the game doesn’t really change based on your attributes.  There are barter and speech attributes, but those are A) very ludodissonant (a la a Dungeon & Dragons charisma stat) and B) only for getting information. And I haven’t mentioned the bugs.  The game’s saved me from a lot of fights because animals got stuck in the ground.

fallout new vegas screenshot robot
Needs more robots

So this is a game I’m on the fence about continuing. The environment looks so blah — brown desert and more brown desert — so I have no desire to explore.  And growth/getting stronger doesn’t feel worth it.  Those are two core RPG mechanics that need to work for a game like this.  And I’m wandering around aimlessly and feeling generally weak. I’m trying to play the system, not the game.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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