Fallout: New Vegas is an action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. The Fallout franchise takes heavy inspiration from the Wasteland franchise, but has its own aesthetic and rarely feels like a shameless ripoff.
Mechanically, New Vegas has strayed far from its Wasteland roots. It is a first-person shooter rather than a more traditional RPG. The emphasis on story is still there, but the delivery is very different. You create a character by spending a small amount of points upgrading your skills and choosing your specialties. It makes every playthrough feel fairly different in gameplay, but with the same general mechanics. You encounter skill checks throughout the game that unlock special interactions if you pass them. This creates a custom path for your character, further adding replay value. In general, the role playing aspects are the best part of the game.
New Vegas’s biggest issue is its shooting mechanics. It’s made even more frustrating by the fact that the gear system is fairly deep and engaging. There is a huge amount of guns and just as many unique types of ammo. It could have been an amazing combination of RPG gear depth and polished FPS mechanics, but it winds up with a lot of wasted potential. It feels like a great C-RPG crudely pasted onto a first-person shooter.
Presentation is erratic, thanks to a mix of some fantastic voice acting and some awful voice acting. It hits more than it misses, but the misses are very noticeable. The repetitive use of voice lines can take you out of the game, but once it switches back to plot based voice acting, it improves a lot. Similarly, the graphics have a range too. Some textures look great, while others are fuzzy messes. The environmental design is exceptional, taking pressure off the graphics. Some places are underwhelming, most notably the largest environments, which tend to feel empty and hollow. The smaller scale locales show clear attention to detail. With more time spent on the big locations, the world could have felt a lot more fleshed out.
The game’s performance also leaves a lot to be desired, presumably due to its rushed release. New Vegas is poorly optimized and struggles to run well, even on high tier PCs. Bugs are numerous and regular, often resulting in crashes. Thankfully, the modding community has created a number of stability oriented mods that solve many, but not all, issues.
Without mods, New Vegas is a flawed gem, with a lot of positives and some abysmal negatives. After doing some extensive modding, you can turn New Vegas into a great game, although some technical issues will always remain. There are many new quests you can download, with varying levels of quality. RPG mechanics can be improved upon, shooting mechanics get more modern and fun, graphics are updated. It all works together to help achieve most of the game’s potential. It still isn’t perfect, but it makes for an enjoyable story that keeps you engaged with combat throughout.
*rating is based off of a modded version of New Vegas