Games of the Generation: Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

As the longest console generation in history comes to a close, the GamerNode staff reflects on the games that made this era so great. Games of the Generation is a new GamerNode original feature that allows us to share that passion and nostalgia for the most memorable and significant titles of the last eight years — since November 22, 2005, specifically — and explain why these games have defined a generation and will forever stand as touchstones in gaming history.

October 19, 2010 – Obsidian Entertainment – Bethesda Softworks – 360, PS3, PC

Fallout: New Vegas

I’m an international relations addict. I enjoy studying how sovereign nations navigate through conflict. This interest often winds up influencing my choices in pop culture entertainment. Second to this is my admiration for the detective genre. Like many consumers of fiction, there is something intrinsically appealing to me about a good mystery. I’m in heaven when a detective story features international intrigue in its plot. Take, for example, the 1982 film Missing. The greater the story’s scope, and the more far-reaching the consequences of the mystery, the more immersed I become in the narrative. These storytelling passions explain why 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas is one of my favorite games of this console generation.

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas opens with you, the unnamed Courier, being shot in the head and left for dead in the post-apocalyptic Mojave Wasteland. The man responsible, a gaudily-dressed individual name Benny, took the Platinum Chip you were carrying after he put one in your brainpan. A short time later, you awaken with your memory in tatters. You then set upon your quest to discover the truth behind the attack. What begins as a revenge tale, however, quickly turns into a scenario analogous to the Cold War. You quickly become embroiled in a conflict between two nations over the still-standing Hoover Dam. This tension is one of order versus anarchy, between the New California Republic (NCR) — a plutocratic nation born out of the ruins of the Pacific coast — and Caesar’s Legion, which has taken on the banner and practices of old Rome (including the barbarity). Meanwhile, Las Vegas, one of the few North American cities spared from nuclear devastation, stands between the two. The city is run by the enigmatic Mr. House and his gang of robots. Throughout the game you must choose which, if any, of these factions you wish to ally yourself with in this conflict.

Fallout 3, released by Bethesda in 2008, garnered greater fame and recognition than Fallout: New Vegas. Indeed Fallout 3 is a great game in its own right. It replicated many of the series’ well-known elements for a new generation of consoles while expanding the definition of an open-world RPG. Fallout 3, however, felt more like a series of loosely connected subplots that don’t really come together until the game’s conclusion. In Fallout: New Vegas, everything builds up to the ultimate conflict over the Hoover Dam. The shadow of this impending battle looms large over all of the proceedings. Thus while Fallout 3 brought the series to new heights in terms of setting, it was Fallout: New Vegas that possessed a storyline to fit this scope. The faction that controls the Hoover Damn may control not only the Mojave Wasteland, but the entirety of what was the western United States. Compare this to the small territory that made up the D.C.-Area wasteland in Fallout 3.

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas simultaneously introduced and brought back elements to the series that complimented its tale of international politics. The reputation system, first introduced in Fallout 2returned. This allowed you to burnish or tarnish your standing with certain groups. Much like in real-world international policy, you cannot be friends with everyone. There are winners and losers tied to each choice you make. Moreover, the inclusion of companion subplots painted an even clearer picture of how the impending conflict between the NCR and Caesar’s Legion affects the residents of the Mojave Desert.

This isn’t to say Fallout: New Vegas is a perfect game. Its initial release had more bugs than a feral dog. Nevertheless, for me Fallout: New Vegas marked a turning point in the complexity of storytelling in video games. Developers have created both epic stories and vast, open worlds. Fallout: New Vegas was the first time the two perfectly coalesced into a single, cohesive whole.


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Author: David Taylor View all posts by
David's addiction to video games began shortly after receiving his NES for Christmas in 1987 (it still works!). When David is not reminiscing about Chrono Trigger (his favorite game) he is hiking in north Georgia, scuba diving, or watching the endless amounts of B-movies on his instant Netflix queue.

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