Open world games are pretty much my favourite type of game. There’s very little I enjoy more in a game than venturing out into the wilderness and just exploring things as I find them, heading towards whatever catches my interest on the horizon. It’s a feeling that surprisingly few games manage to capture, but Bethesda have the feeling nailed down – the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series’ are, as far as I’m concerned, the standard when it comes to capturing this feeling of exploration.
There is no end to the content in these games and, as a result, you’re never short of things to explore. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are really two sides of the same bottle cap – they’re both first person RPGs with perk systems set in immense worlds with a significant random element to them, but New Vegas is all guns and explosives whilst Skyrim is swords and sorcery. It’s difficult to choose a favourite for me as they out-perform each other in different areas and I love the setting of both.[drop]For those who are unaware somehow, Fallout is a series that started in 1997 as a turn-based strategy. Essentially an unofficial sequel to Wasteland, which released a decade earlier, the game is set in a post nuclear world, the final result of a war started in the 1950s over the last non-renewable fuels.
Needless to say, nuclear war resulted in the world pretty much going to hell, leaving behind a post-apocalyptic, barren landscape filled with radiation and irradiated mutants. On this wasteland, mankind continues to try and survive, rebuilding and salvaging whatever it can. Fallout: New Vegas is the fourth game in the main series, set in and around a rebuilt Las Vegas and focusing on your character – a courier who is killed and buried in the opening cutscene.
Fret not, however, as you’re dug up and saved by a mysterious robot and sent out into the world with the intent of finding whoever was responsible for your death and discovering the truth around your circumstances and what it was you were transporting. As you might expect, after the opening section you’re free to wander around and do whatever you want, whether you do the story missions, busy yourself with side missions or just murder and pillage every settlement you come across.
To help you out, you’ve got VATS. Though it sounds like a terrible disease, VATS actually stands for Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System and lets you pause the game and spend your action points by targeting different sections of your enemies’ bodies – damage their arms enough and they won’t be able to use guns, damage their legs enough and they’ll move more slowly. You’re also given a percentage chance of a hit as you’re selecting your target to help you choose the optimal body part to fill with lead.
Even more helpful that VATS, however, are obviously guns. There are a few types of weapons in New Vegas, from pistols to heavy weapons like flamethrowers or rocket launchers, there’s rarely a shortage of things to hurt people with. If worse comes to worst and you run out of ammo, you can always beat them up with a pool cue or just punch their stupid face until it no longer resembles one.
Fallout 3 and New Vegas are both superb games. Which is ‘better’ is down to personal preference more than anything else. Fallout 3 is cheaper (£15 on Steam for the GOTY edition, which includes a lot of very worthwhile DLC), being older, but New Vegas has better shooting and is a bit more polished (£15 on Steam without DLC). If in doubt, buy New Vegas, then buy Fallout 3 after you’ve burned through FNV and still somehow want more.