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Thursday, April 8, 2010

7 Reasons Why It's Okay to Reverently Anticipate Fallout: New Vegas

It's always risky to get caught up in the hype for a game. As anticipation and excitement builds, so too do expectations and emotional investment, until even a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent game can feel like a personal betrayal. This effect is stronger when dealing with well-loved franchises, where the emotional investment has been established over years and years. It is usually advisable to maintain objectivity in order to protect your own enjoyment of the experience.

With a game like Fallout: New Vegas, however, it's much safer to throw sobriety out of the window, covered in streamers and raining confetti. Here's why:
  1. It's Fallout. This may be obvious, but it's kind of important. 
  2. It's built on an established engine. The engine that Bethesda used to build both TES: Oblivion and Fallout 3 has clearly demonstrated its ability to create massive, detailed, open worlds that communicate a clear sense of environment and scale. Fallout 3 proved that the Fallout universe could not only function within a fully 3D environment viewed from a first person perspective, but could flourish, dramatically increasing the emotional impact and scale of the Fallout setting.
  3. It's going to be in Vegas. There is no better city to embody the darker side of the American identity than Las Vegas, and, if the trailer is any indication, the manic celebration of vice, fantasy and artificiality is still very much alive and buzzing in the post-nuclear world.
  4. There is a 'Hard Core' mode. There was little threat from the environment in Fallout 3, which frustratingly ignored the fact that you were living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. This new mode finally tries to bring the player's struggle into the setting: dehydration is a concern, ammo has weight, stimpacks heal over time. These small changes allow the narrative setting to have an impact on the player, so that the post-apocalyptic world becomes a part of the story, instead of just being the place where it happens.
  5. Bethesda is producing it. Bethesda has demonstrated that they are strongly committed to their players and their community. They've long supported and encouraged the mod community, and have given players wide access to development tools. Despite a few hiccups in the early days of Oblivion, they've also proven to be a leader in the field of downloadable content, especially with Fallout 3. Moreover, if #4 is any indication, they are also paying attention: survival mods are some of the more popular game-changing downloads, as are mods which add weapon modification options (another new feature in New Vegas).
  6. Obsidian is developing it. Obsidian may seem like a natural choice to develop a big-name sequel, since they've certainly earned their reputation as the go-to studio for follow-ups to big RPG titles. But for them, this is not just any other sequel: the studio was founded by the producer of the original Fallout, Feargus Urquhart, and other victims of the Interplay diaspora. Moreover, the members of the core creative design team for New Vegas all have previous Fallout experience, including Chris Avellone (Fallout 2), Brian Menzie (Fallout 1+2) and Josh Sawyer (Fallout 3). 
  7. This Picture: 


Yes. that just happened.

I, for one, intend to throw caution and sobriety to the wind. Nothing's a sure bet, but the deck certainly seems stacked in our favor. Here's to drunken anticipation.

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