September 27, 2011

War Never Changes… Just Our Games.

There are more than a few differences between the Capital Wasteland and the Mojave Wasteland. This stems from a different development team for each game, both of which fall under the Bethesda Softworks umbrella. Obsidian Entertainment added some interesting new elements. Honestly, I would like to see most of them worked into a Fallout 3 update/overhaul.

First off, hardcore mode is brilliant. It adds a level of realism, challenge, and complete immersion that just isn’t there in Fallout 3. I find that, when I’m playing Fallout 3, I tend to get bored as I progress through the game. With so many inventory items like ammunition, and a few others being completely weightless, it’s far too easy to be able to afford absolutely anything your heart desires. It also keeps me aware that I’m playing a game at all times, at least on some level. I never have to think of what I might actually need in a wasteland survival scenario, as I can just afford and carry it all. This same immersion-proof wall is reinforced by never needing to sleep, eat, or stay hydrated. Combat is never frightening when you can have thousands of instant-effect stimpacks ready for spamming on your hotkey of choice. For all these reasons and more, hardcore mode made me fall in love with Fallout all over again, and completely from scratch. It got me out of my bad hoarding habits, and put me in a bare-essentials-only survival simulation. The change couldn’t possibly have been more refreshing.

A close second for me is weapon customization. It’s not a very big deal for some playing styles, but as an avid fan of the stealthy approach, its absence in Fallout 3 certainly leaves a void. Why would a stealthy character ever pursue mastery of energy weapons, for instance, if there are no scopes for laser rifles? It also adds a new collectable area to the game. During my first play-through of New Vegas, I made a point of trying to have one of each customizable weapon on display in my suite—fully upgraded. It was something else to seek out and work towards. Even if the weapon upgrades don’t affect all playing styles equally, their collectability is universal, and increases their value for barter.   Those are the two big ones for my list of improvements in New Vegas. I will say, however, that there was one thing in particular that I can’t believe was left out of that game from its predecessor: the Vault-Tec Bobble Heads. Their benefits are obvious, and clearly brilliant. Why would Obsidian ever do away with them? Even if they were just trying to differentiate and carve out their own niche, I still say with absolute certainty that it was a bad move.

Well, as usual, let’s hear your side! Anything you think I missed? Feel free to leave a comment below. Even if I missed one of your favorites, I think we can all agree on hoping that we see the best from both games in the next Fallout installment.

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