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Fallout New Vegas Day#1: Go West, Young Courier

Fallout New Vegas is so far exactly what you can expect from a modern Fallout game. There’s a lot (in my opinion too much) of character creation interface and overly precise determination. And then it’s tutorial for the most part as I remind myself how to fight and such. But overall, the atmosphere is basically right and some of the characters are pretty good, so it’s an interesting start. I’m still excited. Spoilers within.

I should start by saying that I loved Fallout 3. I really think that it redefined the open-world genre, and despite the fact that the story was at times silly, there was some very good use of interactive narrative. So another version of Fallout with supposedly better story is a must have for me. The game dives right in with the Western images and theme music before it falls back to the basic Fallout title card: soldier in a gas mask on a black background. I hit start to get the menu and apparently I can continue from my last saved game? Does that mean my Fallout 3 game? Ok, why not?  Oh, no saved game found. So…yeah. I guess I shouldn’t have had that option. Wow is that dumb. Not an auspicious start. I now select New Game.

It starts with a CS  of a moon on poster in a casino, itself called Blue Moon. It’s empty and we continue to zoom outside to Vegas people and robots in the streets of the city. We continue past the fence to a guy on the Vegas sign shooting a sniper rifle at a warrior on the outside. We see other factions (Romans and Gangsters) moving as the classic “War Never Changes” voiceover makes its appearance. The voiceover explains vaults and how vault people escaped to form tribes. One  set formed the New California Republic which went east and found an untouched city in the desert. The NCR went on to Hoover Dam to restore it, but another tribe called Caeser’s Legion, an army of slaves, attacked the dam from the other side.  The city of New Vegas has stayed open under the authority of Mr House, a figure independent from both factions.  I’m told my character is a courier hired by the Mojave to drop something off.  I wake up in a first-person  CS tied up with people talking about a bad deal. A guy in a suit tells me the game was rigged from the start. He shoots me and the game title comes up as we fade out of the scene.

We come to in a white flash, and as it clears, I see the ceiling. Next to my bed, there’s a western sounding guy talking to me about damage. When he asks, I give my standard name of Jason. He replies that he’s Doc Mitchell in Good Springs. He says he fixed my brain and wants to give me a test to see if my appearance is okay. The character avatar creation is yet again WAY too complicated — there are lots of sliders that don’t seem to do anything. I quickly finish and he gets me up. He wants me to walk to something called a Vigor Tester; I walk across the room and activate it. This is the part where I set up my stats. I go for intelligence,  perception, agility, and luck, but play down my strength. Doc’s next task is a set of psychological tests:  word association, statement agreement, and a set of Rorschach images that doesn’t look like any of the options I’ve given. It’s an interesting way to try to establish my skills, but I think these things are always too clever and never give you what you really want. And I turn out to be right in this case, so I change all of my specialties to focus on guns, repair, and speech. I then have a chance to take traits, but I don’t think I want any. They all have negative sides.  I eventually take one I thought to be interesting, and the one I pick  makes me shoot slower but more accurately. My testing complete, Doc gives me my stuff and a new pip-boy and sends me on my way. As I walking away, a pop-up appears to tell me that there’s a hardcore mode where Stimpacks heal more slowly and I need to keep track of food in order to get some special narrative at the end.  HELL YES I SAY. I then leave the Doc’s house to go out to Good Springs.

It’s a western desert town outside. I check my Pip-Boy and see that I have a quest to deliver a platinum chip. I enter a saloon as a first step, and in there I find Sunny. I talk to her, and she decides that she wants to teach me to shoot. We go back outside and shoot some bottles. I hit all three with three bullets. The game tells me this is a tutorial and gives me a chance to bail, but I decide to stick with it (it’s been a while since my last Fallout) so I agree to hunt gecko with her. We go to a series of water pumps where there are large gecko lizards. As usual for new Fallout stuff, I can either do FPS shooting or click a right trigger to activate V.A.T.S. to freeze the action, pick a spot on the enemies’ bodies I want to hit based on hit percentages, and then roll the dice (figuratively) to see if I hit. The gecko are very weak so we dispatch all three groups handily.

Once I do that, Sunny gives me another quest to get some  herbs. I start following a minimap/direction display to my quest. I get into a fight along the way and then die suddenly (I don’t know why). However, when I respawn, I HAVE TO DO FUCKING TUTORIAL OVER. At least this time, I see a traveler killed at the final water pump and some dialogue about not getting there soon enough to save her suddenly makes sense. Once I get the herb quest again,  I go to a nearby schoolhouse. Inside there are a bunch of bugs to kill and a locked safe that I don’t have a high enough lockpicking skill. It takes forever with me wandering on the inside and outside the schoolhouse,  but finally I find xander root (the first ingredient). Getting the broc flower is much easier; I just have to head to a graveyard, killing someone called a Powder Gangster along the way, and kill some giant bees in a field to reach the flower. Having both ingredients, I head back to the camp. I get back to Sunny, and she offers to teach me how to make healing powder. I go to campfire and make it by dragging the ingredients together. I guess that’s the much hyped crafting system. Healing powder is the only thing I can make right now.

The Sunny quests done, I have to head back to the saloon to meet someone named Trudy. I go back to the  Prospector Saloon. There I see Trudy talking to someone named Joe Webb. I interrupt a natural part of the conversation to talk to Joe. He’s looking for a guy named Ringo who owes the Powder Gangsters (of which Joe is one) toll money. He says the gang has taken over the area. He tells me about Caeser’s Legion and NCR after I charm him, and he leaves with a vague threat. I talk to Trudy about all of this. She tells me that Ringo is up at the gas station and the Powder Gangs threaten the town regularly now. In short, I get lots of details. I also learned that the robot that saved me is a weird cheerful cowboy. Furthermore, Summers has that the people that killed me traveled on, but are sure to avoid a bad area around I-15. I wander around the town until I find Victor. He’s a quiet cool and friendly.  The robots is a  cool character, and does a very good job keeping the same tone throughout. He says that he hid and saved me, but that’s just because here’s a security robot. Once the conversation is finish, I decide to call it a night.

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