Fallout: New Vegas is an enormous patchwork of exploration, missions and odd jobs which will test your wandering spirit and skill to the limit. Just as in Fallout 3, the driving force is your character’s experience level, which defines your abilities and how powerful you are when called to arms.
As you discover new corners of the map, complete quests and beat enemies into the dust, you gain experience points which eventually turn The Courier into a super enhanced survival expert. You must then decide how to specialise. For instance, an increased lock-picking ability makes it easier to access weapon stashes, but that might mean you have less skill points to spend on the handgun speciality, computer hacking expertise or any one of dozens of traits. Effectively it means you could play through the game many times and evolve a completely different character on each occasion.
The Karma system also returns, which influences how the world responds to you. Rob a farmer blind and your Karma takes a hit, making it less likely that people will help you in the future. Help that farmer out, by running errands or defending him from attackers, and your Karma is raised. It’s another example of the juggling act Fallout: New Vegas inspires you to perform, and it often pays to veer between the good and bad ends of the Karma spectrum.
New to the Fallout series is the Reputation system, which works alongside the Karma system to determine how you are viewed by people in the game. New Vegas is teeming with gangs, and your loyalties will be tested by the missions you choose to take part in. One such quest has you teaming up with a local militia group to storm a rival gang’s heavily defended compound, which endears you to the militia but makes you a marked man should the gang ever spot you again. Thankfully, friendly and hostile settlements are marked on your trusty PIP-Boy (your personal information tool), so you’ll know when to bed down and when to hightail it.
All this takes place in a world full of the spoils of nuclear war. Rocket launchers, napalm throwers, lasers, mini-nukes and much more are scattered throughout the Mojave wasteland. Exploration, an unparalleled endurance test, the ability to customise weapons and a world crawling with possibilities: Fallout: New Vegas has it all. Fallout: New Vegas is a game full of choices, the biggest of which decides whether you live or die. The question is, do you feel lucky enough to venture into every corner of a land which could kill you in an instant?