Why Fallout New Vegas Is Good: 10 Reasons Players Love It

That face will be the last thing you see...

Have you ever wanted to role-play as a four-eyed, uncharismatic loser with a gambling problem, unable to have meaningful dialogue with members of society? I sure have! But maybe I shouldn’t be projecting too much here.What I will do is tell you why this 13-year-old RPG is still the best game of its kind. I could easily give you 100 reasons, but I know you have a busy schedule, so here’s 10 instead.


10. A Captivating Post-Apocalyptic Scenario 

Players generally like post-apocalyptic scenarios, but what sets New Vegas apart from the rest? Continuing on from its predecessors Fallout 1, 2 and 3, the events of New Vegas take place in a 1950’s-inspired futuristic world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust. But unlike the landscapes of its predecessors, the city of New Vegas and most of its surrounding area were left largely untouched by the war. Why? It is this question and many others like it that captivate players, pulling them deeper into the world-building of New Vegas. As you explore the wasteland and learn about the world, you find out that a big tech CEO, Robert House, installed lasers atop a casino he bought and neutralised a majority of the warheads aimed at the city. What a hero! I wonder if Elon Musk would do the same should we find ourselves facing the sweet embrace of nuclear fire.  So, not only do you have to struggle to survive in an unforgiving irradiated wasteland, but the developers have thought up ways to make you invest time in figuring out just why the world of New Vegas is the way it is. Asking questions is what leads to an engaging narrative experience. And the lead writer of New Vegas, Jon Gonzalez, has a talent for writing an engaging story. Speaking of which, 

9. The Story


The story opens with you getting shot in the head.


That’s brilliant! I mean, what more do I need to say? This alone should convince you to buy the game if you haven’t already. It is the reversal of how Fallout 3 opens with your character’s birth. Only speculation here, but maybe Gonzalez is telling us that opening an RPG with your character’s birth is boooooriiiiing. Anyway, the man blowing your head off  is a 1950s “cool guy” in a chequered suit flanked by two other men referred to as ‘Khans.’ He tells you that you’ve made your last delivery, showing you the poker chip you’re about to die over, before executing you. Thankfully, the game doesn’t end there, and you’re rescued by a robotic cowboy called Victor. This is clever because it wipes the slate clean; you have amnesia as a result of your head wound and have forgotten your past life. Its’s time to start over. Any way you want. Not only that, but questions have been raised in a natural way. Who is the man in the chequered suit? Why is that poker chip so important you had to die over it? Who are the men flanking him, and why were they dressed so differently? You see what the developers are doing? They’re hooking you in a way you don’t notice at first. New Vegas isn’t overbearing, treating you like a child. It is a game that invites you to take part in the world building intuitively. This is how you are introduced to the two main rival factions: Caesar’s Legion and the NCR (New California Republic) The rest of the game is a lateral progression towards the second battle for Hoover Dam, where you get to decide which faction you’ll support, recruit other factions to your side, and prepare for the battle. However, it wouldn’t be a proper RPG without,

8. Freedom of Choice 

New Vegas excels at allowing players the freedom of choice. There are many, but one of the best ways is through how the skill sets you choose can influence the game. Take dialogue, as an example. The speech skill in New Vegas isn’t the only way a player can influence dialogue. ALL the skill sets influence dialogue, meaning how you decide to build your character can lead to different, often unexpected, results. At the start of the game, you have the option of helping a small town defend itself against a band of raiders calling themselves Powder Gangers. To achieve this, you will need to convince the townsfolk to rally around your cause.But here’s the catch: you have to prove your capabilities. Want to equip the townsfolk with better weapons and armour? Better have enough points allocated to the barter skill to help persuade the local store owner to willingly part with his merchandise. In fact, this quest is great at teaching players early on how the skill set mechanic can direct the game. It forces you to plan ahead and take the time to consider where you will allocate your skill points. And because the developers decreased the amount of skill points you receive upon levelling up, your consideration carries extra weight. Another small way New Vegas gives their players freedom of choice is through the option of  added realism in the form of hardcore mode. This is a choice players can make at the start of the game, or switch on or off at any point during the playthrough. It adds hunger and thirst mechanics as well as making stimpaks regenerate your health over time, so you can’t pause the game and suddenly have a full health bar.  Also, your companions can die! Which means you really only have a limited number of packbrahmins. So better make them count if you do choose this play style. With the addition of countless types of weapons, ammo,  and apparel, never before has  an RPG given players so much scope for their character development. Big game, right? So, let’s move on to,

7. The Sheer Vastness of the Game

Fallout: New Vegas has a large and pretty world for players to explore. Sprawlingcanyons, swirling dust devils, and the occasional bouncing tumbleweeds all add to a sense of atmosphere. However, this would be just scratching the surface.Yes, you can traverse the open wasteland in any direction you want, at any point.But you will do so at your own peril. If you make the unwise decision to head north to the city upon starting the game, a quarry worker warns you that there is a nest of Deathclaws nearby. If you think you know better, you will die. Plan to head north-east instead and skirt around the quarry? You will run into large,yet seemingly harmless, flying insects that will poison you, and you will die. Also, if you somehow manage to survive but don’t have the hard-to-find antidote to their venom, you will die. Well, you can make the antidote using your survival skill if you have the ingredients, or use up all your medical supplies while the poison runs its course, but that’s not the point. And also very unlikely, especially early on. It’s not like the developers have contempt for the player though, they’re just trying to get you to realise somethingThe Mojave wasteland is an inhospitable, unforgiving, and uncompromising environment. You will need to have your wits about you in order to survive. A good role-playing game isn’t good because it has a big, pretty map scattered with cool landmarks like Hoover Dam. It is good because it makes you really feel like you’re struggling to survive. You might be glad to know that New Vegas will find more ways than that to engage you.

6. Player Engagement 

We’ve talked about a few ways this game engages players already, so why not address this topic directly? Narrative engagement is achieved through the story’s raising of questions, and the Mojave wasteland will force you to make use of your survival instincts. But the developers also use that same harsh and dangerous environment to get you to do what your teachers never could. Pay attention. Specifically, paying attention to the environment. This is because the environments are as detailed as they are pretty. But what’s important is how these details engage you. Jacobstown is a good case study. What used to be a tranquil,pre-war resort located atop an isolated mountain has been transformed by a friendly super mutant population into a rehabilitation centre. A type of super mutant, Nightkin, relies on it as they suffer from schizophrenia due to their prolonged use of stealth devices that make them invisible.But you won’t know this at first. While you climb the mountain, you begin to realise this location has been left mostly untouched by nukes. Tall trees lush with vegetation (for a wasteland anyway) are spread around the area. And there’s snow! One of the super mutants even remarks that he hopes it will snow soon. You might have been sent there on a quest for a certain cyborg dog’s brain transplant, or you might have just stumbled upon it. Either way, there is always something for the player to look at or discover. As it happens, you find Lily in Jacobstown, a Nightkin super mutant with schizophrenia doing animal husbandry, whom you can recruit as your companion. She even confuses you with her grandchild at first. How compelling! The game teaches you, without holding your hand, that if you keep your eyes peeled and pay attention to the world around you, you will find all sorts of weapons, trivia, and so much more. It truly makes you feel like you are the master of your own destiny. Players are kept way more engaged when the environment around them naturally guides them into a story. Even a simple side story like helping an old doctor who wants to achieve a final good deed before he dies, rid the Nightkin of their schizophrenia. Along with this, the player is engaged in the lateral progression of their character. I have mentioned the points based skill increase mechanic a little before, but I didn’t mention that every couple levels you get to choose a perk. The perks available to you are hinged upon how much you want to develop a skill. If you neglect the unarmed skill, you can’t choose a perk like ‘super slam’ which lets you knock an enemy npc to the floor for a few moments. This engages the player in the levelling-up process. You will want to develop skills because you know you can choose a perk that will lead to some cool abilities. Not only are you kept engaged, but the sheer volume of options and choices will repeatedly bring you back to New Vegas, leading us to… 

5. Replayability 

Sometimes wonder how many times I have played this game over the last 13 years.Ach, I’ve probably lost count a long time ago. But what has kept me coming back over and over again? My answer is that actions have consequences. Let me tell you about what happened during one of  my many playthroughs. While exploring, I entered a random house whose resident was a grumpy old fart telling me to leave…so I murdered him in cold blood! Immediately, the game informs me that I failed the quest ‘For Auld Lang Syne.’ Little did I know at the time that this was the quest where you could recruit the last few remnants of the Enclave (the secretive military branch of the old US government) to your side. It was a refreshing reminder that, while you do have the freedom to make any decision you want, actions carry irreversible consequences…just like in real life! Your actions and the ensuing consequences are precisely what will keep people returning to this title. Every playthrough will be different. I promise. There’s a lot more I could say about the replayability factor, but it would be easier to do if we moved onto…

4. The Companions 


The companions in New Vegas are awesome! I could write a whole article consisting of just what makes each of them unique in their own special way. There are 8 permanent companions .


Lily, the aforementioned schizophrenic nightkin.

Raul is a Mexican ghoul whom you can rescue from super mutants.

Boone is a retired elite sniper with a tragic past.

Cass is an alcoholic, tough as nails cowgirl.

Arcade is a genius scientist.

Veronica is a sidelined, punchy(literally) member of the Brotherhood of Steel.

ED-E is a hovering recon robot.

Rex is a cyborg dog. (for all the animal lovers out there)

What they all have in common is intriguing character development that you wouldn’t necessarily expect npc companions to have in a game. That’s correct, even the robot and the dog! Their stories are layered, often tragic and filled with grief and loss at the hands of an inconsiderate wasteland. You will find them so human and so emotionally touching that I can guarantee some of their stories will bring you to tears. If you know,you know. It draws your attention even closer to the serious moral themes in the game: the heart- wrenching reality that the world is unsympathetic and unforgiving. And that the best you can do sometimes is just move on with your life. Did I mention you can also sell your companion into slavery? Well, you can! You can also offer one of them as a replacement meal to a secretive society of cannibals. I love this game! 

3. The Factions 

This is probably my favourite feature in New Vegas. Like the companions, the factions are also layered and have enormous depth.They have history behind them (often referencing earlier Fallout games), making them feel like a real and impactful presence in the game’s story. The player has ample opportunities to learn all this. And, as with most everything in New Vegas, players discover the knowledge through intuitive gameplay. You learn about the pre-existing conflicts between the factions, their ambitions, fears, and feuds. Uncover, for example, the crass justifications of the main bad guy faction, Caesar's Legion, by having a chance to speak to their dictator, Caesar himself. If you disagree with him, you may choose to engage him in a debate, employing your most sophisticated ideas in the form of grenades or bullets. It is really up to you. And that’s the thing. You are a free agent. And these factions need you. You decide who you’re backing… or wiping off the face of the earth. Your reputation with both the major factions and the minor ones is also worth considering too. It ranges from idolised to vilified and everything in between. If you do good deeds for a faction and some evil, you gain the reputation of being a ‘Dark Hero’ The factions and your interactions with them remind you that there is no black or white; everything is murky grey in the Mojave wasteland. Why have I held this game so close to my heart? Well… 

2. A Beloved Classic 

Did you know it took Obsidian, the developers, 18 months to make this game? Seriously! Take a few seconds to consider that. Imagine the intense work ethic involved in crafting a game so beautifully layered with so much character and depth. No wonder Fallout: New Vegas shines so brightly among western RPGs. It is a game that has  a dedicated fan base and a thriving modding community. I could spend days talking about all my favourite mods, but I like to think I’m sane, so I won’t do that here. I’ll mention this, however. Josh Sawyer, the lead director of New Vegas, has a mod dedicated to him called; ‘Fallout:New Vegas The Director’s Cut’ Fans really feel for the team that had to adhere to Bethesda’s (their publisher’s) unreasonable deadline. They have dedicated themselves to adding features to the game because they knew the hard labouring team of legends did not have the time to do so. How cool is that? One more thing I’d like to add to why I think New Vegas is so good…

1. Made by the Same Team that Developed the Original Fallouts


It's true. A lot of the people who made the much-loved Fallouts 1 and 2 had a large role to play in New Vegas. This is highlighted by the reintroduction of the trait mechanic, a throwback to the earlier games. Players can choose up to two traits that carry both benefits and drawbacks. Trigger discipline, for example, lets you shoot more accurately, but also more slowly. There is also a trait called Wild Wasteland, which adds all sorts of easter eggs and obscure references. I’ll be honest. I have never played the original Fallout. The isometric viewpoint really puts me off from trying. But I know many out there hold them in very high regard. And by playing New Vegas a hundred times or so, I can clearly see why. New Vegas makes numerous references to the original series. I mentioned Jacobstown earlier; the super mutant who refurbished the resort, Marcus, has a history that can be revealed to you in the dialogue. He speaksabout his time in the Master’s army, the bad guy from Fallout 1, and how he left that life behind. So, there you have it. The team that made New Vegas expanded upon what made the originals good and made the best RPG in the western world. They went above and beyond despite the small timeframe they had and exceeded many players' expectations. I really hope a remastered version will be released before my inevitable death. Are my hopes too high? We’ll have to wait and see. If you haven't played New Vegas yet, maybe this article has encouraged you to. And if you’re like me, who has played it many times, hopefully it was a nice refresher as to what makes this game good, and why players love it and will continue to do so.  




















An adventurer at heart, Ernest was born to explore and has successfully traversed through the inhospitable, wild lands of the East African savanna. As of yet, he has not taken an arrow in the knee.
Gamer Since: 2003
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Hearts of Iron IV
Top 3 Favorite Games:Fallout: New Vegas, Sid Meier's Civilization V, Europa Universalis IV