A few months ago I wrote my most divisive article and for the first time in my life, I was sent hate mail. Personal and aggressive insults were thrown in my own general direction like emblematic rotten fruit at the grand stage of allegory!
Why was I sent such colourful metaphors? Was my article politically charged? Was it about Brexit or Trump? Dare I say, was it an article about why Star Trek is better than Star Wars?
The article was 3,470 words detailing my reasons why Skyrim is better than Fallout 4, though I did conclude the article by singing the praises of the best modern Fallout game and that is Fallout: New Vegas (“that game just pisses all over EVERYTHING!” – I mentioned at the end of the aforementioned article).
Fallout: New Vegas is probably more of a direct sequel to Fallout 2 than Fallout 3 was.
Allow me to explain without spoiling the plots of both the first two pre-Bethesda games; The originals were set in a nuclear devastated California whereas 3 and 4 are set on the east coast of war-torn America. New Vegas is an oddity in that it was published by Bethesda but the game itself was developed by Obsidian Entertainment. It’s easy to forget that the more popular entries in the series (Fallout 3 and 4) were not made by the originators of said series… unlike New Vegas.
New Vegas utilised ideas and even carried over plot threads from Fallout 2 and it also recycled musical assets from the original games. The original raider gangs such as the Khans, Vipers, and Jackals make appearances. The Crimson Caravan, who feature in the original Fallout also make an appearance.
Actually, just to get this out of the way I’m going to list a load of references that I’ve picked up on because I’m such a massive Fallout geek. First up is Marcus, the super mutant that can join you on your adventure in Fallout 2, he’s in New Vegas as the leader of Jacobstown. Also, the daughter of another companion character pops up in New Vegas.
You’ll find Cassidy in the NCR Mojave Outpost. She’s drinking her sorrows away, which is slightly ironic considering her father’ John Cassidy was the proprietor of a bar in Fallout 2’s Vault City.
There is also a character named Bruce Isaac who is on the run from the Bishop criminal empire from New Reno (a location in Fallout 2). If memory serves, you can sleep with the crime bosses wife in Fallout 2 so it is entirely possible that Bruce Isaac is on the run from the offspring of the player’s character from the second game!
Another very obscure reference to Fallout 2 can be found when talking with Daisy Whitman in Novac. She reveals that she once crashed a Vertibird (Fallout’s version of a helicopter) and funnily enough, you may have found her wreckage if you had played Fallout 2!
Oh and Michael Dorn, you know, Worf from Star Trek The Next Generation provided his voice for the supermutant’ Marcus in both Fallout 2 and New Vegas.
I had to get at least one Star Trek reference in this article!
Okay, trust me, that just saved me from hitting speed bumps in the article. So why am I gushing over a 7-year-old game? Is this article about why Fallout: New Vegas is better than Skyrim?
Do I really need to write an article to explain the obvious?
Fallout: New Vegas IS better than Skyrim. It’s also better than Fallout 3 and 4 but I don’t really need to explain why? I mean, I haven’t even written an article about why flat earth conspiracy theorists are wrong… did you know that water is wet? Can you see my point?
So what is this article actually about…
I’m going to detail my failure at accomplishing and successfully completing New Vegas in one sitting.
My brother came to visit me and he’s a relative newcomer to the Fallout franchise. I’m sure he might have watched me play the originals back in the late 90’s but it wasn’t until Fallout 4 that both my brother and I really had actual discussions about Fallout lore.
Okay, I will admit that our attempted speedrun was mostly me just hogging the controller but he said he wasn’t fussed. I liked to imagine that maybe he thought he was watching some New Vegas expert and found watching me play it more compelling than actually playing it himself but maybe I’m completely wrong and he was just bored. Fuck knows?
Firstly, I need to establish that this speedrun was never going to utilise any glitches or bugs. Yeah, I know the quickload/crippling yourself cheat that permanently grants you a massive speed bonus but my brother had not played New Vegas before and I thought it’d be cool to just try and complete the game in one go without cheating.
Well, we suffered from one corruption of data and at least three crashes in the hours that we played it.
I blame Bethesda for making a really buggy game engine!
Seriously, we lost at least an hour or two of game progress because of Bethesda and their lack of proper quality control!
Now, I’ve played New Vegas a hell of a lot. I might not be as knowledgeable as Jon @ Many A True Nerd but fortunately, I’ve watched many challenge runs on his YouTube channel so I also had a little bit of help there in regard to enemy spawn locations.
I booted up my old PlayStation 3, dusted off my copy of New Vegas Special Edition, tried to find a fucking USB lead that actually plugged into my dead Dualshock 3 controller and bunged it in. According to my last save game, I had played New Vegas in the summer of 2015. Probably enthused by Bethesda’s E3 announcement that Fallout 4 was due for release later that year.
Both my brother and I were greeted by the opening FMV of an NCR Ranger shooting a raider. Soon, Matthew Perry’s Benny shoots me in the head and buries me in Goodsprings Cemetery. We’re revived by Doc Mitchell who helps us craft our player character for this attempted one-sitting-completion challenge.
What are we going to call ourselves? “Sonic” because at the time we were going to try and complete the game in under an hour. The archaic PlayStation 3 virtual keyboard had all the functionality of an old Nokia 3310. I had a numerical keypad in which to type with, for some reason? I’m sure the PS3 had a proper virtual keyboard but my past-self must have been quite quick with txt spk!
Our first stumbling block was typing the name “Sonic”… it kept turning into “Sonia” so “Sonia the hedgehog” was the name of our character.
She had to be female. The reason selecting this gender is that New Vegas favours a female protagonist over a male one. With the Black Widow perk, we would be dealing +10% damage to male opponents and we’re granted a very important ability later on down the line.
Since we would be fighting Caeser’s Legion during this playthrough I knew that we would be fighting mostly male enemies so playing as a woman made a lot of sense.
We then had to pick our S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats. “S” stands for Strength, “P” for Perception, “E” for Endurance, “C” for Charisma, “I” for Intelligence, “A” for Agility and “L” for Luck.
I knew that we would be a very low-level character by the time we reached the climactic battle for Hoover Dam. Just to explain this for people who usually read my Twin Peaks reviews; for every action such as a kill or completing a task, you will gain experience points that can be used to improve specific traits of your choosing. Each trait has a rating that caps at 100 so a character with 20 points in “Lock Pick” will not be able to even attempt to unlock a high-level door.
As for the stats, we didn’t need to be concerned about how agile or perceptive or strong we were. We just needed to focus on the stats that granted us two things; we needed high Endurance so that we can tank and be bullet sponges and we needed to be able to talk ourselves out of situations so an equally high Charisma rating would be important. We also got to pick our first Perk. This is a bonus that can grant a specific benefit while penalising something else. In this instance, we had to pick “Good Natured” since we would be given an additional 5 points to our Speech trait right off the bat.
This may interest fans of Fallout more than those who have never played it but our S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats at the beginning of this playthrough was as follows;
Strength: 2 – We weren’t going to fight with melee weapons and carry weight wasn’t a concern.
Peception: 3 – At no point would we really engage in any long ranged battles.
Endurance: 10 – For obvious reasons.
Charisma: 10 – Ditto.
Intelligence: 5 – At this point we had run out of allocation points and were just juggling stats
By the time I had got to Intelligence, we had run out of allocation points and it didn’t seem wise to raise or lower the last three stats so it made sense to keep them at 5.
Next, we pillaged Doc Mitchell’s house for every single item of value and then sold them at the next available store and then we would be able to make our way to the New Vegas Strip where we could get our revenge on Benny!
First, we headed towards Hidden Valley, just so we could fast travel to visit the Brotherhood of Steel (for a later quest) then to Black Mountain so we could easily reach the El Dorado Sub Station for one of the conditions to kick off the final mission.
Then we made our way to Camp McCarran so that we could sneak past the guards and hop on the monorail to gain access to the New Vegas Strip. We didn’t have enough reputation with the NCR nor did we have enough money to buy a passport or even a fake passport so this was the quickest and best way to the Strip.
Our first attempts ended in failure, the NCR troopers tried to kill us when we ignored their warnings to keep clear of the monorail but because the game has an active day and night cycle and nearly every character has a routine that is set to timetable (because the programmers are fucking awesome), the guards were leaving their post to go to bed. We saw our chance and caught the monorail to the Strip.
We were stopped by an NCR trooper when we departed from the monorail station and when we expected a full blown shoot out we were relieved when the trooper gave us generic advice.
Breathing a sigh of relief that we weren’t going to get killed for the first time in this playthrough we then realised that we hadn’t ranked up enough to gain the Black Widow Perk that we desperately needed. So we fast travelled back to Goodsprings and did some of the early missions just to gain enough experience so we could grab that very important perk.
As quick as we had accomplished the first act of this game we still lacked a few of the basic qualities inherent with being an accomplished speedrunner.
For the record, the quickest speedrun of New Vegas (completion at any percentage) is by Swags_The_Dog in December 2015. His time was 20:54.1… less than 21 minutes!
This is a game that can take hundreds of hours if played at a very gingerly pace. I completed it in around 30 – 40 hours in my first playthrough.
Swags_The_Dog completed it in 21 minutes?! What the fuck!
So we sorted out Goodsprings problem with the local gang known as the Powder Gangers but once we had gained enough experience points we went straight back to the New Vegas Strip and with the much needed Black Widow Perk acquired we made our way to The Tops casino for our confrontation with our would-be killer’ Benny.
The easiest way to kill Benny is by being a woman and having the Black Widow Perk. Here you have the option to flirt with the guy who tried to murder you.
So the screen cuts to black and Matthew Perry displays some of that acting talent that made Chandler in Friends such a compelling character. Then in a typical male fashion, he decides to sleep off the amazing sex and here you’re given the option to murder him… we do just that and head downstairs in our “sexy sleepwear” attire… because, why not?
So, my brother and I had just completed the first big bit of the game. Would we side with the Legion? The NCR? Mr. House or “Yes Man” the automaton that has to obey our every command? Well, we had to go for Yes Man because that’s how you quickly complete a game that has 200+ hours of gameplay!
We headed towards the Lucky 38 casino where Mr. House resides. Mr. House is the rather pragmatic “owner” of New Vegas. Modeled after real-life millionaire playboy Howard Hughes, Mr. House is one of the faction leaders. He’s also voiced by René Auberjonois who also played Odo from Deep Space 9;
We had to kill Odo and fortunately our Endurance was high enough that Mr. House’s robots couldn’t kill us as we made our way to where the actual living corpse of Mr. House resides (in the game his consciousness is uploaded onto a computer, to kill him you have to “wake” him up). Because he looks like this;
We could easily kill him and thus, we’re now the only person who can rule New Vegas! We didn’t even need to do any of Mr. House’s quests and instead we could follow the Yes Man route towards completion is the most efficient time possible (seriously, how amazing is this game?).
But first, let’s get a little bit geeky. Other than the sexy sleepwear, our character had been wearing an armoured vault suit (because it was blue… “Sonia the hedgehog” etc.). We had just acquired Benny’s unique weapon’ the 9mm pistol named; Maria and we had a load of junk from the various Special Edition packs such as a kick arse grenade launcher.
Well, this particular grenade launcher saved our arse when we did a mission for Yes Man so it did come in handy.
But what did Sonia the hedgehog look like with the limited graphical fidelity of Fallout: New Vegas? Well, at the time I didn’t know I was going to write this article so…
Well, she was nondescriptly Asian (because her namesake came from Japan) with bright blue and spiky double mohawks so the while aping off “Sonic the Hedgehog” kinda worked, I guess?!
It was at this point that we hit a slight snag in our attempted speedrun. I had accidentally misinterpreted something that Yes Man had said to me so we ended up having to venture towards Cottonwood Cove, where the Legion resided. Here, we would have to utilise our high Charisma to gain favour with Caeser just so we could install this games McGuffin’ the “Platinum Chip”.
For those unfamiliar with New Vegas, the Platinum Chip upgrades Mr. House’ robot army and since Mr. House is now dead, the robot army is given to the one person who now owns New Vegas… namely; Sonia the hedgehog.
But due to my faux pas, we had to spend an hour or two traveling to Cottonwood Cove (we got killed so many times) just to use this fucking McGuffin and then we had to speak to a few of the lesser factions in the Mojave Wasteland. Fortunately, we had already reached the various fast travel locations on the map when we first started this challenge run. So we didn’t have to travel there on albeit virtual’ foot.
After making contact with the other factions such as; the Boomers, the Brotherhood of Steel, the Great Khans and a few of the New Vegas Strip casino owners, we were ready to take on the final mission!
For those familiar with New Vegas, you might find it funny to know that the only weapons we had in our possession were; Maria (Benny’s unique 9mm pistol) and that recharger gun that can be stolen from the Silver Rush shop.
We had played over 5 hours and the game had crashed several times. One of our save games had become corrupted and we had to redo one or two sections of the game but we were here!
We were doing the final mission!
We had also negated (roughly) 70% of the actual game and we had only actually died twice. In fact, we didn’t even heal ourselves for hours, our health counter had sat at within 80% range for a long, long time.
But we were finally here!
The final mission and guess what?
A glitch locked us out from leaving a specific room (please, if any readers can enlighten me then I would be grateful). We had to turn on the power to Hoover Dam and when we did, we couldn’t leave the room because the door was locked.
Somewhere, over the vast and non-played 200+ hours of gameplay, I had fucked up somewhere.
I hadn’t spoken to the right person or completed the right tasks in a specific order.
Instead, my brother and I were stuck. Stuck between an upgraded Securitron and a fucking locked door.
Had the game bugged out?
All we needed to do was make it to the east side exit of Hoover Dam and then onto Caeser’s camp where (in less than 10 minutes) I could have run up to Legate Lanius and utilised my maxed out Charisma and Speech to negotiate with the final boss.
Seriously, what other game allows you to actually negotiate with a final boss?
I swear, for all of the technical faults. New Vegas was made in a fraction of the development time of most game titles and still; it is one of the best role-playing games ever made.
Sorry, I digress, through negotiation, we could have turned Legate Lanius towards my agenda, New Vegas would be independent!
Free from the NCR, free from the Legion and we could have completed New Vegas in less time than it takes most players to actually get to the location with all the casinos.
But, unfortunately, we hit a hurdle.
We didn’t get to hear Ron Pearlman’s last contribution to the Fallout franchise. A presence that started with 1997’s; Fallout. He wasn’t present for Fallout 4 for some fucking reason so as far as I’m concerned, without Ron Pearlman’s famous line then you haven’t got a proper Fallout game.
Sorry but as much as I enjoyed Fallout 4 and no matter how many hours I pump into it, it’s not a proper Fallout game!
Anyway, I was stuck with my save game in a state of perpetual war. The Legion would be in a constant stalemate with the NCR until we attempted to complete the final mission but due to a bug, my brother and I just couldn’t finish it and believe me, we tried A LOT! Attempt after attempt resulted in death. We lost hours of game time due to crashes and so we drew the conclusion that we just wouldn’t be able to change the outcome of this war.
And so… yeah, if you know how we can overcome this bug then please drop me a comment but until then… War, war won’t actually fucking change… at all… so yeah… I failed a speedrun and I dragged my sibling into this mess… fuck.