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What to Expect From Fallout: New Vegas???

A new, yet familiar, team takes the helm. What does that mean for you?

After years of lurking in the hearts of classic role-playing game fans, the Fallout franchise is back in a big way. Since purchasing the license from Interplay, Bethesda revived the post-apocalyptic series last October with Fallout 3 and has been releasing a steady stream of expansions ever since. The last of those add-ons, dubbed Mothership Zeta, is coming soon but that doesn’t mean Fallout is returning to the vault to stagnate once more. Another full game is on the way, called Fallout: New Vegas.

Very little is known about this next Fallout game, but that won’t stop us from speculating. Here we’ve gathered everything we know about it and use our powers of guesstimation to peer into an uncertain future. Many questions remain unanswered, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t educated guesses to be made.

What We Know So Far

Fallout: New Vegas was announced for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on April 20, 2009 at a press event in London. Very few details were given at the time and the game was not shown in any form. The target release date is 2010 and Bethesda has said that you can expect the “same type of game” as Fallout 3, though this is not a direct sequel. That means that New Vegas will indeed be a true role-playing game and not an action title like Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. It won’t, however, continue any storylines from Fallout 3. In fact, Todd Howard, Design Director for Fallout 3, has told IGN that nothing in that game hints at anything in New Vegas.

FallOut-New-Vegas

Interestingly, after successfully reviving the franchise, Bethesda’s internal studio led by Todd Howard will not be in charge of developing New Vegas. Those duties have been handed off to Obsidian, the studio that made Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Neverwinter Nights 2 and is currently working on Alpha Protocol.

Familiar Faces

Obsidian obviously has a tradition of working with the role-playing genre, but its past has more to do with Fallout than you might initially think. Its history dates back to the creation of the original Fallout. A team of developers at Interplay created the first entry in the franchise and their group was later turned into Black Isle Studios. The development house went on to make Fallout 2, amidst other projects such as Icewind Dale and assisting on Baldur’s Gate, before being disbanded amidst Interplay’s financial trouble.

This wasn’t the end of the road, though. Many members of the group then went on to form Obsidian Entertainment. The head of Obsidian is Feargus Urquhart, who lead Black Isle. After Bethesda acquired the Fallout license from Interplay and brought Obsidian on board to work on New Vegas, Urquhart’s and many other coworkers’ careers came full circle. Fallout 3 may have been the first introduction to the franchise for many, but Bethesda’s first spin-off will take it back to its roots.

Atomic Future

Fallout’s game world is built on the concept that the future as imagined during the post-war 1950s in America came true…shortly before a massive nuclear war destroyed civilization as we know it. This was an idyllic view of the future filled with atomic cars, robot servants and wholesome family values. As we know now, it’s a far cry from reality, but this space age future filled the pop air waves a half century ago.

This atomic future is important to consider when imagining what New Vegas will be like. Remember, the Las Vegas of today is very different from that of the 1950s. The Bellagio and other swanky casino-hotels did not exist. The glitz and glamour of the main strip simply was not there. In fact, the world famous strip was just being populated with some of the classic hotels during the first boom period in the ’40s and ’50s with the Sands, Riviera, Fremont, and Flamingo hotels all being built. It’s hard to imagine that the futurism of this period would have depicted the massive Luxor pyramid or the New York, New York fake skyline.

More likely than war torn glitz will be a game that features the remnants of a city controlled by mobsters. The city was essentially run by a massive crime syndicate in the ’50s and many of the famous hotel-casinos of that time were funded by ill-gotten money. This was a money laundering and tax-evasion outfit on a grand scale.

But Las Vegas in the 1950s and early ’60s was famous for more than crime. It was also home to the original Rat Pack, led by Frank Sinatra and including the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin. Stylish, flashy, and the epitome of cool, these entertainers drank and smoked and weren’t strangers to taking the fairer sex to bed. It’s easy to see how these characters and the gangsters that ran the casinos they worked in could be incorporated into a post-apocalyptic RPG.

And if you can’t imagine it, perhaps Black Isle Studios already did it for you. In Fallout 2, players could travel to New Reno. Apparently the survivors in Nevada simply decided to slap “New” in front of all of their old city names and called it a day. This region was spared the brunt of the nuclear war, but the fall of the US government left it in the hands of four local crime families and their ample supply of cheap drugs. Crime, drugs, prostitution, and gambling are the name of the game here.

The prostitution side of things is perhaps the most intriguing. Las Vegas has long been known as a den of sin, and not just in terms of gambling. New Reno featured places like the Cat’s Paw Brothel run by Miss Kitty and the Shark Club where you could actually try your hand as a stripper. All of this is, as our PC Editor-in-Chief Jason Ocampo so elegantly puts it, is a lot kinkier than what you get in Fallout 3.

It will be interesting to see the route Bethesda and Obsidian take in this regard. Traditionally, Bethesda has shied away from sexual content. In Fallout 3, you can meet a hooker and pay her for services. Unfortunately, she turns out to be the worst hooker in the entire universe. All you do is lie down next to her for a nap. Even in games that Bethesda didn’t make but is publishing, sexual overtones are avoided. In A2M’s upcoming Wet, Bethesda has repeatedly mentioned at preview events that the sultry and strong Ruby is not a sex object. Will the conservative publisher buck the trend and push just as much sex as it does gore in this next game? With Obsidian at the helm, perhaps we’ll see a bit more skin in New Vegas.

Playing the Role

Though Bethesda and Obsidian have revealed essentially nothing about Fallout: New Vegas, there are certain staples of the franchise that are sure to make a return. The games universally deal with survival and the importance of water in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The vaults, Enclave and Brotherhood are all players in this larger story of the struggle for simple existence. It wouldn’t be a Fallout RPG if you weren’t engaged in this in some way, and the dry desert of Las Vegas is the perfect setting to continue such themes.

If you enjoyed being evil in Fallout 3, or just liked being a nice guy and sharing water with beggers, it’s almost certain you’ll find such choices once more in New Vegas. The karma system isn’t one that Bethesda introduced. In fact, it’s been around since the beginning.

Other facets of Fallout 3 have also been mainstays of the franchise. Vegas bookies likely wouldn’t take bets on whether the Pip-Boy will be back in New Vegas. It’s too sure of a bet. You’ll use it to manage your stats and inventory, another system that likely will stay the same. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system — which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck — was invented for Fallout. This system of role-playing goes beyond just the base attributes that make up its acronym. It also is defined by skills, perks, and traits (though traits disappeared when Bethesda took over).

Whether or not Fallout: New Vegas uses the same game engine as Fallout 3 remains to be seen, but it seems likely. Putting together a game of the size and scope of Fallout is no easy task. Building a new engine and set of game mechanics on top of it might make the ambitious 2010 release window impossible, though we don’t know how long Obsidian has been at work on this project. Even if the team did have the time, Bethesda might be unwilling to let Obsidian make drastic changes to the new Fallout formula. Fallout 3 was a massive hit and the group now has a successful franchise to manage. Fears of driving it into the ground or confusing new fans might take any big changes off the table.

Hard Info?

When Bethesda first announced Fallout: New Vegas, those in attendance were told that the game would be shown publicly when Obsidian was ready. Hopefully those preparations will allow them to avoid things like having URL’s scooped. Until that time, we’ll just have to sit back and do more speculation. Feel free to add your hopes, expectations and fears for Fallout: New Vegas in the comments section below.

Credit: IGN