It’s hard to do a preview of an open world RPG. The whole point is character and story progression, which can only be achieved though hours and hours of play. That said however, New Vegas was being shown at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, and I just had to get my thoughts about it out there.

Obviously there’s nothing I can say about the story, characters, or even the leveling and exploration aspects of the game thanks to the limited time I had playing, but there’s certainly enough to say about how the game feels to play. I must confess that I didn’t actually play though the character setup process (remember those G.O.A.T tests from Fallout 3?) but I did watch one couple going though it on one of the booths. It seemed just as long-winded, with loads of questions and answers, but some of the responses caused a few chuckles- the good ol’ Fallout sense of humour seems in tact in New Vegas.

Aside from that, the playtime I had with the game was mainly combat- based. I loaded up a save, obviously made for the show floor, with a handful of guns and loads of ammo in the inventory.  At first I tried out a revolver on some bandits with the VATS system. It feels identical to Fallout 3 in this respect- the VATS is easy to use, allows you to target multiple body parts, and leads to some incredibly gory and satisfying deaths.  After shooting the arms off of a few raiders, I decided to take some armour off one of them.

As soon as I equipped the armour, the game informed me that I was now disguised as a member of that gang. “Brilliant,” I thought, anticipating a delicious, “attack-from-within” style massacre at their hideout. I headed for the nearest settlement, a small arrangement of bombed-out shacks and cars. I was immediately greeted by a message informing me that, essentially, the locals hated me. This seems to be a great new feature- it’s not just a case of “everyone hates/loves me” any more, it’s much more local. Honestly, I think this will be one of the features we’ll start to see more and more of in future games, and I commend Fallout: New Vegas for using it. Before the firefight began, I thought I’d switch weapons to see how something else fared.

I started by punching one person to the floor with some boxing gloves, which did little damage but knocked the opponent out very swiftly. I then finished him off with a 9 iron. Next I decided to try out the shooting mechanics, something that I hated about Fallout 3. I settled on a normal-looking assault rifle, and began plugging away at some more attackers. From what I saw, there seems to be much more variation in the weapons selection, with repeater rifles, shotguns, assault rifles, and anything else you might expect from a game with a “shoot” button. The weapons look gritty and used, with loads of detail in the parts, which really fits in well with the aesthetic of the game.

The iron sights on the weapons are a huge improvement over the awful non-VATS weapon controls of Fallout 3, although if you were to compare them to any modern first-person shooter there would still be a long way to go. I think it’s more a limitation of the engine than anything else, but the manual shooting just doesn’t feel as good as a dedicated action game.  This was played on an Xbox 360, so obviously it’s much more difficult to aim accurately, but the real problem is the nature of the weapons. I realise it’s a Fallout tradition to have weapons degrade and be inaccurate but it makes for a frustrating fight when every bullet in your clip goes flying off to the left or right of the target. As I said, however, when using the iron sights on the weapons I managed to get some headshots and long-range kills, which really impressed me.

That wasn’t why Fallout 3 was a great game, though. The VATS system took good care of the shooting, and made it a lot more tolerable, and the fact that the RPG elements were so robust more than made up for it. 

It seems as if Fallout: New Vegas gives us everything we loved about Fallout 3 but adds a good bit of the original game’s depth and roleplaying as well.

Even though the landscape seems just as lifeless as it was in Fallout 3, the world certainly seems like it will be a blast to explore. Especially when you realise, like I did, that in your inventory is a machine-gun that shoots grenades.

Fallout: New Vegas will hit stores on October 19th!!  Look for our full video review and interview with Obsidian’s creative director Chris Avellone coming soon!!