Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 set a high standard for American RPGs. The combination of the open world, the engaging narrative, and the social criticism combined into a single experience blew the minds of millions of people. Fallout 3 strived to finish the days where in order to be considered RPGs games had to have warriors and wizards, and it succeeded. It would be fair to say that Fallout 3 succeeded in expanding the horizons of first-person shooters and role playing games simultaneously by mixing them into an exquisite experience where the players got to explore the narrative, his or her role in it, and the world where it is set ad their own pace. Needless to say that I, like almost everyone else who follows videogames, was eager to try out the sequel – Fallout: New Vegas. Like Fallout 3 it succeeds in providing an open world experience where the player can explore the narrative at an individual pace. Like Fallout 3, it mixes elements of the familiar and the uncanny to create a sense of uncomfortable comfort. Like Fallout 3, it prompts the player to think critically, encouraging the player to reason about contemporary events and wonder “what if…” in order to make a case. Sadly, like Fallout 3, perhaps even more so, it is extremely buggy.
The one major flaw that Fallout 3 had was its coding. During the course of the first few months several glitches occurred, including rare data corruption and not so rare game freezes, that caused Bethesda to loose a bit of credibility and work overtime to create patches. Subsequent extensions to Fallout 3 (The Pitt, Operation Anchorage, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta) were not as prone to game-threatening bugs as Fallout 3 itself, so in these Bethesda regained some credibility. With Fallout: New Vegas, however, they lost it all.
Set in the Mojave Desert, Fallout: New Vegas features the player as a courier who just got robbed and shot. He is rescued by Victor, an artificial intelligence being, and is set free to wonder the Mojave Desert and the town of New Vegas while hunting for his murderer. During his travels in the New California Republic-dominated area, the player is allowed to take whatever route he or she wishes, engaging in quests where one can choose to help or kill innocent townspeople, befriend or make enemies of various factions, and make morally-ambiguous decisions where there is no “right” choice. Indeed, were it not for the incredible amount of game-breaking bugs, the game would be Bethesda’s crowning jewel. However, many of these bugs present in the game are not merely annoying, but potentially game-shattering. I will first address the bugs that I encountered and then talk about some of the more common ones.
The first bug that I faced, and one of the worst ones to run into, is the post-death autosave. Fallout: New Vegas has an autosave feature that records your progress automatically every time you “wait” for time to pass, sleep, or walk through a door. My post-death autosave happened in a region called “hidden valley” (either Lanfair Valley, Eldorado Valley, or a nameless valley between Goodsprings and Eldorado Valley to the east of Jean Airport on I-15 in real life – my cartography skills are quite bad) when I was attacked by scorpions. I was poisoned, low on health, low on ammo, and had no meds, so I decided to flee. I went into a bunker in the middle of hidden valley, the game autosaved, and I died. The game loaded, and I died. Before I could bring up the menu, move, or do anything, the game would load and I would die. This rendered my previous 8 hours of play completely useless, so I had to start over, which brings me to the second game-shattering bug.
While traveling the Mojave Desert I arrived at a town called Primm (located in the Nevada/California border in real life) that was under attack by some escaped convicts. I rescued the town and managed to repair a floating companion robot while doing so. This companion, Eyebot ED-D, proved to be very useful. It would fly behind me shooting stuff and carrying my excess items while providing a much needed warning sound every time enemies approached. However, this would not last. As part of the game, the ED-D robot has some encrypted messages that are unlocked with code words. Once the player has had enough conversations with people and unlocked enough encrypted messages he or she will be contacted by the Brotherhood of Steel – a society dedicated to preserving technology in the post-nuclear American wasteland – and announce that they want to analyze the ED-D Eyebot. Paladin Lorenzo, the one relaying the message, starts out in his usual excited voice, but then his voice inexplicably changes into some Russian voice that tells you that the Eyebot will mark a location in the map; but it doesn’t. This is where the game, so to speak, freezes. The Eyebot will remain hovering in place and the player will not be able to move, shoot, bring up the Pip-Boy Menu, or do anything other than look around in a 360 angle. The game world, however, moves on. If this happens while in battle, you will be killed. If it happens while you are wondering an irradiated area, you will die. If it happens while you are in a town you will see the townspeople go about their business, and if it happens in the middle of nowhere, you will have a lot of nothing to look at. If you decide to load the game, the Eyebot will simply rush up to you and freeze the game again. Luckly, there are ways to avoid this. The first is to not fix the Eyebot. The second is to send the Eyebot away with . If, like me, you were unlucky enough that you saved in a spot where the Eyebot was already on its way to relay the Brotherhood’s message, then you will need a bit of skill, target the Eyebot as it rushes towards you, and talk to it before it is able to relay its message. Once you talk to it use and it will fly past you and head to Primm, where it can wait until Bethesda decides to put out a patch addressing the issue.
The third glitch that I’ve bumped into is one that comes from Fallout 3, and if you follow Bethesda and the engine they use to develop their games, since Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and that is the game freeze. The game freeze happens in two ways: the first happens after loading from one screen to the next. The screen goes black and nothing happens. Sometimes, the music will load and you will be treated to a black-screen “jingle jingle”, but most of the times it will simply resemble a TV turned off. The second game freeze will happen in the middle of the action – the game will freeze. In these cases there is nothing you can do but load a previous game. Luckily, Bethesda has some advice for us gamers: “save often and in different slots, as the autosave might become corrupted”.
Bethesda’s solution brings us to another glitch: autosave corruption. Although it has not happened to me yet in New Vegas, I did have autosave corruption issues in Oblivion roughly two weeks into the game and in Fallout three roughly 60 hours into the game. The fact that autosave corruption complaints came out on the first day of New Vegas being released, however, says a lot about their coding skills, or lack thereof.
There are, of course, a number of non-lethal glitches. The usual gravity-defying creatures, disemboweled animals, and lazy employees working on invisible office equipment politely asking the player to go away so they can slack off are only the tip of the iceberg.
More disturbing, yet not mortal glitches include the giant exclamation mark gun and the already infamous Doc Exorcism / Oral Sex glitch.
Despite all these bugs (and the ones I haven’t mentioned here) it is worth mentioning that Fallout: New Vegas is a solid game. It takes what Fallout 3 did well and built on that. Were it not for these (and other) glitches, it’s likely that Fallout: New Vegas would be the game of the year. However, because of these glitches taking a great game and making it simply good (and sometimes tedious, annoying, and simply hateful when you loose the data or are unable to continue playing) I’m sure that the award will go to Fable III.
The videos above are used by the owners of the respective channels they are posted, and by myself in this reposting, in adherence to 17 U.S.C. § 107 : US Code – Section 107: Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. They do not represent by any means a substantial amount of the game and are used for criticism purposes.
It may be that by the time you read this post the videos will have been taken down. ZeniMAX doesn’t like the fact that it messed up the release of Fallout: New Vegas, so it’s begun filing DMC claims against Youtube exclusively on New Vegas glitch videos.