Fallout: New Vegas will also introduce some changes to V.A.T.S., the point-based weapon targeting system introduced in Fallout 3 as a sort of bridge between the turn-based combat of the original games, and the first-person combat of modern action titles. Obsidian made a number of tweaks to V.A.T.S. in New Vegas, including beefing up the melee, to make V.A.T.S. more of an option for bashing people over the head.
"We didn't really want to take anything away from V.A.T.S.," says Sawyer. "We just wanted to make sure the real time stuff was improved. So we did things to improve the responsiveness, we improved in-sight aiming so there's more connection to what your gun is shooting at. It's not about taking away from V.A.T.S., people use V.A.T.S. all the time, it's a really good tool in the game and there's a lot of RPG stuff that ties into it. We wanted to make sure that people wanted to play the game in real time and that it's as responsive as they expect it to be."
But Fallout isn't only about weapons. It's about the story, the quests, the adventure and most of all: the wasteland. By way of introduction to the vast Vegas wasteland of New Vegas, Obsidian showed off a few new areas in their demo, like the towns of Good Springs, Primm, Novak (the home of Dinky the Dinosaur), the super mutant encampment at Black Mountain, the military/scientific installation Helios 1, Camp McCarran, site of the real-world Las Vegas airport and the city itself, New Vegas. We didn't get a very good look at Camp McCarran or the New Vegas strip, since, according to Sawyer, those areas are still "under construction - both literally and figuratively," but as Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart told us in our exclusive interview, the world of New Vegas is so flat and wide open, you can actually see the New Vegas strip from almost anywhere in the world. It's a potent reminder that the wasteland is a vast, barren landscape, and that the New Vegas strip is a monster of a setting, rising up above the surrounding countryside like a monolith.
"We tried modeling it after the Mojave desert," says Sawyer. "When you go out there, there's not a lot of rolling hills, it's mostly big valleys that separate the mountains. When you're outside of Vegas, there is a lot of open views. Vegas itself is kind of walled off. People that are wandering outside are more desperate and getting into the Strip is kind of a challenge in itself. You can't just walk in."
The setting allows for more than sightseeing, though. The vagaries of desert living have led the survivors in the Vegas waste to congregate in small townships, which you can visit and where you will naturally find quests. Yet in addition to the towns, larger groups of survivor factions are at work behind the scenes, each attempting to dominate the wasteland.
Fans of the series will probably remember the New California Republic, the militarized new government of the West Coast. The NCR returns in New Vegas as a force for good or evil, depending on how you play it. You will also rub elbows with Caesar's Legion, a slaver outfit, various bands of super mutants, and more we don't yet know about.