Interview: We ask Obsidian what's new in Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas leaves the ruins of the Capital Wasteland behind in favour of a post apocalyptic tinsel town full of fighting factions and dodgy gambling establishments. We've had a sit down with Obsidian's Larry Liberty, Senior Producer on Fallout: New Vegas, for a chat about the joys of gambling, powerfists with shotguns in them, and Matthew Perry.
PC Gamer: When Fallout 3 fans finally get to play New Vegas, what are the very first things that they’ll notice have changed? And what has changed, but is a bit more subtle?
Larry Liberty: The most obvious difference people will see when they first step outside into the Mojave Wasteland will be the sky. It's blue. This small change has a deep impact on the tone of the game. The next thing people are likely to notice is combat, and how far-reaching the changes to real-time combat are like the way strength interacts with weapon skills in a logically consistent manner, how responsive the controller input is. Some equally important changes that won't be immediately apparent are the overhauled companions (each one has a story arc and quest line, and is each is controlled more easily with the Companion Wheel), new animations (most notably for unarmed combat and running with a two-handed weapon), and there are four primary tracks through the game. Thanks to the Reputation System, there are countless ways to impact the game world.
PC Gamer:It’s an obvious comparison, but how does the city of New Vegas compare to New Reno in Fallout 2?
Larry Liberty: There are certainly some similarities. New Reno was chiefly designed by Chris Avellone, Obsidian's Creative Director. For New Vegas, he was one of the primary writers and companion designers. There are "families" in both cities, but whereas New Reno did not have a central authority, the gangs of New Vegas are kept in check by the enigmatic Mr. House.
PC Gamer: Can we talk about the gambling a little? I’ve read that high-rollers will get rewarded, but that constant wins will could rise suspicion. Can you explain how this pans out in-game?
Larry Liberty: It's true that player's that win will be rewarded by the major casinos, can be comped food, drink, and even a room. If you do a little too well, though, it will raise suspicion and ultimately cause you to be banned from gambling at a given casino. This is done primarily to prevent players from "gaming" the game. In a world where you can literally increase your luck it would eventually be possible to break the economy. The casinos are still a great potential source of income, and the player will be rewarded for being banned from all casinos with a special achievement.
PC Gamer: General expectation would have it that the dialogue in New Vegas will be a little more involving and complex than that on offer in Fallout 3. Is this a fair comment?
Larry Liberty: I can say that there is considerably more dialogue in New Vegas than Fallout 3, and more overall reactivity. We made a change to the dialogue editor that allowed our designers to create hierarchical dialogues. It would have been impossible for us to write as much as we did had we not made the investment in the tool early in development.
PC Gamer: In terms of story content, how much of Fallout: New Vegas comes from the axed Interplay Van Buren project?
Larry Liberty: There are some similar elements, certainly shared factions. It's only natural that there be some inspiration, as Josh Sawyer, the Lead Designer on Fallout: New Vegas was the lead designer on Van Buren. The story and timeline are quite different, but there is one location common among them.
PC Gamer: Can you explain how the game lets you ally yourself to different factions within the game? How much does this mix up the linearity of the main plotline?
Larry Liberty: Factions are managed via the new Reputation System. Most communities and groups are tracked via this system. The player can always see where they stand with a group that they've done something for or to in the Pip-Boy. You start off with a blank slate and a perfectly neutral reputation. If you do something good or bad to a member of a tracked group that will immediately be reflected in your reputation with that faction It's possible to weave a complex web of hatred and love and everywhere in between. You can be a beloved saint in one place and the hated nemesis of another. At times, this complexity can make crafting robust quests a challenge, but overall your allies and enemies will directly impact the end-game and your experience in the core game. Those that love you will help you in various ways, giving you discounts, gifts, and support. Those that hate you can send assassins to track you down if they have the power, or offer tribute in exchange for mercy if they lack the resources to resist.
PC Gamer: What are your favourite new items and weapons that we’ll discover in New Vegas?
Larry Liberty: I really like the Ballistic Fist - it's essentially a tiny shotgun grafted onto a gauntlet. It's activated by a pressure plate when impacting a target. Perfect for the unarmed fighters among us. Euclid's C-Finder has the single coolest weapon effect in the game. It's a space-based mega-weapon that has its own quest line. Spears are really fun for Melee fighters. We've added the ability to throw weapons, and in the case of the spear you can literally pin limbs to walls, with or without the victim. If you prefer a more traditional, conventional FPS weapon, the Light Machine Gun is fantastic. It has a high rate of fire, and with the right ammo type can handle most enemies rather easily.
PC Gamer: How did Matthew Perry get involved, and were you aware that he was a fan? Could he BE any more post-apocalyptic?
Larry Liberty: We knew that Matthew Perry was a Fallout 3 fan and reached out to him when starting the project. Getting him on board early made it a lot easier to attract more Hollywood talent. He did a great job playing one of the major characters in the game.
PC Gamer: Can you talk a little about Mr Las Vegas? Who is Wayne Newton? We’re not all that familiar with him in the UK…
Larry Liberty: Wayne Newton is the voice of Mr. New Vegas in Fallout: New Vegas. In real life, Wayne Newton is known as Mr. Las Vegas, and has been performing in the city for more than 40 years. He's most famous for his rendition of the song Danke Schoen. There's even a street named after him there - Wayne Newton Blvd - and a holiday, Wayne Newton Day. He's a big deal in America, an even bigger deal in Las Vegas, and a perfect fit for the game.
PC Gamer: Is the ‘Bongo, Bongo, Bongo: I don’t want to leave the Congo’ song in the game? (Only I’ll be upset if it isn’t.)
Larry Liberty: Alas, it is not. I will say that we have some great songs, so I hope you won't leave disappointed.