Fallout: New Vegas is a great RPG with a not-so-great ending. You follow your heart, make your choices, and it all leads up to a grand finale slideshow that tells you how it all worked out. You can't even continue playing the game after the Super Slam at Hoover Dam. It wasn't always supposed to be like that, though: Chris Avellone, one of the writers on New Vegas, told Eurogamer that the original plan was to have post-game content that would give players the ability to explore the world after the credits had rolled.
The planned aftermath sounds relatively superficial, with special lines for some characters and post-battle dialogue for a few NPCs rather than wholesale changes to the world. The main goal, Avellone said, was to give players the ability to "keep wandering the wasteland, explore the 'dungeons' and fight random encounters."
The problem is that while Obsidian had a plan to add that content, very little work to make it happen had actually taken place, even as the game entered beta testing.
"Designing post-game content is not hard to do if you're keeping it in mind with each NPC and quest as you're designing it (like doing a Karma check, faction check, or just another global reactivity check, which we had to do anyway)—sometimes all it needs is a post-endgame line," Avellone said. "But if you haven't planned for it throughout your design process for your areas and characters, it can be a lot of work to go back and add later on. And while some designers had planned for it—for example, our lead writer had lines for Mr. House in place for post-game reactivity and Strip Securitrons—not all areas had post-game design work."
Consideration was given to enabling proper endgame content in DLC, but Obsidian decided to take a pass on that as well. New Vegas launched with not-insignificant bug issues, and fixing them ate up a lot of post-release resources that could otherwise have been put to use extending the game. There was also concern that opening up the endgame would make the bug situation even worse.
"We did examine all the logistic impacts of doing post-game content with limited resources. But it was clear we'd be putting the already shaky game stability at risk ... by creating [a] post-Hoover Dam option, even in a minimal fashion. The most we could manage was level-scaling for key enemies (like the Legate) with the introduction of the new level caps in the DLCs, since the additional levels made the previous boss fights too easy for the player," Avellone said.
"That said, we did look at potential minor additions where we could, including a reserved save game slot before Hoover Dam (which we were able to do), and looking into adding Ulysses as a companion you could take back into the main game from the DLC. But an evaluation of that revealed that it would likely break a number of scripts (companion weapon removal, teleportation scripts), and even scripts for the other DLCs that automatically removed companions from your party."
Avellone said he actually offered to pay for one of the development milestones himself in order to enable more time to polish the core game, but the offer was refused because it would have meant delaying the DLC releases.
There is one way to get a taste of life after New Vegas: FPGE – Functional Post Game Ending, a mod we looked at in April that changes the game world in accordance with the choices you've made. "Kudos to [mod maker] Kazopert for his mod," Avellone said. "That kind of work and investment is not easy to do, and at Obsidian, we didn't have the manpower to make that happen."