Fallout: New Vegas lead designer Josh Sawyer steps in for a last-minute interview on Planet Fallout before the game starts making its way to store shelves next week. A bit to get you started:
What changes have you made gameplay wise compared to Fallout 3 and why?
We've tried to make changes across the board to improve various aspects of gameplay from combat to controlling companions.
Most notably, the shooting mechanics have been refined. We now have an optional "true ironsights" feature that allows the player to aim down the actual sights instead of using the targeting reticule. The input for firing has been smoothed out as well, so players should find that firing feels more responsive. Companions can now be controlled through a quick interface called the Companion Wheel. All of the typical things you want to tweak on companions -- inventory, ranged vs. melee preference, giving them quick healing via Stimpaks -- can all be accomplished through the wheel. It makes the process much quicker than it was in Fallout 3.
We've introduced a new crafting system in Fallout: New Vegas. The player uses workbenches (as in Fallout 3), campfires, and reloading benches to make a large variety of items. We've also created a new crafting interface that makes managing recipes and ingredients straightforward for the player and offers a lot of flexibility for modders on the PC.
For players who want an increased level of challenge, we've also implemented a Hardcore Mode. This is something that players can opt into at the beginning of the game. It introduces a number of elements that make the game significantly more challenging. Healing always takes place over time, crippled limbs require a Doctor's Bag or an NPC to heal, sleeping in beds does not restore health, and ammunition has weight. Additionally, the player has to keep track of dehydration, starvation, and sleep deprivation meters. If the Courier accumulates too much on any meter, he or she will start to suffer penalties and can eventually die.
If players find that Hardcore Mode is a bit too much for them, they are free to turn it off. However, players who play through the entire game with Hardcore Mode enabled will receive an achievement (Steam and Xbox 360) or trophy (PlayStation 3) for their efforts.