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The Vault (Part One):
The Vegas office of the Crimson Caravan is headed by Alice McLafferty, who was also in charge of the company's operations in Hoover Dam in the canceled Van Buren. She is normally in charge of the Hub HQ of the company, but the New Vegas branch has been underperforming lately, and she came to clean it up. She also mentions that the New Canaan Mormons (another Van Buren reference here) are in charge of most northern trade routes, while the Gun Runners control most of the gun trade in the area. She gives you a quest called You Can Depend on Me to deliver an invoice to doctor Hildern at Camp McCarran. There are also lots of brahmin in the Crimson Caravan camp, which confirms that the big horners are not the only domesticated animals in the area.
Although now there are further reaching consequences for every action you perform in the game, and resonance of them to you is much more jarring (at least from my experience and perspective). Towns and settlements now have an indicator on your map as to how they feel about you, whether you're liked, disliked or if they're simply filthy neutrals, and you can layer this throughout your journey which means it can become quite complex - especially when you have missions that move from one town to the next where you're accepted in one place, and shot on-sight in another.
s strange as it sounds, my character's swift and brutal death made me feel optimistic about this game. One of the things that I hated about Fallout 3 was how easy the enemies were to kill. The first time I played the game, I wandered into the DC ruins and ran into a pair of Super Mutants. One was armed with a minigun while the other was carrying around a missile launcher. As a level 1 character, I was fairly sure that within the next few moments my ingame avatar would meet a rather sticky end. I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that even though my strongest weapon was a single shot rifle, with VATS I was able to kill both of the Super Mutants without taking much damage I the process. Fallout 3 was not a difficult game and there was never a point where I felt worried for my character's life. After playing Fallout: New Vegas for only 30 minutes, I found myself fearing the wasteland and the horrors it conceals.
The story structure is one of the main differences between Fallout 3 and New Vegas. There was only one main story in Fallout 3; it could go in a few ways, depending on your Karma, but you were hitting the same story beats. New Vegas has a much more non-linear story, and you determine how it plays out. About halfway through, the game presents you with a few (very different possibilities): you can side with one of two factions, Caesar's Legion or the New California Republic, or with Mr. House (he's the overseer of New Vegas; this is the independent route). You can also go against Mr. House and still be independent, (so it's four paths, but [really] more like three and a half.) There's some overlap between the paths, but each one has its own unique quest, and (the order in which you do everything is very different depending on which route you go down.)
Even without Hardcore mode turned on a super-realistic mode that requires your character to stay hydrated and pay particular attention to radiation poisoning the game doesn't automatically scale to your character in the way that Fallout 3 did, at least not off the quest paths. (Once you get off the beaten path you can get into a lot of trouble. If you ignore everyone saying that a place is dangerous, and ignore the signs saying keep out, very dangerous, then you're going to die,) Sawyer asserts.
Combat in Fallout: New Vegas works just like before, with the return of the VATS system which allows you to pause the action and select which part of your opponent's body you wish to take aim at. It may come across like a first person shooter again, but this is certainly an RPG underneath, with what amounts to dice rolling determining whether a shot has any effect. VATS exposes this by showing you the percentage chance of your shot being a hit. What is different, however, is the ability to customise your weapons, maybe modifying the magazine count, adding a scope, or more adventurously, playing around the ability to switch ammunition type. Everyone wants rapid-fire grenades, right?