The Rhythm of the Quest in Fallout 3 and New Vegas

As part of their ongoing WRPG editorial coverage, the folks at Joystiq have published another piece, this time dedicated to the different way Fallout 3 and New Vegas handled quests. The author seems to favor the first, arguing that the second's quest hubs were too formulaic and never forced him to change the way he played the game. Here's a snip:
My journey into D.C. disrupted the rhythm of Fallout 3. It took the basic form I'd begun to learn, and it changed it. It added length and difficulty. Instead of spending half an hour clearing a Vault, I was spending three or four hours struggling against a seeming army of Super Mutants, underground. A relatively straightforward game became a much bigger challenge, forcing me to play in a fashion I hadn't anticipated.


Fallout: New Vegas didn't do this. Oh, sure, I still enjoyed the Fallout 3 engine, I was impressed with the writing, and I had great respect for the moral ambiguities of the choices in the main plot. But it didn't grab me; it didn't force me to pay attention. One quest hub tended to seem the same as the next one.

Then I went off to play my first DLC mission, "Dead Money". This was exactly what I was looking for. My character was whisked away to a new and dangerous area, with all her equipment taken away. Instead of a storyline whose nonlinearity meant that I was never challenged, here I was not only challenged by linearity, but also the problem of finding new equipment and navigating various environmental hazards like toxic gas or fatal radio signals. Putting constraints on where and how I could play forced me to interact with the game differently, and better. Also, the smaller-scale nature of the storytelling gave the handful of new characters more opportunities to display personality through specific interactions instead of generic asides (which they also had, and were the most annoying part of "Dead Money").

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it a great deal and would generally recommend it, along with the rest of the DLC. But only "Dead Money", parts of "Lonesome Road", and a few Vault explorations ever disrupted the too-comfortable rhythm of the game.