I've recently started a new playthrough of New Vegas and I've been having quite a few thoughts on the subject so figured to write them down, in case they can spark some interesting discussion and hopefully enlighten me a little! I've posted here once or twice and lurked here a lot more, so I figured this is as good a place as any to get things off my chest, even if much of what I say has been said before by various people in differing ways! I'm about halfway through at this point. I wanted to get my thoughts down now, and then update at the end and see how they differ. As one would expect, I've used quite a few mods, though crucially I want a fairly vanilla quest/gameplay experience as it's been a few years since I've dedicated any real time to the game. As such the mods I'm using are hi-rez textures, bug fixes, UI improvements etc. Performance is always an issue with NV but I'm 20 hours in without a single crash, which I see as quite a significant victory compared to previous runs, where more than once I've abandoned the game for long periods of time as a result of repeated crashing. For anyone wondering, I'm playing with a 1080, i7 and in 4k. Stutter isn't much of an issue. Framerate occasionally suffers in highly populated areas, but that's mostly the result of some mods I've used to make the strip seem more populated. The strip's sparseness always disappointed me so I don't mind the slight framerate dip in exchange for superior immersion. The other performance issue I've had is draw distance. Despite having a machine that's more than up the task, and an array of mods that should work well together, I get an awful lot of pop up (admittedly at a fairly long distance) when out wandering. As wandering is a notable aspect of these games, this is an annoyance. Onto the game itself... The first few hours: I always liked the set up of NV though Goodsprings can't help but disappoint with its limited facilities and design. With the exception of a couple of bright signs and the cemetery, it's nothing special. That being said, the immediate introduction to the Powder Gangers and the prominence of factions and reputation is a real shot in the arm compared with Fallout 3. All in all, the pros and cons balance out reasonably well. My only disappointment here is the fact that the Powder Gangers themselves are flat, shallow etc. I massively appreciate the opportunity to get among them, work with them and influence the power balance with the NCR (this is all great stuff!), but when you chat to the named Powder Gangers, the dialogue options are the same for each, the stories are rote and repetitive and the voice acting uninspired. It's a missed opportunity, but again it isn't the end of the world as the overall experience of influencing the gameworld makes up for the occasional lack of depth. Combat and enemies: I feel a fundamental conflict: I massively appreciate that NV doesn't overload with ghouls and supermutants, but by far my most exciting combat moment this playthrough was against a maundering horde of feral ghouls. I hate the radscorpians. Always will. There is some variety in the enemy types but overall it's nothing that special. It gets an uncommitted and wobbly thumbs up. The gunplay is workable but at times infuriating. I am finding myself not using VATS very often this run through. It is not a conscious decision. I've just noticed that I only reach for the VATS key when I'm seriously up against it (such as being 1 v 5 against Nightkin - that was ugly). That might be a result of playing Fallout 4 where even the harshest critic would probably grudgingly admit that the shooting was improved, presumably attributable to whatever limited involvement id had on that side of things. I've tried to expand my approach to combat and use more melee weapons, which is certainly enjoyable. I remember a fun experience in Freeside where my aggressor was flailing at me, which gave me enough time for a synapse in my head to fire and then rip out the chainsaw thingy (I forget the name) and tear into him in that visceral, acerbic manner that can sometimes be rather satisfying. Questing: (At this point in my playthrough Benny is dead, House is out of the picture and I'm starting to explore the Boomers, but have still got to go through a lot of the main factions.) Although I find Goodsprings fairly flat, NV corrects itself well with the NCR/Powder Gangers mini-drama and I enjoyed installing the new mayor in Primm. There are occasional missteps. I can't shake the fact that pre-sheriff, there would be many people wandering around the main room holding their guns, which looked ridiculous. And then afterwards they're all gone. I went looking for them. They just disappeared. The main Primm characters are still there, but where those other gun-totting residents now reside is anyone's guess. Maybe someone will tell me they're somewhere obvious and I'm just being a bit slow... Novac is great. The No Vacancies sign is one of the cutest bits of visual flair in the game and the quests are clearly up there with the best in NV overall. Seeing as it's hard to avoid these questlines when you play New Vegas, none of this was new to me in the slightest, but the fact the various Novac quests are so enjoyable on the Nth playthrough is testament to their superior quality. I both love and hate Freeside. I love the Kings (being a bit of an Elvis fan) and I like the general sense of depravity. Bethesda simply doesn't want to approach these themes, but they work so well in the Fallout universe that I'm infinitely glad to be in a grimy, seedy, dangerous part of the gameworld. However, the layout is shocking. I mean depressingly awful. So so so much time spent walking pointlessly long distances around badly designed spaces. There are some missions where you'll spend large chunks of time walking around huge blocks when the designers could easily have put in a few alley ways and saved you 2-3 minutes for each step in a quest. Added onto that is the poor waypointing, where the quest arrow will only point you to the closest fast-travel point and not the end location of the quest. This takes me out of the experience, which is all the more annoying when the experience is so enjoyable. The Benny quest is a fairly good time, especially when using the Black Widow perk, but then you know that already. Every playthrough I've had so far I've taken House out fairly early. This time I went to see Caesar before going to see House, though then I headed over to him and took over (he's still alive though, I didn't realise that option was there before....I guess I was too caught up in a pointless bloodlust). On previous playthroughs I've done the Boomer and BoS quests but never the ones with the strip families so this is yet to come, and I'm excited to see the different options that open up. Handsfree: I always play high-speech characters in the Fallout games so the fact this style is so well implemented in NV has always been a big attraction. I can't say I've learned anything new in that regard on this playthrough (I'm exploring science and medicine for the first time) but it'd be a disservice to not make at least a short acknowledgement. Environmental concerns: This will probably get me a bit of flack, but it's hard for NV to compete with some of the environments created in the core Bethesda entries in the series. For all I love the design and gameplay in New Vegas, there's nowhere that compares to Megaton or Diamond City. This is by no means the be all and end all. There are many many aspects of NV I'd take over the others. But I suppose some part of me now knows that hub worlds can be designed in elaborate and enjoyable ways (c'mon, who doesn't love Whiterun?!). There's much less environmental story telling in NV such as random journals, curios, maps, tapes etc, but then again the actual storytelling in New Vegas is undeniably superior to F3 and 4. But of course I know that the developers had no where near enough time to focus on all of these things. And I'm glad that they made the choices they did. I just want to have my cake and eat it. Is that such a bad thing? Probably is, I suppose... Overall at half-time: Having an awfully good time. This is a special game. For every little annoyance, there are rewards in terms of the persistence of the gameworld, the ingenuity of the alliances and the random nature of the side quests. And despite knowing how some of the endings work out, I'm still excited to play with the world and see what might happen. I'm someone who can readily enjoy every game in the Fallout series, but I can't remember being this engaged with a fairly old game this far through in a playthrough in a long long time.