Alright, so as a way of presenting credentials, here is a quick overview of my Fallout history. FO3 was my first game, and it was one I dismissed early on because I thought it would just be another dull grey FPS with all the imagination and inventiveness of walking down a corridor that flashes red every so often. Suffice to say I was very, very wrong and ever since I have been utterly hooked on the game. This addiction meant I actively hunted down lore from FO1 and FO2 (and the other games) to learn more about the world. New Vegas, which was meant to be set in a similar region to the originals, sounded to me like the ultimate Fallout game - all the glory of the original setting with all the modernisation of FO3. And yet I am only on my second playthrough of New Vegas, having started it last night. The last time I played it was about three years ago. By contrast, I have lost count of my Fallout 3 plays. So I got to wondering why this was. I mean, for all its instability at launch (and by the Gods it was buggier than an ant farmer's convention held in a flea market) it should, on paper, be an objectively better game than its predecessor. The weapons are better, Hardcore mode exists, the reputation system is an excellent inclusion, the Brotherhood of Steel are toting T-51b (which looks so damn sexy); almost every aspect of Fallout 3 is included and improved upon. And yet I just don't have the urge to play it like I do Fallout 3. This nagging doubt started right off the bat when I began my new playthrough. I have just finished (or rather, stopped) another FO3 game so the intro to that is fresh in my mind, and I can't help but feel New Vegas' intro is just terrible. I mean, let's compare the two: Fallout 3: You are born. Literally, that's where we begin. Here you pick your name, race and what you'll look like as an adult. Interesting concept... but it also introduces your parents and gives a subtle hint to the events to come; an experienced FO3 player can tell you are clearly in Rivet City, not Vault 101. Brownie points here! Next, we skip to your infancy. Here you learn to walk and play with objects. Your limited scope of activities makes sense - you're a toddler. It also has a unique charm to it; how many other games make you an infant to pick how your stats will be distributed when you're a big boy/girl? This also has a point to it that connects to the bigger narrative; here your father recites Revelation 21:6. The game is trying to clue you in to the importance of this passage. It is one of the first interactions you have with your father, and Bethesda want you to see that "I am alpha and omega" refers to the passage itself and its importance at the end of the game. As an older kid you get your pip boy, you get to have a little dialog and you learn to shoot. You also get a slice of everyday life in the Vault. This is important because the end of the tutorial is going to turn that upside down. We also get a teenage section where you take your G.O.A.T. and receive your skills. Some might argue it's a little pointless, seeing as you can just reassign the results, but the section also serves as world building and character development; Bethesda want you to understand how life in the vault is. Your tutorial finally ends with your father escaping the vault and you going after him. You get your first live combat and free-roam experience, and after you escape you emerge into the blinding sunlight. Your vision returns and a great wasteland is laid out before you, waiting to be explored. That moment hooked me into the game instantly. The transition from confined, railroaded Vault to totally limitless sandbox was liberating, and likely intended to feel as such. Fallout 3's tutorial not only teaches you how to play; it sets a narrative in motion and then hits you with an amazing delivery that just screams "prepare to have fun!" New Vegas: You are a Courier. You got shot in the head. You're upset about it. I don't know what else to say really. I played through the first 3-4 hours of New Vegas again last night and this is all I have to say about the plot. I don't have any idea why I got shot, or who shot me, or who I was before I got shot. I am a "Courier", but I don't know what that means. Am I a postman? Am I a caravan guard? Is "Courier" code for something more sinister? Am I from New Vegas? Am I from the Mojave? All of these questions are left unanswered. We are then put through a series of "make your character" moments. These are fair enough, but the personality quiz and inkblot tests are pointless - he even says so right after! It's a time-wasting exercise because he immediately lets you change your selection. In Fallout 3 you had to protest and say you didn't like the G.O.A.T. results for the option to change them; New Vegas just assumes you didn't want it from the get-go. And then, because this is a Fallout game, the Doc gives you a Vault Jumpsuit and a Pip-Boy. Here, my suspension of disbelief took a big knock. Does this random doctor do that for every patient? "Here, take two of these pills every day, aspirin when needed, and don't forget to use the new Pip-Boy I gave you to monitor your progress!" This was just dumb. It was lazy, stupid writing. In FO1 and FO3 you are a Vault Dweller - of course you're going to have the jumpsuit and Pip-Boy! From what I remember of FO2 (I've not played it, so correct me if I'm wrong) you are descended from the original game's hero, and his outfit has become a sacred artefact. You take his jumpsuit (and possibly Pip-Boy) because you are the Chosen One, and Chosen Ones wear the outfit of the Chosen One. It makes sense. New Vegas? We're not a Vault Dweller. We're not related to one. We don't even know we've met one before today. We have no connection to the Vaults, yet we get the iconic Vault gear because... well, because it's a Fallout game. I can't talk any more on the tutorial because I got sick of it and fled south as fast as possible. I would have gone another direction but the game threw impassable mountains and/or high level monsters to force me to follow a predetermined route through the Mojave. So, this is my first big gripe (the second being the aforementioned railroading). New Vegas does not engage the player at the start. It is slow, boring and clunky. But what happens later? Does this narrative pay off? From what I remember, no. FO3's main plot led organically from one event to the next; when you find your Dad he naturally wants you to work with him. When you do that leads to his death and the arrival of the Enclave. There is a natural reason to oppose the Enclave; they murdered your father and now they want you dead as well. I saw no problem in the plot transition the first time through. Fallout 3 tells you your father was working on something big, and the closer you get to him the more details emerge until, when you find him, he wants you to be a part of his work. By the time the Enclave attack, the player is (hopefully) invested in Project Purity and James, and so will be compelled to protect / avenge them from the Enclave. In New Vegas, the plot ended when Benny took a .44 magnum round to the skull. The game never updated the narrative; it never gave me any reason to believe this story of revenge was anything more than that. Yet instead of the credits rolling a new plot leaps in from out of the shadows and now I'm suddenly meant to be invested in whatever the hell Mr House is doing? No. Sorry, Obsidian, but that is yet more dumb writing. I came to New Vegas to shoot a man in the face, and I did that. If you wanted me to give a damn about Mr House, then Mr House should have been involved in the game from the get-go. So... yeah. That turned into more of a rant than I planned (I guess I really wanted to blow off steam at people who actually like Fallout. ), so I'm going to end on this simple question - am I right? Is this all just me, or do other people see the issues I do; the lazy writing, the railroading and the utter lack of effort with regard to connecting the player to the game's core narrative? Finally, if these problems do exist for you, are they enough of a problem to "demote" New Vegas beneath some / all of its peers?