From New Reno to New Vegas

Notice: Don’t forget to check out our latest update to this post, “The New Vegas Fallout“!

Thanks to Bethesda’s ingenious assessment of the gaming market in first pushing out the Oblivion-style Fallout 3 to an established player base (fans of the original are known to be a bit on the grumpy and sour side, for good reason too, and therefore harder to market to), it’s not at all difficult to get a strong double act vibe from the very latest screenshots of Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas.

Taking on some geographical and narrative cues from the unreleased Van Buren project, the game seems tailor-made for the fans of the original RPGs, these rather eccentric shots (do check out those psychedelic super mutant shades on the left) also suggest that the game looks to be playing the stooge to Fallout 3′s straighter man.

The comedy act parallel doesn’t end there: Chris Avellone, lead designer of New Vegas, is also responsible for the New Reno area of Fallout 2, a sprawling, teeming mob haven that players could complete at their own pace - and become prizefighting champions and porn stars while doing so. At the time of release, however, the area drew some criticism from fans of the original, mostly for being overly colourful and idiosyncratic. An Edge interview with Avellone acknowledges this fact:

…Avellone’s contributions to Fallout 2 – most notably the entire, Mafia-controlled city of New Reno, with its bountiful side-quests and other distractions – were warmly welcomed, even if some Fallout zealots considered them tonally out-of-step.1

In the recently-published Fallout 1 and 2 editorials, Chris Taylor cited a lack of consistency in Fallout 2, while Tim Cain found both its humour and pacing to be “off.” Avellone himself wrote off these aforementioned issues due to a lack of resources, looming layoffs as well as the ridiculously modest development timeframe of 10 months.2

Overall, criticism of Fallout 2 usually relates to its hodgepodge-like pop culture eclecticism, something that Avellone himself agrees with:

Overall, I think Fallout 2 is better scope-wise but poorer aesthetically. I don’t think there was a strong genre policeman overseeing Fallout 2, and it suffered for it.”1

Even the game’s official press release promises that New Vegas “takes all the action, humor, and post-apocalyptic grime and grit of this legendary series, and raises the stakes.” If New Reno is anything to go by, we already know to expect Avellone to stop at nothing in offering avenues of choice, alternative and possibility; according to Avellone’s Fallout Bible, he was the only person to pursue changed after-game dialogue in Fallout 2: “I think Matt and Ferg were thinking of cutting the Reno ‘after game’ stuff out since it was inconsistent, but I begged and pleaded so we were left with the inconsistency.”

In this sense, the dedicated craftsmanship illustrated by New Reno was by far the best aspect of Fallout 2 to many a player. Perhaps history will repeat itself in terms of the writing and design of the game, too? Be that as it may, here are the all-new screenshots currently circulating online:

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