What happens in New Vegas does not stay in New Vegas.
Ever since Fallout: New Vegas was announced back in mid 2009, all my wasteland desires have been centered on the Vegas Strip. It's the ultimate location -- presumably filled with nefarious criminals, high-stakes gambling joints, and everything an evil-karma player like myself could want. Today, I almost made it to the downtown New Vegas Strip.
In this latest hour-long play session with Fallout: New Vegas, Bethesda and developer Obsidian set me up to play at a point presumably well into the New Vegas quest line. It began with a conversation with Victor the robot, the cowboy-themed machine that graced the very first New Vegas teaser trailer. He seems to be following the main character, whom he refers to as "fancy pants." Once that chat finished and the camera zoomed back, I realized I was at the Promised Land.
Ahead, a series of bright lights that spelled out "Welcome to the Strip." To the left, a series of crumbling buildings, left to the elements on the outskirts of the city. All I had to do was walk forward and head through a gate and I'd be on the Strip. And that's when I ran into a problem. You can't just waltz into downtown New Vegas. You can try, but you'll end up dead.
The outskirts of New Vegas are kept in order by several competing factions. There's the Freeside Gang out on the streets, largely kept under control by the stronger Kings, who it seems are at odds with the New California Republic. And to top it all off, the Followers, who camp out in the Old Las Vegas Mormon Historic Park, are trying to get the entire population off of booze and drugs.
I killed most of the members I could find of each of these factions, save for the Kings. They were a bit too powerful for my meager firepower. At first, I was just killing for the fun of it. Obsidian stacked my character with ammunition and weapons (though my stats were too low level to use most of them effectively). Boxing gloves were my personal favorite tool of slaughter, backed in a close second by the machete. Running around in a pinstripe suit with a cowboy hat and boxing gloves is just plain funny.
After a bit of killing, though, I realized I had a problem on my hands. To get to the Strip, you have to make your way past a series of Securitron Gatekeeper bots. Like I said before, they won't let just anybody in. You need 2000 caps, a passport, or a high enough science skill level to convince them to let you through. I had none of these, so I went back to the killing in search of caps.
After more random killing, I realized I had a serious problem on my hands. And it wasn't just a problem with the different factions, which you can build up a reputation with that will not be forgotten. No matter who I killed and what I stole, no merchants I could find had any more than a couple hundred caps. Time was not on my side as I didn't have all day to repeatedly wait for them to refill their purses.
I figured that completing a few quests might solve my monetary woes. I quickly found that even before you get into the heart of New Vegas, there are plenty of side-quests to keep you occupied. After just talking to a few folks, I had my Pip-Boy loaded with potential missions. One involved working for the Followers to save some addicts (I ended up killing one when he got testy and never completed that good deed). Another had me playing sleuth to find out what was going on with a fishy gun for hire.
Alas, even after completing a couple of quests, I still found myself a few hundred caps short of my ticket inside. That adventure will have to wait for another day. Don't feel too bad for me. I did end up finding the greatest thing ever during my adventures. The head of the Kings faction has a pet dog. Or, he had a pet dog. Now he has a robo-puppy with a dog's brain sitting in a jar on its head. It looks absolutely hilarious.
Fallout: New Vegas is due out October 19, and I hope Obsidian has the chance to put a bit more polish on it before shipping it out. The portion of the game I played frequently had issues with maintaining a stable framerate, and the AI quite often had problems quickly finding the best path while moving. These aren't particularly new issues to those that have played Fallout 3, and the game still works as you'd expect, but I still remain ever hopeful for an improved experience.