Top 100 Games of All-Time: #11

Fallout: New Vegas

Release Date: October 19, 2010

Platform Played On: XBox 360

2018 Placement: #33 (+22)


What It Is:

The non-numbered follow-up to Fallout 3, New Vegas is published by Bethesda (who made 3) but is actually written by Obsidian, a studio founded by the creators of the original Fallout and Fallout 2. It uses the same first-person system established in 3: V.A.T.S. will stop time and allow you to target specific parts of enemies, or you can play it as a direct shooter.

The world of New Vegas is your oyster: you are the Courier, an unfortunate victim who gets shot in the head by the smooth-talking Benny. But that’s just the beginning of the story, as you’re left for dead but manage to hang on and recover to go on a quest of roaring revenge. Along your trip to New Vegas to find Benny, you encounter many different factions and characters who populate the world and you can choose to help them or ignore them completely.

There are also extensive stats, perks, and skills that make role-playing in this game an immersive experience. From upping your Speech, to focusing on Guns, to getting your brain on with Science, each stat gives you unique ways to solve problems and make each runthrough of the game your own. You can clear objectives through negotiation and pacifism, or you can just shoot everyone and loot what you need from their corpses.

Why It’s Important To Me:

Yet another game in the 1000/1000 Achievement/Platinum Trophy club, New Vegas sunk its hooks into me early. While I never felt like Fallout 3 was that great a game, New Vegas was an absolute masterpiece. Alongside Alan Wake, it was one of the first games I enthusiastically bought all the DLC for. The extent of role-playing you can do and how different your approaches can be to every situation make every playthrough unique. There are four major factions to align with and four different endings you can achieve, and it was a blast for me to play through all of them. Very rarely do I choose to beat a game multiple times in succession, but New Vegas got me.

The characters in New Vegas jump off the screen. Benny is slimy from the jump, and finally getting to interact with him after a long revenge hunt is a highlight of the game. Companions like Veronica and Boone have their own histories and give solid commentary as they accompany you on your journey. And the main quest isn’t the only enjoyable aspect: the game itself is filled to the brim with interesting side quests like finding the overgrown Vault 22 or investigating the isolationist Boomers who are holed up in an Air Force Base. Every character is intriguing and it’s one of the few open-world narrative games that kept me entertained and interested in all the plot points. I never felt like I was ready for the game to be over and had to mainline the story to the end.

My Strongest Memory:

While the main game is amazing, surprisingly enough my two strongest memories are of two DLCs. The first, Dead Money, takes place in a forgotten casino that has been enveloped by a toxic cloud. You go there in search of the casino’s lost treasure and it was the first time I played a game’s DLC and went “yeah, this deserves to be DLC.” The casino is so atmospheric, and you’re dropped into the scenario without any of your gear and an explosive collar around your neck. It’s such a great set-up for a side story. While the actual episode ends with more of a whimper than a bang, the overall experience of exploring the Sierra Madre was seared into my brain.

The second, Old World Blues, is one of the best DLCs of all-time. You’re abducted to the Big Empty, where you are experimented on by a group called the Think Tank. The story goes wild places and I don’t really want to spoil it if you haven’t ever played this DLC before, but it was yet another feather in the New Vegas cap. The fact that two expansions to New Vegas were not only worthy additions, but nearly surpassed the main game, is a testament to the strength of Obsidian’s writing.

Why It’s #11:

Fallout: New Vegas is a game that I already regarded highly, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I loved it. HBomberguy’s excellent video essay helped rekindle my love for the game, along with a recent replay I did on PC. It’s a top tier video game and the best WRPG I’ve ever played: it executes the idea of an open-world role-playing game to perfection.