Picture the scene: An unknown assailant in a sharp checked suit is taunting you. You’re exhausted, tired from being beaten, and scared that the last thing you’ll hear is the smarmy voice of your assailant. You’re told to kneel on the ground while a gun is pointed at your head, realizing that your life will soon be coming to a tragic and lonesome end. Bang. You’re dead.
Or at least you think you are until you wake up in a strange old man’s house at the beginning of Fallout: New Vegas. Though the opening cutscene we saw in our hands-on at the beginning of the game told us little about who the shooter was, we were suitably pumped to get out there and exact some revenge. However, before we could do so, we had to customize our character. The whole process was done in the first-person, with our rescuer informing us that he had to patch up our head and inquiring if everything was in the right place.
This brought up a menu, which allowed us to completely alter our character’s characteristics. We could change every aspect of his face from skin tone to facial hair to age. Once we’d settled on a look, the old man revealed himself to be a doctor and told us to slowly walk to the other side of the room where there was a vigor-tester machine. He told us to use it and make sure we were still in good health. This allowed us to customize our character’s core attributes of strength, perception, endurance, agility, and luck. Most of them were already leveled up midway, and we had five bonus points which we could use to level up the attribute of our choice.
We then made our way through the doctor’s ramshackle old house to a sofa, where the doctor started asking us a series of questions. The questions were rather abstract, asking us what actions we would undertake in certain situations, or what our feelings would be if provoked. Our answers generated a recommended set of skills for our character, though we were free to change them if we wished. After identifying some ink blots, we were given a set of recommended agilities, which we could also customize. The doctor then handed us a PipBoy and sent us on out into the wasteland.
Not much more than sand greeted us outside, save for a few ramshackle huts and some cattle. We made our way over to the local saloon, where we met Sunny Smiles, a local sharpshooter. She took as around the back of the saloon, where she handed us a gun and taught us how to shoot. She then invited us with her to shoot some geckos, who had been terrorizing the surrounding area. Unlike real-life geckos, they were almost human-size, scuttling along the desert floor towards us, teeth bared. Fortunately, they were easily dispatched with a few shots of our decrepit-looking rifle.
We then made our way back to the saloon, passing by more grimy-looking huts and rocks. We ran inside to find the saloon owner in an argument with a local member of a chain gang. After telling him to leave the saloon owner alone, we learnt about how the gang had taken over the area and was chasing after someone who was held up in town. We could choose to help the gang or instead help the person being chased. This was disrupted by the saloon owner telling us about her now broken radio, which we kindly offered to fix for some karma points. Heading back out into the wasteland, we set off to find the man, the sun beating down on us, curious to know what connection if any the chain gangs had to our assailant.
Sadly, at this point, our time was up. We’d gotten a taste of life out in the wasteland, getting a feel for what the game has to offer. Though our time with it was short, Fallout: New Vegas is looking to be an interesting departure from its predecessor, with a different feel to the characters and environments. The classic Fallout touches are still there though, with old '50s-style music playing on the radio and retro graphics in the menus. Fallout: New Vegas is due out October 22 in Europe and October 19 in North America. Look out for more coverage from Cologne over on our Gamescom hub.