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Interview: We get more info from Obsidian's associate producer for Fallout: New Vegas

In about one more week, gamers head back to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Fallout RPG series. This time the game, Fallout: New Vegas, not only takes place in a new location but also has Obsidian Entertainment at the development helm. Some of its team members worked on the first two Fallout RPG games at its former home at Interplay.

With the game now set for release on October 19 via publisher Bethesda Softworks, Big Download got some more info on what to expect from this next installment from Obsidian's associate producer Tess Treadwell, including some info on the game's skill system, the dialog system and more.
First, how does it feel to extend the Fallout franchise in such a different setting than Fallout 3?

It feels fantastic! The Capital Wasteland was perfect for what Bethesda wanted to accomplish in Fallout 3, and I think Las Vegas (and the surrounding Mojave Wasteland) is equally appropriate to what we wanted to do with Fallout: New Vegas. The New Vegas setting gave us a lot of freedom as far as establishing more events in the timeline. It also gave us a lot of breathing room for changing the visual style.

Was there a lot of "research" trips to Las Vegas and if so what did you learn in the trips that was applied to the game?

Josh (our Project Director) actually hopped on his motorcycle and drove off into the desert for a couple of weeks to take pictures and get an idea of how he wanted our Mojave Wasteland to look and feel. Some of us also took "research" trips to the Strip to "study" the, uh, indigenous peoples and local culture. Strictly academic stuff, you understand.

Less exciting but more useful was the time we spent digesting media -- photos of Google architecture, post-apocalyptic and rat-pack-era films and music, which came with reduced risk of alcohol poisoning or scuffles with the local law enforcement.

Some game sequels just remake the original game in a new location. How much effort was made to make Fallout: New Vegas not fall into that trap?

Quite a bit - we definitely had visions for what we wanted the game to be. We also understood that because we were reusing Fallout 3 tech, we would have to take extra care to make our game stand out. It wasn't just going to be about how the game looked, we needed to make the overall experience different through story, characters, dialog, and general atmosphere, as well as improving and building upon the gameplay.

Can you give us some hints on a couple of the more memorable characters we will encounter in the game?

I imagine you've already seen the cyber-dog in press screenshots. I would go look up the information on companions that we released on the PlayStation Blog. Each of them has their own backstory and agendas, and I think it's easy to pick out a favorite that you want to make sure you track down and recruit.

How was the game's skills and character leveling systems changed compared to Fallout 3?

You'll still level up the same way, but we've balanced a lot of skills, and tried to make them all useful. One skill change some people have noticed is that we've rolled Small Guns and Big Guns into a single "Guns" skill. There's also a new "Survival" skill that affects how useful some items are, and allows you to craft items at campfires. You can also now use Magazines to give yourself a temporary skill boost, so if you fail a skill check somewhere, you won't necessarily have to wait until you've leveled repeatedly to take another crack at it.

In terms of chatting with characters has there been any changes made for Fallout New Vegas?

Dialogue in Fallout: New Vegas is more complex. -- There are a lot more twists and turns you can take in conversations, and there are also a lot of times when certain Skills will open up new dialogue options (for example, you might get an option for your Explosives skill when talking to someone about blowing things up). Even if you won't pass the skill check you'll still see an option, although it'll be obvious using that line will fail. However, failing a skill check line won't bar you from trying again in the future. Faction reputation can also open up new dialogue.

Lastly, I'd say that we have a lot more reactivity from NPCs based on things you've done (or haven't done). Not just as conversation topics, but NPCs will greet you based on your reputation and comment on recent events just as you're walking around.

What other big features can we expect to see in the game?

There's so much to cover - all the new gameplay features (ironsights, weapon modification, hardcore mode, crafting, picking desert plants), the return of Traits, tons of new Perks, new guns, new unique weapons, memorable locations, memorable characters, interesting companions and companion quests, gambling minigames... I think that's enough for you to chew on until the game comes out!

Are there any plans for a demo for the game to be released?

No, there are no plans for a demo at this time.

Fallout 3 had extensive downloadable content. Will Fallout New Vegas follow in its stead?

We've announced that DLC is in the works, but not how many or what they're about. Keep your eyes peeled for more information.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the game?

We recently went gold and we're very proud of the team and the work they've done making this fantastic game. We can't wait to see it on shelves (and in your hands!) and hear what the fans think. Thank you so much for your support! Enjoy Fallout: New Vegas!


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