Empty would be the first thought, near enough devoid of human life preferably. Oh with the odd troglodyte or mutant thrown in to keep the pulse racing but not jam packed with people a la Fallout New Vegas.
Number three was beautiful to behold, an introverts dream; nothing moved, the wind whispered in the background as a glint of something metal drew you ever onwards. Emptiness and exploration are the key words in the 2008 classic, new things to discover, scavenge and of course kill. All surrounded by those cursed eye bots and a breathtakingly realised wasteland. WASTEland been the operative word, New Vegas on the other hand went in the opposite direction. You can’t move for NPCs in places, there are functioning societies that would make Rivet City blush and Megaton be ashamed to make itself known.
The third in the series has soul, a beautifully desolate atmosphere where finding a green dot on the radar was a treat, a joyous encounter. Hours passed in subterranean haunts or scrambling over the ruble of some forgotten complex were with purpose, searching for that rumor or searching for the simple joy. In the sequel items are commonplace and rumor is replaced with fact. The fourth is overloaded with encounters, so much so that exploring loses its true meaning. While every area is exciting and different, each filled with fun quests and adventure the problem however is that you don’t discover them so much as follow the breadcrumbs. A greater range of enemies and more pop culture references than you can shake a stick at are big pluses but the main fact of over-population jars you back to reality time and time again. The ability to immerse yourself and become the main character are traded for more action and explosions.
Of course there is still a “wasteland” of sorts but feral gangs and raiders are commonplace, caravans chock full of goods roam the wilds like there is no tomorrow, there are even warning signs about Deathclaws placed hither and thither, health and safety gone mad! To further confuse the situation the main story is not clear, is your main goal to help The NCR defeat The Legion or is it to try and gain control The Strip? Many hands make light work or too many cooks spoil the broth, like the basis of Fallout the choice is yours!
You can form alliances, brake treaties, settle old scores and take over New Vegas but it all seems hollow in comparison to reconnoitering the ruins of Washington DC amid the pitched battle of Talon Company and a clan of Super Mutants.
One aspect of Bethesda’s latest nuclear holocaust survival franchise that is undoubtedly improved is the companion feature. You can now control their actions with a basic command system, the choice of ranged or melee weapon is now available, you can decided how aggressive they are and weather they watch your back or charge headlong towards the nearest enemy, heck you can even steal their hat… As well as the improved combat the players ally had an immense backstory and quests all of their own.
Another aspect that enhances the game is hardcore mode, now water and food have to be taken into consideration. Depravity is a factor and the sun will scorch your skin dry, H20 had to be taken at regular intervals least dehydration set in. Drinking from radiated sources becomes a genuine past time, it adds a sense of tension and dread that help encapsulate the horror of Armageddon. The load becomes even heavier as bullets count to your weight capacity, this mode is for experienced players only!
With all these updates there is a lot to love about what is fundamentally Fallout with whistles and bells on, unfortunately the distractions come at a cost- no real heart, no soul, no atmosphere. Bigger is not always better.
That been said New Vegas is not inferior just different. So how do you like your nuclear apocalypse? With or without people?