How ‘Fallout: New Vegas’ Is Fixing The Combat Of ‘Fallout 3′

At first glance, it’s hard to really see anything new in “Fallout: New Vegas.” Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and built on Bethesda’s existing engine for “Fallout 3,” the two titles look nearly identical. Sure, the rubble of DC has been replaced with tumbleweeds and Joshua Trees, but from a gameplay perspective, much appears unchanged. Until you scratch the surface, that is…

Two weeks ago at Bethesda’s spring press junket, the studio finally lifted the veil on their “Fallout 3″ sequel, and just minutes into the presentation it became clear that “New Vegas” was an exercise in subtle tweaks and improvements. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but that’s not to say you can’t add a grenade launching machine gun into the mix and make combat a hell of a lot more fluid and fun. So what’s changed?

Iron Sights and Weapon Mods

The most prominent fix during our hands-off demo was the ability to bring up a weapon’s iron sights. In practice, it both steadied the weapon and increased accuracy. But more importantly, it allowed for the action to continue without engaging the VATS targeting system (which was how I handled nearly 99% of combat in “Fallout 3″).

Obsidian also chose to expand how players use particular weapons by including what appears to be a rather simple but dense weapon modification system. Specific upgrades like extended magazines, mountable scopes, and recoil dampeners all change a given weapon’s effectiveness in combat, but they are also visibly rendered on your weapon. So attaching a fancy new upgrade won’t just be part of a numbers game, you’ll see it right there on the weapon. Upgrades are weapon-specific though, so don’t expect to be able to carry over your mods from gun to gun.

Melee For The Win

Players also have more of an incentive to use melee weapons this time around. Every single melee weapon in the game has a unique special attack accessible when using the VATS system. In our demo, a 9-iron on hand delivered a walloping “fore!” attack, knocking the head right off a bandit in glorious slow motion.

I noticed that kill cams have also changed a bit. Players now have the option to toggle how they see their deathblows on screen. Any kill can be rendered in the VATS-style killcam or trigger a brief slow-mo to let the moment sink in. Personally, I really liked the brief slow-mo because it was a bit of a visual cue to start slinging bullets at the next enemy.

Are there any other changes to combat that you’d like to see in “New Vegas”? Let us know in the comments.