It’s been five years since Bethesda Softworks published Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas, and with over one thousand hours of in-game experience (so sayeth Steam), you could perhaps say I’m slightly overqualified to cover the game’s anniversary.
Set several years after the events of Fallout 3, New Vegas broke the mold in many ways, giving us a much deeper look into the franchise many consider to be gaming’s best example of post-apocalyptic entertainment. We met more characters, each with flaws and strengths that made their lines far more memorable. Their stories, and the stories of the factions infesting the New Vegas region, were so complex and engaging that they inspired hordes of gamers to pick up the modding tools.
This article is about how Bethesda has improved Fallout, as a whole, by paying attention to the creative efforts of its fans.
If you really want to get down to it, Fallout‘s modding community goes all the way back to the beginning, when there were no mod tools at all. Fans cracked open the game files, figured out how they worked, and painstakingly re-coded them to create a superior experience. The best, and most approachable, of these examples is Killap’s Restoration Project (now up to version 2.3.3), which destroyed over a thousand bugs and added back in tons of cut or broken content for Fallout 2. If you’ve only ever played Fallout 2 vanilla, you haven’t really seen what it was meant to be. Oh yes, and then there’s the lunatic who coded a fully-animated Littlepip (from megafanfic Fallout: Equestria) into it, if you feel like indulging your inner brony.
What this meant was that when Bethesda put out an official set of real modding tools with G.E.C.K., the community went more than a little nuts—which was nothing, compared to the drama over turning an isometric turn-based tactical game into a fully-3D first-person shooter!
New Vegas would later include “iron sights” for shooting, so instead of relying on your chances with the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System or the GUI’s rather janky crosshair, you could line up the sights and take your best shot regardless of the odds. But Rogue Hallow did it first as a mod for Fallout 3, where the community was busily creating thousands of weapon-related add-ons. Antistar’s Weapon Mod Kits is the most popular of these, and the one New Vegas appears to have based its own weapons-modification system on. Similarly, New Vegas‘ “Ironman mode,” which hits the player with debuffs if they don’t occasionally sleep, eat and drink, was preceded by yet another Fallout 3 mod, ‘s Primary Needs.
The implementation of these and other new aspects in New Vegas inspired the community, both to refine and port over its favorite mods as well as to create new ones, pushing the new boundaries of the game engine as far as they could. Especially in terms of making it simply gorgeous to look at, thanks to mods like Fellout, ENB and Ojo Bueno.
And yes, that’s a working motorcycle, originally created for FO3 and ported to New Vegas, the very first working vehicle in a Fallout game since the original Chrysalus Highwayman. So far as I know.
This sort of electronic evolution has continued right into Fallout 4, which will not only massively increase the options for weapons modding but also crafting. Arcoolka’s Real Time Settler, which started as an FO3 mod and was updated for New Vegas, now appears to be a core part of the upcoming release. Just as with the mod, players will be able to scrap junk in the game world, turning it into building materials for anything from homes to furniture to defensive fortifications. This only touches the tip of what scavenger-minded players have modded into both FO3 and New Vegas, but we’ll all have to wait to see just what else may have been adopted from the community by Big Mama Bethesda.
Somehow, though, I don’t think they’ll be bringing in any of the My Little Pony mods this time around. For that, I’ll just have to stick to replaying New Vegas… for now.
For the record, if you’re interested in trying out any of these mods, or looking into the vast array of what all else is out there waiting for you, I highly recommend Alex Baldwin’s great articles for practical information on getting started.
Updated: Obsidian was the developer on New Vegas and certainly deserves full credit, while Bethesda Softworks was the publisher and owns the Fallout intellectual property as a whole. My focus was on lauding the modding community, and I should have remembered to ensure everyone else got the laurels they were owed as well. Thanks to everyone for catching it!