As we learned at E3, the beginning of the game will kick-off quickly after the player is patched up by Doc Mitchell after an unfortunate interaction that leaves you with a few choice gunshot wounds. Instead of presenting the player with a mandatory tutorial sequence, the quests for first-timers are optional, though I found myself enjoying them despite already understanding the basic mechanics from experience with Fallout 3.
From the get go, it is apparent that there is much more to do in the game outside of the quests. As the game revolves around New Vegas, gambling is prevalent in the game from casino and parlor games--slots, blackjack, roulette--and a card game called Caravan played out in the game world with NPCs. Bottle caps are not the only currency this time around with money from the New California Republic (NCR) and Legion being accepted by certain factions. These games are a nice distraction and a good way to make some money. Thankfully, the presentation of the games focuses on speed and doesn't slow the pace down with animating everything from dealing cards to betting chips (I'm looking at you, Red Dead).
Crafting will play a much larger role in Fallout: New Vegas than in Fallout 3 with dozens of recipes available. Players will be crafting ammo, guns, and cook up items from those numerous body parts collected from slain wildlife. It's a nice change of pace from only being able to create the spectacularly unique weapons and should help in the game's optional "Hardcore" mode, which will certainly increase the player's reliance on getting everything they can out of the game's items.
In my brief hands-on time, there main quests I came into contact with seemed well designed and nuanced, while some of the side quests came off a little generic for my taste. In one bar, two NPC's standing next to each other both handed me functionally identical quests--go out into the surrounding area and find three specific NPCs--with different objectives and story content. Hopefully, this represents a rare occurrence as a game like this will live or die by its quest diversity. I only had about an hour and a half to play, so I'm not too worried at this point.
In fact, I found myself wanting to go back and play more. If I could just finish one more quest... I need to hit level 3 and see what new perks open up... I want to go exploring and see what I run into... Okay, yeah, I'm looking forward to Fallout: New Vegas.