That's all well and good, but what about the story itself? To find out, we turned to Obsidian, the folks making the game, and publisher Bethesda: Josh Sawyer (Project Director at Obsidian), Feargus Urquhart (Obsidian CEO, Lead Designer on Fallout 2) and Pete Hines (Bethesda Marketing VP). Here's what they had to say:
From Shot in the Head to Countless Dead
Josh Sawyer: Fallout: New Vegas starts in a way that is basically an inversion of the beginning Fallout 3. In Fallout 3, you start out being born and raised. In Fallout: New Vegas, you start out by being shot in the head, dumped in the desert, rescued by a mysterious robot named Victor, and taken to Good Springs.
You are a courier, ambushed for the cargo he or she was carrying, and then left to die in the desert.
Fallout has this tradition of sending you out on something that affects you personally and then drawing you into a larger conflict. So, spoilers, as you go about trying to find out what happened to you and why, you're kinda like "Wow, sure are a lot of slavers around here and what's with people with these bear things on shooting each other."
You get drawn into that conflict between the New California Republic and Caesar's Legion. That's basically the idea, that we start in a very Fallout way, a personal thing you're trying to figure out, and then you get caught up in something else.
Josh Sawyer: Caesar's Legion, at least initially when you learn things about them, they're really nasty and bad. But they're not an evil faceless organization, just as NCR is not always the good guys. They do terrible crap all the time, and Caesar's Legion occasionally does some good things. We didn't want to make the player, when they go into it, just go "Welp, I guess these are the bad guys. I'm gonna kill them, and help these guys because they're good."
There's a lot about sort-of political ideologies and who you want to help. Sometimes you call NCR and [they'll] screw over some people who are totally innocent. Sometimes you'll help Caesar's Legion, and it actually helps those guys out.
Feargus Urquhart: For each of those groups, like Caesar's Legion and NCR, we came up with very specific [details of] what they're all about. NCR is very bureaucratic. For each of the groups that we have in the game, we make sure that they have this thing about them. Caesar's Legion, what they're going on is basically slavery and trying to take over the world. NCR wants the government to come back, and has become needlessly bureaucratic. By doing that, we make sure that every time you come against one of these groups, you definitely get a sense of that personality.
Josh Sawyer: We're trying to build on [the franchise's fictional history] a lot. One thing I do admit is kinda tricky is sometimes we take for granted [knowledge of past characters and events].
Pete Hines: That's all part of the Fallout canon, and going back there is just building on that canon but ultimately acknowledging that you are in part of the U.S. where other games did take place and there are places and things that, if you played those games, you should see and recognize. If you don't, if you don't what the NCR is, it doesn't take away from your enjoyment of the game. You still get what it's all about.
Josh Sawyer: When you go to Black Mountain, we wanted to include the chimes from the cathedral in Fallout 1. Sometimes [the references are] really overt, like, "Hey, look it's that character." Sometimes it can be as subtle as an instrument you heard in a theme that comes back.
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks, Fallout: New Vegas is slated to arrive on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in Fall 2010.