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Fallout 3 vs. Fallout New Vegas

Updated on March 24, 2013

Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas are both ridiculously deep role playing games that can suck hours upon hours (hundreds, even) from one’s life. And I use the verb “suck” affectionately, because, frankly, I didn’t mind having my time whisked away at all while playing these titles. I’ve played through both games multiple times – I recently had another pair of run-through’s (which is what spurred this ill-timed comparison article) in anticipation of Bethesda’s next epic, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Although they are both based off the same engine, and both published by Bethesda, Fallout 3 was developed in-house by Bethesda Game Studios while New Vegas was outsourced to Obsidian Entertainment. Both of these games were and are great, sans all the glitches, and have their own unique perks.


Fallout 3 was generally the more critically acclaimed title, winning Game of the Year in 2008 from many publications as well as scoring 90+% across the board on Metacritic. New Vegas wasn’t nearly as adored by the critics, largely because of the glitches. The thing is, Fallout 3 had all the same glitches, as they were both built off the same engine. The problem was that even after complaints about freezes and other issues in Fallout 3, New Vegas wasn’t “fixed”, as many people expected. Glitches in a game with the magnitude of the Fallout series were inevitable, and because of them, New Vegas became a highly underrated game. Quick Tip: Keep multiple saves at all times, it’ll save you a lot of grief from the glitches.


The storylines are probably the most different parts of the two games. Fallout 3 had a much more personal story, with the player starting off through the childhood of their character. Because the plot was based so largely about the character’s personal interests, it was a far more linear game. This is a rather subjective part of comparing the Fallouts – choosing between a slightly linear storyline that is a tad (depending on who you talk to) more engaging, or New Vegas’ huge amount of choices. New Vegas introduced far more factions, along the option to side with one of three main groups. This lead to three different endings, which Fallout 3 didn’t really have (you could approach or go about the ending differently, but it was basically the same thing).


Both role playing games were definitely immersive, but Fallout 3 takes the cake in this category in relation to setting. The color scheme was much more gray and drab, as opposed to red-tinted New Vegas. The emotional connection in Fallout 3 was also less shallow than in New Vegas, with more interesting towns (Megaton and Rivet City) and set pieces (Liberty Prime!!). New Vegas' advantage in this was that there were more challenging monsters; things like Deathclaws could kill you in just a few hits.


Fallout New Vegas had a much more improved combat system. Weapon mods were introduced, as well as iron sights. Iron sights were a huge deal, as it gave Fallout New Vegas the ability to be played more handily as a First Person Shooter. Fallout 3’s V.A.T.S. system was an awesome integration of FPS’s and the old Fallouts (1 and 2, on the PC), but many wanted to play through the game without relying fully on it. New Vegas’ iron sights let you go through the game effectively never having to use V.A.T.S. if you’d ever like to. New Vegas also had a larger arsenal of weapons, adding to replay value (melee and unarmed playthroughs were more fun).

The Final Verdict

Just do yourself a favor and buy both. They’re so cheap right now; pick them up used on Amazon for a fraction of what they cost at launch. But if I had to pick one, I'd definitely pick New Vegas, because of how the entire world is laid out. The world is a lot more bustling than the DC wasteland, which sometimes feels a little too much like a maze. But they're both great fun, so if you haven't played them yet, go for it!


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    • profile image

      Anonymous 4 years ago

      This is a very amateur article. Fallout 3 is not deep.

      -New Vegas WAS fixed, there were an enormous amount of fixes in multiple patches.

      -Fallout 3 is not a personal storyline. It is a linear tale of retardation.


      -Green filter =/= immersion

      -Fallout 3's world is broken. Literally. The settlements are tiny, they have no food or clean water, there's about one diseased cow per settlement, there's a town built around the CRATER of an UNEXPLODED bomb. . . need I go on? The logic of that last makes me question whether Bethesda let the nearby kindergarten write and design this game.

    • profile image

      rudebox 5 years ago

      You don't have to rely on V.A.T.S in fallout 3 just because there isn't iron sights. I barely used it. Lots of actual FPS games don't even have iron sights. Eg every counterstrike game.

    • profile image

      jasonwaste 5 years ago

      There are four endings to New Vegas depending on whether you side with NCR, legion, Yes Man or Mr House.

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      video game king 5 years ago

      i thought that fallout 3 was way better. i liked the post apocalyptic feeling which fallout new Vegas seemed to lack. also every time i played vegas it would have a lot of bugs.

    • heatblast92 profile image

      heatblast92 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Only played New Vegas, 'cause for whatever reason, Fallout 3 kept crashing every time I tried to play it... Absolutely love it; the guns, the diversity of characters, the number of ways you can go about completing a quest. New Vegas places unto your hands the fate of the wasteland, and even better, it makes you question your reasons behind whatever you should choose to do with it. Should you crown yourself as king of the irradiated hills, with Mr. House's revamped arsenal at hand? Or should you side with any one of New Vegas's powerhouses? You could always submit to your psychopathic side and kill everyone on sight, though. A blow to the Courier's head put him on a position where he could easily tip the balance of power to his fancy. The freedom to choose what to do with all that power was one of New Vegas's selling point. Still, I rather prefer Fallout 3's skill checks, which played on your chance of success, boosted only by upgrading the pertinent skill, instead of requiring you to upgrading it to a certain threshold. Great hub, mate!

    • ttocs profile image

      Ttocs L 6 years ago

      No problem :)

    • videogameviking profile image

      videogameviking 6 years ago from California

      Thank you, this gives me a better outlook on New Vegas.

    • ttocs profile image

      Ttocs L 6 years ago

      Thanks, Nexus!

    • Nexusx2 profile image

      Nexusx2 6 years ago

      Nice article. Thick content. It was really a joy to read.