Fallout 3 vs. Fallout New Vegas
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!