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Lessons from the Aether: Fallout New Vegas and the Problem with Labels


Tweet of the Day: Good Ol’ Amazing Genre Talk

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Putting a label on something doesn’t guarantee that it will fit the label. Case in point Fallout: New Vegas. Billed as a post-apocalyptic game it is a sequel (of sorts) to Fallout 3. This time you play a Courier that gets waylaid on his way to deliver a very special chip to city of New Vegas. The chip turns out to be a MaGuffin that is the key to resolving a three way conflict between a rampaging horde of savages styled after the Roman Empire (with rampant slavery), the New California Republic who seeks to expand beyond the old state of California and the mysterious figure behind casinos of New Vegas.

Cities, Republics, Empires? And what is that giant weapons factory doing in the middle of the map, or that store that sells plasma rifles like candy canes? Even the starting town flies the flag of the NCR and its south of a prison. Yes, you have a working prison system. Not the edge of human extinction I expected in a post-apocalypse story. It may look like a Fallout game but in fact it is a re-skinned fantasy RPG with guns. Instead of exploring lonely ruins of a bygone age, or reconstructing a fragmented vision of the past, the game uses a series of “beef-gates” (nigh unbeatable monsters) to force you into a very narrow path.  It seems that game delights to break the atmosphere and present us with a different type of scenario, that of a “New/Reborn World” where civilization has taken root and new opportunities arise.

But burdened with an old label designed to hook in fans of the series, it failed to deliver on its premise/promise.  Mislabeling your product is the best way to anger your audience. Avoid it at all costs.

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