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Fallout: New Vegas 5-Years Later Review



For video games, five years does not always have to be a long time, but in this instance, it has been. New Vegas is not wearing its age well in any way I can think of. The textures were designed to hold a lot of the world's detail, which is not unusual, but it can be a problem if the lighting plays oddly with surfaces and if neighboring objects have different levels of detail to them, or if the objects are dissimilar enough. Character textures often looked worse to me than those for the environment, because these issues look more exaggerated to my eyes.

Models, too, can look bad with how visible many vertices are, but this never really stood out during the gameplay. It was mainly just the lighting on some surfaces and the textures that I could not stop seeing. Animations do have problems, from lacking emotion to their repetition. It is not uncommon for long conversations to result in an NPC repeating the same animation over and over again. This can get pretty annoying as you encounter it more and more.








What really hurts the graphics the most would be the various bugs I encountered. Some of these may be odd flukes, like a dog's eyes being rendered next to its head (Editor's Note: A mod can fix it), and animations not properly executing, but others are most certainly problems in the game. For example, I encountered one place where rocks were missing faces, allowing you to see under and through the models. You could even walk under the rocks in some instances, although I never successfully walked totally under the map. The ground still exists under the rocks, so I always had something to stand on.



Another issue I encountered several times was enemies being partially under the ground. Sometimes this was useful, as it prevented the enemy from moving around and posing a threat, but other times it made the enemy very difficult to see or damage. Regardless of any benefits I enjoyed, this is a fairly serious issue. Both this and the previous issue I only encountered in the base game and not the DLC.


One last thing I want to mention before moving on to the lighting is that even though I had the LOD settings turned up to their maximum, I still did witness the world loading in detail very close to me. I cannot say it was very common, but it did seem consistent where it occurred. Also, when part of a highway suddenly changes in appearance in front of you, you remember it. I do believe there is a way to edit the configuration files to increase the LOD rangers beyond what the options allow, but I never bothered with this (even after I started running with mods enabled) in part because it was just not happening enough for me to take the time.



The lighting is okay, but nothing special. There is no characteristic color or haze to the world, like in Fallout 3, or at least I never noticed one. In some circumstances the lighting stands out a lot more than I would realistically expect. The prime example of this is New Vegas at night, as the city lights will illuminate the sky. Exactly what is reflecting the light towards the player, I do not know, but that is not really something worth taking issue with.

Fire could look better, and actually does in screenshots. Watching it in the game, it just looks like yellow and orange stuff flying up from a source, without any special structure to it. The wisps and filaments are quite visible in screenshots, but I still wish there was a better contrast to the flames. As it is, the coloring is very light so it lacks some definition, especially when the fire is smaller. The mods I installed did darken the flames, giving them a nice contrast.

Base game



Water is just like it was in the previous game, with it being completely smooth except when you or something else wades in. When this happens, circular ripples are produced, spreading out from the character, which does not look very realistic, but gets the job done.

Everything above pertains to just the base game, without any mods. Given my experience with some Fallout 3 mods, I decided to use the equivalent New Vegas mods, if they existed, and got them from the Fallout: New Vegas Nexus. I used these mods starting 17 hours, 53 minutes into the game, which is when I first entered the New Vegas Strip:

  • Fellout
  • Fellout for Old World Blues
  • Friend of The Night Perk (for Fellout)
  • NMCs Texture Pack Large

Like the Fallout 3 version of the mod, Fellout is a lighting overhaul that, in my opinion, does a very good job improving the game's appearance. This is most evident at night, as it removes the omnipresent glow of the base game. Now the night is black, just as it should be. Fellout also impacts the visuals during the day, but it has been less noticeable to me, which is fine. It is the dark night I most enjoy.

Base game




Obviously the texture pack improves the look of the textures, and it is noticeable, but does not completely alleviate the problems the base game has.


Performance is next, so here are my computer's specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980 4 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

I played the entire game with every setting maxed, except Depth of Field by personal choice. Framerate did fluctuate both with and without mods, but it was never that bad and still tended to be at 60 FPS. Sadly, the mods affected the game's stability as the game suffered numerous crashes after I installed them. I cannot remember a single crash before turning them on, and never noted any either. Because of this, I started playing the game in a 1920x1080 window instead of 2048x1152 fullscreen. If the game crashed in fullscreen, the only way I found to close it was to hit my computer's power button, initiating a shut down. At least when windowed the crashes would not take the computer with it. Sometimes these crashes occurred when I was transitioning through a door, but other times it just happened in the world, so I cannot speculate as to the cause, except a relationship to at least one of the mods.



Except for the bugs I mentioned earlier with missing surfaces and enemies being partially underground, the only other issue I encountered a few times was either stupid or broken AI. At times enemies would simply stop attacking me or even stop moving at all, and other times the enemies would get stuck on obstacles. This was apparently caused by the path they wanted to take to get to me was not wide enough to avoid some objects, or failed to consider if the enemy could walk the path. You will see what I mean in a few videos.

Overall, the graphics are best described as dated (just like with Fallout 3). In some ways they do look bad, but at five years old and using an engine two-years older, it is hard to expect too much from the game. They do get the job done and with modding the game does look better. Heavier modding than I did could further improve the graphics, but I prefer a more light-touch approach. Still, except for the crashes when the mods were enabled, I have no significant complaints for the graphics or performance.

  1. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Introduction
  2. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Graphics
  3. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Story
  4. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Gameplay
  5. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Downloadable Content
  6. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  7. Fallout: New Vegas Review - Conclusion
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