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February 23, 2011

Why Hardcore mode is soft: Fallout New Vegas

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Written by: Kat Clay
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I had a post apocalyptic weekend, finishing Fallout: New Vegas and watching Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in the space of 24 hours.

It’s obvious that the developers at Obsidian have drawn on Mad Max, in both the detail of the world and the relentless storylines of survival. But having played Fallout: New Vegas on hardcore mode, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t harder. When I tell my friends I played hardcore, I want it to be an actual achievement, rather than eating a packet of Yum Yum Devilled Eggs every 20 minutes.

I think in the next game they’ll need to amp up the hardcore mode. To be honest, the hardcore mode in New Vegas should be standard. After all, it’s about survival. To play it without a thought for food, water and sleep seems a little easy.

Without further ado, here are some things I think would really improve Fallout’s hardcore mode.

Limited Ammo
One of the things that really struck me about Mad Max was the way his shotgun shells were treated with reverence. They were a limited supply, so every shot counted. Otherwise he’d simply use a knife or his hands. Similarly with The Road, where the father only had one bullet.  Hardcore would be much better if it were primarily unarmed or melee combat with the occasional sawn off shotgun. I love blasting green piles of goo with an energy weapon as much as the next girl, but realistically…

Formulating more weapons out of the wasteland
Rather than finding weapons everywhere (I mean I know the US is a bit gun crazy, but post-apocalypse America has a gun on every corner!), why not fashion weapons out of wilderness materials? Wood, metals and poisons could all be used to make weapons. After all, if everything’s been nuked, where would you get a weapon from?

No fast travel
This is one the ultra-hardcore players always talk about, some going so far to even play the game without fast travelling. It would be the single most difficult aspect of Fallout, to manage quests efficiently without being able to travel using the map. One of the parts I’ve always enjoyed about the games is simply exploring the world and clearing out faction dens. There just wasn’t enough of this in New Vegas (hardcore or not).

Realistic demands on sleep
I slept a matter of hours playing hardcore mode. Really? Anyone who has ever done survival (even Bear Gryllis) knows the importance of sleep. One hour of sleep is not going to keep you going for ten days. And why can’t you sleep anywhere you like? If I were off exploring the wilderness I could just camp up next to a radioactive swamp. Why not?

More reliance on hunting for food
By the end of Fallout: New Vegas, EDE was practically falling over with the amount of food he was storing for me. Why not live from day to day, making it more desperate to find food? Why not let the food spoil after a couple of days? Not knowing where your next meal will come from would be hardcore.

No need to find workstations or campfires
If I was a survival expert, don’t you think I could make a fire in the desert with only my bare hands and a flint? I wouldn’t need to go visit the Crimson Caravan every time I wanted to bake a squirrel on a stick. Why not be able to camp in the desert and create a fire there?

Less useless locations
How many locations in Fallout NV were really necessary? I tracked all over that map just to get those stupid blue bottletops, but how many places were there that didn’t even have anything except some crappy ammo?

And in a general Fallout note, the game could really do with some animated cut scenes instead of all the talking heads. Take a leaf out of the Red Dead Redemption book. I love the franchise but the PS3 is capable of better things. And please, fix the local maps. I can’t navigate two floors when they’re on the same screen.

Have you played Fallout: New Vegas on hardcore mode? What did you think? What could improve the game?

About the Author

Kat Clay
Kat Clay loves fiction, travelling and giant squid. She is trained in fencing, speaks five languages and is being considered as the next Bond villain.



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  1. rossfalloutgod

    Im in love with you u lol u rely hit the nail on the head thank you:-). I relly hope some1 takes note of what u said.

  2. Realist

    Good suggestions, and your reference to The Road and the Mad Max films are right on.

    My list of suggestions to those looking for an experience in Fallout:NV that is closer to what is depicted in Kat’s film references are these:
    1. DON’T PICKUP EVERYTHING! Only maintain a tiny amount of supplies on your character at any one time: food, water, health items… pick-up only what you need at the time and leave the rest.
    2. Do not use fast travel (as Kat already mentioned).
    3. Limit the number of weapons you carry at any one time, do not let your character carry a ridiculous array of different types of weapons. (e.g. carry only one or two weapon at most).
    4. Limit the amount of ammo your character carries with them, and only carry what the character can use with their current weapon. (e.g. max of 60 5.56mm rounds, etc.)
    5. Only one set of clothing, do not carry an entire wardrobe of gear on your character.
    7. DO NOT reload from a save when the outcome of a battle/situation is less than favorable to your character.
    6. BE CREATIVE! Set your own rules and stick to them, and before you know it you’ll be in a desperate situation and probably die, just like in the movies. :)

    Seriously though, the likelihood that Bethesda is going to drastically increase the hardcore difficulty of any future Fallout games is low, so I would recommend hardcore realism players get accustomed to improvising a set of “realistic” rules to play by on their own.

  3. Kat

    Great set of rules – unfortunately we can all be tempted to cheat sometimes… how easy is it to zap somewhere else when things are going to hell! While it’s unlikely that Bethesda will cater to our whims in hardcore, it seems like there’s a market for extreme survival games.

  4. Brian

    I agree. And while a personal rule-set is interesting, I think I would end up cheating, too. Now if it were a co-op game, and my friend’s and I set limits that would be A-OK. But since it isn’t, I wish someone would release an “Extreme Hardcore Mode” mod. I suspect it wouldn’t be overly taxing compared to some of the other mods out there.

    Being forced to hunt, cooking foods that wouldn’t spoil as quickly (Gecko Jerky?) and constantly having to refill bottles when fresh sources of water are found… that would be awesome.

    I also agree that it’s silly I have to find a premade camp fire. Honestly, I feel that I’m more useful in real-life than my character was in the game.

  5. Tyler Braid

    I agree with everything the one about less useless places because without that there would be no adventure in the game

  6. Tyler Braid

    Good point though it is a little soft…

  7. Jixxerz

    You people are the biggest bunch of douchebags I have ever seen. It’s a game! If you want a real challenge get your fat, lazy asses off the couch and do it for real.

  8. Dude, I already do hiking and survivalism in the real world, so maybe don’t just assume that all video game players are lazy couch potatoes. PLUS, it’s a game, it’s there to do things you can’t do in real life… like survive a nuclear apocalypse?

  9. Leandro

    About fast travel, just don’t use it. Anyway, I agree that exploration is a big deal on this kind of games, but let be honest, walking the same place more than one time is a waste of time. What I see as a lot better solution, is something like TES Morrowind, where you have some transport systems and magic to travel, so you can “fast travel”, but it’s not just cliking on a map, you have to find a transport that lead you there, pay for it, and some places you can only reach by walking.

  10. Leb

    This is what PC mods are for!

  11. Sounds great! Unfortunately I’m on the road for the next 5 months, so I’m not going to be gaming much, but if you play it let me know what you think!

  12. Mikki

    If you want realistic hardcore mode, quit playing on PS3 and mid the PC version of it. There are plenty of survival/realism mods for Fo:NV.

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