A dream turned nightmare: Bethesda Softwork’s Fallout: New Vegas on Xbox 360

UPDATE 2/2/11:
I take it back.  This game is NOT rock solid but it’s doable.  I’ve had the game lock up on me a dozen times now, but each time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a save done relatively shortly before the lock up.  The lock ups require a complete power cycle on the Xbox 360.

Of course this is insane but this never happened back during Fallout 3.  Really makes me wonder what these dudes at Obsidian were doing while they were busy not testing the game adequately.  Again, I return to the fact that the original Fallout 3 that FO: New Vegas is based on, never had these issues.


UPDATE 10/28/10:
Well, my bad.  This game has been pretty rock solid throughout with very little issues.  I had one enemy visibly get stuck in a rock and upon dying disappear, meaning I couldn’t collect his loot.  And I had another sequence when I attempted to save and the system froze for 10-15 seconds while I panicked… but then came back and the save apparently took.

Other than these two incidents and the whole “system freezes when you attempt to customize your character”, not much has gone wrong.  I am annoyed by how the list of miscellaneous objects gets REALLY cluttered by playing cards that you find/buy.  It makes navigating an already long list much more difficult.  But whatever.  The game’s been pretty fun so far.

I am a little disappointed that the game didn’t come out of the gate with a really cool playable environment.  In the original Fallout 3, there was Vault 101 and then there was Megaton, both of which were amazing places to freely roam around and visit, with lots of valuable & functional places to enter and engage.  So far FO:LV has NOT done that at all.  In fact, the places I’ve been to around the Goodsprings area and the quests that lead from it are really pretty bland and unappealing.   Primm & Nipton have been areas that are at least sort of interesting but other than that – not much.  I suppose that’s to be expected to some degree since we are in the Mojave desert… but it doesn’t make for fun game play.  I don’t think this is going to get as good reviews as the originao FO3.

UPDATE 10/23/10:
Alright.  I’ve played the game pretty much all day… and having just come back from Las Vegas myself after a speaking gig at a banking convention, I have to admit:  I haven’t run into any major issues since getting past the character creation issue.  This game, despite my initial rage & aggravation, is wonderfully crafted with a flow so reminiscent of the original Fallout 3, it feels like Fallout: West Coast.

3 things I love:  Fallout, Xbox 360, and Las Vegas… all in a single package.  Yeah, my wife is gonna be a Fallout widow again for certain.  DragonAge?  You’re gonna have to take a backseat for another 6-9 months, assuming the DLC for F:LV is as good as that for F3.

In the meantime, check out this interview with Wayne Newton – yes, THAT Wayne Newton – that plays the Radio Las Vegas DJ on your PipBoy 2000.

VIDEO:  http://www.hotbloodedgaming.com/2010/10/14/watch-wayne-newton-talk-about-the-strip-in-fallout-new-vegas-video/

imageYeah, that title may be a little dramatic but it really does represent my feelings about Fallout: New Vegas, the new game release by Bethesda Softworks.

Let me be clear:  I ADORED FALLOUT 3.  Possibly more than any other Xbox 360 I’ve ever played… and that includes the Halos, Bioshocks, Mass Effects, Half Lifes, Crackdowns, Star Wars Force Unleashed, CODs, Borderlands, Grand Theft Autos, etc. and I’ve played them ALL.  I’m simply not that much of a multiplayer gamer so long-running single player games like Fallout 3 often have me reveling in delight.  But none have captivated me in the same way as Fallout 3.

So you can only imagine how much I was anticipating Fallout: New Vegas!

I booted the game.  A big patch is required to download.  Fair enough.  I let it patch and reboot the game.  The opening sequence is a bit long and belabored considering all it is for the most part are stills, but I don’t mind that much.  Upon selecting “new game”, there’s a cut scene introducing one to the New Vegas mythos & environment… then the beginning of a character creation sequence where you determine the look of your character.

Upon changing the “race” of my character to Asian… the game suddenly freezes.  Nothing works, not even the Xbox 360 guide button.  I have to stand up and power off my Xbox 360 –not that big a deal mind you, but something I haven’t had to do in a VERY long time.  Not even in beta tests of pre-released games like Halo 3 that I’ve had the opportunity to participate in.  No bother… maybe it was just a temporary glitch.

I reboot and start again.  Again, long intro sequence.  There’s apparently no autosave yet, so again, I start a “new game”.  I hit the character creation sequence and change the race:  Again, the game freezes/locks up requiring a complete reboot.  5 minutes into the gameplay and this thing locks up?  This is getting annoying.

3rd time’s the charm right?  I boot up, new game, hit character creation… locked up.  F#CK.  Time and time again, any attempt to create a character results in a total lock up.  I spend 2 hours trying to get past this sequence and finally give up and go to sleep.

I boot the Xbox 360 up again… game intro, new game… but this time before I even get to the character creation sequence the cut scene with the ‘doctor’ right before character creation freezes.

OMFG.  This is getting worse by the minute.

I power off the Xbox 360 and eject the game.  I try the game on my 2nd Xbox 360 – yes, I have several 360’s in my home – and I get the exact same freeze during character creation.  This is clearly an reproducible issue – one that Obsidian/Bethesda/whoever never bothered to test.

I finally return to Xbox 360 #1 and try something:  I run though the game until character creation… THEN QUICKLY SKIP THROUGH IT ACCEPTING EVERY DEFAULT ASPECT.  (Caucasian, random face, etc.)

BAM.  I’m in. 

The only problem now is, I don’t trust this game as far as I can throw it.  Fallout 3 was near perfect for me.  It never FAILED or locked up like this.  Sure, there were some glitches here and there, but never anything this catastrophic.  I’ve now read about folks that have lost their autosaved games… folks that have had to revert to previous saves… etc.  Who wants to invest 6 months of exploration in a game that could very well nuke all your work?

Bethesda… I adore your work.  I’ve defended the Gamebryo engine as being the least important part of Fallout 3 and preached from the top of the mountain the value of great story telling and immersive dialogue. And I realize that Obsidian did the work on this 2nd release…

…but ultimately y’all are the one’s responsible for the game’s quality as it’s published.  Simple two words:  EPIC FAIL.  You have an opportunity to redeem yourselves over the next month or so with a persistent stream of patches and I really hope that you get it right, because this initial impression was VERY disappointing and tainted my view of you as the Gods of first person sandbox gaming.  (You guys dropped in my mind to TakeTwo’s level… which is good company to be in, but I thought you were much better than them.)

As a software publisher myself, I understand how hard it is to get things right at launch, but locking up on something as basic as the introductory character creation demonstrates to me that your testers really didn’t do a very good job.  I worked as a Software Test Engineer for many years and I know how hard the job is, but there’s got to be contractors that do regression testing for areas that people don’t want to repeatedly test between releases and it’s clear no regression testing was done for character creation… and that’s just bad process – it really is.

Whatever happened to simply beta testing?  If you did do a beta test… who the hell were your beta testers?  Was a it a group of rabid, undisciplined chimps?  Because they didn’t do a very good job for you.

After many months of waiting, I’m just very disappointed, Bethesda.  But this entry will remain editable and I hope to update it with better news in the upcoming months.


One Response to A dream turned nightmare: Bethesda Softwork’s Fallout: New Vegas on Xbox 360

  1. Fukk Yu says:

    Well, it SEEMS that I am the only one here. And, so, let me just say that the problems with Bethesda at least SEEM to be system wide.
    While I know that this thread is meant to deal with a specific problem it doesn’t seem to be the only one.
    Just think: The company has fought tooth and nail to stop any attempt to “mod” (read FIX) problems/bugs with their games. I don’t want to get off topic, but I’m sure there will be others who just adore these games so let me just mention the Morroblivion project, as an example.
    When I bought my first Bethesda game I thought they were the “shizzle” (to quote some less than savory sources). Well, I think I finally understand that they are just one more scheme to make money.

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