6 Ways 'Fallout: New Vegas' Made Me a Worse Person
I love the Fallout game series, almost as much as I love myself. See, my obsession with the apocalypse chiefly stems from the belief that whatever monumental disaster wipes out the rest of humanity will obviously leave me wholly intact. Because I'm me, and you can't spell 'awesome' without 'M-E.' To increase immersion, New Vegas introduces a 'hardcore' mode that adds a bevy of more realistic features to the game: You need to eat, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep to stay alive, there are more lasting consequences to injury, and your companions can die permanent deaths in battle. And this has finally allowed me to combine my two greatest loves - myself and the death of humanity - like never before: I started one of these 'realistic' games, and vowed to play it as if it were really me in there. My traits, my habits, my morals. Along the way, I learned some things. Horrible, scarring things that I wish I could now deny. Such as:
I May Secretly Be a Hoarder
It fires toasters. See? IT'S ALL USEFUL.The end result is a grizzled and dangerous warrior, trundling around the virtual post-apocalypse performing great and heroic deeds - saving the president, fighting off ravenous demons, freeing captured sex slaves - who simply
I Am Inherently Good (Unless I Want Something You Have)I genuinely went into this game trying to behave with the same set of morals, standards and personality traits that I have in real life, for better or worse. And for the most part, my video game counterpart is a good person: He doesn't steal, he doesn't hurt the innocent, he always tries to help when he can, and he occasionally murders senior citizens for their eyeglasses. When you first start the game, you have the option of choosing genetic traits for yourself - a series of attributes with both negative and positive repercussions. One of them is called Four Eyes, and it gives you a bonus for wearing glasses, a penalty for not. Since I wear glasses in real life, and the trade-off seemed fair, I took it. But I was stupidly figuring that if you built a character who has needed glasses for their entire life, and you join them sometime in their early twenties, they would have either found a pair of fucking glasses by now, or else died by comically falling into an open manhole. I was wrong. After several hours of wandering the desolate nuclear deserts half-blind and miraculously stumbling to accidental victory like Mr. Magoo, I finally found what is apparently the last pair of prescription eyeglasses in the entire world...resting on the face of a kindly, if a bit gossipy old woman running a beat-down hotel. There was no hesitation: I took one look at her face, double-checked that the door was locked, walked back over to her desk, and put six bullets in her face. For her glasses.
I really like those frames, ma'am...
I Might Be an AlcoholicNew Vegas presents you with a list of companions to take along on each mission, and they all have specific traits, fighting styles, and 'perks' (special abilities they grant the player when travelling with you). Here is the list: An impossibly strong, schizophrenic purple hulk, who grants you nigh-invisibility. The best sniper in the world and overall murder machine, who highlights your targets for you in the dark. An adorable hipster girl with explosive fists, who allows you to build weapons on the fly. An effete gay doctor with a laser gun (and later, full robot armor) who helps you heal faster. A Mexican Zombie MacGyver, who fixes all of your shit for you. And a redneck chick who is utterly useless in battle, has no redeeming personality traits, and has a history of alcohol abuse. Guess which one is going on an epic journey that will change the fate of mankind forever?Yep. It's the glorified Denny's waitress. Why? Well, her special power - the perk she grants your character whenever she's around - is the ability to get slightly drunker than usual, and to wake up without hangovers. This is the team I decided was best suited for saving the ravaged world from itself: A girl whose turn-ons include "Muddin'" and
I Am Utterly ShamelessThat son of a bitching Thirst Gauge: You can go days without food and sleep, but one sneeze and all that's left of you is a little Star Trek-esque pile of minerals. Now combine that with being a serious alcoholic in the nuclear Mojave desert, and that means you're drinking. A lot. Thankfully, later in the game you get your own hotel suite, complete with bathroom, and therefore water source. However, it is laid out in such a way that, upon entering the little alcove, the toilet is
On the one hand, it's the worst toilet I've ever seen. On the other, I hate walking....And it's not like your character is alone in that suite: Every one of your companions is also there: Taking down time, reflecting on the dangers they've faced so far, contemplating the fleeting value of human life in this ruined world, wishing they'd spent more time with their loved ones, and occasionally pausing to chase the messiah of the wastes out of the bathroom because somebody forgot to put the seat down.
I Will Go Gay (But Only if I'm Fairly Certain I Can't Take You in a Fight)Now, I don't want to spoil anything, but there is a point in
"I...know..all there is...to know..."In the end, it's not that I'm bothered by the game forcing these two options on me: It's that I only tried fighting him the one time. Maybe it was a fluke that he won, maybe it was a lucky shot, or he had some weakness I could've spotted the second time around - but no, I lost a fight and so I immediately gave it up to a man that has hurt me in the past, and has no respect for me as a person.I spent the rest of the game wandering the radioactive wreckage, looking for a battered women's shelter still left untouched by the bombs.
I Do Not Value Human LifeThis is best illustrated through an anecdote: Long before I discovered my soulmate, The Woman Who Makes Whiskey Hurt Less, I was roaming the destroyed countryside with a charming, hip young lesbian so full of quirky idiosyncrasies that I half-expected Michael Cera to come jogging up across the shattered highways in hilariously short shorts and retro knee-socks to profess his love for her. I'd grown somewhat attached to the girl, and we'd been through a lot together. And then somehow, we wandered onto a small hill that was also a portal to hell: Gigantic, horrible mutants with rocket launchers, mini-guns and humungous, brutal swords descended on us. But we held together, we did not panic, and somehow -- when the dust had settled and the fires went out -- we were victorious. Shell-shocked, drenched in blood, but alive! Alive!
AAALLLIIIIIVE!And then one mutant de-cloaked behind her predator-style (oh hey, they can do that? Rad.) and chopped her in half. After I had killed him, I was left with a decision: Do I re-load the game, bringing the precocious young spitfire back to life, where she can laugh and joke again, or do I save over that file, because now I have like sixteen missile launchers? That's an easy one! I erased her life. And I felt nothing.Later in the game, a soldier glitched out and shot my dog; I murdered the entire town with a dress cane before finally managing to find the 'reload' option through the tears. If I'd Realized This About Myself Sooner: I would know more dogs and fewer people. I'm actually totally okay with this one.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook or you could save that ten dollars for the much-anticipated new Fallout Expansion Pack, New Vegas: The Non-Crashing Edition.