Fallout New Vegas: History and Overview

Fallout New Vegas, a game so close to the hearts of many wasteland aficionados that they keep coming back to it time and time again, year on year. This sandbox-style RPG seems to have not only impressed gamers back in 2010 with its sheer scope and storytelling prowess, but also the title still seems to reel in more fresh blood every year.

Most people describe their experience with Fallout New Vegas as being similar to Fallout 3 initially, an expected comparison considering they both run on the same engine. However, there always seems to be a point wherein their perspective shifts, and the game totally envelopes their lives, ravaging away at the precious few free hours they have in a day.

This process sometimes comes way into their first playthrough, when they discover the sheer number of possible endings and locations the game has to offer. For others, their obsession with the game springs from a sheer appreciation for certain scenarios the game throws your way, such as the quest where you have to somehow help a cult of ghouls reach their Gods via a pre-war space program you just so happened to stumble across. For some, this feeling goes after a playthrough or two, but the love affair/addiction is still going strong for others like myself.

fallout welcome to the strip


The now cult classic game was released back in 2010 by Obsidian Studio, operating under the license of Bethesda Softworks. These developers at Obsidian wanted to bring back the life and soul of the games seen in Fallout 1 and 2, an element that was seemingly missing after Bethesda took over for the production of Fallout 3.

Check out our complete Fallout 3 vs New Vegas comparison.

To that end, Obsidian went to Bethesda with a base concept for the game and managed to get the Fallout IP license to make their dream a reality. After this, all is history as the Obsidian developers, through many hardships and time pressures, managed to produce a game that is still to this day held aloft for the sheer brilliance of its storytelling and wacky concepts.

To understand the majesty of this game fully thought, we must take a look at where the game sits in the franchise as a whole, how the history of the Fallout franchise affects this game, and the very path you, as the courier, must walk down. With this in mind, let’s get started!

New Vegas, How Did We Get Here?

As the courier, you are shot during the opening sequence/exposition dump of the game, soon after you wake up in your favourite cut scene/character creation proprietor, Doc Mitchells Goodsprings home. To you, as a first-time player of Fallout New Vegas and perhaps the Fallout franchise as a whole, everything around you is alien and new.

However, as with any popular RPG series or franchise, the lore behind all these seemingly insignificant elements may be just as interested as the gameplay itself. You see, the world did not simply end in nuclear fire. Instead, the residents of New Vegas have struggled and fought amongst each other right from the moment it was safe to poke their heads outside their vaults, and so there is a bit of history you might not have heard even if you’re just about to start your 22nd playthrough.

Firstly, the game itself takes place in 2281, roughly 4 years after the vents of Fallout 3; however, the Eden project that was so central to the story of Fallout 3 doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference outside of Washington DC yet and so your character still has to trudge through thousands of points of radiation and hundreds of ugly enemies along their way to plot completion.

The Great War

In the words of veteran Fallout narrator Ron Perlman, “War. War never changes.” The earth was nearly wiped clean of life. A great cleansing, an atomic spark struck by human hands, quickly raged out of control. Spears of nuclear fire rained from the skies. Continents were swallowed in flames and fell beneath the boiling oceans. Humanity was almost extinguished, their spirits becoming part of the background radiation that blanketed the earth.” 

These are the words used in the opening of Fallout 2 to describe the finishing blows of the Sino-American war, which saw the Peoples Republic of China and the United States battle it out over the few remaining precious resources left on the planet. By the time of the great event, the war had been raging for decades, but by 2077 everything appeared to have reached a stalemate, leaving each country to question why they had wasted billions of dollars for no clear benefit.

As is to be expected in a game produced by American developers, the Chinese government struck first on the 23rd of October when the Integrated Operational Nuclear Defence System of America detected the launch of the first four missiles. After NORAD confirmed these strikes, the president ordered a nuclear launch in kind, and by 09:42 EST, the world had gone silent.

the great war fallout

The History of New Vegas’ Factions

New Vegas puts you and your character in the Mojave wasteland around 204 years after this great war of 2077. This vast stretch of time has therefore allowed for new powers to rise in the region, resulting in your character having to pick a side very quickly during the main questline. These three main factions are:

The New California Republic (NCR)

 This faction bills itself as not merely a simple faction, but a whole new nation founded in New California’s capital, Shady Sands, one of the most populous cities in said republic. Within the world of New Vegas players may recognise the structure and goals of the NCR more easily as the faction tries their best to emulate the old-world institutions that have long been rendered extinct.

This comparison can be drawn for both good and bad reasons. Many within the Mojave wasteland praise the NCR for their ability to bring peace to the areas they takeover, with their brutal crackdowns of bandits and other criminal entities becoming a welcome site for local residents.

However, many would also point out their shortcomings, stating that the organisation as a whole is just another faction, out for themselves with power and resources being their main objective. Residents of New Vegas also criticise the NCR for their paramilitary-esque approach to law and order as well as their poorly managed and over-extended infrastructure.

The general aim of the NCR in Fallout New Vegas is to push further and further into the Mojave wasteland, wrestling control of said land away from the other main factions as they do so. Establishing a foothold in this region seems key to their strategy to take back the whole of the country. Their main enemy throughout the game being Caesar’s Legion.

Related: Comprehensive New California Republic Guide.

Caesar’s Legion

Caesar's Legion

This faction models itself after the ancient Roman empire, hence why founder Edward Sallow renamed himself, Caesar. This, however does not explain why so many voice actors in the game pronounce the name Kaiser? I suppose this is a question not supposed to have an answer in this article anyway. The faction was also founded by Joshua Graham who becomes a central character later on in the game’s lifecycle as a central character in the Honest Hearts DLC as the mythical Burned Man.

Sallow was, from birth, a member of the New California Republic but after the death of his father to raiders, he and his mother found themselves in the care of the Followers of the Apocalypse, you know, the people that worship nuclear weapons and radiation as deities, right?

It was during his time with the Followers that Sallow became disenchanted with the manner in which their society was built and began to question every aspect of their operations; however, he kept his head down and did as he was told for some time.

Years passed like this for Sallow, up until he and a few other younger members were selected to venture into the Grand Canyon to study the languages of said regions tribal inhabitants. In this journey, he was accompanied by Graham and Calhoun, a physician. Along the way, the group encountered an old-world cache of literature that detailed the history and decline of the Roman empire.

Sallow was fascinated by this, and after weeks of study, he implemented his newfound, roman perspective onto the world as fast as he could. By turning warring factions in the Grand Canyon into his own cult. This cult, when substantial enough in size was then called the legion or Caesar’s Legion.

From this initial founding in 2248 until 2274, Caesar conquered and forcibly melded other tribes into his legion, growing in strength and brutality along the way. This then led to their eventual push into the Mojave Wasteland and a growing thirst for power on the part of Caesar.

Their legion, depicted throughout the game via evidence of crucifixion and the burning of whole towns as well as their penchant for more land obviously places this faction against the goals and morals of the NCR, thus making these two factions the main warring factions throughout the game.

Related: Caesar’s Legion Quest Guide

Mr House

Mr House Fallout New Vegas

Mr House and his army of securitrons can not easily be described as a faction in a similar manner to that of the NCR or Caesar’s Legion. Not only is Mr House a singular entity with mere machines at his beck and call, but his influence in the greater Mojave is also not nearly as profound.

When walking the desert, it is very common indeed to come across a group of fighting NCR soldiers and Legion paladins, however, you will not once find a random group of securitrons having it out with a set of fire ants. That being said, however, Mr House, as one discovers throughout the games main questline, is simply a character who wields his considerable power and resources with caution, not wasting precious machines on petty squabbles.

Mr House was born in June of 2020 to wealthy parents. However, after their death, he was left penniless by his brother Anthony’s greed. This great setback didn’t stop him however, instead, he went on to the Commonwealth Institute of Technology (MIT in our world) and returned to his hometown of Las Vegas at the age of 22 to set up RobCo Industries, a company that would make Mr House a billionaire many times over before the age of 30, responsible for the production of eye-bots, protectrons and Stealth Boys.

With this vast wealth and immense brainpower, Robert House took to running mathematical paradigms in the hopes of predicting future events via mathematics. In 2065, he found that within the next two decades the world would ultimately fall into a nuclear war. desperate to survive said war, Robert built his empire to survive such an event, even placing himself in a hibernation chamber that would extend his life beyond natural limits.

After the war and his reawakening, Mr House had very little time to put New Vegas back to where he wanted it before the arrival of the NCRs forward occupation force. It was then he was forced to sign the New Vegas treaty which protected his city from the NCRs planned annexation.

However, this was all a ploy to save time as Mr House knew, that out there somewhere in the Mojave was the Platinum Chip, the key to unlocking the army of securitrons and laser defence systems he managed to create and stash away before the nuclear apocalypse. With this platinum key, he would be able to push back both the NCR and Caesar’s Legion leaving New Vegas all to himself, all he needs is one brave courier.

The Role of The Courier

When you wake up in Doc Mitchell’s house in Goodsprings, after being patched up from a bullet to the head, it is understandable for the New Vegas newcomer to not immediately ask “What’s my job?” or “What’s my purpose?”, that being said, however, the answers to these questions will prove incredibly important in regard to the future of the Mojave.

As the courier, your primary job, you know, before getting shot and everything, was to deliver the Platinum Chip to Mr House, a treasure clearly wanted by many, especially Benny. After learning who you were shot by and for what, the courier (you) must go on a quest to not only retrieve the Platinum Chip but also to exact revenge on the man, oddly voiced by Matthew Perry of Friends and 17 again fame who shot you in the head.

After finding Benny and making your decision vis a vie his ability to continue breathing, your character soon discovers the power they hold in regard to the possession of the Platinum Chip and your ability to literally take on entire armies via the power of Stimpacks and quicksaves. Therefore, you soon learn that any faction you choose in this great war will eventually win the battle for Hoover Dam which represents a key foothold for the factions.

You can even choose to, via the incredibly well explained (not really) process of taking over Mr Houses infrastructure with the help of the hacked securitron Yes Man, take over New Vegas yourself. Either way, no matter which option/faction you pick, the courier ultimately nearly wipes out the forces of the opposing factions in order to assert your chosen factions dominance.

The fallout (see what I did there) of this battle and your eventual winning of said battle is, however, unknown as the game, in true Fallout style ends just after the battle comes to an end, rolling the credits. This may leave the player filled with rage, begging for their opportunity to run the entire Wasteland from the balcony of the Lucky 38, but for me, this breathes hope into the possibility of a sequel. A sequel that I am sure many of you are crying out for.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Question: Will there be a Fallout New Vegas sequel?

Answer: With the relationship between Obsidian Studios and Bethesda being quite rocky throughout the years, this question has sat in limbo, without an answer for what has seemed like decades. I mean, let’s face it, we don’t so much want a Fallout New Vegas sequel, we actually just want another Fallout game headed by the magicians over at Obsidian.

However, with Microsoft’s recent acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Obsidian, Bethesda and therefore the Fallout IP, new life has been breathed into the rumour mill regarding a sequel. this rumour mill comes in the form of whispers from industry insiders, who at the time of writing, think it is very likely we will one day see a sequel on our screens. One such insider is Tyler McVicker, the man who predicted Half Life Alyx. On his podcast, he talked about the apparent development of a Fallout New Vegas 2.

Question: Is Fallout New Vegas still worth playing in 2021?

Answer: I may be a bit biased in writing this, considering that Fallout New Vegas is without a doubt my favourite game of all time, however, I do sincerely believe that the game can still endear itself to new players for many years to come. Yes, I do admit that the graphics and gameplay are not up to par with titles being launched in 2021, however, I think it is important that as a gamer we recognise that there is more to a game than simply looking good. Whilst the graphics are dated, they are still decent considering the sheer size of the world and the gameplay, in my opinion, is still very satisfying and actually aids to enhance the experience of the overall game.

If you haven’t played Fallout New Vegas yet, it is certainly worth a try, there is a reason so many industry professionals point to it as a masterpiece of storytelling and as a great RPG experience as a whole. Also, for those who originally played through the title back at release, the new content which came in the following years in the form of the DLCs are a great addition to the base game.

Question: How many endings are there in Fallout New Vegas

Answer: There are four main endings in Fallout New Vegas. Each of which however can vary slightly depending on the smaller factions you decided to either win over to your side or destroy such as the Boomers and the Brotherhood of Steel. The four different endings come via either: supporting the NCR, supporting Mr House, supporting Caesar’s Legion or striking out on your own by working with Yes Man.

Question: Which New Vegas ending is canon?

Answer: It does not matter which faction wins the battle of Hoover Dam thus resulting in the end of Fallout New Vegas. This is because the canon in regard to this battle is not written, all that is placed in the canon is that ‘X faction’ won the battle of Hoover Dam only to lose said Dam mere decades later. It is also important to recognise that neither ending fully wipes out the other factions, therefore, it is entirely possible that the battles and struggles continue long after the credits roll.

So, there you have it, a brief outline of the history of the Mojave and how the world the courier finds themselves in has grown throughout time. Hopefully, this guide will help you to understand a bit better where each faction and character is coming from the next time you are stuck between the NCR and the Legion. I know, I know, you should never pick the Legion, but sometimes it’s fun being the bad guy, pushing the game’s karma mechanic to its limits. Good luck with your next adventure weary courier, it looks like you’re going to need it!


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