For the first time in my New Year’s resolution to avoid killing in games, I’m playing a hardcore action-heavy game that can be completed with out killing. I’m talking about Fallout: New Vegas, which you knew by the title.
For this I used the guide written by Anthony Burch which can be found here, as he was the one who recommended it (first publicly in a few places, then directly when I met him at GDC). This will set up the player to pass a lot of the speech checks early on.
The tutorial is pretty easy to get around. It’s essentially a lot of “go here” goals, and some shooting bottles to learn basic combat. There’s an optional mission to continue that combat training by hunting lizards, but I skipped it. That mission can be completed without you yourself doing the killing, but I didn’t know that at the time. There’s also a side quest in the starter town of Good Springs to help the townsfolk stop an oncoming gang of troublemakers. I was able to complete this one by passing a speech check with the bar maid to get her to recruit more people. The townsfolk were able to kill the gang on their own.
The player then has to travel to Primm to get information about who had tried to kill them in the intro of the game. Traveling can get annoying, as critters will be nipping at your heels the whole time. You can out run the lizards and the crabs, and bad guys that are wandering around can be avoided too.
Primm was tough because it’s a town taken over by bad guys. The first part is getting some information from a guy in a casino. You can run into the casino with out getting killed, and it’s worth doing for the experience. The next part will be getting info from a guy in a heavily guarded building. This mission does not seem doable in a pacifism run, but thankfully you can skip it if you know where to go.
Which I didn’t at the time, so I explored a lot for the XP. That gave me and extra level or two. I eventually started googling how to actually progress. I found an optional mission to complete and then the next town to go to. In Novac you can activate the next story missions and be able to progress pretty normally from there.
In Nipton is an optional side quest to help Boone discover who sold his wife to slavers. Completing the quest means luring a person into a trap so that he can shoot them. So yes here I did aid some one in their plan to kill someone. But that was their choice alone. This might seem like a lame loophole, but the game agreed with me (the game keeps stats on all the people and creatures I’ve killed, and mine still said 0). I highly recommend finding the proof for who you set up for Boone to kill, because doing so allows you to gain him as a companion. Boone’s primarily a sniper so he’s only so helpful on the open road, but it’s much better than being hounded by villains who can kill you but you can’t kill.
I did eventually replaced him with Veronica. She uses melee attacks which I found much more useful, and I also found the attractive cyborg to be a better match for the the Lex Luthor, James Bond villain-esque character I slowly found myself roleplaying. Honestly it was probably more John Constantine. I wanted to be good, hands off in the violence, but I wanted to beat the game, so my goals came first.
I was able to easily follow the story missions up to Freeside and complete the quests given by the King, the mob boss/Elvis impersonator. Wrapping up on part one, I just wanted to say I love the King. This felt like the first bit of world building that wasn’t generic post-apocalyptic.
After that things kind of fell flat. Passing speech checks was in no way a challenge, so it felt like I was cheating around problems instead of solving them in a different way. Also having the multiple paths was cool, but very confusing when your method of gameplay is just dialogue trees, because you don’t want to back out of the tree just to check your mission specs to see what goal you want to be accomplished to provide the desired effect.
Overall I think this concept as could work really well in a post Telltale-boom industry. Having a high speech stat that then works in to that kind of dialogue gameplay would be really compelling.
Well that’s the jist of it. Hope you enjoy.