New Vegas, My Favorite Asset Flip

The charm of familiarity.

Lots of New Vegas reminds me of Fallout 3, and how could it not. I see it in the vaults, unique structures familiar down to the models and textures, and in Fawkes and Grandma Lily, the friendly mutant companions of the two games. Where Fallout 3 had jazz, New Vegas has cowboy music. If the world used to look blue-ish, it’s now yellow-tinted. But the colored filter is still there, and the diegetic radio station has only changed its repertoire.

The new is built from the old, from the same materials. Fallout: New Vegas is an asset flip. But was it really an asset flip that put the dreaded super mutants in a pacifist commune? Can the mere placement of some old character models unite the raiders into an organized faction? Those are only rhetorical questions, but behind them hides the real dilemma: what is it that stops us from calling those asset flips with their name?

With some exception, New Vegas’ asset flipping is transformative: reused content becomes unique, while remaining in conversation with its old self. The pacifist super mutants of today are on the brink of war, and we saw how fighting them looks like in Fallout 3. As the wild raiders become an organized faction, we realize they were never mindless, only desperate. Bottle caps used to be the only currency in the wasteland, nowadays there’s all kinds of printed money, with the exchange rate written in caps.

Fallout: New Vegas was made in just 18 months, when reusing assets was a desperate measure. But Obsidian’s take on the series was already destined to be a numberless spin-off. It is fitting, then, how circumstances made it viscerally linked to its predecessor.

By Diana Croce

Self identified loveable weirdo, Diana loves all kinds of stories, even though she’s too lazy for most things that aren’t games. She’d drop anything for a night of TTRPGs, and often does. You can find her on Twitter as @Diana_bnn, wisely choosing not to post.

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