Bethesda showed off Fallout: New Vegas at a recent event in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, giving us all a chance to check out the highly anticipated game. After seeing the game in action and talking with the development team, it’s clear that New Vegas isn’t a sequel to Fallout 3. It does take place shortly after the events of Fallout 3, but it stars a new character and takes place in a Nevada setting far removed from the irradiated D.C. Metro wastelands. It’s also being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a studio that was formed by some of Fallout 1 and 2’s developers, Black Isle Studios. Think of it more along the lines of it being a different interpretation of an already reinterpreted series.

We spoke with Josh Sawyer, the game’s project lead, and Feargus Urquhart, Obsidian’s CEO, to learn more about New Vegas. If that’s not enough for you, be sure to check out the June issue of Game Informer Magazine, which includes a six-page feature filled with exclusive details from my hands-on time with the game.

In the meantime, here are a few things you should know about Fallout: New Vegas:

The game takes place out West, so expect some Western elements
One of the advantages of having the game based in the desert wastelands of Nevada is how the setting immediately lends itself to certain missions. Washington D.C. is home to some of the planet’s most famous landmarks, but aside from those it’s tough to think of anything else the setting evokes. The wild west is a completely different beast.

That element manifests itself in myriad ways. When you start the game in the outskirts of Goodsprings, Nevada, you’ll hear old-school country music on the jukeboxes of the town’s saloon. An early mission has you hunting critters out near the well. You can also help the town band together in a battle against some opportunistic bandits. This being Fallout, though, it’s not a straight Western. The town prospector pokes around in irradiated ruins for treasure instead of picking away in dark mineshafts. And those critters aren’t pesky gophers, but man-sized mutant geckos.

Dialogue is a big deal for Obsidian
Fallout games have been known for their dialogue and writing, and New Vegas is no exception. Obsidian’s focus on that aspect of the game even drove them to rethink the way they developed the game. “We have our tools at Obsidian that we use for writing dialog, the structure of them, and how we work with them goes all the way back to Black Isle,” says Sawyer. “With the GECK [Fallout 3’s scripting toolset], their dialog editor was not like that. So right away I was like, ‘This is getting changed.’ So we did actually redesign the entire interface so that it is essentially an Obsidian dialog-editor interface. We know the type of interfaces that we need to make deep dialogues with lots of reactivity, lots of branching. So that was the focus very early on. It’s been an emphasis for us since the beginning.”

“I think even in the original six-page pitch document it said there will be explosions and a dinosaur and we’re going to rewrite the dialog editor,” jokes Urquhart.

You want new perks? You got ‘em
OK, this one shouldn’t be that surprising. Fallout: New Vegas adds some new perks to the character mix. Want to know more? Here’s a little teaser.

“We’ve introduced a new dialog perk called terrifying presence,” says Sawyer. “It allows you to, when someone basically confronts you, instead of talking your way out of a fight you terrorize the person who’s threatening you to the point where they all run. It initiates combat, but they all run for the hills. Some guy comes up to you and says, ‘Man, you just screwed with the wrong guy,’ and you’re like, ‘I’m going to f---ing cut your head off and wear it as a hat,’ and they’re like, ‘Holy s---!’ and he freaks out and as soon as it ends he and all of his crew just run. It gives you about five seconds where they’re just running in terror from you so you can just go off on them. But it’s just one of those things where every once in a while it just comes up in conversation and you can just lay it down.”