I’ve spent the better part of the past week wandering the vast wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Nevada in Fallout: New Vegas. Aside from the shocking depth of content provided by the long, bloody trek, I find myself startled at how well the game holds up.
Had you asked me a few days ago how long it’s been since Fallout: New Vegas was released, I’d have likely guessed it probably came out sometime in 2012. In fact, New Vegas hit store shelves all the way back in 2010, and is rapidly approaching its fourth birthday. By extension, the graphics engine on which the game is built is closing in on its sixth birthday. Yet, I feel in no way like I’m playing an outdated or old game.
By contrast, if you revisit the games we recently covered as part of 1994 week, and look at the games that came out six years later, you see the huge leap between Doom 2 and No One Lives Forever, between Ultima VIII and Icewind Dale, between the first System Shock and Deus Ex. These were genuinely transformative leaps.
We’ve talked a lot about the way the differences between generations are becoming more nuanced, but there’s an after-effect of this that I hadn’t really thought all the way through. It’s not just that games visuals aren’t advancing at the same rate, but the gameplay systems themselves are similarly stabilizing, meaning that the game I buy today will likely be functionally similar enough to games in 2020 that I’ll barely recognize a difference.
On the downside, I’ll miss the days of rapid evolution and expansion. On the upside, I can safely wait a few years before I play a game, and not really miss out on that much.