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Return to the Wasteland.
By Jon Ryan

When it released back in the fall of 2010, Fallout: New Vegas was a fantastically detailed and incredibly fun RPG, and  - spoiler alert! - it still is! And just like with Fallout 3 and Skyrim, the modding community has made the PC version of Fallout 3.5 look better than ever. Here are just a few of our favorite mods that will make your copy of New Vegas more vibrant and immersive than ever before.

A Prettier Apocalypse


One of the first steps to overhauling any game, be it New Vegas, Fallout 3 or Skyrim, is to update the textures for as many objects in the environment as possible. To that end, we installed a combination of NMC's Texture Pack and the OJO BUENO High Quality Texture Workshop. The largest version NMC's pack updates many in-game textures with 2K variants, and Ojo Bueno's mod ups the ante to 4K, and both packs do a great job of revitalizing much of the in-game world. If you're wary about framerate issues or overloading on too many textures, both mods have lower-resolution versions available. To upgrade the weapons, armor and miscellaneous clutter found throughout the wasteland, we installed Millenia's Weapon Retexture Project, Improved Heavy Weapons Textures by Tau34RUS, Macintroll's Wasteland Clothing Hires Retexture, and the Neat Clutter Retextures mod by Mental Gear.


To enhance our interactions with the various NPCs throughout New Vegas, we installed Drumber's excellent mod, the Fallout Character Overhaul. These files reshape and retexture almost every NPC you'll encounter, from Sunny Smiles and Easy Pete to each Poweder Ganger and Fiend.  It also includes a "Playable Races" option which can be activated if, instead of a boring "normal" person you want to experience life in New Vegas as a Ghoul or mutated human. Another great option for revamping the in-game characters is FNV Redesigned, which gives the NPC character models a softer, more realistic quality. For our non-human (or formerly human) friends, we also installed Ghouls Hires Retexture and Securitron Hires Retexture (both from Macintroll) and the Improved Robots Texture Pack by Tau34RUS.

Wasteland 2.0


On top of all these extra texture mods and new character models, it's easy to add some extra detailed flair to the Mojave desert. As in Fallout 3 and Skyrim, a must-have mod is the Wasteland Flora Overhaul by Vurt. This mod adds more than 100 different trees, grasses, shrubs and other types of plant life to the vast expanse of the area surrounding the New Vegas Strip. In order to make the Strip itself seem more realistic and lively, we also installed The Strip Open by users Schizofriendlia and MoBurma - what this mod does is it removes the gates between each area of the NV Strip in the vanilla version of the game, allowing it to be one continuous street instead of three separate areas.


The next bit of our Wasteland overhaul comes in the form of a weather mod. There are two primary weather modifiers to choose from - JJC71's FNV Project Reality or the Nevada Skies mod by Yossarian. Both mods add a bunch of excellent dyanmic weather effects, including enhanced rain, sandstorms (supplemented by Drumber's HQ Dust Storms mod), radstorms and even snow, if you want to experience a bizzare and wintery Mojave.


While Project Reality is fantastic, we opted to install the Nevada Skies mod, as it not only adds in weather effects and enhanced lighting, but also has an excellent U.I. and several great "moods" for the wasteland, which can range from lore-friendly templates to fantastical color palates - even a Silent Hills inspired setting that blankets the desert in a thick and ominous fog. Ultimately, though, the choice is entirely up to you.



In addition to updating the textures, the biggest  - and potentially most intimidating - aspect of revamping New Vegas is adding a new lighting system. Starting with the base files for Boris Voronstov's ENBSeries, which modifies how the game renders light and visuals relative to the game's camera, we can then add one of dozens of ENB presets created by the community. The image above showcases the Midhrastic ENB preset, which was technically designed for Fallout 3 but still works with FNV, which gives the wasteland a warmer color palate and softens the inensity of in-game lighting and depth of field (which tells the camera what to focus on).


Again, it's entirely up to the user which ENB to install - if you're looking for a grittier, more realistic setup, consider the Oxide ENB or Shrutesh's ENB of the Apocalypse. If it's a brighter, more desert-appropriate upgrade you seek, check out Courier and xCamoLegend's NEVADA ENB or Xilandro's Blackout ENB. The Blackout ENB is great, since it also includes patches that make it compatible with your weather mod of choice.

These are just a few of the thousands of mods available for New Vegas - what do you think of our set up? Are we missing anything imperative? Are there other mods you'd reccomend to add for fun? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our New Vegas wiki for our full mods list and install order.

Jon Ryan is an editor at IGN, who can usually be found on Twitter or in your nearest roadside ditch.


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