I'm trying to crystallize my opinions as I play. I am 25~ hours in and have JUST made it to Benny/House/Yes Man. Now the game has literally exploded into a crazy number of locations I have to visit, which - if the build up to this point is any indication - are each going to have their own quests & side quests marked within. Staggering. My thought on it to this point is simply: Bravo Obsidian. In my opinion, they were put into a near impossible situation to succeed. In fact, you could almost suggest that the storyline of New Vegas is a metaphor for the situation they found themselves in when designing the game: Old School Fans (Caesar’s Legion): Uncompromising in their beliefs of a glorious civilization of the past (FO1/2 canon) and strictly adhere to their feelings on 'the way it should be.' This group tends to see the past as something to idolize and attempt to force their vision onto the populations around them. Obsidian worked very hard to appease this group in the game, but couldn't commit solely to this 'ideal' due to the other factors (factions) in play. FO3 Generation (New Vegas): The next generation of tribals who felt they understood the 'old ways' but fell in love with a cheap imitation that focused more on the superficial glitz and not so much on the substance of the original lore. Unfortunately for Obsidian, this is where the real money & power is. Betting against the House (designing a game against the current trend of spoon-fed, rehashes) is a dangerous proposition to consider. Especially when there is heavy support – although self-motivated (profits)- from the NCR against any changes to this ideology. Bethesda (NCR): Old world mentality (fantasy game design) combined with tired technology (Gamebryo engine) that has expanded too far, too fast. As a consequence, there is a disconnect between their leadership (quality control) and their frontline soldiers (skill of their writers/coders). Bethesda currently holds all of the power (Hoover Dam/Helios) and wants it diverted to where they feel it will benefit them most – the FO3 Generation (New Vegas). However, they cannot ignore the threat of losing ground with Caesar’s Legion and sympathizers of this philosophy. As such, they allowed Obsidian a level of autonomy in navigating this creative tightrope. Fortunately, Bethesda (NCR) has a decent marketing and public relations department, and they are constantly sending couriers out into the wastes to nail up NCR posters or disseminate NCR propaganda.” (Quoted straight from The Vault – not completely relevant to my point, but seemed to fit the analogy. Especially in light of how they handled a certain negative review.) New Players (Primm/Goodsprings/Novac/etc.): Lastly, there are the neutral territories. New players who are followers to the whims of the market. If they have never heard/played a Fallout, they simply cannot draw from experience/history to understand the game and need to be gradually introduced to the concept. Obsidian had to design a game accessible enough for new players, while setting the story pace quick enough not to bore the old school vets. No small feat for a universe as fleshed out as ‘Fallout’. I could ramble on and force a tie-in to this ‘group’ in the New Vegas game, but simply put: They take the advice of someone else – like the Courier (reviewer/friend) - and only voice their opinion after they purchase the game. (“This new sheriff you got us is tough, but fair.”) Converting these territories to ‘your side’ will only make success in the future easier. In other words, the more people asking for Obsidian’s take vs. Bethesda’s take, the more the creative ‘veto power’ changes hands for possible a possible next release. --- TL;DR? Go to hell. Obsidian was given a difficult framework to work within. Answering to many bosses: The old FO1/2 guard. The next-gen ‘console kiddies’ market that felt FO3 was “d4 $h1T”. Bethesda’s implied design restrictions, hurried timeline, coupled with the necessary use of the aging Gamebryo engine. Lastly, capturing the long-term interest of the ever elusive ‘new customer’. That they managed to create something that - to this point at least - ranks among the best titles I’ve played in many years (I’m 32) - with all of this background noise to contend with - is something I have to respect. Many thanks to Obsidian for their efforts and their ability to make the best of a bad situation. Nice work!