In: Articles by Anthony McGill15 Nov 2010
It is important to note that the difficulty and hardcore mode are two separate choices. Therefore, you can play hardcore mode on very easy, very hard, anywhere in between, or not at all. It simply adds an extra layer of difficulty and immersion as you’re clawing your way through the sands of the Mojave Desert.
Ever find yourself wondering how your character was able to survive the brutal beatings, endless questing, and countless hours of trekking through the Capital Wasteland? With hardcore mode, the Wild West will do everything in its power to keep your limbs crushed, throat dry, and back-breaking inventory full of weighty supplies.
Fallout: New Vegas uses three new condition markers, displayed on your HUD as well as on your pip-boy to indicate how your character is doing: Water (H2O), food (FOD), and sleep (SLP) are now among your primary concerns. As you stumble along running errands for the citizens of New Vegas, you are constantly required to be well stocked on food, water, and crafting supplies.
The difficulty lies in strategic planning, cautious activity, and deciding what to carry on your journey. Since many common foods and beverages still cause slight radiation poisoning, your RAD condition must also be monitored.
To make things worse, stimpacks no longer heal immediately and cannot be used to heal a crippled limb. Instead, they heal over time, the amount is dependent on your medicine skill level.
The wasteland is almost always filled with the delicious nectar known as purified water. Nothing is sweeter than scavenging a house, looting a body, or tearing apart a doctor’s office to find a stash of water. Better yet, many casinos, homes and faction headquarters have bathrooms that contain rad-free water via the toilets or sinks. (Since when is guzzling toilet water sanitary?)
Between dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion, water consumption is your most important defense against the detrimental stat reductions that you will face, as the stat meter for water increases more frequently.
One feature that is crucial to hardcore mode survival the crafting of food, ammo, and medical and repair supplies. Using reloading stations, work benches, and campfires you can use what were previously referred to as “junk items” to create your own meals and equipment. For example, after killing a brahmin you will often loot brahmin meat, which can then be cooked over a campfire to make it a mrahmin steak, which offers a significantly more effective meal than the raw material. The same system applies to ammo, stimpacks, and weapon repair kits; using materials and recipes to conjure up useful items. (I still can’t find a xandar root!)
While hardcore mode pulls you into New Vegas using a realistic approach, it isn’t perfect. I had hoped for a much more demanding experience than I was presented with. Most of the time, certain aspects of hardcore mode were mere annoyances and simply something needed to take care of before I could fast travel anywhere. Thankfully, playing on the PC allowed me to easily solve my problem. There are loads of mods created by the community that allow you to fine tune almost every aspect of hardcore mode, as well as the rest of the game to your liking. While it may not be for everyone, hardcore mode is certainly a welcomed addition to the Fallout series.