Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas introduces a Hardcore mode that challenges players with dehydration, ammo weight, non-instantaneous healing and tougher enemies, according to a new preview in PC Gamer (reported by Duck and Cover).
Super Mutants will also be more intelligent and varied, and there's an elite Nightkin enemy and a female mutant with a 1950s-style haircut who may be important.
Fallout: New Vegas is set in the Mojave desert, and apparently the area of Vegas wasn't hit hard in the apocalypse so many buildings remain intact. The storyline follows a conflict between the California Republic, Caesar's Legion and New Vegas residents.
You are not a Vault Dweller but a courier, dug up by a robot and nursed back to life by a doctor. You'll take vigour tests to set-up your abilities and then be given a Pip-Boy by the once-Vault dwelling doctor.
New Vegas also has a Reputation system on top of the Karma score, and these will tracked by each settlement independently.
VATS will return, but this time with added melee moves such as swinging golf clubs into people's groins. Skills will play a larger part in conversations, unlocking new paths should your relevant ability be high enough.
You'll still be able to try the alternative conversation path if your skill is lower than recommended, apparently, but your chances of succeeding are slim. Luckily, Fallout: New Vegas will not penalise for this, but rather response wittily should you try. Barter well and you will not only lower prices but also increase rewards.
Players will be able to recruit followers and issue them basic "follow", "stay" or "attack" commands. One example of a companion is a ghoul that players will rescue from a pack of Super Mutants.
There's a new assault rifle that looks similar to an M4, as well as a big gun that uses a backpack of fuel or ammo.
Fallout: New Vegas will be released this autumn on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Sequel-specialist Obsidian is at the helm, following work on Neverwinter Nights 2 and Knights of the Old Republic 2 for BioWare.