Far superior to fallout 3.
When FO:NV was announced as being done on Bethsoft's Gamebryo engine, I was kind of disappointed since I had been hoping for an isometric turn-based shooter ala Fallout 1/2, but whatever disappointment I had appears to be entirely unjustified. It seems that Obsidian spent whatever time they didn't use on coding a new game engine on making an excellent game.
Gameplay wise, skills and stats now have much greater effect compared to FO 3
. Most skills and some stats now have conversation options and other uses.
Combat in FO:NV is near identical to that of FO 3
, i.e. still real-time with VATS, with the major differences being close combat moves and Damage Threshold in place of Damage Resistance. Proper game balancing also serves to make combat less of a cakewalk.
Crafting is greatly overhauled in FO:NV, it is now possible to manufacture food, ammunition variants and weapons. The addition of weapon mods ensures that any weapon you find can be used throughout a vast majority of the game, allowing players to personalize their own weapons so you don't get stuck with the same old uniques.
Game length is far greater than FO 3
- FO 3 in short: Bugger around for 100 hours looking for stuff to do (17 side quests), find father, save wasteland, die/don't die. 11 main quests from head to tail. 2 skippable.
- FO: NV in short: Bugger around for 300 hours looking for stuff to do (75 side quests, ~25 mutually exclusive), find Mc Guffin , use Mc Guffin in one of four choices, conquer/sack/help conquer/defend New Vegas. 7-13 main quests from head to tail. 2 skippable.
In simpler terms: You are expected to fail more quests in New Vegas than you discovered in Fallout 3.
Narrative is the usual Obsidian Entertainment grade excellence, blowing FO 3
's voice acting, storyline, setting and character development out of the water like the Bismarck sinking HMS Hood in WW 2
. See Kot OR
2, NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer or Alpha Protocol for examples.
As is to be expected of a Obsidian release though, this game is riddled with more bugs than S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Players are advised to have a finger permanently glued to the quicksave key.
Running out of space, so tl;dr: Fallout: New Vegas is probably the best combination of Obsidian Entertainment and Bethesda Softworks expertise. If pressed, get this over Fallout 3, you're not missing anything.