10 questions for the creator of the Fallout: New California fan mod

For years, self-made developer Brandan Lee and his team have been working on a project called Fallout: New California, a free mod that heavily overhauls Fallout: New Vegas and changes it into a new game. It's set to release October 23, 2018, so I sat down with Lee in order to get the details.

Brendan Lowry, Windows Central: What was the hardest part about making the New California project come together?

Brandan Lee, Fallout: New California Founder/Project Lead: Getting people to commit to doing the work for no pay and sticking to it. Which is the hardest part of any mod, both for yourself and your volunteers. It's like trying to breathe in a vacuum or walk on water. You can do it, but the odds are good you'll end up alone frequently and it will take you many years on a project of this scale.

Brendan: What was your personal favorite part of creating Fallout: New California?

Lee: When parts that took years to finish finally became playable. The elation is incomparable. You fall in love with your team, your world, your characters, and suddenly all the hard stuff is a distant (if painful) memory.

Brendan: One of the best things about New Vegas was how open and free it was. Is that freedom something that the New California team tried to replicate?

Lee: We're remarkably free and open, but the way our world was set up there are definitive "chambers" that spill into rivers and valleys. The easiest way to describe it is freedom to take it or leave it, since if you leave it you generally miss content but at no real penalty other than opportunity costs, and you can effectively skip to the end of the game from the beginning within minutes. Or you can play for many hours, if not days, finding every little thing. But when you set out on a path, that path has many branches, but it unfolds over time in a set progression.

Brendan: Can you give us some hints about the overarching story in the mod?

Lee: Fallout: New California adds an all new story around a new player character, an adopted resident of Vault 18. You'll discover a pitched battle between the Survivalist Raiders, the New California Republic, and The Super Mutants, which shapes the politics and events leading to the NCR's invasion of the Mojave. The story takes place in 2260 - many years before the "Courier" awakes in New Vegas, while the Enclave struggles to rise again on the West Coast.

Brendan: Will graphical enhancements be included, or should players find and install those separately before getting New California?

Lee: No. We recommend these.

Brendan: Will there be new types of enemies? Or are we only going to be seeing the ones from New Vegas?

Lee: None from New Vegas. The NPCs and creatures are innumerable. There are no "enemies" until you make them. As opposed to stepping into a world with set hostilities, some Bandits and Raiders will kill on sight, but otherwise you make your enemies in FNC by your alliances, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brendan: Are there any new perks or other gameplay mechanics included with the mod?

Lee: No new gameplay mechanics. We did change the dialogue system to match your SPECIAL stats and SKILLS far more frequently but this does nothing to the gameplay mechanics. We also use PERKS to track your decisions and traits less than as achievements, so they're more shaped by your character's experience and journey than random powerups that make you a god. There are hundreds of mod which can modify global gameplay mechanics. Tailor your own experience, we won't interfere with your other mods.

Brendan: Does New California have its own original music?

Lee: We have a full Ambient OST and two dozen radio tracks from Martin Purvis, Pablo Cortina, and the bands Shiek Shack and The Addiction. The 50s Covers feel like 50s covers, but we made them, and they are not under copyright. The Punk music is also new and unique, and fits our post-war Raider Radio, and we don't have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the rights, which people tend to forget when they comment "There's no old music, it's not Fallout."

So, we tried to split the difference and not pay EMI or Sony millions of dollars to play songs from the 40s and 50s. The covers are really good. Martin and Pablo are champions.

Brendan: Will the mod be compatible with both Steam and GOG versions of New Vegas?

Lee: Steam will require you update to the 4GB Patch found here. If you don't, you'll suffer the same crashes as vanilla New Vegas, but worse. The GOG version doesn't need to upgrade. Someone at GOG has the wisdom, and their version is patched already.

Brendan: Which sites are you planning to make the mods available for download on?

Lee: ModDB and Fallout New Vegas Nexus.

Your thoughts

Are you excited to play Fallout: New California? Hit those comments with your thoughts on this impressive mod.

You'll need a PC copy of Fallout: New Vegas in order to play New California when it releases October 23. The base game is on Steam for $9.99, and the Ultimate Edition of the game is available on Steam and GOG for $19.99.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.