Development of Fallout: The Frontier started almost 7 years ago and there were certainly times along the way where it looked like it would never make it to release, but the dedicated modders behind the project stayed strong and are now releasing this DLC-sized mod for New Vegas into the wild for the entire world to enjoy.
Nothing builds anticipation like a ticking clock, so we've added this video from the mod team which will unlock as soon the mod is available.
If you're not already familiar with the project, here's a quick summary:
The Frontier is a gigantic “new game” sized, free mod for Fallout: New Vegas. It takes place in snowy Portland, Oregon, with a desperate battle between the NCR and the Legion. Including 3 major questlines each with their own unique playstyles, over 27,000 lines of fully voiced dialogue from hundreds of actors, hundreds of new characters, over 150 new unique and interesting weapons, hundreds of new armours, and the best drivable vehicles New Vegas has ever seen. With work done by a host of the best FNV modders still around, including Devilswish182?, Weijiesen?, Mindboggles? and macintrol?, it’s safe to say The Frontier could be considered its own unique unofficial Fallout game.
The versions of the mod on both Nexus Mods and Steam are exactly the same, however, they are installed and managed in different ways. The Steam option uses an installer to move the mod files to and from the Fallout New Vegas folder, whereas the Nexus Mods download is a conventional mod you can install with your favourite mod manager.
We anticipate that there will be a high demand for this file immediately after release, so your download speeds may be slower than usual. Thanks for understanding.
During the final months of development, I had the opportunity to catch up with the Project Lead of The Frontier, tgspy. He very graciously took some time out to answer a few of my burning questions ahead of the release.
Without spoiling too much, can you give us an idea of the story and characters?
The Frontier doesn’t have quite as simplistic a progression or “end story” as NV and some of its DLC’s have. Each questline has different goals, as do their leaders. In a general sense, each questline has its own core “theme”. This core theme is hyper present throughout the entire questline and dictates the motives and story elements. The 3 major faction leaders, General Blackthorne, Legate Valerius, and Paladin Tasha Weaver, all have their own unique stories to tell and the player is along for the ride. We’ve done a lot of work to make sure that the story is as fresh to players when they join as possible, so we’ve been extremely light in our story spoilers. We do hope this waiting and secrecy will give players a nice surprise when they play the mod.
Who are "The Crusaders" and what is their quest?
The Crusaders are the brainchild of Odinsword. They’re a unique twist of the Brotherhood of Steel and act as our “independent” playstyle. Here’s the basic lore :
The Crusaders have a unique blend of scripted sequences and dialogue rich encounters, playing out like a New Vegas questline. It also has some incredible moments with unbelievable FX. We really hope players will enjoy the Crusaders as the unique faction they’ve become.
The Crusaders were formed by a Brotherhood of Steel Paladin, Tasha Weaver, who was left for dead at Helios One. She and several other Brotherhood refugees met up at New Canaan to live out a peaceful existence. The destruction of New Canaan was the crucible in which the Crusaders were born. Returning from a missionary trip, Weaver beheld the destruction of all she came to love. Possessed with fury, Weaver repaired and repainted her power armour. Gritted her teeth she added a new symbol to her armour: a blood-red symbol that merged the Crusader Cross with the BoS insignia. Standing back she believed God had a new mission for her: To reclaim the Holy Lands, to rebuild the old cities like had been done with New Canaan and New Jerusalem. The BoS was correct in their collection of old-world technology, but wrong in their worship. The tech should be used to reclaim the cities from the wasteland trash and establish new Mormon cities like New Canaan. Brotherhood and Mormonism philosophies battled in her mind congealing into a strange new religion.
Driven by her charisma and indignation, Weaver and her fellow missionaries formed the Crusaders and declared a Holy War against what she perceived the enemies of rebuilding humanity, the Enemies of God or the Unworthy as she called them. Setting out to reclaim the Holy Lands, she makes a detour with some of her knights to give Blackthorne some much-owed payback. A man she viewed as evil incarnate.
The Frontier is going to take place in Portland, Oregon almost 1,000 miles away from the Mohave. Will your choices in the mod have any impact on New Vegas itself?
Nope! As a general rule, mods that modify the vanilla game, and the Mojave world space itself, tend to make themselves incompatible with other mods over time. We didn’t feel it appropriate to modify the vanilla game in ways players may not necessarily enjoy; it also has the benefit of allowing players to enjoy the mod nearly as its own unique game, albeit still using the story of the courier.
What is performance like in The Frontier? Can you run it on low-end hardware?
Performance has long been the downfall of many new vegas mods. This engine, with its 32 bits and graphical pipeline oddities, is unfortunately not suited to a large scale mod. All this being said however, we’ve put in an inordinate amount of time to make sure that performance is as optimal as possible for everyone. A powerful CPU makes a world of difference in this engine, so if you’re running a powerful CPU alongside a decent graphics card, you’ll be able to run Frontier at whatever FPS you like. That being said, those on laptops and very weak PC’s, won’t be able to run this mod at stable 60. We understand that some people are hell-bent on their games running at 60, but there’s not much more we can do, unfortunately. The Frontier is, however, contrary to the statements above, extremely stable. We’ve put just as much time into the performance as we have into stability and crash fixing. We’ve identified dozens of different CTD’s and crashes, including some engine-related crashes, and patched them. As such, the Frontier can be a stable experience for hours, so long as you’re running NVTF and the Mod Limit Fix.
As this project has been in development for a long time, do you have any lessons learned you'd like to share about coordinating on such a huge mod?
Well, as project lead, this is a pretty big thing for me. I’d like to say I learnt a lot about modding, but really, what I garnered most from my nearly 5 years on the project, was how to deal with teams and deal with people, as well as manage expectations. I give this advice freely to those either trying to start their own projects or work in teams in real life.
Number 1 thing I’ve learnt is, when it comes to big projects, is to understand the required work that comes with being a project lead or team manager. This advice doesn’t practically apply to real life, but some elements of it can. It tends to be that newer modders want to make “the next big thing”, but are only willing to commit themselves to be the ideas person and the manager. This simply doesn’t cut it. To build a team, you should be able to show what you’re capable of. Whilst there is an element of “cult of personality”, where if you’re charismatic enough and are able to gain at least a few well-known team members, the team can grow over time from word of mouth, you need to be able to put your money where your mouth is. A project lead in modding should be able to multitask. You should be able to be the one who does all the nitty-gritty things, to fix performance, to make interiors to fill out spaces, to do the things your dedicated role team members don’t want to do. Now, it is the case where the project founders and the project leads can be very different people; I think of Cascadia, the Fallout 4 mod, where this is the case, as well as our own mod. As long as your team has a dedicated leader, who can delegate tasks and do general work, you should be fine.
Number 2, is being able to work within the constraints of your team and to know the skills of your team. Having a team with 30 members is wonderful, but if you can’t delegate tasks to them all, you’ll end up falling head over heels. This is where co-leads and department leads can come into play. This isn’t a requirement mind you. This is more pertaining to much larger teams. On smaller teams, like the Frontier, I find it much easier to individually keep track of every team member. Know what they can do, keep their workloads manageable, learn when to back off but also know when to discipline. Your team members are not employees! You don’t work for a AAA game studio with human resources, it’s a project made in your free time as a hobby. Treat your team members as friends rather than cogs in a wheel, you’ll be better liked as a project lead that way. Keep things casual, but semi-professional, when actively working on your project.
The final thing, and probably the simplest. Enjoy it. You may make this project your resume piece, you may not. But if you can’t enjoy what you’re making, it’s for nought. Don’t burn yourself out over a mod for a video game. If you’re not enjoying it, take a week off, a month off. If you can’t find some enjoyment or satisfaction out of the content you create. Why bother? This isn’t a paid gig, so if you don’t enjoy, understand when it’s time to move on.
Which parts of the mod are you most proud of?
That’s really difficult. I’d like to think the thing I’m most proud of is the friends I’ve made along the way, but I’d have to say the thing I’m most proud of is just the breadth and variety of content available, whether that be AAA level visual effects, great new interiors, unique gameplay interactions, incredible scripting; there’s a heck of a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of my whole team for putting in such an incredible effort over these years.
If you want to know more about The Frontier you can read BigBizkit's 2018 Interview or visit the official website.
While we know 2020 has been a bit of a rubbish year (understatement of the century) for a lot of people, it has been an exhilarating year for Fallout New Vegas modding. In April we saw the release of coveted Mod Limit Fix, closely followed by a big update to New Vegas Script Extender in June. Fallout: The Frontier is an excellent way to start off 2021. It's incredible how much love there is for this 11-year-old game.
Are you excited about exploring The Frontier?