Let’s be honest, Bethesda’s strong suit is not combat. At its best, it’s mediocre and boring; at its worst, it’s floaty and unsubstantial. The V.A.T.S. system was a brilliant way to mask the dice rolling and calculations under the hood in a way for newer players to grasp and led to dropped jaws as countless heads exploded. The problem was, when not using V.A.T.S., the guns felt like toys which fired air bullets. Sure, I saw the enemy explode in pieces, but the gun never conveyed the power I saw onscreen.
New Vegas helped by allowing iron sights (pay attention Bethesda!) and the weapons felt a bit more substantial and weighty. It was not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. For substantial combat, Bethesda could take notes from Bulletstorm, Hard Reset, and the Souls franchise. The weapons need to feel more substantial and satisfying to use. Really though, the entire combat system could use an overhaul to differentiate itself from The Elder Scrolls series. Maybe more tactical options?