No quests, no factions, people and places you knew and loved reduced to ash. This is a new Wasteland. This is a meaner Wasteland.
One of the things I loved about Fallout 3 was how hostile the wasteland felt when you first emerged from the comfy, radroach-infested confines of your Vault -- even on lower difficulties. The world's atmosphere and vibe benefited greatly from a small mean streak. I was slightly disappointed, then, when Fallout: New Vegas felt a lot more inviting from the outset (even if it was, in many ways, a better game).
A number of mods (including one from New Vegas developer Obsidian's own Josh Sawyer) have tweaked elements of the game to make Wasteland mastery a taller order, but DUST Survival Simulator is a complete overhaul, leaving sections of the place downright unrecognisable. Also, there are no quests. You've got to survive and get out. Here's what it's all about:
"DUST is a Post-Apocalyptic survival simulator with an emphasis on lore and story. DUST completely overhauls nearly every aspect of the game to better represent an apocalyptic survival-horror atmosphere. Combat, weather, perks, loot, enemies, you name it. Some areas have even been visually overhauled. All vanilla NPCs have either been killed or changed beyond all recognition. You will not be able to complete quests or join factions. There is but one quest in DUST. Stay alive."
"DUST takes place 20 years after the events of New Vegas. As you explore you will slowly learn the story of DUST, but unlike vanilla Fallout, you are not the main character. You are simply a bystander, and must create your own story. There is one way to win DUST. A true survivor must escape the Mojave. With help from notes and keen observation, one may be able to learn of the exit. Even then, the player will have to go a long way to get out. I have never made it through without the console, so it ain't easy."
So yeah, the Mojave got extra nasty after the events of New Vegas. The whole place has been redone to feel more desolate, more run down and polluted. Plants are dead, rivers are drained. Oh, and cannibals, bandits, and strange survivors of New Vegas' radioactive ruins maraud about. Also survivors (like yourself), but they probably don't like you much either.
So yeah, this is a leaner, significantly meaner take on Fallout that promises all sorts of new surprises scattered across the Wasteland. Many of those surprises will try to kill you, so this is less like a childhood birthday party and more like a birthday party at age 56 after a lifetime of binge-drinking and chain-smoking.
Fun! I definitely plan on loading it up. How about you?