It’s no secret that multi-platform games are limited by the hardware of consoles; a limitation that’s not present on the PC as developers can push things as much as they want. The Crysis series is a perfect example of how a game can be limited by consoles and it appears that Fallout: New Vegas was also a victim of such a thing.
As Obsidian’s Scott Everts told PCGamesN, the game would have been a lot different if it was a PC exclusive, it would not be plagued by its performance issues, and it had to be simplified so that consoles could run it acceptably.
“We had to simplify, so we had less stuff that would bog down the game engine. We would have had fewer performance issues. We did break it up a bit, but from my point of view it was a performance-related game and we had to fix things.”
In short, Obsidian has basically admitted what most of us already knew. And this is basically what most studios do nowadays, even though they do not publicly admit it. And no, we are not only talking about the “downgrade-ation” of a game’s visuals. Most of the times, the gameplay is also being simplified in order to cut to a more casual audience (or to console gamers).
Obviously, this does not mean that there aren’t any hardcore console games out there. Dark Souls is a perfect example of a hardcore action RPG that originated from consoles. Cuphead is another very hard game that was released on multiple platforms. So no, a multiplatform game does not have to be simplified. However, the console hardware limitations – as well as the gamepad itself – are more than enough, most of the times, to limit a game’s vision. And that’s a fact that has been confirmed by numerous developers in the past!