June 23, 2014

Let's Talk About: Fallout New Vegas DLC

Why waste time with an introduction? Here's my thoughts on the New Vegas DLC.

Dead Money

Alot of people don't like this one. And I totally get why. Dead Money is brutal, but not in the way we've come to expect out of these DLC. There's no suped-up unstoppable enemies, no annoying bullshit boss, and it's most DEFINITELY not a monotonous grind, though the environment can grate a bit. Dead Money whisks you away to the fabled Sierra Madre; Something really cool in New Vegas was that all the DLC were constantly hinted at before they even came out, so some of you with a sharp eye may have heard of this fantastical place before you were deposited at its door. Specifically, you get kidnapped and brought there before a rather prominent figure, Father Elijah, who you also may have heard of in the regular game. He's done this because he wants you to help him break the tight security on the ancient yet pristine casino in order to access its mysterious vault full of untold treasures.

Art Deco makes everything better. It's a fact.

It's certainly an interesting take on a plot, to say the least; A bank heist on a bank that's been abandoned for hundreds of years but still armed to the teeth. To that end, you spend Dead Money running around gathering your crew, setting up the heist itself, and finally following through with it, albeit with some twists and turns. All of that sounds pretty cool, right? That's because I haven't brought up any of the HORRORS that await you playing this. Dead Money could be best described in gameplay as survival horror; You are stripped of ALL equipment, with no way of getting any of it back, and now you have a freakin' bomb collar on your neck that will blow up if one of your fellow heist members dies or you get close to the incredibly annoying and omnipresent faulty speakers that exist throughout the Madre's labyrinthine Spanish Villa exterior. There's also a fuckload of traps, and a damn near unavoidable toxic cloud that will you dead in about 4 seconds of exposure. That's not even mentioning DM's new and ONLY creature, the Ghost People. Jesus, these guys are spooky. Ghost People lurch around all slow and creepy, then they start hopping around like olympic athletes when they see you, often times hucking spears and gas bombs at you, and you can only kill them by removing a limb. Otherwise, they keep getting back up to try again!


Now, this is gonna sound crazy...I fucking LOVE Dead Money. Call me crazy, but this is exactly what difficult SHOULD be. It's not difficult because it's unfair, it's difficult because it challenges you to play the game a different way. I also think it's not so bad; If I can beat Dead Money on HARDCORE, and I DID, then people should have no trouble playing on normal mode. They just have to think differently. Aim for limb shots instead of head shots, always carry a knife to chop off the Ghost People limbs, and NEVER STOP CROUCHING. But more to the meat of this DLC, the strongest part is the story, or rather the back story. You learn all about the Madre, its history, why it was made, and about its mysterious creator Frederick Sinclair. What starts out as a fairly simple "Do what I want and no one gets hurt" story quickly becomes a tangled web of desires and betrayals. That's not even grazing the fucking impeccable design of your companions. All of them are not as they appear to be initially, and talking to them unlocks deep, wonderfully written stories and motivations. Rewards are also quite lovely this time around, awarding Energy Weapon enthusiasts with the stupidly powerful Holorifle, and lovers of Guns with a BAR! Dead Money nets a 10/10. Haters gonna hate!

Honest Hearts

Honest Hearts is certainly alot safer than Dead Money. You join up on a caravan heading to the Mormon town of New Canaan only to have your entire caravan killed by Legion hopefuls, The White Legs, just as you enter none other than real world national park Zion Valley. It is there that you meet The Burned Man, who some of you should know as the Legate before Legate Lanius. Turns out he didn't die despite being LIT ON FIRE AND TOSSED DOWN THE GRAND CANYON. Nope, he just walks away looking like a mummy with a kickass Colt .45 and Bible quotes to boot. There's also some other dudes that...exist I guess. They're kind of interesting, but The Burned Man, or Joshua Graham, effectively remains the only memorable character in this.

He just sits there checking pistols...SO COOL.

The story is also very straightforward; The local tribes that live in Zion are torn between fighting the White Legs or merely evacuating The Valley. This is complicated by the fact that Joshua really wants to fight the White Legs, AND that Zion was untouched by the bombs and is absolutely GORGEOUS. Seriously, this DLC is worth playing for a look of Zion alone! There's also this actually very interesting back story about how the natives came to believe in a god called "The Father in the Caves", that is really worth looking into, since it's both well written and offers some damn good loot when you complete it.

The White Legs always have really good equipment to loot, which is nice.

There's not really alot else to say about Honest Hearts, which I suppose is its problem: It's rather plain. Yao Guai from FO3 make a return, but unless you count the Green Geckos, the only substantial new enemies are just super sized versions of the regular creatures. To be fair though, nothing will make you shit your pants in fear quite as well as several Giant Cazadores flying at a Mach 1 collision course with your skull. It offers some nice rewards, and there are really cool parts that shine through the mundanity, like Graham and Zion itself. 7/10.

Old World Blues

Immediately bouncing back from the blandness that was Honest Hearts comes Old World Blues, which is easily the wackiest experience Fallout has to offer. You get teleported to The Big Empty, a crater that used to be a mountain housing a massive scientific facility. The Big Empty's name is a bit of an oxymoron; It is indeed VERY big, the largest of all the DLC to date, but it is most certainly not empty.

Dotted all across Big MT are facilities where all manner of bizarre top secret experiments were carried out, so expect to find both really cool stuff and horrific monsters that want a taste of your face. You could literally explore for HOURS without so much as touching the story, but that's not to imply the story isn't also fun. In a rather strange twist of events, your kidnappers this time are brains floating in also-floating jars, who call themselves The Think Tank. These goofballs were the head scientists of Big MT before the war, and now they spend all day just capturing hapless fools and lobotomizing them. For some reason, you managed to not be lobotomized, but now your brain, heart, and spine are all out of you, and your brain has...Run away. I'm dead serious.

Writing this must have been a lot of fun.
The Think Tank, with no idea how to fight or defend themselves, then task you with defeating their traitor Dr Mobius and his ARMY OF ROBOT SCORPIONS (It's actually said this way, very loudly, every single time.) who they think has your brain, but in case it wasn't obvious by the fact that they somehow forgot what humans look like (Your toes are mistaken for penises.), they're kinda stupid. Not to mention one of them actually MADE THE FUCKING CAZADORES. Talking to them is a blast though, all of it very funny, and fans of the Venture Brothers will notice that Dr 0 is voiced by the same talent behind Rusty Venture! The story is actually somewhat heartfelt and melancholy at some points, making the title seem more fitting, but for the most part is a very funny, self-aware sort of sci-fi adventure, with plenty of swag to keep you coming back for more. 8/10.

Lonesome Road

LR was intended to be a finale of sorts, the last DLC as well as some manner of closure for The Courier. All throughout the game hints have been dropped regarding this mysterious "other" courier who turned down the job that ultimately got you shot in the head. Well, in Lonesome Road, he reaches out to you, inviting you to come face him in a hellhole known simply as The Divide. Similar to Point Lookout, you can leave LR anytime you want, which unfortunately removes alot of the urgency from what is intended to be a sort of "race against time" affair. As the name implies, you are to travel with no companions and you can bring anything you want for this, and you'll NEED everything because LR pulls out all the stops to give you one last ball pounding. Deathclaws that scale with your level are EVERYWHERE, the new enemies in the game, The Marked Men and The Tunnelers, are both crazy tough, and The Road itself has no doctors of any kind.

It's fairly normal to fight 3 at a time in this DLC.

 The landscape is what I'd imagine the world immediately after the bombs to look. The area that became The Divide was actually a stockpile for nukes, and alot of them went off before they could even be deployed, so The Divide is a savage land wracked by radioactive dust storms and consists of twisted steel and rubble almost exclusively. There's not much back story except your own, which the game attempts to put together that you are actually responsible for all this devastation, and now Ulysses, the other courier, wants revenge by using the still working nukes to blow up New Vegas...Wait, that doesn't make sense!

This guy is about as intimidating a pomeranian.

Ulysses goes on about this big spiel that you ruined a budding society, so his response is to...do the same fucking thing? How petty! It seems weird that it just sorta throws this on you and expects you to care, seeing as how one of the main points in Fallout is to have a character with a blank slate. There are some nice action sequences, a fairly epic finale, and some really nice weapons and upgrades to the ED-E companion. The story is lame, which is a bit disappointing, and I was frankly expecting alot more out of it. After so many hours sunk into the game, I suppose my expectations were just too high. Lonesome Road gets a 7/10.

If you like this stuff, please comment about it! It feels good to actually get some talking in a series called "Let's Talk About", and it validates me making more of these. Aw hell, I'm gonna keep making these things anyway. Next time, we'll be begin talking about the cancelled Fallout games, starting with the Fallout 3 that never was, Van Buren! Until next time.

More Let's Talk About:

Fallout 1, 2 Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4