- Graphics: pretty well done; existing meshes and textures; nothing to brag about in terms of novelty
- Gameplay: very good with one semi-avoidable game-crasher; outstanding voicing
- New Content: a few new creatures; some new gear and weapons, a few new “meh!” perks that won’t help you much in this DLC, but the “Wild Wasteland” perk really shines
- Story: campy to the point of cheesy, but really good in a B-movie kind of way
- Replayability: lots and better than the other DLCs
- Overall: 8 (out of 10), docking a point for the game-crasher that should have been caught in testing; would have been 9 otherwise
“Old World Blues” was released on July 19th for all three platforms. It’s the best of the “Fallout: New Vegas” DLCs thus far, leaving one announced DLC (“Lonesome Road”) still to come. The DLC takes you to “The Big Empty”, a place where the Old World technology is still around.
The DLC begins with a radio broadcast (a standard ploy for DLCs in “Fallout 3” and “Fallout New Vegas”) that leads you to the Mojave Drive-In, which is just south of Nipton on your overland map. The message is a notice about a midnight feature, which is supposed to clue you in to needing to wait until about midnight before you can start. On a side note, the midnight feature film as we know it today began as a television thing in the 1950s; it didn’t really become a movie theater thing until about the 1970s or so.
Unlike “Dead Money” (which stripped you of all of your stuff) or “Honest Hearts” (which imposed a weight limit), you may bring any gear you want to bring, but no companions. Bringing a ton of gear is probably not necessary, especially in light of what becomes available as the DLC progresses, but it’s there for what it’s worth.
After activating the beacon, you’re transported to the Big Empty (or Big Mountain [Big MT] research center as the locals call it) and find yourself missing your heart, brain and spine (with some decent perks to go with that) and embroiled in a conflict between the floating brains of the Think Tank and the evil Dr. Mobius. You’ll need to sit through a VERY long conversation at the beginning. I’d normally dock the overall score for so much exposition at once sitting, but the voice acting is so over-the-top cheesy that I didn’t notice the time until after I had finished it. Keep it in mind in terms of replay rather than gameplay.
The DLC is a whole series of “go fetch” missions through exterior and interior locations that aren’t terribly different from locations in the Mojave (or Capital Wasteland, for that matter). The designers made use of warehouse-type locations to create some very open interiors, including a small neighborhood (a la Vault 112’s “Tranquility Lane” from Fallout 3). In one of the last “go fetch” missions, you’ll need to retrieve your brain so that you can return to the Mojave.
In getting your brain back, you can hit a never-ending dialog loop with the only way out being to load a saved game and then avoiding that thread on the replay. This is something that should have been caught and fixed in testing. The fact that it wasn’t results in a full-point dock from the overall score. At the moment, the only advice I can give is to save the game before trying to talk to your brain. You’ll probably need that save.
I encountered one other bug that may not be native to the DLC. I think I remember hearing others mention it shortly after the game’s release last year, but I had never encountered it before (that I noticed). The SINK vendor would happily take my caps when I bought or repaired anything, but didn’t give me caps when I sold something. Since I came in with a high-level character at the outset, this wasn’t a major issue except with Medium Armor repair. I had the Jury-Rigging perk, so I could take care of weapons and light items on my own, but there is a distinct lack of Medium armors in the Big Empty, so I had to rely on the vendor to do it for me and it charges an arm and a leg for armor repairs (good thing because I was missing other body parts and didn’t have much left to work with).
Upon completion of the DLC, like “Honest Hearts”, you will have the option of being able to return to the Big Empty. Considering that by the end of the DLC you’ll have access to several sources of crafting materials, a general merchant, a 100% repairer and all three crafting points in the same location, it will probably be worth returning to the Big Empty several times.
On the whole, I very much enjoyed “Old World Blues”. It brings back a lot of the humor that has been missing from both “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas” and was just plain fun. In spite of the game-killer dialog loop, this is easily the best of the three DLCs. Here’s hoping that “Lonesome Road” exceeds this.
To end on a tangental note, the game introduces a few new Traits to the game. The Auto-Doc in the SINK will offer you the opportunity to change your existing Traits, but it’s a one-shot deal. Perhaps making this a bit of a better deal, those new traits are now available when you start a new game and go through Doc Mitchell’s ink-blot test again.
One of those Traits (Skilled) will boost all of your skills by 5 in exchange for you only getting 90% of the experience points you earn. This can be partially offset by taking the Swift Learner perk at Level 2, but since the added 10% works with a 90% base, you’ll only end up with 99% of the experience points. This could end up being a bit of a problem, though. Since the theoretical level cap is 45 , any character with a high Intelligence and the Educated perk will most likely hit 100 in all skills before reaching Level 45, so you’re now capped at whatever level you have when you raise that last skill to 100.