A bit less than a year ago, I commented that I was not going to review the Lonesome Road DLC for Fallout: New Vegas under the idea that if I can’t say anything nice, then I wouldn’t say anything at all. I think I will stick to that idea, especially since it has been almost a year since its release. But (there’s always a “but…” isn’t there?) it’s kind of hard to talk about a new play-through without talking about the DLC that you’re playing through. So, for whatever it’s worth, here is my report on my Lonesome Road play-through. And, because it has been almost a year since the release of the last DLC, I’m not going to worry about whether anything that I have to say will spoil it for anyone.
I started my play-through several days ago with the boatload of mods I talked about in an earlier post. Except for “New Vegas Bounties”, I did not add any quest mods to the game. For the most part, everything was cosmetic, although the addition of several perks by Project Nevada, additional weapon mods and things like that might qualify as a bit more than cosmetic.
I followed the main quest from Goodsprings, through Primm and Nipton (bypassing Novac aside from a bit of trading and couple of hands of Caravan), to the Khans in Boulder City and then to the Strip so I could check out the Lucky 38 mod. I picked up ED-E and Veronica along the way, did a few quests for the NCR for caps and experience, and launched into the DLCs as soon as I felt I was ready.
If memory serves, Dead Money was recommended for Level 20 and above. I started it at Level 14 or 15. I’m still less than thrilled with the almost complete reliance on saved games to get through the Vault area of the Sierra Madre. You know: save, go left, blow up, reload, go right, blow up, reload, go straight and maybe make it to another safe point, or maybe blow up since you were supposed to go straight and then left – detonating collars was an interesting idea, but suffered from sucky implementation in this area. Worked pretty well in the rest of it, though. Barter was a bit tedious, but since these guys haven’t got the news about caps, it’s understandable. A bit frustrating at times, but understandable. I left everyone alive at the end (Christine, Dean, God [failed the Speech check] and Elijah), absconded with all 37 gold bars and had quite the merry time of it. It’s still the second-best DLC of the bunch.
After finishing Dead Money, I ran through Honest Hearts. Zion is still as gorgeous as it was the first time through. Keith Szarabajka continues to amaze me with how well he voiced Joshua Graham (and, yes, I kept expecting to hear “Assuming control” in the middle of a few shoot-outs). Of all of the DLCs, I think Honest Hearts had the best writing. The writers taking some of the basic Latter-Day Saint beliefs, boiling them down to something understandable, extrapolating them into a post-apocalyptic world and then putting those beliefs into believable opposition with themselves was marvelously well done. Send those folks a six-pack or three. They earned it.
Once back in the Mojave, I immediately launched into Lonesome Road. To be up-front about a few things, the DLC does not play exceptionally well with the Nevada Skies mod. It doesn’t play badly, but the lighting is off. Nighttime brightness isn’t much dimmer than daytime (unlike the Mojave and Zion, which are close to pitch dark). Interiors are both brighter and darker than I would expect. Along about 7pm or 8pm, game time, it’s like someone shuts off the lights. No gradual darkening; just “click” and the lighting suddenly changes. Nevada Skies is a marvelously well done mod, but it just doesn’t work as I would have liked in the Divide.
There are two things about the DLC that I find particularly off-putting. The first is all of the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that Ulysses spouts at various points. I understand the point that he’s trying to make, but his way of reaching it is so far out there that he might as well be pulling it out of his ass. If Honest Hearts had the best writing of the DLCs, Lonesome Road has some of the worst. I’m not going to fault Roger Cross for it. I’m sure that he delivered exactly what was scripted and delivered it according to the sound director’s wants. But he doesn’t quite manage to make a Thanksgiving dinner out of the turkey that was handed to him. His delivery is credible, but credibility only goes so far.
The other off-putting thing is probably my own damned fault. Rather than focus on Ulysses and ED-E’s upgrades, I made it a point to search for journal entries, holotapes, RALPHIE posters and the rest of that nonsense. What should have been a couple of hours of straightforward run-and-gun turned into a couple of days of searching, backtracking, and searching some more. I guess this was the developers’ way of keeping you in the Divide longer than the story required. Serves me right, but shame on them for doing it in the first place. Bad devs. No Cheetos for you.
That leaves me with Old World Blues. I’m currently Level 33, which might be a bit high for the DLC (recommended level is 15-20), but I’ll handicap myself somehow. Or maybe not. OWB is frankly just plain fun in a cheesy sort of way. The writing is hokey (intentionally so), the voicing is so over-the-top melodramatic as to be comical (also intended, unless I miss my guess), but it’s the best of the four, so I saved it for last. Off to the Big Empty I go.