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Oct 03 2011

Review of Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road

Well it seems we’ve come to the end of a long road; the final story based piece of DLC is out for Fallout New Vegas and it’s time to see if it stacks up to the standards set by Fallout 3. This last piece goes by the name Lonesome Road and it answers questions that were not only put forward in the other pieces of DLC but all the way back in the main game. So does this finale provide the closure we crave and that some said the main game lacked or does it prove to only obfuscate and confuse an already twisted storyline. Read on and find out because while war may never change it certainly doesn’t hurt to check.

...and I'll take the low road.

So obviously the most important thing to talk about here is the story, it was the best part of the main game and what die-hard fans will be coming to this expansion expecting. Thankfully it does not disappoint; where the other DLCs focused on their unique themes this one pours almost all its energy into its central story. Basically the premise here is that Ulysses, the infamous mystery courier who denied to originally take the platinum chip, has decided it’s finally time for a face to face confrontation. He asks to meet you in the Divide, a canyon scarred beyond recognition with the ashes and wounds of the old world, he does this not just to test your mettle but because it has special significance to you. You see this DLC finally acknowledges the fact that unlike in Fallout 3-where you watch your own birth-your protagonist in this game had a life before you took control of him. This pack grows your own character and provides a bit of back story as to some of the great things you’ve done even before your adventures in the Mojave. This DLC also helps to better flesh out some of the other elements of the universe that have needed some explanation: the origins and purpose of ED-E, the Legion and how anyone could ally with it thinking it’s the right thing to do, and most importantly what happened to some of America’s left over nukes. While I dare not spoil the end I will say it’s a good conclusion to the quadilrogy of DLC and I feel that if taken as whole they are as good if not better than the main game.

Because sometimes subtlety isn't on the menu.

Of course we’re not all here for the exciting narrative (though if you’re one of those people who speeds through the conversations than shame on you) sometimes you all you want for your $10 is kick ass new stuff. This pack provides this in the way all the packs have so far, with a 5 level bump to the level cap and a few perks to spend them on. None of the new perks change anything super dramatically but they all seem like decent additions. There is also of course a wealth of new gear to find here with something nice to play with no matter how you built your character. The highlight is of course the “Red Glare” rocket launcher which is a long-range rapid-fire explosive weapon that with a high enough explosives skill and a decent sniping position can even take deathclaws down. That said the greatest thing isn’t the stuff you necessarily get to use but the stuff you find to buff up ED-E. In past DLCs any work towards improving your companions was wasted as they left when you finished your adventures in that specific DLC area. In this one however you are using another eyebot that is sharing ED-E’s mind (programming?) allowing you to take improvements you make to him in the Divide back to the Mojave when you’re done. These improvement aren’t minor either they allow all sorts of things: repairing your weapons, free energy weapon ammo, and of course some passive stat boosts for both you and him. It’s nice to see such a focus put towards bringing the spoils of your efforts back to the main game with you.

While that tunneler may be unimpressed by that guy and his assault carbine he and any other abominations (that includes deathclaws) will literally run in terror from a rinky-dink flare gun you can pick up here.

The gameplay here is also pretty fun, it’s generally just more of the same but there’s more challenge put forth than you might expect. This pack has the highest recommended minimum level of all four packs (level 25) and god damn if it’s not warranted. This pack is full of nasty things that would like nothing better than to flay you alive: a veritable herd of deathclaws all placed on a long narrow path, a faction of cruelly efficient new ghouls who make full use of that whole “healing through radiation” thing, and even a new kind of scaly monstrosity called tunnelers which alone aren’t a problem but in a swarm can be gruesome. This is also the pack for you if you like explosions because not only are they here but they are a central mechanic. What little exploring there is in this pack is done by finding hidden paths that are covered up by unexploded warheads, blowing them up will uncover new paths and more importantly look fucking awesome. As I said though there isn’t a ton of exploring, the pace here is relentless as there is very little just dicking around exploring caves and conversing. While personally I really like the openness of the main game and the previous DLCs, the linearity works fairly well here. There is some good stuff lying off the beaten path but because of the strong story focus and challenges you’ll be facing the drive to move forward here is stronger than ever. That said you won’t just speed through this, there is a good I’d say 3-5 hours of gameplay here and again because of the pace it never really drags.

Put simply this is an appropriate end to a story I’ve been waiting to hear since my first visit to Primm. If you’ve played the prior three DLCs and enjoyed the main game then this pack is a must buy, it’s going to answer most of your questions and give you another reason gib ghouls to bits in VATS. However if you haven’t played those other packs than I’m not sure I can recommend this, at least as a place to start. It’s a great piece of DLC but with the way it’s structured and the way it plays it very much feels like an epilogue. That said I think you need to judge this less as a singular piece of content and more as the final chapter of a story. You wouldn’t judge Return of Jedi apart from the rest of the original Star Wars trilogy and I think that same sentiment applies here. So for being the denouement this story deserved and a fun challenging view of the hubris of the old world, FONV: Lonesome Road gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars. On its own it’s good but not amazing piece of content however when taken as the end of a story like it’s designed to be it is an experience that Fallout fans should not miss.

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