Fallout: New Vegas - 'Honest Hearts' review
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Fallout: New Vegas takes us on a deadly scenic route in this new add-on...
With a game that could take nearly one hundred hours to fully complete, you would think that Obsidan would be pleased with the length of Fallout: New Vegas enough to take some time off, however five months after the first DLC, they are back again with the second of a planned eight: 'Honest Hearts'. Previous DLC's for Fallout games have included alien abduction, fighting off inbred hillbillies and for the first DLC for New Vegas, finding the treasure of the Sierra Madre Casino. This time the courier travels to Zion National Park, an unspoiled wilderness inhabited by feral tribes, to help a caravan company begin trading again.
Once downloaded a message appears once the game is started informing the player a radio signal has been picked up from the Happy Hearts Caravan Company asking for people to join their caravan expedition to Zion. When the player decides to take on the quest, they follow the path to the North of the Map, where a cave has appeared. Inside we find the Caravan that sent out the radio signal and are invited to join.
Before being able to embark on the quest, the leader of the Caravan informs the courier that there is no space for his acquaintances and so you are forced to get them to leave you. Depending on how far you have got in the game already you are able to tell them to go back to the Lucky 38 suite, so they aren't gone forever. Even so, it was still hard to say bye to my trusty robot dog Rex, and it also makes the DLC a lot harder for those who rely on their allies to fend off most of the enemies. You are also forced to drop items until your weight is no more than 100 pounds, which you are told is because there are a lot of tight spaces to navigate through, which again makes it a lot harder this time due to the lack of armour and some of the better weapons.
The quest begins with a short movie explaining the history of Zion and the people that live there. It is here we find out about the background of the 'Burned Man' and how he was a co-founder of The Legion, before leading them in a humiliating defeat, for which Caeser had him set on fire, thrown into the Grand Canyon and left to die. We are also introduced to the tribes that inhabit the area including The White Legs, a tribe which has become feral and no longer speak English, these become your main enemies during your time in Zion.
On first glance the landscape could almost be mistaken for that of Red Dead Redemption, albeit a Fallout take on Rockstar game. Deep Canyons and dark caves coupled with wide rivers and rushing waterfalls create a vast new area, quite different from the wasteland, to explore. The story goes that the area was untouched during the war and so plant life flourishes and the water is radiation free. The landscape is almost picturesque, however you don't get much time to soak it in as your caravan is ambushed and all its members killed. The courier's only way to get back to the Mojave wasteland is to get involved with a missionary helping the New Canaan tribe and the mysterious 'Burned Man'.
The DLC contains several mini quests off of the main story, which in total takes around three hours to complete. The problem I faced was the lack of variety in the gameplay, it felt like a new location but the same old quests of scavenging for items and trekking long distances to attack a small number of people. Small bits of quests such as stopping a tribe from booby-trapping a bridge or planting explosives to collapse a cave, were a breath of fresh air; however, it only felt like a few quick gasps of air before you were back doing something mundane. Going from area to area was also made difficult by the amount of animals and insects that have also made home in Zion. Coyote, giant Gecko, and one of the hardest animals to face Yao Guai, a mutated bear-like creature, all crop up from time to time.
Although at first it is entertaining to get into battles with these enemies, it soon becomes a chore and feels like they are just getting in the way. A lack of first-aid kits make it commonplace to find yourself being attacked and killed by the animals, and then placed a mile from where you died and having to take the long trek again. Although you are in a National park and the insects and animals aren't out of place, it often seems like they have been placed there to pad out the quests rather than to add anything more. The quests build up to the climax of the story in which the player is given one of the moral dilemmas Fallout does so well; whether to wipe out the White Legs tribe completely or to help another tribe flee the area and start life again somewhere new. Although choosing which to do adds some excitement to the DLC, the ending I chose didn't live up the my expectations and to what it could have been.
'Honest Hearts' adds a new area and impressive landscape to New Vegas, which can be visited again once the quests have been completed, unlike the previous DLC, in which once completed, the area was closed off. It also increases the gameplay time by a few hours, taking the player from the city streets and gang wars to the deep canyons and tribal feuds. Anyone who enjoys Fallout will no doubt enjoy this new DLC, however my suggestion is to finish the quests that are already in the game before buying any DLC. Like a Nuka Cola that has been sat on a shelf since the Great war; although it's a change from the usual, 'Honest Hearts' seems lacking the kick it needed to be completely refreshing.
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