Trapped in DLC, and what about that new scenery?

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I finally got around to using the DLC that I'd gotten with Fallout: New Vegas.  First up was the Honest Hearts area and now I'm in the process of going through Old World Blues.  The first takes place in a different desert area and deals with two Native American tribes led by white Mormons who are being attacked by another tribe that is trying to join the Evil Legion of Evil.  The content itself was fun and the story was of some interest, though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the core game.

The DLCs aren't really the equivalent to expansions in MMOs.  They both add new content, but the way they add it, and the way that content interacts with the rest of the world, is different.  To start, the DLC areas is isolated.  You go in and you can't get out until you've finished the main story line.  I wasn't sure if finishing the main quest would lock out the side quests (though I'm pretty sure it does), so I was in an odd position of being forced off of the main story toward the side quests, lest they be lost forever.  I love side content, but I prefer to do it somewhat more randomly, when I'm bored with the main story or maybe want to level up a little more to give myself an easier time in some tricky parts.

Yet despite being pushed into the side content, I was also isolated from much of it.  Since I couldn't leave the area until I'd finished the main story I couldn't visit the side content from the main game map.  This meant that I was running around the much smaller DLC map, looking for everything I could find and hoping that I was properly distinguishing between the main story line and the side quests, so I wouldn't accidentally lock myself out.  I don't mind being in a box so much, but it should be a really big box.

Beside this, the change of scenery, and terrain, was a bit annoying.  The area consists mostly of canyons with rivers in them, with most of the quests and settlements higher up, and only a few bridges crossing.  Navigation is made somewhat annoying as a result.  The change in scenery was jarring as well.  However, to switch the subject briefly, Old World Blues is an even greater change, taking place in a heavily built-up area of military labs and involves a lot of fighting robots.  I don't much like fighting robots and as a result, I sometimes end up wanting to punch my computer, in a terrible bit of irony.

I found the characterization to be somewhat lacking.  The tribes felt unnecessarily ignorant.  They have white leaders from the outside world, so surely they'd have picked up a bit more and wouldn't need to constantly make stupid comments.  It doesn't help that these comments are randomly triggered and repeatable, so you'll hear a million times about bottle caps and how you'd have liked her family.  Joshua Graham, the leader of the Dead Horse tribe (the main in the story line), has an interesting back story, but then seems to be rather simple in the game itself.  He only makes a few appearances, mostly to say who he is and then kill a lot of members of the enemy tribe.  In the end I didn't feel like I'd made the world a better place, a worse place, or even really a different place.  I think it would have helped if Mormons actually made an appearance as average people living average lives struggling in the wastes.  Instead the only Mormons are the two leaders who inadvertently brought a murderous enemy down upon the hapless natives.  In this function they ended up being just two useless extremes: one who was convinced that running away would somehow save them and the other convinced that killing all enemies was the only way to go.  Somehow the notion of them personally leaving to draw away the attention never came up, nor the idea of defeating the enemy without slaughtering the entire tribe (except when the player mentions it).


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