New Vegas: Lonesome Road

I finally got around to playing Lonesome Road, after my initial false start with some cantankerous mods which I ended up aborting at level 14. It took a while, since Lonesome Road warns you upfront that you should really be level 25. Which I took to heart since I was still playing with some mods that made the game somewhat harder, like the JSawyer mod.

I’d say that overall it’s #3 of 4. It’s not painful to play, like Dead Money. It’s awfully obvious about being linear in a way that Honest Hearts isn’t, and Old World Blues isn’t remotely. I was OK with that, though a large part of what I enjoy about the Fallout / Elder Scrolls games is the feeling that you have tremendous choice. It has some interesting little tweaks, like the bit about blowing up warheads remotely with the Laser Detonator to open up new passages and sometimes damage enemies. The way it fills in ED-E’s backstory is slightly childish, but still enjoyable overall.

My real problem with the game is Ulysses, the “other courier” that gets mentioned a fair bit in the main game and Old World Blues. He was also apparently behind the White Legs in Honest Hearts, though I don’t recall any mention of him in that expansion.

Ulysses. Pretentious as fuck. Complete sentences. Doesn’t form them. Voice clearly demonstrates a steady diet of rocks and gravel. Despite sentence structure, or lack of it, spends 100 words to say what could be said in 10. Usually responds to questions with irrelevant non-answers. Speaks in bad metaphors about the Bear. How much he hates it. Yet his grand plan involves nuking Caesar as well. Why? Who knows. Probably buried somewhere in that tedious dialog. Game really, really wants you to listen to all of it, since there’s a challenge to get 6/6 clues to your past. Nearly clawed my eyes out exhausting his dialog and only got 4/6. Can’t imagine the pain I’d endure digging out the other 2.

It doesn’t help that the expansion forces you to do something nasty to proceed, and then Ulysses chides you for it repeatedly. That was the one aspect of how Lonesome Road doesn’t allow you any choices through most of the expansion which really grated.

Obsidian has some capable writers - just look at how interesting Boone is. “I Forgot To Remember to Forget” may be my favorite quest in the game, and listening to Boone’s dialog to get to it is not a burden. The contrast between that and Ulysses is sharp. It’s not that Ulysses’s story is not interesting, it’s that the specifics of the dialog are really annoying.

If you subtract Ulysses from Lonesome Road, it’s fun (in a way that Dead Money generally wasn’t), but there’s less to it than Honest Hearts, and far, far less than Old World Blues. It’s also somewhat disappointing since it was the last DLC, and they spent so much building up the storylines leading to the confrontation in the other expansions.