September 21, 2011
Lonesome Road is the latest DLC pack for Fallout: New Vegas, and is set out to bring the story of the Courier to a new light. Players must traverse the Divide, seeking the answers they have searched the Mojave for desperately. With this content bringing an end to the past of the Courier, have Obsidian Entertainment produced a winning story arc finale, or a finale that people have seen but not admit to?
From near the beginning of New Vegas, players had wondered why another Courier had passed on delivering the chip. As Dead Money, Honest Hearts and Old World Blues arrived, the plot thickened, hinting at what the final DLC would involve. Based on the information in all of these, the overall image and outcome of Lonesome Road left quite the impact. Beginning in the Hopeville Missle Silo, players are almost instantly introduced to ED-E. Before the inevitable But wait, wasn't ED-E a companion in New Vegas? pops up, ED-E is short for Eyebot Duraframe Subject E. This means that ED-E is not a unique name, just a tag for the Eyebots. Upon completing the initial mission, an old yet new voice comes over ED-E's speakers. It's here where players learn that the other Courier, named Ulysses can access ED-E, and loves talking about history, specifically the Old World. Another feature that ED-E possesses is the ability to activate commissionaires, otherwise known as shops.
During this opening mission, players are also introduced to some of the new enemies. The Marked Men are Ghouls with their skin ripped away due to the storms caused by nuclear warheads. These can be found with a variety of weaponry, new to the game, such as the Arc Welder, Red Glare and Flare Gun. Also on the roster of enemies, later down the progression line, are the Tunnelers, mutants which can hit fast. These tend to come in groups to overwhelm their enemies. As players progress they learn about the Warheads that they need to destroy. Be warned, these can have a bigger blast radius than you initially think.
The story of Lonesome Road, as mentioned partially earlier, is about the Courier finding a radio signal sent by Ulysses, the original Courier Six. After following the signal, the Courier must make it through the Divide, and as mentioned in the previous DLC packs, fight under the Old World Flag. As players make their way through the Divide, they will be faced with tough terrain and enemies, until finally reaching the end. Throughout the add-on, more about the past is learned, which adds to the mystery further. By the final stand, through whichever path you take, it will be a fun, fantastic end to the story arc that spans through the add-ons.
A player taking on one of the Marked Men
It isn't a Fallout game without exploration, and for exploration, you need a well made map. The Divide is a more linear map as players must traverse from one side to the other; however that hasn't altered the well loved exploration mould. From the hints from previous add-ons, we all knew that The Divide was ravaged by storms and radiation. It is when you get past the first area where the extent of this becomes apparent. Walking through the Divide, buildings are heavily ruined and collapsed, in high quantities. The terrain is a mixture of rocks and masses of debris, far greater than any mass found in the Mojave. In this heavily torn area, there are Warheads scattered around. These not only serve the purpose of an achievement, but some unblock the way forward. They also add to saving ammunition, however during the review of Lonesome Road, by far the more memorable moment, was when a Warhead went off, causing the building on the cliff above to collapse down into the cavern.
As the terrain is much more involved and destroyed, this could ultimately provide more of a challenge for those collectable hunters. In Lonesome Road there are 30 Warheads to detonate, and 5 ED-E upgrades, both of which provide achievements. There are also logs from Ulysses, as well as the numerous ruins to explore. There is something about the feel of Lonesome Road which makes it hard to put into words. For those who have followed the DLC through, it will be like the final book of an award winning series, or the season finale of a favourite show. Aside from that feeling, like the previous add-ons, this one raises the level cap by 5. This means if you have all four add-ons, you will be able to get to level 50.
The only thing I could find which could set the game-play back in some peoples eyes, is when Ulysses is in contact via ED-E. This is because at times these dialogue sessions can become quite lengthy, which means either skipping and missing something important, or waiting and miss out on the game-play. Yet while that in some people's eyes is a negative, in others it's a positive, as it adds so much more to the back story, building things up more and more.
Lonesome Road follows the same graphics as Fallout: New Vegas, yet with the amount of devastation in the Divide, it adds a whole new feel to it. While reviewing this game I didn't experience any of the glitches that had been present in New Vegas, such as the extreme ragdoll flying through the sky at high speeds, making it look like a break dancing spider. When you look into the sky, you can see the dust in the winds being blown around harshly; after all, this place is ravaged by storms. The terrain itself is almost artistic, with debris and rocks merging as one to create ramps and routes to other areas. Yes, it's part of New Vegas and follows the same graphical design, yet the layout of the Divide is almost refreshing. Another feeling the graphics mixed with the story and sound manages to provide is one of desperate survival. The explosion you get from detonating a Warhead is big and Obsidian have managed to make it look like it's a nuke going off. Some developers would've just had a mediocre explosion effect, so it's good to see these big yet believable explosions in the storm ravaged lands.
Coming face to face with one of the Tunnelers
Again, the Warheads are the best place to start with this section. There is a loud satisfying boom to each of these explosions. There are also the rumbles of earthquakes and tremors caused by the explosions. As with New Vegas, the guns sound spot on. With the amount of Warheads and missiles littered around the Divide, the Lonesome Road is explosion heavy. As for Ulysses, he speaks in a monotone way, referencing to history and the Couriers past. It's hard to tell if there's any anger or even manic happiness in him due to this.
Lonesome Road comes with 5 achievements worth 125G, taking the total gamer-score of Fallout: New Vegas to 1530. With some DLC, you either get easy achievements, or hard ones. Luckily, Lonesome Road has a mixture. There are 2 story-related ones, and 3 which are to do with purchases, detonations and scavenging. The most expensive of these three can at first make players think it's too much, however by having the right items to sell; this can go from being a hard achievement to get, to an easy one. All 5 achievements are fun to obtain and encourage players to explore the land further.
The end of the road draws near
Overall, Obsidian Entertainment has provided a fantastic ending to the story arc provided by the add-ons. Lonesome Road is fully recommended to any person who has Fallout: New Vegas and the other DLC. There is the option to return to the Divide if you missed anything, or just wanted to walk its path once more. At 800MSP this is one of the better DLC packs for the role-playing genre, and is definitely worth it. Lonesome Road gets a 9/10 and is the best of the four add-ons. This was a truly fantastic and challenging ending to the story.