Game Overdose: Fallout 3 vs. Fallout: New Vegas DLC face-off.
Given the obnoxiously hot weather out there, the fact that I’m still poor (soon to be addressed, hopefully!) and the fact that the reportedly final DLC came out recently, I’ve decided to do a Fallout 3 vs Fallout: New Vegas comparison.
What’s a better way to enjoy unseasonable sun than sat inside wandering through a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland? DOING IT AGAIN!
Most notable is the varied pedigree of both games. FO3 is made by Bethesda, the recent buyers of the Fallout license from Interplay, and are most notable for their Elder Scrolls series, of which the soon to be released Skyrim is an eagerly anticipated sequel.
They completely changed the format of Fallout, much to the conflicting joy and dismay of the fanbase, moving from a previous isometric view akin to Baldur’s Gate or the more modern Dragon Age to a first person shooter style. It’s still very much an RPG, you have skills for all your weapons, stats to balance, attribute choices and perks that add extra flavour, and if you try to play the game without levelling up you’ll probably find yourself quickly outclassed, but personally I feel the first person aspect in a “game with guns” adds a new dimension of immersion that was lacking in the older games.
F:NV on the flip-side is made by Obsidian, who have borrowed Bethesda’s engine to make another game in the Fallout Universe. The most interesting thing is that Obsidian are made up of a large number of Black Isles/Interplay employee’s that worked on the old Fallout games. So you’d think, ‘new engine with old writers, F:NV would be a revolutionary and perfect experience!’ Well, that’s a story for another time I’m afraid, and will likely be the topics of one of my first videos.
So what are we all doing here? Well, FO3 and FNV have something else in common, they both had DLC; content added to the game past the original purchase and release date that’s meant to increase its lifespan.
Normally DLC tackles this in one of two ways; “Extra Stuff to Do” where there’s new maps, missions, story-elements, challenges, locations etc. And “Extra Options to do stuff with” which normally adds new character-classes, weapons, abilities etc, adding more options within the already constructed game-world.
FO3 and FNV DLC’s tended to fit in both of the above categories. New location with new missions, but also new loot in that location that could be carried into the main game. And overall, I very much like having extra things to do in my Fallout game, dusting off my character for another march into the wild.
So here it is, a head to head against the DLC from both games. I’ll start with a quick recap of all the FO3 DLC’s…
Note: I’ll do all of these in the order in which they were released, as this is the order in which they would have been played!
[Post-writing edit]: Ok, even going over the DLC alone has produced a behemoth of text, so this will probably be a 2 or 3 parter AT LEAST. This week is all about the individual DLC, I’ll do the spanning stuff soon.
This sees you enter a virtual reality pod in order to relive the Chinese assault on Anchorage! Bear in mind that Fallout happens in an alternate future, where the Chinese and the Americans eventually nuked each other… moving on.
Some great parodies of army-wank games, a great opportunity to see a piece of Fallout’s history, and some great gear at the end thanks to a weapons cache. Some people disliked that you couldn’t revisit the simulation but thankfully there wasn’t really anything you could miss out on if you searched around, it was properly balanced in that respect.
I suppose it did become “A bit of a dumb shooter” but the design was solid and the story short and sweet, it didn’t outstay its welcome, though in future I’d like to see more weight in the characters involved.
See’s the Lone Wanderer helping out a group of slaves in Pittsburg, a highly irradiated area with a unique disease of Trogloditism that caused those afflicted to deform into bizarre, animalistic Trogs.
Probably the best part of this DLC for me was the moral dilemma at the end. You had to decide whether you freed the slaves, killed the corrupt slave-leader and gave his baby daughter to their care in order for them to develop a vaccine from the youth (as she was immune) or, to allow the slave-master to continue his “ends justify the means” approach to salvaging the Pitts technology, bettering humanity overall at the cost of a few slaves suffering. Both sides had the “needs of the many” argument, so it was a genuinely tough decision! Just a note: The child isn’t really harmed in either circumstance, but it does raise some ethical questions to give someone’s child to their enemy…
The worst part for me was the scavenger hunt, finding all the steel ingots to be smelted into useful equipment. There’s a hundred of them littering this bland industrial area, and while the rewards are useful and in some cases became a main-stay in my arsenal, by the gods was it a chore to collect them all! The only saving grace is you could return after the main content to collect them later.
Filled in as an “expansion pack” of sorts, pushing the end of the game back further. Normally I don’t have a problem with this, but when the final mission of the vanilla game can include martyring your character for the good of humanity, allowing him to continue living does kind of take the self-sacrificing punch out of that…
However the missions were fairly solid, the wasteland was changed enough that it didn’t feel like they simply allowed you to wander around for the hell of it, and there were some really awesome big-battle moments.
I would say that the loss of a final endpoint was more a detriment than a boon however, as it suffered from the same problem Oblivion did. “I’ve done everything that can be done and now I feel like I’m walking around some kind of museum.” Another option to end the game, even if it was just by talking to someone and getting the nice title-credits with “your choice affected this” would have been nice!
Changed pace a fair bit by sending you to a swamp. The location was a nice change of pace and the quest-line was hilarious, with some strong characters and a brilliant dream-sequence.
My main issue however is that the area was huge but didn’t really reward you exploring it. The main quests and side-quests only took you to a handful of areas, and the rest held no interest loot or characters beyond enemies.
I guess overall it felt a touch rushed, like the level designers did all this work but the writers and weapon designers slept in, and there wasn’t really any reason to revisit the area afterwards.
AKA the “Batshit Crazy DLC”. It starts with you being abducted by aliens, where you then team up with some other prisoners (including a cow-boy and a samurai) in order to conquer your capturers, defeat an enemy space-ship and claim the ship as your own.
I actually mostly enjoyed this DLC as it forced you to try different weapons, had some interesting side-missions and gave a lot of new equipment, but half the ship is locked-off when you’re done (for no adequately explored reason) and half the cast leave, meaning it’s just you, a small girl and an Anchorage medic left in the whole place. Again, I feel the ride was fun but the potential squandered!
Overall an OK DLC but a bit of a disappointment as the final chapter for the Lone Wanderer.
Fallout: New Vegas
And so starts the journey of the Courier through his/her optional micro-transaction enabled areas. Who will he meet, what will he do? Well, I’ll explain most of that in the bits that follow…
Now, while Obsidian did make the main FNV experience, from what I can tell it was mostly Bethesda behind the DLC, or at most a joint effort. This is interesting, especially when it comes to my later comparison of the main game… But that for another time.
The most notable difference for FNV over FO3 is that there’s no “Broken Steel”, as in there’s no DLC that continues PAST the main storyline, which overall isn’t a bad thing!
A dead city, an ancient heist and a core group of varied individuals. Deadmoney to me is what happens when you leave your writers to make a whole DLC. It’s probably best compared to Operation Anchorage and The Pitt of FO3.
The whole questline followed this cycle of go find person > hear their story and that’s pretty much it. Don’t get me wrong, each character is beautifully written, well characterised and interesting, but that was only one half of the game and not even the bigger half. The “getting to the person” bit was an absolute over-padded chore.
Worse still, each character has a unique and some-what useful ability to help defeat one of the main obstacles. They’re not necessary but if you find an area littered with radios, you’ll want Christine there to stop the signal from blowing up your neck-collar. But you can only have one companion at a time, meaning you’d need to find an obstacle, go back, get said character and continue on from there. Throughout the DLC they already make it clear that you can communicate to each other through radios, so why can’t you just call someone to come meet you, while the other person swaps out?
The first half of the questline takes place in a brown-red boring broken down old town, and the second in a dilapidated casino, as does the main game, so thanks for giving us some variety… There’s no recognisable landmarks, and only 2 types of enemies so things will be stale very quickly.
As for enemies, you’ve got the invulnerable holograms and the hard-to-kill ghost people. You’re stripped of equipment at the beginning of the DLC, so you only really have what you can scavenge to survive. The whole thing invokes the idea of a survival horror game, but they really didn’t know which way to take it.
See, most survival horror games treat their enemies in one of two ways. “Something to be avoided”, an enemy that’s too strong (or potentially even impossible to kill) so engaging it head-to-head is stupid, or “Something that’s a resource drain”, normally a common enemy that is easy to kill, but because there’s quite a lot you’ll soon find your health/ammo/weapons running out and that creates tension.
Neither enemy really fulfils either of these roles. Holograms can be killed by turning off their emitter, so mostly their segments are about sneaking around finding their emitters, or running through trying to find them in a frenzy. Both option works equally well by the way.
As for ghost people, I thought they were meant to be the ones to avoid, but they’re not difficult to kill, they just have obnoxiously high damage soaking abilities, wasting clips of ammo on them. All the other characters act like they should be avoided, but then the game chucks about 15 of them at you. Often I found myself running not out of fear, but simply because I couldn’t be assed to deal with them. As far as scary opponents go they failed. Hard.
Both enemies felt more like padding than a genuine obstacle.
I also went into the DLC expecting to have a proper survivalist challenge, something that I love about the game is hunting down resources to keep your guy alive that little bit longer. But the game gives you universal food/ammo/health/weapon dispensers and stupid amount of currency to spend on them, and each area is littered with useful items. By the end of it the central fountain where everyone meets up was piled high with loads of stuff, and the only reason I ran out of ammo was because I couldn’t carry all the stuff I’d amassed!
The only part of the whole DLC that really worked for me was the penultimate bit, combining my knowledge of holograms, various bits of tech in the world, the poisonous cloud and others. It felt like a well conceived puzzle that tempted you as much as taunted you, and yes, it made me VERY happy to get through.
However, I suppose the bit that niggles me most is that you can’t return. Why not? It’s already canonically established that your pip-boy, a device permanently strapped to your wrist maps everything you travel through, so why can’t you go back?! Even if the cloud does obfuscate the way… eurgh.
This what I mean with Anchorage and The Pitt. You’ve got the one-shot aspect of Anchorage, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but then the “go and find all this stuff” of the Pitt. As you can’t revisit it becomes a major chore to search every nook.
As I said, top-notch writer, interesting characters but so much useless padding between the wordy bits the DLC was more chore than enjoyable.
The only thing that was even close to making this DLC worthwhile was the Holorifle, which even now sits in my arsenal, but I did not pay full DLC price for one ok-ish weapon!
I was more than happy to show my back to the Sierra Madre.
Takes you to Zion, where you meet up with Joshua Graham and the various tribes in the area. Graham’s interesting, in that he has some relevance to the main plot of the main game, but it’s not really ever 100% explored.
I’ll admit that I liked the location, it was nice to see an area that wasn’t completely screwed over by radiation, something that not even FO3 did properly. There’s lush green hills, un-irradiated pools of clear blue water with fish swimming around, and it even rains
But the tribes? There’s 3, the Sorrows, the Dead Horses and the White Legs. Others are mentioned but presumed extinct or absorbed into the Legion. The time you spend on each is superficial, and it can be pretty much defined as “White legs are evil, Sorrows don’t like fighting and Dead Horses are pretty cool”.
I did like the hyper-religious feel of the whole DLC, with David (a missionary) teaching the Sorrows Christianity, it’s more about faith and belief than any one religion, and how no one is better than others. Even my atheist Courier believes in something, and Joshua was more than happy to point out that faith kept him going.
Honest Hearts however suffered from one thing above all else, Like Point Lookout before it. Brevity in such a large area. The characters are barely given 5 minutes each, you visit a handful out of the hundreds of locations and the main plot can be done in under an hour, or two if you stop for a bit of sight-seeing.
They also made one giant misstep as well by having the majority of the side-quests disappear after the main plot, so it lessened the purpose of returning. However something they did fix was having much more loot stashed away, so some cave-diving might be in order for the avid collector.
Probably and undeniably the best of all the DLC from both games, which may come as some surprise! The whole thing approaches its subject matter with silliness. A pre-war research station that’s still filled with 200 year old scientists that have scooped their brains into robots, complete with TV screen representing eyes and mouth. Nearly every moment of this DLC is dripping with personality, and while the areas are nearly all some variation on labs, there’s enough bits and pieces to find entertaining.
The core cast of scientists are best described as “Think of some cartoon scientists (The Brain, Proffessor Farnsworth and Dexter from Dexter’s Lab come to mind), make them a bit more warped and evil, and then stick them in a strong 1950’s drive-in movie style”. Perfection.
Most notably this adds a base with all the amenities that were missing from the Lucky 38 presidential suite of the core game, and loads of extra functionality as provided by a whole host of interesting “characters” including a neurotic washing-up robot and an old jazz singer of a jukebox.
All the areas you visit have some reflection on the characters, including the scientists pre-war homes, or their own specialist labs dotted around the crater.
This is also probably the most loot-heavy DLC, introducing loads of new weapons and armors. More for the energy weapon users however!
Oh, and the radio station it added was fantastic as well, literally some “Old World Blues” that added a weird detective feel over the top of the science fiction theatre setting. Easily the best radio since Three Dog and Galaxy News Radio in FO3.
Overall this DLC managed something that not many of the others had. It was fun. I’m not one of those gamers that thinks every second needs to be fun, pacing and rationing are all part and parcel of an entertaining experience, but Old World Blues was Fun with a capital “Fuh”. Great plot, revolved around a good group of central characters, some great parodies and loads of personality throughout.
If I do have any one problem… It’s that your character is given a massive injection of new abilities as a part of this DLC. For the most part they’re just minor and fun, but then you’re given the option of permanent +1 or +2 strength. That’s a lot of special points! One of the core ideas behind the design of FNV was that you shouldn’t have been able to have an overpowered Courier, +2 to your strength is a hell of an increase, especially seeing as it occurs as a part of the basic plot. Bit counter-intuitive to their original goal in mind, but overall this niggle is minor compared to the overall enjoyment of this DLC.
The (currently confirmed) final “story” DLC. It sees you delve into the divide, hunting down the fabled Ulysses who’s been hinted at during the previous 3 DLC and having one final stand-off. As it deals with the Courier’s past, and does affect some aspects of the main game, it’s probably best described as the counterpart to FO3’s Broken Steel.
Now overall, I enjoyed Lonesome Road. It felt like a well structured and well designed DLC, and while it took a more serious turn than Old World Blues the character aspects were central to the plot. However, those character aspects did pretty much boil down to Ulysses, and why it is that he’s got an issue with the Courier. I will say hand on heart that Ulysses is the most interesting and awesome character in the whole Fallout universe to date, being poetic, intelligent, and an all-round badass.
But as for the history? It’s great to finally have some backstory for the Courier, but it’s only the past as related to Ulysses, it’s entirely self-contained! It is a good story, but it felt like a bit of a let down-given the previous 3 DLC’s, easter eggs in the main game and even comments from the writers building up the suspense.
As for the DLC itself, it was a bit short, but I’d call it more the happy medium between Dead Money and Honest Hearts, in that it fleshed out the area better but didn’t outstay its welcome. There was a good variety of enemies, and for the first time there were moments when I happily ran away from creatures that I knew would murder me, something that was lacking in Dead Money. What’s better, is that the game actually gave you weapons at times that made sense. Flare Gun that scares abominations just before a load of Deathclaws, Arc Welder that DESTROYS robots just before an area filled with sentry bots. Good stuff, well thought out.
The Loot itself was a little bit mixed though. There’s a rocket launcher and a machine gun, both of which seem too heavy and underpowered to be worth the hassle, and… that’s about it really. There was a new perk (Camerader-E) you could unlock that’s pretty tasty, upgrading both you and ED-E, especially if you’re a laser-abuser like myself. It adds extra damage per attack, so combine that with a quick-fire laser weapon and you’ll melt some faces.
I think the gear that I found interesting yet depressing though is the Duster you receive at the end. Ulysses leaves you a customised Duster-outfit that varies depending on your faction scores with Caesars Legion, Mr. House and the NCR, with a fourth if you’re an independant. Sounds great on paper, but the NCR one has a unique and damned useful effect, increasing your carrying capacity, while the others are instantly discardable, which means that the preference in Duster is skewered… Which in turn raises the question as to how much a “choice” your faction really is… Eurgh.
Though to be fair, all 4 varieties of duster pale in comparison to the copy of Ulysses duster you’re given. Whether he’s alive or dead, this spare even now sits on my Courier’s back, as it gives a nice heft +5% to your crit chance, great for a crit-junky like myself.
Oh, and completing the DLC nets you another +1 to any point in your special, as the player chooses.
And that’s the close of the Story DLC….
The next two DLC are non-story, they’re simply item DLC’s. This does mean they’re not as heavy as the others, but they’re much, MUCH cheaper, and they do give you more to play around with in your main experience.
This isn’t actually anything new. When FNV was first released there were a bunch of pre-order bonuses with different armours and different weapons depending on who you pre-ordered with. Anyone with half a brain on the PC could download all 4 packs, and Courier’s stash has just made this choice that much more legal. It contains the Caravan Pack, Mercenary Pack, Classic Pack and Tribal Pack
I personally see the stash as presenting some history of the Courier, whether a Vault 13-kid (or at least someone that hung around with Vault-types), Tribal, Mercenary or Caravan Guard, so having all 4 could make for some pretty interesting head-canon.
I would note one thing. The “unique weapons” of the stash are especially unique in that they can have weapon mods added. This caused no ill with the grenade launcher, as it used the same skin as the original in the game, but with the Weathered 10mm it caused a glitched texture.
Rather than make it so that the skins of the original mods they chose to fix this by having the weathered 10mm not show mods.
This seems incredibly lazy to me. They wouldn’t even need to apply newly textured mods, follow my logic here; The Weathered 10mm is an old gun that’s gotten it’s unique light-grey texture from being used and maintained a long time. Most 10mm’s are black, as are their mods. Why would the mods change colour when they’re applied to a different weapon? Having new-looking mods (with the original skin) on the Weathered 10mm. It wouldn’t even take that long! Laziness Obsidian, just one of many bugs.
If you didn’t pre-order the game, I would recommend getting this pack, if only to give your character something to sell at the start of the game!
This is one of those “adds more option” DLC’s I mentioned. It adds a ton of new weapons (some based on old ones) as well as new ammunition types, new weapon mods and generally a bunch of new stuff to play around with. A few of these weapons warmed my heart something fierce and have quickly found their way into my Courier’s arsenal, and simply put there’s something here for everyone.
The new challenges are interesting too, rewarding you for killing certain enemies certain ways with XP boosts and achievement, as well as that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from carving in Mr. House’s head with a golf club.
Most notable is probably the “Mad Bomber” perk and the inclusion of new explosive weapons. Both Energy weapons and Guns have some perk that allows for the greater production of ammunition for their weapons, Vigilant Recycler and Hand Loader respectively, but Explosive users were left out in the cold.
To be honest they’re still fairly left out, as Mad Bomber’s can only produce throwable grenades and placeable mines, nothing for their rocket launchers or Grenade Rifles. Worse still is that the Nuka Grenade (yes, same one in Fallout 3) requires something that’s only really findable through the use of another perk, Nuka Chemist.
Explosives is already the most perk-heavy of the weapon skills to specialise in, with the possible exception of melee/unarmed because they tend to overlap a lot. This will increase their power massively, but it does limit your options down other non-combat paths. Conversely, I can build a laser-gun expert that’ll fry most enemies with only 3 perks, 1 for damage, 1 that adds splash damage and 1 that’ll keep me in ammo.
True the DLC as a whole does add more options, but that’s also true for the other weapon types. It just feels like this is something that should have been included in the base game, and selling a balance-fix in the form of DLC is a bit stupid. Still, overall it’s a good pack and I recommend picking it up to round out your experience better.
Oh, and I want to have a double shout-out to two weapons, namely…
MF Hyperbreeder Alpha – an automatic laser pistol that regenerates its own ammo. Combined with the ED-E perk from Lonesome road and you’ve got a highly powerful weapon.
Sprtel-Wood 9700 – a Gatling Laser with higher damage and higher rate of fire. Pretty much the same purpose as the above weapon, but with higher damage, more accuracy and ammo cost.
These made my guy VERY happy.
Anyway, that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll do some proper cross-DLC analysis.
Catch you all soon!