Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
While I wasn’t enthralled with Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money, I did enjoy the deep storyline and the expansion of the level cap. Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts brings more of the same and dives into the current whereabouts of Caesar’s former top solider (Joshua Graham), something that was overlooked in the main game. The DLC opens with a radio signal from the Happy Trails Caravan company. They are looking to reopen a trade route with Zion National Park (Utah) and are looking for people to help them accomplish that. Zion was pretty much untouched by the ravages of war, but has been invaded with all forms of nasty wildlife found in New Vegas (including those stupid Cazadors). Beyond the terrifying creatures, you are also injected into a turf war the White Legs tribe and the Dead Horses tribe (with Caesar and Graham pulling the puppet strings).
The story is a strong one, but familiar to anyone that’s played Fallout 3 or New Vegas. There are a ton of fetch quests to complete in Zion and moral choices will pop up along the journey as well. There’s also a ton of amazing scenery to admire in Zion as well as some pretty sweet weather effects. You will also get another companion along the way who is particularly talented with pistols. There’s also some sweet equipment along the way, assuming you haven’t found all the special weapons in New Vegas. Keep your eye out for the She’s Embrace, a Yao Guai gauntlet that tuned your hand into a giant bear paw with ridiculous claws (particularly amazing for brawling characters).
Another interesting twist is that you can return to Zion after completing the DLC, something that’s not possible after completing Dead Money. So you can always return to Zion to hunt wildlife to max out those levels on the bumped up level cap. If you have both DLC packs, it would be interesting to play through the original game attempting to max out our character to level 40 before jumping into the main story missions. However, you need at least 15 to 20 levels on your character before heading to Zion. It can be a brutal place for newbies.
Beyond the 5 to 6 hours that it will take to work through all of Zion’s quests, you have 5 new achievements to earn for a total of 140 gamerscore points. All the achievements are story based and some require specific choices to be made. They are also named after Psalms in the Old Testament, a tip of the hat to one of the main characters in the DLC pack. It’s a pretty basic set of DLC achievements and nothing overly tough to complete.
The graphics in Honest Hearts are definitely a step up from New Vegas. The sweeping landscapes and beautiful red cliffs are as picturesque as their real-life counterparts. The weather changes are also very welcome and add to the overall experience. It’s a much more cheerful place than the locale of Dead Money and this translated into a more entertaining journey (for me at least).
I’ll never stop being impressed with the stellar voice work that goes into the Fallout series. While I did get some Call of Juarez flashbacks with a specific character, the majority of the dialogue felt original and fresh. Sound effects are typical Fallout fare and the music was nothing superbly moving.
Even though this DLC pack as slightly shorter than Dead Money, it definitely felt more satisfying to complete. It also feels more polished than Dead Money and I definitely ran into less bugs during gameplay. I also loved that I could return to Zion after completing the DLC. With the level cap bump and interesting narrative, I’d say Honest Hearts is well worth the $10 entry fee for diehard Fallout New Vegas players. If you are just picking up the New Vegas for the first time, you should definitely look into both DLC packs when you get a chance.