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Fallout: New Vegas Honest Hearts Review

By Jeff Buckland, 5/25/2011

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Played on:

PC

After the release of the Dead Money DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, things seemed to be a little up in the air for additional content releases. A few weeks ago, Bethesda and developer Obsidian Entertainment put those questions to rest by detailing three summer DLC releases, all priced at ten bucks. The first of these is called Honest Hearts, and after going through it, I can pretty heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoyed New Vegas.

As with other DLC packs, you explore an entirely new landmass that is completely separated from the main game. This is done not only to create a new look and atmosphere, but it also helps maintain compatibility with any mods you might have installed on the PC version of the game. You'll be headed out with the Happy Trails Caravan to the Zion Valley in southwest Utah; if you remember the reddish color of the canyons where the Great Kahns reside in the Mojave, you'll have a good idea of what this place looks like. Here, though, the landscape is even less pockmarked with dilapidated buildings and old junk than even the Mojave was, and the people you encounter are native tribes that have resurged since the war. Obsidian has also added some light weather elements, like rain and fog.


When you arrive at Zion Valley, you'll quickly find that the original mission (protecting a caravan) gets scrapped, and you find yourself trying to help two peaceful tribes, the Dead Horses and the Sorrows, defend their land against the White Legs, a warlike tribe that mercilessly attacks and pillages anyone they can. Within the first fifteen minutes, you'll meet Joshua Graham, otherwise known as the Burned Man, a character that's part of the history of Caesar's Legion back in the Mojave Wasteland. Considering his past and what eventually happened to him, you might be surprised at his demeanor here, but he's probably the best character in this DLC and might even be one of the most interesting people you'll meet in all of New Vegas. You'll also meet Daniel, something like a religious man from the ruined city of New Canaan, and you'll get access to a couple of companions, each with their own stories, to help you fight against the beasts in Zion Valley as well as the White Legs that will often ambush you here and there.

What's interesting here is that you're set into a conflict and can't really choose what side you're on, but you'll make some other (and possibly more interesting) choices about the future of the Dead Horses and the Sorrows. And none of this is controlled by New Vegas' own karma or reputation systems; it's a more story-based conflict based on how you choose to complete quests. And yes, you also have the option of turning off the script almost entirely and pretty much just murdering everything you come across - that's fully supported by the game, too.


The thing that I enjoyed most about Honest Hearts is the story of one particular character, one that you never meet, but he's an important key to the history of the Zion Valley. Search hard enough, and you'll find his story in bits and pieces, as well as his final resting place along with some sweet gear as well. Fallout 3 excelled in telling stories through non-standard means - the placement of a corpse, a note next to a skeleton, pieces put together of a bigger conflict - and while I found that this kind of storytelling was a little bit lacking in vanilla New Vegas, getting to piece together the details of this character's journey very much fulfills that for me.

Along with all of this, Honest Hearts adds new achievements, increases the level cap by five and kicks in six new perks for you to take back to the Mojave - something that I think is important if Bethesda is going to charge the full ten bucks for these DLC packs. The voice work is easily at the level you expect out of Bethesda's brand of Fallout, and the writing and RPG design meet the standards set by Obsidian Entertainment over the years as well. That said, if there's one thing I was disappointed in, it's lack of surprises in all of this, and some of that feeling of being let down comes through only a few of the wacky encounters you expect with a character that has the "Wild Wasteland" trait. I've heard that Honest Hearts has a few technical issues involving crashes along with some bug that can screw up your Mojave Wasteland companions once you return to the regular game, but I did not encounter these issues on my Steam copy of the game. Still, if you're really concerned about keeping your save game in prime condition, it might be wise to wait and see if Obsidian issues some kind of fix.


Honest Hearts is one of the better DLC packs Bethesda has released yet, and it comes down to the combination of an interesting landscape and original story along with unique RPG choices, then layering the signature Fallout brand (at least, since Bethesda took over) of slightly off-kilter, but still intensely entertaining FPS combat on top. If you enjoyed New Vegas enough to get at least most of the way through it, then this is surely a worthy addition to your DLC library. If the next two New Vegas packs as good as Honest Hearts wound up, then we'll be in for a treat this summer.

Overall: 9 out of 10

Related


Comments

5/29/2011 10:59:59 AM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
"Why are there no comments yet? Are your fingers broken?" I wish.

Hate to do this but i love good reviews and good journalism so much that i felt compelled to register just to tell you how much you such you suck at it.

You gave it a 9/10 which means that its eithe so impressive that its almost the best stuff that you have ever played, youre on various drugs (if so i dont want them in our schools but i wouldnt mind you giving me a hint of were to subscribe to them) or that you wrote this under gunpoint from obsidians basement.

Really, nine out of ten??? Get this right, and get this right once and for all. Unless this was close to the best stuff you have ever played in your whole (and hopefully short)life dont give it anything above 7.9 (ofcourse this raises another REALLY disturbing question: what on earth did you think about the Broken Steel DLC for FO3? 11/10? 14/10?)

"Honest Hearts is one of the better DLC packs Bethesda has released yet, and it comes down to the combination of an interesting landscape and original story along with unique RPG choices, then layering the signature Fallout brand (at least, since Bethesda took over) of slightly off-kilter, but still intensely entertaining FPS combat on top"

WHAT THE FUCK? Unique RPG choices? what does that even mean???? Youre either pulling my leg or trying to get us all on a semi philosophical plane with this nonsense. Sure its unique, but only because noone has ever created a storyline EXACTLY like this one. But thats were it stops being unique and succumbs to the power of the category "yeh i have seen similar stuff before" and in truth i have.

What is so damn unique in getting pidgeonholed into a fetch/killcount questchain with close to no alternative options except for either killing the NPCs (which i damn will after reading this god forsaken review)or make the VERY and FEW narrow choices within the boring questline.

You sir are a complete idiot and the ultimate proof that there should be some kind of requirements for writing stuff on the internet, something in the way of "Gattaca" because you are misleading customers AND encouraging lazy storywriters and programmers.

With the ammount of bugs (yeah how about the E-de bug?) in this DLC it shouldnt even pass a 6/10 and it would if it really had content on the level of your fucked up way of seeing the world, which it doesnt. Why? Well except for the bugs, boring quests and ofcourse the boring villages with close to mute citizens the developers have managed to take one of the coolest characters in the FONV lore and created a story that is NOT as cool. The burning man had the potential of being the most badass anti-legion Monte Christostyle character ever but all the devs managed to do was to build up cliffhangers (grafitti and hints about the burning man) and turn it into a steaming pile of so-so.

Make no misstake, this a review of a review and my final score is fuck you.
5/29/2011 11:14:13 AM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
I would like to add that i am truly sorry for typos and that i find this review a source of joy, i am literally laughing my ass off and have a hard time letting it go.

First time reader and im bookmarking this page because id like to see what else you have managed to mess up. I am now your number one fan (and hopefully the only fan except for other bad reviewers which you make look good)

Sincerely yours

H.S
5/30/2011 04:48:51 AM
Posted by bobsaggot
@fortheloveofhate

Get bent, your a piece of shit and no one cares about your criticism. If you're going to criticize someone at least have proper grammar and spelling.

@Jeff Buckland

Good article, good read. Your opinion is a 9/10 and im glad i could collect that data. Keep up the good work and don't mind these faggot trolls.
5/30/2011 03:15:21 PM
Posted by Finger
Semi spoiler:

the RPG choices include "running", which is not something you often get out of RPGs. You can choose not to kill the final boss, or choose different ways in which it's done. Or in just killing all important NPCs and forging your own path. This range of choices is almost entirely unique for RPGs and is relatively unique even for the Fallout universe.

As far as the rest, well, you've heard it here guys: apparently, my opinion is wrong. Sorry, pack it up.
5/31/2011 02:37:47 AM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
BOBSAGGOT: Wonderful bunch of nonsense, no matter how tempted i am to reply in the same inconstructive and intellectually barren way, i will not because fighting fire with fire will neither prove any points nor stop people from praising boring and hollow content to the roof and in the end encourage the development of similar half-hearted content.

First: Trolling is by definition writing posts that adds nothing to the discussion just to get a little bit of attention or simply bring grief by either stating something that is wrong or ridiculing without so much as a hint of intention to dissect either the source of the argument or the flaws in some of the arguments involved in the discussion.

A good example of trolling is when someone for example when someone comment on grammars and english to belittle arguments without adding anything useful to the debate (sounds familiar Bob?)

Second: The grammar and spelling, lets put aside the fact that you just accused me of trolling while yourself just took the trollboat to shit-town trolling the post.

I am not a writer, im lower workingclass, EXTREMELY uneducated, suffer from dyslexia and finally, do not have english as native language which puts me in a great disadvantage in all discussions in english.

By your logic all of my arguments became instantly invalid the second you saw that i have bad grammar and the moment you noted the spelling errors i made...my very right to express myself was in question.

I have a problem with grammar and spelling (which i apologized for in an attempt that it could benefit a possible interesting development in discussing these topics instead of giving completely useless grammarchecking scumfucks as yourself the chance to limit all of this to an orgy of sneering spellchecks, but for naught)

I Wanted that discussion and if i can be proven wrong along the way then that would be double the joy. Because this would mean that im totally wrong and have by that learned something completely new which by itself is a reward greater than no other and my apology to the writer of this "review" would be a small price to pay for that kind of gift.

Well, incase you didnt know, there might be flaws in my critics (pretty sure there is) but i believe that they are valid points until proven wrong even if my grammar is bad as long as i with my bad english am able to make them fairly understandable which im pretty sure was the case in this shit-tsunami. These arguments were probably even understandable for a verbally challenged genetical deadend bigot as yourself. But still you chose to prove wrong by calling me a faggot and refer to bad spelling. I cannot know for sure, but i have a feeling that your poor way of aproaching this matter is nothing more than a poorly executed attempt to hide the fact that youre chockingly retarded.

third: I am aware of the possibility that my criticism falls on alot of dead ears but it is certainly not up to you to decide that, unless you have actually heard every single person claim so, but yeah its good to generalize stuff until it makes sense in your extremely small world eh?

Fourth: Faggot troll? Wow, another contribution, really proved my arguments wrong there buddy.

Summary, some kind of fanboy accuses me of trolling while saying stuff that is extremely similar to forumtrolling.

Fags are cool, you are not.

FINGER: Someone who actually tries to argue with my points. Good times and hatts off for you.

In a way youre correct that the player may choose to evacuate New Caanan and this itself is pretty boring (had the potential to be VERY exciting if the player would have been able to interact with the faction after DLC mainquest) but the rest of the choices is just, attack with the very cool burning man and then either encourage him to kill off the whiteleg leader (and like you pointed out, in different ways) or appeal to his good side to spare the prisoners.
Or just kill off Quest NPC´s.

The last parts is not very unique at all but (hats off again, once for bringing this to a level were we are actually discussing the DLC and once more for proving me wrong on one point) the fleeing is. Unfortunatly this isnt enough to make a pretty hollow and lacking storyline exciting because in the end its just a choice between killing all or choosing either factionleaders plan which sounds VERY similar to other situations i have seen in this game.
I cant lie, the scenery was heartbreaking beutiful but it was when i realized that the villages were exctremely empty and that the few residents both pre-mainquest AND post-mainquest add precilely nothing to the game except take up space and sparlingly say a few short words in some tribal language that i realized that it was all felt so empty, rushed and healf hearted.
5/31/2011 09:11:17 PM
Posted by Finger
Did you find out the story of the Survivalist? I thought that his whole thing was very well done. There's something about sitting in a dark, depressing cave, reading about this guy having to bury his new wife and stillborn child, and wanting to kill himself that was really well-done, and in a way that most game writers simply can't do right. It wasn't just the writing in his logs, it was the atmosphere that Obsidian created for you to experience while you were reading those logs.

True, it'd be nice if there were more characters that actually really talked to you, and I've since completed Dead Money and realized that Obsidian did a better job fleshing out those characters a bit better, but unfortunately they loaded that DLC with annoying gameplay (I'm up to here with the beeping collars, bear traps, and poisonous clouds) that it really dragged down what otherwise was a wonderful story. In comparison, I felt Honest Hearts poured a lot into the Burned Man and the Survivalist along with a truly free-roaming landscape, and less into fleshing out everything else.

Opinions differ on the score and such, but when I think about $10 addons - not just for Fallout but for any game - I had a blast playing Honest Hearts. All I can do is write up those impressions in the hope that someone else, someone who agrees with my other opinions, will feel the same if they decide to spend their hard-earned money on this.

Admittedly, you did start off very angry and insulting. I really don't think that you have earned the right to somehow try and commend me for coming up to your level, despite this other guy's possibly misguided accusation of you being a troll, once you consider again what you wrote in your first comment. I'm always willing to have a discussion and debate over these things, but you should probably try and start with that instead of spewing vitriol and hatred within your first few sentences.
6/4/2011 12:55:53 PM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
To Finger: I sure did, i fully agree that i enjoyed that part very much (even if i had the bad luck of getting it in the wrong order, but in the end it didnt really matter because i read those notes over and over when i had collected them all). Though it wasnt enough to ease up my "arms crossed pose" one bit because FO3 and FONV is filled with this kind of goodies (ok, the cavegod story is reaaaaally good, but then again...much of the stuff we get to read is usually creepy, nihilistic, dystopic or humoristic, and sometimes all of the above.

So it was extremely entertaining but after the mainquest (which we obviously both have opinions about *insert friendly smiley here*)
the importance of these cavegod notes is too high since it is one of the few remaining pillars that are supposed to uphold a continued exciting adventure post mainquest.

The developers seem to have forgotten that we fallout enthusiasts get to see alot of similar stuff in both FO3 and FONV maingame as a small but clever sidenotes, but no matter how fun they are, they are just that, extra spice along the greater journey.
(i cant speak for the rest of the world, but i am the kind of person to read every single note and find myself longing for the next one)
(numeric password notes not included, unless im extremely tired and if im so tired that i find those funny, then i might aswell fight a live doberman with my controller in a brave attempt to insert the FONV disc in its mouth because in that weakened state a dog´s jaws are all disturbingly similar to the xbox disctray,point is that when we are that tired its all the same, yeah you know what im talking about Finger, we´ve all been there)
Hats off once again (dont care if you dislike it or not, hat is off and it stays off...when its off, more on this later)i almost forgot the "cavegod begins" part because i started off in the wrong end (which was tragic enough, no spoilers here, but you know what i mean when i say that i believe that the morale of this story
is: its not worth trying, ever)

it might be me but i didnt find one bit of that story funny and i cant tell if its supposed to be a little bit of comic relief with the cavegod theme, if it is, then i cant see the fun in it because for me this was a harsch sad story that left me with a aching heart. Sad but good stuff. Still not enough to carry a big beautiful area with one-liner npc´s. I might be a tad ignorant and correct me if im wrong but this place should be put to use.

As you said, lucky as we are, opinions differ. To some extent i can go along with the argument that its pretty ok stuff for 10 dollars, which is a fair argument regarding a game that might not release anything beyond two more DLC´s. But the harsch cold truth is that we might have just that to look forward to, and thats were the money stops being a part of the analysis because i could pay the double for something that is a bit more stuffed, less rushed, more sidequests, 15 vault/cave/trashcan gods and of course more of everything with extra more.

I dont think that i am too demanding if i want 10 sidequests related to otherwise unused areas, a few more vendors, a new safehouse aquired by completing an overly timeconsuming quest and a companion with very little opinion of any of the major factions (to avoid ALOT of programming) and i certainly dont think that i am overreacting when im getting a bit sweaty when we probably only have 2 more DLC´s left and so far im not too impressed with either of them.

Mr finger, kindly do not take any of my /hatoffs for some kind of attempts to get on your good side, and i do expect you to not believe that i believe myself to be a pillar of either innovation nor intellect. I realize my limits, and believe it or not, my own expectations of what i bring to the table is a level you never want to sink to, im so good that i know that im not very good at anything, not supersmart, but enough smart to point out what i dont like without ever believing that i am the best. Its a fine line between narcissism/extreme criticism while spitting out the meanest things i can come up with. Sounds tiring? It sure is and its worth it if someone takes enough offense to do something just a little bit better.

When reviewers get too lazy to bother with really describing what we are buying, sometimes assholes like me come by to drop every thing we have ever been angry about in a hardpacked hatelavine of criticism that has a few grains of fair points it might even wake the dead.

I am now very aware of that you dont really like the idea of me believing you almost being on the same level as me, cheers. I honestly dont care, what do i care about is the other stuff (in which you mostly have very good points) you write regarding the game because it is far superior to what our reviewer just fed us and truth to be told, i wonder if the tv was even on when he played HH because i dont think we even share the most basic impressions of what we collectively agree upon as reality.

My problem with you is that you seem to think that im a few levels above it all, please dont, because i dont, i just think that this review was way below the lowest level we can meassure, sure, im above that but not much more, hell, were all above this crap. To sum it up, i like you and i cannot care less about what you think of that.

I sure hope that i one day get so big and superduper that i can be on the same level as you (or the other way around depending of whoever thinks what of who) and maybe then well get to play together in some future sandbox filled to the tip in the latrine we very well deserve if we keep telling the lazy developers that what theyre doing is all good. Theyre not special kids and they dont need encouragement for doing something bad for the sake that its good that they take part of mainstream society.

But yeah, its a bit too much emotion behind these lines, its an inferno of burning vitriol and hatred. With this review in mind i dont care which way the wind blows as long as the vitriol is on fire
6/4/2011 01:04:04 PM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
I truly wish that i knew how to edit my terribad grammar and typos, feel free to ask if im unclear in any way.
6/5/2011 05:32:33 PM
Posted by Finger
You're baked when you write these posts, aren't you?
6/7/2011 12:17:00 PM
Posted by fortheloveofhate
I wish. Drunk out of my skull though, which as you can see affects my allready fervent choice of words and pisspoor grammatic skills.

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