Fallout: New Vegas Honest Hearts DLC review

Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money was a nice little experiment, but like a science fair volcano with way too much baking soda, the mess that followed wasn't worth the trouble. Numerous cheap deaths along with straying too far from the core Fallout experience made Obsidian’s first crack at New Vegas DLC more annoying than fun. The good news is that their second attempt in the form of Honest Hearts is a dramatic improvement over Dead Money, but its general soundness opens up all new problems that are slowly starting to demand attention from the developers.

Honest Hearts starts out in familiar fashion, as installing the content will enable a radio broadcast to lead your character along on his new journey. This time, the broadcast comes from the Happy Trails caravan, who is recruiting for an expedition to Zion National Park in southern Utah to help locate a group of traders they've lost contact with. The park itself has warring tribes fighting for control, and one of these tribes is referred to as the White Legs. They don't like you. In fact, they hate you so much that they completely destroy your caravan and kill everyone aboard while you manage to escape upon first entering the park.

So now you're stuck in the middle of Utah, but one look at your surroundings will show this isn't as bad as it sounds. It turns out that Zion has been nearly unaffected by the nuclear destruction, so the serene beauty of the park's world-famous canyons and caverns is intact and ready for exploration. Foliage naturally grows throughout the land and the rivers are clean with fish merrily swimming around to boot. It's a far cry from pretty much every single other location ever depicted in any Fallout game to date, which further solidifies the setting as the best part of the whole pack.

Above: Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places on planet Earth, and it's very well represented here

What makes it ever better is how it uses its varied landscape to enhance gameplay. There's a certain verticality to the environment that helps Honest Hearts distinguish itself from the mostly flat, desolate landscapes that make up most of New Vegas. You'll end up spending just as much time laying waste to giant, majestic beasts and overgrown Yao Guais as you will taking it to the White Legs, which adds to the naturalistic vibe of Honest Hearts. Also, the areas seem far more wide open over the confined spaces of the main game, which makes combat a more long range affair.

The one thing Dead Money had going for it was its great story, which was due to the eclectic cast of characters that accompanied you, but the same unfortunately can't be said of Honest Hearts. It's not a bad little yarn, but it's somewhat uneventful and not quite up to Fallout's lofty standards. There's only one interesting character to speak to, and while the deformed Joshua Graham is certainly a highlight whom you'll want to know more about by the time the credits roll, the natives that inhabit Zion don't keep the player involved enough to form an attachment.

Above: What's wrong with your face?!

However the biggest problem with Honest Hearts has little to do with the story or the content's design, but rather the game itself. Since the release of Fallout 3 over two years ago, nearly everything that game excelled at, from the dialogue system to the interactivity of the world, has been done significantly better in other games. New Vegas got away with this somewhat due to the extremely high quality narrative and script, and since Honest Hearts doesn't have that to fall on, the formula is starting to dramatically show its age. There are only so many times that going into VATS and electing to shoot whatever is running at you four times in the face can be entertaining, and that well is drying quickly. Finally, the environments, while artistically pleasing, aren't up to current standards, and the character models are uglier than ever with facial animations that are now downright laughable.

This is further exemplified by the rather standard main quest line that doesn't veer too far off from the “go here, grab this, talk to this guy, kill some dudes” mission template. There's the now mandatory moral quandary that takes the final half hour or so of the pack in different directions depending on your decision, but that's about as varied as it gets. Honest Hearts is also significantly shorter than Dead Money, as about three hours is all you'll need to complete it unless you want to squeeze another hour or two out of the side quests. Also those quintessential Fallout crashes are in full effect here, as the game pooped the bed on us a few times during the review process.

Above: Luckily, fire axes are an indigenous plant in this region of Utah, as the natives have been using them in combat for generations

It's not that Honest Hearts is good or bad, it's just kinda there. After two giant games alongside now seven DLC packs, we're not as excited to enter the destroyed-beauty apocalypse as we once were. Whether you should play Honest Hearts comes down to this simple question: do you want to keep playing this style of Fallout? If so, this isn't a bad way to go about doing that, and there's always the level cap increase if that's important to you. For everyone else, the change in scenery isn't quite enough to get excited over playing yet another content pack of a rapidly aging game.

May 24, 2011


  • alskdjfhg207 - May 28, 2011 7:43 p.m.

    Don't know what you mean about the gameplay staying exactly the same. It's DLC, It's just a new area added missions and stuff what did you expect?
  • superharek - May 25, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    second screenchot with the burned man looks like it was made from the BF:Heroes,graphics look like BF:heroes :D
  • jackthemenace - May 25, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    Again, do you have to start a new character, or does it work in a similiar way to 'The Pit' and "Mothership zeta' did in FO3? And, most importantly, DOES IT LET YOU PLAY ON AFTER THE CREDITS!? Although, from what I've heard about the bugs, I think that's what they need to fix before releasing any more DLC. GIMME MY GODDAMN E-DE PATCH!
  • BackwaterRifle - May 25, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    Honestly, and I've said this many times, If New Vegas is to be better than FO3 it's DLC Needs to be better. Dead Money and Honest Hearts both are better than Operation Anchorage and Mothership Zeta, but those were the 2 worst FO DLC's ever. If they follow up wth theyre word to bring back a character from FO3 it better be Desmond from point lookout chasing another enemy down in the Great Game, because thats a perfect example how the Old worlds ambittions did not die with the war. Also on the side I can't play FO3 any more, ive done all I can do, no really All I can do, like 97-99% of everything possible, from reading terminals, to finding every thing unique.
  • JarateMaster - May 25, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    Quick question. I've already played this but went back to a pre-New Vegas finale (and post Dead Money) save game. But one assumes that this one doesn't extend the original game past the final sequence, Broken Steel style? (Teehee, the capture box says 'erecting')
  • philipshaw - May 25, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    Yeah seems fair, I finished new vegas and don't want to go back to it
  • jaffa_5 - May 25, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    i havnt played it yet with the psn being down but i will cause i love fallout. however i agree its starting to feel a little dated, and bugs are unfogivable at times, i once lost 2 hours of exploring cause i forgot to save thanks to the game locking up. with Rage and skyrim coming out later this year it will be intreasting to see the next Fallout turns out
  • CitizenWolfie - May 25, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    A few factors are making me not bothered about this: 1. As you mentioned, it's looking very dated now. I thought Red Dead was very similar to Fallout in some ways but it did it all much better. Playing NV after RDR was like a step back. 2. "It turns out that Zion has been nearly unaffected by the nuclear destruction" - I'm afraid that was one of the things I loved about Fallout. The more f'd up the scene was, the better. 3. I'm sick of being stripped of all my weapons at the start of every Fallout DLC. It makes it more challenging but I find it annoying to have to bother with a huge item swap once it's finished. I think it's a lazy plot device too. 4. LA Noire has been out for 4 days and I'm loving it. So, sorry Obsidian, but you wont be getting any money out of me this time.
  • DeadGirls - May 25, 2011 7:48 a.m.

    "It's starting to feel dated" WTF? How is it I'm the only one who felt that way the first time I played Fallout 3?
  • BrunDeign - May 25, 2011 3:46 a.m.

    Just wait for "Old World Blues," the next dlc that comes out next month. I hear that it's supposed the be the most silly of the dlc, or "the most LOL," as one of the developers tweeted a while ago.
  • Longnuts - May 25, 2011 3:09 a.m.

    I want to buy both Honest Hearts and Dead Money... but there are so many reviews rating both of them sub-par. Something inside me says wait until they release all 4 DLCs on disc and pick them up then.
  • Johnny6Gun - May 25, 2011 2:58 a.m.

    Nice Plinkett reference.
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 25, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    Another reason as to why it's better to buy the GOTY in a year.
  • Meleedragon27 - May 25, 2011 1:24 a.m.

    Well, I thought Dead Money was worth my money and I overall enjoyed it (I did agree with GR's review score of it, though - I'd probably give it a 6/10, too). I haven't played New Vegas in awhile (haven't had anything to do outside of start a new game), but I'll likely pick up Honest Hearts next time I feel like popping the disc into my 360. Or if there's a sale... which ever comes first.
  • Pocotron - May 25, 2011 1:11 a.m.

    It's weird how the PS3 never seems to get Fallout's DLC on time with other consoles. Ah well, I'm sure I'll enjoy this after the long wait.
  • Gob - May 24, 2011 11:46 p.m.

    I downloaded this simply because it costs the exact amount of points that I had left. I've yet to play it, due to having to make a new character. I don't really care if it's not that great, new weapons and some new landscape are good enough for me.
  • MancisFrorkYorgan - May 24, 2011 10:46 p.m.

    Obsidian really needs to pull out a Point Lookout from its sleeve.
  • Gameguy94 - May 24, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    *YAWN* Okay when are they releasing Fallout 4?
  • Cleanser247 - May 24, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    Chris Antista's opinion on Fallout: New Vegas is the EXACT same as mine. When I heard him talk about it on a recent episode of TalkRadar, I totally agreed with him.
  • Claymore65 - May 24, 2011 10:27 p.m.

    I personally love New Vegas, especially due to the huge references to Fallout 1 and 2 (GO NCR!). Thing is, I'm probably not going to get any DLC as I love the game currently and don't need too much more content. I only plan on getting the a DLC if it turns out to be truly fantastic. Also, Skyrim is going to be truly amazing.

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