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Fallout: New Vegas – Lonesome Road

Fallout

Everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve done, it all finally comes down to this. Ulysses, the enigma de facto himself, finally makes his move. He contacts you on your Pip-Boy, leaving a brief message to meet him at The Divide, an irradiated stretch of harsh winds and Old World tech. You’re not sure what you’ll encounter in this tragic kingdom, but you know that ‘the other courier’ has a lot to answer for, namely why you had to take the point-blank headshot from Benny.

Sometimes what you read/hear is what you get. Lonesome Road is…a lonesome road. It’s just you traversing the line that connects your Point A, to Ulysses’ Point B – a straightforward linear trek for an appointment leaves little room for side narratives. You’re able to bring however much equipment you want, and as usual you have to leave your normal companions behind, however you’ll be accompanied by a new, more adorable, ED-E. Compared to your first eyebot, this ED-E is invaluable for its upgradeable engineering capabilities; functions that can be passed on to the Primm original. Come fight time, it’s about as useful as a thimble in safe sex. So yes, when you’re trying to fend off a crowd of nasties you really are all by your lonesome.

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Next to killer Satchel Charger mines, The Divide’s hostile inhabitants voids a cakewalk. Included are the Marked Men: former Legionnaires and NCR troopers – skinless, mutated, united in pain. Without a doubt, they are the best gunmen of New Vegas, their great numbers a source of torment and heavy lag. Beneath The Divide awaits the reptilian Tunnelers, pint-sized bastards reputed as the most dangerous foes in post-Apocalyptia – the first one you encounter decapitates a Deathclaw with ease. Affirmative on the Deathclaws, they lurk the Divide in groups of 2-3. What’s worse is the fact that their stats are designed to match yours so being at a high level does work against you. Case in point, even at the level 50 cap they were able to KO me in just two hits. Amongst the carnage is the option to fight Rawr, a legendary Deathclaw that may as well be regarded as New Vegas’ Ruby Weapon. At max level, sporting Power Armor, one swipe still incurred instant death. Indisputably, Lonesome Road is in fact the hardest DLC in the series yet. One could translate the hardships as the symbolic primordial struggle for the truth, others would just deem it as a pain in the ass.

Lonesome Road does contribute its exclusive firepower for extinguishing its horrors. Funny enough, the weakest of the exclusive weapons is your number one lifesaver: the Flare Gun. It does baby fist damage and its added life drain seems absent. But its ability to spook abominations, Deathclaws and Tunnelers especially, will have it etched into your shortcut keys. The Divide also provides its signature weapon, the Red Glare – an upgradeable, rapid-fire rocket launcher. But without at least 20,000 caps, modification is but a dream. Between these two armaments, everything else is irrelevant.

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This all may sound ideal for the most hardcore of Fallout fans, but the road you walk is riddled with signs warning of dangers ahead. Lonesome Road weighs the heaviest in lag – worse than a ten year old HP Paviliion. Certain spots had me literally restarting the game, and my PS3, within intervals of 5-15 minutes. Most damning of all, the brightest red lights come in the form of checkpoints where Ulysses, via ED-E, grants you an audience to your concerning inquiries. The Mojave’s X-factor may excel at reciting an elaborate script, but getting to the point is not one of his strong suits. Whether it’s explaining himself, The Divide, or pointing out that many fail to realize that you, The Courier, is the most mysterious character of them all, Ulysses tends to spread it thick with the cryptic.

This line of speech is continued to the very end. Those not versed in waxing philosophics may end up walking away not understanding anything at all, resorting to surfing The Vault for the cliffnotes version. Others who can decipher Ulysses’ vernacular will have a hard time appreciating any parting shots. This lies in the fact that Lonesome Road is the only DLC that neglects using a micro-intro. A mystifying service of visuals would’ve been the perfect setup for obliging Ulysses’ eulogic fluff. Though I can understand that there is much severity behind his motives, I couldn’t help but feel that my entire journey was sparked by one man’s pettiness – no thanks to Lonesome Road being the shortest add-on. The moment you believe The Divide never ends, Ulysses’ front door will appear.

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The DLC’s meager length not only secures any sense of satisfaction remaining out of reach, but pickpockets any solid motivation for exploring newly unlocked locales, inside and outside The Divide. Depending on your actions in Lonesome Road, the Mojave is added with a few new sights to explore, but very miniscule, and very glitchy. You can bring your regular companions to these domains, but approaching them can cause your friends to inexplicably disappear. For how long I actually don’t know, I wasn’t about to risk banishing my comrades to nothingness in finding that out. The Divide itself unravels Courier’s Mile, an inappropriately, ultra hard, radioactive gauntlet that must be engaged alone should you choose to tread.

In being anticipated as the most important DLC, Lonesome Road already collapsed under the pressure and risks submerging New Vegas in a sinkhole of the pointless. It’s nowhere being as wealthy as Dead Money, it’s more dishonest than Honest Hearts, and compared to Big MT, it’s the real Big Empty. As what is presumably the final expansion of the Mojave skirmish, Lonesome Road is paved in letdowns and enough wrong turns to falsify its promises of bringing things full circle. Consider yourself a victim of highway robbery if you elect to pay its toll.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in August 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @S_Chyou.

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