Fallout: New Vegas – Old World Blues
Only in the fabulous world of Fallout could one catch a flick one minute, and become a scrub fitted science experiment the next. Per the instructions of the Mysterious Broadcast, you show up at the Mojave Drive-in at the witching hour to check out the Midnight Science Fiction Feature. All you find is an odd, damaged satellite. Further inspection suddenly has you whisked away to Big Mt., a.k.a. The Big Empty (get it?).
Waking up, you find yourself in the midst of the Think Tank – a collective of five talking brains. This overly eccentric bunch expresses their amazement of how you’ve not only survived, but can still function properly after having your brain, heart, and spine replaced with synthetic implants. Before you can utter your repulsion, the brains task you with collecting a set of scientific wares to aid them in their neverending battle against their evil cranial nemesis: Dr. Mobius! That’s right, no concern for reason or your well-being applies. It’s the way of Fallout.
Much is different compared to the previous DLCs. For starters, there are no limitations to the amount of gear you can bring with you prior to starting the adventure. Secondly, you actually get to listen to some tunes on the Pip-Boy this time around. And most importantly, you’re promptly given a home base, The Sink, where you can heal and purchase items and equipment. To give it more flavor, The Sink is also home to a number of sentient appliances, all of which provide an array of sidequests for upgrading their functionalities. Along with the Think Tank’s need for sputtering nonsensical comic mayhem via loudspeaker, the talking tools round up the entire experience as a zany MST3K tribute of sorts. This is made possible by a fantastic voice cast of the industry’s finest, such as Roger Cross (Joshua from First Wave), Beau Weaver (Marvel Action Hour’s Mr. Fantastic), James Urbaniak (Go Team Venture!), and the hot plate of Yes herself, Veronica Belmont.
Perhaps the biggest dissimilarity is the fact that this is the only New Vegas DLC that is absent of companions. So when you’re being gangbanged by legions of Robo-Scorpions, undead Trauma Suits, Lobotomites, Nightstalkers, or any combination of the above, you’re on your own. For the most hardcore of Fallout fans, this provides a welcomed challenge. Those still wet behind the ears may find this unfair, as even if you’re at the level 15 minimum, or thrice more, the task of handling unrelenting foes in numbers can be overwhelming. Those like me, who appreciate companions as a method for fleshing out stories, cannot deny the untapped potential.
Regarding the story, Old World Blues’s main narrative is bare bones, but like New Vegas, the intrigue comes from the underlying tales that wait to be uncovered. In this case, much of the big questions about the Mojave are answered in The Big Empty. You’ll learn how the Mojave’s exclusive mutated wildlife came to be. And much of the unresolved questions from your time at the Sierra Madre will be answered, all the while gaining more insight into Ulysses, the elusive “other courier”. Also lying in wait are a number of the best weapons science has to offer. Don’t be surprised if you missed anything during your first run. With 35 locations, stones will be left unturned. But thankfully, you can return to the Big Empty anytime you want upon completion.
Sadly, no modern Fallout experience is complete without bugs. Almost every other time I stepped out into Big Mt.’s great outdoors, the game would slow to an agonizing crawl. There were also instances of visual disturbances, one account had flickering gray smudges obscuring my line of sight, another having the view tripped out repeatedly as if poisoned despite my stats registering as normal. There was also an amusing instance where horsenettle plants rained from the Sink’s ceiling, clipping into the floor and repeating.
Above all, Old World Blues is certainly a huge step up from Honest Hearts. Although its narrative barely holds a candle to Dead Money‘s, the escapade at Big Mt. should be regarded as the former’s significant other; bringing complete closure to the Sierra Madre experience and vice versa. The journey most certainly has its challenges, but the rewards more than compensate for the time spent enduring another one of the Old World’s forgotten nightmares. No doubt, this is one venture that any Mojave traveler shouldn’t go without. Let’s give it up for Science!