Fallout: New Vegas – Old World Blues
Old World Blues, the third expansion for Fallout: New Vegas, is everything DLC should be. It expands the original game’s world physically and narratively besides offering many hours of gameplay that ultimately leaves you craving more. It begins with you being transported to an area of the Big Empty known as the Big MT Research and Development Center, which lies within a huge crater. You soon learn that your spine, heart and brain have all been extracted and replaced with technological equivalents, which provide you with special traits and benefits. You may be wondering how you could possibly function without a brain, but worry not: this is not a documentary, it’s Fallout.
Finding yourself in a complex named The Sink, you soon meet the Think Tank – five brilliant scientists who’ve had their grey matter preserved and initially regard you as a ‘penis-fingered’ cretin. You’re subsequently informed your own head-organ was swiped by the maniacal Dr. Mobius who resides in the Forbidden Zone Dome. In order to retrieve it, you must save the Think Tank from their own experiments, and to be able to leave the confines of the area, you must obtain three rare technologies for them. At this stage, it’s possible to obtain the K9000 cyberdog gun, one of the DLC’s first original weapons: an assault-cannon which has the brain of a dog. Yes. As you’re based at The Sink, you’re given your own quarters which contain not only the essential amenities, but also a central computer, auto-doc and a host of other appliances (such as a rage-filled toaster and Muggy, a miniature securitron who craves mugs) all of which have their own bickering personalities.
The atmospheric terrain of the Big MT is perfect: black, obsidian mountain rock punctured with exposed metallic pipe-work, which not only serves as a metaphor for how science has come to dominate the region, but also offers a convenient route over the red crystal filled quarries and other perilous high-altitude pathways. The large map is also peppered with hubs of urban sprawl and research centres, all of which once served a specific purpose and subsequently have their own feel, unlike so many other locations from previous DLC and even the main game itself. As such, the Big MT is a joy to explore: full of thousands of items, many interesting stories, visual nourishment and a slew of new enemies.
The first time a gang of Cyberpunk-like, biker goggled lobotomites wielding glowing proton-axes assailed me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Old World Blues was going to be The One. This is because, subjectively, that’s exactly what I want to happen in a game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s also great to see the nightstalkers take a more prominent role in the action, as they were previously underused and didn’t live up to their potential. Here, however, their existence has been fully explained and they’re deadlier than ever, especially when you’re cornered by a rampaging pack in a confined space – as you’ll be hissed at, mauled and shunted in the groin until your very soul gives up and somersaults out of your body. There’s plenty of other new enemies too, all of which are both pleasing to encounter and formidable, but no more surprises will be revealed at this juncture.
The quests are adequately engaging; you’re often required to undertake various tests at research centres in order to unlock upgrades or data and these can soon become quite challenging. The primary story quest is brilliant, compelling and can be handled in a number of different ways which will have a suitable effect on the area. Much like Dead Money, Old World Blues offers a gripping narrative that’s propelled by your actions and learned by both interaction and exposition, however, here it’s far less frustrating and far more rewarding. The characters’ intentions make sense and your interactions with them are often lifted by the script, which is absurd, sarcastic and humorous – exactly how it should be in a Fallout game.
Old World Blues is essential. It’s easily worth both the time and monetary investment not only for your own gameplay experience but also to that of your character. Besides the raised level cap, new traits, arsenal and items, once completed, the Big MT can be revisited at will. And unlike some of the other New Vegas DLC, this is one you’ll actually want to revisit again and again.