As the final quest-based DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, “Lonesome Road” has quite a challenge ahead of it. Not only does it have to follow up the exceptionable “Old World Blues” DLC pack, but it’s burdened with the high expectations associated with any finale.
Unfortunately, while “Lonesome Road” does offer some insight into the life of Courier Six, it is marred by many technical and gameplay issues that hold it back from reaching it’s potential.
Lonesome Road starts off with the player’s PipBoy picking up a blip on the world map. The blip leads the player to The Divide, a section of the Mojave ravaged by nuclear armageddon – so messed up that it is barely habitable. Though, once in the Divide players will encounter remnants of NCR and Legion troops – where, surprisingly, both factions have united in this small slice of the Mojave. The reasons as to why such an anomaly in politics has occurred cannot be detailed without spoiling the story in “Lonesome Road,” and rightfully so, as the story is the most enthralling part of the DLC.
Players will also meet ED-E, a peculiar little Eye Bot with his own past that must be uncovered. ED-E is a bit like a puppy, always following the player around (and adorable in a way that makes the player wish he was always at his/her side during the core game). That said, aside from ED-E and the Courier antagonist, players will not interact with any other characters. Gamers must enter The Divide alone, and with all of the “Lonesome Road” inhabitants ready to kill the player at any given moment, socializing is kept to a minimum.
While trying to figure what happened to The Divide, and learning about Courier Six’s past, is always interesting and somewhat suspenseful – there are many issues with the core gameplay that will cause some gamers to rethink their purchase.
First off, this is Fallout, so it’s pretty much a given that there are going to be glitches. Players will get stuck in environments and considering a poorly thought-out difficulty curve in the DLC, game breaking glitches can be especially frustrating. It’s one thing to try and figure out how to get out of the environment, but it’s even more frustrating trying to do so while being attacked by insanely powerful enemies. To be fair, getting stuck in the environment is a rare occasion, and while the rest of the glitches aren’t game breaking, they still significantly detract from the experience. There are times when enemies will run right past the character, or where sitting on certain spots in the environment will cause enemies to just stare at the player – as opposed to attacking. There’s also a frequent audio glitch, where reloading animations and the audio associated become out of sync. As stated earlier, none of these are particularly game breaking, but they do end up compromising the immersion.
The most frustrating issue with “Lonesome Road” has to be the aforementioned difficulty curve. There are moments when the game will present the player with one or two human enemies, and then the next area will contain three Death Claws. It would help if the DLC’s latest addition to the New Vegas arsenal, the Red Flare, were even effective against enemies – but, instead, it’s especially frustrating to fire four rockets at a human enemy only to have them gun the player down with a handful of bullets. The problem is compounded by a terrible checkpoint system. Players will find checkpoints in remarkably confusing places, causing them to replay especially irritating segments of the game whenever they die.
It’s also very unfortunate that “Lonesome Road” is such a linear experience. While linearity usually isn’t a problem, Fallout is all about exploration, and there is very little of it in “Lonesome Road.” Most of the time players will find themselves going from point A to point B, with very little wiggle room in between. In addition, there is very little choice in the DLC. In many of the core New Vegas quests players will have several options for the task at hand; however, in “Lonesome Road,” with the exception of the final encounter, there aren’t many branching paths to try out.
In the end, the most disappointing thing about “Lonesome Road” is all of the wasted potential. The story itself is solid and entertaining to play through, though unfortunately with all of the issues that crop up the story isn’t enough to justify the price tag. Unless you’re a huge fan of Fallout New Vegas or desperate for another trip back into the Mojave, it’s probably best to wait until “Lonesome Road” goes on sale.
Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road is available now for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
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