Lonesome Road DLC [spoilers]

I finished Lonesome Road, the Fallout: New Vegas DLC, and it was surprisingly emotional. I think I saved and reloaded three times, because the final choice tree was so difficult.

The basic story is that you’re drawn to the Divide by mysterious messages, such as “Go home, Courier Six”. I think there might have been a radio broadcast, but I could be mistaken. Anyway, you go through the canyon wreckage and find a land ravaged, by what you don’t know yet. You have to get through a missile silo, but you can’t decode the military encoding. But in a nearby room, you find… ED-E the Eyebot? No, not your ED-E, but a very good replica with his own history, which is revealed through audio logs at various times. As a nice addition, you can understand his beeping to a limited extent when he “talks”.

After unlocking the station to turn the power back on, you fight your way through the missile silo against robots and find the corpses of Marked Men, who look like ghouls from both the NCR and the Legion, but wear cobbled-together armor that looks like nothing in particular. Odd, but whatever. Then you get outside, and ED-E starts talking in a deep, disapproving voice and informs you that you caused all this destruction, and you will answer for it, and a lot of rambling symbol-laden ranting, but you are also informed of three very relevant things: first, the voice taking over ED-E is a courier named Ulysses; next, that the creatures living in the Divide were once men, but have become irradiated and insane, but not entirely ghoul-like, as they can still shoot at you; and last, that there is a laser detonator that can explode the nuclear warheads that are still around, and thus when you find it, you can clear a path to Ulysses.

Yay. Smart, angry ghouls who hate and attack anyone not like them. You set off into this ruined landscape, and I have to give credit where credit is due: the landscape FEELS oppressive. It’s not the same sort of oppressive as Fallout 3, at least not to me. In that case, the landscape seemed indifferent to people, not going out of its way to either help or hinder the PC. In the Divide, it feels like the land itself hates you, like Ulysses hates you, like the Marked Men hate you. Like every turn you’re going to find a mass of concrete and rebar blocking your path, and there’s no way around, just through.

At one point you have to go through a tunnel, and you keep hearing things skittering in the darkness, but when you turn, there’s nothing there. At least, not until you make the last turn, and suddenly you’re attacked by Tunnelers. They’re explained by Ulysses as something that lived beneath the ground, until the ground was split open by the warheads and they glimpsed the light. They’re somewhat hit-and-run fighters, but they’re also surprisingly tough. I found that the H & H Tools nailgun worked really well.

After traversing miles of this ruined, twisted terrain, you  meet Ulysses. The conversation doesn’t go well, of course, and after you kill him and the Marked Men that appear, you have to try to stop the missile launch that he started, aimed at the Mojave and specifically at the NCR. There were several options: stop the launch completely, redirect the missiles at the Legion, or redirect the missiles at both NCR and the Legion. I think there were a couple more, but they clearly weren’t important enough for me to remember them. The snag is that when you choose “stop the launch”, the consequence was that ED-E would explode. There’s an audio log that outlines that during testing, the Eyebots could break military-grade encryption, but at the cost of overloading their circuits.

This decision was very tough for me. I despise the Legion, but if I aimed the missiles there, I’d be the same as Ulysses, punishing people who had no choice about being swallowed up by the Legion. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be better to be dead than be a slave? I could go back and forth on that one, and undoubtedly there are some who feel that way, but I couldn’t do it. Obviously I wasn’t going to blow up the NCR; I disagree with some of their decisions, but overall, I approve of them much more than the Legion. Which left the option of sacrificing ED-E, who had become a “he” to me fairly quickly, with a personality and a history and had become a companion. But that was the only real choice left to me.

I wish I could replay this DLC, because it was very well done, and I know I missed some stuff. There’s an achievement if you detonate all of the warheads, which I think I missed by three, and another one to find all the posters of RALPHIE, a robot that looks similar to an Eyebot and apparently was the star of a children’s show. And I missed finding the Courier’s Mile, an area that was hit by a warhead launched in the middle of the story. It sounds really depressing, but I like getting everything out of an area. I’m considering starting a new character and using the console to level her up to 25 just to replay Lonesome Road.

The combat was fairly challenging, especially near the end when the Marked Men were using Stealth Boys. I’ve found that overall, I prefer not to use VATS when I’m playing on PC, and that was very helpful when I couldn’t use VATS on the Stealthed Marked Men. Even at the beginning, though, both the Marked Men and the Tunnelers required some strategy. Take LOTS of ammo. For close-up, the nail gun worked really well, and I found that the Sniper Rifle was my friend for dealing with enemies at a distance. The Marked Men have rocket launchers, so expect to be blown up and have limbs crippled. It says that level 25 and up is recommended, but I’d suggest your character be at the highest level you can manage before curiosity demands that you play.

Overall, it’s a very interesting and heart-wrenching DLC, and I would recommend it.

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