Honest Hearts, First Impressions [updated with new perks]

It's been a long time since Dead Money came out to a less-than-stellar welcome, but I still wasted no time in downloading Honest Hearts and giving it about an hour of playtime. I like what I see so far, but I guess only time will tell if it can live up.
Firstly, I like the way they dealt with the equipment issue this time around. Unlike Dead Money (or Anchorage) previously, you actually get to take some of your well-earned toys with you into Zion, there is a catch though. You're only allowed to take 75 pounds worth of stuff. This was not much of a problem for me, as I typically only carry around 40-60lbs of equipment at any one time. But as a method of stopping you from walking into the new zone with a complete Pre-War Armory strapped to your belt, it works out well. There were also a couple of dialogue checks before you left which allow you to up this limit to 100 (with Pack Rat perk or a Survival Skill check), which would help those worried about their encumbrance a little more.

Unfortunately, once again, you can't bring your Companions into Zion, having to leave them behind. I could see this being an issue for the human companions, but I was disappointed that I could not bring ED-E along. Surely an armoured, flying suitcase with a high-powered laser would make a good addition to any caravan expedition, but what are you gonna do?

This pack doesn't waste anytime with getting you into the thick of things. You're not in Zion for even a minute before things go belly-up and you're left to fend for yourself against some surprisingly well-armed opponents. One of my attackers was even using an Anti-Materiel rifle for crying out loud!

I've only met a couple of characters since I started. Firstly coming across a surpringly helpful local called Follows-Chalk, who gives you a little bit of backstory and has an interesting little Perk. If he's in your Party and you climb up to a high vista, an old Ranger tower, for example, your map gets marked with a whole bunch of locations in the area. Reminds me a little of tower-climbing in Assassin's Creed, and it's a good way to get the lay of the land.
    The whole area looks nice -- well as nice as it can for the engine. Lots of long vistas and high cliffs, contrasted with narrow and claustrophobic canyons. It's probably the nicest looking area in the game, and a far-cry from the red-misted street crawl of the Sierra Madre. The wild-life is just as friendly as the majority of the locals, with some new varieties of Gekkos and Mantises and the return of the old-Capital Wasteland favourite the Yao Guai. Of course, my All-American Rifle trumps mutant-bear claws any day of the week.

I shut the game off after meeting who I'll expect to be the big draw of the content for people who got into the original game: Joshua Graham, the Burned Man. I wont go into a lot of detail about his involvement, in case people want to play it themselves, but suffice to say he's looking like a nicely fleshed out character. It's what Obsidian does well, after all. His voice actor does a really good job, and he sounds really familiar but I can't place it. I'm sure it'll drive me crazy. It's also kinda refreshing to meet an openly Christian character in the Fallout world. He's not overly preachy, but it's a nice reminder that, even though a few hundred nuclear bombs went off over America, people will still cling to their beliefs.

The story missions seem to be nicely open-ended. I have currently been given free-reign of what appears to be the entire, sizable, DLC area, in order to track down a few pre-war relics. I look forward to having something new to explore, as by now I know the Mojave like the back of my hand.

I haven't had much chance to play around with the new weapons I found -- a .45 Auto Pistol, .45 Submachine gun, War Club -- mainly due to a lack of ammo at the start, so I can't really take about those aspects of gameplay yet. I'm also yet to level up, so I haven't had a chance to see any new perks (oh, btw, the level cap is now 40! Couriers are gonna get pretty damn powerful by the end of this).

All in all, there's some potential here and I hope it pays off in the end.

- - -
Updated: Leveled up high enough to see the new perks, here's what I've seen from the perk list:

Sneering Imperialist, Req: Level 8
"You don't take kindly to raiders, junkies, or tribals trying to "settle" or "stay alive" in civilized lands. Against dirty raider and junkie types as well as Zion's tribals you do +15% Damage and have a bonus to hit in V.A.T.S."

Grunt, Req: Level 8, Guns 45, Explosives 20
"Just good, honest infantry work! You do 25% more damage with 9mm and .45 Auto Pistols and SMGs, Service Rifles, Assault and Marksman Carbines, Light Machine Guns, Frag Grenades, Grenade Rifles and Launchers, and Combat Knives."

Home on the Range, Req: Level 8, Survival 70
"Whenever you interact with a campfire, you have the option of sleeping, with all the benefits that sleep brings."

Tribal Wisdom, Req: Level 8, Survival 70
"Your limbs take 50% less damage from Animals, Mutated Animals, and Mutated Insects, you gain +25% resistance to Poison Damage , and can eat Mutated Insects when you're in Sneak mode."

Fight the Power, Req: Level 10
"You've had enough of the so-called "authorities" pushing poor folks around! You gain +2 Damage Threshold and +5% Critical Chance against anyone wearing the faction armor of the NCR, Legion or Brotherhood."

Eye For Eye, Req: Level 20
"For each crippled limp you have, you do an additional 10% damage."

23 Comments
24 Comments
Edited by Aishan

It's been a long time since Dead Money came out to a less-than-stellar welcome, but I still wasted no time in downloading Honest Hearts and giving it about an hour of playtime. I like what I see so far, but I guess only time will tell if it can live up.
Firstly, I like the way they dealt with the equipment issue this time around. Unlike Dead Money (or Anchorage) previously, you actually get to take some of your well-earned toys with you into Zion, there is a catch though. You're only allowed to take 75 pounds worth of stuff. This was not much of a problem for me, as I typically only carry around 40-60lbs of equipment at any one time. But as a method of stopping you from walking into the new zone with a complete Pre-War Armory strapped to your belt, it works out well. There were also a couple of dialogue checks before you left which allow you to up this limit to 100 (with Pack Rat perk or a Survival Skill check), which would help those worried about their encumbrance a little more.

Unfortunately, once again, you can't bring your Companions into Zion, having to leave them behind. I could see this being an issue for the human companions, but I was disappointed that I could not bring ED-E along. Surely an armoured, flying suitcase with a high-powered laser would make a good addition to any caravan expedition, but what are you gonna do?

This pack doesn't waste anytime with getting you into the thick of things. You're not in Zion for even a minute before things go belly-up and you're left to fend for yourself against some surprisingly well-armed opponents. One of my attackers was even using an Anti-Materiel rifle for crying out loud!

I've only met a couple of characters since I started. Firstly coming across a surpringly helpful local called Follows-Chalk, who gives you a little bit of backstory and has an interesting little Perk. If he's in your Party and you climb up to a high vista, an old Ranger tower, for example, your map gets marked with a whole bunch of locations in the area. Reminds me a little of tower-climbing in Assassin's Creed, and it's a good way to get the lay of the land.
    The whole area looks nice -- well as nice as it can for the engine. Lots of long vistas and high cliffs, contrasted with narrow and claustrophobic canyons. It's probably the nicest looking area in the game, and a far-cry from the red-misted street crawl of the Sierra Madre. The wild-life is just as friendly as the majority of the locals, with some new varieties of Gekkos and Mantises and the return of the old-Capital Wasteland favourite the Yao Guai. Of course, my All-American Rifle trumps mutant-bear claws any day of the week.

I shut the game off after meeting who I'll expect to be the big draw of the content for people who got into the original game: Joshua Graham, the Burned Man. I wont go into a lot of detail about his involvement, in case people want to play it themselves, but suffice to say he's looking like a nicely fleshed out character. It's what Obsidian does well, after all. His voice actor does a really good job, and he sounds really familiar but I can't place it. I'm sure it'll drive me crazy. It's also kinda refreshing to meet an openly Christian character in the Fallout world. He's not overly preachy, but it's a nice reminder that, even though a few hundred nuclear bombs went off over America, people will still cling to their beliefs.

The story missions seem to be nicely open-ended. I have currently been given free-reign of what appears to be the entire, sizable, DLC area, in order to track down a few pre-war relics. I look forward to having something new to explore, as by now I know the Mojave like the back of my hand.

I haven't had much chance to play around with the new weapons I found -- a .45 Auto Pistol, .45 Submachine gun, War Club -- mainly due to a lack of ammo at the start, so I can't really take about those aspects of gameplay yet. I'm also yet to level up, so I haven't had a chance to see any new perks (oh, btw, the level cap is now 40! Couriers are gonna get pretty damn powerful by the end of this).

All in all, there's some potential here and I hope it pays off in the end.

- - -
Updated: Leveled up high enough to see the new perks, here's what I've seen from the perk list:

Sneering Imperialist, Req: Level 8
"You don't take kindly to raiders, junkies, or tribals trying to "settle" or "stay alive" in civilized lands. Against dirty raider and junkie types as well as Zion's tribals you do +15% Damage and have a bonus to hit in V.A.T.S."

Grunt, Req: Level 8, Guns 45, Explosives 20
"Just good, honest infantry work! You do 25% more damage with 9mm and .45 Auto Pistols and SMGs, Service Rifles, Assault and Marksman Carbines, Light Machine Guns, Frag Grenades, Grenade Rifles and Launchers, and Combat Knives."

Home on the Range, Req: Level 8, Survival 70
"Whenever you interact with a campfire, you have the option of sleeping, with all the benefits that sleep brings."

Tribal Wisdom, Req: Level 8, Survival 70
"Your limbs take 50% less damage from Animals, Mutated Animals, and Mutated Insects, you gain +25% resistance to Poison Damage , and can eat Mutated Insects when you're in Sneak mode."

Fight the Power, Req: Level 10
"You've had enough of the so-called "authorities" pushing poor folks around! You gain +2 Damage Threshold and +5% Critical Chance against anyone wearing the faction armor of the NCR, Legion or Brotherhood."

Eye For Eye, Req: Level 20
"For each crippled limp you have, you do an additional 10% damage."

Posted by DrMcKittrick

Were you able to save anyone in your party during the ambush.  I've done it twice and everybody was wiped out fairly quickly. 

Posted by The_Drizzle

Great report, i would highly appreciate more of your thoughts once you've beat the DLC

Posted by Aishan
@DrMcKittrick: Nope, they died pretty much as soon as The White Legs attacked. Lots of explosions and de-limbing. I'd be surprised if any could survive.
Posted by Arker101
Nice write up, this might get me back into New Vegas. How difficult was it?

"Joshua Graham The Burned Man, he's looking like a nicely fleshed out character. "
I see what you did there.
Posted by rjayb89

Shit's tough in the beginning? Time to pull out my ALL-AMERICAN. And yeah, Obsidian is really stacking up levels. This PC mod that allows me to get a perk per level continues to be awesome.

Posted by Aishan
@Arker101: Hard to say, I've only had a little combat so far in my exploring, but nothing has really presented me with much a threat. This is on the base difficulty, with Hardcode mode off.

Although, I did go in at level 34, with 100 in a few skills (notably Guns and Sneak for combat), and I am armed to the teeth with That Gun, All American, a Brush Gun and a scoped rifle. There's no notice like Dead Money to give you an expected level for the content, so I don't know how hard or easy it would be to go in earlier.

There's a lot of new critters, and I've only come across them as single entities or already damaged enemies, so I can't say for sure. There is one that the name alone should strike fear into any New Vegas veteran: Giant Cazador.
Posted by Jay444111
@Aishan: have you found any skill books so far? Not a one for me yet.

oh, and what about those damn giant green geckos? didn't they give you trouble?  I got killed in THREE hits as soon as I saw one. (tougher than the damn deathclaws!)
Posted by DrMcKittrick

Heads up,  there is a snowglobe in the general store that you can add to your collection at the Lucky 38.  2000 caps too.

Posted by Aishan
@Jay444111: Nope, no sign of any skill books, I wouldn't expect to find many out in the wilderness of Zion though.

I've had really no problems with Green Geckos, most die with one headshot from my Brush gun. The big ones only take a couple more shots to take out -- or just a sneak attack. Again, this could just be a level thing - what level are you?

@DrMcKittrick: Yep, stumbled it across it myself; though I'm not sure I need another 2000 caps when I'm sitting on enough to buy the entire Strip from under Mr. House.
Posted by TheGreatGuero

Very cool, man. I find it crazy you carry such a small amount of stuff. I like to carry EVERYTHING I can, and then store it somewhere and never use it. Go figure, right? I think my play style is pretty unusual, and most of it is even spent crouch-walking, hahaha. Anyway, yeah, I look forward to the DLC. Thanks for the impressions. Some of those new perks sound very nice.

Posted by DrMcKittrick

I must say I'm liking this DLC much more than the last one.

Posted by Aishan
@TheGreatGuero: Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive hoarder. It's just that I leave most of it in the Lucky 38 instead of lugging it around all the time. Got nearly all the unique weapons tucked away in lockers there, and a lovely cabinet full of my spoils from the Sierra Madre.

Speaking of spoils, there's a few really nice items you can find in Zion, including a custom-designed NCR Ranger Combat Armor set (armor and helm) with unique graphics and, best of all, no NCR faction tag on it!
Posted by TheGreatGuero

Sounds good, man. Yeah, I gotta get back to New Vegas, but I still have to finish Fallout 3, which is a game I have concluded may be the last game I ever play, because I don't think I'll ever finish it. I've put in like 250 hours, and still haven't beat the game and probably still need to cover another 25% of the map. Ya know, then beat it again taking different paths. It's hard out here in the wasteland.

Posted by ClaritySam

I've only played an hour or so, but it already seems like a more fun place to explore than the Sierra Madre.  Or the majority of the Fallout 3 DLC to be honest.

Posted by DrMcKittrick

I'm having trouble planting the explosives in the Yari Bear cave or whatever it is.  I walk around and don't see a place to put them.

Posted by Aishan
@DrMcKittrick: They appear like little "ghost" markers on the floor. If you did the Boomers quest in the main game, it was a similar thing to the bouyancy aides there.
Posted by pweidman

Damn, do I really have to go back to that jankyass FO:NV again?   You all are making me think, as I loved the game despite itself, lol.
Posted by Getz
@DrMcKittrick said:
Were you able to save anyone in your party during the ambush.  I've done it twice and everybody was wiped out fairly quickly. 
Almost positive they're supposed to die, because Joshua Graham mentions it when you meet up with him (spoilerz!)
Posted by PerryVandell

Eye for an Eye sounds like the dumbest perk out there. A 10% damage bonus isn't worth a crippled limb. 

Posted by INV2
@DrMcKittrick, @Getz
Yeah, it was a real shame to see Ricky all in pieces...that guy was comedy GOLD!
Posted by DrMcKittrick

Well I finished all the endings.  So far there have been three.  I must say that despite it being shorter than Sierra Madre it was 10x better.  I still advise getting both if you're a Fallout NV fan though.  Getting this content makes me want to go back and get all the other achievements.  I dont think I can play through Hardcore though. 

Posted by INV2
@DrMcKittrick: I just finished it too, it was good. I'm probably in the minority here, but I liked "Dead Money" more. Charcters were more interesting, the story was more interesting. I felt like Zion was a largely empty place. Not enough stuff to do, not enough of a population of enemies, cool weapons, etc. Companions were broing. The perks are boring. I thought Joshua Graham was by far the most intriguing character (and his story line). Still really enjoying New Vegas and ooking forward to the next DLC! Oh also, Hardcore isn't that bad, you just need to play a little differently. Depending on your level and chracter build, "Dead Money" would be very, very difficult to finish on Hardcore though.
Edited by maskedarcstrike
@INV2: I'll agree that Dead Money had more interesting characters and a better story.  But I loved the exploration of HH much more.  The back story of the marine that lived in the caves who fought those people from Vault 22 was pretty interesting though.
@rjayb89: I found it fairly easy to be honest, although a modded Holorifle pretty much makes everything cake.