I’ve recently been playing Fallout: New Vegas for the first time ever and I am having a blast! I’ve already dumped 100 hours into the game, I’ve discovered 200+ locations, completed over 60 quest, I’m level 40 and I’m not even close to being done or bored with the game, not to mention I haven’t even entered the Strip. I decided that I should probably get going on with the main story since I’ve been getting sidetracked to so long, but before I progressed I wanted to play some of the dlc, so I decided to start off with Honest Hearts. I wanted to share my opinions on the dlc I have played and review them. The way I’ll be reviewing them is I’ll have 5 main categories: setting, gameplay, story, characters, and loot (because we all know loot is the most important aspect of a dlc). I’ll be giving a score for each category and at the end I’ll give an overall score. I just want to say that this is just my opinion and I’m doing this for fun. Without further a do, here are my thoughts and opinions on Honest Hearts.
Setting: The setting and overall aesthetic of Zion Valley is so wonderful and a fresh breath of air from the barren and well…apocalyptic desert. Zion feels full of life and wonders and although I love the mood and setting of the Mojave Desert, it’s nice to see a change of scenery. I loved swimming through the rivers to get from place to place or climbing to the peak of a mountain and gazing out over the winding rivers, the red hills and mountains looming over you, the ranger stations dotted all around with their towers standing tall, I could go on and on about how beautiful it looks. Exploring all the different caves and reading about the survivalist (whom I’ll talk about later) was really fun! I loved all the wildlife and the Yao Gai made a return from Fallout 3 which is nice to see. Overall, Zion Valley is actually one of my favorite locations in New Vegas. I’m giving the setting of Honest Hearts an excellent 9/10.
Gameplay: Ok this is where Honest Hearts falls flat on it’s face. Compared to the other fun quest we’ve been given in New Vegas, Honest Hearts is fairly disappointing in terms of gameplay. Most of these quest consist of fetching an item and delivering it as if your some lousy courier…and the worst part is that these quest are what make up the entirety of what is labeled as a “main quest line”. It’s a little insulting that a great story with amazing characters and excellent themes is washed down with mindless gameplay. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single quest is a fetch quest with no real creativity. For example, the first quest has you go into multiple cabins, kill bugs, grab lunchboxes, and deliver them. The first quest sets the basis for what very other quest is going to be like. It gets repetitive and boring after some time. However, I want to clarify that I don’t mind fetch quest as long as there is something other than fetching that keeps the quest intriguing. A great example is the vault 22 quest “There Stands The Grass.” This quest seems fairly basic, go into a vault and fetch some data. However, what makes it interesting is the story of how the inhabitants of the vault became infected with a virus that kills them and reanimated them as spore creatures. It’s a really interesting quest even if it is just a fetch quest because there is more to the quest than grabbing items and returning them. Honest Hearts does not provide any uniqueness on its fetch quest and that is what makes the gameplay fail. Although I had fun exploring the environment and finding all the survivalist caves, the lack of unique quest puts the gameplay at a mediocre 3/10.
Story: I absolutely adore the story despite the repetitive quest that go along side it. It was a nice change of pace just having a simple story of a tribe (the sorrows) deciding whether they should leave and preserve their innocence, or stay and fight the White-Legs to defend their land. The themes of honest hearts are really enjoyable, with being themes of retribution and being able to give up something, such as the Sorrows’ innocence, if it means doing what’s needed for the greater good. I also enjoyed the moral dilemma presented by the two main characters in this story, Joshua Graham and Daniel, and how each side was able to be debated and argued over which one is the right one. It’s nice because there is no definite good ending and no definite bad ending, and while some endings may be worser or better than others, it still remains that the endings are usually a shade of gray and can be debated in defense or against with reasonable arguments. Deciding between Daniel and Joshua for the first time was hard for me because on one hand I agreed that teaching the Sorrows how to fight was necessary, but on the other hand I also agreed with Daniel’s statement about how ridiculous it is to fight over a piece of land. I ultimately decided to side with Joshua and spared General Gobbledegook and I have never gotten more closure about a character than before. I loved how you were able to tsk down Joshua and set him on a better path leading to inner peace with himself. Another thought I would like to add is although it’s not part of the main story, reading about the survivalist story was one of the most enjoyable unmarked side stories I’ve ever read. Reading about the legend of the Zion Valley’s boogeyman was exciting and made me feel so many emotions. I felt happiness when the terminals revealed that he fell in love with Sylvia and was about to have a new son, and I also felt my jaw drop as he retold how he had lost his son to be and his new lover. Finding his body and the note was what pushed me towards Joshua Graham’s side and made me respect Randell Clark even more than I already had. My only complaints with the main story are how short it is and the lack of writing on Daniel’s side. I was disappointed by the waste of potential that could have made this story even better than it already was. Overall I rate this story a solid 7.5/10.
Characters: In this category I wanted to go more in depth into the characters of Honest Hearts, especially Joshua Graham. Joshua Graham is such a compelling character and every single word of dialogue he uttered grabbed my attention and I never got bored talking with him. Joshua Graham’s back story and his status as the Burned Man is very intriguing and I was excited to learn more about it. Throughout the game you’ve heard rumors of how Joshua Graham was one tough bastard and an absolute force to be reckoned with. 5 different sniper reports had said that Joshua Graham was finally dead and yet he kept coming back. It was said that Joshua Graham was burned alive and thrown down the Grand Canyon, and yet rumors of him being alive still persist. Joshua Graham is built up to be this evil and very dangerous man who had committed terrible acts across the Mojave and has escaped multiple run ins with death. Upon entering Zion you meet Follows-Chalk and he mentions that a Joshua Graham is alive. This confirms that Joshua did in fact survive being burned alive. The first time I heard this all the rumors and legends surrounding Joshua Graham came flooding back to me and I was very on edge and suspicious of how he would be. You travel to the Dead Horses camp and finally meet Joshua Graham. Joshua Graham was built up to be such a badass and a very feared man and you finally meet him and he is composed, level headed, sorting through piles of his personally designed guns and quoting biblical verses. You have no doubts that if the entirety of the legion army were to March into Zion Valley Joshua Graham would wipe very single one of them out. I was immediately hooked on his character and I loved learning about his backstory of a once Legionary General to a man who wants nothing more than to get revenge on the legion and help the Sorrows win by exterminating the White-Legs. Not to mention Joshua Graham has some of the most memorable and badass quotes in all of gaming; “I was baptized twice, once in water, and once in fire.” One of my favorite bits of dialogue when talking to Joshua is when the courier ask how he survived the fall and Joshua’s response just blew me away and was full of emotion and the delivery was astounding. Joshua talks about how the fire inside him burned more than the one around him and at first you think he is talking about his anger, but then he brings up returning to New Canaan and how they welcomed him back with love and forgiveness. Hearing Joshua talk about how love had kept him alive stuck with me throughout the rest of the dlc and is what made me have hope at the end of the dlc during the confrontation with the White-Legs general that Joshua could be talked down and truly redeemed. Joshua Graham was such a nuanced character and his story that takes place in Zion taught me a very valuable lesson of letting go of revenge and learning to have inner peace. When confronting Joshua during the final battle, the raw emotion displayed when trying to talk Joshua down from killing the general was very impactful and hit hard. I realized in that moment that Joshua still had parts of his past self buried in himself. Joshua was still a very violent man and relished the death and suffering of the White-Legs and he was on the verge of returning back into his past Legion General self. Talking him down was in my opinion the best ending because he truly realized the wrong he was doing. Through his line “I wanted to make my anger God’s anger” it showed me that he was using the Sorrows dilemma and the teachings of god as an excuse to commit mass genocide without remorse and confronting him about it changed him into a better person. Allowing him to kill the general would have gone against everything he believed in and talking him down made him realize that. Although the flame of anger would always burn on inside Joshua, he would be able to temper it and find inner peace with himself. Joshua Graham’s character development and his final slide left me feeling content and satisfied. I absolutely loved Joshua’s character and he is one of my favorite characters in all of gaming. Oh ya Daniel was there too. In regard to Daniel’s character I felt he was severely under written and kind of an nuisance. He treated the Sorrows as children and wouldn’t let them grow and develop into better people because he wanted to preserve their innocence. He was selfish and I fell that he could have been a lot better. Overall, despite the problems with Daniel’s character I feel Joshua Graham’s character makes up for it entirely and that’s why I’m rating the characters a perfect 10/10.
Loot: Oh…my…deathclaw…the loot in honest hearts is perfect. I couldn’t have been happier when I realized I was able to have Joshua Graham’s armor. You also get the awesome Desert Ranger Armor and the Survivalist Rifle which is awesome. Not to mention the new awesome .45 pistols which is one of the coolest pistols in the game. You also get an awesome special variant of the .45 with the most badass name ever: “A Light Shining In Darkness.” It’s one of my favorite weapons in the entire game and is super fun to use. If you did the side quest you also get a pretty cool unarmed weapon called “She’s Embrace” which is the paw of a Yao Gai. The loot in this dlc is amazing—11/10.
Summary: Despite the lack of unique and fun quest I still had a blast playing Honest Hearts. The setting and aesthetic of Zion Valley was awesome to explore and experience and I honestly felt kind of sad leaving it behind. The story, all be it simple, was a nice break from all the terrible disasters and life threatening situations that happen in the Mojave. The character of Joshua Graham was the excellent and the writing that went behind him was some of the best I’ve seen so far in New Vegas. Joshua Graham has become one of my favorite characters in gaming and I will always remember his legend and his journey to inner peace. The survivalist’s, aka Randell Clark, story was very fun and enjoyable to read about on the terminals scattered around Zion. I really felt bad for his situation and I admired his legend as the Zion Valley Boogeyman. The loot is some of my favorite in New Vegas and Joshua Graham’s armor is probably my favorite armor in the game. Overall, I really enjoyed Honest Hearts and I had a blast playing it. Without further a do I’m going to give the dlc Honest Hearts a solid 8/10.
If you read all the way to the end, thanks! I know it was long but I wanted to write down all of my thoughts and express how I felt my first time playing through the New Vegas dlc. I had fun writing this and I’ll continue to review the other dlc’s. I just finished Dead Money so I’ll be writing about that dlc next. Thanks again for reading all the way to the end and I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts and opinions on Honest Hearts!
- Randall Clark’s Story Broke Me
- Stories from Appalachia.(Short fanfiction)
- My journey through the Zion Canyon was a selfimposed hell and I didn’t even realise it until it was too late
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