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Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues DLC Review

The Fallout experience has always been about a detailed and immersive post-apocalyptic world and the last few expansions have failed to capture this atmosphere. However, Old World Blues takes a different approach and sees the Courier visiting The Big Empty, a mysterious centre for science that remains isolated from the rest of the Mojave.

Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues

Upon loading the DLC, the level cap is raised by 5 and you’re informed of a new radio signal emanating from the Mojave Drive-in. Travelling to this location triggers the Courier’s transportation to Big MT; a crater that once housed the leading scientific minds of a generation. In the aftermath of the Great War the crater has remained largely isolated leaving a rich mine of technology waiting to be plundered. However, the crater is far from empty leading to a brilliantly conceived story that leaves plenty of scope for exploration and looting.

Old World Blues instantly succeeds by allowing you to carry as much equipment as you like into the main story, which allows well-equipped characters a distinct advantage. It also avoids the petty frustrations of Dead Money and Honest Hearts where you felt deliberately handicapped at the beginning of the quests without good reason. The other brilliant decision is to make the story immediately engaging and plunge you straight into the deep end without patronising the player.

Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues

The Courier finds himself in a nicely designed central hub that not only acts as a good base for the expansion, but also as a permanent home during the main game. Without wanting to give too much of the story away, you must work with a strange set of characters to help battle the enigmatic, deranged Doctor Mobius. This villain is one of the highlights of Old World Blues who will constantly attempt to thwart your actions by unleashing his deadly “Robo-scorpion army”. Frankly, there’s very little cooler than a giant robotic scorpion that fires deadly lasers out of its metallic stinger.

Throughout The Big Empty all the characters are truly superb, with great voice acting and clever, funny dialogue. There are some brilliant quips, witty exchanges and even the chance to sexually excite a robot with a human fetish. It’s an unusual and fresh expansion that never takes itself too seriously and exploits some great science fiction clichés to good effect. The main quest itself is quite long, varied and the environments are both richly designed and detailed.

Perhaps most importantly the new weapons and equipment are particularly satisfying to use and there is something here for all characters. There are powerful energy weapons (the LAER and the Sonic Emitter), deadly melee ones (the Protonic Inversal Axe) and a very nice unique silenced sniper rifle. Perhaps the best weapon is the K9000 Cyberdog Gun, a magnum grade machine gun which has a living dog’s brain inside it. There’s a pleasing level of madness to the new arsenal and experimenting with them is a real joy. Even the passive items such as clothes and hats are great and there are several very valuable and useful variants hidden throughout the Big MT crater.

Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues

Enemy wise, Old World Blues has an equally diverse selection ranging from the aforementioned awesome Robo-scorpion legions to corpses trapped inside medical suits (that usually come packing serious weaponry). The Big Empty has a lot of different enemies and there are only a handful of reused foes from the main game, although even their presence is quite satisfying. These recycled creatures fit in with the wider story and their origins are tied to the history of the scientific facility itself and it never feels like laziness on the part of the developers.

Alongside the great writing and characterisation, one of the best parts of Old World Blues is the crater itself. The environment brings to mind Point Lookout in that you have a good-sized but cleverly constructed area to explore. Whereas Honest Hearts attempted something similar, it was quite a dull environment and never felt fun or interesting to travel across. Big MT has over 30 locations and virtually all have unique items or subtle story elements hidden within them. Exploring hasn’t felt this satisfying and interesting since Fallout 3 and at times Old World Blues feels superior to Fallout: New Vegas itself. The environment feels like an optimum size: it is small enough for each location to be carefully crafted but large enough to keep you busy searching every nook and cranny.

Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues

Even more satisfying is the inclusion of several interesting ties to other expansions, including more tantalising hints at the forthcoming Lonesome Road DLC and the mysterious and sinister Ulysses. There is also backstory concerning Father Elijah from Dead Money (alongside some of his own powerful weapons), which actually helped to clarify and enhance wider events going on in the Mojave.

Pleasingly for a Fallout expansion there were very few bugs, which is something of a first after the maddening mess that was Dead Money with its endless crashes and glitches. Old World Blues ran smoothly and we never had to reload a save or fine a workaround, which is hopefully something that will now be standard for all future content packs. Graphically, the pack is rather limited and there is certainly prevalence for brown and grey, especially in the exterior environments. However, the audio is consistently strong with very good voice acting and several new songs included on the radio. There are some new perks, which are a little disappointing in comparison to some of those introduced during Fallout 3’s expansions. Yet, the extra options and the ability to alter your starting traits is definitely a clever inclusion that allows you to make adjustments to a long-term protagonist.

Old World Blues isn’t a perfect expansion. Most of the quests are merely about recovering items, but most locations have other stories and tasks to get involved in which help add some diversity. Despite this minor criticism the title is still very strong and constantly feels engaging and there is always something to spur you onto the next cave, facility or building. Your central hub for the expansion, “The Sink” is also great and recovering holodisks to reactivate unique items, each with distinct personalities, is a really memorable quest. A deranged mug-obsessed robot (Muggy) and a psychotic, violent toaster are two real highlights that will have you laughing.   

This is easily the best expansion for Fallout: New Vegas and one of the most enjoyable in the whole series to date. It is great value for money, has a clever and entertaining plot and plenty to occupy you. The new content is satisfying, powerful and the locations fun to explore and well designed. Old World Blues is exactly what a Fallout expansion should be: immersive, post-apocalyptic and full of laser-firing robotic scorpions. There’s no higher recommendation than that.

9.00/10 9

Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

The Fallout experience has always been about a detailed and immersive post-apocalyptic world and the last few expansions have failed to capture this atmosphere. However, Old World Blues takes a different approach and sees the Courier visiting The Big Empty, a mysterious centre for science that remains isolated from the rest of the Mojave.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield

Writer

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