Fallout: New Vegas‘s side-stories had to end somewhere, and I guess the Divide, a landscape ripped apart by frequent earthquakes, violent storms, and heavy amounts of radiation, is rather fitting, especially since it plays home to the original courier tasked to deliver the Platinum Chip, the one that put a hole in your head. All throughout the vanilla game’s adventure and earlier DLC packs, hints have been dropped about this mysterious Ulysses, forcing curiosity upon the cat, making us wonder just why he refused that infamous job. When Ulysses actually reaches out to the Courier via a Pip-Boy message, one certainly feels compelled to head after him and get some freakin’ answers. So long as you can survive the journey there, that is…
It’s easy to call Lonesome Road linear, as that’s exactly what roads are–lines from one point to another, with guardrails and medians to prevent you from getting off track. Unfortunately, the Fallout franchise is at its worst when its restrictive; compare Operation: Anchorage to Point Lookout, Dead Money to Old World Blues. Walking forward is never thrilling, but unfortunately that’s the only way to get to Ulysses. So off you go, but you better have plenty of medicine for radiation and a healthy stock of weapons as the denizens of the Divide are truly nasty. Deathclaws, marked men, and tunnelers will keep you on your toes, and there’s a lot of rads to deal with. The DLC is recommended for higher level players, and that’s definitely some astute advice to follow. Luckily, you don’t have to go alone; while you can’t actually bring your New Vegas companions with you, shortly into the Divide you do pick up a modifiable ED-E, and while he’s not stellar during combat sessions, his upbeat/downtrodden beeping at least keeps you grounded. Also, you learn that you’ve probably been pronouncing his name wrong this whole time.
My biggest complaint about the DLC is with the big man himself, Ulysses. At several checkpoints, he will use ED-E to talk to you, and these chats can seemingly go on for hours. His cryptic dialogue and odd, slow drawl are to blame; some of what he has to say is important, but only if you can read between the lines. It’s like pulling teeth, and towards the end of Lonesome Road I was so fed up with these parts that I began rushing through dialogue trees so that I could shoot him in the face. Whereas the Burned Man in Honest Hearts was a disappointment for not talking enough and living up to the legend, Ulysses digs his own grave–slowly, methodically, fatefully.
The package felt a lot like this: walk forward, shoot some dudes, listen to Ulysses, repeat. There are not many nooks to explore, and there is only one way to go. The final battle was a little unfair too, but that might be because I picked to hurt Ulysses instead of team up with him. Might try that on my next stroll through, whenever that happens.
Lonesome Road‘s best perks are the updates to ED-E, the +5 to your level cap, and that your gear is not stripped at the beginning of the add-on. Other than that, it’s certainly missable DLC, much like Dead Money, and considering most of it is story-vital and not gameplay-vital, just read what happens on a wiki and be glad you didn’t have to deal with all that laborious listening.
At some point, I’ll talk a bit about Gun Runners’ Arsenal, too, as I’m now on my fourth playthrough (go, Rhaegar!) and am trying to go after some of that DLC’s challenges. Which are freaking insane. Kill adult Mojave Wasteland Deathclaws with .22 Pistols, Switchblades, Boxing Tape, Recharger Rifles, or Dynamite? Me thinks not!