Tag Archives: DLC

Marriage is a fine institution, but not in Skyrim

skyrim_mara_wedding

Over the weekend, I got married. The day before I got married, I got engaged, and it was a sunny, clear day, with chickens skittering around on the ground and dragons roaring in the baby blue sky above. Couldn’t imagine it any differently. I didn’t really know the woman I just promised to share my life with too well, but she seemed more than eager, and in a realm like Skyrim you only live once. I immediately fast-traveled to the Temple of Mara to speak with the priest and prepare everything. There was little work for me to actually do. He said to get some rest and come back tomorrow. I took a thirteen hour nap in the temple’s basement. Upon coming upstairs, I was surprised to see the guests had all arrived–though none looked like any of my friends. Where was Hadvar? The Greybeards? Before a candlelit altar, the priest said some elegant words, and my bride-to-be and I shared our vows. When the ceremony ended, she turned, started to say something to me about a “happy life,” and exited the temple in mid-sentence. I rushed outside, deeply worried about my new wife and the possibility she might have a concussion, and discovered that she had vanished entirely from Riften. It truly was a Skyrim moment.

So, for those curious, I married Avrusa Sarethi. This piece of Dunmer flesh and mind:

Avrusa

Meooow. At first, I was just turning in a quest. See, she asked me long ago to find like twenty Jazbay Grapes, and after discovering that a merchant in my fully restored Thieves Guild hideout sold them, I just bought one or two each time I visited the place until I had enough to complete the miscellaneous task. Think she needed them for potions or Nirnroot stuff. However, before I gave her the grapes, I noticed a dialogue option that basically went, “Ya want dis?” Nice to know that she was interested in me long before I did the quest for her; otherwise, that’s just guilt driving her forward, which would never last.

Currently, Lohgahn is level 47, married, and totally alone. He adopted a kid some time back out of generosity for an Achievement, and I think that young boy resides in Breezehome–by himself–but it’s hard to remember as I have four houses currently, thanks to the Hearthfire DLC. Here’s hoping that my dear Avrusa disappeared to one of my many abodes, because having a spouse offers some gameplay bonuses, like free food and he or she will shop for you while you’re out slaying dragons and finding Word Walls. Not sure how much of that is useful at this point in the game when I have all the money in the world to buy food and ingredients, but it’s kind of neat if a bit old-fashioned. When I’m up to all the fast-traveling and loading screens, I’ll go around the realm and check all my houses to see where she ended up, if she is even alive. If not…well, that’s another blog post.

Regardless, with the words said and before my new wife could hightail it back to Sarethi Farm, this Achievement popped:

SR-achievement-Married
Married (10G): Get married

And truthfully, that’s what marrying in Skyrim is all about: showing off.

So far, Red Faction: Armageddon asks very little, gives even less

red-faction-armageddon impressions

I initially balked at the Humble THQ Bundle, confused by what it was. Certainly not indie, which was taken away from the collection’s overall title, but far from humble, too. These are triple A titles from a major company. So I slept on it. In the end, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to play Darksiders, Metro 2033, and Red Faction: Armageddon for the low, low entry fee of a buck. Yeah, that’s right; I went as low as I could. No need for me to go above and beyond the average amount paid for Saints Row: The Third, a fantastically fun videogame that I already own for the Xbox 360 and have played to nearly completion (minus the lackluster DLC). And I highly doubt there will ever come a day that I actually install the three Company of Heroes games, let alone one of them. I am so not interested in real-life war games. Oh well.

And for $1–or really $0.33 if you break it up between the three games I wanted from the whole caboodle–Red Faction: Armageddon is functionally fine. But that doesn’t absolve it from being a horribly backwards sequel that strips away everything that made Red Faction: Guerrilla a fun time: an open world, the freedom to destroy what you wanted and how you went about it, the various modes for online play, the impact a sledgehammer could deliver. And more, surely. Now, for those that don’t remember–heck, even I kind of forgot this–I played the demo for Armageddon back in May 2011, not really finding too much to talk about within it. I walked down a dark corridor and shot some alien monsters off walls, as well as reconstructed some ruined platforms and staircases. Yeah, very different from the previous outing.

In this one, you play as Darius Mason, another checkbox in a long list of white, disgruntled-looking, bald videogame protagonist men. Don’t get him confused with other bald, white men in the game. It is 2017, and he must reclaim cultist fortifications on the disaster-ravaged surface of Mars, as well as defend colonists from hostile Martian creatures thriving in the mines and chasms below. To do this, Mason will use various tools and weapons, such as the Nano-Forge and Magnet Gun, to dish out destruction or repair what’s fallen. He will also walk forward in a straight line and shoot swarms of alien monsters to death before repeating this process a few feet further down. The plot is dished out in small, predictable chunks, with characters being stock and uninspiring, and Mason as a action movie star wannabe. Really, his one-liners need to stop.

Then again, the plot in Guerrilla wasn’t that great, but the openness of the world and the freedom of your tools more than made up for that. Here, in Armageddon, all that is gone. It is a non-stop corridor crawl. Dark corridors too, filled with the same swarms of alien monsters which you can kill in one melee hit so don’t bother trying to shoot them in the shadows. The game occasionally teases you by bringing you above-ground, but it’s still just a straight run or vehicle-driven sequence that does not encourage exploration. In fact, if you stray too far from the zone where all the fighting is going down, you get a warning message from the game coupled with a countdown to return to the fight. I have to imagine if you don’t by the time the countdown ends, it’s game over. Yeah, none of that.

Overall, despite a fun set of tools at your side like the Magnet Gun and that super powerful sledgehammer, Armageddon is shockingly boring. You just follow a guided path and kill monsters along the way until you get to a cutscene or new section, doing it all again. Boss fights are uninteresting, requiring little skill and thought and just a better ability to roll out of danger while continuing to fire your assault rifle. I’ve been playing on the Normal difficulty, and it’s felt a little like Godzilla squashing a city of people; haven’t died once, haven’t run out of ammo, haven’t really found myself in a tough pickle. According to my upgrades wheel, I’m almost 75% through the story. Think that’s three or four more levels to slog through.

The Humble THQ Bundle recently added in the Path to War DLC for free since I already purchased the collection. I have no idea what it is and entails, but I imagine it is just more of the same missions from the main game. I’ll give it a try once I finish off Armageddon‘s campaign, as well as try some of the multiplayer options, before shelving the game for good and remembering back to the good ol’ times I had with the franchise back in Red Faction II and Guerrilla.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #30 – Borderlands 2, Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty DLC

Pirate-themed desert
Home to back-stabbing captain
Anti-climatic

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Master Architect says a house is a machine for living in

Actually, Le Corbusier said that, but what does he know–he didn’t spend countless hours fast-traveling and staring at the same ol’ loading screens in Skyrim‘s Hearthfire DLC to gather the numerous and welcome-to-encumbrance building materials, such as clay, quarried stone, and iron ingots, to build three houses that are void of character and personality and truly, without a doubt, not worth all the effort. Really–don’t bother building your own house, especially if you’re already pretty far into the game, wherein you likely already own a home in one of the many cities, such as Breezehome in Whiterun or Honeyside in Riften. Those cost the same base price as your own plot of land, but require a whole lot less work, giving you more time to kill that bandit leader in Cave X or find your twentieth Jazbay Grapes.

Housing in Bethesda’s games has always been a pesky business. For Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, you had a few options to call home, but they were not very exciting. In the former game, I shacked up in Megaton, covering my bed in teddy bears and the shelves with rare trinkets–if I could figure out how to properly move and place an item via an Xb0x 360 controller. Your only other choice was staying in Tenpenny Tower, which came with some neat themes, but required going through a lot of load screens to simply access. Too much waiting, not enough storing of loot, if you asked me. For New Vegas, pickings got even slimmer. Some hotels offered a permanent room, and if you felt like going through a lot more loading screens, you could keep your prizes in the Lucky 38 presidential suite. Strangely, your best place to call home is at The Sink, a futuristic homebase brimming with goodies. Oblivion had a few homes that you could earn through quest completion as well, but I never really used them as once you joined a guild, that became my place to store stuff and rest comfortably.

You could always find places to…let’s call it…squat. Abandoned houses or shacks that seemed ready to be yours, but at an invisible risk. See, while they might have containers or places to store you treasured treasure, there was no was to know if that container was safe or would respawn its contents in a few day, thus erasing yours completely. Unless you used the Internet, of course, but that’s never fun. I’d rather sell off items than lose them to a coding abyss.

So, unfortunately, while the three houses in Hearthfire look pretty cool once totally complete–that’s Lakeview Manor, Windstad Manor, and Heljarchen Hall–they are not fun to build and require, at least for me, a ton of back and forth, as I’m not the sort of character who just carries around 100 iron ingots at a time. You spend a lot of time looking at menus or watching your character mine for quarried stone, which is as exciting as it sounds. And after all that, you really have little input over how your house turns out. Sure, you can place tables and chairs and barrels and weapon racks, but they go where the game designer decided they should go. All you are doing to spending your materials to place it there. Your house is not your vision. And that’s a big bummer. I was hoping to be able to have a trophy room that was filled with my kind of trophies, like a thousand scattered troll skulls, presented in my way. Instead, no. It is a model home, and nothing more. Again, you might as well purchase a house in one of the cities, which is a model house too, but cheaper and easier to fill in.

You can also hire a bard for your house, as well as make any follower a steward. The steward helps a lot in ordering building materials for you which go directly to the chest by the workbench, but only to that chest. If you need that clay for your other house, you best make room in your inventory. The steward can also bring in animals or furnish your rooms completely for a small fee. It’s okay, but came across as very robotic, especially when one is ordering piles of wood after piles of wood after piles of wood.

In short, I wasn’t expecting Minecraft, but definitely some more flexibility for creativity. I mean, I couldn’t even pick the place to build my house, ruining my dream of shacking up right next to the Thieves Guild.

But yeah. This is one Achievement definitely earned with stubbornness and patience, backed by a numbing soundtrack of clinking hammers and thumping hammers:


Master Architect (10G): Build three houses

Here’s hoping that player housing changes quite dramatically in Fallout 4 and whatever the next Elder Scrolls ends up being. Here’s hoping…

Five things I still need to do in Skyrim

At the same time that I splurged on Mark of the Ninja–more on that fantastic stealth-stabby game later, I promise–I also picked up the second DLC item for the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s called Hearthfire, not Heathfire or Healthfire as I’ve been constantly seeing it misspelled across the Internet in the days since its birth, and it only costs 400 Microsoft Points. The low cost is low because there isn’t actually a whole lot of content in the pack; it basically gives you three spots to build a house of your own, and then you have to grind for materials like iron ingots and nails and chopped wood to actually build it and fill it with items. I’ve only just begun filling my Lakeview Manor with storage barrels and shelves to place my filled grand soul gems. Nothing terribly amazing, and it seems like this kind of Minecraft-esque stuff is better suited for somebody just starting out on their adventure to rid the realm of evil dragons than me currently who already owns a house in two different holds.

But at least I’m back in the game for the time being. Finishing up a few quests while selling some items and emptying my digital backpack of potions I’ll never use–like anything related to breathing under water for X seconds. And so, I got to thinking, and here are five things I’ve yet to do in Skyrim after playing the game as one single character for upwards of 95 hours.

Ride a horse

Look, if you could hop on a horse and ride it in first-person perspective all while still wielding a bow and arrow or sword and magic spell…then yeah, I’d be all for that. I play these Bethesda games in this perspective and this perspective only; moving out of it breaks immersion and really comes across as just goofy and dangerous to one’s safety. But no, if you get on horseback, you must ride in third person, and that’s not for me.

Get married

Haven’t really given it much thought, to be honest. From what I can tell, being married in Skyrim is a bit…old-fashioned. You gain a spouse who makes you food and takes care of your home. Great. Not really. I’m curious to see if I can adopt a child without being married after I finish building my house; if not, I guess I’ll go hunting for a favorable partner. Vex sounds ideal /sarcasm.

Find the Dark Brotherhood

Please note there that I said find, not join. I haven’t even been contacted by them yet, and I guess for that to happen I’d have to openly murder somebody who didn’t deserve it. Like, not a bandit cave leader or blood dragon. Hmm. That’s not really how I play, so it is unlikely this will every happen on my first character. Maybe if I ever roll a new dude, but that might not happen for a long time–if ever. I know, call me crazy. Except you should know I never did many Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion either. So there, fantasy murderers.

Learn any spell above the novice level

I’m no Harry Potter, y’all. When I need healing, I use a potion or eat some cheese. When I need to weaken a foe, I poison my arrows and loose them from afar. I’ve done the occasional spell to clear webs or gain entrance into the School of Magic, but that’s been it. Not my style of combat.

Kill a giant

Everybody did it at the beginning of the game. You see some mammoths and head over to check them out. Then a giant comes stomping at you, swings violently with his club, and sends you flying into the sky with one hit. Instant death. Lesson learned. Since then, the only times I’ve come across giants has been in groups of three or four, and I’m scared to take on one for fear of three more seeking revenge. Plus the mammoths, too. So, yeah. All those giant’s toes in my bag? I stole them.

So, those are my things still to do/things to never do in Skyrim. What about you? What have you not done yet in a world that seems to never run out of quests or ways to occupy your time? Catch a butterfly?

Still a hundred and one things to do in Skyrim

Over the weekend, after putting some healthy time and work into my newest and craziest comics project thus far, I played some more Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I kind of wanted to see if I needed the recently released DLC Dawnguard just yet or if I could hold off for a wee bit. Aye, seems like I need not rush. Will explain more on that in just a moment, but for right now, check out these two Achievements I pinged after over 90 hours of traversing the realm and being all sneaky and meticulous:


Thief (30G): Pick 50 locks and 50 pockets


Delver (40G): Clear 50 dungeons

For the Thief one, I most definitely picked over 50 locks a long, long time ago. It was the pickpocketing that took forever. Despite my love and desire to always play a sneaky sneaker, I generally roleplay it in the way that keeps me a great distance from enemies and people. So there is little chance for me to steal from bandits since I’m filling them with arrows from across the room, which leads to me robbing from unaware citizens of Whiterun as they snoozed or were out for a morning walk. Shame on me, but whatever. The Delver Achievement one just requires you to kill all enemies in a dungeon/cave, and sometimes I wanted nothing more than to escape back out to sunlight, leaving a single dude or bear still breathing. Didn’t take long to clear out a few, especially since I was working on a lot of miscellaneous quests where you are tasked with killing the bandit leader, often hiding out in a cave.

Oh, and that miscellaneous quest log? It’s never ending. Still there, still growing. I cleared out a few, but still have plenty to keep me busy, as well as the larger, more story-driven quests. Mainly trying to restore the Thieves Guild to its former glory. I think I’m two-fifths of the way there, as I’ve now gotten to complete two big quests to get cities to support us and bring in new merchants to the Ragged Flagon. But it’s slow going. Basically, you have to do a bunch of small thieving jobs in a randomly picked city, and once you do a certain amount you can then do a special task for Devan which will then help you improve the Thieves Guild. All in all, a whole lot of back and forth, which in Skyrim terms means fast travel loading screens.

So, right now, with a long laundry list of things to do, I just don’t see Dawnguard happening immediately yet. But I will get there, if only for the crossbow action. Not really interested in being a vampire. But spearing one from afar with a magical crossbow? Yes please.

Took some time, but I finally stepped up to the challenge in Fallout: New Vegas

The Gun Runners’ Arsenal DLC for Fallout: New Vegas added a number of things to the desolate and barren play-realm known to all as the Mojave Wasteland. Mostly weapons, obviously, but also new recipes , ammunition types, gun mods, and–the topic of today’s blog post–in-game challenges. These new challenges are given different ranks, ranging from one star to three stars, and are tied to some Achievements. Also, they ain’t easy, like the “kill 10 bloatflies” ilk.

Anyways, a few weeks ago, as I continued slowly down the path to a Mr. House playthrough, I finished off a third one-star challenge, earning this little darling:


Up to the Challenge (20G): Completed any three Gun Runners’ Arsenal (GRA) one star (*) Challenges.

Now, there are a total of six possible one-star challenges, and, of them, four seemed doable. The other two? No. No way, no how. One asked of me to kill Mr. House with a golf club, which went against my entire playthrough, and the other wanted the Courier to obliterate animals with the Fat Man or Fat mines, of which I’ve never used either before in all my long hours. And so I went after the reasonable ones: cripple five right arms with a shotgun, kill 15 robots using a 5.56mm pistol, kill 15 feral ghouls using specific weapons, or destroy 10 abominations–which range from evolved centaurs to spore carriers–using things like katanas, dynamite, machetes, and throwing spears. It’s a lot of specifics, and unfortunately for my Courier, that meant constantly carrying around a lot of different weapons just in case a situation popped up where I could use X against Y to obtain Z.

Right. I was able to cripple arms and kill robots rather easily as I went along my merry way, but a third challenge constantly seemed far off. I was not interested in fighting feral ghouls, and abominations seemed few and far between as the Courier stuck to the main storyline path based around the Strip. That is until I went to Vault 22. That place is full of horrible creatures not right for this world, but it wasn’t just a matter of slicing them to pieces. Because my Courier is high in guns and low in melee and throwing weapons, I would first try to lower a spore carrier’s health–without killing it in one shot, natch–before finishing it off with a thrown spear to the face. This worked a couple times, but then I ran out of spears. So it was jungle fever action time with a machete, and I had to use a lot of health/food items to make it out alive. But regardless, I did it, and it felt nice to have one challenge-based Achievement dead and done.

However, the other two are looking like even bigger mountains to climb. I already failed my attempt to get two via fighting Caesar, and it is highly unlikely I’m going to go and punch some Deathclaws to death, considering just how much they freak me out. I can’t seem to sneak machine guns into the casinos to kill Chairmen, White Gloves, and Omertas. Burning Cazadors to a crisp is risky business, and I think I’ve done it twice so far. It’s all looking hopeless. But we’ll see. I mean, I guess that’s why they are called challenges.

Achievements of the Week – The Gambling Rear Entry Escape Edition

Weed, soup, faux air hockey, and Zombine attacks. That about sums up my week on the Xbox 360, but for further clarification, let’s take a look at some Achievements that popped. I’m getting close to 30,000 Gamerscore, which is exciting to nobody but me, and that means I will have to try really hard to get it to land on 30,000 exactly for blogging purposes. You may all start waiting in anticipation starting…now!

Okay, let’s do this.

From L.A. Noire…

So, back duringthose tempting Black Friday sales, I purchased some Microsoft Points and downloaded the remaining two DLC cases I’ve yet to play so far for L.A. Noire. Namely, they are Reefer Madness and A Slip of the Tongue. As always, they were enjoyable and strongly plotted, but far too short again. I finished both in one sitting. I guess, ultimately, this is the type of game I just want more, more, and more of. Sigh…


Femme Imbécile (20G): Correctly branch every question in the interview with Jean Archer.

On my first try, too, without even knowing this Achievement existed! Love that.


Forcible Rear Entry (20G): Enter the Las Palmas stash house via the back door and kill Juan Garcia Cruz.

NO COMMENT.


Soup in the Pot (20G): Open both soup cans in Juan Garcia Cruz’s stash room.

My OCD to check everything lead to this popping. Mental sickness for the win!

From Beyond Good & Evil HD…


Gamble King 2 (15G): Win 3 times in the pellet game against Francis

I think I built this minigame in my mind to be tougher than it actually was. Haven’t played it in so long, and I do remember a lot of grumbling at one point. From me, that is. Francis was loving winning all of Jade’s money back then. But beating Francis three times in 2011 did not take long, just persistence and a keen awareness of where all the pellets are at any given time. Will need to play again later though to win his pearl, but that’s for later.

From Half-Life 2: Episode One…

After Half-Life 2 glitched out on me and ruined all my progress, I said “frak it” to no one in particular and moved on to the next game in the series, which is more of a bite-size experience, but still fun since the gravity gun mechanics remain pivotal to surviving.


Citizen Escort (15G): Don’t let any citizens die when escorting them to the escape train.

Only had to reload a few times due to this one silly citizen constantly getting stuck on a ladder and getting a chest full of bullets for it. Silly citizens.


Escape from City 17 (20G): Escape City 17 with Alyx.

On to Half-Life 2: Episode Two…soonish! I swears it.

How did y’all do this week? If you don’t tell me in the comments section below, I’ll never know.

Games Completed in 2011, #31 – Fallout: New Vegas, Lonesome Road DLC

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!

Games Completed in 2011, #29 – Fallout: New Vegas, Old World Blues DLC

First, some Grinding Down linkage as I’ve already written a bit about this third DLC package for Fallout: New Vegas. Go on and catch up; I’ll wait:

There ya go.

After completing Old World Blues, I had decided that it was the vanilla game’s finest add-on, having not even played Lonesome Road yet at that point. With all four DLC now finished off, I can confirm that, yes, it is still the best of the bunch. Further proof: no other DLC to date dares call your fingers and toes penises.

Old World Blues begins with the Courier being transported to the Big MT research crater, a place thriving with robots and Old World mentality. A strange group of post-human researchers collectively known as the Think Tank take your brain out of your skull and then ask for your help. Cue Michelle Tanner: “How rude!” Off you go to explore the Big Empty, which is not as barren as you might expect, battle dangerous foes–such as robo-scorpions, nightstalkers, cyberdogs, lobotomites, and, if you have a certain trait turned on, one freakishly small, but deadly Deathclaw–and find the craziest equipment science can think up. It’s a grand ol’ time.

The DLC opens up with one extremely lengthy cut of chatter, but the writing and voice-acting make it worth sitting through. Kudos to Jim Ward, Cam Clarke, Jocelyn Blue, and James Urbaniak for really selling these robots as once human beings. After all that talking, the Courier then gets to go out and explore, but it’s no place to just go gallivanting about. Recommended for Couriers around LV 15 or higher, I found parts pretty difficult still at LV 28. Getting attacked by three nightstalkers is no walk through the park, and there’s a severe lack of available ammo to begin with; thankfully, one does eventually pick up the X-2 Antenna, a unique melee weapon that works wonders against enemies with either soft or hard skin. As you play, you’ll begin to upgrade the Sink, your home away from home, and the amount of new things is astounding; I now actively seek out random junk like cameras, hot plates, and irons because Toaster, which is an evil toaster, can break them down for me into microfusion and energy cells.

Both the DLC’s main quest and side quests are equally rewarding. “Picking Your Brains” is a side quest that has you talking to all the robotic doctors in the Think Tank, and while you may be tired of chatting with these super egos after the long intro, I suggest still doing it. You can gain some decent XP with skill checks, as well as early information about Ulysses and Father Elijah. “Field Research” will help make your biological research station and Blind Diode Jefferson even better–like that’s possible, you quip. “Sonic Emitter Upgrade” does exactly what it says on the tin, but it’s well worth the time as the Sonic Emitter is a powerful Energy gun that has a variety of mods to it, my favorite being Gabriel’s Bark, which rocks a unique “critical strike knockback” effect.

I’m hesitant to dive back into the Big Empty so soon on my fourth playthrough, but once I’m around, say, LV 20, I think I’ll risk it. It’s a pity to let such an awesome base go to waste for too long into Fallout: New Vegas, plus many of the perks gained from completing the DLC are important to creating a strong character. If there’s one DLC to get, this is it. Also raises your level cap by 5. Science!