1 FNV Yao gai 2

Fallout: New Vegas—Honest Hearts review

Our Verdict

The story and decisions are bigger attractions than the limited-appeal loot and artificially toughened enemies.

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Its heart may be in the right place, but Fallout: New Vegas—Honest Hearts' story puts the unexciting gameplay to shame.

Like the first chunk of FNV DLC, Dead Money, the plot and dialog of Honest Hearts are its strongest features. The two central characters encountered in this open-world tract of Utah desert, Daniel and Joshua, are both post-nuclear Mormons working to save a peace-loving tribe from hostiles, and their passionately argued disagreement as to how to approach the problem creates a real ethical dilemma as you pick a side. Joshua's history—and his link to the events in the Mojave—is great to read into as well.

For sinful wastelanders, it's unfortunate that both solutions have the best interests of the tribals at heart. There's no “evil” or Legion-friendly resolution I could find; I tried opening fire indiscriminately, as a minion of Caesar might, but the psychopathic option makes getting back to “civilization” tough, and doesn't win you the favor of the hostile tribe. I wasn't impressed by the scavenger-hunt quests either, and the two tribal companion characters foisted upon you (one at a time) are competent fighters, but not particularly interesting.

Grand canyons

Utah does have the distinction of looking nothing like FNV's Mojave, and the bright-orange canyons can be beautiful at dusk—though that nifty sun-glare effect has a nasty habit of shining right through cliff walls. Exploration is rewarded with loads of flora to use with potent new recipes, and a background story told through journal entries in the caves, but the rough terrain is sometimes frustrating to navigate.

Honest Hearts does include a healthy portion of tribal-themed loot (mostly attractive for melee and gun-focused characters) but none of the new few perks stand out as essential—a damage bonus to raiders, for example, isn't very helpful when most Mojave raiders are already pretty weak.

It'll be handy against these monstrously thick-skinned hostile tribals while you're here, though. Against Utah's even-more-gianter varieties of the already-enlarged mutant mantises, geckos, spore plants, and really evil cazador wasps (plus reintroduced yao guai bears from Fallout 3), every little bit helps. The yao guai AI is noticably glitchier than normal, though, and I walked away from a few maulings I shouldn't have thanks to the giant bears abruptly deciding to flee. Cowardly bears are the worst bug I encountered, but Bethesda has confirmed a potential game-breaker exists if you're at a certain point in ED-E's quest when you go to Utah.

I wouldn't consider Honest Hearts to be flyover country, but once I'd completed the five hours worth of quest content, nothing here would bring me back.

The Verdict
Fallout: New Vegas Honest Hearts

The story and decisions are bigger attractions than the limited-appeal loot and artificially toughened enemies.