The Honest Hearts DLC might not be the first of the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, but it’s one of my favorites from the franchise.
If you thought that the world of Fallout was all green tint and radiation, you’d be wrong. The Honest Hearts DLC takes place far north in a former national park, which was spared from the ravages of the Great War.
Part of what I appreciate about Honest Hearts is that it adds to the already extensive lore of Fallout: New Vegas. But more on that later.
On The Road Again
Everything begins with the courier being bombarded with a radio broadcast from a company called Happy Trails, which specializes in running trade caravans around the wastes. They’re a direct competitor of Cassidy Caravans and the Crimson Caravan Company who needs a leg up, or they’ll be playing their swan song in no time.
So the plan was to head north to a settlement called New Canaan, home to the decedents of Mormon Great War survivors in Utah. New Canaan had established their dominance in trade up north, much to the chagrin of larger trade organizations like the Crimson Caravan Company, who are required to pay hefty tariffs in order to establish trade routes with the region.
So you head off, all starry-eyed and ready to collect a sweet paycheck.
Unfortunately for the courier (and his entourage, I guess), things don’t go as planned.
It isn’t long after setting foot in Zion National Park that all hell breaks loose, and thus begins the courier’s work to crack some skulls.
A Little Backstory
Zion had been populated by tribes of folks, living off the land in peace… until the White Legs tribe showed up, that is. The White Legs, who hail from the Great Salt Lake (hence their tribe’s name), have been slowly eliminating rival tribes in the region, and have pushed their way into Zion in pursuit of a tribe called The Sorrows.
Why would they do this, you may ask? Because Caesar demanded the elimination of one of their old members, and his entire people: Joshua Graham. Graham hails from New Canaan, and after surviving his execution after failing Caesar at the Battle of the Hover Dam, he headed home to New Canaan. Not one to leave things be, Caesar offered assimilation of the White Legs into his Legion in exchange for destroying Graham and everything he holds dear.
Cue the complete destruction of New Canaan.
So as Graham and his friend Daniel fled the wrath of Caesar, they brought death and destruction to their homeland, as well as the Sorrows and later Zion’s inhabitants, the Dead Horse tribe.
Honest Hearts puts the responsibility of ending the conflict on the courier’s shoulders, once and for all.
Welcome To Zion
The courier’s exploits in Zion revolve primarily around preparing for dealing with the inevitable battle between the White Legs, Dead Horses, and Sorrows. It’s a darker setting, despite the beauty of the scenery. Zion is dangerous, but still fun to explore. There are a number of ancillary locations to rifle through, including a series of cave systems that previously housed a survivalist.
The story of the survivalist is worth pursuing as well, despite the danger you’ll face. His former hangouts are littered with traps and enemies. The rewards of braving the challenges these locations pose will make it worth your while, and even helps makes sense of why the tribes in the area choose to steer clear of the few remaining pre-war structures. Interestingly enough, the survivalist even established himself (accidentally) as a deity of sorts, and the traps he set to keep enemies at bay reinforced the locals’ fear of pre-war assets.
Honest Hearts puts greater emphasis on exploration than the base game of Fallout: New Vegas. Completing the storyline of the DLC will likely only take a few hours if you don’t get distracted much, but finding every location and delving into the lore a bit will extend the playtime quite a bit. I’d heavily recommend scouring the map, which is relatively small compared to the expanse of the Mojave.
Tearing around Zion also introduces the courier to new weapons and items, namely tribal weapons like Tomahawks and herbal remedies. Poisons also play a big role in the DLC, thanks to the presence of datura, a toxic plant that is native to the area in Fallout. Enemies are well-equipped with firearms such as 12.7mm pistols and submachine guns, brush guns, and some old favorites that hearken back to WWII: .45 ACP pistols and submachine guns, which are known to us as Colt 1911s and Thompsons submachine guns.
That said, there’s little in the form of trade available to you, with the entirety of your transactions taking place with Joshua Graham. While it may seem a little off putting to not have town merchants to deal with, there’s little reason to focus on mercantile. Most of what you’ll run across will be used to exchange for supplies to keep you alive… Zion is a dangerous land after all.
Honest Hearts does a wonderful job of filling in the blanks surrounding the Burned Man (Joshua Graham) and the place he came from, as well as the origins of Caesar himself. It helps paint a picture of the wider reaching consequences of Caesar’s Legion’s campaign to dominate the tribes of the east, as well as what happens when war touches societies that are caught in the crossfire. The end will force you to decide how you want to handle the White Legs, leaving you with few options.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m disappointed with those options. The opposite is true. Shades of moral greyness fit the Fallout universe well, and Honest Hearts carries on with that tradition. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to handle the situation (unless you just decide to kill everyone), and I love when games take that approach.
As far as DLC goes, Honest Hearts is a must-own for anyone interested in extending their experience in Fallout: New Vegas. If not for the lore, then just to get your hands on some sweet guns. Who doesn’t want a Tommy Gun to play with, after all?
In case you missed my review of the base game, take a moment to check it out here: Fallout: New Vegas Review
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