Spoiler Warning S5E23: Elijah’s Interocitor

By Shamus
on May 26, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I think I’ve figured it out. Here is how to make an expansion pack for a Fallout game:


  1. Make one new area motif. Now use it. Everywhere.
  2. Make one new weapon. Make sure it’s way overpowered.
  3. Make one new enemy model. Now use it. Everywhere. Make sure it’s crazy powerful so it can stand up to the overpowered weapon you added.
  4. Take away all player inventory.
  5. Take away all player choice.
  6. Take away the looting & bartering mechanics.
  7. Add one binary choice at the end, because then you can claim the DLC has “player choice”.

They don’t all follow this list, of course. But if you look at Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta, the pattern is there. Dead Money looks to be following that template as well. I don’t know. Haven’t played it myself. I watched Josh play Dead Money for 40 minutes this weekend. It looks better than the Fallout 3 DLC, but that’s a very, very small accomplishment.

I guess I’ll see how it turns out along with the rest of you.

I really hate this guy, how about I shoot his dumb ass?

You can’t. Bomb collar.

What about this guy?

Bomb collar.

Can I leave the-

Bomb collar.

Can I sneak by-

Bomb collar.

Maybe I should just steal-

Bomb collar.

Fine, I quit. I’ll go play the Witche-

Bomb collar.

You’re a jerk, you kn-

Bomb collar.

Man, I wish they would let me write videogames. This is easy!

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A Hundred!20204144 comments. Or one gross, if you'll pardon the expression.

From the Archives:

  1. Jeremy says:

    This reminds me of the DLC for Red Dead Redemption. I refuse to speak the name, because I think it ruined that game forever.

    Oh well. I guess all game companies are susceptible to the ‘Young 7 Step Program to Expansion Packs.’

  2. Deadpool says:

    The Companions are interesting, but yes the bomb collars, the ghost people (who have to be mutilated in order to REALLY die) and the poison clouds made this REALLY annoying.

    Holograms too… Basically, the whole concept of the “null area” being pretty much EVERYWHERE is incredibly annoying…

    • Someone says:

      I really don’t understand the whole “Wound Limbs” shtick. I remember the PR blurb pitched it as some sort of a revolutionary idea in Fallout manshooting, but it’s really not, as you almost always end up just bringing the enemies to 0 hp and then walking up to them and shooting off their fingers or something. I mean it’s not hard and it’s nothing new, as the combat unravels in the same way it did before (VATS->Headshot->Headshot->Headshot).

      One thing I did like about Ghost People was that their animation made it really hard to reliably hit them in the head with ironsights, which is, at least, some variety from all the encounters in the Mojave.

      • MrWhales says:

        Well, i think it was intended for a better purpose when they thought of it. Now it is just kinda a last resort when you can’t headshot someone, you can just shoot their leg so they cant keep up and run. Or shoot the gun out of their hand. or their arm so they will miss.

  3. SyrusRayne says:

    Rutskarn’s closing sentiments made the video for me.

    • Veloxyll says:

      They were the only high point. I barely paid attention to the rest of the video. The book reading was nice too.

    • Halfling says:

      Hahaha it was amazing.

      Rutskarn trolls everyone pleads for mercy and the credits roll so perfect.

      He also has a very nice book reading voice. Though it reminds me I have friends that I need to make read Song of Ice and Fire.

      • ps238principal says:

        How could Ruts possibly remind you of Roy Dotrice? Rutstkarn might out pun Roy, but he can’t come close to Dotrice’s delivery and vocal talents.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      INDEED.

      It was amazing.

      Shamus may be complaining about staring at the guy’s bars the entire time, but that pun will hang with us until tomorrow’s episode.

  4. blizzardwolf says:

    I’m a plot junkie, so I fully explore the dialog trees of every NPC that will talk to me in games. So when I finally got to Dead Money, I had already talked to Veronica and and learned her history, along with the rest of the Brotherhood’s, with Father Elijah. There’s a good bit of mystery to be found relating to him, so when I found out he wasn’t just gonna be some faceless anecdote I went “Squee!”

    That said, the story, subplots, and setting of Dead Money were interesting enough (for me) to pay for most of it’s other shortcomings. I liked the desolate, ruined atmosphere, which was a nice change from the sunny Mojave. And the premise of breaking into what amounts to a security fortress was another squee moment for me.

    However you’re right about the enemies, and toward the end of the first half I was so sick of ticking off mooks in between objectives that i ended up committing the cardinal sin of God Mode just so I could get through what by then was just busy work before the world ended.

    The plot, setting, and premise were really the strong points of Dead Money, but those also require the most initiative from the player to shine through. Patient gamers are fine taking the time to check and read every terminal, talk out every NPC, and dig up every scrap of plot exposition no matter how far-flung. But that’s time consuming, and for every gamer who doesn’t want to go to that much trouble, they’re going to have a very straight run-and-gun shooter on their hands, with a few fetch quests thrown in for variety.

    And I hate to be the bearer of bad news Shamus, but Honest Hearts turned out to be even worse for me.

    • blizzardwolf says:

      As a side note: I forgot about the radios. Those things were the DIAS trial from Hell. I died a lot because some innocuous radio was hiding two rooms over behind a door I couldn’t open, yet was still triggering my collar and blowing me up before I could figure out where to even go next. And it gets even worse when you get to the indestructible radios later.

    • Someone says:

      Ah yes, Honest Hearts is rubbish.

      It’s a collection of tedious fetchquests the developers didn’t even bother to sex up with fluff, and it can’t even be remedied by intrigue and interesting characters, like Dead Money, because it barely has any.

      I found it really strange that, despite it being set in a more “social” environment than DM, Hearts actually seem to involve less character interaction.

      • kanodin says:

        Yep these guys describe my opinions on both, Dead Money had problems but the plot and the desolate setting made it work for me. Honest Hearts had a few good moments with the survivalist but otherwise wasn’t that good.

      • poiumty says:

        Let’s hope the much-foreshadowed next DLC won’t feature the mind-raping boredom of Honest Hearts. I had Boomers flashbacks when I was playing it.

        • Someone says:

          Yeah, I wouldn’t bank on that. It seems all the other DLCs are about secret pre-war facilities containing wondrous technology (The Big Empty and such), so they might all end up being the same as Dead Money, although there is a possibility they will go someplace interesting when they finally unravel the whole Ulysses thing.

          Then again, given how they handled Joshua Graham I wouldn’t bank on Ulysses being very interesting either.

          • acronix says:

            What`s so horrible about Graham? Besides that he looks like a mummy or a certain character from Naruto…

            • UnwiseTrout says:

              It’s not that there’s something so horrible about him, it’s just that the whole Honest Hearts DLC lacks any kind of…well, soul, quite frankly. Dead Money has a decent atmosphere and a sense of how humanity can become more than a bit twisted in the face of obsession and greed, Honest Hearts has a bit of scripture quoting that never really goes anywhere and has nothing to break up the monotony of the unceasing fetch quests than a pair of Noble Savages that team up with you and repeat the same 3 lines in broken English until you want to kill them yourself.

            • Someone says:

              Well, there is nothing wrong about him, strictly speaking, it’s just that, well, he’s a serviceable, incidental character.

              An interesting point I read somewhere on NMA stated that Graham has been built up by the game so much that it was impossible not to be underwhelemed by the actual encounter with him, but even then you expect more to be made with such a major figure.

              You essentially get to have ONE conversation with him, which basically spells out his entire character in one go, and then you forget about him and move on to do the fetchquests. Going in, I knew I wasn’t going to meet a larger-than-life firebreathing, gospel-chanting iron giant, but I expected at least some hidden depth to him, some twists. I hoped to hold philosophical discussions which would shape the future of Zion (and the ending cinematic), but instead got: “I’m the Burned Man, I’m a wayward son of god on the path to redemption”.

              It just seems strange that, after all the rumors, hints, teases and buildup, the game doesn’t go anywhere with his story, especially since the characters from Dead Money, despite not having any buildup at all, are much more interesting and intriguing than one of the most famous ghosts of the Mojave wasteland.

              Then again, I felt that Dead Money’s Elijah suffered the same fate, in that he was mostly used as a plot device, and was discarded at the end without revealing much about his character.

    • Z-Ri says:

      I was very surprised by how much story was in dead money, on three different occasions I found myself in dialog for more than fifteen minutes just taking in the back story of the characters and setting.

      I’d say anyone who didn’t explore all the dialog in Dead Money probably missed out on about half the experience/content. As blizzardwolf said there’s a lot you can miss if you just get your objectives and run.

    • MrWhales says:

      I like your comment about the sunny Mojave. Because i can remember similiar comments about F3’s obsession with the green hue on everything.. And now we all have a problem with the normalcy of the clean blue skies.

  5. Eärlindor says:

    21:41-21:56

    Yeah that poll-in-front-of-face thing is annoying, but from my perspective as a viewer watching on a much higher resolution, I think see this sinister glowing eye (and just a little of the mouth moving) between the bars, which has me going “Oooo, imagination at work. 0.0”

    So yeah, I do want to see that–WHAT’S WRONG WITH YUR FAAAAA–sorry…

  6. Annikai says:

    Bomb collars that are linked together? Oh no this reminds me of the terrible sequel to Battle Royale.

  7. Deadpool says:

    Not only is Dog a better fighter than God, Dog also auto kills Ghost people (he cannibalises them presumably), in case the player is too lazy to walk up to a dead body and hit it with a melee…

  8. acronix says:

    I hated the mooks of this DLC, specially the spear throwers: they have perfect aim. And the bomb throwers react so quickly it`s hard to scape from their instant-blowing up hand-made grenades.

    Let`s note that they can be killed with ranged weapons too, though. It`s not melee damage what kills them but destroying a body part. Of course, melee weapons are better for that than guns, but you can still use them…if you don`t mind the piss-poor damage.

  9. Pretty sure the ‘carrot’ is whatever you can steal from this pre-war treasure trove covered in poison gas.

    In any case I did really like Dead Money, for no reasons that would make it interesting to watch – dialogue, character interaction, slow, deliberate gameplay. Also a great unfolding narrative that explores the place’s history and strong recurrent themes that really give the thing a unified feel.

    And I mean STRONG recurrent themes. As in every time someone says anything about greed, letting go or obsession, take a drink. The DLC will definitely live up to it’s “hardcore” boasts when you can barely see straight.

    Also, and this might possibly be considered a spoiler for the ending: Does Josh intend to try steal any of the Sierra Madre’s treasure? with a decent strength you might be able to carry some of it out of there.

  10. Johan says:

    Bomb collars. Wow. I guess they thought if it worked for “Enslaved: Journey to the West” it’ll work for this DLC.

  11. poiumty says:

    I…. never knew you could shoot radios to blow them up until now. I did not. I finished Dead Money this way.
    Well, except for the obvious ones that were suspended on walls, which you had to shoot. But the ham radios and the wooden ones? Just ran over and turned them off.

    Also, what Josh said about the mobs isn’t true; you don’t have to hit them with melee, just blow off one of their limbs or detach it in some way. They still take an eternity to kill with the pistol though.

    Also, were those .308 bullets ammo for the assault rifle? Because I will eat my shoes if they are. I could not find the recipe for that stupid gun’s ammo anywhere in the entire DLC.

    The DLC was rather challenging (read: frustrating) until you get to the casino and can play blackjack for pretty much unlimited chips. Faster if you have high luck.

    • SyrusRayne says:

      You do get kicked out eventually, I think. If you do too well.

      • poiumty says:

        Could be. I stopped at about 3000 chips, 300 stimpaks and about 2000 rounds of ammo.

        • Deadpool says:

          Much faster to just trade with the bartender upstairs for Pre War money (he’s got like, five grand I think), then cash in the Pre War Money for Chips… Luck’s been my dump stat since Fallout 1 (yes, I know, crit stacking is uber powerful. Ask me if I care) so the casino idea was kind of a wash… Especially since I hate save scumming…

          Still, between that and the Pre War Money you find laying around, plus the chips you FIND, plus the chips you MAKE, plus the chips you trade ciggarettes and clothes for… There’s PLENTY of Sierra Madre chips.

          Although I hear that if you break the bank, the game gives you free chips every 3 days after you finish the DLC…

          • acronix says:

            Luck’s been my dump stat since Fallout 1 (yes, I know, crit stacking is uber powerful. Ask me if I care)”

            Do you care about crit staking?

            OW! Stop hitting me! You told me to- OW! *flees*

          • UnwiseTrout says:

            It does indeed, and with a mighty crack, it breaks the spine of game balance over its knee.

  12. Jansoli says:

    I wish they let you write videogames too.

    In fact, I actually hate more “the pitt” than “Ancorage”. The latter was linear but the former always bothering you with the “you can’t” argument, in spite that you could go armed everywhere and nobody seemed to be worried about the killings you made.

    • Andrew says:

      Operation Anchorage at least added some reasoning for the nonsense- the entire simulation was designed from the POV of a deluded general. The Pitt, however, was pure stupid, right to its core. The entire “difficult choice” of that DLC was deciding whether it’d be less terrible to have a jackass on top, or a full house of jackasses on the bottom, with unbreakable railroads preventing you from picking any course of action that might actually accomplish something.

  13. Irridium says:

    Never got the whole “fire one bullet, RELOAD!” thing everyone seems to have.

    Then again I was raised on Battlefield(well, actually DOOM, but shut up I’m making a point), which did its ammo system based on the magazines instead of the actual bullets. If you fired one bullet, then reloaded, you’d lose ALL the bullets you left in the magazine. Teaches you to make your shots count, and not reload every single time you fire. Makes me sad to see that Battlefield 3 is going for the bullet-based system instead of magazine-based though.

    Although its great for me, since I can exploit people’s OCD-like reloading.

    • GiantRaven says:

      It’s a shame that this wasn’t used in Fallout because it would fit so perfectly with the hardcore survivalistic nature of the game.

      I’d also love it if you carried your ammo in clips/magazines rather than bullets as well. It would make the inventory look so much cleaner.

    • Khizan says:

      The thing here is that the smart thing to do is keep the half empties and combine them when you get a breather, or at the least go back and pick up the half-used ones after the fight and do the same thing.

      You give me 5ish loaded clips for my weapon and I’m going to switch out everytime I fire a few rounds so long as I can be reasonably confident that I’ll have a breather somewhere to reload them all.

      So either it doesn’t add that much to the game except a bit of fiddliness with your inventory, or your character is so stupid that he throws away clips that have 75% of a full loadout in them. Neither is really good, imo.

      • Irridium says:

        Sounds like a good idea. They could tie it in with the survivalist skill. Or perhaps have this ability to be a perk of some sort, gained when your skilled enough in guns.

      • decius says:

        Thing is, it only makes sense to throw away an empty clip when they are common. In Fallout, guns should be modded to catch the brass for reuse, there being no precision machine tools outside the control of the Gun Runners.

        • Khizan says:

          The sheer amount of brass that I can end up dropping in a fight makes that sort of impractical. Either I end up with an increasingly heavy grocery sack sized bag hanging from my gun and skewing my aim, or I end up changing out my brass collector every time I change clips to prevent it from backing up and causing a jam.

          Neither of those really seem like good options to me. I can maybe see it working on something like a sniper rifle, but the better option would probably just be to police your brass real well after a fight. That would be a huge pain in the ass, though, so I’m ok with getting cases like we do.

    • Johan says:

      This was Oni for me. It was my first “shooter” of any kind, I being an RTS type of guy up until then. For years after I didn’t reload guns until I had spent all the ammo in the clip, but I got used to the more common system after a while.

    • Raygereio says:

      Never got the whole “fire one bullet, RELOAD!” thing everyone seems to have.

      Well, usually in videogames it’s a smart thing to reload after a fight so you’ll enter the next fight with a full clip and won’t suffer the few seconds of helplessness as you reload during said next fight.

      Also, I’m just going to install Oni again. By now.

  14. Rayen says:

    Huuuuuuuuuuuhhggg… this is going to be long annoying boring and contrived huh? you know, Josh said “hey lets go do dead money instead of the tribal quests.” and I thought okay time for a change of pace this could be good.

    You know when you’re in a traffic jam and the lane next to you is moving and then you get that chance to change lanes and you get in that lane and suddenly it stops and then the lane you were in starts moving? that what this feels like. only you’re wearing a bomb collar and get back in the first lane.

    • Raygereio says:

      Honestly, I fear it is going to be long and boring. This even though I really liked Dead Money.
      But what made me like Dead Hearts is the dialogue and exploring the place; which are not things that the Spoiler Warning crew are good a showing off.

      It’s problem for their entire New Vegas run really. There are lot of good/amusing sidequests and dialogue. Practically none of it is going to be shown off. Meanwhile the game doesn’t really provide all that much oppertunity to mock it, thus resulting in Rutskarn unleashing such horrors upon us as him reading G.R.R. Martin at us.

  15. Slip says:

    The only thing I could think of when I was playing Dead Money was that it was a lousy imitation of BioShock.

    (Uhh, possible DM/Bioshock spoiler alert below)

    A disembodied voice telling you what to do (and what not to do, which is even more irritating), radios that essentially work like security cams, Ryan’s dead hooker = Vera (even the way you discover her remains is similar). Furthermore, random computer logs scattered around the area containing random history bits, little to no variety in mobs, and at the end, the Sinclair v. Elijah combo just appearing a tweaked Ryan v. Atlas.

    There were definitely things that I enjoyed about this DLC, but I loathed, loathed the confined space. Which is why Honest Hearts turned out to be a welcome relief, no matter how tedious the fetch-it-for-me quests sometimes were. Gorgeous scenery, plenty of caves to explore, and nobody taking my damn stuff.

    • Mailbox says:

      It was Sinclair vs. Dean Domino. Sinclair is before Elijahs time. Dean is a ghoul that’s 200 years old. So that point is void. Audio logs and other forms of briefing the player on past events and history aren’t uncommon to include in a game. Morrowind didn’t have computers but it had books and journals that did the same thing that computer logs do in Fallout. So I don’t see how it is exclusive to being just a bioshock similarity.

      • Slip says:

        Yeah, it might not have been directly Sinclair v. Elijah, but Elijah was trying to tear down Sinclair’s defenses through the Courier, just like Atlas was attacking Ryan’s. And yes, audio logs/etc. are common enough, but their designed purpose and presentation in this DLC felt just like BioShock.

        Granted, I am not saying that Dead Money can only be compared to BioShock; I just thought that it was considerably similar to it when I was playing it.

    • Michael says:

      Honestly this reminded me more of System Shock 2, just for the lethality of it… and the hilariously broken nature of melee… but, then again, I started trying to run this on hardcore…

  16. RejjeN says:

    The desks all contained sunglasses when Josh was looking for the basement key (I think?) like if they were saying “Deal with it.”

    • NeilD says:

      Yeah, I’m not quite sure what they were trying to say by it, but Dead Money is positively lousy with sunglasses. They’re absolutely everywhere.

  17. Jeremy says:

    I think Rutskarn is polyarmorist.

  18. acronix says:

    My favourite part of this episode is in the description, after the list:

    “They don’t all follow this list, of course. But if you look at…” and then you casually mentioned all Fallout 3 DLCs*. Well played!

    Unless I`m missing one.

    • Shamus says:

      To be clear, I wasn’t saying all of the DLC had all of the attributes. I was saying that if you look at all of the DLC, you’ll see a lot of these attributes.

      Please do not mistake this for a defense of the DLC. :)

  19. Bentusi16 says:

    Actually, I think they give a very good in universe justification for the bomb collar.

    People are bastards.

    This is revealed through conversation with Elijah at any point early in the DLC. Every time he’s tried to get people to cooperate with each other, they end up betraying each other over the treasure of the Sierra Madre. Every single time. You can find evidence of it all over the DLC through writing on the wall. Part of the problem is how he’s grabbing people, that is, at random. Since they have no connection with one another, they have no issue backstabbing each other.

    The bomb collars offer an in universe reason for you to actually go along with it and not just say “Screw it, I’m going home”. It’s no different then the dungeon gate slamming shut behind the adventurer, or the the watcher in the water collapsing the entrance tunnel to the Mines of Moria.

    Also, Elijah was set up in the Mojave as being amazingly good with tech. This isn’t some character they pulled out of their rear ends. Veronica points out that the man could look at a device and immediately have a good idea of how it worked. I know people like that in real life. And Elijah has dedicated his life to studying old-world tech.

    Honestly Seamus, looking at how you tend to treat video games, I think you’d genuinely enjoy Dead Money if you played it. Watching Josh play it isn’t the same thing at all.

    • Sumanai says:

      No different, no less annoying. Personally I feel, from what little I know, that being able to leave and come back later would be beneficial to the DLC.

      Also, no takey stuff.

      • Bentusi16 says:

        No one ever really complains about the two examples I gave though, at least t hat I know of. You have to do something to keep the players moving forward, or sideways within reason. You don’t want them constantly going backwards or off on silly tangents that have nothing to do with the plot.

        Actually, dead money is essentially a miniaturized version of the main plot of New Vegas. You start out with an objective, and are left to your own devices to fill it up. It’s smaller and theirs less overall stuff to explore, and certain areas don’t open up till later due to story purposes.

        Normally I’m with Shamus on most of this stuff, but I think he might be judging a bit to harshly in this case, especially since he’s going in blind and he has to experience it through Josh-style play.

        • Sumanai says:

          I’m sure the DLC in question would be better if experienced first hand, but…

          Collars tend to be more annoying than a locked door, because they tend to be used for annoying stuff like artificially controlling players (no killy) or new, but annoying, gameplay stuff (explodey radio).

          And even then, why is it so wrong to these designers for the player to enjoy the game the way they want? What’s so wrong, in a sandbox game, for the player to say “go gobble a knob Elijah. I’m going legionnaire hunting for a change of pace” and then fast travel to somewhere more interesting for a while?

          • Bentusi16 says:

            Because they are trying to tell a story as well as produce a game.

            Dead Money is much more like a Survival Horror then a straight FPS or RPG. You have limited ammo and stimpacks (Unless you break it like I’ve done, and no doubt Josh will do). You are at the whim of someone who needs you to do something. Elijah doesn’t out and out beat you because he needs you to help him, and the collar is his way of ensuring your cooperation.

            Your right, it doesn’t allow you to “do whatever you want”. It’s much more linear. But that does not in it self make it BAD. The linear versus non-linear debate is silly, but I have a feeling that this is what the major complaint against the DLC is going to be.

            They gave you a massive sandbox game with New Vegas proper, and are doing something different with Dead Money but using the engine and the back story to present a different sort of game with a rather amazing story if your willing to let yourself get taken in by it.

            Is it just an expectation on your part that everything fallout related has to be sandboxy?

            Also, at the beginning of the DLC there is a very large blurb that says “once you get into this, your into this, and you have to finish it”, and you have to confirm “okay” before it closes the text box. It’s not like the designers didn’t warn the player that Dead Money was going to be all they were in until the end of the DLC. They didn’t tent their hands and go “Mwuha, we have trapped you in the DLC, now you’re ours!”. They warned the player that it was going to go on until they finish the DLC.

            • Sumanai says:

              They’re not trying to tell a story, they are trying to force the player to listen to that story.

              If the player feels the story isn’t done well, or needs a pause, what is he going to do? Start a new game or load a previous save and start mucking about there until ready to continue, at the same time forfeiting all they accomplished during the respite? Or ignore the DLC they paid for? Yeah, not good.

              If the story doesn’t grab the player well enough to force the PC to stay in the designated area only by the power of immersion the designers have already failed.

              In this case the horror aspect might be helped by item loss and the locked door, but is it necessary for more people than it is a hindrance? Does it actually aid more than it hurts? Because I’m doubting that.

              I think most who enjoy horror or survival settings would happily stay in the area and not get their items.

              But people who don’t enjoy survival games, or who are bad enough in the game to need more supplies than the former group, and they’re screwed. As are those who think the story sucks and just want to take some of the stuff back in to the desert.

              If done “my” way, you’d at most lose the items in the beginning, but you’d have a way of getting them back. You’d also have a way of leaving, and both would be available from the start before combat. If they feel they’re bad at the game, they can get their items instead of either trying to desperately survive with what’s given or suffer the humiliation of lowering the difficulty (assuming it wasn’t already at the minimum).

              And no “this is the story and you’ll listen to it”-stuff. If the player isn’t interested in the story, let him ruin it. That way if I’d have failed to pique their interest I wouldn’t be forcing them to suffer for it.

          • Gale says:

            There is literally no way to win this one. You let people break from quests at any point to screw around, and any kind of tension or urgency in your storyline just melts. You try and preserve that feeling of otherness, of being trapped and isolated from your usual luxuries and routines, and people complain about being prevented from playing the game how they want. There’s ways to do both well, but everybody has different limits, and no matter what you do, there will be a number of players unsatisfied by the way you handled things.

            Before Dead Money starts, they warn you, quite clearly, that you’re going to be locked in for a while. They leave an autosave outside, which you immediately return to if you tell Elijah that no, you don’t want to play this DLC after all. The rest of New Vegas is built around your suggestion – if you’re in the middle of a quest, no matter who it’s for, no matter how desperately you need to do something right away, no matter what kind of consequences goofing off would actually have, you can walk away at any point, and pick up right where you left off without repercussions. You can “play the game however you feel like”.

            Are you really that unhappy with them trying to do something a little different for a couple of hours? Is that seriously just too much to ask? It’s not wrong to want to take a game at your own pace, and it’s not wrong to build a game around letting players do exactly that, but is it impossible for you to understand why other people – game designers and players alike – might want to trade player agency for plot urgency, just for a little while?

            I get that you have your own preferences, but this is an optional DLC pack, and I remember them being pretty up-front about the kind of experience it’d be. Saying “I’m not really into this kind of enclosed environment” is one thing, but “they shouldn’t have set it in this kind of enclosed environment” is a little unreasonable, I think.

            Edit: Oh. Bentusi16 snuck in while I was writing. Well, now you get to choose your preferred flavour of rebuttal. Open-world debate! How novel.

            • Sumanai says:

              Two-way choice isn’t really open-world in my opinion. Although, I suppose I’m going for a third option (both).

              Isn’t player agency the whole point of video games?

              Edit: I realized I haven’t been clear about it, so I’ll add here that I don’t think plot doors closing behind you is absolutely wrong (as long as it doesn’t hit your ass on the way), but something that should be avoided. Only to be used when forced to, since you can have the same effect with good writing (immersion for instance).

              • Bentusi16 says:

                And here is my problem with that. You contend that the writing in the Dead Money DLC is bad. I contend that it is actually very good.

                The environment is rich with history and intrigue. The characters are deep and interesting. Dead Money was one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had with video games. It wasn’t like in regular New Vegas where I largely felt like I was playing a video game. I actually found myself genuinely scared in Dead Money, not knowing if I had enough ammo to get past the ghost people, wondering what they were, where they came from, and what happened to those they dragged into the darkness.

                Your right, the DLC didn’t sell itself ‘right away”, and first impressions are important, but if we only judge things on the first minute then we sort of lose out.

                By the time I got to the police station, I was hooked. “Find God in the Lowliest of creatures” scrawled on the wall near the entrance. Someone was leaving messages for me. I wanted to know who. Maybe it just didn’t catch your interest but with or withotu the bomb collar, I wanted to know what the secret of the sierra madre was.

                Edit: There’s also actually a very good reason you lose all your stuff at the beginning of the DLC. The Sierra Madre has a rather sophisticated automated system in place that removes any material that is banned or past a certain point of radioactivity. Once again, this is learned through dialogue and terminals, which is something Josh isn’t going to do.

                • Sumanai says:

                  I don’t think the writing is bad, and I don’t think it matters. The problem as I see it, is that it was designed with the thought that “the writing is good, everyone should see it” instead of “what if someone hates it and wants to shortcut?”

                  “Maybe it just didn’t catch your interest but with or without the bomb collar, I wanted to know what the secret of the sierra madre was.”

                  Exactly my point, you wanted to hear it and therefore the collar was unnecessary. But what about those who don’t want to hear it? What if someone played it for a while and then went “no, not interesting me I want to take a pause in the Mojave”? Their enjoyment is affected by the collar, but negatively.

                  While to your amusement it didn’t matter. By removing it some would’ve lost a source of annoyance while not harming the entertainment for those who liked the DLC as it is.

                  I think they mentioned the reason in the video for why you can’t take your stuff in there. My only problem with the stuff taking is, that some people are bad at survival type things, and in hardcore your HP ticks down when outside (according to others here). Of course if it was warned ahead of purchase, so those people can give a wide berth to this, then it’s fine.

                  Edit: well, okay. So I also hate it when games take my toys. But if they did warn about that before buying, then it would be my fault for buying something I should know I won’t enjoy not the developers.

                  • Even says:

                    The DLC isn’t exactly that hard when it comes to the survival aspects. It only forces you to improvise a little in the start. Half-way through you’ve already broken the bell curve and learned to rely on scavenging and getting supplies from the vending machines. It gets ever easier since the chips basically rain in to your pockets if you can be bothered to explore the areas. As for Hardcore mode, it’s still optional and it would be safe to expect that people who do play with it are fairly well versed with its mechanics and can overcome the extra challenge. I had no problems and thoroughly enjoyed playing with it.

                    Edit: I admit that the radios they can be a little bitch to deal with occasionally when you can’t find them, but there’s nothing a little trial and error won’t fix, if all else fails. Learning the timing before the explosion hits and an aggressive and systematic hunting can work wonders.

                    • Michael says:

                      Survival can be an absolute bitch if you’re doing your first run on hardcore (pardon the language). I’d had a character that had permanently been in hardcore mode (on medium difficulty) since I walked out of Doc Mitchell’s house, and was using a mod I cooked up that reinstated the carry weight calculation from classic Fallout. The result on hitting Dead Money was pretty horrifying, honestly.

                      Though I should point out, that’s self imposed difficulty, the only thing preventing you from turning off hardcore is if you want the extra challenge.

                      Also I really don’t agree with Sumanai.

                      I remember a game dev a while back, I can’t remember who, someone at Bethesda, I think, saying you basically couldn’t punish the player for their actions anymore in games, they wouldn’t stand for it, they’d load earlier saves, and complain about it. It really is a terribly petulant and self-defeating approach to games, but it is a behavior that we do see in modern gaming.

                    • Sumanai says:

                      Easy to who? Think about how much you play, and take note that there are those who play very little, but might be drawn into sandbox games. But I give you the item stealing, it can be used to build up survival horror-aspects easily.

                      But trial and error gameplay is always a bad thing, and it would’ve been avoided if someone had said in the design team “no” to the collars. So that would be one more thing against them. It’s not like you couldn’t go for a locked door anyway. More common solution, sure, but sometimes it’s better to go with what works. (Although I would make the door pickable at skill level 100.)

                      Michael: Yeah, but what if my suggestions would’ve been applied? Would that have allowed you to play the DLC the way you wanted? And would’ve it actually hurt the experience (for you or anyone else)?

                      I think that players would be more ready to take punishments if the games gave the feeling that they were deserved instead of arbitrary. And in my experience Bethesda is really bad at making the player feel like they’ve done something wrong and it’s because of that instead of random abuse. Take Little Lamplight, what is that for? Some other players demanded to have children in Bethesda games and now I’m suffering?

                      Compare to Witcher, where you’re punished for… everything I think, but I haven’t seen complaints about how unfair it is. A lot of other complaints, sure, but not that.

                      So what I’m saying is, it depends on who said that you can’t punish players before I’ll take it seriously.

                    • Even says:

                      I’m not really sure how the open sandbox vs. railroad adventure counts into it. At the end of the day it’s just about making the player learn new mechanics and I don’t really see what the big deal is. If you’ve managed to get to the Abandoned BOS Bunker to actually start the DLC, you should have the cognitive ability to learn the new mechanics as well. It does warn you as much before embarking on the DLC that it’ll be a different kind of challenge.

                      Problem with “Locked Doors” is they don’t put the fear of death into you, which is one of the key parts of survival horror. For me it worked anyway and I have to say I’d find locked doors a whole lot more dull challenge to go around. The radios at least actively force you to think tactically and sometimes look for alternative routes or techniques. Also the challenge would be pointless for characters with maxed lockpick skill.

                      And like I said, Trial & Error is what it could be at it’s worst, but there usually are ways to avoid it. And even if it comes down to it, with quicksave/quickload the damage done should be minimal.

                    • Sumanai says:

                      Retraction: I don’t think it’s important who said it, since that would be ad hominem. But it’s still missing the context, and I don’t see how it’s important to the discussion.

                    • Sumanai says:

                      Even: Right. It’s clear I’ve failed to communicate both my intentions and complaints, also I don’t think I can get it through what the problem is, so I’ll just stop with this.

                    • Michael says:

                      I’m sorry, Sumanai, I was trying to find what your suggestions were and was drawing a blank, aside from the not being able to leave.

                      I do prefer Honest Hearts’ approach, you can carry X pounds of gear in, and if you pass a skill check you can carry another Y amount in to Dead Money’s strip you naked and toss you in.

                      Though, Dead Money does create a nice stranded, trapped and alone feel, and I’m not completely certain that taking away all your toys isn’t a critical part of that.

                      If I had to pick between Dead Money and The Pitt (which pulled the same stunt), I’m not sure which I’d lean towards, but The Pitt was a personal high point for FO3’s DLCs.

                      Though I can completely understand not liking this game element, it does seem to work really well thematically, (at least in Fallout). (The muggings in Clear Sky really didn’t work because your gear was who your character was.)

              • kanodin says:

                “Isn’t player agency the whole point of video games?” I don’t think so. Certainly it’s a large part of many games, but wanting to tell an engaging story and get your players immersed, or to allow them to experience something first hand instead of as an observer, even if they don’t make any choices in experiencing it, are equally valid goals in making a video game in my opinion.

                • Sumanai says:

                  But it doesn’t prevent you from telling a story, it just has to be interactive. And movies, books etc. are already doing non-interactive linear stories, why go for that crowded corner?

            • decius says:

              There’s a pretty easy way to maintain tension and urgency in plotlines, but still allow the player to ignore the urgent plotline.

              Have it resolve. Elijah gets someone else to loot the Sierra Madre, the bad guys recover the piece-o-artifact, the hostage dies.

  20. Sumanai says:

    I keep expecting you guys to change the text for Kevin MacLeod into “Ding!” and then in the next one into “Level 43 Bard”.

    So long, so disappointed.

  21. Milos says:

    Josh did you borrow Sham’s microphone for this episode? Because you took the cake this time.

    I got Dead Money when it first came out but I stopped after maybe half an hour in and never bothered to finish it. I was annoyed when I was stripped of all of my hard earned equipment and, as a guns using character, I also hated having to worry about every single shot with the scarce ammo available in the DLC (read: forced to use VATS most of the time.)

    But when I saw the end of your last episode I decided to give it a 2nd chance and avoid getting spoilers before I experience it. To my surprise I actually found it enjoyable this time and it finally got me to train in unarmed combat for the first time. Also, the ending has the ultimate looter dilemma. I died a few times before I mastered my own greed and admitted I can’t take it all. Yes I hear it is possible to exploit some glitches but ultimately I didn’t care enough about it and I never looked it up.

    • Michael says:

      Yeah, that was pretty similar to my experience. It wasn’t that they stripped me of my gear, I knew that was coming, but the bleakness and the difficulty (before I turned off hardcore) got me to stop playing.

      …and now, in a non-sequitor, I can’t help but think that the whole “it’s letting go” theme applies to me and hardcore in that respect…

      Still, it is a really solid bit of DLC, and is now one of my favorite parts of FNV.

  22. Kelly says:

    I look forward to complaints about things that are explained in dialogue with characters we’ll skip talking to.

    Also:
    1. Guns characters can down them with headshots same as everything, though the awesome gun doesn’t have much of the needed ammo (there’s probably a .308 recipe but I missed it).

    2. No Elijah doesn’t know about God, God hides himself from Elijah on purpose.

    3. Pretty sure Dog is actually sitting just out of range of the radios near him (their range isn’t that big usually).

    4. Dead Money actually has a lot of fun characters in my opinion. Dog/God and Christine are nice and sympathetic, plus Elijah and Dean are glorious assholes.

    5. There’s Sierra Madre posters in a bunch of places in the main game actually (or there were before Dead Money was released, I think they patched them out when it released (yes this sounds like I’m making shit up but I really do remember those).

    • Bentusi16 says:

      “I look forward to complaints about things that are explained in dialogue with characters we’ll skip talking to.”

      This alone is probably going to make me not like these next few episode of spoiler warning more then anything :/

      • Andrew says:

        It’s an epic battle of wits, you see. Shamus, Mumbles, and Rutskarn desperately attempt to make sense of the plot based on what they’ve seen, while Josh gleefully does his best to avoid anything that might actually explain what the heck is going on.

    • krellen says:

      There is a .308 recipe.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Am I the only one who thought “Huh,another nightkin that is interesting and deranged?I wonder why it is easy for obsidian to make loonies be such good characters.”?

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      It’s not just obsidian. Insane characters tend to, generally, be more memorable for a couple of reasons. Many of these also apply for characters that, while not insane, use logic radically different from the one the player is used to (think alien races, or robots, or . They are interesting because of the novelty quality, because it’s fairly easy to give them memorable lines and also because our suspension of disbelief is much stronger around them. The story they tell was amusing but didn’t make sense? So what? They’re crazy.

    • Raygereio says:

      @Daemian Lucifer:
      They have good writers.

      @Sleeping Dragon:
      I disagree with that. You need more for a character to be memorable then just have it be crazy.
      In a videogames you need things like interesting dialogue, interaction between the character and the player/other characters that will either endear it to the player or make the player hate him, things like that.
      The character needs to be well written. Which is actually rather difficult to do in a videogame as you can’t just spend a paragraph inside a character’s head to flesh him out.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I didn’t mean to say that making a character crazy will immediately make him memorable, I said “tend to be more”. My point was more that it’s easier to make an extreme character memorable and it’s fairly easy to justify an extreme behaviour with insanity. It’s pretty hard to make private #3 memorable, but add something extreme to him and the reader/viewer/player is much more likely to remember the character. Khizan mentioned Minsc, for a lot of people Minsc is “the guy with the hamster”.

        This is also why villains so often fall into the crazy, or at least over the top, category, they usually get less screen time than the protagonist so the author tries to make their entrance more intense.

    • Johan says:

      It’s the same as the Straight Man/Funny Man comedic pair-up. The funny man gets all the laugh lines, but it’s important to remember that the straight man is just as necessary. Crazy characters are only fun because they exist against a backdrop of seriousness that can provide the setup for the jokes and observations.

  24. Mailbox says:

    I thought this was an great DLC. The characters were very interesting I spent the most time exhausting all the dialog options. Dead Money is also more interesting to play when you have either dealt with the Hidden Valley Brotherhood of Steel or used Veronica as a companion since Father Elijah was the previous Elder before MacNamara during the Attack defending Helios One which failed. You learn a lot about him in Hidden Valley and if you do Veronica’s quest you learn he was like a role model to her. There is also a tie in with Christine which was neat. And this seems to be a theme with the two DLCs so far. Characters or events that you here about in the Mojave are getting fleshed out in the DLC. You heard a lot about the Burned Man from the legion and other sources talking about the failed attack on the Dam by the legion and now Honest Hearts brings in Joshua Graham (aka the burned man, aka Malpais Legate). And you get to interact with him. Unlike F3’s DLC which were tacked on and had no previous mention, with the exception of Operation Anchorage.

    Dog’s/God’s collar doesn’t use the same frequency your collar uses that is why being around the radios doesn’t affect him. In your pipboy under the radio section you can see all the radio frequencies of the other collars they’re all different. Your collar is the only one that gets affected this way. Christine’s collar frequency acts the opposite in that as a companion she can temporarily block the bad radio signals that cause your collar to explode.

  25. Von Krieger says:

    I played through Dead Money last week, and it had its ups and downs for me. I loved the characters and the plot, Dog/God is my favorite character in both Fallout 3 and New Vegas combined.

    I’m playing on Hardcore mode, though, which apparently means I lose HP all the time whenever I’m outside. Thankfully I had the Monocyte Breeder purchased and I went so far as to take Solar Powered to further help offset the drain. I didn’t have much of a problem with that either.

    Or the Ghost People once I got an automatic rifle and used it, ditching the police pistol (I use the Weapon Mods Expansion mod, so it had a scope) and found enough chips (IE got the snowglobe) to spam the ammo.

    My biggest problem with the DLC was that it was like they saved up all the same-y looking, confusing, twisty ‘dungeon’ type areas seen in Fallout 3 and decided to use them all at once in Dead Money, rather than having them in New Vegas. (played around 70 hours now and I cannot think of a long, dungeon-y, maze-y area like the subway tunnels and some of the bigger buildings were in F3).

    So I got lost. A lot. And with HP ticking down it eventually got to be enough of a problem that I couldn’t figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, because the Pip Boy map lead me into dead ends and key-only locked gates and thus turned on No Clip.

    All in all I found it a rather fun purchase.

  26. Simplex says:

    Apologies in advance for the offtopic, but I would like to quote some guy from CDPROJEKT:

    “Our goal is to make our fans and customers happy and to reward them for buying our game and DRM schemes does not support our philosophy as they might create obstacles for users of legally bought copies. Our approach to countering piracy is to incorporate superior value in the legal version. This means it has to be superior in every respect: less troublesome to use and install, with full support, and with access to additional content and services. So, we felt keeping the DRM would mainly hurt our legitimate users. This is completely in line with what we said before the release of The Witcher 2. We felt DRM was necessary to prevent the game being pirated and leaked before release. This purpose has been served, so we are pleased to let our users enjoy the full freedom of game usage they deserve.”
    Badowski also explained CD Projekt RED’s stance on DRM from another perspective, “It’s important to remember that the PC platform is far more complex than consoles. DRM adds another layer of complication and potential problems. We saw this clearly in our game. Pre-release tests showed only small performance differences compared to the DRM-free (GOG.com) versions. We were unpleasantly surprised when some of our fans reported much larger differences, up to 30% lower framerates. This was another clear signal that we had to remove DRM as soon as possible – the quality of our users’ gameplay experience is absolutely our number one priority!”

    Basically, they completely removed DRM from their retal version nine months…, sorry, nine DAYS after release.
    The DRM did serve its part, it prevented pirates from playing the game before the paying customers. This purpose is no longer relevant so they removed the DRM. Let’s hope other publisher will learn from this.

    • Irridium says:

      This is following the news of Capcom’s hilariously stupid DRM that locks out characters and all basic features(like save progress) when the game is offline.

      Pirates won’t have to deal with it, paying customers will have to.

      *sigh*

    • Raygereio says:

      it prevented pirates from playing the game before the paying customers

      Acutally it didn’t; I could find a working release a few days before the official launch. It probably got leaked from some store that got it’s stock, or something. That’s how it usually goes.
      But kudos to CDProject for realising how useless DRM is.

      I’d better reward them with buying the game even though I found the Witcher 1 to be a piece of shit. Well, I would do that if CDProject was also intelligent when it came to graphics and didn’t force me to buy a new graphics card to play their game.

      Oh well, they can’t be a genius in all fields.

  27. CalDazar says:

    I’m not going to beat on you for it but Shamus, it is so amazingly clear you haven’t played or even seen the whole DLC, without you saying so.

  28. Shishberg says:

    I can dig it. I can get behind that kind of wordplay.

    Was that a double-barrelled stealth pun, Ruts? Or am I just reading too much into it?

  29. Slothful says:

    Naomi I moan
    A Toyota’s a Toyota
    A dog! A panic! In a pagoda!

  30. GiantRaven says:

    Ah, the Police Pistol. It may look rubbish but it basically became my go-to weapon for the majority of New Vegas.

  31. james says:

    I had allot of trouble with this DLC, but that could just be because I was a charisma/luck based character with energy weapons. It actually felt like it was punishing me for not being more combat focused or for not using melle.

    • Raygereio says:

      Well, best thing to do then is to have a companion like Dog to all the work and for you to huddle in a corner somewhere until Dog’s belly is full.

  32. krellen says:

    Shamus, do yourself this favour: play this DLC but forget that you’re playing “Fallout: New Vegas” while doing so. Just pretend it’s a brand new Fallout title (Fallout: Dead Money, if you will) and try to experience it without keeping in mind that you’ve got the Mojave to go back to.

    I think if you look on it on its own, without thinking about it as “just a DLC”, you’ll actually really, really love it. It’s pretty much exactly your sort of game, with a pretty good mix of story-focus and the survival-horror stuff you love.

  33. Gravebound says:

    Shamus, did you watch the MST3K movie recently? What with the episode titles and the “…I’m in one of these boxes, come find me” quote. :D

  34. David Armstrong says:

    BANG BANG BANG

    Are you boys cooking up there?

    No!

    Are you boys building an interocitor?!

    NOOO!

  35. (LK) says:

    Josh seems to let go of the push-to-talk button early a lot in this episode.

    It’s so strange to go like 5 seconds at a time without his loud, grating voice.

  36. somecrazyfan says:

    When are you going to review Witcher 2?

  37. Smejki says:

    Well, Shamus, just one thing to say – play Dead Money yourself before any judgement. Dead Money has some game design flaws, yet it’s writing is great and far away from stupid F3’s style. Also gotta say it is linear but you dont have “one binary choice at the end”. You decide the fate of each companion and you have three ways how to deal with Elijah. More – i could recommend you this lead designer’s article – http://forums.obsidian.net/index.php?automodule=blog&blogid=1&showentry=144

  38. mixmastermind says:

    What the? Rutskarn knows his revolvers?

    How does he know how to spot a Colt Detective Special on sight?

  39. AyeGill says:

    This really keeps bugging me: What kind of guns are you using, Shamus?
    The melee/unarmed weapon with the highest DPS(Oh, Baby!) has a DPS of 138
    The gun with the highest DPS(CZ57 Avenger) has a DPS of 390.

    The melee/unarmed weapon with the highest damage/hit(thermic lance), has a Damage/hit of 100
    The gun with the highest Damage/hit(Anti-materiel rifle) has a Damage/hit of 110. (Actually, the Big Boomer has more DAM, but since it’s spread over multiple pellets, DT affects it much more heavily)

    Now, you could argue that Melee weapons don’t use ammunition, but then, guns are ranged, so i think it pretty much balances out(just my opinion, though)

    Maybe your problem with guns is that you get the good melee/unarmed weapons so early in the game compared to the good guns. Which is a legitimate argument, although i still prefer the guns overall(especially since the Guns i name here are just the very most powerful, and also very hard to get – the big boomer can actually be gotten very early by brutally murdering an old lady)

  40. Destrustor says:

    Oh my god now I HAVE to do this stupid DLC that I’m not interested in because ED-f***ing-E is glitched somewhere in the vast unknown cosmos of vault 22 and this is apparently my only hope of ever getting him to go the f*** away!!!
    He’s been stuck there for like 3 in-game weeks, so far denying me access to caesar’s tent AND the honest hearts DLC because “you have to go in alone, loser” and nothing I did (i’m on a ps3) managed to un-glitch that little runt. at one point, Cass was also taking a walk in wonderland and SHE had the decency to get bored after six straight days of waiting.
    BUT I’M STILL STUCK WITH A COMPANION FOLLOWING ME IN ANOTHER DIMENSION!!!!!(with a hefty load of skill magazines THAT I CAN’T USE ANYMORE BECAUSE HE STOLE THEM FROM ME!!)
    This is my very first playthrough and I have already sworn off companions forever. THANKS, GLITCHIDIAN AND BUGTHESDA!!!
    …At least now I have a better plan to get rid of him. Hurray for spoiler warning!

  41. anaphysik says:

    I love how Josh managed to get the 200th kill needed for the Lord Death challenge (kill 200 anythings) in this episode by killing himself XD

    (at 5:01 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfZ6Uuv3fUI&t=5m1s)

  42. Sebastian says:

    I’m some years late, but since noone else mentioned it: In this episode Josh got the Lord Death kill for 200 kills (specifically “kill anything”) – by choosing a dialogue option that makes the other guy kill you! This is not only hilarious but also interesting. For some reason the game is programmed in a way that choosing a wrong answer is counted like the few other ways you can kill yourself (only I can think of is falling down and explosives). I wonder what the thinking behind that is.

    EDIT: Ok, the comment literally above mine mentioned it…

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