Spoiler Warning S5E47: Zion Valley Ranch

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 3, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 74 comments

Link (YouTube)

As promised in the show: Here is the story of the guy who played Oblivion drunk.

I normally play 100% white knight in Bethesda games, but the Oblivion Assassin’s guild quests were so fun that I couldn’t help myself. The characters are diverse and interesting. The quests have multiple optional goals, which makes them more interesting than a simple pass / fail system. The quest rewards are outstanding. The writing is delightfully pitch-black humor. The voice acting is uniformly excellent.

In my final play-through, I did all of the guild quest lines: Fighter’s Guild, Thieves Guild, Mage’s Guild, and Assassin’s Guild. I also contracted and cured vampirism. (And then used the console to cheat and fix what the game did to my face.) I became the arena champion and did every sidequest I could find in all the major cities and acquired all of the available houses. (Even though I only ever used the shack as an actual base, because it was most convenient.) All that, and I never set foot in Kvatch to begin the main quest. Screw the main quest. Which means that game wasn’t so much a play-through as a play-around. Make of that what you will. Same goes for this.

Getting back to Fallout: New Vegas…

I’m on my second play-through of Honest Hearts. On my first play-through I managed to miss the survivalist diaries. In my defense, the stuff found on terminals is usually pretty lame. “Dear diary, I have this pile of cool stuff and I put them in the container and then wrote about it on this random 200-year-old computer for no reason. The end.” But on the advice of Rutskarn, I went back and read them.

The survivalist diary collection is some of the best fiction to come out of the Fallout franchise. Including the stuff in the original Fallout. When I was done I wanted a whole novel of his stories.
It’s also the first time I’ve encountered anything detailed regarding the day the bombs fell, and the days following. For me, it was worth the price of the DLC by itself.


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74 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning S5E47: Zion Valley Ranch

  1. Doktoronline says:

    See, I liked HH for the backstory it added, both to New Vegas as well as the fallout universe, but Old World blues was just more fun.

  2. StranaMente says:

    “With all those bones, the water now is more like child-stew…”
    “Oh, so tasty!”
    “Why Mumble you have to be so cannibal?”

    That made my day.

  3. Irridium says:

    Oh man, I remember that Oblivion story. Was funny then, just as funny now. And now I want to play Oblivion again. Dammit. I really don’t want to deal with it. Just installing it, finding the patches, re-downloading the DLC, finding the mods I used to use, getting everything to work…

    It’s a pain in the ass and a waste of time.

    Oblivion is 25% installed…

  4. Ciennas says:

    Actually, fallout 3 had the Germantown HQ terminals. left out in the rain for 200 some-odd years, they nevertheless still ran and had the diaries of a postwar survivor, who slowly watched as their supplies dwindled to nothing and could no longer save themselves from the aftermath.

    It was the most heartbreaking story I had read in the gameworld. It was the only one I found that made me stop playing the game for a bit, because it was more interesting to reflect on then shoot a super mutant in the face.

    1. Sagretti says:

      I remember those terminals. Very comparable, though unfortunately they were probably easily neglected since they were surrounded by super mutants and a rescue quest connected with Big Town. Since Big Town is an extension of the Little Lamplight mess, I wouldn’t be surprised if many people never even make it to the Germantown HQ.

    2. Zombie says:

      I read these Terminals as well. I forget whether the writer was a nurse or a national guardsmen, but it actually felt like something someone would actually write, like someone running off with some of their supplies, telling people they were going to die, ect., ect. which felt weird considering the rest of the game…..

      1. Fang says:

        It was a nurse. Just saying.

        1. Zombie says:

          Really? I could have sworn it was a national guardsman. Might have been I misread something, cause it talked a lot about national guardsmen being bussed there and what not. All I remember well about it is that it started just before the bomb droped, lasted about a month before the writer died, and managed to stay out in the open, with super mutants around it, for about 200 (?) years.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So if original fallout is mentioned here in the text,does that mean Mumbles and Josh have to take a drink?

  6. DrKultra says:

    Oh wow, you mean I’m the first?

    Loved the vid, the dynamic of ignoring utterly what Josh is doing and picking on the NPC’s never gets old on the fall out games XD

  7. AlternatePFG says:

    I’ve never progress past Siege of Kvatch part of the Oblivion main quest. I liked the game quite a bit, it’s just that the main quest is really where that game is weakest, just like in Fallout 3.

    As for the survivalist stuff, I liked quite a bit them too. I thought they were interesting reads, and really did make the DLC feel complete to me.

    Edit: Wait Rutskarn hasn’t played Pokemon?

    1. Hitch says:

      When I played Oblivion, I made the mistake of venturing too far into the main quest and the Oblivion gates started spawning everywhere. This was a problem because if I had graphics turned up to a decent level my computer would grind to a crawl anytime I got near a gate and sky started turning red. I read that completing the main quest would cause almost all of the Oblivion gates to disappear, so I turned down my graphics and powered through the main quest as quickly as possible. Then I spent many hundreds of hours running around doing everything else and really enjoying the game.

      Fast forward to Fallout 3. I decided to take the same approach. Imagine my joy at discovering that completing the main quest meant, “Game over. Roll credits. You’re done. You don’t get to play anymore.” (At least until you install Brotherhood of Steel.)

      Edit: Yes. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, Rutskarn is only as young as he is by virtue of completely skipping his childhood.

  8. Kelly says:

    Yeah the Survivalist is great. Sadly, as far as I know you can only get the end to his tale (and his stuff) if you help Daniel, which is one of the STUPIDEST THINGS the game could ever ask you to do. So sadly, the sane person must forgo the cool Survivalist stuff and you know what I’m just going to hold onto that particular complaint until we get to Daniel (god I hate Daniel).

    Anyway, yeah it’s fun to watch Josh knock things off cliffs. He needs to remember to get Sneering Imperialist though.

    As far as Oblivion goes, that game is pretty terrible yeah. The Dark Brotherhood quests are GREAT and there’s some other fun stuff hidden around, but for the most part that game’s so dull I can’t even be bothered to go through the trouble of modding it until it’s good. I think I got 10 hours out of it compared to the 40 from Morrowind (which I barely scratched the surface of),40 more of Fallout 3 (which I played until the fun of looting was overwhelmed by the idiocy), or 200+ of New Vegas (which I’m still playing).

    1. Ringwraith says:

      The supply caches are in no way connected to any quests, so you can get them at any time, it’s just that you have to find the stuff, which another problem altogether.

      1. Kelly says:

        No I meant his body and the note next to it. All the caves and such can be gotten to at any time, but my understanding is that his corpse is only accessible on Daniel’s path.

        1. AlternatePFG says:

          Nope, his body is out in the open, on top of a high point on the map. Forgot exactly where, but it’s a location in the game. It’s accessible no matter who’s quest you did.

          1. ProudCynic says:

            Red Gate, I think. It’s a bit north of the canyon the White Legs are camped out in, if I recall correctly (and I should, I replayed through Honest Hearts just a few days ago.)

            1. GTB says:

              This is true. my sniper assassin in black didn’t help ANYBODY other than what was required to get through the DLC, and I went through the whole survivalist story and found his bones and gear up on red gate.

              I think that without the survivalist story the DLC was terrible. The landscape was just one giant headache and there was a lot of potential that was just ignored in favor of “Collect some lunchboxes because we need some.”

              1. The quest quality was awful. I mean, this is the burned man! the wasteland’s ultimate badass! Why am I helping him with missionary work and lunch boxes?

                I wouldn’t mind if they really made us care for the Sorrows, like, at all, but a) you spend half the DLC with Follows-Chalk nowhere near the Sorrows so you don’t get to know them and b) the Sorrows companion you get doesn’t really tell you anything about her people, and her ‘personal quest’ is even less interesting than Chalks, which is an abridged version of Veronica’s.

                I mean, they’re suppose to be innocent and pure, but we never get a sense of naivete from anyone except Chalk, and even then it’s just because he doesn’t know anything about the Mojave. At the same time there’s no sense of camaraderie, of culture, of anything unique or special that you’d really care about preserving.

                For all we know, Daniel is just projecting his own guilt at his inability to save others onto them. Which admittedly I’d be willing to give Obsidian enough credit for having intentionally done that.

                1. ProudCynic says:

                  Someone asked JE Sawyer about why most of the DLC was just fetch quests on his Formspring. His reply was that a lot of the quests in vanilla New Vegas went against even the engine’s basic structure, and since they couldn’t patch DLC, he decided to simplify it as much as possible.

                  Which is still pretty boring, but it means that we’ll get to hear the cast moan about how it’s not overly interesting rather than being overly buggy for a while.

    2. Even says:

      What’s to hate about Daniel, though? I just felt he’s a bit too idealistic and a little misguided as a character, but that’s not really something I take much offence to. The voice-acting could have been better, but that’s about my only gripe about him.

      1. ps238principal says:

        I dunno if “hate” is the right word. Daniel just doesn’t seem to fit the Fallout universe. Someone as anti-violence as him in such a violent world is a joke missing the punchline, which would be fired from a large-caliber weapon. He should have been a little more realistic about his views, I think.

        By the same token, I found the Burned Man far too soft-spoken and reasonable. Not that he should have been a lunatic, mind, but he didn’t seem to fit the personality that would go with his backstory to me.

        1. ProudCynic says:

          I think it’s part of the prodigal son vibe the designers were going for that explains Joshua Graham as we seem him. And even then, if you decide to crush the White Legs, he does get very angry and he will execute people on their knees begging for mercy if you don’t talk him out of it.

  9. Vect says:

    Just read the story for the first time and I couldn’t help but laugh out of control. It’s like The Hangover meets Postal.

  10. neon_goggles says:

    i think i’m the only one who tagged Survival on most of his characters.
    Also pokemon gen 5 has the highest amount of good Pokemon designs of any gen.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      I did it on mine too. I figured relying on food would be a better option when playing Hardcore mode.
      Wasteland omelets are also insanely useful healing items with 100 survival, healing 12 points a second for a minute.

    2. TSED says:

      Pokemon gen5 is the best generation.


      Rutskarn, you’re seriously missing out. I’m not usually an advocate, but you know, this is the *internet* here…

  11. hardband says:

    Wait? Shamus actually suggests a fallout DLC? MADNESS

  12. Deadpool says:

    Here’s MY NPC story in Fallout.

    I went to see Mr. Bishop and he straight opened fire right after out first conversation. So I reloaded, slept with his daughter, snuck back downstairs, slept with his WIFE, convinced her to give me the combination to his safe, robbed him blind, changed the combination on it so he wouldn’t know and would set off the trap next day and kill himself…

    That’s MY kind of comeuppance…

  13. Hitch says:

    Thank you, Shamus, for the link to that Oblivion machinima. I’ve seen a couple other links in the last couple days, but didn’t bother checking it out. I trust your tastes and figured it must be watching if you linked to it. I was not disappointed. Sheogorath would be proud.

  14. Jarenth says:

    Drunk Mumbles is probably one of the best Mumbleses.

    Drunk Josh is, so far, pretty hard to distinguish from Regular Josh. I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

    1. Deadpool says:

      Josh has already admitted this isn’t the first time he played drunk… I’m betting it’s not the SECOND time either…

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Josh is probably like me.When I get drunk,I cant walk,but I can still play games,play chess(and do it well),do math,etc.That is,to a point.If I get drunker after that,I usually go to sleep.Not really that much of a doing-shit-when-drunk-guy.

        1. Deadpool says:


          I’m one of those strange strange people who don’t drink/smoke/ingest/inject anything, so hard to relate…

          Most of them SWEAR that they are better at a, b or c when drunk/high and as the sober one in the group, I must say… No, they aren’t. But some are capable enough to hide the drunkeness pretty well though… Josh is probably one of them.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Oh,Im not better at mental faculties when drunk,I just dont lose them first.

          2. Josh says:

            To be fair, I’ve never really played full-on drunk; I’ve only ever been a bit buzzed at most. And in today’s case I was kind of lagging behind Mumbles when it came to getting tipsy because every time I went to take a drink the game would effectively stop – there’s not much you can do in this game with only one hand.

            Except, of course, eat everything in your inventory…

            1. StranaMente says:

              Well you could have gone in Vats and drink from time to time…

              1. Velkrin says:

                That or wear a beer hat.

            2. ps238principal says:

              Josh, you sort of sound like you’re complaining that the game isn’t erotic enough. And really, that’s your fault for losing the bonnet. :)

  15. GiantRaven says:

    ‘The survivalist diary collection is some of the best fiction to come out of the Fallout franchise.’

    Clearly somebody hasn’t played Old World Blues. =P

    If that had been the entirety of Fallout: New Vegas I still would’ve considered it the finest Fallout game released.

    1. ps238principal says:

      Lobotomite + robot = dark comedy gold.

      1. I felt so bad when I walked up to it and pressed the use key.
        It was hilarious.

      2. Destrustor says:

        I did that about 6 times, it never got not funny. My favorite moment in all of F:NV.
        ” Noooooooo [paf!] “

  16. noahpocalypse says:

    Shamus, yes, you did all the quests, yes, you got to a ridiculous level, but did you try any mods?

    I recommend Morroblivion if you want a real main quest. Seriously, it’s totally engrossing (once you get started). With fast travel, it’s much easier to do. I’ll even say that I believe you will find it one of the most plausible questlines EVER.

    Be prepared to have 50+ hours go down the drain if you do that, though.

    On the upside, there’s your next season of Spoiler Alert!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I think he wrote once how he cannot even start playing oblivion without installing dozens of mods.

    2. Shamus says:

      “Shamus, yes, you did all the quests, yes, you got to a ridiculous level, but did you try any mods?”


      Thankfully, the mod repositories are in much better shape now than back in 2008. Modding New Vegas has been a lot smoother than modding Oblivion was.

      1. And good thing too – as a rule of thumb, I refuse to install any mod manager that requires a working knowledge of python to operate.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But python is easy to learn.There are only a few films and seasons of series.You can watch it all in a week.

  17. poiumty says:

    Now you’re making me play Oblivion again. I know I’ll get bored of it extremely quickly again, but there’s still this nagging feeling that I should play it.

    1. psivamp says:

      I just absolutely hate the beginning of Oblivion. That and the fact that I don’t have it on PC will keep me from going back to it for a bit.

      1. Sumanai says:

        What keeps me from even trying it is that the last time I tried it crashed every few minutes after getting out of the tutorial.

  18. Spammy says:

    I dunno, Zion Valley Ranch isn’t all that great. Has a kind of metallic taste in it, and the last time I put it on my salad I was hearing Laurence Fishburne in my head for weeks. It wasn’t all bad, I mean, it’s Laurence Fishburne after all, but it just got really old after the first two hours.

  19. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

    I’m sure several survivalist fan fics are already in the works somewhere.

  20. Starwars says:

    Honest Hearts is probably my favorite New Vegas DLC even though it’s probably also the one with the least content.

    What I do enjoy about it is that, unlike basically all the other entries besides Fallout 1, it’s fairly low-key. It’s fairly straight post-apocalyptica (the Survivalist entries helps this feeling as well), leaving behind much of the 50s dressing (which has become a bit overpowering in the series in my opinion). I think the whole spiritual/religious vibe to it also makes for a pretty unique experience that still fits in well with Fallout.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of tribals in Fallout but the origins of the ones you find in Zion are just very interesting and tied nicely into the Survivalist as well.

    I really enjoyed both Dead Money and Old World Blues for various reasons but they’re experiences that really… well, push themselves on you. They’re experiences where the knob has been turned to 11. I think Honest Hearts was extremely refreshing in that regard, just wish there had been some more character interactions. The writing is quite good, just feels like everything is over too quick.

    1. Jarenth says:

      Much appreciated. I can see why people talk about these so much, now.

      1. Chuck says:

        Indeed. Never mind the vaults, Fallout 4 needs to take place within thirty years of the War ending.

      2. Eärlindor says:

        Yes, those are really well done. I thought Fallout 3 had some interesting texts as well in some of their vaults. Vault 92 (with all the musicians) made me really sad… specifically the diary entries left by Zoe Hammerstein.

  21. Destrustor says:

    Rutskarn, I agree that the fact that you are the youngest of the group is funny. think about it this way: they will die of old age before you! MWAHAHA! You will rule the internetses!
    Also, am I the only one who thinks Reginald’s thumb looks weird and broken in first-person view?
    As for oblivion, I did play it a lot, somewhere along the lines of 3 or 4 characters for a total of around 80-120 hours, maybe? But it will never beat the twelve or so morrowind playthroughs and the 300-500 hours I put in them. Something about the exotic alien fantasyland of Vvardenfell just hooked me more than the bland tasteless standard fantasy of cyrodiil. I hated the level dependent loot: an illogical in-game feature that could only be explained by out-of-game reasons (durrr balance) and just vaporized the immersion. I have many other reasons but will not bore you with them. Lets just say I basically lost all interest in playing oblivion ever again, and not even this discussion tingles me enough to even consider it.

    1. Eärlindor says:

      The level-dependent loot was easily one of the things I hated the most.

  22. Kresh says:

    I think this is the weakest DLC (so far, we’ll see if the in-game, linked-story, hype will vindicate Lonesome Road or not), but it has the strongest supporting passive elements. I hate playing this DLC. Only the Survivalist back story and the beautiful scenery makes the missed story opportunities bearable.

    Perhaps it’s the fact that the quests are so weak and silly that makes the passive background seem stronger.

  23. Greg says:

    I thought the terminal diary of the nurse treating the radiation sickness patients in the aftermath of the bombing in fallout three was excellent. Harrowing.

    1. Zombie says:

      That was at the Germantown Police HQ. I remember cause I went there to get the person traped by the super mutants, so I could use the hypno gun thing on her, and get her to put a raider coller on, so I could be friends with the raiders, so I could get the kids for Little Lamplight (*Shudder*) and make money, Which you could skip if you had the child at heart perk. Now that I think about it Fallout 3 made no sense

      1. Kresh says:

        Fallout 3 made plenty of sense. They had some absurd action chains, chains that could be easily and unintentionally broken, but it made plenty of sense. In a “WTF are supermutants doing in DC? Meh, whatever” kind of way.

        I thought the slavers were one of the more sanely put together factions; there was no need for pretend moral decisions to be thrown into the mix. You were just evil, of course, for doing it. Easy-peasey. The only quibble I had about the slavers is that you had to use the mesmotron (mesmitron?) and couldn’t just stun people another way and put a collar on them. At least, I never found a way to do it. Did I miss something?

        1. Destrustor says:


        2. Zombie says:

          Ok, I will admit I used the wrong choice of words. But it was easy to bypass a lot of the main stuff, like what I said, of doing the stupid little kid quest, when all you needed was child at heart, or really high speach(I kind of like F:NV because I havnt found anything that makes you do a long and pointless quest chain, only to find out all you need is one little perk to get by it) but some of it was just plain weird and out there. I think they mention it in one of their Fallout 3 videos, but how do you get and Aircraft carrier up the Potomic river? And no, I dont think there was a way to just stun them.

          1. I just straight up murdered everyone in Paradise Falls instead of bothering with their quest. So much simpler.

            1. Kresh says:

              Well, sure, that’s what anyone with half a brain did. Still, when you do an “evil run,” you have to be a slaver. Which, of course, showed how little there really was for an evil person to actually do, outside of calling Amata fat, blowing up Megaton, doing the neat “I wanna be a slaver too” quest, and being a jerk by shooting everybody they didn’t like. Maybe eat people if the mood struck you, but as the karma hit for that was about the same as stealing appliances from a junkie, why bother?

              So far as I was aware, the “palatial” room in Tenpenny Tower hardly qualified as a place where an evil overlord of the DC Wasteland could retire in dignity. I mean, did you see those snobs in the lobby? There’s evil, and then there’s the inhabitants of Tenpenny Tower. Feckless, whiny, useless wastes of skin, and that’s the “Evil” house? That was supposed to be a REWARD for being a wasteland monster? I could go so far as to say it might have been a subtle punishment, conjured up during a rare and genius dark moment by the designers, but based on the rest of the wasteland I’d say I was being generous.

              Even letting the ghouls eat the inhabitants of Tenpenny Tower doesn’t make the place better. I always ended up sleeping in the slaver camp. At least there I could feel like I was somewhat evil. *shrug*

  24. CalDazar says:

    This reminds me, what ever happened to Rutskarns Oblivion Lets Play?

    I think what made the Dark Brotherhood quest line as popular as it is was that you couldn’t go out and murder people on your own without getting the slower version of minority report cops on your arse. So not only was it intresting but unlike mages stuff, fighters stuff, and stealing stuff, you couldn’t get it else where without a pain in the arse.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Computer meltdown nuked the save.

  25. Grudgeal says:


    I actually ended up saying that out loud. Darned arcade-ingrained knee-jerk reactions.

  26. Groboclown says:

    Shamus, I too did all the side quests in Oblivion before starting the main quest. I mean, I did ALL the side quests in Oblivion before starting the main quest. Even the ones like “Visit Lookout Point” (or whatever that highest point on the map is called) that only show up in your quest log when you complete the quest.

    And, because of the auto-leveling, it meant that I went into Kvatch at the level limit, and all the super high level daedric lords slaughtered the non-auto-level troops. It was myself trying to keep the unkillable NPC from going unconscious every second.

  27. Blackbird71 says:

    What’s this? Shamus is actually admitting to having enjoyed Oblivion? This site has changed! I’m glad you finally had fun with it Shamus. Were there any particular mods you preferred using?

    1. Shamus says:

      I have lots of posts in the archives talking about Oblivion, good and bad.

      The only mod I remember is an interface mod. Oh, and the mod I made to remove the fast-travel locations from cities you haven’t visited. There were others, but I don’t remember them.

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