By: George Weidman
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Two new Fallout: New Vegas DLC releases may have whooshed by you this week if you weren’t paying attention, and the difference between the two is like night and day. See our thoughts on Courier’s Stash and Gun Runner’s Arsenal below.
The first of these two releases includes the four starter packs that came with the pre-order editions of New Vegas. Basically, they’re just caches of entry-level gear that are siphoned directly into your inventory immediately after purchase, the intention being that players who pay the extra bucks get a bit of an edge in the early game. Yup, it’s kind of patronizing. The Caravan Pack and Mercenary Pack, for instance, only contain equipment that has always been in the game since the beginning. The other two packs are mereley marginal re-skins of existing assets. It’s saddening to know that people will pay this $2 premium for sugar-coated old content. But it gets worse: the Classic Pack features a Vault 13 canteen that automatically reduces the player’s thirst and raises HP, nullifying virtually all the extra difficulty added in “Hardcore” mode.
This thing is completely unnecessary and reeks of marketing tackiness. We should not tolerate being sold “new content” that is simply re-named, re-painted old content. With the exception of the canteen, which might as well be a downloadable cheat code, this purchase doesn’t add anything to the game. In practice, it simply interrupts the flow and balance of New Vegas’ early game.
At the low low cost of $1.99, you too can not enjoy the experience of playing the way the developers intended!
Gun Runner’s Arsenal
On the other hand, here’s a downloadable pack that is actually pretty cool. A quick payment of $4 augments virtually every aspect of New Vegas’ arsenal in a fashion that’s admittedly more refined and built with more, ahem, “production values,” than what the mod scene can put out. New guns include some over-the-top, high end explosives such as the Esther mini-nuke launcher (which includes a blast shield for the player’s own protection), but also some lower-end weapons that simply exist as ways to dispense older ammo. The 5.56mm pistol makes so much sense that it’s hard to wonder why it wasn’t in the game to begin with. New ammo types include pulse-laced, incendiary, and flechette shotgun shells (just to name three of 30). The pack even includes 40 extra weapon modifications to beef up the strategic possibilities of the 38 new weapons. The extensive list of included content is long and exciting just to read: even melee weapons aren’t ignored.
In practice, it’s as good as it sounds. However, there’s one problem: many of the “new” weapons are simply minor duplicates of old weapons, changed with only a couple of tweaked stats here and there, a re-sized model, and added compatibility with the new mods. This is what a $4 DLC should buy: a grandiose goodie bag that fixes problems that have always existed in Vegas’ arsenal while also providing ridiculous new toys for higher-level characters. It’s nicely balanced, and plays nice with mods. Essentially, it’s like buying a premium version of a weapons overhaul mod. Though there are free fan-made alternatives to this purchase, they don’t reach the same threshold of quality.
A New Vegas installation can linger on one’s hard drive for years and all that Gun Runner’s Arsenal does is make the whole experience better. It’s a recommended buy.
Follow TPG on Twitter.