CAUTION - VERY LONG READ. I'll try to withle it down a bit, but it might be worth reading even so. Ok, so, this is mostly a restoration project thing, and some doubts and gripes about the game progression related to the additions, and some stuff that might not be additions. Unless you've combed through te game quite a few times, read the epic walthrough a few times and all that, it's loaded with SPOILERS, so if you don't want that don't read. It's also very long. It's not a critique or bashing or making demands, it's a very loving playtest report. Anywho, after playing through the game quite a few times here's stuff that I got gripes with on a pure technical level. Stuff that always irks me in the same way, and none of it has to do with whether any of it "makes sense" story wise. Last few times I played the game I tried to keep it fun and challenging and see as much stuff as I can, not cheat my way to equipment or huge XP bonuses and tackle challenges at what seemed like appropriate times. Also, I've always tried to run around the map as little as possible trying to optimize my stay in every town*. *This helps with not tackling challenges which you are overleveled and overequipped for, and most of the time it's possible and very enjoyable and fulfilling. It also reduces irritation with mechanics which are flavourful in moderation but chores if you have to do them too many times - entering vault city with mutants in your party, entering VC depending on night/day, entering NCR with weapons holstered, any map where you have to enter on one map just to interact with an NPC a few maps away, etc... You save quite a bit of in-game and RL time this way. Anywho here's my full playthrough review, the result of quite a bit of research: 1) I clear out everything in Arroyo, and if I ever do any more modding (I've done a little bit on the megamod for my own sake), I think I'll do some here. But or all practical puroposes I'm ok with the RP Arroyo. 2) I do everything in Klamath, too. Lately I've started using the dynamite solution to the rat god choosing not to get the combat knife that way (there's one in a grave in the Den and I don't need two that early), and i also kind of not go for the leather armor. It obsoletes the jacket, and I just got the jacket, so I kind of tend to not go for it. But otherwise, everything's fine. 3!) Den - this is where it gets interesting. I avoid the Buffy cheat (even though I always play female), and I don't shoot the shopkeepers either. What I do is I do stuff which doesn't involve me running past the kids, do the RP orphanage quest, set up for it's reward. I get the info on where Sulik's sister is from Metzger, don't do lara-tyler war cuz it's too early, and then I go to the slaver camp and talk the slavers into releasing Kurisu and end up at the Umbra tribe (sometimes with Vic bought sometimes not). 4!!) Umbra Tribe. Now there's a thing with Umbra tribe, and that's that if you go there any later than the point I've described, there's absolutely no challenge in any of the quests in terms of combat, and they're all rather straightforward in terms of story. There's also very little to gain there for a character past this point. And it's also probbably the best way to pass the time while the kids clear from the streets in the Den. However, the skill roll for talking the Slavers into releasing Kurisu might take reloading, and you actually have to think up this story progression by thinking outside the box with the knowledge of someone who's been throught both the game and the walkthrough. IDEA: After many playthroughs looking for a balanced and rich early game, I find that there should be active encouragement by the game to visit Umbra Tribe at about this time. The way it is now it's more of a sequence break / speech related unless you kill Metzger, and it's works better as this "sequence break" than if done in "sequence" (will come up later why). It's the "natural" time to do it, and after trying stuff out I conclude that it's a fine early game location, the worldmap encounters between it and the den are satisfying for an early game (possibly even more so if you skimmed over Klamath). SIMPLE SOLUTION: Since you're looking for Vic anyway, adding dialogue to Vic about how he was captured on his way to the Umbra Tribe which puts the camp on the map (saying he was held there) would do fine as you'd be able to discover where Suliks Sister is through the natural "main quest". This could work wheter he is free or not. If you go to the slaver camp with him, you could even have the option to "prove" you're coming from Metzger by pointing out that Metzger lent him to you as a slave guide, or whatever. If you then free Kurisu this way, you'll end up in Umbra. You can do everything there and you don't have any natural reason to return. You'll be able to do the quests there easily, and expirience the random encounters on your way back to the den. BONUS: For the sake of keeping a stable number of objects and items around, the fish that only apper in Umbra and weight way too much could probably be removed, and a rope could be added somewhere so you don't have to know in advance that you'll need it and not be able to fix the well unless you have some on you. If you rescue Kurisu on your way there, and that's optimal, you really don't have any reason to return, so why not smooth it out completely? 5!) Den - so after doing the Umbra Tribe, I return to the den and all the children have buggered off to the orphanage, so I proceed to do everything there is to do here. Except sabotaging Backy Still (I've never ever done it. It'd just muck up the ending with one random silly misdeed and everything else I do here works towards a different cause). I talk to Karl in advance, set up the Smitthy quest, and move on... sometimes I give killing Metzger here a shot, sometimes I don't, depends on what I feel like (with hommemade traps and grenades it's fun, but otherwise I smoke him on the return back - which then leads to discovering where Kurisu is at a time when Umbra Tribe has nothing to offer). Den's fine. 6) Modoc - even though I've tried the Den - > Redding - > New Reno path it kind of feels like the game is sort of more naturally inclined to set you towards Modoc - > VC (especially considering the Car quest). Doing everything in Modoc the first time around isn't necessary, because you have a natural second visit when you come back for the car. Still, everything but the deathclaw is fair game and I ussually do it. I've never went for Miria, though, because I always play a girl and I don't know if a decent Davin mod was ever made. So I ussually talk my way out of marriage. I leave the deathclaw for later (if ever), do everything else (+ ghost farm naturally), and move on to VC. (Modoc is actually an ok little town but the ghost farm is truly a complete blank slate - but no issues, really). 7) VC - now I've got a few gripes with how things play out with VC, but you might be surprised that they're actually constructive rather than whiny ones. There's a bunch of self contained quests in VC, and I obviously do them right away. I also always save the booze for the booze delivery in advance, but since you do a fair bit of traveling to and fro there's never really any need. Getting citizenship only really means being able to get into the vault, the gecko scouting quest goes nicely along with it, I do the valerie quest for a super tool kit for Skeeter in advance, and it's all fine and dandy, you can do a lot of stuff. I pick the raiders quest too, and I'm off the gecko. 8) Gecko - here I do everything (there's really not much to do), pick up the woody quest for the return trip to the Den, do Skeeter's stuff, get the quest to get the reactor part from VC, click on stuff, and avoid the sublevel with the rat god for now. Then i'm off to... 9!!!) The abbey! So here's another perfectly logical "sequence break" that should probably not really be a sequence break. It would in fact certainly be better with an adjustment to a dialogue or two somewhere in Gecko that leads you there at some point. There are quite a few reasons to come here much later but those actually work better (and make sense) on a return trip to the Abbey, rather than a first visit. Plus there's a very simple quest here that teleports you to Gecko, and it's pretty easy to not have any reason to go to Gecko (from the Abbey) at a later point. Also, the pump repair quest needs a part from the VC courtyard, and if you're done with VC before you get Abbey on your map that's another trip you're making for only one interaction. What I do here at this point is everything except the armor, have a really nice and challenging encounter with the deathclaw* and pick up the pump part quest, the bothany quest, talk with father Tully's drunk friend and pick up the wine for father Tully. *The VC - Gecko quest hub has a really low ammount of combat quests, and this fight is a nice place to spend some resources. TROUBLE: The abbey is stuck in a remote place, and by the point I find it "in sequence" there is very little to do in the surrounding towns which you get to visit as part of doing Abbey quests (taking the tragic playing monk to Gecko and getting the pump fixed). There is also 0 combat in Gecko and VC while you're doing their quests (unless you count a random encounter or two while scouting Gecko), and the Deathclaws are really tough and nasty around this time (but you've been stocking up on resources ever since you start out from the Den). You also get quests which are solved on the other, very far part of the worldmap, and if you discover the abbey on the other side of the wordmap you have to travel almost the entire map twice for rather palty rewards which are even more paltry the later you get them. SUGGESTIONS: If I were to smooth out the integration of the Abbey with minimal fuss as to fit better into a natural game progression (for a good character, but still) I'd do the following: make an adjustment to the vault village quest (see that when it crops up it's my biggest gripe in the entire game), or failing that create a natural excuse involving someone in VC, Courtyard or Gecko which would put the Abbey on your map and give you a good reason to go there. The ideal time would be the first time you're visiting Gecko so you can have the pump part and the reactor part fetch quests at the same time. Otherwise, a good time would be when you're looking to optimize the plant - that quest is impossibly lame (talk to festus, talk to mcclure, that's it). I'd go with that option, honestly, adding a step where you have to find info on optimizing a pre-war reactor from the Abbey would be great. Then at the abbey, I'd add a New Reno hook by turning the Father Tully quest on it's head. Instead of finding the quest to find the gravekeeper from Tully, you'd get the quest from the Gravekeeper to find father Tully and if you do give him a bottle of his favourite abbey wine. I do this naturally allready, but I'm breaking sequence since I know he's going to want wine and pick it up in advance. There's also way too many stat rising books and items of all kinds in the Abbey so I'd cut down on them a bit - they're either too good if found this early, or useless if found when you go to the Abbey later. You'd also be able to pick up the heart pills quest here for you'r return trip with Marcus and Tully's regards, and you'd also be able to pick up the bothany quest. Since EPA is so obscure a location, I'd probably add the ability to get it on the map from the database here. It seems to be best visited before you beef up too much. So in short, add a difficult to miss reason/hook/hint in Gecko that would put Abbey on your map, put a more obvious New Reno hook to the gravekeeper which ties into getting a bottle of Abbey wine (lighter quest) before you go to New Reno, cut down a bit on the skillbooks in the Abbey (maybe). 10) VC I get my citizenship, go into the vault and ussually go get the car before anything else. I stop at modoc if I have any unfinished bussiness there (since I'm sure to have buffout and dynamite to move rocks and I know if I can deal with a deathclaw) I go to the Den and pick the car up and upgrade it, talk to Karl, find the missing ghoul, visit redding, do everything but frog morton (sometimes) and the wannamingo mine. (which is not much TBH, Redding is horribly and terribly low on content), ussually rob the casino with the help of the stealth boy and dynamite (since I'm there - but doing that pays off way to well whenever you do it). 11!!!) Shit breaks down. I'd go back to Gecko to optimize the plant and get my reward for finding woody and it would be awesome because I could also do the vault village quest while I'm the area, but there's a big flaw in the plan here. The second scouting quest for VC. This is my biggest gripe with the sequence of how things work out now (or even in the vanilla), because I always end up sort of having to do a pointless and sequence breaking compromise when a small adjustment or two would make things work out so much better. The vault village quest comes up after you've completed the second scouting quest for VC, which is travel all the way to the NCR. Now I don't have a problem per se with the idea of traveling all the way to the NCR from Vault City. It puts NCR on your map, it gives you your first hook to go there anyway, and technically takes you to New Reno because you go straight through Broken Hills that way and if you take the "get mine parts" quest you're bound to take the short detour to new reno. Then once there you deliver the suitcase to bishop and find out where the raiders are with his map (if you didn't allready). But you also get the "kill westin" quest from bishop and if you combine that with your trip to the NCR you end up screwing yourself out of the quest that has you become the captain of the guards. So that'll have to wait untill you deal with the raiders on your return trip from the NCR. But the thing is that if you do pretty much anything in the NRC at the time you get there, even if you've done everything (and that can mean everything I've said + Broken Hills + Better Part of New Reno) you're getting way better shop opportunities, way more xp for 1 dialogue quests than anywhere but San Fran and you're not nearly done with midgame. So if you don't want to break sequence in any way you are rather limited in what you can do at NCR on your first visit - but it doesn't seem so. Because you can easily get the GECK while you're there (very easily and with 0 combat, in several ways), and it's probably logical to do it so you don't have to worry about the starving arroyo (if that's even a factor). If you enter NCR, hear from any number of people Tandi wants you do do something, go to vault 15, use a molotov on the locked door, go in, pick up the location of vault 13 from the computer, go to vault 13 and put in the voice module you have from the VC vault or you bought in New Reno, that's endgame xp you're getting even if you don't pick up the reward from Tandi. If you do, you've broken the game right there without even trying. Its even easier if you talk to Dupont in NCR, take Westins job to guard cattle, have a high outdoorsman, find vault 13 and that's that. If you've seen bishop (and you got a good detour reason, and his breefcase) it's natural to try to see how westin is in while you're at NCR. And the RP specific gripe is that you're likely to go through all this before Vault Village unlocks unless you run all the way to the bottom of the map, and when you get there ignore even exploring the town for the most part and quests you got along the way, to turn back and go all the way back, solve the raiders on the way and get all their guns, and then return and be able to get the quest from Lynette that takes you back to NCR. And the vault village quest which can be solved at any level whatsoever unlocks but the rewards are meaningless, the guns you allready have, the gold you allready have. You'll visit the abbey after having done everything in Broken hills at a fine time, so when the second quest unlocks after a month it'll be the only reason to go back to that corner of the map and you'll be doing stuff more appropriate to your level everywhere else. So I've never actually done the second part of that quest, there was simply no reason to go there. IN SHORT: The vault village quest simply needs to unlock before the trip to NCR, while the area it is happening in is still relevant. If it means reducing the power of the guns (making them something other than assault rifles and the combat shotgun as to not give the player too much inapropriatelly decent weaponry for no effort along with gold) and the gold - great. Because by the time you do this quest unless you do unintuitive things you'll have better weponry and more gold than you know what to do with. Since you'll be returning to the area anyway to solve the Raiders quest, and later become the captain of the guards - you can have the second quest unlocked on time to actually solve it. SECOND: The only reason you're travelling to NCR in the vanilla is, mechanicaly, to get you to visit Broken Hills and take the detour to New Reno and have all the politic happen while steering you south. While the raiders were easy to find originally this also ment you found THEM that way too. I'm not sure anymore, but it's possible that the NCR scouting quest was indeed ment to have you discover the Raiders, then investigate that in New Reno, and then when you finally solve that triangle (along with Broken Hills), arrive in NCR with both the quest to kill Westin and deliver Lynettes message. The way things are now, the "scout around NCR" quest can't be NCR anymore, and if I make another mod that will in fact be the first thing I change. It'll be "scout broken hills". Scouting broken hills means you'll go in, do everything there, go to New Reno, do stuff there, go back to VC and THEN have the "map the route to NCR", "deliver Lynette's message" and "assassinate Westin" or at least the latter two. Then you can return to Lynette for the reward and do the second Vault Village quest. RESUME: So what I do now if I want to do things "naturally" is take a trip to NRC for the VC scouting quest and do the Westin brahmin guarding - Vault 13 - Geck ting for convinience (and very sequence breaking 5000 xp). I used to immediately turn back, but this stops Hakunin and my concience from bugging me and lets me explore the big picture at my own pace. Anywho, I do the pointless trip to NCR, then the Vault Village quest* and turn back and go to where I'd end up anyway - Broken Hills. (If I accidentaly find the raiders, I probably still don't have enough sneak and just don't do them since I don't in fact need their weapons as I won't be doing much fighting for a while and good mid game fights are scarce so I want to enjoy it). *THIRD: The vault village quest has the weird kink that it's acting as if it were supposed to unlock before you optimize the power plant as having done it before you get the quest (and the quest unlocks at the hugely silly time for it to unlock so you'll generally always unlock it later) the rat will solve it for you without even pointing you to Gordon to get the economy holodisk. Really, just tying the two quests togather with a possible Abbey hook would solve most of the issues with Vault Village. 12) Broken Hills - I do everything, they're pretty self contained. I make sure to pick the mine parts quest and the glassess, and head over to New Reno. 13) New Reno - I bring the suitcase to bishop, do all the stuff for other mob bossess (don't get made yet), get more car upgrades, do all the other stuff including Father Tully, Cat's Paw, breaking up the stills and possibly becoming a porn star/prizefighter (if I can't I leave it for return trips). I pick up the electronic lockpicks and technical manual from the basement with the upgrade cheat guy* (and sometimes cheat up an upgrade) and go back to Broken Hills, then do the Raiders (both the sneak + convince and then killing them anyway since the deathclaw is the last thing I killed), then Vault City. There I get the Lynette -> Westin holodisk quest. *The basement of New Reno Arms I've got one problem with. Namely, I'd love to be able to avoid it, but the only Electronic lockpick in the modless RP is there and I don't like fighting my instincts to get a bunch of upgrades (and with each upgrade a bunch of ammo) for free. I really whish that lockpick was somewhere else. Like anywhere. Also, it would be really, really awesome if upgrading weapons didn't refill their ammo. It makes the upgrade cheat guy way too silly even if all you want is cool guns. And at this point it's all mop-up with not too many unreasonable detours. 14) Then I go to NCR, do stuff there, do Westin delivery, do Westin in, get the rangers quest, return to new reno. 15) I get the final Bishop quest, mop stuff up if there's stuff left, pick up Myron, find EPA from him, leave him in NR, go to EPA, do the bothany quest, pick up the seeds and pick up an NPC, go back to new reno, make sure I have Myron and Marcus with me. I go to VC where I get named captain of the guards, make the Jet Antidote and get bullets out of Marcus. And then I'm done with VC, so I go over to the Abbey to mop up all the quests there (heart pills, bothany, marcus armor), head back to New Reno via Broken Hills (to use poison on a mutant) and pick up whoever I left in New Reno. 16) Then I go to NCR, assassinate the vice prez, mop up what's left, do vault 15 for the Tandi quest, stick rubber boots on everyone and take Duppo's Brahmin Drive to redding. I do the wannamingo's and Frog Morton in, solve the jet problem and have a nice slow trek to the slaver camp first to do the ranger quest, then to toxic caves, then back to redding, caravan back down towards the car (because I can fast forward time). 17) Then it's SAD and whatever mop-up I feel is appropriate for New Reno. 19) San Fran - Navarro - Mariposa - Navaro whipe - San Fran - Enclave - End. SO IN SHORT: What would smooth out the integration of "extra" content and overall story progression with minimal fuss: - A line of dialogue for Vic regardless of whether you've freed him which puts the Slaver Camp on you map so you can solve the Sulik Sisters quest and be steered towards Umbra Tribe early enough while following the natural course of the game would be nice. And an easier and more reliable skill check for talking the slavers into letting you get away with it, with a bonus option for having Vic along for he ruse. - Making Abbey unlock during the VC-Gecko storyline, with Father Tully as fallback for those who blow it up. - Making the 1st Vault Village unlock before the second scouting mission, with possible adjustment to the guns/money involved as to not make the player too powerful. It's also a good way to make the Abbey unlock before you go south, as the rat can send you to the Abbey to get info on how to optimize the reactor or something. - Change the NCR scouting mission to Broken Hills scouting to avoid putting the player right next to too easy huge gobs of XP, gold and loot for no good reason out of turn and allow for a smoother and more natural transition south. The way it works now is very likely contributing to the "brokenness" of the economy system as you can just do the "officer jack wants to blow himself up" if you walk into NCR during daytime with decent speech for as much XP + books as all the Gecko quests togather. And the game steers you into a position to actually do it right afterwards. And, err, I think I could actually do all this myself, the little modding I've done in my life has probably been more complex. I would need a few pointers and tips, though, and I'm pretty sure the changes would be fine for any RP user. Thanx for the long read, I mean nothing bad, and hours of play, reading and thought went into all this and I was careful not to propose anything preposterous, so I hope I haven't offended anyone. If someone disagrees with my playstyle or the playstyle presented in this review - I played many different playstyles, this is a consideration and reconstruction of an "ideal" playthrough and places which make it difficult but could with small tweaks make the game much better. Also, some of the issues/proposals come from the integration of certain restored elements, which while great, sometimes weren't integrated in the most optimal way.