Defense and Criticism of Lonesome Road

Discussion in 'Fallout: New Vegas Discussion' started by Atomic Postman, Apr 9, 2020.

  1. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Alright, just going to post some thoughts on Lonesome Road.

    Firstly, I actually like Ulysses. I think he's a good character. He has excellent buid up prior to Lonesome Road, the idea of a "mirror" protagonist is great. I love his background, his travels, his way of speaking and his insight on the factions of the game and the challenge he poses to the archetypal Fallout protagonist is great. I love the Divide both in concept and execution. Ulysses is the exemplar of new world mysticism of America that I love in New Vegas. That being said, I have some fundamental issues with Lonesome Road.

    My main criticism is Ulysses shoud have been bombing the Mojave not NCR

    For the following reasons:

    1. Fallout should not promote atomic weapons as solutions to issues. Period. We here at NMA criticize Bethesda a lot for their light-hearted/laissez-faire portrayal of nuclear weapons, and yet I actually don't think the way ICBMs are used in Lonesome Road is actually conceptually any different in its message than the nuke system in Fallout 76.

    2. If the player is literally any faction other than NCR, Ulysses's threats fall totally flat outside of existential moral offense to the loss of life in general/nuclear weapons. I'll be honest, when RPing my anarchistic Indepedent Courier, I found it hard to motivate him against Ulysses outside of personal grudge.

    3. The idea of Ulysses nuking the player's "home" to make them understand the pain he felt of connecting himself to the Divide as a place of hope and where to rest his flagpole is a great idea. It feels so loosely connected/stretched with the explanation of the Long 15 being the Courier's home, where the Mojave exists as exactly that. Each player will feel connected to the Mojave, they've got that investment, that feeling of home exactly the same way Ulysses felt with the Divide.

    Snuffing out the Mojave would be snuffing out the hope of a new community, the place where the player sets down their flag. It would also make both fighting Ulysses and killing him, and also talking him down by convincing him you believe in breathing life into the Mojave so, so much more compelling

    4. Nuking Mojave would also achieve his intended effect of punishing Legion and NCR much more effectively and clearly than the stringent explaination that destroying NCR means the Legion will turn on itself quicker and also collapse.

    5. It removes the total and insane strain on suspense of disbelief of any normalized/continuing relations with NCR or Legion when the player nukes either or both factions

    Yes, sure, doing this would remove the variety of endings since letting him nuke Mojave would effectively end the game. However, Dead Money was basically "Stop Elijah and escape Sierra Madre" or "Non-Canon alternate ending". Why couldn't Lonesome Road be the same?

    I actually like Ulysses blaming the Courier for the Divide job and basically everything else about him. But this is such a fundamental flaw to me that it cripples the overall storyline.
  2. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    The big difference here is that the game treats Ulysses's nuclear bombs with dramatic weight. It's not "haha, nuclear bombs are fun", it's more either "these things are extremely dangerous" or "i can use this to fuck a faction i don't like".

    Bethesda Fallouts treat nuclear bombs as fireworks.

    A character can literally just want the nuclear bombs to cripple a faction they don't like. So it's reasonable for a Legion, Indepedent or House character to want to "stop" Ulysses so that they can have access to the bombs and use them.

    I also don't recall Ulysses ever saying the nuclear bombs are specifically gonna be used against the NCR. I remember more that he intends to just deploy them through the Mojave to destroy most of it.

    The thing that sucks the most about Ulysses is that he was cut from the main game where he was meant to be a companion. It would give the game a companion that was heavily affiliated for a long time with the Legion, which is something the main game needed very much.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
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  3. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Actually the nukes in 76 have about the same 'dramatic weight' to them. The main character of the """story""", the Overseer, is vehemently against their usage and is seeking them out to get them under the control. The justification for the player's usage of them is that you're annihilating the Scorched, a potentially world ending threat that's already wiped out the population of Appalachia. I'd say that's about on par in weighting with Ulysses/The Courier's motivation to incite nuclear holocaust

    Both systems still use the launch of ICBM warheads to the end of creating bomb-zones with minimal radiation and epic loot for the player to find (Courier's Mile/Long-15/Dry Wells). To me it seems very counter-productive to the harrowing portrayal of nuclear weapons that Fallout should carry on its back. It's especially counter-productive because the Divide is a fresh reminder of what horror atomic war creates. It's a flashback to what the immediate years after the Great War would have been like, blasted hellscape that only the strong and lucky could barely survive. It makes the actions of the Courier/loss of the Divide so much more horrifying.

    But then the nuclear threat is absolutely downplayed by what appears to be the very small-scale threat of ICBM detonations.

    His intention is explicitly to nuke NCR/Long-15 as in his words, cutting of the Republic will in a long time destroy the Republic, which will then lead to the Legion collapsing because he believes when the NCR is done for, so is the Legion as they don't have anyone to fight.

    As for the tactical motivation, I find that massively undercuts the narrative climax then. It'd be like if the Chosen One had the option of innoculating the Arroyo tribesmen, taking over the Oil Rig and using the airborne FEV plan for themselves. Sure, confronting Richardson/Horrigan would still have some climax but nowhere near to the point of a desperate battle to prevent destruction of incalculable scale. Plus, as I say the concequences of doing it are so totally fumbled and break suspension of disbelief that IMO they would have been better served just making it a Stop Ulysses/Join Ulysses dichotomy and embrace him as the homage to the classic Fallout villains of old that he is clearly meant to be.
  4. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    Expect in 76 the whole thing is swept under the rug and you can just launch nukes forever. That is not the same thing.

    Ulysses's motivation is also not the same as the player in 76. Ulysses's motivation is an act of revenge for what happened in the Divide. In 76 is literally nothing but to loot shit and kill a Skyrim Dragon. They are not the same and i don't know why you are even comparing them.
    It's technically to cripple both, so it's not NCR specifically.
    The Vault Dweller in Fallout 1 can literally side with the Super Mutants and the Master, and destroy Vault 13 if he wishes to, when the entire point of the game is to save Vault 13. It's the bad ending, but it's something you can do. If anything, that's a criticism of Fallout 2 because it doesn't allow the player to join the Enclave, which is one of the biggest issues i have with the game, and a clear sign of its rushed production. I'm pretty sure Black Isle would have allowed the player to join the Enclave if the game had more development time.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  5. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    "Storywise" in 76 I'm pretty sure you only launch the one, the rest are just gameplay dissonance (Much in the way the Mark of Caesar forgives you for...nuking Arizona.) and you are being deliberately dense (sorry to be rude) in that I literally just explained that the 76 player motivation is to save the world from the Scorched Plague, the Scorchbeasts are like walking holocausts of this fungal zombie-virus thing and have already culled the human population of a region just by breathing the same air. If I really wanted to play Devil's Advocate I would even argue that is a stronger motivation than ideological politics in justifying literal nuclear warfare. China and America nuking eachother was about retaliation and ideological differences, after all.

    Let's also not forget how much "Loot shit" was also a factor for NV players who nuked Long 15 and Dry Wells because they wanted fancy armor.

    My point precisely. Ulysses should have been like the Master in that you could join him, and you'd get a non-canon destructive ending that would show you a totally different branching path where the Mojave is completely destroyed in atomic fire, and what that would do to the West Coast. The current version where you can still incite nuclear holocaust, but to your own targets with very little (actual) concequence is undermining of the game's own narrative and the series as a whole in figuratively the same way that it does in 76.
  6. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    That really wasn't your point because you outright said the Chosen One choosing to side with the Enclave would "undermine" the setup of the game, and you didn't mentioned it being fine if it was "non-canon".

    Getting vilified by the faction or factions you hit with the nuclear warheads is consequence enough. So no, not the same as 76 (literally zero consequences for launching nukes). I think you are expecting a world changing consequence affecting the main game, which really doesn't happen in the other DLCs. So i don't know why it should happen here.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  7. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Getting villified is not concequence enough for nuking California and/or Arizona. Like I said, you can nuke Arizona and then Vulpes gives you the Mark of Caesar and all is forgiven. It's absurd. And yes, correct, the other DLCs don't affect the main game like that because as in the example of Dead Money, you can stop with Elijah or you can non-canonically side with Elijah. They were going to do the same with the Think Tank, but cut it. If there were an option in Dead Money where I unleash the cloud and technological terror, but all it meant was getting villified and a new map opening up that was an NCR base but with the cloud, I'd think it would render the story of Dead Money far less effective and that's without nuclear weapons being in the picture.
  8. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    That's still a hell lot more than 76 which has literally zero consequences for launching nukes.
    It can be argued as an extreme exception because of the fact you have the Platinum Chip, something Caesar desperately wants.
    What about the people that actually want to do this? Should we restrict outcomes in RPGs because they "undermine" or render stories "less effective"? Now that is completely absurd.

    None of the endings for the base game or the Lonesome Road DLC are verified canon by the way. So launching the nukes in Lonesome Road can literally be changed to non-canon down the line, which would suck. I prefer the outcomes are never confirmed to be canon.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  9. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    Agreed. Lonesome Road deals with it marginally better than 76, but my original point was that conceptually they are coming from the same place with nukes as problem-solving loot-generators with not nearly the amount of concequence and weight that they should be dealt with.

    Now this is interesting, because I think if you can't find a way to reasonably and believably work these choices into your story and narrative themes, don't include it or heavily rework it. Avellone took option C, do it anyway. As I'm sure both you and I are fans of the original Fallout games, and Dead Money, yes? I didn't have any issues with those games having their doomsday antagonists be limited in choice because of the context they were in.

    The principle idea of the Lonesome Road ability to pick your nuclear targets sprouts from the idea for the Van Buren ending on B.O.M.B. 001 wherein you could redirect Presper's nukes to alternative locations in the Wasteland, except that was intrinsically tied with the ending of the game and made way more sense for doing so.

    Personally, if they were going to let the player redirect the missiles to ideologically aligned targets (Which IMO, is still worryingly pro-nuclear) the DLC should have flat-out been set after the game's content ended at Hoover Dam. Otherwise, stick to the principles of the doomsday antagonist ala Master, Enclave, Elijah and Think Tank.
  10. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    The Mojave wasn't nuked (much) in the great war because of Mr House's anti missile system. It's logical to assume it still exists (since Mr House "woke up" and activated all of his networks, securitrons, etc) and would still shoot down the Divide missiles.
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  11. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Hello all,

    Oh boy, so much to take it. Going to take my stupid brain a while to process this all.

    Regarding Lonesome Road, I have been discussing in the past how I wished that this had been a post vanilla FNV campaign DLC instead, taking place after the second battle of Hoover Dam.
    But as is pointed out here that could make it potentially more pro nuclear weapons than anti nuclear weapons if the player for example decided to make nuclear rain come down on Caesar's lands after the player already defeated the Legion at the end of FNV. (now the Legion surely will not come back)

    My wish had been that Ulysses was indeed a companion during the game or some kind of observer during the game who watched the player's actions choice of allegiances, and based on that made his decision on either nuking the West Coast (ending in which NCR is nuked suggest that more than just the Long 15 was as it took 200 years for civilization to recover), Caesar's lands (the Legion really needed more development for this to work), or the Mojave itself like the poster of this thread suggests. (I had also considered that possibility)

    But during those discussions with friends some of the flaws and issues of this idea also came up and I think they are also mentioned in this thread such as the consequences of using nuclear weapons to solve a problem.

    Personally I starting think with any of the nuke endings the game should perhaps end. That would of course give players the idea that they made a bad decision but using nukes to open up some new maps to loot or perhaps turn the Mojave in a radioactive wasteland full of loot... well that also doesn't sound right.

    I like Lonesome Road, especially because of the atmosphere (I wish there had more) and though many people consider it the weakest of the DLC (my choice goes to Honest Hearts as I honestly did not care that much for the tribal stuff) I enjoy going through it even if it is very linear and the most shooter-y of all the DLCs (even less NPCs to talk to)
    But the ending the the DLC is indeed problematic when connected to FNV.

    Van Buren handled it much better with the player having to choose were to redirect a couple of the missiles that could not be disabled (so some places will have to suffer even if the player improved these) and afterwards the game ending as the player's escape pod crashes in unknown territory.

    Sorry that I can not contribute much to the discussion.
    I do feel Obsidian handled nuclear weapons much better than Bethesda did (exception maybe all those random warheads the player had to blow up) and I get the idea that nuclear weapons appeared in Fallout 76 because the Bethesda development team had been looking at Lonesome Road and decided that they wanted that as a gameplay gimmick.

    As I discussed with someone else, if the missile silos in Fallout 76 could manufacture new ICBMs like hell the Enclave would allow them to fall into the hands of civilians like the vault dweller overseer.
  12. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    You could pretty easily write this away by saying whatever system House had, was either expended after the concusion of the Great War or in the two centuries since (perhaps due to the massive system failures House experienced) has been rendered inert.
  13. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    I doubt it.
    Mr. House is preparing to kick the NCR out of the Mojave. The NCR has Vertibirds. Mr. House would make sure he has anti-air/air strike defenses in place and ready.

    Upgraded Securitrons wouldn't work against air assaults.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  14. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign No Original Thought Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    What you just said is why I used the Ulysses companion mod. It was very well done.
  15. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    Never understood why they removed a seemingly very crucial character from the main game and put him in a DLC. Like i said above, the base game really needed a companion that had extensive experience with the Legion, someone to help give that faction a lot more context than the final release ended up giving.

    The rushed development of New Vegas honestly pisses me off more than Fallout 2's. A bunch of good shit that got cut that would have improved the game greatly.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  16. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign No Original Thought Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    Because Bethesda is why.
  17. Aurelius Of Phoenix

    Aurelius Of Phoenix Pseud

    Mar 9, 2018
    I think the divide isn't harsh enough gameplay wise, only thing is that the marked men are tanky but their isn't much that puts the end game character to the test. Same way I feel about Hoover Dam as well. Also wish more information was given about the settlement post-war that used to be there.
  18. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    This is a pretty big assumption/specualtion. For all we know, House had an Israel style "Iron-Dome" system and expended all of his counter-ICBM tech at the conclusion of the war, and that's equally as valid considering it is literally never brought up in context of the modern day.

    We see that the NCR has a singular Vertibird. We don't know if they have anymore, but there's no proof of it either way. Vertibirds, as far as I am aware in the Fallout 2/ New Vegas canon, aren't armed with any weapons? Either way, the NCR clearly does not have any actual real air-combat capabilities as evidenced by the fact that if they did, The Fort would have been air-striked by now.

    Agreed. The Divide was an okay challenge, but the ante needed to be rocked up even more. Double agreed on the fact that there is basically no evidence of the post-war Divide settlement outside of the NCR/Legion references too.
  19. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    This game really needed another year of development in order to flesh out the Arizona part and of course all the other cut content.
    Yes it is playable now and I have been able to restore content with mods but whenever I play this game now I know I am not playing the full intended experience which does bother me.

    At least I can give you some feedback on that one. I know it is only shown in the "Nuke NCR" or "Nuke NCR and Legion" options but when you visit the Long 15 you see the wreckage of several Vertibirds in the NCR camp.
    So I think it is save to assume NCR has more than one Vertibird.

    Also think it is save to assume that Vertibirds have weapons such as machine guns and could carry missiles or bombs.
    Main reason why NCR would probably not use them for air strikes is because NCR can not replace any destroyed Vertibirds, and evidence shows that Vertibirds can be shot down.

    We can assume that for the sake of the campaign the NCR never air bombed the Fort as otherwise it could not serve as Caesar's headquarters.

    The only solution I could have seen for this is other than trying to add some kind of prologue to Fallout New Vegas was perhaps have the player go through memory segments as he or she travels across the Divide. (the player suddenly having flashbacks as memories that were previously suppressed due to being shot in the head come up again)

    Personally I think this issue could have been avoided if the player has never been to the Divide in the first place and Ulysses showing it as an example to the player to what happens when the NCR or the Legion take control.

    Sort of "You have seen the Divide, this is how the world is going to look like when [faction] is going to take control and expand."

    I still love Lonesome Road but there would have to be some major redesigns in order to make it work better including the endings in which the player launches the missiles at a region.
    Again I think that the game should end if the player decides to allow the missiles to launch or fires the missiles themselves.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  20. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign No Original Thought Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Arizona DLC


    Honestly they should have devoted one of the DLC's to the Legion. Who really needed Honest Hearts? Or they could have just made Lonesome Road better. Either way I believe it was Bethesda's fault on that one too.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1