Most of what I’ve read from fellow redditors about DM is polarized. People tend to love or hate this DLC. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked but I seem to recall more people hating it than loving it. This stands out to me because upon completing it the first time I remember thinking that Dead Money was 1. Worth the time. And 2. The most thematically sound story in modern Fallout gaming. I stand by this second point. Dead Money does a great job of showing just how hard it is to let go of something once we’ve found it. All the characters suffer from an inability to move forward with their lives beyond some defined point. Dog/God cannot reconcile their shared identity. Elijah and Dean are obsessed with the Sierra Madre vault contents. Christine seeks revenge. Sinclair built an entire city for Vera. The characters are each slavishly devoted to something that ends up trapping them in a hellish lost city. The wonders promised to them instead consuming their souls. This is awesome storytelling and the environment of the Villa (and its surrounding locales) elevates the story by showing how treacherous obsession can become.
That said, the game play is miserable. My first play through I appreciated how “different” DM felt. It struck me as Fallout meets survival horror. I would not be able to blast through my problems, or run amok. I would need to be exacting and careful with every step. Despite being difficult, I looked forward to returning to the Sierra Madre a second time.
Boy has my opinion ever changed. For me, the joy of Fallout derives mostly from exploration. Turning over every stupid burnt prewar book in search of a magazine or skill book is what I pick up the game for. Combat and story are largely secondary though I will concede that NV and particularly the DLC is the one game that has a story truly worth coming back to. While I concede that extensive exploration is still possible in DM, the simple fact of the matter is that the environment is designed to work against that and as a result it is at odds with the very reason that I (and I believe many others) play this game. The environment isn’t insurmountable either, but the sheer number of stupid radio or hologram based deaths I had this play through was so frustrating that I had to share my experience. Over the course of my DM run, I died 0 times to combatants. I died something like 30 times to radios I couldn’t find or Dog seeing me before I could close the gas valve, or that insufferable Vera hologram chasing me down like a Scooby Doo villain from room to room. Every single time felt cheap. I didn’t get the sense I was losing because the game was offering some sort of worthy challenge. I felt like a kid having to pump quarters into an arcade game of old.
I know this is an 8 year old game that I’m whining about. I’m certain almost no one gives a hoot. Nonetheless, I learned something from Dead Money. Sometimes you just have to let go. I won’t be playing this one again.
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