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Things to know before starting the Honest Hearts DLC

Honest Hearts

First, the obvious, save immediately before talking to Jed Masterson or, failing that, as soon as you emerge from the northern passage into the Zion canyon lands. These saves will spare you a lot of grief if you make either of the following two mistakes.

If you play primarily in first-person as I do, be very careful peering over the edge of cliffs. Falling in Fallout: New Vegas can be fatal, especially over the many vertical drops throughout the canyon lands. If you need to look over a cliff edge with a bit less risk of sliding over, back out to third-person for a safer look. A bit less “immersive,” but better that falling victim to the reduced situational awareness first-person provides in cases like this rather than what you would be able to manage in “real life.”

But most importantly, avoid killing Follows-Chalk when he first appears — unless, perhaps, you are playing a hardcore member or ally of Caesar’s Legion hunting down Joshua Graham. And accidentally killing Follows-Chalk is much easier than might be expected.

The following contains minor, but necessary spoilers about the opening scene in the Zion canyon lands and Follows-Chalk’s first appearance…

The caravan is ambushed almost immediately after arriving in the canyon lands. All of your party will die no matter what you do. Their deaths are scripted. This is important to know because it may help you back off your natural aggression a bit when trying to defend the caravan. Feel free to kill all of the ambushers as you see fit. However, be very careful when crossing the bridge over the canyon. Another ambusher will appear and will even fire on you. However, Follows-Chalk comes up behind him and is not dressed in a way that might clearly distinguish him from your assailants.

On my first play-through of the ambush scene, I killed the ambusher across the canyon from the bridge. I then shot at the other “ambusher” who came up behind him and continued to shoot him as he charged me. Successfully killed him, learned he was “Follows-Chalk,” and then faced nothing but unfriendlies during my time in Zion until falling into the canyon…

On the second attempt at dealing with the ambush (and after getting a “clue” from Internet searches), I was a bit more restrained when crossing the bridge. Sure enough, hostile pops up, hesitates, then starts shooting. Drop him as, or shortly before, Follows-Chalk appears. Follows-Chalk lives — for today, anyway — and the Honest Hearts quest-lines continue.

Of course, accidentally killing Follows-Chalk could be prevented by the developers if he had been marked “essential” during his introduction. Some comments on the Internet indicate that was the intention, but it either wasn’t done or wasn’t done effectively in the shipped DLC. Unofficial patches don’t make him essential either.

It turns out, if you are really restrained in your response to the people who just killed all of your traveling companions, you are supposed to see Follows-Chalk come up behind the ambusher across the bridge and take him out before introducing himself. Very helpful in giving you an indication that he is not hostile (in addition to your omniscient Pip-Boy compass). However, Follows-Chalk takes so long to come to your rescue, that visual plot clue is not likely to be triggered before he appears so closely on the heels of the last ambusher and dressed so much like the ambushers that his face tattoo might as well have been concentric bands around a “bull’s-eye” in the middle of his face…

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