The third arc of the A Quest for Heaven series (AQFH) or the ‘Scorched Earth’ saga according to the description. Deep Blue (AQFH 3) covers the search for the answers that have eluded the Lone Wanderer for so long and the revelations that come with it. The story takes place two years after the events of the previous arc “Diamond in the Sky”.
The adventure will take you to new environments, be exposed to new enemies, equipped with new armor and weapons and finally, find out the truth of the Heaven project.
ps: AndromedaCrescent & Firelady, I love you both. In a non-creepy way. The work you both did on the saga is just astounding, that words can’t describe how impressed I am.
pps: there will be some spoilers in the post, especially when I am discussing the problems that the mod has. It will be limited to mostly names of the characters, specific areas where I found bugs
Like the previous adventures associated with the A Quest for Heaven, it is a very large adventure designed solely for the solo experience. Therefore, it is highly recommended to NOT bring any companions with you as it may crash your game or cause something in the quests to break (more likely to crash though). It is also more combat-intensive compared to the previous two segments of the saga, however there is also a lot of sleuthing involved.
I think that this is by far my favorite mod for Fallout 3, stand-alone or part of a series/saga. I played many mods for Fallout 3 that were enjoyable and quickly became favorites such as Vault 101 Revisited, A Devil’s Wish and Puce Moose’s mods but A Quest for Heaven saga just is in a league of its own. AQFH 1 & 2 both set very high standards but Deep Blue just set the bar even higher than even I thought was possible.
Before I get into the review itself, I am going to mention it now that this mod does need all the dlcs and Abbreviated Effects by Unospazmatic. Be sure to read everything on the requirements and details on the page (via link above).
Before I continue discussing what this mod did right, there are some issues with Deep Blue that I found. I noticed that there were some typos in the dialogue or the dialogue and the subtitles did not match each other. Not a big problem but just thought I would point that out. During some of the dialogue scenes or cut-scenes, especially in Gabriel’s case there is no voice acting at all. Thankfully there are subtitles so I could follow the conversation. I am curious whether if that was an issue on my side or whether perhaps the voice actor was unavailable to deliver rest of the lines or for some reason my game just didn’t load the rest of his spoken lines. Also, Gabriel refers to the Lone Wanderer as a male, when in my case, the Lone Wanderer was female. Not a big deal though.
There are some scope-bugs that make the scopes on certain weapons unusable. Also, one of the custom weapons uses a certain variation of the 5.56m ammo (the armor-piercing variety if I remember correctly) which was something I did not have in my game. If I do, I do not recall seeing it so I couldn’t use that particular weapon which was a shame. There are also some texture problems, which I had found in the first play-through. My last play-through (third attempt) did not show any of the texture issues, then again I was essentially doing a speed-run at this point so I could reach the point where I was before on the first attempt.
Now the more major issues. I admit using the smoke/fog effect was pretty awesome when you open the pods containing the new armor and weapons (even the replicator machine) but that effect just kills the frame-rate on my laptop. Whenever I look at the general direction of the pods or whatever is using the smoke-like effect, I experience extremely low frame-rate that half the time I thought my game had crashed. The only workaround I found is to basically avoid looking at the pods till the smoke disappears. I am not sure why that would be the case but it gets really irritating. The last and major battle in the space shuttle station, when you are attacked by enemy troops also did a number on the frame-rate for me. I was basically next to their spawn point and Fallout 3 or my laptop (or maybe both) did not like all that heavy stuff of the “teleportation” effects and the spawning of the troops. I had a hard time trying to kill them, let alone trying to get out of the area so my frame-rate could stabilize again.
Now, the next issue could be solely my part but I noticed that the game has a tendency to CTD (crash to desktop) or just stops working/responding where I had to force quit the game. This occurs most during the Ashes of War segment; in the Pentagon sewers where you transition from the sewers to the ruins where you meet G-106 and so forth. The trend seems to be that I crash during the first attempt but after relaunching the game and loading a saved game. This was one of the main reasons why I ended up creating multiple saves at different points to ensure that if one save ended up being corrupted, I had a backup save.
The last problem I have has to deal with the enemies. Sometimes the enemies spawn in a weird place such like inside a wall, and it is impossible to kill them without using the console. Or the enemies simply prevent you from having a scripted conversation with a npc because all the enemies on the other side want to maul you and your friend to pieces. This case is true for when you are getting ready to go into the core and shut it down. There is a scripted conversation between you and Dan’eel but since all the enemies want to maul him and you…it is impossible to have that without using the console and using the kill all command just so you can talk to him. That last problem I pointed out is a pretty big issue since it can potentially break the entire quest without using the console. Perhaps you could had the enemies spawn in after the conversation since that conversation was extremely important.
Okay, now we got all the bad stuff out-of-the-way. Onwards to the good stuff!
The story of the mod is just sublime, I enjoyed the story immensely and it follows the events from the previous story arcs while creating its own separate and unique adventure. The storyline for AQFH 3 kept me intrigued throughout the entire play-through and I was actively searching for all the notes that would add the story. It had the right mix and measurements for mystery, adventure and action. You could connect with the characters (like Gabriel) and it brings a little more life to the Lone Wanderer. Where he/she is actively making personal notes as they move forward, and even keeps a personal log in the HQ on their thoughts.
*major spoilers to the plotline of the main quest-line of Fallout 3 below*
While I do not always necessary agree with how the Lone Wanderer was portrayed. However, we all have our own perceptions of how the Lone Wanderer should act so I will let that slide. I just feel that the Lone Wanderer seemed a bit too….whiny and needy during the beginning when you confront Gabriel. When you think about it, Lone Wanderer is a young adult who was forced to grow up quickly. As s/he were forced to escape from the vault, learn to survive a world they were under equipped for, the death of their father and so forth. The Lone Wanderer literally fought in a war solo with support from Brotherhood of Steel. Brotherhood of Steel didn’t do a good job on that if they forced a teenager into enemy territory that was heavily guarded alone. Then again, Lone Wanderer is the master/mistress of luck.
Now I am curious if there is a mod which allows you to play the original main quest of Fallout 3 as a member of the Enclave. Mostly because I find it odd how easily they defeated when they were superior compared to the BoS with their technology and equipment. Yet they were pretty much taken down by a lone kid who was barely an adult.
* le end of spoilers*
While adding new objects to the game, it is actually still lore-friendly. Wait, letme rephrase that. Time-travelling killing robots aren’t exactly lore-friendly but I can explain what I mean! The reason why I say this mod is still lore-friendly is because it gives an explanation for how these new objects/enemies/etc came into existence and fits it into the world of Fallout 3 seamlessly.
The character development for the various npcs you meant was excellent. It actually made me into semi-fan of the Enclave and I wasn’t real big fan of the Enclave since I was a Brotherhood of Steel (BoS) supporter till this mod [not so much a fan of the BoS in New Vegas though…Veronica being the exception] but then you guys introduced Gabriel and gave further development to the relationship he has with Lone Wanderer. I can’t believe I became a fan of a fictional character whose a member of the Enclave.
AQFH 3 has amazing level design and scripting (despite some issues). You explore so many locations that range from a ruined office building, sewers, ruins of the Pentagon itself to even space itself. You even explore two new locations in Point Lookout as well. I had a great time going through the many new locations, exploring them to find out all their secrets and solving my way through them with the puzzles. AQFH 1 and 2 had great locations but it was rather limited, AQFH 3 just throws a bunch of varied environments at you. I felt like a little kid let loose in a candy store each time I entered a new area.
I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the enemies introduced in Deep Blue. On the one hand, I absolutely loved their design and the variation. You know they are doing something right if you end up having a dream that involved you fighting those creatures with low ammunition. Or it was just the result of playing this particular mod for over week. I think the creatures terrified me more than the troops from Majestic. I had to resort to sneaking and using VATS to make sure I knew where they all were before taking them out. So cruel to make sure some of the enemies didn’t show up in the infra-red vision. Speaking about Majestic, it was interesting to see what they used as troops and the different types/ranks they had.
Shame there was not much travelling between multi-verses, that was a seriously cool idea. Would had liked to see that be expanded a bit more. I suppose the mod would been far too long if the idea was expanded upon though. AQFH 3 was long enough as it was, taking me several days to get through it.
I still cannot believe how AndromedaCrescent & Firelady (and to anyone else who may have assisted you two with this) managed to not only deliver a fantastic story, but manage to keep the same compelling and unbelievable atmosphere from beginning to end. You both did a phenomenal job. I would say I am impressed, and I am but my mind is just so blown. I think I can see my mind floating above me, just floating up there in space. Mind-blown. I truly look forward to the next chapter of the saga. I really would like to see how all of this pans out in the conclusion. Really looking forward to the next chapter of the AQFH saga
Still didn’t fully understand the Corrigan files but I’ll have a look at those again and see if I can understand them this time by reading them together instead of just skimming through them.