Review by Nozza
Courier's Stash - Pre-Order Pestilence
Courier's Stash is an add-on for Fallout New Vegas, which compiles the four pre-order reward packs into one item of Downloadable Content. It was released for PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 on September 27, 2011, and costs $1.99 on Consoles and $0.99 on PC. When you load Courier's Stash, the four packs will be automatically added to your inventory when you start a new game, or boot up an old save file with the DLC enabled. Included in Courier's Stash are the Classic Pack, the Caravan Pack, the Mercenary Pack, and the Tribal Pack. While Courier's Stash is designed to give players an edge when starting a new game, the equipment provided is quickly outclassed by vanilla gear, meaning that, in essence, all Courier's Stash does is provide you with a few useful items, and a lot of valuable, but useless, junks better sorted for offloading at the nearest merchant rather than trying to use, similar to how mobile games allow you to purchase in-game currency for real world cash.
The Classic Pack, available to those who originally pre-ordered the game from Gamestop or EB Games, contains the Armored Vault 13 Jumpsuit, the Vault 13 Canteen, the Weathered 10mm Pistol, and 5 Stimpaks. This pack is actually quite useful for the early stages of the game, as the Jumpsuit is only outclassed by other DLC items and powerful unique armors, and, if you are going with a light-armor build, is probably going to be your outfit of choice up until around Novac, when you can find gear with a higher Damage Threshold. Unlike other Jumpsuits; however, this does not provide any skills bonuses, and is abnormally heavy for its DT. The weapon included in this pack is also a good sidearm until you make it to Novac, having a good DPS, no skill requirement, and using common ammo. It also supports weapon mods, something that only one other unique weapon does. The Vault 13 Canteen seems like a gimmick; however, as the tiny, once-per-day healing factor is useless outside of hardcore mode. It only comes in handy during hardcore mode, as you have to drink less. Despite this, the bonus doesn't make much of a difference, but it doesn't weigh much, so I found myself holding onto it anyway. Finally, most likely to make up for the good gear included in this pack, the standard bonus is 5 stimpaks, which the player can already find in Doc Mitchell's house at the beginning of the game, even with barely any points in Medicine or Science. Still, the Classic Pack is nice if you're feeling nostalgic.
The Caravan Pack, available to those who originally pre-ordered the game from Steam or Wal-Mart, contains the Lightweight Leather Armor, the Sturdy Caravan Shotgun, 4 Weapon Repair Kits, and a set of Binoculars. The Armor is very similar to the Vault 13 Jumpsuit, having the same Damage Threshold, but it weighs less and is easier to repair. This armor is actually better than the leather armor you can obtain early in the game, and is useful until you reach Novac. The Sturdy Caravan Shotgun; however, is one of the best items Courier's Stash includes, especially for a Shotgun Build, and is one of the few items from this DLC I would actually recommend keeping once you get to Novac. It has a decent damage per shot, but its damage per second is second only to the Riot Shotgun, one of the best, and rarest, shotguns in the game. Furthermore, there's plenty of ammo for it in the early game. In terms of bonuses, the binoculars aren't very useful, as (Even in the vanilla game), their zoom isn't any better than you would find on a scoped weapon, and requires you to switch to your gun when combat actually starts. The weapon repair kits are a nice touch, as at this stage of the game, you won't be able to repair your gear very much and will be hard-pressed to afford repairs from NPCs, but it isn't hard to make your own once you invest a bit into the repair skill, and caps aren't hard to come by in New Vegas.
The Mercenary Pack, available to those who originally pre-ordered the game from Best Buy, contains the Lightweight Metal Armor, the Mercenary's Grenade Rifle, 3 Super Stimpaks, and 3 Doctor's Bags. The Lightweight Metal Armor differs from its regular counterpart in that it's actually medium armor, not heavy armor. Furthermore, it has the exact same Damage Threshold as regular metal armor, doesn't slow you down as much, and is more durable. Despite this, every other set of heavy armor will beat out the Lightweight Metal Armor, and most Medium Armor (Aside from standard NCR gear) is a lot better. Considering you can find Van Graff Combat Armor near the entrance to Freeside, you'll most likely end up ditching this by Novac as well. The Mercenary's Grenade Rifle, this pack's unique weapon, might seem like a good item to get early on, but, other than a tiny decrease in weight, and no explosives requirement, it's identical in every way to its regular variant, and more often than not, by the time you actually found a grenade rifle in-game, you'd have the measly 25 explosives needed to use it. At least this weapon can support mods, otherwise it would be vendor trash. It can prove useful initially, but ammo is scarce, and and the plentiful dynamite you can take from powder gangers is probably a better weapon to use anyway. Finally, while a few extra Doctor's Bags and Super Stimpacks are always good to have, especially in Hardcore mode, they don't really make up for how mediocre the Mercenary Pack is.
Finally, the Tribal Pack, available to those who originally pre-ordered the game from Amazon or Direct2Drive, is easily the worst of the four included packs. It contains the Tribal Raiding Armor, the Broad Machete, 10 Throwing Spears, and 5 Bleak Venom doses. The Tribal Raiding Armor is, to put it lightly, terrible. It has a damage threshold of 4, half that as the Vault 13 Jumpsuit, but weighs exactly the same amount. It's exactly the same as the raider armor that you see and never take, with a low value-to-weight ratio of TWELVE. The Broad Machete, on the other hand, suffers from the same issue as the Mercenary's Grenade Rifle, in that while it seems useful, it's only as effective as a combat knife. Considering how easy it is to get something like Chance's Knife or the Chopper early on, the Broad Machete just seals the fate of the Tribal Pack. In fact, the simple Spiked Knuckles are better in every way than the Broad Machete. Finally, the extras included with this pack cannot pull it out of its grave. Throwing weapons in Fallout New Vegas in general aren't very useful, but you can get plenty of Throwing Spears off dead Legionaries anyway. The only item in the Tribal Pack that is good in any way is the five doses of Bleak Venom, the second-most effective poison in the game, which can turn the tide of a fight with enemies that have huge amounts of health. Despite this, using the Venom requires the player to be able to get close enough to said enemy to hit them with a melee weapon, and you can only make one attack per venom that actually applies poison damage, meaning that you'll probably be lugging these with you until you find enemies that you can actually use them on.
In conclusion, Courier's Stash is an example of DLC gone wrong. While the other five add-ons for Fallout New Vegas are, in my opinion, flawless, Courier's Stash suffers from the Horse Armor problem of not having many redeeming qualities, and eventually becomes useless. Courier's Stash is more of a microtransaction than an add-on, and thankfully, it's cheap. Aside from a few items that prove useful for the first 1/3 of the game, Courier's Stash is useful for getting a few extra caps at the beginning of the game, and not much else. Finally, many people do not like getting all of the items in their inventory at the beginning of the game, especially since they will have to sell a lot of it in order to have a decent carrying capacity, leading to many mods on PC being created to rectify this, by distributing them throughout the wasteland. In my opinion, the items added by Courier's Stash are better when distributed this way, as when added to your inventory at the beginning of the game, they just take up space.
Product Release: Fallout: New Vegas - Courier's Stash (US, 09/27/11)
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