You've heard of the Sierra Madre Casino. We all have, the legend, the curses. Foolishness about it lying in the middle of the City of the Dead, buried beneath a blood-red cloud. A bright, shining monument luring treasure hunters to their doom...
A timed exclusive,Dead Money was released on December 21, 2010 for Xbox 360 and was later released for PC and PlayStation 3 on February 22, 2011.
Dead Money is set in the Sierra Madre, an opulent and extravagant resort that was to be the greatest casino in the west, except that it never opened. Bombs fell before the gala opening, and the Sierra Madre froze in time, its state of the art security system locking the place up tight. Nothing could get in, and none of the guests could escape. The security holograms then activated and the once glorious event turned into a slaughter. After many years the climate control and air conditioning systems within the facility began to spit strange toxins into the surrounding city, causing a red cloud to form over the area - which proved lethal to anyone who tried to explore the city. Only a mysterious group called the ghost people survived to call the city home, trapped inside what appear to be Hazmat suits, they wander the streets never speaking to their victims, only capturing them alive and dragging them away to the depths of the city deep within the Cloud.
And so the Sierra Madre faded from memory, only occasionally being seen in posters across the wastes, until it took on mythic ghost story status, a supposed "City of Gold" in the Wasteland where all the treasures of the Old World were rumored to be held. It was kept alive as a late-night saloon story by prospectors who'd claimed to have found maps leading there and were willing to part with the map for a few caps. Or a drink. Or a warm place to sleep.
The Sierra Madre is a mythical place in the wastes, with travelers risking their lives to find it. Only one man truly "found" it and lived. After the fall of HELIOS One, Father Elijah of the Mojave Brotherhood of Steel set out to find new weapons to eradicate the NCR, and in the process he found the Sierra Madre.
Installing Dead Money raises the level cap by 5, as with all add-ons.
It is recommended that players reach level 20 before beginning this add-on.
Despite the warning you receive at the first door in the bunker, you can stay in the Mojave even if you choose to proceed; the actual point of no return is at the end of the hallway.
Companions cannot follow you to the Villa; they will be dismissed when you reach the end of the hall.
You can explore the Sierra Madre as much as you like after completing the story, but will not be able to return after leaving. You can return using console commands; if you noclip with tcl through the radio at the Abandoned Brotherhood of Steel bunker, you will find a "Door to Villa." Using that door will take you back to the Villa, with all the ghost people still alive, holograms working, etc. You even get to keep your items. You can also use player.moveto ref id to teleport any living companions, though they won't be approachable as they disappear after a certain point in the story.
If a player turns in an item of apparel that raises Agility while wearing it, the Agility increase will remain. This can be repeated until the Courier's Agility reaches 10. While this increased Agility improves skills affected by Agility and increases AP, it does not allow the courier to take perks otherwise unavailable, unlike an increase from an implant.
The add-on focuses more on skills than combat, often placing you into speech, explosives, science, and barter checks that have a huge bearing on how companions will treat you. It also focuses on scavenging as well, mainly due to the lack of shops that sell ammo and materials for weapon repair kits.
You cannot Fast Travel while inside the Sierra Madre.
If playing in Hardcore Mode, the sleep meter does not advance, unless the Courier sleeps. There may be a considerable delay before this happens, however.
Since you do not keep your items when entering the Sierra Madre, low-Endurance characters will have a tough time because healing items are limited to snack foods and the odd stimpak.
Once you complete Dead Money, the radio signal of the Sierra Madre will remain, but Vera Keyes has different dialogue at the end.
Behind the scenes
The add-on as a whole is a reference to the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, where two people who are down on their luck meet a prospector, and plan to prospect in the remote mountains in search of gold, dealing with fierce locals and personal greed.
"Dead Money" is a slang term used in poker to refer to a player that contributes money to the pot and believes they have a chance at winning, but in reality they have almost no such chance due to a lack of skill or experience. It also has another meaning in poker which refers to money that has been contributed to the pot by players who are no longer active in the hand.