Honest Hearts takes you on an expedition to the unspoiled wilderness of Utah’s Zion National Park. Things go horribly wrong when your caravan is ambushed by a tribal raiding band. As you try to find a way back to the Mojave, you become embroiled in a war between tribes and a conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the mysterious Burned Man. The decisions you make will determine the fate of Zion.
Honest Hearts adds new crafting recipes to the game that make use of the Survival skill. Unlike recipes added by the previous add-on, Dead Money, most recipes added by Honest Hearts do not require add-on-specific items or perks. Most recipes are available from the start of the game, provided the player has the necessary skill level and ingredients.
The XP that is rewarded for quests is variable depending upon your level when the quests are completed. The total XP split between the main storyline quests is approximately 3000 XP at levels 1-4 and 22000 XP at levels 45-50, the secondary quest XP ranges from 75 XP per quest to 550 XP per quest.
Like Dead Money, you are not allowed to take companions with you into Zion. However, unlike Dead Money, Honest Hearts does not force them out of your party, you must do this yourself if you wish to proceed.
Honest Hearts, like all add-ons, raises the level cap by 5.
Equipment is not taken from the player at the beginning of the add-on, however the maximum weight limit is decreased due to the length of the journey. 100 pounds of equipment can be taken if you have the Strong Back or Pack Rat perks, and have a minimal Survival skill of 50, or pass the Speech check when talking to Jed Masterson, or Barter check (50) when talking to Ricky. Without these perks/skill levels, you will have a weight limit of 75.
The player is able to return to Zion after completing the add-on, however followers still cannot accompany you. They also cannot be left waiting at the Northern passage, and instead will return to their home (ED-E back to Primm, etc.). This is due to the 14 day length of the trip into Zion.
Honest Hearts features weather, adding rain/overcast to the game.
It's important to note that after completion of the add-on, most unique non-player characters will have left Zion.
If you choose to defeat the White Legs and allow the Dead Horses and Sorrows tribes to remain in Zion, after the main quest is finished, Dead Horses and Sorrows tribe members will still be at their respective camps and are peaceful to the Courier.
After the main quest is finished, Dead Horses and Sorrows tribe members can be killed for loot without receiving negative karma. If you are seen attacking a Dead Horse, the entire tribe becomes permanently hostile.
As with Dead Money, there are no noticeable repercussions in the Mojave for your actions in Zion. This frees your normally "good" or "bad" character to complete quests in ways they usually wouldn't without affecting the Mojave.
The only merchant in Honest Hearts is Joshua Graham (Passing a speech check will allow you to purchase medical supplies from Daniel, however his caps and items are limited).
Many tribals are well-equipped, you can find some weapons that are rare in the Mojave Wasteland.
You can take the Animal Friend perk to face fewer hostile creatures.
None of the vehicles in Zion will explode.
It is possible to pickpocket any main character, such as Joshua Graham, Daniel or Follows-Chalk while they are asleep. Regardless, you cannot pickpocket their unique weapons and apparel.
Tribal apparel brought back to the Mojave from Zion is not considered 'faction' by followers. That is, they will carry/wear it.
After completing the add-on's main story you will be unable to start or finish the side quests as most of the main characters will have left Zion.
There are many skeletal remains strewn about Zion, most likely campers killed by the fallout referenced in Randal Clark's terminal entries.
The Vault Boy/Girl is mirrored when selecting apparel from this DLC-he/she looks to the right instead of the left.
Behind the scenes
Honest Hearts was first hinted at via in-game graffiti, sparking speculation that it would be the next add-on. This speculation was seemingly confirmed when ZeniMax registered "Honest Hearts" as a trademark. The graffiti hinting at Honest Hearts refers to Joshua Graham, and New Canaan, which were originally to appear in Van Buren, Black Isle's canceled Fallout 3 project.
Honest Hearts was again hinted at in the game files of the Dead Moneyadd-on, with the inclusion of an unused snowglobe for Zion National Park, and further suggesting it would be the next DLC in line for release after Dead Money.
J.E. Sawyer has indicated that the title of this add-on is a reference to Brigham Young's aphorism, "Honest hearts produce honest actions".