This mod has been around for a few years at this point, but recently got an upgrade to v2.0. It felt like a good time to talk about the mod and explain why it’s in my top three follower mods.
“I’m Darlene” is a feature-rich mod, starring a character that is both amusing and tragic.
I’ll go into a general discussion of the mod below, but first off since I’ve described this is full of features, let’s break those down.
- Darlene comes with a teleportation item you can bind to a quick key to summon her back to you at will. Perfect for if she’s wandered off and you need her help in sudden battle, or for if she’s busy fighting when you’re retreating and want her to follow.
- Darlene is an avid cook, and shares cooking magazines with you that add unique recipes you can make at campfires and stoves.
- She can pick locks AND hack terminals for you. This is useful for utility, especially early on since it saves you valuable skill points in the early game that can be spent on other needed abilities.
- If Darlene has stimpaks in her inventory, she can provide medical services to you via dialogue, including curing rads or restoring health.
Darlene uses a mostly vanilla follower framework, meaning that for the most part she is compatible with AFT. The author warns not to mess around with too many AI settings in AFT on Darlene or you could “break her brain.”
Fair enough. I can report that I have used Darlene several times with AFT myself, and heeding the author’s advice I was still able to do things like change her combat style or disable dislikes and she worked fine. This is a big win to me since I like to run with AFT permanently installed and not all third party follower mods work well with it.
What I Like About “I’m Darlene”
First of all, I like that you can find Darlene in Lexington fairly early on into your game. Some companions, whether vanilla or modded, are only available after certain quests. Or in certain areas that are tough to reach at a low level.
While it’s not mandatory to start a game with one’s whole team, if you’re interested in checking out a new mod it can feel tedious to have to play through a fair bit of the game before getting to use some of the new additions.
Darlene’s comments to various things amuse me, from what she says when you level up or pick a lock to comments she makes entering major areas, such as Diamond City.
She can pick locks and hack terminals. This adds a lot of utility to your travels, and frees the player up to invest in other perks early on. Those early levels are where the player is weakest and offloading those tasks is just as helpful as having the extra gun.
Darlene can teach the player new recipes at cooking stations. She has a variety of useful food this mod adds to the game, many of which give stat bonuses. Some are balanced by drawbacks, particularly if you’re playing on Survival Mode, such as being fatigued after consuming.
Darlene can learn new abilities through side quests. Some of these side quests are easy to miss. In one case, you have to talk to her in Goodneighbor specifically, and she’ll mention wanting to investigate something elsewhere. At the conclusion of that quest, she’ll have some upgraded abilities for sneaking. (Being as spoiler-free as possible.)
Darlene’s apartment, where you first meet her, works as a safehouse for your adventures. There are places to rest, chem stations, an auto-doc, and a big kitchen. It’s also located in the middle-ish area of the map, which makes it more convenient as a stopping point between adventures than going back to Sanctuary.
Darlene’s affinity system is somewhat like vanilla, but caps off at each major interval (250, 500, 750, etc.) via a timer. A certain number of in-game days need to pass between affinity dialogues before the next one can trigger.
The general reasoning the author has for this makes sense to me since Darlene’s character is recovering from some serious trauma in her past and bonding with someone, and ultimately healing her pain, is a slow process.
There are some mildly annoying aspects of that, though. Such as you do enough of the right things to get her affinity to 500, but because it’s too early in the timer no dialogue happens. Then a few choices happen that knock the affinity back down or go back and forth a bit so that by the time the timer is ready you’re rushing to get it back to 500 lest the next stage take even more of the game.
This is easily resolved if you use AFT, where you can go under Personality settings and disable dislikes.
The vocal recording quality is decent, but isn’t as good as other mods. I don’t mention this to insult the author. For me, the quality is sufficient and didn’t spoil the mod experience.
But I do know, based on comments others leave on mods, that for some a recording quality that is notably different than vanilla game characters can diminish the experience. If you’re curious or unsure, I would recommend looking I’m Darlene up on YouTube and listening to footage of her talking to the player.
When I heard the mod was being updated to v2.0 I wondered if the author would be re-recording a bunch of it. She did mention some re-recording, but it seems it was only parts of the overall batch of dialogue. For much of it, it seemed similar to my previous experiences with the mod — for what that’s worth.
I’m Darlene is a quirky and well thought out companion mod. It works itself well into vanilla assets and locations, and should be compatible with most other mods — even AFT.
Given the affinity timers, it’s best to use this on a new game and collect her early, planning to use Darlene for the whole game.