Game Review: Fallout 3 DLC

The meh continues.

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (reviewed)
Available on: Steam

I initially didn’t want to play more Fallout 3 but I thought, hey, when I already own all the DLC from the Game of the Year edition, might as well do a complete run. Unfortunately I lost interest after about 3.5 DLCs and didn’t finish that idea. I just got too bored after a while of doing the same stuff over and over again. But before I delve into the DLC, I want to briefly mention a couple of things I forgot to address in my first review of Fallout 3:

1. Switching weapons is a chore. You can’t just use the scroll wheel on your mouse, like in all those sensible shooters, no you have to open up your Pip-Boy and manually equip the weapon. It just wastes time.

2. AI pathfinding is terrible. I don’t like to walk around a structure when I can just jump over a barrier and do it the easy way. Too bad the AI doesn’t agree with me on that and either gets stuck in place trying to walk through solid objects, or they run around the obstacle, sometimes taking minutes at a time catching up with you. I had both Dogmeat and another companion with me and I’ve been in dozens of firefights with both of them conspicuously absent.

3. Speaking of companions, having two of them meant that I couldn’t explore tight spaces without both of them getting in the way. I was literally stuck inside my bedroom in Megaton trying desperately to get out, only to have Fawkes stand in the doorway – whom you can actually push away by walking into him – and Dogmeat sort of floating in midair inside the doorframe. And he wouldn’t budge an inch. Just set the fucking companions to not collide with you, is that so hard Bethesda? Never mind the fact that whenever you transition into another area, the companions spawn directly in front of you, obstructing your view of a place you might need to look at first to assess the situation. This is also doubly annoying when you’re fast-traveling to transition to an enclosed area but an enemy happens to be near you. Because that enemy suddenly finds himself inside as well and that can cause problems with the NPCs. In my case, I had a fucking deathclaw nearby when I entered the regulator HQ and all the NPCs panicked because of that.

4. There was this audio bug with Fawkes, after he gets his Gatling laser. If he fires it and you open either the Pip-Boy or the main menu, sometimes the firing sound keeps playing constantly even though Fawkes isn’t firing at anyone, it just get’s stuck in a loop. It’s so fucking annoying, having to hear that noise for minutes on end before it finally stops when you transition into a new part of the map.

5. The animation quality is also exceptionally terrible. This is especially evident when you have enemies and characters running around. It’s amazing how little weight a super mutant apparently has when running towards me in a speed that would put Usain Bolt to shame. This also counts for a variety of other enemies who manage to run up at lightning speed and it just looks terrible. It also ties into the AI pathfinding, the way Fawkes runs after you when he gets stuck on something is absolutely pathetic. Not to mention that Bethesda really scamped on the lip sync here. It wasn’t all that good to begin with, but Fawkes really takes the cake. His jaw just fidgets and opens and closes at random every couple of seconds, regardless if the voice actor is actually saying something or not. And when he does, most of the time Fawkes’ mouth just stays shut.

With those gripes out of the way, on with the expansions that I actually played:

Broken Steel

Well, it definitely addressed on of my complaints, namely the ending. This time around, you don’t actually die when you do it yourself and the game even lets you do the sensible thing of sending in immune characters into the irradiated chamber. And it lets you back into the wasteland after the ending plays out, which is nice.

Other than that, there are only a few quests to be found here. As usual, the side-quests are mostly just fetch quests, but the main quests actually expand upon the ending nicely. The whole ordeal with the Enclave is finally addressed in a bunch of suitably climactic missions. Liberty Prime gets used again which is fun to watch, but it means there’s this 10 minute sequence where you literally do nothing while it stomps Enclave soldiers into the ground, just like at the end of the main game. But the infiltration of the base later on is quite interesting. And it’s the first time something actually poses a challenge, though this is mostly due to the fact that certain enemies you encounter have obscene amounts of health, not because they employ challenging tactics you have to overcome. I suppose this also has something to do with the raised level cap from 20 to 30 and I wasn’t even at level 20 when I finished the main game. At the end of this expansion I was at level 23, so maybe maxing my character would’ve made it easier. But it’s not like it was hard in any way. I died a couple of times due to so many enemies firing at me all at the same time, but every second attempt I cleared the skirmishes with no problems.

Operation: Anchorage

So this is what it would be like if Bethesda made military shooters. I already don’t like the real thing, so this version didn’t endear itself to me. If you squint at it sideways, it could be any number of military shooter that happens to take place in a wintery location. With the caveat that the shooting isn’t nearly good enough for it to make a good shooter, so VATS has to step in and make it worse again. It doesn’t help that this whole expansion is literally just lore-building. It’s a military simulation reenactment of the original Chinese invasion in Alaska before the bombs fell. Sure, you’ll get XP for your character, but this one has absolutely no connection to the events of the actual game and as such, I feel that it’s really quite superfluous. It’s also uncharacteristically linear and video-gamey, if that makes sense. Enemies stand in very obvious locations, the level design also shows a lot of influence from bad first person shooters, and generally I feel like Bethesda did everything in their might to make this as little Fallout as possible.

Also, apparently after finishing the simulation, the dialogue system gets bugged out where after I finished trading or selling equipment, the dialogue box didn’t show up and I couldn’t leave the conversation anymore.

The Pitt

Not really much to say as there’s very little content to be experienced here. It literally consists of running around the place, talking to people, gathering some stuff, talking some more and at the very end there’s a moral choice moment. And for what it’s worth, it’s actually quite an interesting choice you get to make, though in all honesty the fact that you can get good karma for one choice and bad karma for the other doesn’t sit well with me. Mostly because either choice has some merit, depending on your personal world view, but the game basically tells you “The need of the many outweigh the need of the few”.

Point Lookout

I didn’t finish this one, this was the point where boredom got too great to overcome. I guess the setting is nice, sort of a southern swamp feel. Along with the new enemies, a racist caricature of the stereotypical american redneck, it manages to carry a very different mood through the design alone. Unfortunately, the rest is still Fallout 3, still plenty of inconsequential quests.

So there you have it, my thoughts on what I played of the Fallout 3 DLC. I know I ignored Mothership Zeta, but I was already wary when I heard that it contains aliens. Seems like another gimmicky piece DLC after Operation: Anrchorage. Maybe I’ll play it someday, but for now, I definitely had enough of Fallout 3.

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