Fallout 4 With DLC Review Rundown

Still playing this one. Although considering all the things I don’t like about it, it might be a wonder why! I’ve even got all the bonus DLC! I loved Fallout 3, and although Vegas was strange with its Romans and native American-like tribes and such, that was incredible too. Maybe Fallout 4 is just riding on the back of the good stuff. Maybe it’s nostalgia keeping me stuck in. I don’t know. It’s a pretty good game, but let’s take a look at it.the-molecular-level

The Main Game

One decorated soldier survives when the population of a Vault are wiped out. His wife is killed by unknown mercs and his son is kidnapped. Obviously his mission is to go after them and rescue Shaun.
There are a few twists in the tale, the one about Shaun being very very predictable, but in these massive open world games, a simple premise is easier to work with.
You explore the Commonwealth, rebuild settlements, and can either help or destroy certain groups of people you meet.

So let’s look at these three things that make up the bulk of the game.
Exploration. In Fallout 3, and in Vegas, muck like in Skyrim, I loved exploring. There were so many amazing places to discover that just blew away all expectations from things you’d seen before, but there was plenty enough of the standard so that you could really feel the contrast when you did stumble across a new wild location – like the cave full of kids, or the slaver camp, or Oasis! Then there were the Vaults. There were always a fair few, and each one had its own crazy story about a mad experiment that more often than not went horribly wrong.

Not so much in Fallout 4. Yeah, there’s that galleon with the robots, and (struggles to think of second example…) of course the Institute, but they are so few and far between, meanwhile each building, school, barracks, factory, and office block you go into just seems like it’s exactly the same. No character, the terminals and diaries that fill in backstories are usually really dull, and the loot is usually the same randomly generated junk you get anywhere else. Oh that weird parking lot maze was cool.
They made such a big deal about the Glowing Sea. A highly irradiated desert where you needed your best protective clothing to survive. You get there, and yeah, that’s it. It’s a desert. Basically empty. But your body is getting heavily pumped with rads the whole time. There are a few points of interest, but the interest is minimal.
And the worst thing about how mind numbingly repetitive these locations are, is that even when you’ve been through one, you’ll most likely be sent back there again later on some radiant quest to pick up some rubbish you don’t care about, and instead of being able to nip in and out again with ease, all of the nuisance enemies will have re-spawned, making you feel as though all the time you spent clearing it out before was wasted – and you were about to waste a whole lot more time and ammo doing it again for the sake of a weapon you could easily build at your workbench.
It was always a great sense of accomplishment to clear a settlement of enemies in 3 and Vegas. You knew you’d defeated them and made a difference. Especially when in Vegas there was a war going on, and so wiping out one of the Legion’s strongholds felt like you’d really struck a blow to the enemy.

This isn’t one of the three points, but as it came up – radiant quests suck. Go to a place, kill everyone, pick up or install a thing, come back, I’ll give you another identical radiant quest. One of the bad things about them in this game is that the people who give you the quests make you think you’re building up to something. So you always do a handful for them before realising this is just going to be carrying on into infinity, and is basically meaningless. And again, every time you’re given a radiant quest, whatever place they send you to will have re-spawned all its annoying enemies.

So settlement building. You may be aware that I love the settlement building. I haven’t gone quite as elaborate as some other incredible players, but I have built a tower at Abernathy Farm that reaches the maximum height and a fortress on Spectacle Island. Most of my settlements have had a decent amount of work done to them.
But even one of my favourite parts of the game has its nuisances.
The first and most obvious is the scarcity of resources. It is a game about an apocalypse, with people struggling to survive and make their way, so I think it makes sense for things to be hard to come by in the early game. But, when you get rolling, you should be able to bring in the goods a lot easier. Especially considering you can have around 20 settlers in each settlement who should be working to help you.
You can build scavenging stations and assign workers to bring in extra junk, but they are next to useless. They bring in so little, it’s like they might as well not be there. If you have traders, you can buy shipments of stuff and other bits and pieces which are usually better value for caps, but it’s really expensive to do often. My method has been to have several settlements with a huge abundance of water, so that the workshop gets filled with bottles of purified water, and I use those for trade instead. But they run out quick too and take a while to build up.
There really needs to be a more efficient way for settlers to gather junk for you to use and save you the hassle of doing it manually yourself. I’ve loaded up on all the strong back perks and modded my armour with deep pockets just so I can handle the load of bringing a decent amount of usable stuff, but I still have to empty my pockets after every building I visit.
The other, possibly even more annoying problem with settlements, is the type of radiant quest that is attached to them: Settlement defence. Every so often you’ll get a pip-boy notification telling you one of your settlements is under attack. You think, no need to worry, you put up a massive barricade and lined it with turrets and booby traps. They aren’t getting in. A little while later, you get another notification saying the settlement took damage. So you go there and find the crops burned down and the turrets broken. Which costs you in valuable resources to repair.
Of course the alternative is to respond when the first notification pops up and go to the settlement to help them. So next time you do that. It’s just a handful of raiders or super mutants. Your well armed and heavily armoured settlers handle them without breaking a sweat. You just sit by and watch it play out. You didn’t need to be there because you’d prepared them for it.
But if you weren’t there to supervise, the settlement would have been destroyed! So your choice when the pop-up appears is to a: stop what you’re doing, drop everything, and rush to watch your settlement defend itself without you needing to do anything, or b: ignore it and allow the settlement to take damage which will cost you resources. It’s so annoying.
The other annoying thing about going to help is that usually enemies will spawn right in the middle of your settlement, but obviously, being a person who expects things to work in a logical way, you’ve put walls and turrets all around the edges of the settlement, to stop anyone getting in or even close. Useless when they teleport past it all. They should spawn just a little way off so your well-prepared defences can do what they were meant for.

Finally, the choices to help or destroy the factions. This goes for major and minor factions. Fallout 3 and Vegas did such a great job of allowing for you to play as someone who always helps, always destroys, or to find your own middle ground. Fallout 4 seems to leave out the middle ground.
The Railroad and the Brotherhood have an uneasy relationship. One wants to help synths, the other destroy them. So it comes to a head when you’re asked to side with one and destroy the other. But so far you’ve been getting along fine with them both. So you think, “Hey, why don’t we sit down and discuss this?”. That’s not an option. You have to start cracking heads. You have to start killing the people you’d just been working with. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because it’s not what I did. You can just ignore the missions to destroy the other factions, (although one of them means you have to avoid going near one of the Brotherhood commanders because he will force it on you if you get too close), but ignoring the fact that they want each other dead doesn’t actually solve the problem. Pretty much every choice comes down to ‘us or them’, or maybe ‘them or them’. No middle ground, no peaceful resolutions. I got through New Vegas with minimal bloodshed and had many previously rival factions make allegiances. So much more satisfying!
The biggest problem with many of these decisions is that you just don’t have enough information to make them. Every faction has a few nice people and a few buggers. There isn’t one that you feel is clearly the ‘bad guy’ of the game, although the Institute probably is the closest thing to that. You want to keep asking questions and finding out why you should side with one over the other, but the option isn’t there. It’s just “Kill us or kill them, choose now!”.
When it came to the Institute, there were a number of people who seemed decent. As I knew I wanted to destroy the place, I wished there was a way to smuggle out some of the people first under some excuse that didn’t give my plans away. Hopefully the evacuation during the attack was enough.

Far Harbor

In my previous review of this one, I praised it for improving on some of the things that were wrong with the main game. I stand by that, but after continuing to play, it seemed to revert to the same problems.
Fallout 4’s selling point seems to be quantity. Look! It’s the biggest open world we’ve ever made! Now Far Harbour is the biggest world in a DLC pack!
Great, except it’s mostly empty, and pretty dull. Far Harbour is almost always under a fog, meaning everything is dark and grey. There’s a lot of it, but it’s all dark and grey. It may as well have been smaller, because we don’t need to trudge through miles of dark greyness just for the sake of being able to say it’s the biggest map.

Highlights were definitely the murder mystery, and hacking DiMa’s memories with that very short minigame section. And you get a bunch of really great stuff for your settlements like entire barns!

When it came to dealing with the problems between factions, I think I was happy with my outcome, but it definitely again suffered from not giving enough information to make decisions, or allowing for your character to have more effect beyond ‘choose these or these to support’.

Automatron

The previous weapon and armour workbenches suffered from a problem of basically giving you a list of mods, where obviously the only one worth building was the one at the bottom of the list.
The robot workbench almost has the same issue, with stronger mods being close to the bottom and requiring more perks to build, but there is a much better job at giving you options so you don’t end up churning out the same design over and over again. You could have a melee build, a heavy guns build, a stealth build, a quick attack build, or some mixture. Or you could make a bot that’s got slightly weaker armour, but looks scarier and adds poison or bleeding damage.

The attached quest is nothing too interesting, but completing it unlocks all of the mods for the robot workbench and rewards you with a new settlement.
Since then I’ve built a handful of unique droids which are incredibly helpful for defending settlements, and make great companions with their improved carrying capabilities.

Overall, a thumbs up! This DLC is all about the workbench, so the basic quest that comes with it is no real issue. Taking the Robotics expert perk makes the quest a breeze as you can simply set all your enemies to self destruct.

Vault-Tec Workshop

Great fun! That is if, like me, you enjoy settlement building. Dig out a massive underground space and build an unfinished vault with the help of a ghoul overseer who has been trapped down there since the bombs fell.

A nice addition to the process is the inclusion of classic Vault-Tec style experiments. Unfortunately there’s only a handful, and you can only do them once each, but it’s great to be faced with the task of choosing scientific advancement or the well-being of your vault dwellers.

The workshop adds a ton of stuff to your build menu, most of which can be used in any settlement on the map. (Finally you can put sinks in your bathrooms!)

The frustrating thing about the vault is that despite the enormous space you are given, your build size meter doesn’t match it. You may have plans to run corridors through all of the tunnels and make an incredible maze, but unless you use the exploit, which runs the risk of causing glitches, you’re going to be stuck with something that doesn’t stretch much further than the main chamber.

Wasteland Workshop

Essentially a bonus to your settlement build menu, you do get some awesome things in this pack.

Concrete structures are often much more preferable to design that your standard wood or metal.
The decontamination arch is really handy for a quick rad clean, saving you from wasting your RadAway.
There are some brilliant decorations, including creature heads, and useful resources like the powered water pump, and a garden plot so you can have food grown indoors.

The main attraction to this DLC though is probably the cages and arena. You can trap monsters and raiders and have them battle to the death. You can even send in your own settlers if you like! I’ve had a little fiddle with this, but not quite figured it out due to the limited tutorials. Having an emitter that prevents your settlers attacking the captured enemies seems vital if you want to enjoy your arena of death. Though to build it, you need to get two perks that you might otherwise have completely ignored.

Contraptions Workshop

Another DLC pack that expands the settlement build menu.
Again there’s some great stuff here, but again, I haven’t really figured out the main attraction!

You can build elevators, which I would have found handy if I had had them while I was constructing Abernathy Tower, and you can create display racks to show off your best armour and weapons.

As a fun decoration, you can build a ball track that works like a marble maze.

The bulk of the pack is a contruction line of machines and conveyor belts that you can use to make weapons, armour, and food among other things. Again, without any tutorial its a little tricky to figure out how to do it, and when it comes down to it, you probably don’t want much of the stuff you can make anyway. Enemy drops usually provide all the weapons and armour you need to kit out your settlers.

Nuka World

Still to come…

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