Fallout 3 DLC Reviews

Operation Anchorage

Because I just can’t seem to get enough of minus 30 degree Celsius weather and piles of snow…..

The much-anticipated first bundle of Fallout 3 DLC, Operation Anchorage, arrived about an hour before midnight MST on January 26th. I had been watching the online Xbox LIVE Marketplace since 10pm, refreshing often, anxious to get my hands dirty once more. It had been almost a month since I had visited the expansive wastelands of D.C. There were mutants to be hunted down, new weapons to experiment with, and people to save.

After making sure I wasn’t paying for French content (Canadian, therefore 2 versions of the DLC), it was back to my house in Megaton to lighten my load. I didn’t want to walk into the new quests only to find that I couldn’t carry all the new items that were to be had. From there I began my journey towards the Brotherhood Outcast outpost. As I got closer to the new area, I was able to tune into the distress signal via my Pip-Boy. Turns out that the Pip-Boy is a piece of technology the Brotherhood Outcasts require in order to access a weapons and technology cache. You see, there is a computer simulation program that one needs to clear in order to gain the password to the weapons room.

Donning your simulation suit and climbing into another pod (this time not being manipulated by a crazy man pretending to be a little girl), you find yourself on Alaskan cliffs, making your way to the US camp, awaiting your assignments in Operation: Anchorage. You have three tasks; first, to take out the giant cannons the Communists are using to blast your friends, second to blow up some refueling tanks, and finally to make your way through the pulse field and secure the liberation of Alaska from Communist China.

Your time in the simulation is one shrouded in bluish lighting effects, high intensity winds that just sound bone-chilling, enemies who vanish in a puff of greenish-blue code, and health and ammunition refueling areas. Not only are there normal Chinese soldiers patrolling the areas you must infiltrate, but you also need to deal with Chinese Dragoons, soldiers hiding in the open under the veil of stealth camouflage. There isn’t too much more than sneaking up on your enemies and blowing them to bits. However, you can also search out the 10 pieces of Intel that are scattered throughout the missions. Acquiring all 10 will give you a new Perk that will boost science, lockpicking, and small arms.

Operation: Anchorage was a fun 4 hour run through for me. Yes, I said four hours. It probably would have been shorter if I didn’t have to restart a couple times due to a nasty bug which caused my screen to become a mass of giant pixels whenever I looked to my left. That aside, completing these quests let me pick up some really great weapons and armor which will come in handy for the remaining quests I have. I absolutely love the Gauss rifle; it is so powerful and I love the zoom feature. Jingwei’s sword is also available for you to pick up, as well as a mini-nuke, some plasma grenades and mines. For armor, you must take the T-51b equipment. I have now retired my Enclave armour to my weapons locker in favour of it. You can also pick up the Chinese stealth suit which is handy if you want to covertly attack raiders or sneak past pesky Deathclaws, as it allows you to be in stealth mode whenever you are “sneaking”. This is great when you have used up all your Stealth Boys and are trying to explore downtown D.C.

Here’s hoping that the next DLC coming in February and more in March are a little less buggy and take a little big longer to play through. All in all, Operation: Anchorage was a great experience and is money well spent.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Jan 29, 2009)

The Pitt

Third download was (sorta) the charm, as I was finally able to explore all the Pitt had to offer.

On the very north and almost completely west end of the Wastelands map on your Pipboy, an escapee from the another desolate part of the US is sending out a distress signal. He is searching for someone who can help him free all the people captured and brought to work in the steel mills of an area known as The Pitt. These people are being forced to do incredibly hard labor, and because of the air conditions, some of them are turning into rabid beasts. The slavers apparently have a cure for this, and in addition to saving the enslaved from their captors, they would also like you to help them acquire the antidote for themselves.

This new area offers some great weapons and armor, so make sure you are minimally armed before heading up this way. Granted, early on you will lose whatever you bring with you (don’t worry, you’ll get it back!) and in the beginning not much will be there for weapons. The best way for you to gain more powerful items is to search for ingots in the Steel Yard. You only need to collect 10 to continue along the story, but if you can find all hundred, you will get more powerful weapons and protective gear. Finding all 100 steel ingots also nets you an achievement.

So the day it came out, I downloaded it right away, only to later discover that the DLC was corrupt. I’d already been waiting an extra month for this new quest as it was. So I deleted the download and waited for it to be released again. Booted it up after the second download, only to find horrible glitchiness like I had first experienced with Operation Anchorage again. Waited again and downloaded it a third time, and this time it ran much smoother. The only issue I had with this download was that one of the steel ingots just did not exist during my playthrough with my first character. (As of this writing I have not gone back in with a new character to see if I can find the 100th ingot.)

Download issues aside, I did enjoy the 8-10 hours I spent in the Pitt. I did get lost a few times, which is probably why it took me as long as it did to complete, and throw in the fact that I was scouring the Steel Mill for that last ingot for a while. I did manage to pick up a lot of Jet to sell when I got back to Megaton, and when I assaulted the slaver stronghold I was able to get some good items, too. I did have to make a return trip to the Pitt after I left so that I could collect a few items I couldn’t carry out, but it was pretty easy to just blast my way through it by then.

Was it worth the 800 MS points and all the download hassle? Yes, because I did enjoy playing in the new area. However, I am really disappointed that I have had major glitch issues with both DLC packs so far. When half of your vision is completely blurred as you are trying to run & gun your way through an onslaught of enemies, I think you have every right to be upset that what you paid for isn’t running at 100%. And as much as I want my DLC on time, I would much rather the content was uploaded and tested before publicly released on the Marketplace before I was able to purchase. It might mean an extra week’s delay before I can buy it, but it also means I won’t be disappointed or potentially have my game saves corrupted.

Broken Steel is set to release in May, and I’m really hoping Bethesda has all the kinks worked out this time.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Apr 25, 2009)

Broken Steel

Continuing past the dramatic events that ended the release version of Fallout 3, you can pick up with your character almost just as you had finished off. Awaking from a two week coma under the care of the Brotherhood of Steel, you discover that pure water is being processed and distributed across the Wasteland. However, there are remnants of the Enclave still out there, hindering progress as much as they can, and still at war with the Brotherhood.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assist the Brotherhood in taking out the last of the Enclave fighters. More often than not, it seems like you are the only person fighting on behalf of the Brotherhood, as you are given orders, but not a lot of help. Make sure to bring your best weapons and armor as you battle against Deathclaws, hordes of Enclave soldiers, and oodles of other dangerous enemies.

This new content for this Game of the Year allows you to increase the level of your character from 20 to 30, and includes numerous new Perks, some great new weapons and armor, and some new skill books. There are three new main story quests, and an additional three side quests that can be unlocked.

Unfortunately, Broken Steel has been somewhat “Broken” for me. I downloaded the first release of the content and played up through the end of the first quest. Achievement Unlocked popped up for me, however the achievement never registered. The next day I discovered that the content had been temporarily removed and re-uploaded to the Marketplace. Hoping it would fix my missing achievement issue, I removed the first download from my hard drive, cleared my 360’s memory cache, and redownloaded the content. Achievement never did properly register for me. Another DLC with another glitched achievement.

My second issue was with the first quest of the DLC. At a very climactic scene in this quest (lips sealed so as not to ruin it for anyone), there was an awful lot of action happening on the screen, which did cause a freeze. Not a huge deal, just more of an annoyance.

The worst of all annoyances/glitches/hair pulling moments came when I was traveling through the Presidential Metro tunnels and ran into some Feral Ghouls. The standard ghouls and the Glowing Ones were easily handled, but the Feral Ghoul Reavers were somehow near impossible to kill. Even while using V.A.T.S giving me a 95% hit ratio and using my Gauss Rifle which does about 70 plus damage, I could not seem to do any damage to them. It was a 20 minute battle with me facing three or four of these Reavers, and I depleted my 120 stimpack supply to less than 20 by the time I finally defeated them. Now this could have either been a major glitch or it could have had to do with adding stronger enemies to counter the increase in the level cap. Adding stronger enemies is understandable, but not when it leads to the experience that I had.

For me, the highlight of the new content was acquiring the Tesla Cannon, a gorgeous and extremely powerful weapon that continues to damage the target with electricity for a bit after the initial hit. I also picked up some Enclave Hellfire Armor and a Gatling Laser which would come in handy if I still had Super Mutant Behemoths to take down.

I managed to complete the DLC and the new sidequests at level 25, and now all there is for me is to wander the Wastelands looking for things to kill which will allow me to make my way up to level 30. I still believe this DLC should have been released before Operation: Anchorage and The Pitt so that we could have used all three new areas to reach level 30, and not become bored once we had completed everything else (like I am now). I definitely recommend that if you have not yet played the previous two DLC releases that you start with Broken Steel so you have the opportunity to benefit from the XP that they have to offer.

As a fan of the game, I have dealt with the previous download content containing some minor glitches, release delays, and content being pulled for days to be “fixed.” In my mind, pushing back content to say to you are working to make it as bug free as possible is a good thing. But I question just how much testing was done on non-360 development kits and how many people (and the quality of these testers) worked on making sure that I enjoyed my experience with this content.

I am not particularly happy that I spent the approximate $12 CDN (800MS Points) on content that clearly was not ready (once again) for the public. As much as I love Fallout 3, with all the issues I have had to deal with, I must say that I am finding that I am not enjoying my gaming experience as much as I should be. I really hope that Bethesda works on these issues and makes better attempts to correct them as soon as possible so that others do not run into the same issues as I have. I’ve now spent approximately $36 on additional gameplay that has become less enjoyable with each release.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – May 12, 2009)

Point Lookout

Yes, I know the last time I wrote about my life in Fallout 3 I said I would no longer be purchasing anymore of the download content for the game. After all the issues with glitches and freezing, I was resolute in not going back. But one of my friends assured me this content wasn’t nearly as bad with problems as the others, so I bought another MS points card and took the plunge.

I took Tobar’s ferry from the Capital Wasteland to the once bustling scenic Point Lookout. The boardwalk and shops long abandoned, I did locate some people still making it in the backwater town. Marguerite is looking for your help gathering the items she needs to make another batch of her moonshine. Haley and Panada have two separate shops full of ammo and other goodies to help you stand your ground against the Swamp People, Tribals, Feral Reavers and Mirelurk mutations that live in the swampy areas near the town.

The main story in Point Lookout begins with a trip to the Calvert Mansion, where a Ghoul called Desmond enlists your help in making a stand against the Tribals who are coming to kill him. Desmond doesn’t know (or so he claims) why they are coming after him, but he would like you to find out. Further exploration of the swamplands and following the punga fruit trail will reveal other truths and help you unlock new Perks.

In addition to the main story, there are four side quests for you to enjoy as well. I started out with multitasking between helping Marguerite collect the items and discovering what happened to a Chinese National who pretended to defect to the US. You can also do some treasure hunting and battle against ferals in Pilk’s Safari. Exploring Point Lookout’s far corners will also get you some unique weaponry and copious amounts of wild punga fruit. There are some lovely ammunition stockpiles to be found as well.

I have to say I am very impressed with this DLC package. I only had one issue with freezing, which I am chalking up to the fact that I did not end up getting the content the very day it came out. However, Point Lookout brought me back to the game, working on the last bit of leveling that I need to do in order to reach the level 30 cap. Just as in Broken Steel, the Reavers will make you eat through some of your more powerful ammo and Stimpaks like mad. Make sure you stock up on them with Haley, Tobar and Panada, as well as raid all the First Aid Kits you will come across. The Swamplurks, mutated Mirelurks that look like they cross-bred with ferals, took me 6 missiles to destroy. Bring the heavy hitters with you whenever you take the ferry over.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Aug 3, 2009)

Mothership Zeta

So, I had just gotten back from Point Lookout to do some trading in Megaton and put away some of my new goodies when I heard a signal coming from my Pipboy. I finished up at the house, leaving Wadsworth is charge of cleaning up the water notices that keep appearing on my door, and wandered out into the Wasteland to discover the location of the signal.

All I did was walk up to the wreckage and the next thing I know I am drifting in and out of consciousness. I briefly noticed little gray figures over me, passed out again, and full awoke in a cell with another woman. Somah had been up here on the ship for a while, and now that I was her roommate, she had a plan for breaking us out of the room. We staged a fight and the aliens let down the force field to come in and stop us. We bonked them over the heads and stole their Shock Batons, then took off looking for a way off the ship.

As we ran through the halls, we came across a young girl who seemed to be pretty familiar with the ship. She helped us get through locked doors by crawling through the ventilation system and fiddling with wires. Sally wanted to get off the ship as much as we did. She knew all about the transporters that allowed you to travel to various sections of the ship, but the aliens had turned a lot of them off, so it was up to me to locate the power cores and destroy them so the aliens couldn’t turn them off again.

I have to admit, the aliens are pretty tenacious little fellows. They have some very powerful technology at their disposal, like the Epoxy which allowed me to fix up my weapons and armour to maximum health, and their guns! The Atomizer is not nearly as powerful as the Disintegrator, but the Drone Cannon is by far the most powerful of them all. The Guardian Drones are all equipped with them, so I tried to take them out before they saw me.

Eventually we discovered that I was going to have to go outside if we were to get to the Bridge of the ship. So Sally led us to the CryoLab where we found four people in stasis units. One of them, the astronaut, unfortunately died in there, but I needed his spacesuit. We also found a Samurai, a cowboy, and a soldier who was wearing an outfit similar to the guys I dealt with in the Anchorage simulation. As I made my way through other sections of the ship, I found more people in stasis, some were Wastelanders, some criminals. The aliens had also captured Reavers and Glowing Ones. You could also see they were trying to breed some alien test subjects (or perhaps just splicing DNA) with the glowing ghouls when I started seeing Abominations the closer I got to the Bridge.

I guess all my messing about on the ship really ticked them off, because at one point a Giant Talking Head was screaming some alien gibberish at us. That’s when we noticed they had a giant Death Ray, and we just assumed they were saying they were going to blow up our home planet. I don’t take too kindly to people threatening to blow up my home, so I fought my way to the Bridge so we could stop them.

The captain of the ship was none too happy to see me there,  that’s for sure. As we were trying to blow up the Giant Talking Head’s ship with the Death Ray, more and more aliens started to enter the Bridge. I had back up with Somah and the stasis people we freed. Even the Samurai came to our aid. Alien technology is a bit tough to understand, so I ran around pushing buttons for a bit. They really didn’t like the fact that we had hijacked their ship at this point.

However, we prevailed and now I have a ship to re-explore whenever I so chose. Sally, Somah and the gang are living it up on the ship now, exploring the Galaxy. They left a beacon for me, so I can hail them whenever I choose.

All in all, I must admit Mothership Zeta was the first glitch-free experience I have had with all the Fallout 3 DLC. I was able to play without freezing or giant pixels, and that really made it enjoyable. And while it might be a bit “out there” in terms of the Fallout story, Zeta does tie in a bit with the journey we’ve had.

Mothership Zeta is the final DLC tale for Fallout 3.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Aug 10, 2009)

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