Reviews

Review: Fallout 3 DLC Special

January 29, 2010, Author: Brian Gourlay

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Broken Steel was passing moment of inspiration when Point Lookout begins. In order to experience the content provided by the expansion, you are required to jump on a ferry to the titular peninsula, leaving your companions behind until you return. This kind of introduction was getting all too familiar, but as soon as I stepped foot off of the boat it became apparent that Point Lookout is actually the most substantial of all of the Fallout 3 DLC.

Point Lookout State Park is in fact a fully explorable map, about a quarter of the size of the Capital Wasteland, with just as much scope for completely losing yourself in the many points of interest it has to offer. There are around thirty-forty locations to discover, most of which provide opportunities for further exploration once they’ve been located, or at least uncover evidence of some of the historical events on Point Lookout after a bit of investigation. What makes exploring the region much more interesting however, is that Point Lookout miraculously avoided any direct bomb hits while the rest of the world was reduced to a cinder (Which makes me wonder why it’s almost deserted apart from hostile inhabitants), resulting in an entirely different landscape to the Wasteland.

The Lone Wanderer will encounter vast swampland covered in lush long grass instead of scorched rock, the sound of desolation is replaced with the buzzing local insect life, and despite most of the buildings falling into disrepair, they’re still intact and fully explorable. The old fairground that sits alongside the so-called beach you first arrive in is particularly lovely to look at, and an instant indication that things are very different on Point Lookout.

There’s an unfortunate lack of variation in the enemies that inhabit Point Lookout; other than the mutated hillbilly Swampfolk, the enemies are mostly reiterations of existing models, but the vastly different landscape is more than enough to keep things fresh.

You arrive on Point Lookout with nothing but the promise of treasure from your suspiciously enthusiastic ferryman. Arriving at the dock your attention is drawn towards a sizable plume of smoke rolling over the horizon, and of course you’re barely off the boat before this becomes your first destination. You don’t have to investigate immediately though and can spend as long as you want exploring the vast swamp stretching in front of you, during which you’ll have five or six side quests to discover. They’re all pretty lengthy, roughly around the same as Fallout 3′s side missions, and can keep you occupied for a while, especially as they often involve travelling between some of Point Lookout’s many points of interest. The back-stories behind the missions are also very well conceived and interesting to unravel. I particularly liked uncovering the mystery of what happened to the Chinese spy Wan Yang, following in her footsteps and eventually uncovering the endgame of her last mission.

When you do decide to investigate the smoke that you decided to ignore when you first arrived in Point Lookout (don’t even think of trying to tell me you immediately rushed over there with a fire hose in hand) the main plotline of Point Lookout kicks off as you discover the fire’s origin. Calvert Mansion, owned by the fantastically foul mouthed ghoul Desmond, who politely invites you in to blow the s**t out of the tribals who are crawling around his pad. With them obliterated, you receive what is quite possibly the WORST display of gratitude in history (Honestly, he might as well have stubbed out a cigar on my bellend), you begin a investigation into the tribal’s motivations. The story follows a similar structure to The Pitt, with the Lone Wanderer finding himself between two warring parties without really knowing the motivations of either one. As a result you’ll find yourself given some tough decisions to make, particularly towards the end, although in some cases the repercussions don’t stretch as far as I would have liked them to. Point Lookout is probably the most enjoyable of all of the expansion plotlines. All of the characters are on top form (The stab happy Nadine is a highlight) and the story takes a couple of unexpected, and in one case psychedelic, turns.

When it comes to tangible content that you can pick up, shoot, inject or throw on the other hand, Point Lookout falls a bit short. As I mentioned before, the enemies are all pretty familiar and while the Swampfolk are a welcome addition (as well as being tough as a diamond encrusted Dolph Lungdren) most of the other new foes just act as reminders of the inhabitants of the Wasteland, rather than bringing anything new to the game. While the weapons and armour in other expansions fall have gradually got bigger and more destructive, Point Lookout sees the new equipment regress back to a very rustic set of pre war gear, with axes, shovels and one shot rifles being prominent. The double barreled shotgun is an exception to this, resulting in some squelchingly satisfying kills as well as going perfectly with my Winterised Power Armour.

In conjunction with Broken Steel, Point Lookout provides more content to absorb yourself into than a lot of complete titles would. Point Lookout itself is more than large enough with a surprising level of depth in the content that it provides, with a lot of the discoverable locations comfortably yielding better results than the Wasteland. If you combine the massive new playground with the interesting plotline, side missions as well as the unmarked side quests you could end up staying in Point Lookout for much, much longer than you originally intended. In fact, I imagine I would still be in a battle of wits against the swamp residents right now if I didn’t have a spaceship to catch, which acts as the trigger for the fifth and final chapter in the Fallout 3 expanded universe.

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