We are getting closer to the release of the Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition, which will collect the original game and all of the downloadable content released for it. It’s time to get our take on what the final two expansions were like. We’ve already covered Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, and Broken Steel. Here now we take a look at Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta. Both of these titles add to the post-apocalyptic goodness of Fallout 3, but are they worth dropping an extra 800 Microsoft points each? Let’s head back into the wasteland to find out.
First, let’s head to the swampy hell that is the remains of Maryland. Point Lookout takes a huge turn from the other expansions. This is easily the largest addition to the game in terms of square feet. Point Lookout adds a massive swampland to explore. In order to get there, you must take a broken down ferry that pops into the Potomac river near the Brotherhood’s Citadel. It will cost you some cash to make the trip, and the ferryman is a little off. You can actually end up with a quest before you even head out of town, as apparently someone’s daughter hasn’t been heard from since she went to the swamps. Like all of the expansions, you have to leave any NPC friends behind. The introduction to the region isn’t as stunning as the first time you leave the Vault, but the green and gray mud plains that you sail up to are nicely rendered. You step off the boat and onto a very cool ruined boardwalk. The rusted hulk of a ferris wheel looms over the boardwalk. This really is one of the settings that show off Fallout‘s emotions. You can almost see the smiling faces and happy families running around before the bombs fell. This area wasn’t targeted by the nukes directly, but decades of radioactive fallout have poisoned the area.
Quest wise, there is a fun chain to do in the ruins of an old mansion. Seems a band of tribals have started harassing the ghoul who lives there, and you can decide how to help him. As usual, things aren’t quite what they seem. The completion of this entire quest chain does revert back to a painfully linear mission, but it features one of the best hallucination scenes in recent video game history. There is also a great amount of exploratory quests, including an investigation of the wrecked ships near the coast and the story of a Chinese spy. There are a ton of decent rewards, and a few nice perks to pick up in the swamp also. To help you with their completion, you get some new gear. Sadly, it isn’t all that impressive. Melee characters get a few decent boosts, with the axe and shovel. The unique version of the shovel, named the “Fertilizer Shovel,” shows off the trademark humor of the series-it was used to spread manure. For gunners, the double-barreled shotgun just isn’t that great. You can fire two shells sequentially, and then face a long reload sequence. Making matters worse, the weapon model just isn’t that interesting, it looks more like a rifle. For a series that has had such a love of shotguns, seeing what should have been a monster close quarters weapon reduced to a boring waste of inventory is a major disappointment. There’s only one new energy weapon to play with, and it isn’t much to speak of either.
So what will you be using these new weapons on? Some interesting enemies, and a couple of scary ones. There are a couple of ghoul and mirelurk additions that are tougher, but not terrible. The nasty critters are the Swampfolk. There’s no nice way to put it-these guys are radioactive, inbred hillbillies. There are five different varieties, and almost all of them are wearing overalls and wifebeaters. They are given an extra damage bonus and resistance, so that even low level versions will be dangerous. It does add quite a challenge as you see them shrug off plasma shots. They are very dangerous up close, and more than once they were able to run my power-armored ass into the ground.
Verdict: Point Lookout might be the best value for the points, providing you with a huge amount of swamp to run around in. It doesn’t have the biggest variety of monsters and the weapons are a bit under-whelming though. Still, if you’ve seen everything to see in the Capitol Wastes, Point Lookout will give you the largest amount of exploration. It’s also fairly non-linear, which is an edge over the previous DLC.
The Fallout series has always had aliens. Sometimes they were seen as easter eggs in the Random Encounters of the first games, and sometimes as dangerous opponents in the mines below Redding. In fact, there have almost always been alien ray-guns in the games. Mothership Zeta takes a stab at explaining where these creatures come from. Purchasing the add-on adds a quest to explore a mysterious radio signal. As you get close, you’ll see a wrecked UFO in the ground, before a tractor beam and teleporter lift you from the ground and beam you aboard the alien vessel. Of course, it’s time for some probing once you are at their mercy. You will awaken inside a cell with another abductee, and from there it’s time to get out of Dodge. That won’t be terribly easy, as you’ve been stripped of all your gear, but your cell-mate has some decent ideas on how to make that happen. The rest of the expansion is rather linear, as it all takes place either in or around the ship. There are some cool moments, including an actual space-battle with another ship.
While you might not expect a lot of variety in new characters and enemies, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is a point in the story where you realize that the aliens have been abducting people for years, even centuries. Everyone from a Wild-West sheriff to a Japanese Samurai to Gemini astronauts are here. The aliens have also a few different looks, including a wicked creature called an Abomination. It looks like the aliens have been crossing DNA with the humans, and this thing reminds me a lot of the end creature in Aliens: Resurrection. Graphically, it was nice to see the spaceship in a color scheme that wasn’t gray and brown. However, the lighting placement in the game engine tends to darken out most of the faces you will talk to.
There might not be a huge amount of quests or new enemies, but Mothership Zeta does add a ton of new weapons and items. Counting unique variants, there are easily over a dozen new weapons to play with. Most of them have nice, large damage values, as you’ll be using things like the Alien Atomizer, Atomic Pulverizer, and the Drone Cannon. Energy weapon users will love the new content. The new armor isn’t great, but if you want to run around the wastes wearing Samurai armor, pick this up.
Verdict: Mothership Zeta isn’t the most open expansion to Fallout 3, but it is still a lot of fun. Seeing the alien craft up close and personal is fun, but you don’t really need to buy it to get the complete Fallout 3 story. It doesn’t add anything to the story of the Vault-dweller versus the Enclave, and there’s not anything new to the Wasteland. If you have the 800 Microsoft points and it is a toss-up between this and something else, you would only want this if you were a huge Fallout 3 fan. There’s nothing wrong with it, but nothing amazing either.