Bethesda Game Studios, and the modern Fallout series in particular, has a good track record when it comes to DLC and expansions. Content like The Shivering Isles and Point Lookout were almost as big as the games which they were meant to augment. When the content plan for the Fallout 4 Season Pass was revealed; however, I was somewhat worried. Of the three pieces of content announced, only one seemed to be a more traditional expansion. The first two looked to be simply bonus packs that would add some more things to the crafting bench. Fortunately, Automatron is a bit more than that.
Game Name: Fallout 4 – Automatron
Platform(s): PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
Developer(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: 3/22/2016
Price: $9.99 USD
Packing a new quest line as well as new toys to play around with, Fallout 4’s first DLC thoroughly entertained me for the 4-5 hours that its primary missions lasted. I also like that the content has an impact on the rest of the game, whether you’re starting a new character or have put in sixty hours. That being said, this new adventure can sometimes feel less like a narrative and more of a tutorial for using this new stuff.
Starting with the good, an increased presence of robots never hurt anything, and Automatron helps to spice up Fallout 4’s rogue gallery in a big way. I’m not just talking visually, either. If you thought the vanilla Sentry Bot was frightening, wait until a floating machine with two saws for hands rushes at you in a firefight. Remember those Assaultrons? You know, the ones that shoot laser beams from their faces? Try fighting one with a crazy armored chaste…and saws for hands.
Battles with these foes can get really tense because they are as powerful as they look. I would recommend tackling this content with a leveled and geared character. While my level fifty Lone Survivor was able to dish out a ton of damage (in many cases, one shot kills), when cornered he became mince meat. But never fear, because Automatron also gives the player the ability to build and upgrade new (or existing) robot companions. There is a lot of variety in how you can choose to customize them, and the process is pretty simple. Robots throughout Fallout 4 will drop many of the parts, including special modifications (like crazy skull helmets), which prevents you from having to scavenge the materials to make them. Your companion can be specialized with melee, long ranged, and heavy weapons to match the needs of your encounter, and can be upgraded to carry ridiculous amounts of weight for the player. It’s actually quite an ingenious move on Bethesda’s part, as robots can now act as “mules” so that players aren’t constantly fast traveling back and forth to unload their loot.
Automatron also adds some new items and areas to the Commonwealth. The two main “dungeons” are quite big and will yield a lot of swag for players in search of high-tech materials and weaponry. Unfortunately, they are also rather bland. The real standout is the Tesla Rifle, which pumps out lightning that arcs between enemies and is the definition of fun. That being said, I was fairly disappointed to find that this toy was pretty under powered compared to my current arsenal, even after some upgrades.
Out of everything the DLC adds to Fallout 4, the most appreciated addition was some of the new characters. For a cast of robots, there are some interesting players here. Nothing reaches Curie levels of awesome, but Jezebel certainly gives her a run as a Robobrain model with which you must strike a deal in order to access the Mechanist’s Lair. Some of the conversations I had even seemed to break the sarcastic/inquisitive/jerk/neutral model that I hated so much in the main story, giving me some more interesting ways to progress through the dialogue.
Unfortunately, those dialogues aren’t really connected too heavily by any sort of narrative. The quest begins with the Lone Survivor trying to help defend a caravan under attack from The Mechanist’s forces. The only survivor, a robot named Ada, enlists the player to aid her in taking revenge. There is never really an explanation of who or what this Mechanist really is until the last ten minutes of the final dungeon. Ada simply asks that you collect some parts from some robots so that they can locate and kill him. It’s unfortunate, because scenes where Ada shows guilt for having failed the caravan and Jezebel relays the folly of life hint that there was a much better story to tell here. There is even a really nice twist to cap it all off, but it has no impact because you don’t even talk to the Mechanist prior to the final battle. To be fair, there are plenty of terminals where you can read grim stories about where all this tech comes from, and The Mechanist is an already established character in Fallout lore. But that should be supplementary to a well told plot. As it stands, events feel tied together by the fact that there is new content and the player has to learn how to use it.
That’s not to say I don’t recommend the DLC. In fact, I had a great time. If you’ve gotten tired of Preston marking people to save on your map, Automatron will extend the life of Fallout 4 a little longer by giving you perpetual robot-hunting missions to spice things up and a custom Dalek at your side. But if you were looking for a real story with some meat on the bones, you’ll probably have to wait until Far Harbor hits in May.
If you liked Fallout 4, this is the perfect excuse to dive back in. Just don’t expect a fully fleshed out story to guide you through the new content.
– Robots are well implemented as friend and foe
– Some of the new characters have potential and really shine in certain conversations
– The set piece battles of the quest are really fun
– The new areas leave a bit to be desired
– No real narrative other than go here and kill that
– Who was The Mechanist supposed to be?