Format: 360, PC (version tested), PS3
Release: Out now
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Games
There’s much to see and do in Point Lookout, but the guiding principle of the Wasteland still applies: one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. Go into it expecting a killer souvenir like Chinese Stealth Armour (Operation Anchorage), the Auto Axe (The Pitt), or a shoulder-mounted lightning launcher (Tesla Cannon from Broken Steel, reviewed here) and you’ll come out disappointed. Memories of great battles are in equally short supply. But if you want a microcosm of Fallout 3, equal parts adventuring, grinding, questing and scavenging, you might just think it the best expansion so far.
It starts, as they all do, with a departure point. Tobar the Ferryman has come ashore to ply a busy trade in Punga Fruits, an exotic delicacy. Where does he find them? In and around a desolate seaside town called Point Lookout, which like much of Fallout’s DLC is a bizarre configuration of familiar items and architecture. Moving inland, you’ll find a promenade and a Ferris wheel, a mansion, a cathedral, a giant swamp, and a lighthouse. Underneath them: bunkers, caves, a panic room, and a submarine. Tobar will take you there for a price, but don’t be surprised if he also takes something a bit more… personal.
Point Lookout has been called ‘the most open’ expansion yet, which is kind of true. It’s the most disparate, at least, and the first to leave many of its missions and waypoints hidden about the map. The main quest involves a feud between Desmond, a supercilious ghoul with a wealth of guns and ammo, and a zonked-out local tribe trying to drive him from a crumbling mansion. There’s more to it, of course, but you’ll have to brave the swamps before anyone talks, suffering weird hallucinations and the attention of the ‘Wets’, a backwater family of “disgusting inbreds and half-crazed loons”.
There are side quests, too, like the unfinished business of an ill-fated Chinese spy. Toss in a few from indigenous traders and there’s enough to cover the considerable terrain, though whether it sates the appetite is another matter. There’s a lot of what you might call ‘economy content’ in Point Lookout: recycled enemies, text journals, variant weapons, and bogus forks in the storyline. To explain the last point: there are several choices in the main quest but only one timeline, your actions at most spawning enemies you’d have otherwise avoided. There’s also the suggestion of a ‘reward’ that never materialises.
You could even go as far as to say it’s Fallout 3 at its worst, most of the enemies being the berserker variety – Mirelurks and the like – best dealt with by turtling and spending vast amounts of ammo. Most of its awards replenish that inventory, the suspicion being that much of the game will simply cancel itself out unless you’re grinding, which, chances are, you’re not. Like Operation Anchorage and The Pitt, you can visit Point Lookout whenever you like, making it a potential goldmine of perks and experience points. But for level 30 characters, which might well account for most of its visitors, it’s little more than a day at the seaside.
So, then: the best expansion so far and the game at its worst. Such a contradiction could only be made by Bethesda. Here’s another one: while they’re all fundamentally the same, no two bits of Fallout DLC have been alike. Fans are comfortable with these enigmas, and with just six weeks passing since Broken Steel, it’s hard to begrudge such a regular supply.