Ah, Broken Steel… the DLC that all Fallout 3 fans (including myself) have waited months for. Bethesda promised new twists and turns with this release and I’m glad to say they don’t disappoint. There are new enemies, locations to explore, characters to meet, and even some completely changed familiar old places.
I can understand a gamer’s apprehention with the rocky launch of past DLC The Pitt. However, Broken Steel installs smoothly. For those willing to preserve their ignorance of the game’s story, beware, as some mild spoilers follow. Changes to the end game are immediately obvious, since you are now able to send followers (such as Fawkes) into the irradiated Project Purity chamber to activate the Purifier in your stead. Doing this felt like a cop out, however, so I sent my character into the chamber the 2nd time around – and the story began.
After activating the purifier, both you and Sentinel Lyons are mysteriously knocked unconscious. Sara Lyon’s squad hauls you back to the Citadel for treatment, where you silently pass two unconscious weeks. Upon waking, you find that the Citadel spent the last two weeks targeting, identifying, and crushing Enclave forward bases all over the Wasteland. As you’re up and about, the Citadel asks for your help in continuing the operation. Without giving too much else away, you find the Enclave has a trump card, and you must help the Brotherhood take it out. The future security of the Wasteland is riding on you!
As this is just a smaller part of a larger game, most of the fundamentals of the game haven’t changed. Graphically, the game looks the same. Characters move and act the same – but that’s not to say that there aren’t additions. Bethesda added three quests to the storyline which have you exploring new areas of the Capital Wasteland and the DC ruins. Most quests have been fitted into areas you may have already visited but didn’t even know were there. There is, for instance, the Olney Powerworks, which is located to the northwest of the Deathclaw infested town. You will have the opportunity to explore more of the facilities underneath the city and meet new (and possibly short-lived) characters. Merging new areas into places previously explored provides a great deal of fun in this expansion.
Seeing the sights is only half the fun, as the expansion also boasts new guns and armor, mostly coming from the Enclave. Naturally, new guns require new enemies to catch all those bullets. New enemies like the formidable Super Mutant Overlord, the Albion Radscorpion, and the Feral Ghoul Reaver (which are like the Ghoul version of Superman) keep all the new weapons plenty occupied. If you were bored of being immortal and untouchable in the main game, you’ll find the playing field considerably leveled.
Speaking of new weapons, the expansion offers some great toys like the Tesla Cannon, the Precision Gatling Laser, and the Quick Torch Flamer. You can find all of these with a bit of digging around, and depending on your character type they’ll come in handy. The Tesla Cannon is good for everybody, as it can take out a Vertibird with just a single shot. Who needs Liberty Prime?
Of course, with new enemies come new friends – both mechanical and biological. Some are simply hysterical, like the computer system controlling the new Metro station, titled M.A.R.G.O.T. Even after you explain that a nuclear war occurred 200 years ago and that the city above is dead, she responds that what you said corroborates her data, but she will simply continue until she no longer has a reason to. In addition, there is the Ghoul huckster Griffon, and the harassed and passive aggressive Scribe Bigsley, which is the first occasion of workplace politics in the Wasteland I’ve yet to see. Think Dilbert, Apocalypse style.
Broken Steel is a great expansion to Fallout 3. It offers a new main quest line, highly potent items, new adversaries and allies to encounter, an increased level cap, and a lot of new perks scattered in between. If you liked the previous two expansions, this one is an absolute recommendation.