Fallout 3: The Pitt
It’s rather incredible how popular the development of post-release DLC for consoles is becoming, and for the most part the gaming public love it. Most forms of content are subtle, gently easing the player back into similar tasks that the main game entrusted you with in its main campaign mode or story arc. These tend to wield mixed results, and what we’re finding is that the lines on which DLC can tread appear to be very fine. Each piece of content can quickly be assessed by wily gamers as to whether or not it’s required simply enough – if the price is right for some appealing content in a game you love then it’s almost a no-brainer. The problems start when not all of these factors align on a personal level, or perhaps even a stubborn, staunch refusal from the player to part with any more money for content appearing in a familiar game space.
The mention of ‘game space’ here is key – developers have the raw power of new technology and the enthusiasm to craft such utterly absorbing and immersive worlds for us to get lost in. To be quite frank, why would they spend so many hours fine-tuning every nuance of their fantastical creations, only to swiftly move on once the title has made it to retail? Economics is a factor, but you get the impression that the best game spaces are truly a labour of love, so to let them go so hastily would be a mistake. We believe that the most impressive DLC we’ve seen so far tends to fully interweave itself into the game space from which the original game was born, so much so that you’d be hard pressed to see the join. Taking a trip to the most memorable locales such as the cities of Paradise and Liberty makes this clear for all to see – the Burnout and Grand Theft Auto franchises have made huge steps in delivering top quality DLC.
Of course, creating these sandboxes of such wonderment isn’t the only way to guarantee critical success in the world of post-release content, but we’d be lying if we said it didn’t help in integrating additional content into the overall package, rather than feeling like an arbitrary bolted-on extra. Bethesda aren’t new to the trappings of such a delivery method, and return for another bite of the post-apocalyptic cherry with the second of three whole new adventures which unfold in the wastelands of Fallout 3. Unlike its relatively disappointing predecessor, Operation Anchorage, this new quest is a much more familiar and organic affair when comparing it to what we know to be a classic Fallout 3 experience – where your actions and decisions define you as a person inside the game, and what these do to affect the people and places around you. Although, again, the action takes place away from the Capital Wasteland, the blow is softened by the fact that the new quest is much more in line with what Fallout players are used to and expect, and The Pitt becomes a place that we actively want to visit, rather than a place we simply have to. This is what is known as ‘a good thing’.
Or at least we think so, because The Pitt is a seriously grim place to visit. Between your radiation counter going ga-ga and fighting off the hideously deformed results of such a cess pool, it’s safe to say that this is one of the bleakest (yet oddly beautiful) areas of the entire Fallout 3 universe. You’re tasked with infiltrating the ruined city in an attempt to locate a cure for hideous mutations which are affecting the local populace. Most of these poor souls are slaves, locked away inside the city walls under the command of a mysterious man named Ashur, who (rather conveniently) appears to know all about the cure already, but just doesn’t feel like sharing. It all plays out rather predictably; with films such as Gladiator and Escape from New York being a clear inspiration, yet the plot has a wicked twist up its sleeve which will test those with even the strictest moral code.
It may irk some to know that for the most part your current inventory of big guns and fancy armour again becomes unavailable, but this isn’t to say that the new toys you’re given aren’t any good, with the Auto Axe and Infiltrator being particularly good additions to an already hefty arsenal. A lot of the new characters are suitably entertaining to talk to as well, from the lowly slaves to the enigmatic Ashur, and all of the colourful Pitt Raiders in between. Interaction with NPCs who, like you, feel like more than just a name and a face is what Operation Anchorage was missing, and it’s encouraging to see skilful weaving of character, location and plot make a return.
It can be debated as to whether or not the narratives taking place in such a freeform game like Fallout 3 are ever deemed to be strong and convincing, but in any case The Pitt feels like a welcome return to what we know and love about Fallout – exploring every last corner of the decay, scavenging for anything necessary to get by, and if that means stepping on a few innocent people to get it…well, can you? Whilst not the best instance of DLC we’ve ever seen, The Pitt serves as a faithful expansion and further raises hopes for the final instalment of the series, and for post-release content in general.
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