Much of Fallout 4’s upcoming DLC seems to focus on combat and action. Could Bethesda take an entirely different route with expansion packs for the post-apocalyptic RPG?
Hot on the heels of the core game’s success, Bethesda is currently putting the finishing touches on downloadable content for Fallout 4. The post-apocalyptic RPG is due to receive at least three DLC packs over the course of its lifespan, and fans of the title are excited to see exactly what the developer brings to the table. Already, Fallout aficionados are intrigued by the first content pack, which is titled Automatron and is due to be released on March 22, 2016.
Although Bethesda has been coy about some details surrounding the pack, the gaming community already has a fairly decent idea of what to expect. The first DLC for Fallout 4 will revolve around creating robotic companions, as well as taking down a new menace threatening The Commonwealth. A mysterious robot master known as The Mechanist is building a robot army and terrorizing the wasteland, and it looks like it is up to the player character to stop them.
As it stands, fans of the series seem to be excited about what the DLC pack has in store. Alongside another plot line to resolve, the addition of buildable companions is certainly an intriguing one. However, Automatron looks to be a combat-heavy addition to an already largely action-oriented game.
In fact, all of Fallout 4’s DLC plans to date seem to have a heavy combat focus. The Automatron pack looks to be focused around fighting more robotic opponents, whilst Wasteland Workshop is apparently framed around capturing enemies from the wasteland, and then either taming them or having them fight to the death. Meanwhile, May’s Far Harbor expansion is set to include Bethesda’s largest add-on map to date, granting players an entire new location to explore, complete with new quests, settlements, and characters.
The action focus of the DLC is perhaps to be expected. After all, Bethesda put additional effort into improving the combat mechanics of Fallout 4 in comparison to its predecessors, with the game’s developers finding inspiration in Bungie’s multiplayer shooter Destiny. However, there is an untapped potential to Fallout 4, and one which could perhaps have been improved upon through engaging add-on packs: bringing peace to the wasteland.
Everything in Fallout 4 seems to be framed around this mission of bringing stability to the land – if, of course, the player chooses a more good-natured path over the chaotic one. Not only can the Sole Survivor develop trade routes and relationships with different well-intentioned groups in the Commonwealth, including The Minutemen and The Railroad, but there is also the potential to build settlements. In fact, this was one of the largest introductions to the world of Fallout through this iteration of the main series, with Bethesda promoting the mechanic heavily in the run-up to the game’s release.
However, in spite of the addition of this feature to the title, settlement building has not quite reached the heights that many owners of the game possibly expected. Although there are plenty of building options to choose from, including pre-fabricated designs as well as huge custom-made buildings, a lot of the creation aspect of the title remains very much on the surface level. One of the criticisms often fired at Bethesda is that the developer creates huge, expansive worlds with very little soul, and that is perhaps best seen through the player’s own settlements in Fallout 4.
The end goal of players who have focused their game around settlement building is often the notion of making the wasteland a safer place for its friendly inhabitants. However, there is a disappointing lack of a sense of progression when all is said and done. The player can improve as many settlements as possible, trying to reach that elusive Benevolent Leader trophy, but at the end of the day the wasteland is still likely to feel as dangerous as it did when the player began.
Of course, it’s understandable why Bethesda does not want the player to have too much of an impact on the world of Fallout 4, aside from pre-designated moments in the game’s various branching plot lines. After all, if the wasteland is left entirely calm and peaceful, it doesn’t make for much continual play after the main plot has been completed. However, the futility of the player’s actions when it comes to building settlements to help others survive makes the exercise a little pointless – particularly when the Sole Survivor has answered each of Preston Garvey’s irritating settlement requests.
The addition of settlement building to Fallout was a great idea, and it really has the potential to change the way in which open world games of this nature operate. However, at the moment it feels a little like a wasted opportunity. Through the use of DLC, Bethesda could really make the settlement aspect of Fallout 4 into something that could be the envy of other games.
One way in which Bethesda could improve matters is by allowing the player greater freedom over where to build settlements in the wasteland, allowing the immediate ability to create and grow safe places for survivors throughout the Commonwealth. The empty voids left behind by player actions, such as conquests over bandit groups of mutant hangouts, have always been an issue with the modern Fallout series, and the developer could do more to allow the player control over exactly how much of the wasteland can be made safe for its human population.
With greater player control, and perhaps even the ability to request aide from other peaceful groups in the Commonwealth to assist in the fight a la other RPGs such as Pillars of Eternity, this could lead to the player being part of a real mission to make the wasteland safe. If the player so chooses, they could systematically drive out the bandits, ghouls, and mutant creatures that call the Commonwealth home, replacing dangerous areas with settlements that could farm and trade with each other. This could provide a strong end game for the player, after the more personal story of the main quest has been completed.
Ironically, Bethesda could also look to a spin-off of the Fallout franchise for assistance in this matter. Mobile title Fallout Shelter has proved to be incredibly popular, with the title addictively moreish as the player tries their best to improve matters in the Vault they control. This expansive nature is not quite as well implemented in Fallout 4 itself, and is something that could be improved with a sideways glance at this companion game.
At the end of the day, having a combat focus in Fallout is inevitable, and the gunplay of the title is perhaps the best in the series’ history. However, the developer could also look at other modes of gameplay to improve the Fallout 4 experience. Indeed, combining action with this long-term goal of wasteland peace could truly make even the most violent aspects of the game more rewarding, and turn the title into an even better experience for gamers.