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Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop
Score: 85%
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/RPG

An Unexpected Surprise:

I've been pretty down on Fallout 4's downloadable content. While I found Automatron and Far Harbor middling experiences when compared to most of Bethesda's stellar DLC history, I've found the first two Workshop releases to be insubstantial and pointless. So as you can probably guess, I wasn't too excited to mess around with Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop; what came before gave me no reason to be hopeful. But within ten minutes of starting, I realized that I was about to have my expectations subverted. Hard. While Vault-Tec Workshop ultimately fails to reach the lofty heights of Bethesda's best add-ons, it's absolutely worth its asking price -- even if you're not big on the settlement building.

Context Matters:

It all starts with a questline. Yes, remember those? They usually start out with a radio signal or an encounter with an NPC that send you to a specific location to do something specific? Well, that's exactly how Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop begins. Its content isn't simply dumped into the settlement interface for you to find and screw around with; there's a reason behind it. And it is glorious.

A radio signal begging for Vault-Tec assistance leads your wanderer into the antechamber of the still-sealed Vault 88, which is besieged by the usual scum of the Commonwealth. The broadcaster of the message is loath to open the door to anyone, but lucky for you, you've got a Pip-Boy. Even though it's obvious you're not Vault-Tec, the Vault's Overseer, the centuries-old ghoul Valery Barstow, is elated to have help. But help with what, exactly? Oh, lord. I'd better not even get into details. All I'll say is that if this was Fallout 3, there's no way you would finish Vault-Tec Workshop's questline with good karma. As for my misadventures, let's just say I had some frustration to work out after dumping way too much time into earning the "Benevolent Leader" achievement...

For the Builders:

If you're really into the settlement building aspect, Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop is the best it gets. For starters, Vault 88 is much larger than any settlement in the core game. There are actual sectors, each based on cardinal directions. So if you've got a ton of materials, a ton of time, and the willpower to do a bunch of micromanagement, you can turn Vault 88 into...well, whatever you want.

Obviously there are all sorts of new things to build and mess around with, and if you're really into playing the cosmetic game and making everything look 100% original, you'll probably find a lot to like here. And hell, even if you're into substance over style, Vault-Tec Workshop introduces a whole new tier of generators, each of which delivers far more output than they ever have. As they relate to settlers, some of the new toys are, ahem... not exactly nice.

Diversions and Experiments:

With the settlement building mechanics of the core game and the Workshop add-ons, it's easy to see that Bethesda has tried to capitalize on the creative crafting scene popularized by Mojang and countless imitators. While it's an interesting experiment, I ultimately don't believe Fallout is a good fit for it. And in my opinion, its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop is the closest this part of the game has ever come to being great, though it's admittedly the insane premise that helps sell it (along with its extremely low price point). Go ahead and pick this one up.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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