America - Front
America - Back
By DKII 28th Jun 2009 | 1,788 views
Point Lookout is the fourth DLC for Bethesda's Fallout 3, released on Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live (and coming to Playstation 3 as well in the coming months). As with The Pitt, Point Lookout can be accessed at any time during the game, with a new location showing up on the world map that takes you to the area with the new content. That's where the direct comparisons end, for Point Lookout is much larger and more open-ended than the Pitt, and is the first DLC to really evoke the feeling of exploration felt in the main game.
The area in Point Lookout is supposed to loosely represent Point Lookout State Park on the coast of Maryland. You'll take a riverboat from near the Arlington Library straight to Point Lookout. You have to leave any sidekicks you have behind - apparently despite the riverboat having 8-10 benches, the ferryman doesn't deal in groups. Once you get there, you'll find yourself at a small town resembling a carnival, surrounded by a huge rural swampland. There are a lot of cool new locations here, including an abandoned tourist-trap hotel, a Ferris wheel, a bank, a spooky mansion, and a naval submarine. In all, the world of Point Lookout is about 20% the size of the Capital Wasteland, with around 30 new locations to discover, so there's a lot more ground to cover than in previous DLC.
You start off without any real clear direction--rather, just a list of places you might want to visit. You'll uncover a main storyline that takes you through an interesting series of set-piece survival battles inside an old mansion and a hallucinatory trek through a bog. There are also four side quests to complete, and a couple other events that aren't technically marked as quests. Best of all, the main line of quests doesn't immediately try to force you down one of two paths, giving you the illusion of choosing between two binary options. Eventually you'll side with one faction, but there's no over-arching all-good or all-evil aspect to the decision. It doesn't occur until the very end, and you'll get the same rewards no matter which decision you make. For a small piece of content, this seems like the right way to implement that type of decision-making.
The side quests have some interesting gameplay and narrative as well. In one, you are basically shoved into a cave and have to fight off waves of ghouls. This is a pretty fun experience, probably even better than the arena-fighting in The Pitt, and best of all, it's repeatable as many times as you want. Another, simpler, quest has you fetching items in order to brew your own moonshine - a consumable alcohol item with double the normal effects. A third has you following in the footsteps of a Chinese spy, completing his espionage mission in order to claim his rewards. Overall the quests in Point Lookout offer a great variety of content, easily surpassing what was available in previous DLC.
In addition to the new quests, you'll also have an assortment of new enemies to fight and items to use against them. The main new enemy is a collection of swamp people - green, slightly bloated humans who act a lot like ghouls in their AI but sound like hillbillies. There's also a human cult called the Tribals that you'll run into during the main quests, in addition to regular Ghouls and Mirelurks, with a new "Swamp" version of each. The Swamp Ghoul is pretty weak, but the Swamplurk is about as tough as a Mirelurk King. Towards the end of the last main quest you'll also run into a Robobrain Sentry, a tougher, re-skinned Robobrain.
Unlike in Broken Steel, the new weapons you can find in Point Lookout aren't very flashy. The Double-Barrel Shotgun is widely available at shops, hidden in containers, and dropped from enemies. It's got more power than the unique Terrible Shotgun, but fires two shells with each shot and has to be reloaded after every shot. It's pretty effective at taking out multiple weaker enemies in VATS, though you have to be careful - there's a bug where if you only have one shell remaining and try to fire the two-shell shot in VATS, the game will lock up on you. There's also a Lever-Action Rifle, which holds 10 rounds and is pretty accurate over long distance in VATS, but isn't particularly powerful. One quest reward will give you a unique version of this - the Backwater Rifle - with a bit more kick. There are also some new melee weapons - an axe, a shovel, and a couple knives, with unique versions of each that do even more damage. The unique axe, The Dismemberer, has a pretty quick attack rate and does about as much damage as the Lever-Action Rifle. The final new weapon is the Microwave Emitter, a damage-dealing version of the Mesmetron that does about as much damage as a shotgun but is pretty difficult to aim and use outside of VATS.
Overall, the new weapons are pretty functional, but nothing really stands out - and none of them are over-powered, unlike in some previous DLC. The one exception would've been the unique Double-Barrel Shotgun, called Pa's Fishing Aid. It was removed from the game, but can still be accessed in the PC version using the debug console. It does a bit less damage than a regular Double-Barrel Shotgun normally, but on critical hits would do a ton more, and with the perks to boost your critical hit chance and damage, the weapon would be a killing machine. Not much has been added for armor - you wouldn't really be expecting a bunch of rural swamp-people to be running around with awesome new power armor, anyway. There are some flavor costumes, such as a Confederate Hat and Workman's Coveralls, but the coolest new piece of clothing is the Pint-Sized Slasher Mask, which is basically a giant psychotic clown mask.
As in previous DLC, there are a few new perks you can get in Point Lookout by completing various tasks. The first two aren't too special - one will improve the radiation reduction effect from eating the locally-grown Punga Fruit, another will give you a small damage boost against Ghouls. The third one, however, will boost your damage and defense rating when standing still. One of the last two perks seems to be a bit bugged, as well, as at some point during the DLC I noticed the damage number on all my weapons went up by about 20%.
From a technical side, there are still some bugs and freezing issues, but far less than what was encountered in all of the previous DLC. The graphics still look great, and the new swamp environment is a cool change from the wasteland. There's not much character interaction, but everyone you encounter is, of course, fully voice-acted . The best part, though, is the music and the atmosphere, as you'll be alone for most of Point Lookout and the subtle music does a great job of setting a spooky, tense mood.
There's a lot of cool exploration and gameplay in Point Lookout, but those looking for powerful items and loot to take away with them may be disappointed. The main series of quests will take about three or four hours, but with all the side quests and exploration it was closer to eight hours before I'd done everything there, easily out-lasting any other DLC. While it doesn't raise the level cap and have a bunch of new perks like Broken Steel, there's a sizeable amount and variety of content in Point Lookout that I feel still makes it worth your 800 Microsoft Points ($10).