Out of all the AAA game developers who generate DLC, you’d be hard pressed to find a company better suited for the job than Bethesda. Huge games bearing expansive and unique pieces of DLC: whether it’s the epic fantasy of the Elder Scrolls or the silent stealth of Dishonored. And obviously, the Fallout franchise is no exception.
So with its first expansion, it’s obvious that Bethesda needed to do something special for Fallout 4. I’m not entirely sure that they did. Fallout 4’s first expansion, Automatron, was released this month, and while it’s got some fun and imaginative moments, it’s far from the most creative DLC Bethesda has ever released.
The storyline of Automatron concerns your discovery of roving gangs of heavily altered robots that are murdering innocent civilians with no cause. With a little digging, you discover that they are the creations of The Machinist: a mysterious crusader whose motivations are unclear. You gain a new companion: the surprisingly emotional robot Ada, who recently lost every member of her caravan to one of the Machinist’s hit squads.
You equip her with some new parts, do some investigating, and kick some ass. It’s pretty straightforward territory.
The most obvious thing that Automatron brings to the game is the robot building feature. As part of the storyline you are tasked with constructing a robot building station, where you can build your own little murder machines from scratch, or alter and upgrade Ada as you go along. If you’re like me and you like spinning sawblades and tank treads with your bots, then you’re in luck.
Ada herself is a surprisingly fun companion, with well written dialogue and interesting reactions to the world around her. You have the option to create as many scratch built robots as you please, but the novelty of it wears off after the first couple of them.
The Machinist subquest is a fun quest line that will last you a couple of hours, though the ending is a bit of a let down. I beat the whole thing with the character I used to the finish the game, and by the end of it it became pretty clear that the gear, companion, and experience would be better left for a mid-game character instead of mine. My character who could rush into a battle with a tidal wave of murder bots, hack the biggest, nastiest one, set it to self destruct, and run back to safety with basically no issues whatsoever.
But robot domination aside, I really don’t have a lot to recommend in terms of spending $10 on Automatron. The storyline is fun, but there’s no end of storylines to be had in the vanilla Fallout 4. And the robot creation, while genuinely interesting, feels like something that could have been made for free by someone in the modding community. The upcoming Far Harbor DLC is said to be one of Bethesda’s biggest expansion releases to date, and hopefully that will bring some extra fun to the franchise, not to mention a few much needed stimpacks to what ails Fallout 4’s mediocre roleplaying elements. In the meantime, only those who seriously need some sort of excuse to fall back into the Commonwealth need bother with this first expansion.