PNG Review: Fallout 3 – Point Lookout

"You are not welcome in this place.."

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)

Grade: A

Late last month, Bethesda whipped up another juicy dish of DLC for the feast that is Fallout 3.  This latest adventure, Point Lookout, is a little bit different from some of the other DLC packs, but no less enjoyable – nor any less worth the price of entry.  Follow me, after the break, into the strange and dangerous swamps of Point Lookout; and find out why you might just want to dust off that old disc, and journey back into the Wasteland once again.

Point Lookout takes place in a land both sinister and lovely.

Somewhere in coastal Maryland, in a swampy land untouched by bombs, the town of Point Lookout stands nearly forgotten.  When the DLC pack is purchased and loaded up for the first time, a message is received by the player letting them know that a ferryman waits near the mouth of the Potomac River to take them to this distant town.  Immediately upon arrival, the player can clearly see that Point Lookout isn’t faring much better than the Capital Wastes.  What used to be a thriving resort town of boardwalks and hot dog stands now stands nearly abandoned; a hollow, litter-covered husk of its former self.

Don't expect to find any popcorn here.

Once docking into the port of Pilgrim’s Landing, the player is immediately assaulted by the somber and creepy atmosphere that Point Lookout is so great at giving.  The storefronts all sit empty, their tenants long gone, and the Ferris wheel, that used to provide laughter and enjoyment to many, stands against the murky sky like a skeleton; and you can believe there are plenty of vacancies at the Homestead Motel.  Everything about the town speaks of better times gone by; but in a way much different from that of the Capital Wasteland.  Because the port of Point Lookout died not from bombs and invaders, but from the simple breakdown of the country around it – when war is ravaging your nation’s largest cities, who has time to take a vacation?  Point Lookout seems to have just withered away, and Bethesda has done a wonderful job of delivering this feeling in the design of the environments in this adventure.  Oh, and the locals who had nowhere else to go?  They aren’t faring so well either.

Meet the locals. They'd love to have you for dinner.

Point Lookout is overrun by deformed swamp folk and drug-addicted cultists.  The former really add an extra layer of Deliverance-style creepiness with their backwoods mannerisms and inbred-good looks.  Allow me to paint a bit of a picture for you about the first time I encountered the swamp folk:

After exploring the boardwalk and vacant buildings of Pilgrim’s Landing for a bit, I started up a quest that led me north, into the swamps.  There is a river on the northern end of town that separates the port from the swamplands.  I found a covered bridge that crossed the river, and headed towards it.  On the bridge itself, there seemed to be some kind of dwelling; and sure enough, upon examination there were a few makeshift bedrolls, some ammunition crates, and some shelves covered in foodstuffs and strange fruit.  As I was poking around the campsite, I suddenly hear the words, “You are not welcome in this place,” uttered in a horrid drawl from somewhere behind me.  As I look up I see four deformed and nasty-looking figures that had snuck their way to the bridge, surrounding me on both sides.  They hooted wildly and loaded their guns.

Camping out has never been so charming. Or was it creepy? I always mix the two up.

I managed to take them down, but the shock of the encounter really set me up for the kind of creepy experience delivered throughout Point Lookout as a whole; and that is the best part of the DLC pack, really.  Unlike Broken Steel, which is excellent for delivering an action-packed extension of the main Fallout 3 experience, Point Lookout offers a drastically different setting which provides a welcome change of scenery and sense of feeling for the player.  There may not be a climactic battle between large military factions, like in Broken Steel, but what is delivered is a very open-world and self-contained experience that takes what is great about Fallout 3 and adds a few spices to make it an exotic dish all its own.  It’s not always exciting per se, but what is here feels good and plays to one of the best strengths of the game itself – exploration.  Point Lookout is an interesting place to poke around in, and the map is filled to the brim with places to uncover and explore.  Oh, and the 40 point Achievement for locating every place certainly helps makes it worth your while to do so!

And want to talk about real estate? It's a real buyer's market in Point Lookout.

As with the other DLC packs, there is one main quest line to follow, which tasks the player with helping a very surly and foul-mouthed ghoul named Desmond unlock the secrets of a drugged-out cult which is operating in Point Lookout.  The dialog and voice acting by this particular ghoul is both funny and well-delivered; and the opening scene of this quest is action packed and quite intense; as is its surprising, robot-filled conclusion.  The end of the quest line takes the player in a way quite unexpected, and provides one of Fallout 3’s famous moral dilemmas to boot.  There are also five different side quests, and a few unmarked goals to achieve as well, such as lighting the lighthouse in the harbor.  One side quest, in particular, has the player following the footsteps of a Chinese spy who was stationed in town; and uncovering the now-dead secret agent’s activities in efforts to find the rewards promised by their superiors proved both challenging and fun – and ended in an unexpected and satisfying way.

This axe is great for chopping firewood.  Also, the heads off of swamplurks.

There are a few new weapons that fit the theme of Point Lookout, including a woodsman’s axe (shown above), a lever-action rifle, and your down-home, hill-jack favorite the double-barreled shotgun.  There’s a few ‘named’ weapons, and plenty of Southern style and Confederate clothing to collect.  The weapons aren’t particularly great if you’re at the end of Fallout 3; but if you jump into Point Lookout earlier on in your character’s career, they’re certainly viable candidates for Mirelurk hunting.  Even at level 26, I got plenty of enjoyment out of the Backwater Rifle – the named version of the lever-action ones carried by the swamp folk.  Nothing works better for pulping the brains of hideous, deformed swamp rapists.

Add to that Achievements that were easy to get just by playing the game, and about eight to ten hours of questing, and Point Lookout is a no-brainer purchase for anyone who enjoyed Fallout 3.  Second in quality only to Broken Steel; its release shows, yet again, that Bethesda really knows how to make a compelling entry into the DLC market. And in this global economic collapse, who doesn’t want to get more for their money?

I’ll leave you with the trailer for Point Lookout, below:

Don’t you just love that twangy, swamp folk version of the Fallout 3 theme?  I know I do.

3 responses to “PNG Review: Fallout 3 – Point Lookout

  1. Congrat’s, for starters.

    Did you do “Pilk’s Safari?” you get the named axe. The unique shovel is carried by Croatoa, a tribal, and he just gives it to you if you talk to him long enough.

  2. Pingback: Bethesda Blog » Blog Archive » Around the web

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