The one DLC that was announced for Fallout 3 that I was looking forward to the most is finally here. Broken Steel continues the story of Fallout 3 and does so allowing your character to continue on in the Capital Wasteland even if your decision in the original game didn't allow you to initially. Bethesda's third DLC does some good things that should please Fallout 3 fans and ups the ante on the difficulty.
At the end of Fallout 3 you are given a few options on how you want to end the game. Broken Steel also adds a new option on having your companion, if one is with you, accomplish the end task. Afterwards you'll see the ending that's the same if you didn't download the DLC although it seems there are a few new screens added if you choose to send your companion in the final room. The game will then continue on if you installed Broken Steel. Broken Steel takes place two weeks after the end of Fallout 3. You wake up in the Citadel of the Brotherhood of Steel. The Enclave are scattered and the Brotherhood are trying to clean them up. Any companion you had will be by your side when you wake up and you're tasked with a few missions from the Brotherhood to go after the Enclave. The awesome robot, Liberty Prime, makes an appearance as well and it's nice to see one of the coolest parts of the initial game be in the DLC. As usual, I'm going against spoiling the DLC so I'm going to be as vague as possible again but like most things, nothing works as planned and you're tasked to make things right.
The DLC adds three new main quests and a few side quests offering up about another three to five hours of content. I was able to get through the main quests in a little over four hours or so so by that account, the size is a little more than the Pitt. All the main missions are pretty straight forward and they are a little combat heavy. I would say the combat in Broken Steel is better staged than that of Operation Anchorage which was all about combat. The three missions offer up some new areas that are interesting to visit. The missions weren't terribly difficult to figure out and some have more than one ways to get past certain obstacles so it's nice to have the choices again on how you want to accomplish certain tasks.
New content isn't just restricted to new quests however. There's also some new audio added in to coincide with the events that have happened since the end of the original game. For example if you listen to Galaxy Radio, you'll hear some new dialogue from Three Dog. Citizens that you encounter might also speak something different as well. The new audio adds to the changing world and offers up some nice change in accordance to the events leading up to Broken Steel.
What Broken Steel does do that makes the DLC more difficult in both the new areas as well as old is add some pretty tough new creatures. The feral ghoul reavers are like ghouls but wear metal armor and they can throw radioactive pieces of themselves at you. While the regular ghouls rarely gave me trouble with my high level character, the feral ghoul reavers are tough son of a bitches that take a good deal to bring down. In fact, I think they gave me more trouble than Deathclaws at certain points. They are kind of freaky when they go into these quick convulsions and it seems that gunfire sometimes just go through them when they are in this state. While I rarely ever felt in trouble in the main game with my character, there were times I was a little concerned when the feral ghoul reavers were ganging up on me.
There's also a good amount of Deathclaws in the some of the missions now so if you didn't get enough of them before just wait until you get into the last new main quest. You are offered a chance to control the Enclave controlled Deathclaws if you pick up a device from one of the Scribes in the Citadel. With the passive device, any Deathclaw that's radio controlled by the Enclave will switch to your side. You can't outright control them but they will follow you and attack anyone that's hostile towards you. Now you can't take them without you too far from the original radio source as they will die when they get out of range from the Enclave signal but it is rather fun to see these monsters go nuts on the Enclave officers and scientists rather than you or your companion. Having Fawkes and a Deathclaw on my side was pretty exhilarating as I watched the two just demolish some Enclave soldiers. You can't get all the Deathclaws on your side though so the free roaming ones will still come after you even if you have device on you. Whether you are fighting them or using one as your protector, Deathclaws are prominent in the latter half of the DLC and they can be both great allies or formidable foes.
Since you are fighting the Enclave a lot in the DLC, you'll see some new variants of Enclave soldiers that will oppose you. The Enclave Hellfire Soldiers wear new power armor that is more fire resistant. A lot of them will carry some sort of flame based weapon. They do seem a little tougher than the Enclave encountered in Fallout 3 as well. The Hellfire versions of the Enclave shouldn't give you too much more trouble though if you could deal with them in the main game.
The Super Mutants also get one new class in the Super Mutant Overlord. They fall in between the regular super mutants and the super mutant behemoths and often carry some heavy duty weapon such as a Gatling laser or the new tri-beam laser. Besides the heavy weapons, they also can absorb more damage as well. These guys can now be found wandering the landscape and in areas of large mutant population. As with the reavers, these guys are thrown to make things tougher and you'll need to spend some more time bringing these brutes down than the normal super mutant.
All the new creatures brought in through Broken Steel are designed to make things tougher for the player. I have to admit I stopped being worried about battles with what my character has become and with Fawkes at my side. The new enemies and increased difficulty created by them sure ups the ante for the rest of the game. Those that found it a little too easy in the later levels might now be challenged when these new guys come after you. It was the first time in a long time where I started to decrease in my stimpack supply rather than see an increase while adventuring.
Like the other DLC, there are some new weapons and armor available to you. I touched on the Hellfire Armor early on but the star of the show in terms of weapons is probably the Tesla Cannon. This monster gun fires beams of electricity that can do splash damage as well as lasting effect where the enemy will experience damage even after a few seconds from a hit. If enemies are close together, both will start taking damage with the area effect of the Tesla Cannon. Remember those Enclave Vertibirds you saw pre-DLC? One shot from the Tesla Cannon will turn them into a fireball in the sky and I have to say it's a pretty damn satisfying feeling to bring these birds down in one shot. It's one of the most powerful guns in the game and a very nice pick up with the DLC.
Another fun weapon is the heavy incinerator. This flame thrower looking like device fires mortars of fire at your enemies in an arc. So, you can lob them over obstacles if an enemy is behind a rock making enemies hiding behind cover a target. The projectiles also have an area affect so you can take out a few at once if they are close together. With the ability to also set people on fire, I think players will enjoy using the heavy incinerator as it's an effective weapon against groups of enemies as well as single ones.
One disappointing aspect of Broken Steel is the new perks. I'm extremely happy the level cap is pushed to 30 and hearing that drum beat when you increase in level was sorely missed since I've been at level 20 for a while now. But, the new perks that come with DLC for levels beyond 20 are pretty uninspiring. I'm really at a lost as to why they would include ones that instantly change your character to Good, Neutral, or Evil. One of the nice aspects about the RPG is building up your character through various actions you partake. Having a perk to instantly change your character's karma over to one of the three seems a little cheap. Yes, you don't have to pick the perk when you level up but I think Bethesda should have spent some more time in providing fun and interesting perks rather than karma changers or the ones that instantly change your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats. About the only one that seems remotely interesting to me is the ability to explode in a nuclear blast but you can only get that at level 30. Currently, I'm 5 levels away so I can't comment on that perk but as I was leveling up past 20 in Broken Steel, I never once selected any of the new ones and seeing the ones after level 25 I don't think I will select any of the ones in the higher levels either. It's a shame too as I think Bethesda had a great chance to really add some interesting perks with the release of Broken Steel but that doesn't seem to be the case here in my opinion.
I didn't seem to run into any bugs throughout my play of Broken Steel except for one. In fact, I started the DLC with a bug. Having finished the Pitt DLC, I saved right outside the train yard where you can take a rail car to the Pitt. When I loaded up the saved game after installing the DLC I found my character underneath the train track in a sort of noclip mode but I couldn't move too far. Luckily I could fast travel to a location to get out. Now, whether this was brought on by the DLC remains to be seen but I don't remember loading up the save game and experiencing this issue. Other than that, my journey through Broken Steel was pretty problem free. There were some issues with the Windows PC Games for Windows Live installation of the DLC but that was fixed in a day or so. The bug experience was certainly a lot less than that of the Pitt so I have no complaints in this area.
For the price of Broken Steel, I think it's a worthy DLC for fans of Fallout 3. Just being able to continue past the end game and increase in level cap is enough for me is worth half of the price of the DLC. Then to have an additional 5+ hours of content, new items, new enemies, and new areas makes Broken Steel a good buy. Out of the three announced DLC, I would say Broken Steel is my favorite with The Pitt coming in second and Operation Anchorage a very distant third. If you can only spend money on one, Broken Steel is definitely it by a land slide. I'm thoroughly enjoying using the Tesla Cannon as I continue my adventures in the Capital Wasteland finishing up many of the side quests I missed. It's too bad it had to take Broken Steel to let you continue the game beyond what the original ending was but that's one addition I really welcomed with the purchase. If this is the last DLC for Fallout 3, I think Bethesda did a good job with offering Fallout 3 players good value.