The fourth DLC for Fallout 3 was sort of leaked before the announcement. Well, the name was leaked but no details. Now Point Lookout is finally upon as it takes Fallout 3 into a more horror themed event.
Point Lookout is like Operation Anchorage and The Pitt where you can play it before the end game. As with most of the Fallout 3 DLC, you'll get a radio signal letting you know where the start of the DLC begins. You can head over there anytime to initiate the content. Point Lookout takes place in Maryland where the bombs never fell but the radiation has seeped in to affect the area and some of the people. Point Lookout is said to be one of the most haunted places in Maryland with swamps and abandoned buildings. You get there by taking a ferry (I'm on a boat!) which costs roughly 460 bottle caps. Of course, you can trade items with the ferryman if you don't have enough but with this DLC aimed at a mid to upper level character you should have plenty to give to him buy now. When you arrive at where the boat is stationed you are asked by a person to go find her daughter. She took the ferry to Point Lookout in search of some adventure. So with that said, you're off to see about bringing her back to her mother.
But the fact is that's not the main quest at all. In fact, the part about the daughter is only there to help you with the main quest of resolving a conflict between a ghoul named Desmond and a local tribe trying to destroy a mansion that he's taken residence in. When you arrive there's a conflict already taking place between Desmond and some of the tribe. These guys are dressed in tribal garb and have some tribal paint on them. As soon as you get done dispatching the incoming attack you're asked by Desmond to see why the hell they are attacking him constantly. That's where I'll leave it as I don't want to spoil anymore of the story which is how I've done on every DLC review of Fallout 3.
Now the main quest is pretty quickly done, well the quickest one for me out of the four released. That's not to say it isn't a fun quest as there are the ethical choices that Bethesda loves to give you at a few phases of the five part main quest. I found it to be enjoyable seeing what twists and turns there are as to why things are happening and why the tribe are attacking Desmond and the mansion. As par for the course, you never get the whole story until the near the end. The terminals scattered about the last level of the main quest does offer some good background stories and does give you a reason as to why a decision is made upon you should you not side with Desmond. There is some more exploration with the middle act of the main quest but it's pretty linear in terms of getting to this plant where you need the seeds to continue. One of the cooler things to happen though is what you see right after you eat the seeds. The hallucinations you encounter are some pretty fun and funky ones as well as drawing on some of the characters in your past and present to give you a pretty weird visions. For the three or so hours of the main quest you get a good dose of combat, conversation, hacking, and hallucinations.
There are more side quests in Point Lookout than the other DLCs and that's a nice change. I was disappointed about the lack of side quests in the DLCs besides Broken Steel but Point Lookout solves that issue with five side quests you can take. Some are pretty simple and some take a good amount of investigation to finish. Fighting an arena of ghouls in Plik's Safari was pretty easy to complete while The Velvet Agent takes some time to finish as you have to wander to a few areas in search of a Chinese agent. The five different side quests run the gamut of length of time to complete.
Point Lookout as a location is well done with a dock area complete with Ferris wheel and wide open spaces. There's also a swamp location that is foggy and features bubbling mud that occasionally generates bubbles that float up and pop. The area doesn't look desolated like D.C. since the bombs missed as it just looks rundown and deserted. In the swamp lands, seeing the various shanties and rundown living quarters of the Hillfolks is pretty cool and adds to the atmosphere of the place. Overall, I say Bethesda did a good job at creating an area that's different from the main game and has its own charm and appeal.
The new enemies introduced are a lot tougher than they look. I'm a level 26 character with the Tesla Cannon from Broken Steel and the winterized Power Armor from Operation Anchorage so I've been going around and not having too many problems with enemies such as Deathclaws and the Enclave partially due to Fawkes helping me out a lot. Since you can't take a companion into Point Lookout, a lot of the enemies gave me some good pounding whereby I had to use my fair share of Stimpaks. The tribal folks mentioned earlier look like a primitive version of the Raiders carrying rifles, axes, and knives but they sure can take some damage sometimes. Every once in a while I'll get a good hit from my Tesla Cannon to take them down with one shot but more often than not I had to go two or three rounds to bring them down, more so than say the armored Mirelurks around town.
What's a swamp and bog without inbred Hillfolk and here Point Lookout introduces three stereotypical types of Hillfolk that are looking to turn you into dinner. The skinnier Scrapper and Creepers are smaller and their deformities are primarily in their head where they have that mutant like look on their face from too many relatives sleeping with each other. They are missing hair, have buck teeth, and move really weird. They get more deformed and bigger as you go from the Brawlers to the Trackers and Bruisers. These guys will attack you with guns, knives, and axes as well with the larger ones being pretty damn ferocious. As with the tribal folk, these guys can take a pounding especially the large ones. As they attack you you'll hear some creepy high pitched rants coming from them. Thank god I didn't hear one ask me to squeal like a pig or comment on my purty mouth. One of my more disturbing encounters comes in the form of taking a break in a cabin in the middle of the swamp. I decided to sleep eight hours in the bedroom. When I woke up I saw a Bruiser with an axe standing near the doorway. You can imagine how quickly I was pushing my D-Pad to arm a weapon and the right bumper to try and get into VATS.
Some of the monsters from the main game also make an appearance but as swamp types. Feral ghouls are known as swamp ghouls here and are still relatively easy to dispatch. Mirelurk kings are known as Swamplurks in Point Lookout and also spit acid at you from long distances so they are as tough as the kings and are dangerous from long range as well. They seem to have the same range as the Centaurs so they can get to you from pretty far away with their attacks. It usually took three shots from my Tesla Cannon to take these guys out and I did some pretty big damage to myself a few times as they come running up quick to you so the splash damage got a hold of me as I hit them in the face.Many of the items and weapons you get are Civil War themed. You'll find a lot of old Confederate clothing and and Lever Action rifles which hearken back to the old days of weaponry. Double barrel shotguns are also there and they can pack quite a punch in close range situations but it's a slow reload time as you have to pop the shells out and put two new ones in after each firing. Since I was already in the area with high tech weaponry, I didn't use any of the old items that much but did switch to the double barrel shotgun at times just for kicks. My character is very bad at using melee weapons so I passed by the axe and fertilizer shovel for combat. The one interesting weapon that intrigued me was the microwave emitter which is one of your rewards for finishing the main quest of the game. It's a unique Mesmetron whereby a critical hit will turn your enemies into a red pile of ash making it seemed like he got cooked. You just need to find microfusion cell ammo which isn't too hard to find. I'm actually enjoying using the microwave emitter for when enemies are up close and I don't want to take on the splash damage of the Tesla Cannon. It does a good amount of damage and fires off five shots before needing a reload.
A few new perks makes it into the game but nothing that exciting. One lets you get more benefit from Punga Fruit that's littered about Point Lookout. Nice but you'll only get the benefit of it if you are at Point Lookout so going back to the Capital Wasteland makes this perk worthless. Another gives you a +5 damage and +10 armor when standing still. So those like me who like to just stand there and use VATS should get a little boost. The last one gives you a +5 damage against all ghouls which can be a little helpful especially in the some of the Broken Steel quests. But an interesting side note on the Ghoul perk is that a bunch of my weapons raised in damage by a substantial amount. My unqiue mini-gun, Eugene, went from the 160s to the 220s in damage which just doesn't seem right. I'm guessing it's either a bug in display or execution with Bethesda probably looking into it right now. None of the perks are really exceptional (and I'm not counting the glitchy Ghoul Ecology perk yet until I know for sure this is what it is suppose to do) with one being kind of blah for the rest of the game so Point Lookout's perks fall into the subpar category for me.
I did run into a few bugs it seems here and there as I was playing the game. Various times when I was walking in the open areas I would encounter a stutter in the game where it would just not stay smooth when walking. One time the PipBoy screen was so bright I couldn't read anything on it. Another time the position of the PipBoy was up too high and the screen cut off the top quarter of the screen. I've also had the game lock up on me so there are some issues that need to be resolved. The only one that I couldn't get to go away of course was the lockup but any other issue I had to toggle a few things here and there in some screens and it seemed to fix it.
What Point Lookout has going for it is a unique location and a different setting. The enemies are tougher and the swamp areas are done well. While the items aren't going to be that interesting for folks in the higher levels, those around 17 and up should get some nice useful items out of the deal as well as finding some great challenges to deal with in fighting tribal folks, inbred monsters, and swamplurks. There's a good solid 3 hours of the main quest and another few hours for the side quests as well. You're also welcome to travel back and forth from Point Lookout to the Capital Wasteland during and after the end of the main quest so there's that benefit of revisitation. It's not as good as Broken Steel in my opinion but it is about the same as the Pitt for me in terms of how much I liked it. A solid DLC, I'm eagerly awaiting the next one titled Mothership Zeta. But for now, Point Lookout's a good departure into an area not inhabited by mutants and Raiders while offering up some good challenges even for seasoned characters.