Are Bethesda's Fallout 4 DLC Plans Poised to Do More Harm than Good?

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Are Bethesda's Fallout 4 DLC Plans Poised to Do More Harm than Good?

While E3 suffered no shortage of news in its latest incarnation, one of the biggest points to emerge was the revelation that the course of downloadable content (DLC) for Fallout 4 had been decided, and that there were three more pieces to emerge: Contraptions, Vault-Tec, and Nuka World. Further, these were to be the final pieces of DLC for the game, a potential new problem has emerged. Specifically, that the DLC will not provide the value seen in previous releases and by extension hurt the brand.

The numbers do not bode well for Fallout 4's DLC. Fallout 3 had fully five pieces of DLC to its credit: Broken Steel, which extended the length of the original campaign and addressed some complaint about its ending, as well as Operation: Anchorage, Point Lookout, The Pitt, and Mothership Zeta. Each offered a fairly complete storyline as well as in-game bonuses of better weapons and fresh supply loads. Fallout: New Vegas, meanwhile, took things even further, offering up its own block of five in Courier's Stash / Gun Runners Arsenal, which offered up new weapons and new achievements, along with Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues and Lonesome Road. Again, each offered a storyline as well as in-game bonuses. Dead Money alone supplied enough caps to keep most anyone rich beyond the dreams of avarice assuming you were willing to try and waddle out of a heavily-armed storage facility while being chased by a mad former Elder of the Brotherhood of Steel.

Fallout 4, meanwhile, will break these standards by offering up six pieces of DLC, three of which have already arrived—Automatron, Wasteland Workshop, and Far Harbor—and three of which are to follow, in Contraptions, Vault-Tec, and Nuka World. Of these, only two are storyline-based—Automatron provides a quest to take down the Mechanist, but it's a small part of the content—and the rest are “workshop” packs, designed to bolster settlements with new features and options.

The most recent reports say that Nuka World—Fallout 4's trip to a former corporate fantasyland which now looks like Bartertown gone mad with slightly radioactive soda crashes—will be the final DLC, and that leaves a serious problem. Fallout 3 had five DLCs with storylines. Fallout: New Vegas had four, and now, Fallout 4 will have just two to its name, and four packs that amount to little more than building kits.

This is a development that's left some players quite incensed. In comparison to previous years, it's easy to see why; value has fallen through the floor, and players are left with somewhere around 45 percent the volume of story content that was previously known. Throw in concerns about the main game's storyline—or perceived lack thereof—and it would be safe to say there are a lot of unhappy gamers out there. A look at the comments section of IGN's YouTube video reacting to the new comment provides some confirmation of at least disappointment if not outright dissatisfaction.

On the surface, it would be easy for those gamers who bought full-price season passes for what amounts to two and a half story-based DLC packs and four sets of building kits. Fallout 4, however, is different in one great sense: the console mods. As we all know from both Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, any Bethesda game that allows modification by the user community will have plenty of extra storylines added into it in fairly short order. Those not convinced need only look at the list of mods currently available for each game. So those who find the story content of Fallout 4 lacking will likely have that problem addressed for them in grand style and rapid fashion by community mods who share some disgruntlement over Fallout 4's comparative lack of plot and resolution.

In this, Bethesda has advanced an interesting idea, though perhaps not intentionally. Perhaps games of the future will be general frameworks, calling on interested community members to build mods and offer up same, with some of the very best makers getting called in for actual paying development work. It's an interesting if flawed idea, and we've already seen Bethesda make one attempt at allowing the mod community to actually get paid for its effort, one that ended poorly to say the least. It's also one that's worked in the past; there's been no shortage of story mods so far—so far there are 41 quest and adventure mods for Fallout 4 on NexusMods—and that number will likely only grow.

The question remains: will Fallout 4's lack of story content hurt it in the long term? The answer is likely not; there's been a pretty fair slug of story already, there will likely be more thanks to the modders, and there's always the next Fallout to look forward to after a good long while. Though hopefully, the next Fallout will be a little less like an experimental test bed and more like the Fallouts we've known and loved in the past. There's been more than a little call for Bethesda to at least partially hand off future Fallout series development to Obsidian, a suggestion proving controversial to say the least.  In the end, one thing is clear: we haven't seen the last of Fallout 4 or Fallout 4 story content...even if we are ultimately seeing the last DLC after all.

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