Fallout developer Bethesda hasn't exactly covered itself in DLC glory in the past. In 2006, for instance, it clad the horses of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in armour, then charged players for the privilege. The result? A tidal wave of derisory memes and a seriously bad rep.
Automatron is Fallout 4’s first add-on, soon to be followed by the smaller Wasteland Workshop in April, and then the more ambitious Far Harbour in May. War never changes - but can the quality of Bethesda’s DLC?
Back to bugs
My experience got off to a predictable ‘start’. So long as your character is level 15, the DLC quest will automatically unlock and you’ll receive a distress signal. I dutifully got a jog on and found the area, along with a quest update to defeat a nearby robot menace. I popped a few Buffouts and readied my trusty Deliverer... only to find nothing. ‘Ah-ha - a clever hoax?’ I wondered. Sadly, this was just another Fallout bug at play.
If you take one thing away from this review then, for the love of Piper, make a back-up save slot before you download and activate the DLC. I was forced to spend an hour levelling up my character from an older save in the end. Not the DLC’s only bug, but by the far the least forgivable.
Still, the ability I unlocked from Ada, the new, remorseful robot companion you meet, to build and customise robot friends went a long way to soothing my rage.
The robot workbench functions like the others, but your automatons have a huge array of mod slots and cosmetic options. This means you can build a cute little companion from scratch, or mod Codsworth into a nightmarish killing machine with a great attitude.
An underwhelming add-on
The robot bench, combined with two large dungeons full of loot and lore are really the nuts and bolts of the DLC. Two of the three boss encounters are also thematically cool and challenging - by Fallout 4 standards. It all culminates in you taking on what the game’s awful script ironically refers to as ‘the embarrassingly named’ Mechanist, because reasons.
By this point at least, you’ll also have found two new unique weapons: a chain-lightning rifle (so you can at last pretend to be a sci-fi Sith) and a disembodied robot head that you can charge up and use to blast enemies, while unfortunately also irradiating yourself. Your last takeaway is a suit of Tesla-themed power-armour. You’ll care more about these than the story.
The best way to get the maximum value from this DLC would be to play it at level 15, taking the new goodies with you on the rest of your Wasteland jaunt. As a standalone of a few hours, it’s underwhelming. Hopefully Far Harbour will be a narrative ride worth taking the gear of Automatron along for.