I think I may have been too generous in my initial review of Fallout 4. Perhaps I was a bit blinded by the veneer of Fallout, taken aback by the grand spectacle that was a new Fallout. However, the more time I spend with Fallout 4, especially now that all hype has died down, the easier it becomes to see it for what it really is: a tired, boring, buggy, ugly, repetitive mess that barely tries anything new and gets by on simply being a Fallout game.
Automatron is the first of three DLC packs coming to Fallout 4. Mad robots bent on the destruction of mankind lay siege to the Commonwealth. Controlled by a mysterious figure known as The Mechanist, it’s up to the player to track down this villain and put a stop to his maniacal machinations.
If only it were as fun and interesting as the description makes it sound. What’s on deck is, quite literally, three missions and the ability to craft robots. It’s an incredibly hollow piece of DLC that takes the one component from Fallout 4 almost no one participated in (I know I didn’t) and gives you more of it.
What bothers me the most about the Automatron quests is how it doesn’t lend itself to any character build that isn’t a gun-toting beefcake. All the enemies you face along the way are robots who, unlike soft, fleshy humans, take an incredible amount of punishment. As a character who took a stealth/melee build, there was no situation I could adequately approach without being in a suit of Power Armor strapped with auto-shotguns and Fat Men; all for two fetch quests and a final confrontation that consists of nothing more interesting than fighting a boatload of the same robots you’ve been fighting to this point, then talking to, and/or killing The Mechanist. The End.
Furthermore, for all the DLC description touting The Mechanist himself, you only ever see him for a few minutes at the very end of the quest. This really upset me because, design-wise, the Mechanist is actually pretty cool. I had completely forgotten that he was one of the superhero characters in Fallout 3, and the fact that they didn’t play more to that history was just disappointing. Even outside of his connection to Fallout 3, he’s got a lot of depth and his motivations are really solid. It’s a shame he wasn’t given a longer quest arc or didn’t show up more so the player could get a good sense of actual moral dilemmas.
I lost interest in Automatron when one of the quests required me to build a robot, and lacking the proper materials, essentially forced me to grind for an hour or so. Much like all the crafting in this game, building robots is as underwhelming as it is pointless. From the start, your imagination for what you want to build will far exceed what the game allows (unless you complete the full quest-line and unlock all robot mods) and traveling with a companion you can’t get a perk or the Lover’s Embrace from, especially as a stealth character, will only complicate any chance at a tactical advantage you try to give yourself as your robot buddy is seen by every enemy and charges headlong into battle.
I don’t know what makes me angrier, that Automatron is a hollow and boring bit of DLC, or that it actually made me have to reinstall Fallout 4 on my PS4, taking up valuable memory for better games until I inevitably uninstall it. It’s the kind of DLC that the cynic in me feels should have been in the main game. At almost $15, I can’t recommend what is essentially the Hearthstone of Fallout DLC.