25 March, 2016

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron

The whirring of oil-slick gears and the crunch of rust-flaked treads fills the Commonwealth with the arrival of the Mechanist, in Automatron, Fallout 4’s first add-on content.

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron banner


Automatron


The adventure begins as all good adventures do, with a looping distress signal, which despite being cast across the breadth of the wasteland, is seemingly heard only by you. One thing leads to another and you soon find yourself sharing the Commonwealth with more robots than ever before, most of which will kill you.

They don’t just try to kill, they will. You’ll think you’ve killed them, but no, they claw their way along the circuit-strewn ground, as if auditioning for an extra’s role in Binary Domain 2, then engulf you in a fatal embrace of nuclear fire. And no amount of Power Armour will save you.

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron sentry

There is story in the Automatron add-on, but only enough to justify the appearance of marauding bands of mechanical monstrosities and the ‘Rust Devil’ gangs, wasteland punks sporting robot-stripped armour. The handful of missions may occupy a couple of hours, depending upon your gear and skill, because the fights here are fierce. The Mechanist, the ‘evil’ mastermind at the head of the robot incursion, really doesn’t pull any punches – I met my end at least a dozen times.

The robots deal death in many ways more exotic and terrifying than mere conventional weaponry, or indeed nuclear vengeance; tesla guns, saw blades, hammer fists, saw-hammers – if you’re particularly unlucky – to name a just few. A Mr Handy is already a terrifying prospect, even when friendly, with the potential of bringing three dangling saw blades to bear. But what if it was also fitted with two ribbed Protectron arms, tipped with even bigger saw blades, or goddamned drills?  Terrifying ceases to do justice.

You’ll long for battles with endless swarms of laser-wielding Eyebots after facing that manner of mechanical demon.

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron battle

Fighting robots is fun and all, but the real value of Automatron is that you can make you own. The robot crafting system is very much like the weapon and armour crafting, Power Armour specifically, and uses a similarly styled interface. The missions will introduce a couple of modifiable robots, but you can craft your own from raw materials, they act like any other companion.

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron crafting

You can forge singularly pointless robots; little more than floating heads, brains even, if you so desire – I certainly did – or armoured war machines. Limbs and chassis are interchangeable and each boasts numerous customisation options, which modify the robot’s stats and fighting ability, and more importantly its appearance.

The bank of modifications open to you grows as you eliminate and loot other robots, adding yet another juicy fruit to Fallout’s bloom open world tree. Sadly, paint can only be applied to the whole robot, so far as I can tell, and even then only flat colour – limb-specific colouring would have been preferable, as is the case with Power Armour. You are able to select a voice though, from various manners of bleep to actual male and female voices, with varying levels of processing.

I encountered a couple of visual and dialog-related bugs, but nothing of particular concern by Fallout 4’s standards.

Review – Fallout 4, Automatron mr handy

Automatron is an additional system more than a piece of traditional content; there are some missions, but it really serves to enrich the existing open world. Robots are devious, vicious combatants, and the perfect subjects to test one’s own mechanical companions; the crafting of which is pleasantly extensive, both in terms of visual and combat options. Automaton certainly proved a worthwhile reason to cast-open the gates of my Sanctuary Hills fortress and return to the wilds of the Commonwealth.



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