When it comes to the Horror genre of entertainment, there are various settings that give off a “Horror Vibe” and whether or not they scare you, a setting designed well is one that gives you that feeling that something is amuck. The Bates Motel (Psycho), Planet LV-426 (Alien, Aliens), the Wesker Mansion (Resident Evil), or the Ishimura (Dead Space) are some of the finer examples of this and each gives you the feeling that something is going to happen or that something is up, othwerwise known as the “Horror Vibe”. So how would a post-apocalyptic swampland fit into that category? Well, that’s the approach Bethesda took when they threw their hat into this ring with Fallout 3’s fourth DLC expansion, Point Lookout. The DLC was designed with this “Horror Vibe” theme as the focus of the art style while keeping with the core aspects of Fallout 3’s gameplay and the style of the series as a whole. But is it worth shelling out another $10 for?
The main quest of Point Lookout has you traveling there by boat after being persuaded by Tobar the Ferryman to go. But upon getting there, you realize that Tobar’s description of Point Lookout wasn’t very detailed in that it didn’t mention the obscene amounts of fog and the darkened swampland that indicate that something is up. And indeed, something is up, as you see a mansion burning in the distance and off you go to check it out. When you get to the mansion, you see that it is under siege by a band of Tribals and the resident of the mansion, Desmond, enlists you help him defend it. The rest of the main quest then centers around you infiltrating the Tribals in order to discover their motives for attacking the mansion. Overall though, the plot for the main quest is…interesting to say the least. While the story starts as figuring out the motives of these Tribals, it plays out into something entirely different and it ends ponderously. While what it plays out into isn’t perhaps as intriguing as one might hope for however, it’s still pretty good. The only real downside of this eventual turn of events is that you can’t really distinguish what decisions are good and bad because there really aren’t any karma choices you’ll have to make, which is a downside in a game like Fallout 3 though. To its credit though, I will say that the story has one of the coolest and trippiest experiences in the entire game. The story takes about 4-6 hours also, I should mention, but to sum it up, the main quest tells a good story, albeit without karma choices.
Point Lookout doesn’t just have a main quest though, it has six lengthy side quests that are all pretty good. While the worst of them will have you collecting materials to brew a new beer called Moonshine (which I’ll get to later), the best ones have you carrying out the mission of a dead Chinese agent or recovering a cursed book which, if you choose, can finally put the Dunwich Building to use. These will add at least 30 minutes to an hour each to Point Lookout, which provides another 3-6 hours to the experience, more than any other DLC (aside from Broken Steel but only because of the raise in the level cap).
However, Point Lookout does something that the other DLCs don’t do that really sets it above the rest. Think about the world of the other DLCs (aside from Broken Steel again, which is the same as the main game so that is excluded). Operation: Anchorage set you in a great portrayal of Alaska, but in a linear quest path that allowed for no real exploration. The Pitt’s vision of Pittsburgh also looked pretty cool and allowed for exploration, but it was a pretty small world when you look at it and really just a blown-up version of Megaton (and by “blown-up” I mean “enlarged”, not “post-nuke detonation”). Well, not only does Point Lookout also look awesome, it has a massive world that is, from what I’ve heard, about 1/5-1/6 the size of the Capital Wasteland (believe me, that’s pretty big), and thus, it truly allows for one of the best aspects of Fallout 3 to be in full force, exploration. There are over 20 locations to explore, aside from just wandering the landscape, which adds a lot of playtime to this DLC. Like the main game, you’ll often find yourself wandering off to explore Point Lookout instead of just concentrating on the quests that, as I mentioned, was one of the greatest pleasures of Fallout 3. The entire expanse of Point Lookout is available from the get-go and, since you don’t have your gear taken away, it makes exploration more enjoyable rather than an arduous chore.
The art direction is also excellent in Point Lookout. As I said, it was designed with the “Horror Vibe” feeling in mind. Is it scary? Well, that depends on you. However, it definitely looks like a scary place. The entire map is shrouded in fog and the good majority of the terrain is made up of dark swampland. Another small part is an abandoned carnival of sorts that, in addition to the swampland, can be creepy to walk through. Point Lookout is also entirely intact and the world is made to look like a community that has been left behind in the evolution and recovery of humanity, not a bombed-out wasteland. Thus, it’s more appealing to the eye, featuring a slew of colors. However, this backwards community brings about an unfortunate side effect, the weapons.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the weapons of Point Lookout are bad or anything, in fact they’re quite good. There’s a Double-Barreled Shotgun, which does a lot of damage, a Lever Action Rifle and its unique variant, which looks a lot like Lincoln’s Repeater except it uses a different type of ammo, and some Shovels and Axes with unique variants to fit the mood of the DLC. There’s even a unique Mesmotron. Really, it’s not even that these weapons aren’t powerful or useful, it’s just that they aren’t…cool to use a more basic terms. I mean, all the other DLCs had some pretty badass looking weapons but Point Lookout just doesn’t, which is unfortunate as these weapons fit the DLC quite well. The new apparel suffers from the same problem, with options like a pair of Workman’s Coveralls a jacket called Grifter’s Fit, and a Tribal Outfit, as well as some new glasses. Most of these are useful and fit the scene but they aren’t really up to par in terms of appearance with apparel from the other DLC. As far as the rest of the items go, there’s an interesting one you get from the main quest but other than that, there’s Yeast (used for a quest), a new type of alcohol called Moonshine, and a Fishing Pole (pointless). There’s also the much mentioned Punga Fruit, which despite what has been said DOES NOT lower your radiation level better than Rad-Away or Rad-X. It does, however, restore a bit of health. Thankfully, the new perks are useful, which are gained through quests. One improves your attack as well as your defense (but your defense only when standing still), another improves damage to Ghouls, and the last improves the effects of Punga Fruit. A solid offering of perks at least, but some aesthetically cooler items would have been nice too.
But with all these new items and perks, surely there has to be some new enemies to challenge you. Well fear not, for Point Lookout not only has enemies that fit its style, but can also be quite challenging, even to level 30 players. First, there are the redesigned versions of the Ghouls, called Swamp Ghouls, which aren’t too bad. There’s also the redesigned Mirelurks called Swamplurks, which are definitely tougher than their DC brethren. The Swamplurk King also looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, with glowing eyes, and it looks pretty damn cool. There are also Tribals and Smugglers, which are basically tougher Raiders and Mercenaries respectively. However, the really new, and toughest as well, enemies are the Swampfolk. There are Brawlers, Scrappers, and Creepers that shoot you from afar and have deformed-looking faces and skinny bodies (Brawlers are more muscular though). Trappers and Bruisers will charge at you and are the toughest of the bunch. A lot of people have said that these enemies look like the creatures from The Hills Have Eyes but as I have never seen that movie, I’d say they look like Sloth from The Goonies. Anyway, these Swampfolk really fit the mood of the horror-filled backwards community quite well, as do the redesigned enemies. In fact, the Swampfolk will actually speak incredibly stupidly with yelps and cries, further adding to the vision. So the enemies are all basically a plus for this DLC and believe me, they don’t go down easily.
Finally, as far as glitches go, there really aren’t many, at least not in my time with the DLC, and certainly none that you’d find outside of the main game. My biggest complaint was actually some considerable amounts of lag at parts. I guess it’s expected with a DLC of this scale but not something to be overlooked. But it’s pretty much glitch- free I found.
Is Point Lookout scary? Well, that’ll depend on your own personnel preferences. However, the DLC does an excellent job of creating a world that really gives you that “Horror Vibe” feeling. But more than that, it’s also a DLC with a good main quest on top of some great side quests, challenging enemies, and a massive world ripe for enjoyable exploration. Sure the items may be lacking visually but at least they’re useful. And while the lag may be annoying and there may be glitches, however few, Point Lookout is still well worth the $10 price tag. I spent nearly 20 enjoyable hours with this DLC and I have to say, besides maybe Broken Steel, this is the best DLC yet and well worth the money of any Fallout owner. It may not be as big but in essence, Point Lookout is the Shivering Isles of Fallout 3 and that is an excellent thing.
+ A good main quest on top of some great side quests, challenging enemies, and a massive world with a great art style that’s ripe for exploration put this DLC well above the others, as well as some useful items to boot.
– The few glitches are negligible but it’s really the blandness of the items and the lag that hold this DLC back from undoubtedly being the best DLC of the ones out now.