The many Vaults of the Fallout franchise are without a doubt one of the series’ most iconic elements. Originally thought to have been designed by Vault-Tec to protect the population in case of nuclear war, they were in fact nothing more than elaborate behavioral experiments run on unsuspecting subjects. This is simply hinted at in the first two games, even though the revelation was intended to play a larger part in Fallout 2 but the matter is expanded upon in the companion book Fallout Bible and in the Bethesda-era games. Vaults became unique dungeons, each with their own sinister secrets as the nature of the experiments varied wildly between them. Vault-Tec Workshop brings Vault 88 to us and the promise of allowing the player to run their own twisted mind games on the unsuspecting inhabitants. It sure does promise that…
Vault-Tec Workshop (Fallout 4 DLC): Windows PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 26 July 2016
Price: 4,99€ [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Within the Vault-Tec Workshop
Although the third Workshop DLC in the Season Pass, Vault-Tec Workshop is the first one that introduces story elements to the mix. You find Vault 88, which was never finished but has an Overseer nonetheless. Now a ghoul, she enlists you to clear the caves of ferals, help finish building the vault and carry on the experiments on new residents. Sadly, the experiments you run are not exactly insidious Stanford Vault Experiments, but rather simple affairs such as: select a settler, assign them to the stationary bicycle you saw in the trailer and watch them grow marginally irritated.
There are a few more interesting experiments with some funny dialogues thrown in, but they’re a strictly one-time deal part of the DLC’s quest line. Vault-Tec Workshop manages to thus position itself in an awkward position where its premise falls short of what was promised, but it still adds enough settlement items to the game for enthusiasts. So while I couldn’t exactly perform nefarious acts upon my fellow man like I could in something like The Sims, at least it brings a lot of nice new items to the game.
At last I can build a settlement that has proper clean beds instead of the terrible-looking stained destroyed mattresses that the base game offered. A settlement with clean toilets and sinks. A settlement with functional furniture. Clean couches. Sturdy chairs. A better settlement. A settlement that not only says “survival” but “living”. My fellow Commonwealthers, it has been 200 years from the Great War and it is time we started looking towards the future! Vote Paul for Overseer, 2316!
But in all seriousness, I should think that with people in Power Armour running around and countries like the NCR, New Cannan and the Commonwealth being established people have, somewhere along the way, remembered how to clean a mattress too. The items are a welcome addition for OCD settlement builders such as myself. Additionally, you finally get a terminal that allows to manage what your settlers do and see where your companions are, so you never lose them again. Of course there are mods that do the same but it’s nice, nonetheless, to see it done in the base game.
I’m on the fence about Workshop DLCs. On one hand, I love settlement building and I appreciate being given more stuff to play around with, but that’s not what Fallout is about. I should think there are some mighty pissed off people out there that have pre-ordered the game and the Season Pass hoping for story-rich content like Fallout 3 and New Vegas had. While Vault-Tec Workshop does have a decent chunk of quests and dialogue it manages to miss the point of the premise and not allow players to delve deeper into the sinister nature of the Vault-Tec Experiment. In fact, I’d say that while it’s a great piece of content for settlement enthusiasts, you might want to exercise caution of you’re not at all interested in the settlement system.