This review is part of series of reviews by D.C. FPS Examiner Joshua DeLung on Fallout 3 and its downloadable content packs. Fallout 3 is a post-apocalyptic shooter/RPG adventure game that takes place mostly in D.C., Maryland and Virginia in the years after nuclear war with China in an area referred to as the Capital Wasteland. (Operation Anchorage review; Point Lookout review.)
Into the Pitt
The main quest for this chapter in Fallout 3 begins by following a radio distress signal to the northern part of the Capital Wasteland world map. The journey to the remnants of Pittsburgh is arguably more exciting than any of the actual objectives within the mission itself. In fact, the main game questline doesn’t lead the Lone Wanderer into the northern parts of the map very often, so it’s likely that you’ll discover several areas you had not explored previously and do some questing along the way. Now is an especially good time to complete the Paradise Falls objectives if you have not done so.
Upon finding a Pitt escapee named Wernher, players are led to a train tunnel that ultimately leads to The Pitt. The background for the story is that the slave master of The Pitt has a cure for the mutations that are plaguing its inhabitants, and Wernher believes it is in everyone’s best interests that the cure be stolen and shared with the world, along with hopefully gaining freedom for the slaves.
One big cliché
Up to this point, I had finished the main game, Point Lookout and Operation Anchorage (leaving Broken Steel and Mothership Zeta DLC for after The Pitt). While I thoroughly enjoyed Operation Anchorage and thought the main Fallout 3 game content was pretty good, I wasn’t highly impressed by Point Lookout. The Pitt, however, is the worst part of Fallout 3 I have experienced. The entire main quest is filed with overdone game elements that you’ll likely recognize from several other games you’ve played.
The first big thing you’ll do in The Pitt once making your way downtown, for example, is a fetch quest, gathering steel bars while fighting off mutated slaves called trogs. The Pitt missions involve a lot of this sort of running back and forth from point to point, doing stuff that seems more typical of an MMORPG than a combat-focused RPG adventure. Perhaps the biggest turnoff out of all the missions is the part that involves The Hole. This is an arena where you must fight for your freedom from slavery (yeah, you have to sneak in as a slave, abandoning all of your hard-earned equipment in exchange for whatever you can scrounge up from others). How many times have shooters utilized these arena-style levels? They are always just as boring and seem to have no purpose other than to force the player to do some grinding.
Losing your way
In addition to the bugs and clunky gameplay elements mentioned in previous reviews of Fallout 3 content, The Pitt seems to have major issues with plotting out map points. Whenever markers are placed for finding the next location for a mission objective, the actual trigger for initiating the next part of the quest never seems to be in exactly the right spot as shown on the map. Much of this frustration could be prevented if the game’s developers had included multilevel mapping, a feature present since the early generations of gaming in titles such as The Legend of Zelda. How is it that the Pip-Boy can map out the entire world but not tell the difference between the second and first floors of an area?
Much of The Pitt is a maze of ramps and metal scaffolding that lead nowhere, and there are several floors in many of the areas, so navigation in this DLC is somewhat of an issue. One very frustrating part is finding your equipment once you’ve earned your freedom. The map marker leads you to an area that isn’t the unintentionally well-hidden footlocker that houses your gear. Think it’s just me? Run a Google search… several players have experienced that issue.
Combat and choices
The combat in The Pitt has a heavy melee focus. In fact, it’s possible to obtain one very powerful melee weapon in this DLC called the auto axe, and it’ll be your best bet throughout much of the quest. Guns often will not kill trogs and raiders before they get close to you, and the random scrap metal scattered everywhere makes using VATS nearly impossible — in fact, I wasted a lot of ammo when the VATS system gave me a high chance to hit, only to see my character shoot straight into a barrel during the VATS animation. Once, the VATS animation froze for almost a full minute, and my character never fired.
Bethesda’s marketing materials for The Pitt champion it as a quest filled with lots of gray choices to be made, but there really aren’t that many that seem unique. Perhaps the best moment in the entire DLC involves finding the aforementioned cure and making a tough choice about what to do with it (let’s just say the cure is definitely nothing you imagined it would be). Upon escaping The Pitt and liberating the slaves, I was done. You can stick around and do some more fetch questing with steel ingots and teddy bears if you’d like, but that’s one choice I’d recommend skipping so you can get back to the Capital Wasteland and away from the drab, dull land of steel.
Overall, The Pitt has very little substance when held next to the Operation Anchorage and Point Lookout missions I’ve played. The missions are tedious, and the story doesn’t offer much. It might be worth playing to see how you’ll deal with making the decision about what to do with the cure, or even just to see what the cure is. Other than that, though, there’s nothing here but grinding and a dash of frustration.