This article contains PLOT SPOILERS for Fallout 3 and its expansion Broken Steel.
You have been warned!
The world of Fallout 3 is huge, rich, and entertaining. It’s not a game that guides the player through one action set piece after another. In a sense, the player makes his or her own set pieces with a diverse set of options on how they wish to tackle the challenges and in what order.
Also, have I mentioned it’s got a pretty good plot too? Elements like the evil machinations of the Enclave, the desperate struggle against the supermutant hordes, the tale of a son/daughter and his/her dad’s dream, and the valiant efforts of the Brotherhood of Steel come together to form a coherent and entertaining story …
Which ends with your DEATH!
Until you buy Fallout 3: Broken Steel, that is. Then it’s like “Chill dude. You just passed out. We’ve got more content right here. Have you seen the new Tesla Cannon?”
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Fallout 3 (currently #4 on my top ten games of all time list), and I love the expansions. Well, except for Mothership Zeta. That one is kind of meh for me. But Broken Steel has a special place on the list because it is a true expansion of the main story. It lets us pick up where we left off and continue the epic battle between the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave.
Except, well, the Enclave from Broken Steel just isn’t the same. Let me explain.
In the main game, the player first learns about the Enclave through the radio broadcasts of President John Henry Eden, a fantastic character voiced by Malcolm McDowell. Fans of the first games already knew about the Enclave. However, I played Fallout 3 first and found out the truth the hard way when Enclave troops gunned down my fictional dad.
Darth Vader NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
From there, the Enclave soldiers become the primary antagonists in the game, popping up all over the place and engaging the player on sight. These guys are nasty customers, sporting some of the best armor and weapons in the game. More importantly, the colorful personality of President Eden gives these otherwise nameless, faceless lackeys some much needed character.
President Eden presence cannot be understated. He (or, rather, it) helps make the Enclave soldiers much more interesting and entertaining villains. It makes them an army with a leader, a plan, and the guns to see that plan through. It makes them menacing in a way that random supermutant 136 just can’t be. And it makes the gameplay that much more rewarding when the player beats them back and wins the day.
So, Fallout 3 has President Eden. Broken Steel has … err, no one?
No, seriously. There is no villain in Broken Steel. The Enclave just reverts to this leaderless, amorphous blob that acts as the player’s private bullet sponge. The supermutants have more personality at this point. It’s a little sad, really. After a great villain like Eden exits the stage, we don’t even get a warm body to take his place.
Or a warm circuit board, in this case? Warm transistor? Whatever.
In a way, this might have been the right choice. After all, President Eden is a tough act to follow. But I wish Bethesda had tried, all the same. The expansion missions just didn’t have the same impact for me. Imagine Broken Steel, but with a new and vibrant Enclave personality broadcasting his or her message over the airwaves. Not a bad change, huh?
Oh well. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Still Broken Steel is an awesome expansion, and well worth the time and money for any fan of Fallout 3. But dude, poor Liberty Prime. We’ll miss you, buddy!