Welcome to the swamps of Point Lookout, where thick fog fills the air and mutated hillbillies roam the land. Fallout 3's fourth expansion offers plenty of new terrain to explore, but is the trip down river worth the ticket price?
Point Lookout begins as you take a riverboat from the Capitol Wasteland to find a woman's runaway daughter. When you arrive after your trip down the Potomac, the captain notices smoke from a nearby mansion. It turns out the owner is under siege by locals gone tribal. After you help the ghoul defend his home, you set out to learn why the tribe wants him dead.
As in the main game, much of the story lies outside the primary questline, as you meet interesting characters, take on side quests, and learn more about the tribe and swampfolk living there. Much of it relies on backcountry stereotypes from inbreeding to voodoo, but it's entertaining and there are a few great moments along the way.
Unlike the linear path of Operation Anchorage or the massive set-piece battles of Broken Steel, Point Lookout focuses more on exploration and isolation. You can't bring your dog or companion, but you're free to wander wherever you like as soon as you disembark.
The main story plays out through a series of five quests, rounded out by five additional side quests, and there are plenty of other spots to explore. The swampy coastline features 29 locations and quite a few surprises, like one instance where you unknowingly open the door into a killer's motel room, or another where you stumble upon a trapper's basement full of live quarry.
Point Lookout doesn't raise level caps, but there are new perks to attain. New weapons include shovels, double-barreled shotguns, and the microwave emitter, but while they fit the setting, they don't exhibit the must-have appeal of an auto-axe or Tesla cannon.
Point Lookout is easily the biggest of the expansions so far, and though it's easy to rush through the main quest in a couple of hours, dedicated scavengers can take up to 10 hours to see all the bogs have to offer.
Where previous expansions were lighter on challenge, Point Lookout's enemies are tough from the start. The opening mansion battle will humble players used to taking out deathclaws with ease. New denizens include the palette-swapped swamplurks and several varieties of swampfolk--irradiated hillbillies who can all take a beating. After tussling with these guys for a few hours, engaging in a five-minute ghoul onslaught is actually quite a relief.
Quests feature a lot of diversity. Simple tasks, like gathering ingredients for moonshine, or sniffing out the trail of a Chinese spy, provide clues that lead you to farthest reaches of the map, and even underwater. And in order to infiltrate Point Lookout's dominant tribal cult and find their leader, you have to embark on a vision quest that involves ingesting special fruit seeds and enduring their trippy side-effects.
Depending on which path you choose, the final showdown can feel a little easy after your time in the swamps, but in general the content is interesting and should provide a challenge for experienced Fallout 3 players.
The slimy bogs are a big change from the open terrain of the Capitol Wasteland, with an oppressive coastal fog and strange pungya fruit growing wild. New character models for the swampfolk look almost cartoonish, with sagging paunches and bulging deformities, but their animations can be stiff or repetitive at times. Dialogue is on-par with what you'd expect from Fallout 3, with Southern accents that add personality to the inhabitants and provide chuckles at the expense of your in-bred enemies. There are noticeable draw-in issues at times, and players are still likely to run into glitches, but as a whole, Point Lookout provides a great new environment with a distinct air.
Point Lookout adds miles of new territory to Fallout 3, with a sense of freedom that matches the core game better than any of the previous chapters. The quality of Fallout 3's DLC has been on an upward climb, and Point Lookout edges past Broken Steel as the best addition yet.
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox 360.