SCOURGE OF THE COMMONWEALTH

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Last few weeks have been taken up by Fallout 4‘s “Automatron” expansion. A nearly seamless implant into the 50s-gone-wrong hijinks of nuked Boston, it provides more of everything both good and bad about the main game. The quest line proposes the Mechanist (a side character plucked from Fallout 3, here used as an everyman cover identity) descending on the Commonwealth with an army of robots to save its people, liberating raiders and traders alike from this mortal coil with laser-y mayhem. A few screws obviously loose, it’s up to the game’s resident Vault Dweller to take matters into his/her hands (with a new robo-buddy in tow). While you’re at it, the Mechanist radios speeches about how you’re really the menace and must be stopped. Conflict brews, two would-be saviors prepared to slug it out in the baroque ruins of the old world.

At least, that’s the idea. This being a Bethesda plot, it naturally fizzles out. The Mechanist’s insanity is downplayed with some tossed off exposition about misinterpreted commands. The feud isn’t allowed to follow through, like a superhero team-up comic without even an external threat to unite against (a new, themed raider gang is only a complication, not the main event).

What’s left is new toys to play with: a couple new weapons and tech, formidable enemies (many of which you can one-shot kill with a laser musket if properly prepared), and the ability to construct and modify your own robots. Some top-notch tinkering let down by a wimpy backbone.

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