Vault creator puts limits on your imagination

Vault creator puts limits on your imagination

Vaults, the fallout shelters built by the fictional company Vault-Tec, have always been pivotal to the “Fallout” game universe — and a source of fascination for players.

They’re where the journey almost always begins, supposed bastions of civilization and safety sealed off from the post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland that is the surface world.

But, as any experienced “Fallout” player can tell you, they aren’t nearly as innocent as they seem.
Most vaults — as far as the lore goes — are actually secret experimental facilities, where the residents are unwitting guinea pigs.

For instance, one shelter I remember was populated with drug addicts but had no drugs for them to abuse. So they cleaned themselves up. And then the real experiment began. A secret employee of Vault-Tec opened up access to a hidden cache of intoxicants, then stood back to see how it all played out. Let’s just say sobriety and civilized behavior didn’t last long.

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Another vault was intentionally filled with the rich and privileged, but the vault was purposely built too small to comfortably hold their number and was inadequately stocked with supplies. For the coup de grace, an incompetent business manager was intentionally hired as the vault’s overseer. Rioting and murder followed.

Given the sick possibilities, is it any wonder that many players have wanted to build their own vaults within the game to conduct their own hideous or hilarious experiments?

So when Bethesda Softworks, the series’ current publisher, announced that “Fallout 4” was getting downloadable content that would allow players to build their own vaults — the “Vault-Tec Workshop” — there was some excitement.

Could we really build our own vaults, maybe conduct our own experiments “Sims”-style?

Unfortunately, the reality does­­n’t match up with imagination.

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Yes, players can build their own vault — Vault 88, to be specific — utilizing the same “workshop” tools used to construct settlements in the wasteland, but with new vault-themed building blocks, including new room architecture, furniture, decorative items and novelty devices, such as weight-lifting stations.

And there’s at least one new tool useful at every settlement the player controls, a terminal that monitors what the settlers are doing so unoccupied folks can be assigned. It also makes it easier to track down the main character’s errant companions.

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Beyond that, though, the ex­­perimental possibilities are — to put it gently — fleeting and unsatisfying.
They’re conducted through the standard “Fallout 4” mission format: The overseer of Vault 88, which you’ve uncovered after tracking down an errant radio signal, asks you to build an experimental device, choose one of three experiments to conduct with the device, test it on a helpful simpleton named Clem, then report the results.

The same formula follows three more times, and that’s it. You’re done.

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The devices are forevermore locked in with the experiment parameters you’ve chosen, unless you load up an earlier save file or — if you’re playing on PC — hack certain game settings.

Honestly, this DLC would be vastly improved if I had more experiments to conduct or could at least reset the ones I’ve got.

And, quite frankly, I’d kill for a top-down vault/settlement design tool. Walking around in first- or third-person and trying to get building elements to connect properly can be an annoyingly hit-or-miss task.

But for all its faults, it is only $4.99, and for that you actually do get more than a bit of value — if you like to get all creative and build fake communities within the game.

"Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop"
PS4, Xbox One, PC. ("Fallout 4" game also required)
$4.99
M for mature
 

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