Within the vast framework that encompasses Fallout 4, the art of exploring the wonderfully realised irradiated plains of post-apocalyptic Massachusetts is undoubtedly the highlight. Thus, the decision to set the game’s latest DLC offering within the stifling confines of the earth seems perplexing to say the least, especially considering that it leans heavily upon the dubiously wonky workshop mechanics. Yet unlike the former Workshop DLCs, Vault-Tec Workshop mutates the polluted formula of the previous entries to provide a unique and hilarious addition to the world of Fallout 4.
The art of constructing your very own vault is one of the most exhilarating things I have ever experienced in Fallout 4. The vaults are, historically, one of the most intriguing components within the Fallout lore. They are a remnant of the world before the bombs fall, which until the arrival of Fallout 4 we’d yet to truly experience, acting like a time capsule that encompasses a microcosm of the twisted and corrupt pre-war mentality. Thus, as it is no doubt evident, having the possibility to create your own is a dream come true for many Fallout fanatics, myself included.
In true Fallout DLC tradition, the pack begins with a mysterious radio broadcast inviting you newly discovered Vault 88. Upon wrenching open the iconic bulkhead door, you discover a vault that has not only succumbed to the corrosion and decay of two-hundred years of wear and tear, but also one that has been left in a perpetual state of limbo for the last two centuries. With a blank canvas encompassing miles of sprawling underground tunnels at your fingertips, you’re free to revitalise Vault-Tec once more and create your very own vault.
The vast array of construction options at your disposal is impressive to say the least, gifting you with hundreds of new objects with which to create the vault of your dreams. Be it a tiny hamlet of outcast oddballs or a gargantuan underground city teaming with life, Vault-Tec Workshop gives you the tools and the space to create whatever you desire.
There are, however, several lingering problems that have carried over like a debilitating disease from the base game. The actual construction process is as infuriating as ever, and trying to place each component is a sluggish and infuriating affair, raising serious questions revolving around why exactly Bethesda have yet to nuke the workshop idea. It takes an unfathomably long time to do anything, and the confined nature of vault life only accentuates the issue. I compel you all to carefully plan out your vaults before laying a single panel. I frequently found myself having to rip down whole sections of my underground shelter as the geography utterly dashed my apocalyptically ambitious aspirations.
Yet despite these niggles, the DLC vaults ahead of its compatriot workshop packs thanks to the welcomed addition of a storyline. Though not over complex, especially compared to the utterly compelling side-quests in the main game, it perfectly nails the sadistic Fallout humour. I won’t spoil the delightful details, but be prepared for some seriously satanic moral choice decisions that will make you both howl with laughter, and shake your head utter disbelief.
Vault-Tec Workshop is evidence that Bethesda are listening closely to their community. The team have addressed many of the glaring issues that have plagued past workshop DLCs, gifting players with something new and different that captures some of that Fallout magic. However, like the lingering radioactive fallout that haunts a nuclear blast site years after a detonation, the poorly designed settlement building mechanics still hamper the overall experience just as they did in the base game.