Fallout 4: Automatron DLC Review
With a game as large as Fallout 4 it's always difficult to know quite how to expand it, but Automatron, the first piece of additional content for the game, is a solid attempt that feels like a worthy addition to any new or ongoing wasteland adventure.
Automatron comes in two discreet parts: the first, a new string of story missions about 'The Machinist', a mysterious wasteland figure who is deploying robotic creations into the wasteland from a top-secret base. The robots claim they're helping humans, but their idea of helping appears to be through death and carnage.
The main quest line feels typical to any semi-major side quest in Fallout 4 in how it features a few key locations and objectives that string you along with minor evolutions on the add-on's plot. Beyond a new mission strand with a bunch of intriguing plot elements that I won't spoil here, this set of missions also introduces you to a bunch of new robotic enemy types, a new companion, and a single new electric-based weapon that can arc jolts of lightning between enemies in a cool and fairly effective way.
This set of included missions is solid, but I also couldn't help but find it a little lacking for a core component of a major piece of DLC. Most of it takes place across already existing areas of the wasteland, though it does ramp up to one particularly well produced all-new location. It's all business-as-usual, with even the new enemy types not particularly enthralling. Everything about this DLC's core story feels as though it could have fallen clean out of the core game, and that's at once a blessing and a curse.
The narrative is similarly pretty standard stuff with one nice character beat buried at the end depending on the choices you make, and the in-game rewards at the end are welcome, in particular a new settlement location.
All of of this ultimately exists solely to justify the real core of Automatron, which is the addition of mechanical companion characters. This is a nice touch in general; there's a massive degree of character customization on offer here, all handled via similar menus as those used to modify weapons and power armor. Everything can be customized here from body parts to weapons and even the voice of your robotic buddy, and many of the changes you make will impact their utility in combat.
The latter is particularly interesting, with changes made to the companion making their combat performance significantly different. If you give one melee based weapons, they'll dash in and attack in that manner. Rockets or the like will be fired from afar, and of course there's mid-range options. You can adjust armor to match your load out of choice and thus augment a companion who best compliments your play style; it's a fun little feature.
Better still, you can also augment Codsworth, your existing mechanical friend, in the same way. Want him to sport tank tracks and a massive damage-absorbing body while still sporting the same slightly-insane-butler attitude? So be it - you can now rebuild him.
This new feature taps into where Fallout 4 is at its best, opening up your choice of companion to the same breadth and range as featured in weapons, armor, and settlement building. It's a great addition, though at the stand-alone price of Automatron I'd also expect a stronger single-player component to introduce you to these mechanics. It's there where this add-on falls a little flat, though its foundation is excellent.
With Automatron Bethesda has shrewdly managed to zero in on one already compelling point of Fallout 4's experience, dropping in a new twist that solidly expands on that point in an interesting new way. As such, it's a perfect add-on for those either experiencing the wasteland for the first time or returning for a new play-through. It's simplistic and short story component means that it arguably doesn't have enough content to actually draw you back in on its own, and that's a shame, but if more Fallout 4 is on the cards for you already and you love customization, there's a strong argument for playing it with Automatron attached.