DLC Review – Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta

12 08 2009

A couple weeks ago, having found that I had 900 or so Republic Credits Microsoft Points, I decided it would be a good idea to grab the last DLC pack that Bethesda has released for Fallout 3. I am of course talking about Mothership Zeta, which probably takes you the furthest possible distance in any Fallout game since you wind up in space.

Hm, must've taken a wrong turn at Rivet City

I’m going to try to avoid spoilers but be warned there might be a couple here or there. So read on, carefully.

Mothership Zeta finally gives context to the existence of aliens in the Fallout universe. Wheras before in previous entries discovering UFO wrecks was a bit of an easter egg, Bethesda takes things one step further and introduces living aliens in this download pack. After installing it your character’s pip-boy alerts you to the existence of a new radio signal, one of an origin not of this earth. It starts out weak but intensifies as you make your way across the wasteland, getting closer to a crash site that’s been in the game since it first hit shelves: the crash site of Recon Craft Theta, an vessel of decidedly alien origin. Without the pack it’s just where you acquire the powerful Alien Blaster with its rare ammo of alien power cells. With the pack however as soon as you get close enough you’re suddenly caught in a bluish beam and lose consciousness as you begin to float up into the sky. Things only go downhilll from there when you wake up on an alien surgery table, black out again, and wind up in a cell with another wastelander. Obviously the goal of Mothership Zeta is to find out what the aliens want with you and many other humans that have been abducted over hundreds of years, and find a way to escape.

Some people have complained that aliens don’t belong in the Fallout universe, conveniently forgetting that nearly all the sci-fi movies of the 1950s either dealt with nuclear annihilation or invasions by a species from another world. The aliens fit in here perfectly, especially since they, their ship, and their armaments are styled in the retro-futuristic style of the same era that the rest of the Fallout series exists in. But that’s not the only holdover from that time that we get to see.

Yes you get to spacewalk with this thing

One of the items that the player will recover is a Mercury-Era spacesuit, similar to ones worn by astronauts like John Glenn and Alan Shepard. In our time of course, this was actually known as the Navy Mark IV pressure suit but now I’m just letting the aviation nerd in me show. It’s used for a spacewalk sequence that, while not very long, is actually very breathtaking. At least it was for me. All is quiet, you’re in low gravity walking on the hull of a ship, and it just feels…well it feels cool. There’s also a version of the “Liberty Bell” space capsule that the Mercury astronauts used, which again makes the aviation nerd in me happy.

Again I don’t want to spoil too much so I’ll just explain how the plot is conveyed. In addition to speaking with a few survivors of abduction who have been kept in stasis, the rest of the alien’s motivations are delivered through audio logs you can locate throughout the ship. Each log is of one of the captives of the aliens, from many different time periods, which give an idea of the scope of the aliens’ work as well as their methods. The aliens do not speak english, and thus it falls to the people in the logs to shine some light, if any, on what’s happening to them. Some of it is funny, some of it serious, and some of it is downright bone-chilling, but not even the most frightening aspect of it. In fact, anybody who’s played any of the X-com games and finds out what they’re up to, eugenics-wise, will get a sudden flashback to those revelations later in the course of the plot. And I would be remiss to mention that the climax to this story is suitably bad-ass and explosive. I won’t ruin it, but think Wrath of Khan.

Of course that’s not all that Mothership Zeta has to offer The new alien weapons are fun and powerful (personally I like the Atomizer pistol better than the Disintegrator rifle), alien items like adapted biogel and alien expoxy are so useful they almost break the game, and there’s also a dearth of unique items to locate as well if you’re diligent enough. The enemy aliens and their various thralls also present a very good challenge to even experienced players, often resulting in a lot of medical item usage unless you have the proper science skill to hack devices scattered about the ship to give you more health.

That said there are some problems. VATS doesn’t seem to want to target turrets properly at times, and even a frenzied alien turret will often still track you even after you’ve ducked out of range. I’d also say that, given the power of some of the items you can get, this almost feels like a pack designed for people who have Broken Steel and other DLC packs, in that they can take advantage of these weapons beyond the level 20 cap instituted by the core game, as well as get further use out of them. In fact it’s why I decided for now that I would revert back to a previous save that takes place before I embarked on this DLC quest. But I had a lot of fun and I look forward to the time when I do it all over again, this time looking even harder to get all the captive logs and every unique item. If you’ve enjoyed Fallout 3 and its DLC packs so far, you should have just as much fun with this one. Granted it’s not as big as Point Lookout, but then again that’s practically a whole new world on its own.




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