[ Fallout Friday ] The Worth of the Season Pass

These days, there’s a lot of arguing about whether or not DLC is an active cause by the video games industry to milk people further out of their hard-earned dollars and a continued reason to sell an incomplete product: if you’re asking me, quick and dirty, what I think, I think that DLC exists because it sells and that games would be the way they are today regardless of the existence of DLC. Patching is the reason games come out incomplete, sometimes, and for good reason: but that’s industry talk that I can go over some other day. One of the biggest debates in my mind, right now, is what the worth of a season pass is, especially regarding a game like Fallout 4. I love Fallout 4 and I’ll take damn near every excuse I can find in the book to play it and a Season Pass looks like it could be just that: a reason to play more Fallout 4. At the cost of it, though, it makes me wonder if it’s worth the price of admission. My heart tells me to go for it but my mind tells me to wait and see what the first DLC is like and then use that as an example. The last and probably only season pass I’d ever purchased was for another game that I refuse to hate – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – and it was, for the most part, worth every penny. However, I know that that probably isn’t indicative of all season passes offered out there.

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You see, right now, there’s a lot of speculation as to what the DLC will be for Fallout 4 as we’re not really given many concrete hints. That’s the thing with situations like this: you have a developer that likes to hold their cards close to their chest, so to speak, yet you know that when you watch them play their hand, it’s a safe bet they’ll do decently, if not, incredibly well. A lot of people are assured that the first DLC will take place in a structure that is built entirely underwater – perhaps a Vault or hydroelectric power plant of sorts – and that it will flesh out the city and characters that are featured in Fallout 4 but won’t do much else.

This is where the crisis of conscience comes in for me: with fighting games, for example, that come with a season pass, you know you’re going to get more fighters, more stages, more difficulty, costumes, customizables, things of that nature. Generally speaking, you know what you’re in for, even if you don’t know exactly. So, if you love the game, it’s not a hard choice to make. With a game like Fallout 4, even though you love it, there’s still enough room to do poorly and offer something that could ultimately fall flat with the fans. I suppose that could happen with anything but I feel that games like this are even more susceptible to this problem. Will I blow through the content in a couple hours, look for more powerful weapons and armor, and then be stuck in the exact same place I was before I started: just playing for trophies?

It’s not like this is a problem that I started having with DLC, you know, either: same problem I had with game expansions, back in the day when PC games had them and you didn’t need to drop a mortgage on your fuckin’ house in order to buy a PC to play them. There’s no real way to know what it’s worth to you until you’re already in the hole and you’re playing it, sometimes, with some games.

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Without really being able to know in advance, I ask myself this, then: am I hyped for the first DLC pack for Fallout 4? You bet I am. I’ve always felt like the world was a little incomplete in this game and that there was so much more that you can do other than endlessly run settlement quests for that prick Preston Garvey. Bethesda has the chops to really take their time and give us something wonderful in the way of adding something to every part of the game, be it equipment, story, settlements, or otherwise. Question is, are we spending so much time contemplating what they’ll give us that we’re ignoring whether or not they’ll give us enough? Personally, I suspect something akin to what EA and Bioware did with Mass Effect 3 – another game I bought all the DLC for – in that the content released will be of a quality that can be expected from the developer and will fit nicely in the game and fans of the game will, generally, be happy, but it will generate a lot of controversy.

What will the controversy be over? Hard to say. However, I think the controversy will either be powered mostly by gender representation or perceived disappointment in the content. It seems to drive a lot of the controversy seen in gaming these days and I don’t think it’ll be any different here.

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If it were my choice, they would take a little time off from making content for a little bit so they could fix some very glaring issues the game has that keeps things from being as structured as it could be, namely problems with settlements: populations are still problematic and there’s still no set method for getting people’s happiness up past a certain level and keeping it there. Either current methods that are known to help need to be more effective or Bethesda has to be a little more transparent in regards to how the settlement mechanics work. I would like this to happen before any DLC is released and when the first pack does come around, I would like to see some expansion towards equipment that you can find and that you can make. I would also like to see better looking armor sets. I don’t want to look like someone just rejected me from a Mad Max casting shoot in order to have a high armor rating without the Ballistic Fiber perk. Some of us did not choose the Railroad on their first run, myself included. I would like to have that character stand just as tall as those with that perk. Give us some story content and some new areas to explore to give us reason to find those things. More variety in the items that you can gather in order to upgrade your armor and weapons would be nice, too. I would like to see a couple completely unique items that do not have the same skin and profile as other items.

As for future packs? I would like to see the next pack be entirely settlement-based. Give us new items to build, more mechanics that allow us to do all-new things in the settlements. Give us the ability to choose from a wide variety of places in the game that, once you clear them out of Super Mutants, Raiders, or Gunners, you can set up camp. Give us the ability to break down items in those encampments and then later build them ourselves. I want to be able to build a settlement that competes with Diamond City. This pack had best flesh out settlements entirely. I want this game to be a settlement simulator just as much as it is a FPS/RPG hybrid.

Also, in the future, have working for the Minutemen actually get somewhere: endlessly doing missions for settlements makes me feel more like I’m a gopher and not some high ranking officer of a local militia that helps the people. Let me assign people to missions, let the Minutemen have their own quest hubs that lead to a storyline.

What do you guys think?

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