June 25, 2016
Fallout 4 - Contraptions Review
Fallout 4 continues its run of post launch DLC, this time giving players the ability to create some pretty out their contraptions, so those who want more story or locations to discover will be disappointed, this is all about building.
What Contraptions allows you to do, above the main game is that you can now automate things, create some interesting machines and go out there with the crazy designs you have. However, right of the bat, there are two big problems with this new batch of items, first is that creating anything other than a ball ramp or two is going to require some serious resources. The second and for more concerning for some people is that, there are no instructions on some of the more advanced items, which if you don’t understand how they work, you will not be able to use them right.
There is another concern to be found, space, in order to build some more elaborate pieces, you will need to find yourself a nice open plot of space to build upon. If you are like me and have set up a few different settlements, then you can build a few smaller things at each one, but even the prefabricated pieces take up quite a lot of room, so all of that must be taken into account when you start to build. There are easy things like elevators that are just place and connect, but the most fall into either the construction piece or the program piece of gear, which when you combine them together will allow you to create some fun. The one people are likely to mess around with first and it is the one I did, is the ball and track pieces, which you can use to trigger things or just create a very cool track. The triggers can be set up than when the ball passes under them, they send the on signal to a piece of tech you have connected, it can be as simple as a light or really anything else you can think to connect.
The second thing that I played around with, were the machines, you have a few of them, if you drop supplies into them, you can have them create weapons, armour and more, depending on the options you select. It is a nice way to have a machine create some guns for you, but just as you would need the materials on your person to make something else, you need the right materials to make a gun, which then comes back to the resources mentioned above. The hopper is a great way to add materials, but in order to make one single item, you need to ensure you drop the right ingredients in and it can be quite the process, just for one gun, which begs the question why automate that.
You can of course, choose to mix all of these things in with the cages and arenas given in the wasteland workshop dlc a few months back, which can result in some funny experiences, like having a raider trigger a ball drop, which takes for ever, only for it to trigger a floor plate of spikes to shoot up and kill him. What you can do, if you have the know how is use and or nand switches, there is also or and nor switches, most of which won’t mean anything to most people and even if you want to learn how to use them, you will need to go elsewhere as the game does not offer any instructions on how to use them. An And swtich is great if you want to have two different rules be completed before an action starts, like a pressure plate in a corridor means a laser trip wire activates and if passed through by a friendly, nothing happens. If however it is an unfriendly the And gate gets its second yes and then kicks off your machine of death.
The advanced functions could have been implemented in a nicer way, giving people who are not familiar with them the chance to learn, so it is a missed chance. Perhaps an even stranger one, the menus for building are now so blown out, that it can take forever to find the piece you want. Rather than placing the new switches and gear in their own sections, they are put into existing ones, so you will need to relook at almost every menu to find them, which is only exacerbated more when you need to swap between a few different items during a build. Things like the pulse generators are nice and I fully expect someone to make use of them to create some great music, but they are buried at the back of a category that makes no sense.
Fallout 4 has given players a lot of different options with the post launch DLC, with story, locations and building, there was something for all. The latest Contraptions, though feels more at home in an advanced coding class in a school than Fallout, while there is some fun to be had with the simple tools, the need of massive resources and space for anything bigger, before you get to understanding advanced programming is a giant lead weight on this one.
Thanks to Bethesda for supplying the DLC for review