Fortunately, in this instance, it really doesn't matter. At roughly one-fifth the size of Fallout 3's initial game world, the entirety of the new landmass that the June 23-due Point Lookout DLC adds to Bethesda's action-RPG is open from the start, enabling you to ignore that quest about the ghoul in the mansion and just explore the wetland.
That lighthouse out in the distance? That cathedral on the hilltop, ever-so-slightly obscured by the murky haze that permeates the swampy area? Go for it.
While you're exploring, don't be surprised if you run across some more quests. Over half a dozen "free roaming" quests are hidden throughout the overall area. And hey, if you get a hankering to head back to the more familiar trappings of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., no worries. You can always hop on the ferry, ride on home, and come back later.
Undoubtedly, some will make a beeline for that mansion on the hill. After all, you're here to investigate the mysterious fruit that's been popping up. And Desmond, the former secret agent turned ghoul that lives on that hillside, he might know something about it.
First though, you'll have to help the recluse fight off the Tribals that have invaded his rotting estate. Upon entering his mansion, you walk into a firefight--hounds running amuck, ceiling-mounted turrets blazing away, and Desmond laying waste to the foes. He assumes you'll help, tasks you with ridding his house of the invaders, and runs off to hide somewhere. A random dude exploiting you? In Fallout? Go figure. BOOM video 2053
Of course, it's not as easy as roaming the hallways. This guy's mansion is literally falling apart, and as I walk through what was once a nice dining room, a number of Tribals fall through the rotting ceiling, coming at me with shovels, axes and double-barreled shotguns while screaming things like "death to the unenlightened!"
I won't lie, shooting a fanatical cultist in the head was rather satisfying.
Oh, did I mention there's a cult? These "inbred mutated locals," as producer Jeff Gardiner puts it, are certainly fanatic about their beliefs. But are they the bad guys? The good guys? Do such concepts even exist in a post-apocalyptic, ghoul-ridden world?
Only one thing's for certain: during the course of Point Lookout's main three-act quest, you'll have to take a side. At the very least, it appears you'll be able to make an informed decision. While my Point Lookout demo ended in Desmond's mansion, Gardiner noted that the quest will eventually see you infiltrating the cult.
Then again, by the time players are able to properly explore Point Lookout--the content isn't recommended for those under Level 17--they'll probably be experienced enough to know that almost everyone in Fallout 3 is a jerk that deserves what's coming to them, so no worries. Just get out there, do what you want, and try not to die.
Priced at 800 Microsoft Points ($10), Point Lookout arrives for the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Fallout 3 on June 23, with a PlayStation 3 release later on.