Fallout 3 'Broken Steel' DLC Preview

At a press event yesterday in London, Bethesda gave us an extended peek at the last of the three announced Fallout 3 DLC packs, "Broken Steel," now set for a May 5 release.

In a nutshell, Broken Steel will remove the game's ending entirely, with Bethesda's Pete Hines saying simply to fans that called for an open-ended resolution, "We got the idea." Players will still have to make the final choice, but following that climax the game will continue, presenting new epilogue quests, another 10 levels to gain, and new perks, monsters and achievements to keep the climb interesting.

For instance, one new perk will be "Puppies," a passive ability that sees Dogmeat reincarnated into a puppy after he is killed in battle. A new weapon shown off called the "Heavy Incinerator" works like a projectile flamethrower, firing bursts of flame from long distance.

That's about as un-spoilerish as this preview gets, however. Read on, but know that many of Broken Steel's quests, weapons and enemies will be revealed, along with details of Fallout 3's original ending.

Okay, Fallout 3 veterans, let's get down to the gritty details. Obviously the game's ending has been changed slightly to allow for your survival, making players send one of three companions into the reactor in your place. Hines hinted that there may be a way to regain the chosen companion, but let the specifics remain a mystery.

Walking outside after the reactor's activation will reveal a fully-functional Project Purity, the water now completely cleaned of radiation. Yellow barrels of clean "Aqua Pure" water are now stacked near a pool, and dipping your feet in the stuff now restores your health, rather than degrading it.

Neophyte scribes have taken up shop in the basement of the Jefferson, and it's there that the player will find the first quests of Broken Steel, all related to the water problem. That's right: just because Purity has been turned on doesn't end the world's liquid plight.

As an example, one quest will see players needing to clear the way for water to be delivered to Megaton. Outside of a trip to an air force base, the quests this time will take place within the traditional world space, rather than existing only through a portal.

But the larger issue is the remaining Enclave forces. The Brotherhood of Steel are still battling to beat out the last pockets of the enemy, and will obviously need help. At some point the Steel will recruit the player to retrieve the makings for a massive weapon, the Tesla Cannon, with which to finally defeat the Enclave. The player will find the necessary parts in an old power station, in the middle of a crackling Tesla coil defended by Enclave forces.

The Tesla Cannon itself is a massive weapon that acts like a Quake rail gun, vaporizing enemies in a puff of smoke on contact. With the giant artillery in hand, players will make their way through an old White House service tunnel--now occupied only by the computer character Margot--toward the Adams Air Force Base, an apparent hub of Enclave activity.

We got a look at a few new enemies on the way. The Feral Ghoul Reaver is a heavily armored ghoul, with more hit points and the ability to throw grenades. As for the Enclave, Hellfire Troopers carry the aforementioned Incinerator weapon, while the Overlord supermutant uses a fancy tri-laser. Players will begin seeing new enemies after reaching level 18, and Hines noted that gaining the top level of 30 will take a good amount of effort.

As Hines made his way through the vast base, Enclave vertibirds--the distinctive helicopters from previous content--streamed in to land extra forces at Adams. A single shot from the Tesla Cannon, however, saw the birds explode into huge fireballs in the sky, demonstrating the power of the weapon.

For a pack that will be "a bit" larger than the previous, Hines said that Bethesda considered charging more, but settled on the same price of 800 Microsoft Points ($10).

And as someone that mostly skipped the first two DLC installments, from this brief glimpse, Broken Steel looks like the one I may finally play through when it hits PC and Xbox 360 on May 5.

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