Wasteland Workshop is the second serving of Fallout 4 [official site] DLC that offers players new settlement items, crafting options, and the chance to capture wild creatures before pitting them against one another in purpose-built arenas. Beyond that, there’s not much else to it, no quests, no story, which is a fact reflected by its modest £3.99/$4.99 price tag. But is it worth your time? Here’s Wot I Think.
When Bethesda first announced Wasteland Workshop a couple of months back, it was certainly the least auspicious of Fallout 4’s planned trio of expansions scheduled for release in the first half of the year. Against its more wholesome-sounding counterparts, the add on’s budget price and relatively bland title appeared to portray something not only quite basic, but also something a number of the game’s existing user mods could already offer for free.
Yet for me, the idea of designing cages to “capture live creatures” nevertheless stirred visions of Wile E. Coyote’s laughably haphazard handiwork and me trying - and most likely failing in comical fashion - to snare a Deathclaw or a Mirelurk or a Radscorpion in a huge wooden box propped up by a stick with a string tied to the end. The idea of having my victims “face off in battle” conjured thoughts of Mad Max’s Thunderdome.
Wasteland Workshop does let you imprison all of the above in your own homespun cages (as well as docile animals and raiders, among a number of other unlucky hostages), however the process of doing so is really rather boring. Perhaps my over-elaborate Warner Brothers cartoon aspirations were a tad optimistic, but in order to impound any one of the wild critters, savage humans, or irradiated ghouls the expansion lets you choose from, simply constructing the appropriate cage, hooking it up to a power supply, and waiting “a week or less” makes it so - which either means going off and doing other things or sleeping through a few consecutive in-game days until the allotted time has passed. Returning to a closed cage marks success, and only by cutting the power can whatever’s trapped inside by released.
Setting the traps themselves is an even less inspiring ordeal, as each demands a set amount of resources relevant to the size of varmint you’re out to seize. Besides varying amounts of copper, gear and steel, Deathclaw cages, for example, require four portions of Yao Guai meat; whereas Brahmin cages ask for four helpings of Razorgrain. This requires you venture into the Wasteland to gather provisions before you can get even started - a task which can seem especially superfluous in the occasions when you’re after smaller, less threatening targets. If I can attract a dog’s attention with a few cans of dog food, do I really need two servings of Softshell Mirelurk Meat to temp a small house cat into this tiny metal box? The answer is yes, apparently. I don’t think I’d have as much of an issue with all of this if the hunting process itself were more nuanced. Clicking through generic menus before having an outcome unfold automatically and independently of me and my hard work isn’t exactly my idea of fun.
Once you’ve detained your unsuspecting prey, you’re left with two options: pit them against one another, or tame them as your own. As you might expect, raiders, gunners, and Super Mutants can’t be tamed, however it is possible to employ, say, Mirelurks as settlement security, should you want them to guard your perimeter. Bear in mind that in order to do that, you’ll need to install a Beta Wave Emitter - a beacon that tames wild creatures - which requires four portions of crystal (a somewhat rare/expensive resource in this post-apocalyptic world) and both the Animal Friend and Wasteland Whisperer perks unlocked at rank one. If you’re missing any one of those, it’s back into the Commonwealth you go.
Wasteland Workshop’s main event, then, is its arena-based matchups whereby you can set raiders, creatures and/or settlers against one another in last-man-standing-type bloodbaths. Sadly, these bouts are as tedious as the process of capturing the competitors, which is mostly down to the fact that Fallout 4’s animations are neither violent nor convincing enough in a forced deathmatch context. Each time I set up a fight, I found the amount of effort that went into constructing the arenas, devising the traps, and capturing the prey far outweighed the amount of interest I had in any one battle’s outcome. Simply put: Thunderdome it ain’t.
Furthermore, settlers can be assigned to colour-coded Arena Contestant platforms which forces those involved into a settlement-wide team deathmatch. I had fun with this initially, however quickly tired of the whole thing when the rest of my community became unhappy whenever a warring settler bit the dust. Which seems fair enough, as I’d probably be annoyed too if my sister survived nuclear war but copped it by way of hide and seek with guns.
On the items front, Wasteland Workshop introduces a host of new cosmetic and practical fittings and decorations that can be installed to your settlement, such as mounted animals heads, neon lighting, and a rad-removing decontamination arch - similar to the one found in the Automatron DLC’s Mechanist’s Lair. New building structures, such as concrete floors, walls, roofs and stairs; a new 100x unit power generator; and a new water pump have been added, not to mention defence items such as reciprocating spikes and automated blade traps - all of which will entertain those players that thrive in the minutiae of Fallout 4’s settlement and crafting features.
Then again, while this suite of options is probably something those playing on console will find interesting, I can’t see it appealing to all too many PC players - simply because there are already a multitude of Fallout 4 mods out there that do a similar, if not better, job for free. If you’ve already bought the Season Pass then great, give Wasteland Workshop a whirl and let me know what you think. For everyone else - Fallout 4’s second slice of DLC is under a fiver, yet still somehow feels overpriced. Granted, there’s a good idea hiding in there somewhere - capturing wild creatures for defense or spectator sport purposes is a genuinely interesting concept, particularly against the end of the world scenario - but Wasteland Workshop fails to execute it with the finesse needed to see it through. As such, it instead feels like a paid, and therefore largely underwhelming, mod.
Fallout 4: Wasteland Workshop is out now.