At $5, Fallout 4's Wasteland Workshop is barely worth it

Fallout 4a

Five bucks (£4) sounds like a reasonable price for Fallout 4’s Wasteland Workshop DLC, but after I played with it for a while today, I realized that even though it adds a number of new settlement items and a few new activities, none of it feels essential or even that much fun. For console gamers, who don't get to enjoy the hundreds of free mods or use console codes, I can see this being worth it. For PC gamers, not so much.

Preston Garvey will certainly be pleased: the Wasteland Workshop adds a bunch of settlement improvements. You'll get some additional items to stick to the ugly walls of your buildings, like new lights and lamps, neon letters for making signs only you will read, and other decorations like buses and trailers to place around your homestead. New types of walls and floors and other building materials are included, as well automated spike and blade traps to guard your borders, plus a fusion generator that puts out a hefty 100 units of power.

There's also a decontamination arch that will cure your radiation poisoning if you’ve run out of Radaway (which you haven’t and never will). The arch looks cool, though I wasn’t too happy that my ghoul settler insisted on watching me shower.

Fallout 4

Do you mind? This is exactly why I always shower fully clothed.

The biggest addition is that you can now trap monsters and either tame them (via a new beta wave emitter) or set them against each other in arena-style fights in your settlements. Thing is, trapping monsters isn’t really fun, and frankly, neither is watching them fight. You can spawn monsters in the console and make them fight each other whenever you want, and I’ve never found monster battles, even huge ones, that interesting to watch anyway: Fallout 4's AI and animation just isn’t convincing or brutal enough to make for a good spectator sport.

Having a patrolling Deathclaw guarding your camp is a nice idea but ultimately settlers and turrets can handle whatever enemies show up at your base anyway. I think the most fun I had with the DLC was opening my cat trap and seeing the fearsome creature leap out, hover an inch off the ground for a moment, and then begin strolling around its new home. "I have to live in this dump?"

I think the idea of trapping monsters is a fun one if it worked differently: if you went out into the wastes, laid traps in likely areas, and came back later to see what you’d captured. Taming and transport of the beasts could have been an enjoyable and perhaps tense activity. In the DLC, though, you just place a cage in your settlement for the creature you want to capture (including mirelurks, radscorpions, ghouls, and human NPCs like raiders and gunners), then add a switch and power it with a generator. Then you sleep or go away for a few days. When you come back, check to see if you've caught something in your trap. You can then let it out either to fight in an arena you’ve built, or you can make it tame with your new emitter and turn it into a resident.

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This big fella is as harmless as my new cat, thanks to the beta wave emitter.

You can also place a red and blue platform on the ground, and assign your settlers into teams for a deathmatch. Do you want to see settlers fight each other to the death? If so... why? It's just not that interesting, plus when they die it just means more settlers will show up and you’ll have to go through the trouble of pointing them at corn or workbenches or shops all over again. The only useful settler is one who is alive and has already been pointed at corn.

I know it's only five bucks, but it's still hard not to feel a little underwhelmed by the Wasteland Workshop. I'd say this is a pretty skippable bit of DLC for PC gamers: you can find plenty of settlement improvements and decorations on the Steam Workshop Nexus Mods for free—or on our handy best mods list—and I feel that Bethesda could have added more to their original meager selection of building items without asking you to pay for it. I know, I know, It’s hard to whine over a five dollar buy, but I think I’ve managed it pretty nicely.