At the beginning of Fallout 3, all seems lost. You emerge from the depths of Vault 101 and make your way into the Capital Wasteland to find it a desolate, barren, and seemingly lifeless place. But by the time you finish the game, you have encountered--and quite possible killed--all manner of people and creatures, from fire-breathing ants to slaves and rather civilised ghouls, but with few hints to life further afield.
The Pitt, which is the second piece of downloadable content for the game, opens with less of a solitary feeling. You receive a radio transmission asking for help, and this leads you to a dishevelled-looking gentleman called Wernher. He asks you to accompany him to the ruins of Pittsburgh to obtain a rumoured cure for the radiation-based mutations that are blighting humanity. As you might expect with Fallout, how he approaches you will vary depending on your karma--if your karma is good, he'll appeal to your better nature, and if it's bad, he'll appeal to that basest of instincts, the urge for profit.
Take him up on his offer, and you head to a train tunnel, jumping on an old-fashioned handcart for the 190-mile trip northwest to Steel City. On arrival, you are met by a raider--but given that we don't much care for raiders, we elected to use the deathclaw gauntlet handily provided by Bethesda to off him and his buddies.
Making our way down towards the Pitt proper with directions from Wernher, we dispatched a few more raiders--including a pesky sniper--before being greeted by a small group of fleeing slaves. Countering our normal urge to shoot anything that moves, we let them by and proceeded the way they had come, finding ourselves eventually at the main gate to the Pitt. The gates opened with the guards expecting some fresh grist for their slave-driven mill, so we responded--against the advice of our guide--with a swift volley of fire from our new machine gun. Picking over the corpses, we found another new weapon from the main gate guard--what looked to be a partially silenced assault rifle called the infiltrator.
Unfortunately, at this point it became clear our cunning was for nought, as on breaking into the main part of the complex we were met by a very angry guard and a gang of henchmen, who exacted revenge for their fallen comrades by knocking seven shades of something unmentionable out of us and stealing our hard-fought goodies. Coming to, we found ourselves greeted by a young lady who'd been expecting us--Wernher's contact on the inside. Wandering through the Pitt we saw slaves hard at work and unwilling to engage in much dialogue for fear of retribution from the watching raider guards.
Our next mission was a collection quest, and in an effort to look busy and not draw the attention of the guards for slacking, we chatted to a few Pitt denizens. We discovered that while the area around Pittsburgh may lack ghouls and supermutants, it more than makes up for that with a new creature--the trog. Trogs are similar to ghouls in that they were once humans, but they changed dramatically under the effects of radiation and general postapocalyptic environmental toxicity. To help ward off these fearsome-sounding creatures, we dropped by the main steel mill and obtained an auto-axe, which we were told was made from reclaimed car parts. One interesting thing we noted during our travels was that conversations with slaves revealed news of various other bastions of humanity with cryptic names suggesting there are groups of survivors all the way to Toronto, perhaps laying the groundwork for future updates.
Heading outside the mill to complete our task, we found a multilevel space littered with bodies of slaves previously consigned to this god-forsaken place, and with claustrophobic train yards to trek through. We encountered a few trogs, who turned out to be very fast, feral creatures that were recognisably human and very animal at the same time. They bounded around on all fours, growling and slobbering, though inexplicably frequently carrying bobby pins. Thankfully the auto-axe makes swift work of them once it's up and running, tearing through flesh in and out of VATS.
Making sure we fully explored the area outside the mill, we discovered a few camps of wildmen--a rival raider group, it seems--who provided us with a trusty hunting rifle and some other accoutrements that looked likely to come in handy later on. We also found the corpse of a fallen slave that triggered a side quest--to return his dying note to his bereaved friends--which provided us with a very fetching bandana and a handy sidearm.
With the job done, we headed back inside to rendezvous with Wernher's contact again, to find out that she had a plan, of sorts. The master of the slave colony--he who has the reputed cure to radioactive mutations--was organising a tournament, in which slaves get to fight to the death in some sort of gladiatorial event, with the ultimate prize being freedom and an audience with the man himself. The plan is that you enter, win, meet the boss, and nick the cure. Simple, really...
Making our way down to the arena, we were rather glad to have picked up a few weapons. All we were given for defence was a board with a nail in it and some very basic firearms. However, it was at this point that a Bethesda representative stepped in and parted us from the controller because our time in the Pitt was up.
The Pitt looks to be a return to form for Fallout 3 after the lukewarm reception that greeted Operation Anchorage, the game's first DLC pack. It's full of action, objectionable and interesting characters, and plenty of opportunities for exploration and further development of your character. Keep it tuned to GameSpot for more updates as the 24th of March approaches and you can launch yourselves into the fray.