It's a rare game indeed that warrants the investment of time that Fallout 3 does. Yet somehow the sprawling post-apocalyptic wasteland drags us back no matter how many times we think we should be bored of it. Already four DLC packs down the line, Bethesda has certainly delivered on its promise of episodic content - but so far, the quality has been a little variable. Cue a gravel-voiced "Previously on Fallout 3"...
Operation Anchorage was an inauspicious way to kick off the DLC onslaught, with a boringly easy, overly linear trudge only saved by the intriguing scenario. Then came the infamous The Pitt debacle, which, although it was a much better extension to the storyline, was fraught with technical difficulties when it first appeared.
Last month's Broken Steel did the hardcore fans a huge favour by raising the level cap and adding new perks. But although the missions felt better integrated into the existing Washington DC wasteland, it was all a little "business as usual" until the rip-roaring finale. Maybe this time Bethesda could deliver on all fronts.
Hopes have certainly been high in the run-up to release. Pre-release chatter insisted that Point Lookout would be less hemmed-in, allowing for a much greater degree of exploration than previous episodes: an exciting prospect.
Set in a swampland area in the distant peninsula of Point Lookout, the episode kicks off with the note that a certain Captain Tobar is offering passage to "any merc, treasure hunter or adventurer" who's looking to explore. Arriving at the riverboat dock at Protomac in the south-eastern corner of the map, you're told of a land of "warm beaches and luscious wetlands", which is of course a complete lie.
After a brief chat with a distressed woman looking for her lost daughter, the amiable Tobar sails you across, and the adventure begins for real.
At this point, you're free to just wander off and explore the full map without restriction, and it quickly becomes apparent that the swampland is indeed quite a large area - estimates suggest it's almost one fifth the size of the entire Capital Wasteland. Along your way you'll find the peeling remnants of a "fabled pleasure town of the sunny past", including a gigantic ferris wheel, souvenir shops, a lighthouse, churchyard, cave network and mansion. The slightly gloomy, murky feel gives it a cloying atmosphere. Swamp Ghouls and Swamplurks thrive in the dampness, so you'll be expected to battle long and hard if you feel in the mood to poke around much.