How better to follow a disappointing bit of downloadable content than with one nobody can even play? Has the black cat population mysteriously increased in Rockville lately? If Operation: Anchorage's boring linearity, curtailed length and disappointing absence of challenge could be brushed off as an experimental misstep, it was harder to defend this week's issues with The Pitt. As an advert for DLC, this was about as bad and frustrating as it gets.
Like many of you, having excitedly grabbed the 492MB file from Xbox Live early on Tuesday, my first challenge was finding out where on earth to activate the mission in the first place. After wandering the wasteland for a good half an hour, nothing happened. Forums spoke of a radio distress broadcast. But where? And when? I wandered hopelessly around the northern portion of the map. Bile rose.
Assuming it was some sort of technical hitch, I reloaded, and lo and behold, a broadcast came up within a minute. Good. A man by the name of Wernher spoke of a "settlement to the north". I ended up at the place I was supposed to head once I'd met Wernher, and set free a trio of slaves in a small pen outside an underground railway line. Realising that I really ought to go and find Wernher, I agreed to help him out by dressing up as a skanky slave and infiltrating a giant prison camp-cum-steel foundry called The Pitt. Except, of course, I'd broken the game by freeing the slaves, and by the time I'd returned the gaming fairy had inexplicably removed the rotting corpse of the one I was supposed to ransack. Argh. And all this was before reaching the main part of the mission that made the whole thing completely unplayable.
If Operation: Anchorage was the equivalent of a war film - a wasteland rendition of The Guns of Navarone - The Pitt is a prison movie. You enter its bleak red-brick confines in as a slave, bereft of your weapons and equipment, and mingle with an imprisoned workforce which has revolution on its mind.
Fallout 3 lead producer Jeff Gardiner has fleshed out the Operation: Anchorage DLC due for arrival in January.
For 800 Microsoft Points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60), there will be roughly four-to-five hours of extra gameplay, Gardiner told IGN. And once downloaded, the extra content can be played through at any level - providing the player has left Vault 101. A quest objective and map marker will show you where to go.
Operation: Anchorage is a military simulation of a battle that happened long ago in Fallout 3 lore. The program exists today to help the government run counter-offensive training should the Chinese red army ever rise to power again.
Bethesda's Todd Howard has announced that downloadable content will be made available for Fallout 3 exclusively for PC and Xbox 360.
Speaking at Microsoft's conference at E3 2008, Howard stated: "We love Xbox Live Marketplace, we're happy to announce that we're going to be doing substantial DLC for Fallout 3 and it will be exclusive to Xbox 360 and Windows PC." There was no concrete information on what we'll be getting.
Prior to talking about DLC, Howard walked through a live demo of the game, showing the VATS system in action as well as the Fatman personal nuke launcher. There was talk of a hacking mechanic as well, but was not shown.