Fallout 4: Automatron is a logical step for a game that puts so much emphasis on its expansive crafting system. Allowing you to build and customise your own robotic partners, Fallout 4's first add-on has the potential to breath some new life into a dusty old save file, but don't expect its main quest line to keep you occupied for more than a few hours at most.
Automatron has never been billed as a big expansion, but it's important to check your expectations before charging back into the Commonwealth. Seamlessly slotting into the existing wasteland, the DLC is thoughtfully implemented, allowing you to unravel a series of events at your own pace. Once installed, you'll pick up a distress call on your Pip-Boy upon loading your save, and then it's a case of taking the fight to the Mechanist – a name that'll be familiar to anyone who's keen on Fallout knowledge.
Story-wise, Automatron is self-contained, offering up several main quests and a couple of new locations. As mentioned, it'll only take you around two or three hours to see the narrative through, but this relatively brief period is filled with enjoyable combat scenarios and a healthy amount of cool loot. Player choice also plays a part later on, allowing you to cap things off with a personal touch – something that's always appreciated in a role-playing release.
However, the real meat of the add-on comes in the form of an all-new robot construction system, which is gifted to you near the very beginning of the DLC. Adding another layer to Fallout 4's crafting component, you're able to build your very own 'bot buddies using the usual bits of junk that you find scattered throughout the Commonwealth.
Assuming that you have the materials, you can craft anything from a flamethrower-toting Sentry Bot to a chainsaw-wielding Protectron – and everything in between. Even after tinkering with the new system for just a few minutes, it's clear that a lot of effort has gone into making it decidedly meaty – just customising and tweaking your existing robots can keep you entertained and hungry to gather more scrap.
Thankfully, for those of you who aren't huge fans of Fallout 4's crafting, you don't necessarily have to horde tin cans and asbestos in order to make your 'bots more powerful. After being put out of commission, you've got a good chance of looting mechanical mods from enemy robots, allowing you to customise your own allies without using up your precious crafting resources. In turn, this adds an addictive loot element to the DLC; grabbing a particularly useful robot part from a tough foe and then equipping it to your rusty partner is rewarding – especially when it goes on to tear a Deathclaw limb from limb.
Indeed, the potential is there to create a companion that's more than capable of standing up to the Commonwealth's biggest baddies, which, needless to say, could be of great benefit to anyone who's sick of seeing Piper get floored almost instantly on the harder difficulty settings.
Speaking of combat, it's worth noting just how much fun it is to blast robots to bits. Much like Binary Domain, SEGA's criminally underappreciated PlayStation 3 shooter, watching non-organic opponents crack and splinter in a hail of gunfire is incredibly satisfying – and also quite tactical. Removing the bladed arms of a 'bot cripples its offensive capabilities, for example, while blowing its legs off forces it to crawl across the ground. Couple these possibilities with V.A.T.S., and you've got a recipe for some great gunfights.
Fun for at least a few hours, Automatron is a solid start to Fallout 4's stream of DLC. While it isn't quite substantial enough to satisfy those waiting for a proper expansion, there's still a surprising amount of depth to be found here thanks to the newly implemented robot crafting system. If you've been looking for an excuse to revisit the Commonwealth, there's no reason to ignore the call of the Mechanist.