Become an evil overseer with Fallout 4's Vault-Tec Workshop
With the strong focus on building settlements, the inability to design your own vault seemed like a major oversight in Fallout 4, since that's one of the first things that comes to mind in the Fallout universe.
Of course modders got on fixing that quick, and there are in fact free mods that let you create your own vault already. Bethesda may be a little behind the fans with this second-to-last DLC for the game, but there's actually reason to play this over the fan mods.
Like with Automatron, the Vault-Tec Workshop doesn't just add new settlement pieces to build, it also features a new quest line based around all the new goodies.
Frankly the naming convention was a mistake on Bethesda's part though, as the Wasteland Workshop didn't actually have any new content, so plenty of gamers may take a look at the title of this DLC and go “nah, got enough settlement objects already.”
New Fallout 4 Quests
The Vault-Tec Calling and Better Living Underground quests that kick off the DLC are fairly by-the-numbers and nothing spectacular. It's standard Fallout fare: raiders want into an unplundered vault and when you finally get inside its of course filled with ghouls.
Once that's out of the way though, you are sort of playing your own personal episode of Doomsday Preppers, building your own post-apocalyptic underground wonderland.
Building your vault is just like building a normal settlement, and that actually leads to some oddly jarring moments where mechanics are placed over story continuity.
Part of the quest has you entering Workshop mode so you can clear out rubble with the tap of a single key and free the trapped Overseer – but why does that work?
The Sole Survivor doesn't suddenly turn into the Sole Team Of Excavators just because you have access to Workshop mode. How was he able to dig the Overseer out instantly when she couldn't dig herself out with all that digging equipment?
The same leap in logic applies for building the Vault-Tec terminal shortly thereafter. Why do I suddenly have the knowledge, programming skills, and equipment necessary to build this pre-war computer system?
Ignoring that odd issue, things do get better in the next stages when you get to have some vault fun in ways the modders haven't quite matched yet.
Diabolical Vault Fun!
I'll admit that when going through the vaults in the various Fallout games and seeing the end results of all those awful mental and physical experiments, my first thought was always “when do I get to run the awful mad science?” Well now you can!
Just don't use the term “guinea pig,” no matter how accurate the phrase, as the Vault-Tec handbook discourages such colloquialisms, especially in the presence of said guinea pigs.
More importantly, did you ever want to take Noober from Baldur's Gate and hook him up to painfully shocking electrodes? Oh boy, that's what you get and more with the ever-cheerful Clem, who is always ready to help the vault anyway he can by taking part in your increasingly unethical experiments.
Bethesda didn't skimp on the evil mad science at all (although you can take the morally upstanding route... but that's silly), like when the Overseer explains the need to cure the “societal ill” of exercise and longevity.
There's a bit of a hilarious Rick And Morty vibe there as she lays out a compelling case for why its actually bad for the vault to have a bunch of fit people who are going to live long enough to become elderly.
Clunky Mechanics In Need Of Repair
While the experiment quests are easily the highlight of the DLC, the mechanics of building a vault are actually the low end. At this point, Workshop mode needs a massive overhaul.
A better organization of the various settlement building options would be nice, but a better idea would be to scrap the system entirely and start it over from scratch, because its a mess with how many options are now available between all the DLC releases.
All the same problems with settlement building on the above ground map still exist here, and some of them are actually made worse. I mean sure, you can build that awesome new Vault-Tec Reactor that supplies 500 power... but you've still got to run the miles of wire all throughout your massive underground complex, which quickly kills the fun of building a vault to begin with.
There also continues to be very little in the way of settlement building explanations provided. For instance, after building the Power Cycle 1000 for starting your mad science experiments, you've got to build a terminal (which it doesn't actually tell you to do). I couldn't recall where the terminal was located in the Workshop menu since I hadn't played in a month, which was more than a little annoying.
Then, of course, you've got to build more generators and run wire to get the terminal up and running before firing up the bike.
Another issue that sort of kills the fun is how the vault options are restricted to below ground only. While you can build the window dressing stuff like chairs, you can't actually build most of the vault structures or the vault power supplies in your normal above ground settlements, and that's a serious let down.
The Bottom Line
As part of the Season Pass, the Vault-Tec Workshop is a fun diversion, and the mad science segments are hilarious, but honestly I wouldn't recommend it as a standalone. There's not a ton of new content, and what's there is starting to get seriously unwieldy.
With the Vault-Tec Workshop out of the way, now we wait for Nuka World, the final DLC that will have a sad goodbye to the Fallout 4 saga.