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Back to the Wasteland: Why You Should Play Fallout 4

It's been a long, winding road, filled with dalliances with other games and life events — but I'm back to finish Fallout 4, come hell or high water. The last time I'd seen the ruined remains of the Commonwealth on my PlayStation 4, I'd reached level 62 with 20 active settlements and eight sets of power armor stored at various locations. It was as good a place as any to restart my travels.

And it's as good a time as ever to get back into Fallout, with the addition of mod support and new add-ons for the PC and Xbox One versions of the game. Here's what I discovered on my return to the world of Fallout 4.

Home, sweet radiated home

After loading my last save, I quickly reacclimated to my settings and went about the process of building a teleportation device that would get me into the Institute, one of the four joinable factions in the game. After assembling all of the necessary pieces and wiring up the completed device, I found myself in the heart of the Institute.

After learning more about Father and the Institute, I found myself in a bit of a quandary, as I'd been playing nice with the other three factions (The Minutemen, Brotherhood of Steel and the Railroad) up until now. If I hope to complete this monster of a game, I'm going to have to side against at least two of them.

The Brotherhood of Steel is definitely my first pick to bite the big one. I'm not a fan of xenophobes, and I can't support a group that can't recognize the awesomeness of Nick Valentine, one of my favorite companions — not to mention Curie, Deacon and Hancock, my nonhuman and ghoul friends. The other group I'm thinking about eliminating is the Institute.

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Despite my connection to Father, terrible things have been done to innocent people in the Commonwealth in the name of science. Also, I'm a little torn on keeping what seem to be sentient beings like the Synths in what amounts to slavery. Last but not least are the Minutemen, who genuinely want to help the Commonwealth rebuild — they're just supremely unorganized and outgunned. Although I think I've decided who lives and who dies, I opt to put off the inevitable just a bit longer while I play with the newly added mod system.

Mods away

In my time away from the game, Fallout received mod support on PC and Xbox One, but there's no release date yet for support on PS4. Luckily, I also have a PC copy of the game. As I expected, modding on the PC has yielded all sorts of fantastic creations, including the Cross Jetpack, Securitron, or finally having the ability to romance Nick Valentine, the Synth private detective.

To further sweeten the pot, game developer Bethesda announced a pair of add-on bundles at E3 2016 in June that it said would help your inner architect create bigger and better settlements throughout the Commonwealth. Contraption Workshop ($4.99) lets players create all sorts of crazy gadgets in addition to greenhouses, weapons and armor racks.

And if you ever want to trap some of the Commonwealth fauna instead of blasting it to Kingdom Come, there's the $4.99 Wasteland Workshop. With this add-on, you can capture and train your own zoo filled with mutated animals — just think of it as a more irradiated version of Pokémon. The add-on also gives you the opportunity to trap the most dangerous game of all: man.

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Ever want to build your own vault? Thanks to the $4.99 Vault-Tek Workshop, you'll have that chance, complete with your own Vault Dwellers. And it just wouldn't be a vault unless you experimented on your hapless inhabitants.

You down with DLC?

Similar to its predecessors, Fallout 4 is already a massive title that could take at least 100 hours to complete. But what would an epic game like Fallout 4 be without a DLC (downloadable content) package or two? Bethesda has rolled out a slew of expansions, including the Automaton ($9.99), which puts players on a quest to track down the evil Mechanist and his legion of murderous robots. Defeat the mechanized menaces and recycle their parts to create your own robots.

From there, you can mosey on down to moody Far Harbor ($24.99). Located off the coast of Maine, this DLC world takes players on a search for a young woman among a radiation-worshipping cult, dangerous beasts and a host of synths. Rounding out Fallout 4's downloadable content is Nuka World, which is set to launch in August for $19.99.

An obvious play on Disney World, the titular park has been overrun by a horde of Raiders. As you make your way through Nuka World, you'll explore Safari Adventure, Dry Rock Gulch, Kiddie Kingdom and the Galactic Zone, fighting your way through a slew of new enemies. But never fear: You'll also have some new weapons to help thin the herd.

A mobile solution

As if that weren't enough Fallout to last a lifetime, I've also started playing Bethesda's mobile title — Fallout Shelter — again. Available for free on Android and iOS, Fallout Shelter places players in the shoes of the Overseer, the person responsible for managing the overall health and well-being of the Vault.

Like a grittier version of Tiny Tower, Fallout Shelter tasks you with building new rooms for your expanding population, ensuring there's enough food, shelter, water and power to go around. In between all that resource management, you'll also have to fend off the dangers of the wasteland knocking on your vault door in the form of ruthless Raiders and diabolical Deathclaws. You'll also have to send some of your strongest dwellers out into the ruined wastes to forage for supplies. However, in the latest update, your chosen dwellers can be sent out on specific quests, which will net you some iconic Wasteland swag, such as Quantum Colas.

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But in case you'd rather save your mobile device's battery life, Bethesda was kind enough to bring Shelter to PC. And unlike the mobile versions, Fallout Shelter ran at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second on my Alienware 13.

So much more to see

Just when I thought I was done with Fallout 4, I'm back in the glowing saddle, thanks to a beguiling mix of add-ons, DLC and mobile solutions. I'm knocking back side missions like a cool, refreshing six pack of IPA on a hot summer day, and I've got to say, I'm having a hell of a good time. I'm enjoying the moral quandaries the individual factions present, and I'm excited to start tricking out my game and exploring all those nooks and crannies the Commonwealth has to offer. Hopefully, I'll see you around.