Operation Anchorage is here – is it worth it?

Operation Anchorage is now available as DLC for both Xbox 360 and PC. For 800 MS points you get about 5h additional content.

The DLC went live today and is already attracting a high number of downloads.

Operation Anchorage is now available as DLC - Whatwasithinking.co.uk

But is it worth it? Find out in my quick review, spoiler-free of course!


Operation Anchorage (OA) adds a new distress call to your Pip-boy, which sends you to a quest to aid a group of Brotherhood of Steel outcasts against a horde of Super Mutants. After fighting these off you are asked to access a virtual military training program, which – after completion – will give access to hidden treasures within this facility.


Looking nice!

OA‘s art style of an Alaskan battlefield is a welcome sight for sore wasteland-eyes. The colour palette is really working well and is a very good contrast to the earthen tones of the wasteland. If you liked the games “The Thing” or “Cryostasis” you will appreciate the blue-grey tones at night followed by very good looking sun-rises.

Player models have not been redone (let’s face it, they looked great in Fallout 3 anyway), but the new weapons and equipment are looking really good and show off a pre-nuclear hi-tech battlefield very well. Explosions and cannon-fire looks stunning and really add to the atmosphere.


Plenty of action…

A Chinese Red Army assassin - uncloaked
A Chinese Red Army assassin - uncloaked

The virtual training program plays in Alaska,where you are revisiting (and reliving) the liberation of Anchorage, a simulation a few days before the first nuclear bombs are falling on America. Because this is a war simulation there is not much time for role-play, the focus is primarily on action and stealth. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, considering some quests were very walk-around-talk-to-many-people-come-back heavy, but I would have expected to be able to do a lot more RPG-based decisions.

Your first mission is to secure the base and its surroundings, which is (depending on how far you are in Fallout 3) relatively easy. It gets a lot harder once you get to meet the special ops of the Chinese Red Army: stealth armour wearing assassins and snipers. This is a really nice addition, but Fallout 3 veterans will be using their trusted “walk into a room, press VATS to see if anyone is there” tactics.


…but what about the rest?

OA plays a lot like a shooter more than an RPG, your missions are all following the same structure: go to briefing, sneak past or kill enemies, blow something up or save someone, attack the enemy, next mission. While it is a welcome change from your standard Fallout 3 quest (or not) it does feel a bit light at occasions. Granted, OA has more enemies on a screen than any Fallout 3 quest I played, but it does not feel “right” when you played a couple of hours of Fallout 3.

This is where your previous experience in Fallout 3 makes a lot of difference: while you don’t get to take your equipment out of the wasteland into the simulation, you get to keep your experience and perks, meaning if you have spent some time levelling your character up to level 12 or above you will find OA very easy. Most of the time you are not fighting alone, and when you are you are always best off going in guns-blazing, throwing a grenade whenever you have a chance. Additionally, since you will find holo-tapes, intel boxes, health and ammunition pretty much whenever you expect it (and usually in or behind “easy” or “very easy” locked containers or doors) you are not left with scavenging or trying to open ever drawer or box in every room – the running-around part has been replaced with the running-around-shooting-at-everything-that-moves.


Additional achievements and perks

The new achievements are pretty straightforward and can be solved by playing the storyline of OA and should not cause too much trouble for gamers.

  • Aiding the Outcasts (20GP) – Completed “Aiding the Outcasts”
  • The Guns of Anchorage (20GP) – Completed “The Guns of Anchorage”
  • Paving the Way (20GP) – Completed “Paving the Way”
  • Operation: Anchorage (40GP) – Completed “Operation: Anchorage”

You will also get a new perk called “Covert Ops“, which you will earn once you found 10 intel boxes. It increases your level in each skill by 1 point.



OA is very easy, mostly because it seems to be directed towards the “sub-level 10” players to present a challenge. It is a welcome scenery change from the wasteland, but it feels a bit short, and very linear. If you are the person who wants to do every quest in Fallout 3 to make everyone happy (and having that warm feeling of knowing you did them all) then OA is for you. If you are however one of those players who are already well within the storyline of Fallout 3 and can pretty much take whatever the wasteland throws at them without even breaking into a sweat or loving the different outcomes of quests then I would suggest you consider purchasing the addon once you are going back into the wasteland after a couple of months with a new character – as you probably will find the addon too easy and not fulfilling. And you will probably play through it in about 2 hours, 3 tops.

Operation Anchorage review: 6/10 - WhatwasithinkingAll in all, for 800 points (roughly $10 or £7) you are getting a solid and well-designed – yet shallow – simulated experience to what led up to turn the U.S. into a wasteland. It is very easy to get into, and you will probably spend around 3 hours in the simulation, making sure you get all 100 additional achievement points and the additional perk.


  • BlackSabre

    January 28, 2009

    Nice review, thank you very much. Been thinking about getting that one as I only bought the game a few weeks back and havent had the chance to play it properlty yet.

  • Jojimbo Jim

    February 2, 2009

    Thanks for the review, I bought the addon and really enjoyed the scenery, aside from the very plain “storming against the red army”, which in itself was more of a walk of a few people instead of an intense firefight. But, all in all I spent good 3h on it and I enjoyed them for what its worth, looking forward to the next DLC!

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