Tech

We unbox the $200 “power armor” Fallout 76 version so you dont have to

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  • Big helmet, bigger box. Sam Machkovech
  • Though this is the "power armor" edition, it does not include matching body armor. That version might cost another $1,200, if we're gauging relative retail prices here. Sam Machkovech
  • Crack 'er open for the model number listed here. Sam Machkovech
  • Instructions. Getting the batteries in (three triple-A) is easy enough, though the plastic battery flap is a little brittle. Sam Machkovech
  • In its styrofoam cushion. You will see a zillion tiny styro-beads in these galleries, because the material this production house used just sheds everywhere. Sam Machkovech
  • Out of its box, into my kitchen. Sam Machkovech
  • The yellow "bulb" lights up with a tap of the right-side helmet button. That's the only light-up element. Sam Machkovech
  • Backside. (Ugh, those styro-beads.) Sam Machkovech
  • The spray-painted gray tones make this look a lot more metallic in photos than it looks in real life. It's not very handsome if it reflects natural or window light. Sam Machkovech
  • The left-side buttons. The top button makes a single "put your power-armor on" noise, no others. The bottom one turns on voice-modulation, which is comparable to a very, very cheap children's toy version. Sam Machkovech
  • Another look at the front angle. That extended piece has an unsightly wobble to it when in motion, owing to its plastic construction. Sam Machkovech
  • A very cheap, flimsy carrying case for your helmet, should you choose not to wear it while walking to a Fallout-themed birthday party. Sam Machkovech
  • Helmet on the author's shoulder. Sam Machkovech
  • A few things. First, the helmet smells terrible inside. Whatever plastic and spray paint is used in this thing has a decidedly "cancer" scent to it. Second, the attached visor is ridiculously blurry to look through; you may want to replace it with a visor made of sunglass lenses. Sam Machkovech
  • Lastly, the helmet is designed to fit most heads (though I have huge-headed friends who will still struggle with this helmet's opening). As a result, it's very spacious and not reinforced inside. You'll need to add custom padding to wear it for more than 12 seconds. Sam Machkovech

A surprise showed up at my doorstep last night: the Fallout '76 "power armor" edition, arriving ahead of the game's official launch at 12:01am tomorrow morning (Wednesday, November 14). The PC version's $200 special edition has been sold out at many retailers for quite some time, as it was announced well before the game began receiving more public scrutiny. [Update: GameStop is still selling the console version of the set.]

But even though its sticker price includes a DLC-loaded version of the retail game, most of its cost is made up of Fallout series swag. Even if you're wary about the game's buggy beta period, is there still enough here to justify the insane cost for a series diehard?

In a word, possibly.

  • $200 gets you more than an unwieldy, bad-smelling helmet. But how much more? Sam Machkovech
  • This much more. Sam Machkovech
  • The styrofoam on top of the helmet holds most of the other stuff.
  • The steelbook includes everything seen here. Two download-redemption codes (one for the game, one for limited-edition DLC) are on the other side of the right-hand inserts in this photo.
  • The inside of the steelbook case. Y'all seriously couldn't make two pieces of art? Or one bigger one? (Its backside is blank, if you're wondering.)
  • The box clearly states that there's no disc in this package, but a paper cut-out shaped like a DVD still feels weird. Why bother with the steelbook if there's no disc media, anyway?
  • Ooh, minis! Sam Machkovech
  • Focus on the top cardboard piece. (You have to tear this off to get to the toys, but the bag has a locking liner, at least.) Sam Machkovech
  • Power armor strut. Sam Machkovech
  • Most of the minis come as a trio, with a few that are only duos. Sam Machkovech
  • Mini line-up. Sam Machkovech
  • The rest of the cast. Nice blades, Codsworth (far right). Sam Machkovech
  • Mutant bat, front side. Sam Machkovech
  • Its rear detail is pretty nice. Sam Machkovech
  • A glow-in-the-dark map, weighted down by my collection of Daiso mugs. (It comes rolled up in the box.) Sam Machkovech
  • Tighter zoom on the legend. The shiny material isn't as glow-in-the-dark as you might think. Sam Machkovech
  • Another slightly zoomed look. The water is the only part that glows in the dark. A lengthy look at the glowing pattern doesn't appear to reveal any particular shapes or words, if you're wondering. Sam Machkovech
  • A nice touch in the styrofoam packaging. (Doesn't make up for all the styro-flaking, though.) Sam Machkovech

We have two unboxing galleries for you: one is dedicated to the helmet, which will fit a grown-up's head, and the other is about the rest of the package. There's a glow-in-the-dark map of the game's West Virginia environs, a set of 24 plastic, monochrome minis, and a steelbook case to house the game's, er, cardboard insert of a download code.

The above captions include opinions and insights about everything included. As an overall review, I struggle to recommend this helmet as a $200 Fallout relic. Its 3D mold is top-notch for the sake of placing on your shelf of collectibles, but its mix of plastic and spray paint means it has an unsightly sheen—particularly if your display room of choice has a lot of natural light coming in as opposed to controlled light bulbs.

Meanwhile, if you want to wear this for your next costume, you'll need to do two things: add customized padding and replace the visor's plastic. The helmet makes zero accommodations for a mobile fit, so you'll need to build in and glue down some foam. And while you can see through the visor, it looks terribly Vaseline-ey. Did this production house not have access to, say, material used in an average pair of sunglasses? (If you're going to bother customizing this for public wear, you might also want to rip out and rewire the voice box that comes in the set. Instead of giving your voice a cool "power armor" modification, it sounds like something from a cheap children's toy.)

The plastic toys come in slightly weird shapes, but that may be due to designs that favor their army-men style—and in our case, that meant they arrived fully intact, without weird bends in their limbs. They're my favorite part of the package, though their size doesn't quite match with the scale of the glow-in-the-dark map, so you'll want to make a Fallout battle diorama with some other materials (or maybe toss these minis in with the Fallout board game, whose minis are decidedly more handsome).

As far as the enclosed game? Impressions of that will have to wait, as the final version won't unlock for press and critics any earlier than it does for everyone else. Stay tuned to Ars for more coverage of the series' first steps into a connected, online experience coming soon.

Listing image by Sam Machkovech

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