There are some new locations to explore, but most of the action takes place in what's left of Washington.
A few minutes after loading a game save you'll get a message that Broken Steel has been activated and the level cap has been raised. Now, if you're level 20, like I was, and have completed Operation Anchorage and The Pitt without gaining any extra experience points, the first thing you'll want to do is kill something just so you can hear that lovely “kerching” sound that comes with experience gain. Once the novelty is over, you have a choice. You can get on with whatever it is you were doing, and that includes Operation Anchorage and The Pitt (if you've been hanging on for the level cap raise to do them, go ahead and go!), or you can get stuck in with the new, improved endgame quest line.
To do this, you'll need a game save that's not far off the previous end of the game, when Liberty Prime (the giant commie-hating robot) leads an assault on the Enclave-held purifier. When it comes to making that decision, do whatever you want – you wake up two weeks later in the Citadel, the home of the technology-obsessed religious cult the Brotherhood of Steel.
The Brotherhood's spent the last fortnight mopping up the remnants of the Enclave. Things are going well, so well, in fact, that the Brotherhood want you to join in on a final assault, with your pal Prime, to wipe out the Enclave once and for all. Once I was back on my feet I did a little exploring. There's been the odd change in your absence – large canisters filled with clean water are being distributed by the Brotherhood to all who need them, including Megaton and Rivet City. Indeed there are crates packed with the stuff – radiation-free hit point recovery, who'd have thought.
There are a couple of side quests to sink your teeth into, one involving Megaton and the other Rivet City, if you fancy a distraction. While they're decent-enough, don't expect anything groundbreaking - 90 per cent of the NPCs in the Capital Wasteland have exactly the same dialogue options as before. Your hard work saving the world, it seems, has gone unnoticed by many.
There are some incredibly powerful new weapons to get, including one that pretty-much puts you in God mode.
The meat, however, is in helping the Brotherhood finish off the Enclave, and it's in doing this that you'll encounter the handful of new enemies and locations that Broken Steel brings. There are Feral Ghoul Reavers (much tougher armour-wearing Ghouls), Super Mutant Overlords (a step up from Super Mutant Masters), Enclave Hellfire Troops (which carry fire-resistant armour and the mortar-like Heavy Incinerator) and one or two surprises that I won't spoil. On the location front, there's the new Powerworks to explore, a new Metro Line to soldier through and an Air Force base where everything comes to a head.
The environments aren't fundamentally different to what you've seen before (although the Air Force base has trees!), but working your way through the new quest line feels like a cross between traditional Fallout 3 questing and combat-heavy scenarios reminiscent of Operation Anchorage. Now before you reach for your pitchfork, don't worry, the combat isn't shackled as it was in Operation Anchorage. Much of it takes place in buildings and environments within the map. Some areas are new, some are reused, and there's a dash of off-map travelling, but the point to make is that the combat is, unmistakeably, much better. Because the level cap has been raised and because you're up against tougher enemies, it feels more like the game did when you took your first tentative steps into a Metro tunnel, or explored an abandoned building for the first time.