Playing Fallout 4 over the past 10 months has been a fulfilling experience for me. While the jury is still very much out on if it’s disappointing – the vocal minority certainly believes so with their talk of puddles and oceans – but I’ve had fun traversing the Commonwealth, meeting all these different characters and killing pretty much anything that moves. However, for me personally, Fallout 4 lacked two things – practical and emotional consequences to all that killing. Far Harbor introduced some very practical consequences, further augmented by skill-checks that encouraged you to try other means of progressing then just murder. However, with Nuka World, I’ve at least found a haven where murder means something, even if you’re not going to feel the same way.
"For those more interested in the overall content that Nuka World has to offer, there’s quite a bit to sift through."
Nuka World is a brand new area comprised of different zones. It begins when you tune into a mysterious radio signal and traverse to the outer west. Hop aboard the Nuka Express upon speaking to a man desperate to save his family and suddenly you’re in a Raider gauntlet, battling the Overboss of Nuka World and becoming the supreme leader of this theme park of horrors.
But wait, there’s more – the gangs don’t quite accept you as the new Overboss, which makes sense given the means by which you acquired the title. Ultimately, it’s up to the player how they want to treat their new role. You can unite the gangs or pick a favourite and go about the various new zones, allotting territory as you see fit. As one would anticipate, each gang has its own set of radiant quests that can be played ad nauseam. And then there are the rumblings of Project Cobalt in the background as you explore other park areas.
Does the plot sound overtly rushed and somewhat suspect at first? Totally but it quickly comes into its own and while some characters are hit or miss for some – I wasn’t exactly blown away with the likes of Gage or Mags – it does offer some interesting moral dilemmas to ponder. The Sole Survivor is essentially embracing the horrible acts that these gangs commit, favouring destruction over rebuilding…and for what purpose? You’ll be sent to fight against factions that lent you support in the base game. One particular encounter took me to Diamond City to assassinate a target in a bar. After the assassination, the entire security force decided to fight me. Naturally they lost but I couldn’t help wonder if all the evil I committed had been worth it. It should be noted, however, that the radiant quests don’t provide much variety outside of “go here and kill this”. At times, I found it odd how one good faction would mill about while a gang was nearby, only beginning a battle when I arrived.
For those more interested in the overall content that Nuka World has to offer, there’s quite a bit to sift through. The three gangs – the bloodthirsty Disciples, ravenous Pack and hitman-like Operators – each have their own agenda. How do you cater to them? Why, travel to the other zones like the World of Refreshment, Kiddie Kingdom, Galactic Zone, Safari Adventure and Dry Gorge. Some of these zones have rather awesome back stories and quests tied to them.
"Not every mainline quest driving these zones is great, though the biggest offender is Galactic Zone."
Kiddie Kingdom is a Ghoul-infested paradise of radiation sprinklers. However, it quickly becomes obvious that the hand guiding these Ghouls isn’t just a simple puppet master. Other areas like World of Refreshment are more straightforward as they task you with clearing out the interior and exterior areas of enemies. These areas serve to introduce you to the newer foes for the DLC like Nukalurks. Things can get pretty hairy and it’s advised to bring your best equipment and weapons along to deal with the threats (or just switch to Normal mode, like I’ve now realized).
One of the other key factors of Nuka World‘s new areas is how unique each one is. Kiddie Kingdom is full of unique traps and obstacles like a mirror house maze or spinning tunnels of death. Galactic Zone features robot arena battles, space invader showcases and laser light-filled pathways (along with a replica Vault to traverse). Even the initial Gauntlet is devious and presents a unique challenge.
Not every mainline quest driving these zones is great, though the biggest offender is Galactic Zone. You’re essentially tasked with gathering Star Cores littered throughout the zone to reactivate a mainframe. And while the enterprising player will find the minimum 20 required, it’s still annoying to backtrack through areas to see if any Star Cores were missed. What’s worse is that one of the best Power Armors in the game requires even more Star Cores to unlock and those can be obtained by exploring all of Nuka World. Keep a guide handy for the sake of your sanity.
There are the usual collectibles to find as well like Hidden Cappy locations and Medallions for scavenger hunts. It’s also possible to collect tickets to redeem at the Nuka-Cade for prizes. The area also offers plenty of mini-games to engage in though the most responsive for me was the shooting gallery. For some reason, hoops felt a bit unwieldy due to the timing required to hold and release basketballs. Whack-A-Mole was at least more responsive though quicker melee weapons like knives are favoured of course. The mini-games end up as a keen distraction rather than a brand new element to the experience.
"If you enjoyed Far Harbor and sought even more story-based madness with a twist, then Nuka World will be right up your alley."
Nuka World isn’t perfect, as you probably would have guessed by now. For all the skill checks and unique opportunities that Far Harbor offered, Nuka World tends to focus more on the moral aspects of gunplay above all else. Will you favour a gang and lead them to conduct raids on the Commonwealth? Will you turn on former allies? Will you find a way to take down the gangs of Nuka World altogether? There are plenty of tough decisions to be made but they all eventually boil down to shooting someone or something in the face.
Which I’m fine with since it offers a more emotional resonance with my acts of murder. The same may not be said for other players. There are the usual glitches like a few faulty animations, characters standing in thin air and whatnot that continue to be a staple of the Fallout franchise. Thankfully, there were no major bugs that brought my experience to a screeching halt.
If you enjoyed Far Harbor and sought even more story-based madness with a twist, then Nuka World will be right up your alley. The overall value of Fallout 4 DLC will probably be a debate for another year or at least until Fallout: New Orleans is finally official. As it stands, those who enjoyed Fallout 4 will enjoy Nuka World, plain and simple. It offers a brand new perspective on some of the more evil characters in the game’s universe and allows you to either identify with them or steadfastly use them to your own ends. In the end, it’s a moral battle that may not rely on the most complex or hard-hitting of choices but it’s entertaining all the same.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Each new zone is unique and fun in its own right. Managing the gangs and engaging in evil activities offers a new twist on the traditional Fallout 4 formula. Moral dilemmas resulting from these decisions are also intriguing to deal with. Some story quests, like Kiddie Kingdom and The Gauntlet, are crafted well. New enemies, new weapons and much more on offer.
Fetch quests like Galaxy Zone can get tedious. Not much variety to radiant quests. Lacks a lot of the skill checks that made Far Harbor fun. Glitches, as usual, crop up here and there. Nuka-Cade mini-games are decent but not spectacular. Really meant for those interested in embracing their evil side.
Fallout 4 offers a pretty good, if not spectacular, DLC send-off with Nuka World. The new zones and quests, along with the twist on raiders, offer a unique new way to play. It may not change hardcore skeptics' minds about the franchise but it's fun all the same for fans.
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