Erik Fattrosso ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
It’s been 10 months since Fallout 4 first launched and we finally have its sixth and final piece of DLC to cap off the journey. Nuka-World largely succeeds by putting the exploration element of the base game at the forefront and largely ignoring other aspects like the settlement building mode. That exploration is also one of its biggest downfalls at the same time though, as the lack of any real narrative lessens the impact of what you’re actually doing.
Almost immediately upon starting up the DLC, you receive a radio signal coming from Nuka-World, a pre-war amusement park centered on the in-universe drink Nuka-Cola. Once you arrive there, you find yourself in a maze of sorts called The Gauntlet and discover that the park is being run by three different groups of raiders. Without spoiling the specifics, you quickly become the Overboss of the raiders and are put in charge of trying to calm down growing hostilities between the groups.
The park is split into five very distinct sections, from the Tomorrowland-esque Galactic Zone to the Wild West themed Dry Rock Gulch, but the raiders currently only occupy the first area-Nukatown U.S.A. In order to broker peace, you have to go clear out the other 4 sections for the raiders. This is a great premise that smartly leaves the exploration of these varied areas completely up to you. Each area presents bizarre situations to sort through, and the inherent fun of wandering through a destroyed amusement park never wears off. A stand out is the “World of Refreshment”, a river made out of Nuka-Cola Quantum reminiscent of Disney’s “It’s a Small World”. As you clear out each area, you choose which raider gang to give it to. The problems start to rise quickly with this because none of the groups are that distinct from each other. They have aesthetic differences, but all three are far too similar to really tell apart. Even now I’m having trouble remembering which group was which. I found myself giving all the land to the one group that I liked the most aesthetically.
Therein lies Nuka-World’s biggest problem. While the world is fun to explore and the new weapons and Nuka-Cola themed enemies are a treat, there simply isn’t a compelling narrative to push you forward. If you enjoy free exploration with little direction, this is perfect. But for those who may be more interested in a more plot heavy experience, this isn’t the DLC for you. The plot here never gets any more complex than “Clear out the park”. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed by this one after the more intricate story that was told in Far Harbor.
The second major problem is longevity. In clearing out the park, you’ll experience almost everything the park has to offer. After finishing the main quests, the park regains power and there are a handful of new doors you can open but for the most part everything has already been explored. Once that’s done, there isn’t really anything to do. Where Far Harbor has a pretty sizable amount of area-unique side-quests, almost every side-quest here is a repeating radiant quest which by nature don’t really engage the player so much as given them busywork. The handful of full side-quests that are well realized but you’ll very quickly finish all of them. The Nuka-Cade, an arcade with several functioning games, provides a nice distraction for a short time, but all the games are too simple and too easily exploited to provide much in terms of long term fun.
The one addition that seems like it’ll go far is the ability to conquer Commonwealth settlements for the raiders. At first this is a lot of fun, being able to either talk previous settlers into leaving or just wiping them out altogether before moving in with your gang. The fun starts to wear off though when you realize you can’t just take any settlement. At any given time, the game will only give you a handful of specific settlements to choose from. This unnecessary restriction takes away a lot of the genuine entertainment that should come with conquering settlements. Once you actually conquer one, it becomes the same settlement care as other, non-raider settlements. There are a handful of small differences but it’s largely the same thing you’ve been doing since last November.
Despite its many flaws, Nuka-World is still a good time while it lasts. Even with the lack of a story, the world is fun to explore and will occupy your time for a solid 10-15 hours. Anyone still interested in Fallout 4 at this point should absolutely pick it up, just don’t expect something as deep as Far Harbor.