Nuka-World is the sixth and final piece of DLC for Fallout 4. Or the third if you are only counting story-based DLC. Or just the second if you are inclined to not count the Automatron DLC. Whatever it is though, the Fallout 4 DLC releases have seen constant peaks and troughs when compared to previous Bethesda games, and hopefully this final content pack finishes what has been largely a very enjoyable experience on a good note.
As with previous DLCs, once installed, a new Radio Signal will appear for you to listen to, which will then reveal the location marker where you need to go to properly start the DLC. Note: You need to be Level 30 to start the DLC and it can be quite challenging, so it’s best to stock up on your better weapons.
Once you reach the new location on your map, to the West if you are unable to spot it straight away, you will meet your first new NPC, a gentleman by the name of Harvey. He tells you that his family have been kidnapped and that he’s quite badly beaten up. Without spoiling anything, Harvey is a big fat liar. Turns out he’s being forced to sit there and try to entice people into Nuka-World to go and ‘rescue his family’. It all sounded similar to Far Harbour at first, until the truth came out. In reality, Nuka-World is currently having a bit of a power struggle with three rival Raider gangs all vying for control, and an Overboss who is too lazy to do anything about it.
Nuka-World itself is a fairly decent sized new location to explore. Firstly though, you need to take on The Gauntlet; a long dungeon created by the Raiders as a bit of blood sport for their enjoyment. The dark and moody setting felt very similar to every other dungeon in Fallout 4, but this had added Running Man elements as you try and dodge the traps and defeat the enemies. The final boss even uses electricity to attack you and use as a shield. You need to use one of the new weapons to take down his shield before peppering him with the rest of your arsenal. These new elements help keep things fresh in what has, up until now for me at least, been a 150 hour shoot-fest with no real tactics necessary.
As well as the new weapon and location, there are the other standard fare for the DLC: new quests, new enemies, new companions and new Power Armour. It’s all played very safe in terms of what you get and in this respect, it feels a bit familiar.
Fallout, and Bethesda RPGs in general, aren’t lauded for their main-story campaigns. Indeed it is more the side quests we remember; the more compact stories that leave a lasting impression. Nuka-World certainly continues this trend. The main story has you trying to deal with the internal power struggle between the rival gangs, but it’s once you get out into the parks of Nuka-World itself where you meet the most interesting people. Self-declared magicians, a boy raised by gorillas and Protectron sheriffs are all waiting in the parks to share their stories with you, and the over-arcing quest that compiles them all called The Grand Tour is easily one of the highlights of the entire game. It’s one of the longest overall but is also one of the most varied. The main quests are all quite lengthy and, aside from running to and from the Commonwealth for one, offer some of the best gameplay in all of Fallout 4. They are fewer in number than Far Harbour, but the overall completion time runs a lot longer at around 15 hours.
Where Far Harbour could be criticised for not having any bearing on the Commonwealth that you have created, Nuka-World is the exact opposite and can be argued as having a bit too much. Especially for those that played through the main game as a ‘goodie’. You will find yourself undoing a lot of the hard work you’ve put into your settlements and relationships within the bigger cities, and this does leave a bit of a sour note on your save games if you ever went back to them. For example, one of the side quests had me essentially leave Goodneighbour as a ghost town, including Magnolia, the singer from The Third Rail. That one really hurt.
Nuka-World itself clearly uses the major American theme parks as its inspiration, but does so extremely well. For those that have been to Disneyworld, you will get that sense of familiarity mixed with hostility that only a world designed by Bethesda can give. It’s clear from walking round the park how much effort and detail went into creating its charm, and then adding 200 years of nuclear fallout as a decal to it. It is certainly more interesting to wander round than the dank Far Harbour.
The main musical theme for Nuka-World is again played along the lines of a Disney classic, ‘It’s a Small World’. Some may find the original creepy enough but the Nuka-World version, when paired with the decay and violence going on all around it is creepy on a whole new level. But it really works; you feel a sense of dread whenever you hear the song heading into a firefight because the two together shouldn’t mix well and it’s naturally unnerving. When this isn’t playing, the new music is slightly more upbeat than what has come before, and really matches up with the overall aesthetic of Nuka-World.
For the achievements, they offer a bit more to do than the Far Harbour ones. There are still the ones for completing main story missions and finding collectibles, but then there are some for helping the Raiders invade the Commonwealth in different ways, as well as using the new Nuka-Mix stations to create new flavours of Nuka-Cola and all the advantages these bring. There is one achievement that will keep you in Nuka-World for a while however, redeeming 100,000 tickets at the arcade. There are plenty dotted around the park, but nowhere near enough to redeem the full amount. You will have to play the games in the arcade a lot to get anywhere near 100,000. This was another nice feature in the new DLC, but not fun for the time it will take to get all those tickets.
My time in Nuka-World was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, this is far and away the best piece of DLC for Fallout 4 in terms of location. On the other, the story had me doing things my character wouldn’t have normally done, and the Commonwealth is irreparable now because of those actions. It would have been a nice final touch to decline the Raider offer, and instead bring a faction over from the Commonwealth to take over Nuka-World for the benefit of everyone. But this is all water under the bridge when revering back to an older save to explore Nuka-World before it tarnishes the rest of the Commonwealth. And when you think of it as a separate location like Far Harbour, it really is fantastically thought out and somewhere to explore for many hours.