In November of last year, Fallout 4 was given to the masses, promising players a several month future of content to get lost in over the cold fall and winter months. Over a series of 5 DLC releases, the game received expansions to its story and mechanics that varied in size from the small settlement focused content to Far Harbor, the first proper expansion. Nuka-World is the 6th and final DLC to be included in the Season Pass schedule of content, and lands in our laps at the end of summer, with one last go around the park.
Developed by: Bethesda Game Studios
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: August 30th, 2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed on PC)
Launch Price: 19.99 USD (Included in Season Pass)
- Take a trip to Nuka-World, a vast amusement park now a lawless city of Raiders.
- Explore an all-new region with an open wasteland and park zones like Safari Adventure, Dry Rock Gulch, Kiddie Kingdom, and the Galactic Zone.
- Lead lethal gangs of Raiders and use them to conquer settlements, bending the Commonwealth to your will.
Story and Setting
The expansion’s story takes place in the pre-war amusement park, Nuka-World. A park that once brought sugary happiness and joy has now become a trader’s and traveler’s worst nightmare. The place has been controlled by a combination of three different groups of raiders led by an individual named Overboss and at the very beginning of the story, you are given the chance to become the new Overboss of this den of thieves.
Soon enough after being crowned the new Overboss (would it be a Bethesda game if you didn’t win Overlord of All The Things?), the power struggle between the opposing factions surfaces. The story and the theme are throwbacks to the narrative foundation of Fallout: New Vegas. There are faction conflicts, with people pulling the strings behind the scenes, trying to get players to work for them. You can side with them, destroy them or incite them. Similar to the events of Far Harbor, you are able to approach this story from multiple different angles, encouraging extensive saving and replays to see every side of the story and every possible outcome.
The story, as it was in Far Harbor, is more engaging than the base game. The factions are more interactive, more distinctive and each has a clear goal, although there is not as much ideological difference between them as in Far Harbor. The Disciples believe in discipline and bloodlust and kill everyone who goes against these rules. The Operators are more of the mercenary for hire type, motivated by caps gain. The Pack is a tribe like group of opportunists. Choosing one over the other doesn’t have incredibly strong implications overall, and this leaves the story lacking the more agonizing choices of Far Harbor.
In contrast to the base game and Far Harbor, red and white are the base colors of the Nuka-Cola expansion. The amusement park features a bright tone, and you are hard pressed to find things that are painted with the washed out colors emblematic of the main game. This is a refreshing coat of paint and a cheery way to finish things off.
The park itself is huge and features the kind of atmosphere you’d expect from product focused theme parks like Hershey Park and Busch Gardens. The setting is buoyant and jovial, with all of the nooks and crannies that capture childhood imaginations, right down to the incessant, brainwash looping of the catchy Nuka-World theme song.
The expansion features several easter eggs as well, to things and events both real and virtual from the Coca-Cola secret formula urban legend to Sierra from Fallout 3 and more. A lot of attention has been given to setting and whimsical humor and Nuka-World is the most playful of Fallout 4’s typically sober content.
The first entry to the park is a series of traps and obstacles known as the Gauntlet and is a well designed and challenging introduction to the park’s shenanigans. It’s full of surprises, traps, a toxic gas room and an arena. From there on the content is as tough as the Gauntlet, with some surprisingly staunch battles, even at the content’s recommended level of 30. Later on, you can re-enter the Gauntlet to defend your title against new burly challengers.
This expansion is designed around the experience of the park and it’s inhabitants and is a notable departure from the settlement focused DLC. There is a lot to uncover in the park’s main sections, and unlocking each section features its own unique rewards and easter eggs to discover. Each section has a theme of its own such as space, the wild west and African safari. Because of this, the entire park takes on a character of its own and becomes the memorable centerpiece it was designed to be.
The game as expected features some new equipment for players, in the form of a handful of useful weapons, and a particularly spiffy new piece of Power Armor, that may or may not be worth the scouring of the park for cores needed to unlock it. New gear isn’t really a focus in this expansion, so if you’re hoping to go out with a bang, you’ll have to be satisfied with the quest content.
Gage is the new companion along for the thrill rides, and despite his rough appearance is the mastermind of the plan to clear out the park. He arrives to help you escape from the Gauntlet and depose the prior Overboss, showing himself as opportunistic at every turn. He’s not particularly memorable or helpful, but is in no way a nuisance. He fits the scenery and adds a gruff parallel to the amusement park from raider hell.
Speaking of raiders, once you’ve seen your way through the content, you can bring your newfound bad attitude back to the wasteland of the Commonwealth and wage some bandit war on settlements. The system for finding suitable places to ransack is a bit confusing, but the skirmishes can be hilarious in their sadism. Once you clear a spot, your buddies from the wrong side of the tracks set up shop and become the neighborhood nuisance you’d expect. In lieu of farming you can extort neighboring settlements for their hard earned food stores, allowing you to indulge in your deepest scumbag fantasies. For those who found settlement building in the vanilla game tedious, consider this your opportunity for revenge.
Nuka-World does a wonderful job capturing the spirit of the amusement park. It is an entertaining stroll through the diversions of men and provides an expansion filled with content to explore. Fans of New Vegas will appreciate the moral ambiguity of the raiders as they navigate their way through the sometimes difficult enemies. The new gear and companion are serviceable but underwhelming and the new twist on settlements has the potential to spice up a sometimes tedious activity. The park itself is the star, and you may find yourself humming the park’s theme without being aware. If this is the final piece of content we will see from Fallout 4, then it’s a tune that finishes on a high note.
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