Nuka World, the final bit of DLC for Fallout 4, has finally arrived. Set just over the other side of the mountains to the Commonwealth, Nuka World is a theme park that’s kind of like a futuristic mash up of Disneyworld and the Duff Brewery Gardens. Before I get properly into my bit of babble, I would like to preface this by saying that I’m (unfortunately) going to be writing a bunch of spoilers for the expansion – so if you have yet to play it and want to go in blind, then it might be in your best interest to close this page. After you’ve favourited it so you can come back to it after you’ve finished it, of course.
There’s definitely a case to be made for this being one of Bethesda’s strongest showings in a bit of DLC. Nuka World is probably one of the best settings that has been created in any Fallout game. It perfectly blends the 1950s quirkiness of the Fallout universe with the bizarre nature of a theme park made to advertise a soft drink. There are six unique zones to explore within the park, and a whole bunch of smaller settlements surrounding it for you to find and uncover all the goings on in the park. And it is something that you will really want to do, because every single one of the places is as fantastic as the last, from both a loot perspective, but also from a lore and story perspective. You’ll pick up holotapes and hack into terminals in even the most remote and unexpected places that fill you in on all of the details of what is going on around the decaying wonderland.
Although it is a very similar point to above – the level design has to get a special mention. As you progress through the park, each of the different areas have their own challenges, unique and distinct from the other areas in the park. The best of this can be seen in the Kiddie Kingdom, with the various attractions dotted around the map, once designed to entice children to spend their parents money, now in the hands of a slightly maniacal ghoulified employee who tries to ward you off using the mechanics of the rides. Going through the Fun House is equally enjoyable as it is nausea inducing. Bethesda used everything in their considerable arsenal to build an experience that is unlike anything they’ve done before, and just progressing through the Kiddie Kingdom was probably the most fun I’ve had in Fallout 4.
Something Fallout 4 was criticised for was stripping out the karma system of the previous games. It definitely wasn’t perfect, and needed a good amount of polish, but with it removed, the possibility of true role playing went with it, as you were only allowed to play the goody two shoes in most cases. Nuka World puts you in charge of three raider factions all vying for a raider majority in not only the amusement park, but the Commonwealth as a whole. There is a fully thought out questline for all the evil doers in the wasteland, meaning for the first time with the new engine, you can destroy well meaning civilisations and plant the flag of your favoured raider group at any and all settlements. It is a surprising breath of fresh air, given in the past every time you’re mean you get castrated by most of your companions, so being able to be a complete dickhead and slaughter or enslave people at will is actually pretty fun.
Now, although I completed the DLC, it doesn’t feel like Bethesda did. There’s a pretty well fleshed out quest for the raiders, but if you want to be good, there is one quest, and you don’t get any real benefits from completing it. It’s not necessarily a requirement to get paid for doing a good deed – after all, freeing the slaves is it’s own reward – but there is nothing after the quest finishes. You’ve cleared out the raiders, so what? Nobody really acknowledges the fact, and you miss out on some of the better characters in the game. There’s more to dislike though, as if you’ve been playing a good character like I was, then you’re forced into being the bad guy just to see the full DLC. In fact, because I didn’t explore the market fully at first, I had no idea there even was a good guy option. I thought I’d have to just be a giant bastard and transform the Commonwealth back to being a raider hell hole rather than the positive set up that I had going on. It’s surprising how half-arsed Bethesda were with this part of Nuka World, though perhaps not a surprise.
Another issue was the way the park works. I can definitely understand why Bethesda wouldn’t want us to piss around too much with the park, but after clearing out the raiders, I still had a lot of their “decorations” covering the park without any way of removing them. I wouldn’t be removing any of the rides or the billions of Cappy dotted around, I’d just want to remove the junk that’s fallen down over the years and the ghastly raider rubbish that covers the park. You’re even given a safe house in the centre of the park that you can’t change in any way, so it really does just feel like I’m playing in someone elses playground rather than one I can completely own.
There is definitely more to Nuka World than what I’ve written about – and it’s a lot more positive than negative, but there is still the standard Bethesda lack of polish. It feels unfinished, and there are definitely places where modders can, and hopefully will, improve it. As it is the last bit of DLC for Fallout 4, it’s well worth getting, and I’d probably rate it a little higher than Far Harbour, just because they dropped us in a completely unfamiliar territory and really put a good amount of effort into most of it. It’s just not perfect, but it’s as close as Bethesda are likely to get.