The final DLC for Fallout 4 was always going to have a lot to live up to. I’ve been impressed with the previous content add-ons, so Nuka-World had a bit of giant slaying to do to stand out, something which it falls short of accomplishing. Although it starts strong, it manages to condense everything that annoyed me about the vanilla game and put it into one neat package. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its merits, it certainly does, but as a final outing for Fallout 4, it misses the mark.
Nuka-World starts with the typical DLC fare of a radio broadcast leading you to a new location, this time a tram hub that carries the player to Nuka-World, a theme park based off the iconic soft drink littering the wastelands.
Upon reaching Nuka-World you’re greeted with a gauntlet, which is a sadistic Saw-esque maze some naughty, naughty bandits have set up. This whole section is probably the most fun you’ll be having in Nuka-World; it’s mysterious, challenging and a change of pace from the regular game. Although it would have been nice if it were expanded a little bit, as it almost reached the level of being a short puzzle game without fully realising the potential. Saying that, the section is still a massive step up from DiMA’s awful memory puzzles from Far Harbor.
Without going too far into spoiler country, once you finish the gauntlet you encounter the latest factions, which are three raider groups: the Pack, who are tribe orientated, the Operators, who are money grubbing gangsters and the Disciples, who are active torture porn enthusiasts. They have taken over Nuka-World from a group of traders who previously called it their home, and now they hang on to a rough pact, held together by an Overboss. Who, you probably guessed, is now you because you completed the gauntlet. Yeah, Bethesda really have a thing for making you the leader of every organisation ever.
And here’s about where my RPG OCD made Nuka-World as traumatic as the gauntlet, you’re forced to be an evil piece of shit, siding with everything you fought against in the main game. Unlike other Fallout games, Fallout 4 pretty much forced you to play as a good guy, you could never side with raiders, or even talk to them. However, Nuka-World takes this premise, pushes it into a corner and fucking smashes it to death with a soap bar in a pillow sack. Now you’re forced to play as the leader of the baddest guys imaginable, and your character doesn’t even bat an eye. This really bugged me for way too many reasons, and we’ll probably get into that another day because I don’t want to let my unrelenting OCD become too overbearing in this review.
So once you’re established as the Fallout Fuhrer, you are tasked with bringing order to the gangs, as their loose companionship is hanging by a thread. To do so you have to clear out the remaining themed zones of Nuka-World, which have been overrun by various naughty things.
Each zone brings with it a challenging and pretty fun (albeit grindy) range of tasks, and clearing them all is not quick. As I’ve already written about, Kiddie Kingdom is riddled with ghouls, Galactic Zone is filled with homicidal robots, Dry Rock Gulch is infested with blood worms, Safari Adventure is filled with gatorclaws (a hybrid of deathclaw with alligator DNA) and World of Refreshment is swarming with nukalurks (a glowing variant of Mirelurks). The areas are aesthetically great, and they have some pretty fun visual gags associated with them, as well as specific costumes if you really want to role play.
After completing each zone specific questline you’ll find a flag pole in the area, which you can raise to gift the entire zone to one of the three raider factions. Doing so will carry your favour with them. Of course there isn’t an even number of zones to dish out, so by the end one group will feel pretty darn salty towards you. And this is where things get interesting, the end game of Nuka-World has a few different routes. Of course you’ll have to wipe out one of the factions to secure order, after which you can keep playing rolling missions to take over settlements in the Commonwealth to spread out raider camps away from Nuka-World, so pretty much the opposite of Preston’s jam.
This really didn’t gel with me at all, I fucking loathe the fact you have to side with the raiders, so I took an alternate route, which is siding with the traders who are now effectively your slaves. By doing so you have to wipe out every faction and raider in the park (echoing the soul crushing ending from the vanilla game) failing a bunch of future quests and rolling quest options in the future. It doesn’t feel like the naturally intended ending, but it’s the one I went for dammit.
The “good” ending did feel really great, not only because I got to make a bloodbath in a theme park, but because it felt like I was telling the game I didn’t care for its bold attempt at corrupting my virtuous character.
Aside from the main raider filled story there of course are side quests, some of which are fantastic, and in general the lore behind Nuka-World is fascinating. There’s a lot of content to keep Fallout Fiends enticed, including new weapons, armour, enemy types and junk to collect. Oh, also there are ghoulrillas now, which are pretty fucking sweet.
So to sum all this up, I spent well over 100 hours being a good guy then Nuka-World attempted to make me a bad guy… still pretty fun though.