Rounding out the final DLC to Fallout 4 is Nuka World, a large and impressive amusement park that has seem better days. With five different themed lands, there’s plenty to explore: Take a ride on the waterways in The World of Refreshment and hear the history of Nuka Cola; swing with the monkeys at the Safari Adventure; spin yourself sick on the teacups at Kiddie Kingdom; saddle up for some out west adventure in Dry Rock Gulch; and count down to blast off in the Galactic Zone, a true retro imagining of the future.
The overzealous difficulty of Fallout 4′s DLCs is no exception this time around; the Nuka World radio signal won’t auto-trigger until you are at least level 30. Don’t start at level 30. Just don’t. If you haven’t hit at least level 50 by now, take the time to get there; the unbalanced level-scaling that gave Automatron and Far Harbor their “quirks” is back to kill your stash of stimpacks and ammo. Combine that with a narrative that lacks depth and meaningful decisions, Nuka World might fall below your expectations, but still provides many hours of game play to unlock a plethora of secrets and rewards.
A death-happy announcer lures you to The Gauntlet immediately upon arrival at the Nuka World station. That injured guy you met back in The Commonwealth? Yeah, that was a ruse to force you into some post-apocalyptic, gladiator entertainment. The Gauntlet is easy to navigate, and before long you are placed toe-to-toe with The Overboss, but not before Porter Gage offers you some key advice to rig the match in your favor. Emerge victorious, and before long you’ll be thrust directly in the middle of a conflict of three raider gangs — a conflict that needs to be resolved should they retain control of Nuka World.
As such, the bulk of the main quest requires you to earn the raiders’ trust. The beginning is a drawn-out “reclaiming” mission to purge all the themed lands in Nuka World of their homicidal creatures. You’ll encounter the exact same baddies as you would in The Commonwealth and in the other DLCs, but with minor modifications. The mirelurks, for example, now have a Nuka Quantum glow, you’ll encounter many baby deathclaws and, of course, gain new companions — including a Tarzan-inspired man that looks conspicuously similar to Khal Drogo and Porter Gage, whom you can flirt with and even try to start a romance with, but unless your charisma and black widow perks are maxed out, you’ll never see your relationship progress further than a platonic Mickey and Mallory Knox. Gage is actually an interesting character with some great stories to tell, and even though he acts tough, he’ll wear his heart on his sleeve for you.
Once you’ve cleared the lands, the hard part is over, but as someone who never invested much time in building settlements, I found it disappointing that Nuka World overall lacked in rich story and character development, especially when compared to Far Harbor. The three raider gangs — Disciples, Operators, and Pack — only differ in their costumes. As groups, there is nothing distinct about their personalities to separate them from one another. Handing out territories and settlements is a random affair rather than strategic. Maybe the needs of raiders are too simplistic to create a compelling group of individuals, but nevertheless, it would have made raiding The Commonwealth more entertaining.
The choices you make while bringing balance to the three gangs don’t seem to matter much inside nor outside the theme park. If you dole out territories evenly or give everything to one gang, the outcome has no logic. I gave out territories evenly and had one gang revolt, claiming they weren’t getting their fair share. Another time I gave everything to one with no consequences.
The other issue is how the new raider missions are integrated with the rest of the base-game. The places that are available to overtake or force into supplying your settlements somewhat depend on how many you have discovered and if there are any crucial NPCs to missions you have not started. You won’t necessarily be able to tell this from the list Shank gives you. While some settlements could be grayed out, it’s possible you’ll select a place like Warwick Homestead and Shank will give you a long “yeah” before he delivers the bad news — pick another one.
I could have attacked Sanctuary, my very first settlement of the game, but that’s where I sent all my companions to hang out while I did wasteland things. I didn’t want to kill them, but if I forced them off their land, how would I find them again? Apparently, this wasn’t something I had to worry about. The game will not let you attack a settlement where a companion resides. I also had one settlement that had no people in it, so I couldn’t overtake it. But within the parameters of the mission, it seems silly to force me to draw people there just to overtake it. Why not have an option to claim it as my own? Maybe it wouldn’t be satisfying to the raider mentality.
There were some other little glitches along the way. For instance, when talking with Mason, the leader of the Pack, for the first time, fighting dogs in a nearby cage will overpower the dialogue, making it hard to hear what he’s saying. Also, having to fast travel back and forth between The Commonwealth and Nuka World is a bit of a drag. Thankfully, you won’t have to do that for too long before you can move Shank to one of your settlements. Although, the benefit of having him there is only so you don’t have to travel to Nuka World as much. As a result, there’s not much depth to his character.
I can still recommend picking up this DLC, but with a caveat: if you have always dreamed of running your own raider gang and squeal with pure delight at the thought of forcibly taking land and resources away from innocent people, then you might enjoy Nuka World. If you never wanted anything to do with Fallout 4’s settlement structure, then you’re in for a disappointment. Unless you are running side-missions for any of the gang leaders in Nuka World, your focus will be spent away from the theme park in The Commonwealth, running jobs for Shank. Between Automatron, Far Harbor, and Nuka World, Nuka World is more diverse, but at the cost of a great story and compelling characters.
Fallout 4: Nuka World was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the developer.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios| Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Genre: RPG | Platform: PC, XBox One, PS4 | PEGI/ESRB: 18/M | Release Date: August 30, 2016