While Bethesda has more than delivered on its promises with the amount of downloadable content released for Fallout 4 since it came out, nearly a year ago, fans are probably feeling a bit melancholy right about now, upon reaching the end of the line with Nuka-World.
If the trailers and behind-the-scenes looks leading up to the DLC’s release were any indication, the developers intended to send Fallout 4 off with a bang — or maybe more of a fizzy “pop”. Unfortunately, for many players (including myself), a number of game-breaking bugs turned the release of what is expected to be Bethesda’s final addition to Fallout 4 into a flat mess.
Before delving into Nuka-World’s story or gameplay, it should be noted that it is only because of the tenacity of Fallout 4’s fan base that you are reading this review at all.
Shortly after beginning Nuka-World’s main questline, I ran into a game-breaking bug where the monorail that is supposed to take players into the actual Nuka-World area did not load correctly, making it impossible to proceed. I tried a number of workarounds until some fans finally figured out a likely (and bothersome) solution, and it happened to work. If I were not playing this add-on with the intention of reviewing it, however, I would’ve forgone such effort and simply put Nuka-World out of my mind until a fix came through. This is not the attitude that you want your players to have at the time of a release.
The good news is that the actual content of Nuka-World is as charming as ever, and in typical Fallout fashion, gives players new (albeit mostly violent) means of role-playing and expressing themselves. Whereas Far Harbor encouraged you to take on the role of a detective, Nuka-World lets you be a wasteland warlord of sorts (with a dash of “theme park tycoon”).
After taking out the Nuka-World’s tyrant “Overboss”, the player is introduced to three separate raider factions, each with their own attitudes, objectives, and aspirations for the park, which has at least as much going on as Diamond City and the surrounding Boston Common. Besides the factions, there plenty of Nuka-World residents who can provide the player with additional interactions, quests, and so on.
Going into the park for the first time, it is important to be prepared. Players must be at least level 30 to start the DLC, and they should be well-stocked with ammo, stimpaks, and even RadAway.
Upon arriving in Nuka-World, you must survive “the Gauntlet”, which is a series of hazardous obstacles and trials. Bethesda gets a bit creative here, indulging in more environmental puzzles than are typically found in Fallout 4. The Gauntlet ends with a head-to-head arena fight with the Overboss, involving what is probably my favorite thing to come out of Nuka-World: a Nuka-Cola-styled squirt-gun called the “Thirst Zapper”. If you’ve been craving the sort of linear challenge that Fallout 4’s open-world environment doesn’t typically provide, you’re in luck with this expansion.
Despite the buggy release that there’s really no justification for, even by Bethesda’s standards (seriously, how did some of these issues make it past testing?), Nuka-World is an ambitious, memorable add-on that will ultimately serve Fallout 4 well in the long-run.
But nothing is special enough to warrant going out of your way to create new characters or deleting other DLC in an attempt to circumvent the various frustrating issues that you very well may run into. As exciting and interesting as the park itself is, if you haven’t yet decided to give Nuka-World a go, you may want to leave it alone for a few days until Bethesda is able to sort a few things out.