I’ve been trying to stay away from soda for the last few months. It’s bad for my teeth, and I’ve long since lost my caffeine resistance, so it makes me all jittery. But despite my avoidance of soda, I am still very much vulnerable to advertising, in that it makes me want soda really badly. After playing around in Fallout 4’s final DLC, Nuka-World, for a few hours, I really, REALLY want a soda now.
As with Far Harbor, there will be a score at the end of this review based solely on Nuka-World’s merits as a DLC. It is a grown-up DLC with grown-up responsibilities, after all.
Having run out of things to shoot and places to loot, the Sole Survivor of Vault 111 (that’s you), picks up- you guessed it- another radio signal on their Pip-Boy. The signal is an old pre-war advertisement for Nuka-World, a theme park build by and based around America’s favorite soft drink, Nuka-Cola. Tracing the source of the signal, the Sole Survivor finds an injured man in front of the railway leading to Nuka World, begging them to go back and find his wife and child. With a quick speech check, the man reveals he’s lying, and that this is an elaborate setup by some raiders to force you into a gladiatorial arena for their amusement. After surviving the raiders’ Gauntlet, you face off against the leader of the raiders, Colter, or “Overboss” as they like to call him. Using a water pistol, you short out his power armor and put a bullet in his head (or if you’re like me, several), and are crowned the new Overboss of Nuka-World on the spot. If you were one of those people who were upset that Fallout 4 doesn’t have a karma system, then happy birthday to you, because you’ve just been crowned a literal raider king, and now you get to be an incorrigible asshole.
Nuka-World is run by three raider gangs in the park’s center, Nuka-Town USA: the Pack, who utilize an animalistic “power over all” style of leadership, the Operators, who respect money and style above all else, and the Disciples, who really enjoy killing people just for the sake of killing people. To appease the gangs, the first thing you need to do is go to the other parks in Nuka-World, clear them of threats, and then dole the territory out however you see fit. Since there’s five zones and three gangs, someone’s going to get an unfair share no matter what, so make sure to give whichever gang you like the least the least territory, because they will mutiny on you later in the main questline.
As Nuka-World is an amusement park, each zone is designed to be colorful, fun, and packed full of Nuka-Cola, in all of its flavors.
- The Galactic Zone is space themed, with Nuka-modified robots patrolling around due to a malfunction in the park’s computer. You’ll need to gut the rides for their special Star Cores to reboot the computer and pacify the robots.
- The Kiddie Kingdom is aimed at young children, with a pastel-colored fairytale theme. It’s also overrun by ghouls covered in body paint, headed by a glowing ghoul who somehow became so radioactive, that he actually gained magic powers. You’ll need to hunt him down through the attractions to deal with him and his ilk.
- Dry Rock Gulch is Wild West themed, and managed by several Protectron sheriffs, each with a little task for you to complete, such as gathering missing toy horses or engaging in a quickdraw competition. You’ll need their codes to get into the minecart ride, which is infested with Bloodworms, huge burrowing worms with gross toothy mouths.
- In Safari Adventure, you’ll meet Cito, a man who was raised by the gorillas from the zoo exhibit, and aid him in killing Gatorclaws, mutant hybrids of alligators and Deathclaws being churned out by an underground cloning facility.
- The World of Refreshment is a boat ride on a river made entirely of Nuka-Cola Quantum that doubles as an actual Nuka-Cola bottling plant. Both the ride and the plant are overrun with Mirelurks souped-up by the Quantum and glowing blue.
While the zones themselves aren’t actually that big, they create an illusion of size with labyrinthine layouts. I got lost multiple times in each zone, even with my compass guiding me to objectives, which I both dislike and like, as it was annoying to go in circles, but it did help add some longevity to things, especially since there was no shortage of things to shoot.
Nuka-Town also has some distractions you can indulge in, such as the Nuka-Cade, a fully functional arcade where you can play skeeball, basketball, whack-a-mole, and a shooting gallery to earn tickets for prizes. The best prize is, of course, the paddle ball, which you can actually use as a weapon. That’s funny enough, but with some crafting, you can upgrade it with Nuka-Cola Quantum to make the ball explode on impact with every paddle. The same goes for the squirt gun you used on Colter, Quantum explosions and all, though you’ll need to wait until the end of the main questline before you can get the schematics.
Speaking of the main questline, after you’ve liberated the park, you’ll be asked to return to the Commonwealth and capture settlements for your gangs to use as outposts, either by asking the settlers to leave or killing them all. This is one big part of Nuka-World that I didn’t really care for because, as is the majority opinion, settlement management is the worst part of Fallout 4, doubly so when I have to run out settlers that I put there in the first place. Since they’re raiders, they’re even more annoying to keep happy, since they’re too lazy to farm, so you’ll need to raid another settlement to force them to make food for them. Oh, and some free advice: I hope you aren’t friends with Preston Garvey of the Minutemen, because the moment, literally the moment you take a settlement for a raider gang, he will instantly hate your guts, no matter where he is in the world relative to you. If you want to keep being friends with Preston, you might, unfortunately, need to skip this DLC wholesale.
There are some other fun quests in and out of the park, including a scavenger hunt for hidden signs of Cappy, one of the park’s mascots, given to you by Sierra Petrovita, whom you might remember as the Nuka-Cola fangirl from Fallout 3. Finding the signs is a bit of a pain in the ass, but the payoff is a Fat Man that launches Quantum-modded mini nukes, plus you get to meet the inventor of Nuka-Cola (or at least, his partially frozen, life supported severed head). You can also meet a group of “Hubologists” outside the park, who run a religion based on old sci-fi novels, believe humans are plagued by invisible “neurodynes”, and want you to help them recover a spaceship from a junkyard. Can’t imagine where they got the inspiration for that from.
While venturing through the parks is most definitely a fun time, forcing me to evict settlers and effectively forcing me to play the bad guy leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as my character has essentially been the hero for my entire campaign. Still, if you can rush through the outpost setup as quickly as possible and don’t mind Preston hating you (and apparently being clairvoyant), there is fun to be had in Nuka-World. There are plenty of new guns and things to point them at, and at the end of the day, that’s what really keeps me happy.
However, before we end here, there is one last thing that needs to be addressed: the season pass. Now that all of the DLC has come out, can we definitively say whether or not the season pass is worth your money? Well, I’d put it like this: if you are planning on playing through both Far Harbor AND Nuka-World, I’d say it’s worth it to throw down the extra five bucks and get the workshop packs, just for the teensy boosts in content. If, however, you only plan on playing ONE of the story pack DLCs, I’d say just stick to that one and save yourself twenty bucks.