News October 31, 2016

Fallout 4's Nuka World - is it Worth It?

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Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
Date: 10/31/16

As the lone survivor of Vault 111, we’ve had our fair share of adventures. We went from warring with secret organizations to battling giant monsters dwelling in a radioactive fog. Twiddling our thumbs in between the frequent encounters with raiders wasn’t an option; there were other activities that were worth looking into.  Crafting robots, setting up trade routes between settlements, installing a generator in your newly erected vault – life in the Commonwealth was anything but dull…

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So the anticipation for Nuka World, the sixth and final add-on for Fallout 4, was pretty up there. I mean, the end of this long and harrowing journey was in sight (if you were using the same created character that is). Just how would Bethesda close things out for our protagonist? Will there be a major reveal that tied all of the individual stories together? Or will it be another a separate adventure, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure? At the very least, it would be a rather entertaining romp through a fascinating environment…right?

Things start off interesting enough. After receiving a broadcast from the Nuka-World Amusement Park, you’ll head over to the transit center to see what’s going on. Once there you’ll be greeted by a man claiming to have been robbed and beaten by a group of raiders. To really sell his story, he’ll throw in a captured wife and child. The idea is to con travelers into taking the transit to the amusement park so they can be put through the Gauntlet, a game where people have to trek through a maze-like environment lined with booby-traps. If they make it through the maze, they’ll then face the park’s Overboss in a rigged fight to the death. Thankfully, on this occasion, you’ll have a little help facing this opponent.

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Because you were able to take out the Overboss, you’ll end up taking his role as the leader of the park’s three factions. These gangs – The Disciples, The Operators, and The Pack – had seized control of the main few areas from a group of settlers. Their previous leader was content with playing games instead of clearing out the rest of the park, forcing the gangs live in close quarters. Lacking the ability to share (because they’re raiders), it was only a matter of time before they turned on each other. Being the new Overboss, it becomes your job to make the larger sections of the park safe to live in, granting everyone the much needed space to stretch their legs.

Nuka World is an exciting place to visit. This is good news given how difficult it can be to clear out each area. Like any large amusement park, each section has its own theme and associated attractions. The Galactic Zone, for instance, focuses on technology – Vault-Tech: Among the Stars is like a “home of tomorrow” exhibit that shows what a vault might look like if it was designed to function on other planets. Dry Rock Gulch goes in the opposite direction. It features a Wild West theme with robotic cowboys, minecart rides, and so on. Each environment also comes with its own set of enemies. Giant ants and Bloodworms (think Tremors) have infested Dry Rock Gulch while the Galactic Zone is held hostage by homicidal robots.

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Regardless of what area you choose to cleanse first, be prepared for a difficult fight. The recommended level for Nuka World is 30. I went in at 37 and could barely survive the onslaught of enemies. Even at level 40, I found myself fleeing from battle in order to rethink my approach. That’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying the struggle. The bombastic shootouts and face crushing melee battles in a variety of weird environments made Nuka World a blast to play through. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the narrative aspects.

One of the major elements of any Fallout game was its moral ambiguity. This is especially true with Fallout 4, where multiple factions can be seen as the “heroes” of the story depending on how things unfold. Picking which way to go is always a tough choice. That’s not the case here. Nuka World is skewed towards being a raider, so much so that completing the main quest line will change your stance in the commonwealth; once the gangs have staked their claim to the majority of the park, your next assignment is to go out and take over the settlements scattered across the wastes. This isn’t an issue if you tended to be a more negative player. It is an issue if you took time to build up these settlements. I’m a fan of destroying my LEGO towers and the occasional sandcastle, but I’ve spent many a night developing these places into livable areas for peaceful survivors. The last thing I’d want to do is to betray them.

Ok, so maybe you don’t care about the settlements the same way I do. Being the leader of the largest raider gang does have its appeal. That said, it would have been nice if the good ending was worth accomplishing outside of just being rewarded with “the feels”. Being bad will unlock new perks and extra stat points on existing abilities. The only thing you get for being good is another settlement. You see, one of the things that the three gangs could agree on was the enslavement of the remaining settlers. They fashioned them with explosive collars and forced them to provide needed resources. Liberating them will add Nuka World to your list of settlements/safe places to crash. That’s about it. What’s worse is that if you choose to liberate them early on, you’ll “fail” the main story quests, vastly reducing the play time.

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I don’t understand why Bethesda would choose to make this such a one sided affair. Outside of picking two of the three gangs to side with (the third one will feel slighted and turn on you) or rescuing the slaves, there isn’t much to think about. There aren’t any conflicting philosophies to ponder over. Worst still, being good actually hurts your chances of growth – new perks and tons of XP are taken off the table. I don’t remember there being a time when one of the choices given to players would yield so little rewards. So much so, that it pushes most players down a particular path as opposed to letting them decide on their own.

Bottom line, Nuka World is worth experiencing. The missions are fun and there’s plenty of new loot to wade through. I really liked the Nuka based weapons and power armor. Depending on what character you’ve been building up until this point though, you may find that you don’t like the choices presented to you. At the very least you’ll miss the more intricate plots this series is known for. I know I did!

Go here to check out our coverage of all the DLC played thus far (including our review of Fallout 4)!