Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fallout 4: Nuka World DLC review


    I've never shared my post-apocalypse plan. It's to take a car, journey to Disneyland and take it over. Alternatively, I will journey to Brazil and live on a plantation where I will grow the ingredients necessary to create Coca Cola. If this is a peculiarly specific plan for Armageddon, I should note that if you somehow merged Disneyland and Coca-Cola then I never would have left as a child. I would have run away from my parents and lived in Colaland's sewers along with the other feral children.

Why save the world when you can rule it?
    As you can imagine, Nuka World is a kind of weird drill into my brain from the good people at Bethesda. I love Disneyland even if the reality is an overcrowded place you never have enough money to fully enjoy. I also love Coca-Cola even if it is so sugary sweet that my poor diabetic family genetics will never be able to live off of as I've always dreamed possible. I don't think anyone else necessarily had as high a hope for this DLC as I did but I may have unfairly put expectations on this due to my desire. Does it live up to it? No, unfortunately, not. However, it's still pretty damn entertaining.

My wife wouldn't want me living here. Maybe I could commute.
    The premise is the Sole Survivor finds the abandoned tram system to the Pre-War equivalent of the Magic Kingdom (which is in Massachusetts of all places). Along the way, he discovers the place is controlled by three allied gangs of raiders and their Overboss. Stumbling into a bravery test, the Sole Survivor kills the Overboss and in proper Necromonger fashion is named their new leader (mostly due to their second-in-command's endorsement).

The Overboss. Invincible to all but the dreaded squirt gun.
    There's two ways of proceeding from this point with the first being to ally with the raiders and take over the theme park sections they don't control. The second is to wipe out all of the raiders and liberate the settlement for its population of slaves. The DLC is geared strongly toward the former, which will throw some players for a loop as Fallout 4 was notorious for "forcing" you to play a hero.

    Indeed, the climax of Nuka World's "Evil" path is having you lead an army of raiders into the Commonwealth to assault its settlements. Which, if you've been playing the traditional way, means that you'll very likely be attacking your own settlements.

I love the skeleton who died happy in this pic.
    This is probably not going to be the path which roleplayers will enjoy but there's actually a story to be told here. The Sole Survivor as the man who had been forced repeatedly to compromise his morals for the sake of an ungrateful wasteland only to eventually snap and turn on his former loved ones. Certainly, there's a temptation to simply unleash the anger and rage of a very disappointing finale for the main game and simply enjoy the easy pleasures of being Lord Humungus. I've wanted to be a Raider since the beginning of the Fallout series and I finally have the chance even if it didn't fit with my current build.

Alas, I can afford everything in the Disney Marketplace!
    Still, I would have appreciated Nuka World if it had been far lower level and available as a place to journey to from the very beginning. It's eaisly the best "evil" settlement and as memorable as Paradise Falls from Fallout 3. If you choose to play the role of the Overboss, you even get a memorable scene where Preston Garvey is horrified by your actions and turns against you. It's the most emotion he ever displays in the game. Sadly, we don't have reactions from Piper, Valentine, Strong, and Cait who seem like they'd have opinions on your new vocation.

A wonderful brother-sister pair of raiders.
    The DLC's raider gangs are well-detailed with the Disciples, the Pack, and the Operators. The Disciples are a group of cannibal amazons, the Pack are animal worshiping feral humans, and cultured rich kids who'd decided it was better to steal than work for a living after being cut off. I decided to side with the Operators up until the point I decided to eliminate them from the park. I kind of regret we didn't get a "good" or at least neutral gang of raiders because I hated turning against them despite each group being complete scum. They're fun scum, though, which is what's important.

Blood worms are the worst.
      Nuka Cola the product is notably something which has been built up from Fallout 3 and is now a major part of the backstory despite being only a minor part of the setting. It is the equivalent of Cola Cola as well as the Disney corporation in the setting's backstory.

    Its ubiquitous presence in the setting means I was genuinely interested in finding out the history of the product and getting a bunch of Nuka Cola swag. Indeed, I'm hoping Bethesda puts out some Nuka Cola shirts because I want one. I also was very excited about painting my power armor in fire engine Nuka Cola red. If you find this a little strange then you should know how much fun it looks. We even get a return of Nuka Cola's biggest fan from Fallout 3 in Sierra Petrovita.

These raiders have personality. Evil awful personalities.
    I do think there's an over-focus on combat in the DLC. Even if you eliminate all of the gang boss leaders, this just results in all of the raiders in the park becoming hostile. I would have appreciated more options to deal with them. It would have been cool to do something like A Fistful of Dollars or the Sith Academy in Knights of the Old Republic where you play the various factions against one another until they're weak enough to completely eliminate.

      On the plus side, there's a "peaceful" path through dealing with the Raiders and Commonwealth's settlers which I found to be surprising. You can be a moral Raider who pays for land and good with caps. Unfortunately, there's no option for freeing the slaves or persuading the Raiders to devote their efforts to less monstrous acts. Even so, there's a lot of fun little sidequests like meeting with a bunch of Hubologists who are even more insane than their predecessors in Fallout 2 and the mythical founder of Nuka Cola who is living like Walt Disney's urban legend underneath the park. It says something about how much I enjoyed this setting that I wish it had been its own game.

Slaves. The gift which keeps giving.
     Like the Magic Kingdom, Nuka World has multiple "worlds" with a Futureworld, Wild West World, Coca Cola Land, and a mountain made of fizz. Each of these have different sorts of enemies and plenty of games which can be experienced. Like the best of Bethesda's creations, each land has an extensive Pre-War history to explore as well. Honestly, I loved the Wild West world the most since it involved rounding up Giddy-up Buttercups and being addressed as the Silver Shroud if you're wearing the costume.

    There are flaws in this DLC like the fact it's about twenty minutes long if you're playing a purely good-guy raider who would never associate with a morally ambiguous faction. Likewise, the Raiders are a trifle underdeveloped. They have personalities, themes, and major characters but no real side-quests or conversation options. There's a lot of places they could have expanded on the history of the gangs as well. Lore breaks like Enclave armor in a display case are also annoying. On the other hand, it's probably the single most fun DLC I've played from Bethesda and rivals Old World Blues for the amount of enjoyment I derived.

     In conclusion, Nuka World is an amazing DLC and I wish there was more of it. I think its also suitably grim and dark despite its whimsical atmosphere. I think this is probably the best DLC which Bethesda has put out since Mothership Zeta.

10/10 (in terms of fun)
9/10 (in terms of playability)

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