Because of the nature of the article, spoilers might be littered throughout. If you haven’t gone through the DLC already, proceed with caution.
Here it is, the Fallout 4 add-on we have all been waiting for is finally here. The two previous pieces of extra content, Automatron and Wasteland Workshop largely centered around the main game’s workshop component. While this necessarily isn’t a bad thing, their certainly a far cry from Bethesda’s normal post-launch content rollouts. The two pieces of DLC had some cool stuff, but they pale in size to Bethesda’s normal expansion content. The latest piece of DLC, Far Harbor, is the first piece of major story DLC that adds a substantial questline, Bethesda’s largest landmass for a DLC, new characters, and new enemies. Like I said before, this is the DLC that most fans have been anticipating since it was first announced, alongside Automatron and Wasteland Workshop. Now that it’s out, I have spent some quality time with the new content and I have some thoughts…some positive and some negative.
Your adventure begins when a new case gets sent into the Valentine Detective Agency. It involves a young woman who has run away from home, leaving her parents in distress. It’s up to you and Nick Valentine (a companion I highly recommend bringing along with you for the adventure) to get to the bottom of her disappearance and the reasoning behind her wanting to leave home. Upon arriving at her coastal home, clues lead to her whereabouts in Far Harbor, a deadly island in Maine that’s enveloped with the Fog, a radioactive nightmare. This thus kicks off your boat ride to Far Harbor, where you discover a deeper conflict, much bigger than the case of Kasumi Nakano, the girl you are tasked with finding.
There’s three main factions that call Far Harbor their home, the harbor men and woman of Far Harbor, the synth colony of Acadia, and the Children of Atom. Upon setting foot on the island, it doesn’t take long to grasp the amount of tension brewing between the three groups. There all at a standoff, and it’s up to you to bring peace or to cause chaos. There’s a variety of different endings that result from your actions. If you play your cards right, you can leave far harbor with all three factions living in a sort of harmony. You can also leave with all three factions destroyed. Let’s just say that it’s insanely easy to mess things up if you’re not careful…which is where I found myself upon Far Harbor’s ending.
When you give a visit to Acadia, you meet the synth named DiMA, the weird-looking synth that you probably saw from the trailer. He seems like a nice, peaceful synth who doesn’t want to cause trouble, but you soon learn that there’s a darker secret he’s keeping from you. Upon unearthing some of his dirty deeds, I demanded that he travel to Far Harbor and fess up to his deeds. During my play-through of Fallout 4, I was a big advocate for the truth. I didn’t like to lie if I didn’t have to. I thought having DiMA be honest with the citizens of Far Harbor would be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, this is where I was sadly mistaken. The harbor men carried out the justice that needed to be done for DiMA’s doings, but despite my pleadings, they also found Acadia, and all the innocent Synths (including Kasumi) within, guilty as well. Before I knew it, DiMA and Acadia were brutally murdered and wiped from existence…all because I thought the truth was the way to go. One of the island’s main factions was destroyed, and I was only two hours into the DLC. What have I done?
This bothered me. After kissing up to the different factions, I made the decision that I wanted Far Harbor and Acadia to survive to the end, while the Children of Atom could be destroyed. I understood that there were some innocent souls in the Children of Atom, but they seemed like the bad guys with the bad intentions of wiping everyone off the island. In my eyes, they had to go. But here I was, two hours in, and Acadia was killed right before my eyes. I then had to carry out my mission of destroying the Children of Atom, which left the citizens of Far Harbor the sole survivors on the island. This isn’t necessarily a “bad ending,” but it felt pretty depressing. Especially since when all was said and done, I had to travel back to the Commonwealth and break the news to Kasumi’s parents that their daughter was brutally murdered in cold blood because of one synth’s actions. At least that’s what I told them. How was I supposed to tell them that it was my actions that killed their daughter? In my pursuit of honesty and truth for Far Harbor, I ended up telling a lie in the end. It’s this kind of irony that sucks… In the words of Nick Valentine, “case closed.” It wasn’t the way I wanted things to turn out, but the truth was indeed found and Kasumi was brought home…in a body bag, unfortunately. Just another cruel day in the wasteland.
As a result of my choices, Far Harbor was sort of a bummer for me. There’s nothing wrong with the story, in fact, Bethesda did a fantastic job with the story. There’s a lot of great and interesting ways in which you can resolve the island’s issues…it’s just unfortunate that my way, which in my eyes was the right way, turned bad…pretty quickly. Sure, I could load up an old save and replay the events to work more in my favor…but that’s just not my style. I live with the decisions that I make and move on…it’s what makes these games so great.
Despite the story’s strength’s I did have some issues with some of the smaller aspects of the story. For instance, DiMA’s monologue about synths and their identity didn’t really hit home like it probably should have. At one point she even poses the question, “are you a synth?” It made me step back and think…but then I realized the holes in DiMA’s thinking. The player was clearly alive before the bombs fell, a time in which synths weren’t even in the picture. You then black out in cryo-sleep in the vault, waking up years later, but c’mon, does the game really expect me to believe that in that time the player was switched out with the body of a synth? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an inherently interesting idea, but it’s also half-baked, especially considering the fact that it was never once mentioned again for the rest of the story. A thought cast into the wind. There’s also issue with the game’s ending. After destroying the Children of Atom by setting off a nuclear bomb in their facility, the DLC was essentially brought to a close. I “cleansed the land.” After traveling back to Far Harbor, where I expected to get greeted with fanfare, I was instead met with silence and…well, nothing. Everybody was carrying out their own business, with not a care in the world to talk to me.
Umm…guys, did no one notice the gigantic nuclear explosion to the west? No? What about the whole, “Let’s destroy the Children of Atom!” thing? Yeah…I did that! I took them out, just like you wanted. Does no one care? Hello? Oh god…someone talk to me so I don’t go crazy…
Okay, maybe it was a bug or an issue with the game, but it still dampened the experience. I was expecting the bow to be tied on the story…but instead I was left to my own devices. There was no closure. Just a “quest completed” notification. I didn’t let this get to me too much, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed…even if it was just a bug. I also understand that I might be in the small minority that was bothered by this. That doesn’t make it right though.
But enough of this negativity, huh? Let’s talk about where this add-on really shines and that is with its locales and its enemies. The island of Far Harbor is by far the biggest landmass Bethesda has ever created for a DLC. To give you an idea of how big it is, I’d say it is probably around a fourth of the size of the Commonwealth. The environment hearkens back to another piece of Fallout DLC, which was Point Lookout. There’s a lot of coastal locations mixed with swampy bogs as you make your way towards the mainland. Although some areas seem to be recycled from some of the main game’s locations, like the bowling alley, there is still a good bit of variety in the island’s landmarks. Probably one of the coolest places for players to explore is Vault 118, a full-size vault hidden away under a cliffside resort. It marks the first time Bethesda has put a full-scale vault inside one of its expansions. It’s also home to a quest which might be one of the best parts of Far Harbor.
Then there’s the creatures that roam the island. Far Harbor is no walk in the park. It’s a hostile place with a bunch of new monsters that want to have you for dinner. Some of the new enemy types are rehashed versions of Mirelurks and Ghouls, while others are completely new, including Anglers and Gulpers. There’s also some larger enemies that will mess your day up if you’re not careful. There’s a hermit crab that uses the back of a bus as its shell. It’s as terrifying as it sounds and it made for a pretty lengthy encounter. That’s just a sampling of some of the enemies that you will encounter during your travels. Want to know a pro-tip? Maybe pack some Radaway before you leave for the island, because you will surely need it.
Far Harbor left me conflicted in the end, but I still can’t deny that I had a lot of fun with Bethesda’s first major expansion pack for Fallout 4. The story is engaging and the characters that you will meet along the way are just as great. You will even get a new companion, who’s old but still a bad-ass. There’s plenty of places to explore and things to do, with around ten to twelve hours of content to tackle. It’s without a question that this is the best piece of DLC that the game has to offer right now and it makes me excited for what’s to come in the next three add-ons. Just promise me Bethesda that you leave the workshop expansions at home…please. We need three more add-ons like Far Harbor.