Review: Fallout 4: Far Harbor (DLC)

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Title: Fallout 4: Far Harbor
Format: PlayStation Network Download (4.9 GB)
Release Date: May 19, 2016
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Original MSRP: $24.99
ESRB Rating: M
Fallout 4: Far Harbor is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Review of the Original Game:
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Gameplay:
After two appetizers fans of Fallout 4 can now enjoy the main course of the Season Pass. Fallout 4: Far Harbor is the biggest expansion Bethesda has ever added to one of their games with over ten hours of content and the largest DLC land mass. It’s priced at $24.99 standalone or included in the Season Pass which initially cost $30, but was later increased to $50 as Bethesda expanded their downloadable content plans.

The story begins with Nick Valentine’s Detective Agency receiving a new case from the Nakano family who are in search of their daughter Kasumi. It is unclear whether she has been kidnapped or she ran away, but clues lead you to the island of Far Harbor, a place with three warring factions.

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The factions include are the human citizens of the island, the synths of Arcadia, and the Children of the Atom cult. The story unfolds like any questline in the series usually does. You meet a faction and do some tasks for them, like exploring a landmark or retrieving information or supplies. As you build their trust, more of the story and their intentions are revealed.

After helping the citizens of Far Harbor the game leads you to Arcadia, a home for refuge synths and this is where you find Kusumi. In a surprising twist Kusami believes she is a synth which is what brought her to Arcadia and their leader DiMA, founder of Arcadia.

… a mind boggling set of puzzles …
At this point in the quest the story really picks up and takes some interesting turns. This however is where my summary will end to save players from having the content spoiled.

As a whole Far Harbor does little different from what one would expect from the franchise. Quests and story follow the same patterns fans have known and loved for years. The one time the game decides to switch things up it grinds to a halt for a mission that introduces a puzzle element.

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Without going into spoilers, the game takes a detour for a main story mission forcing players to go through a mind boggling set of puzzles. At one point Fallout turns into a weird Minecraft/Portal hybrid where the goal is to rearrange lasers using chunky blocks.

This is sort of cool at first because it’s rather different. But then players have to do five levels, each increasing in difficulty using the already finicky settlement building mechanics. This section took me a long time to get through, especially the final puzzle which was overly complicated.

The puzzle section kills the momentum of the story and when I finally got through it I ended up having to put the controller down to return another time. Once I gave the game a break I was happy to never do another puzzle again and wrapped up the story, which turns out to be rather intriguing with many layers to unravel.

… well over ten hours of content …
The franchise has always had a great ability to leave gamers conflicted with the many shades of grey each quest contains. Players will need to navigate the politics and side effects of every decision they make and not every choice has a happy ending.

This DLC contains quite a lot of content with new quests, weapons, dungeons, monsters and land to explore. Whether it is worth the $25 price is up for debate. I completed the story in around six to ten hours and still left a sizeable amount of side quests and land unexplored so I can see there being well over ten hours of content here.

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Visuals:
The DLC is still Fallout 4 and the visuals do not change much in terms of design. This also means the technical troubles are still here like the framerate, which actually suffers worse in the DLC than it does in the main game.

The reason behind this appears to be from the fog that covers the island which is a major part of the story. The fog helps differentiate it from the Commonwealth and adds another element of danger as it is radioactive. I did not come across too many issues outside of it, but when it was coming in thick the framerate suffered significantly.

… adding depth to the world …
Audio:
The voice acting is solid as expected with each faction having fascinating characters that all have solid to great voice performances. Music does not stick out too much, but after putting many hours into Fallout 4 it could be the case of just going into automatic mode when playing the game and exploring the world preventing me from noticing the background music much.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
Once I wrapped up the main quest for Far Harbor I felt satisfied with what I had played. I have always enjoyed what Bethesda does with their stories, especially with side quests that are used as a vehicle for adding depth to the world. This felt like a much larger side quest.

Outside of the story, the DLC adds a significant amount of new land to explore with new monsters and buildings filled with loot that should add a good chunk of game time for players. I could easily see players spending ten to twenty hours just to complete and find everything available on the island.

There are some questionable elements here that do leave some negative feelings. The first being the fog that dramatically hurt the framerate, more so than any of the issues I experienced in the main game. The second would be the baffling puzzle section that lasts much longer than it should have.

The only question that I was left with when I completed the story was, is this single piece of DLC worth the $25 price tag? This is really tricky to answer. If you were a Season Pass owner before the price increase this is an absolute steal, but if you are jumping in at the $50 price point it’s harder to say without knowing the rest of the DLC plans for the game.

Either way if you have the Season Pass you are committed and this is a fine addition to the main game. If for whatever reason you want to just pick up Far Harbor standalone the $25 dollar price point might be asking too much.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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