Anyone who has spent time playing Fallout 3‘s Point Lookout DLC (or indeed any of Skyrim‘s additional content) will know that Bethesda took the backlash to that whole “horse armor” incident pretty seriously and have been trying to atone for it ever since. In other words, they don’t really do “small” DLC; even Fallout 4′s last piece, Wasteland Workshop, added a decent amount of content for a few quid despite not bringing with it any new quests or new game areas.The increase in the price of the Season Pass, even in light of the announcement of more DLC, upset many fans for a good reason, and to me the increase in price was fine, but in Far Harbor, Bethesda is at least showing that they are prepared to do their best to justify it.
Similar to Point Lookout, the action in the latest DLC, takes you away from the Commonwealth to a new area called the Island with its own factions, enemies, quests, and secrets. Far Harbor is an island community some way away from the Commonwealth, The residents of the former tourist hotspot are neck deep in runaway Synths, Children of Atom lunatics, and giant mutated swamp-life.
Although there’s no strict level requirement, you must complete the “Getting a Clue” mission in the main quest line before you can start the add-on. Getting a Clue is one of the initial quests in the main quest line so most of you have probably completed it in your game. Once you’ve got that done you’ll want to listen to Valentine’s Detective Agency Radio and the quest “Far From Home” will begin. Once you’ve started the quest “Far From Home” you’ll be told about a young girl named Kasumi who has apparently done a runner in the night with her grandfather’s boat. She thinks she’s a Synth, and she’s followed a radio message to Far Harbor to find out the truth. You don’t have to take Valentine with you, but given his history with the girl’s father and the fact that he’s a certified Synth, it’s worth keeping him along for the extra backstory.
Even if you’ve picked clean everything you can from Fallout 4, this new DLC brings entirely new content. The insane Children of Atom and the unnervingly honest Synths are new factions, while the townsfolk come with a whole new set of problems, not to mention the silent hill style menacing fog that irradiates everything it touches and brings with it new enemies in the form of gulpers, who are mutated lizards, or anglers, who are a mix of the fish and a mutated lizard, the angles come at you out of the darkness of the swamps with a bright light bobbing in front of their heads. Mix them with glowing Mirelurks, new bandits called Trappers, and a handful of other indigenous threats that are a handful to deal with at times.
The problem is, none of the new enemies really require you to rethink your play style. You’ll still be pointing and shooting anything that whilst waiting for your AP meter to fill for that critical VATS hit. The new weapons and armors that are added are pretty cool, from the devastating harpoon gun, the lever action rifle and a multitude of fishing style mele weapons, there are many new pieces of armor and clothes, in fact too many to name here. But if you’re curious you can find them here. The island’s characters bring far more interest to the table, the charismatic but almost unreadable leader of the Synths, DiMA, whose grandfatherly tones are at constant war with his menacing bio-mechanical appearance.
You can jump right into DiMA’s main quest line, involving the retrieval of his lost memories from his former home – now occupied by the fanatical Children of Atom – or branch out into side quests and exploration, which is the recommended option, however, the new quests might not shake things up too much (most are either retrieval missions or kill quests), but they do take you all over the island, and it’s a sight to be hold.
The characters you’ll meet on the island are just as difficult to get a bead on, and it’s usually the characters with the most apparent views who end up surprising you the most. Even through its flaws, Bethesda’s latest expansion still has the ability to take your curious mind on an incredible adventure and make every decision you ponder feel like the right thing to say until a few seconds after you’ve said it. And it still puts the greater experience above more “gamey” concerns like challenge and structure. The Island of Far Harbor invites you, the lone wander, to get lost in unraveling the mystery of the once quite seaside town, travel its fog covered haunted byways and lose yourself in its politics, but even though the outfit its wearing is new, the personality underneath is mostly unchanged. Though, let’s be honest: that’s why you got on the boat in the first place, isn’t it?
Covering the entire Island of Far Harbor is an eerie blue-greyish fog that envelopes large areas of the map, and catching a splintered sunset through one of those smoggy clouds is surprisingly beautiful. Tall trees draped in moss and lichen loom over the craggy landscape and deep swampland that hides submerged horrors. The overgrown remnants of civilization make the island It feels more ominous and eerie than anywhere in the Commonwealth, almost like something out of a 50’s low budget movie, where behind every shaded tree or submerged log is a wolfman waiting to pounce on you. Far Harbor gives you a new companion to charm who’s a bitter old alcoholic named Longfellow. If you decided to take him on an adventure with you throughout the island, you’ll be constantly reminded that nobody exactly knows of the horrors hiding out in the dense fog.
One complaint I have about the absolutely staggering size of this DLC is the amount of empty space on the map, as you can spend a lot of time running around with nothing to do – even more so than the campaign, in fact, and this makes it feel like more of a chore because the island has so much potential.
At this point there’s nothing to be gained from reporting on the same bugs and glitches other than to say it’s a shame Bethesda haven’t yet, and probably never will have, fixed them. The physics occasionally go bonkers, enemy AI is mostly of the relentless zerging variety and technical issues loom out of the fog with roughly half the frequency of actual monsters. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but they do persist and they’re still just as irritating as they always were.
At the end of the day, my earlier prognosis stands true: this is more Fallout 4.
|+ Cool new weapons and armor||– Vast empty locations|
|+ New enemies, NPCs, settlements, and questlines||– Various bugs|
|+ more Nick Valentine|