Fallout 4: Far Harbor review
Fallout 4’s largest DLC expansion, Far Harbor, travels far northeast to the largest landmass ever created by Bethesda as an add-on.
A missing persons case from Valentine’s Detective Agency is the initial reason that players first travel to Far Harbor in Fallout 4. Kasumi Nakano is a young girl who has been questioning her identity as a human being and left the Commonwealth in search of a hidden synth colony. The story is not as simple as it seems, as players will come across a variety of conflicts in Far Harbor, including a struggle between the Children of Atom, the hidden synth colony Acadia, and the citizens of Far Harbor. Each quest line features difficult decisions full of moral ambiguity, which adds a lot of depth to the overall story.
The island itself is completely covered in radioactive fog, which makes exposure to radiation a constant threat. You’ll end up using Radaways constantly, which can grow to be a nuisance. I found it obnoxious and repetitive to constantly be monitoring my radiation levels and supply of rad-resistant meds. A lot of time will also be spent in the water, which makes exposure to radiation even more frequent.
Far Harbor’s atmosphere is dark and gloomy, full of swamps and woodlands. Since sunlight seems to rarely make an appearance, it isn’t a pleasant place to be. Unfortunately, it also isn’t particularly fun to explore the huge landmass. It lacks many of the great set pieces, landscapes, and historical sites seen in the Commonwealth. With that being said, it’s an inferior area that really doesn’t have many defining characteristics.
New monsters are all over the island including massive fog crawlers, anglers, gulpers, and giant hermit crabs housed in passenger buses. These new creature enemies are very powerful and provide a significant challenge, even for players who are level 50 or higher. There are also a number of new weapons and armor to find, as well as a new companion named Longfellow, who has a side quest of his own.
Tons of new items are scattered throughout the island, obtainable by killing legendary enemies, exploring dungeons, and completing quests. Melee weapon users will be happy to have a great new selection of meat hooks, miniature chainsaws, and deadly pole hooks. Also notable is the harpoon gun, which is slow but packs a powerful punch, especially against bigger enemies.
Far Harbor offers a number of diverging quest lines which include more insight into the ethics of creating human-like synths and the practices of the Children of Atom. You can choose to help DiMA, the synth colony’s leader, who raises some very interesting moral questions about creating synths who live their lives under the impression that they are human beings. DiMA is a great character, with a lot of depth and fantastic artistic design. Searching for the young Kasumi is only the tip of the iceberg for Far Harbor’s morally ambiguous story.
Players have an opportunity to join the Children of Atom, which allows entrance into their headquarters. Here you will find members of the radiation-worshiping cult, all of whom offer interesting conversations. It is possible to ascend the ranks here and make a difference within the organization, for better or worse. As with any Fallout faction, living among the Children of Atom presents a number of morally ambiguous choices and players will ultimately need to choose an outcome for the island.
Citizens of Far Harbor worry that the Children of Atom are using radioactive fog to slowly poison and take over the island. DiMA, however, holds secrets about all involved parties which eventually presents some difficult decisions as the story unfolds. In terms of quality, Far Harbor’s quest lines are some of Fallout 4’s strongest. Though you will need to ultimately choose a faction to side with once again, each decision holds far more weight than anything seen in the Commonwealth’s main quest line.
In addition to a lengthy main quest, Far Harbor also features a large number of side quests. Virtually every step of the main quest has branching side quests to complete. A significant amount of XP can be gained from completing these, making this expansion especially valuable for those looking to increase their levels and fill out their perk charts. New unique items will be found during these quests, many of which are quite useful.
While it is great to be able to consistently climb levels, many of these side quests are also based on interesting stories. Some are related to events and characters within the main story, so they feel just as important. These quests serve to offer more detail on new characters as well as the inner workings of groups like the Children of Atom, Acadia, and Far Harbor itself. Exploring the island’s coast will yield a new set of Marine Armor, which is the best non-power armor in the game.
One of the more notable side quests puts you in the middle of a robot murder investigation at an upscale hotel. A series of questions must be answered by each robot inhabitant in order to divulge the guilty murderer. This charming little quest works perfectly with the alternate-history aesthetic of Fallout 4 and proves to be tons of fun. These kind of diverging storylines are what gives this universe depth and make it feel like a living world.
Progressing through the main quest line does include one unexpected and very frustrating roadblock. Players must enter into a memory terminal, which appears as a virtual reality-esque code block puzzle. By using settlement building mechanics, each code block must be moved in a certain way to allow a beam of light to hit targets and retrieve data. On paper, it seems similar to a blend of Minecraft and Portal, but Fallout 4’s building mechanics translate so poorly in this segment that it only ends in frustration. Blocks are difficult to place in tight spaces and the five stages are slow-moving, overly long and very tedious. In short, they just aren’t fun and severely impact the pacing of Far Harbor overall. It feels completely unrelated to anything else in Fallout 4, which raises the question of why Bethesda even decided to include this.
Overall, Far Harbor is a significant DLC expansion, offering over 10 hours of new content and a huge landmass to explore. Its atmosphere seems too gloomy for its own good and often becomes boring and monotonous, though there are a huge number of quests to complete and items to find. It excels in telling a morally ambiguous story, full of difficult choices and fascinating characters. For anybody looking for more details on the lore of Fallout or more quests to complete, Far Harbor is an essential piece of DLC.
• Tons of quests to complete
• Fascinating story
• New armor and weapons
• Boring atmosphere
• Poorly designed memory puzzles