When I finally finished Fallout 4 after taking a long hiatus from the game initially, I was left with a distinct “meh” feeling. This was primarily directed at the game’s main story. The game itself played well, Bethesda “quirks” and all, and I had fun with settlements and some provocative side quests, but its story fell short. Once the game’s credits rolled, I felt very little desire to continue my adventures, let alone explore any of the game’s additional content. I shelved Fallout 4 and moved on.
Fast forward several years to me squeezing as much enjoyment as I possible could from a little and problematic game called Fallout 76, and its promise of being able to someday enjoy adventures outside of Appalachia in so-called “expeditions,” the first one being The Pitt, which I didn’t know at the time was a Fallout 3 expansion. Long story short, this tidbit made me want to not only explore that particular DLC but also other added content that I had overlooked in the third game, New Vegas, and yep…even Fallout 4. I worked my way through The Pitt (it was pretty darn great), and all of New Vegas’s extra content (so, so good!), and then it was time to tackle that in which I was definitely the least interested, three Fallout 4 expansions: Automatron, Far Harbor, and Nuka-World. Turned out that two of those three are the best game expansion I’ve ever played.
After getting a new Fallout 4 lone wanderer, Faye, up to the required level (15), I set out to complete the game first expansion, Automatron. This storyline setup a showdown between Faye and a menacing villain called The Mechanist who had let loose a multitude of robots in order to take over the Commonwealth. A new, deadly robot called robobrain joined the throngs of familiar protectrons, assaultrons, and evil Mr. Handys, and it was up to Faye to take them all out before meeting one-on-one with The Mechanist.
I’m not the world’s greatest Fallout player, but I found Automatron to be the most challenging of the three DLCs. Maybe it was because Faye was still at a relatively low level, and I hadn’t built up her perks yet (something of a dual rifles/pistols build), but I didn’t enjoy most of the battles, especially the final one against The Mechanist, which brought about several difficult waves of robots. Because I felt underprepared for the whole thing, I didn’t follow the DLC’s story as closely as I should have, so when The Mechanists’ motives and identity were revealed, I was underwhelmed. I attained the ability to craft and modify my own robots, which was nifty, and I got a cool robot companion out of the deal. She helped me in several main story quests until I had boosted my level enough so that I could take on the next expansion, Far Harbor.
A significant part of Fallout 4’s main story revolves around a new group of beings called synths. Some of these android-like, sentient creations were made to be so human that they could easily be mistaken for one. So what might happen if a person came to believe that they were actually a synth instead of a flesh-and-blood human being? With rumors afoot that some people of the Commonwealth were actually synths or had been replaced by them, this question was at the heart of Far Harbor. At the behest of definite synth and companion Nick Valentine, Faye was sent to the island of Far Harbor to investigate a disappearance and a purported colony of synths living in secret.
Far Harbor was utterly amazing. Somewhat irrationally, it also made me a little angry at myself that I hadn’t played it sooner, because it would have better informed some parts of Fallout 76, but I digress. Notably, going into Far Harbor, I had set up Faye to be pro-Brotherhood of Steel and anti-synth (I took the complete opposite stance when I first played the game, so to be on the other side was unsettling but still intriguing), and I continued this role play as the events of the expansion unfolded. I had an absolute blast exploring the island itself, which felt huge despite its size. With a creepy, foggy atmosphere and new enemies to battle, I spent hours fully engrossed in its content. So much so that when it came time to make good on my BoS ways, I went all in with…well, “purging” the island, as it were. Along the way, I also went berserk and joined the Children of Atom (the BoS didn’t seem to mind), a group I had ignored before and found very compelling here. Yes, my terrible choices had terrible ramifications, but it was hard to argue with just how well Bethesda had presented the island’s story. I definitely want to go back to it someday to see how supporting the synths plays out.
Once Faye was back in the Commonwealth and had reached level 30, it was time to head to a local theme park that had been taken over by raiders called Nuka-World. That much I knew going into the expansion. What I didn’t expect was that Faye would have to become (or “become”) a raider in the process. And further, that she would have to figure out what to do with the three different raider factions, along with, possibly, their enslaved settlers, all of whom were vying for control of the park itself. Would Faye become the biggest and baddest raider of all time, set to take over the Commonwealth, itself? Or would she infiltrate the ranks and wreak internal havoc all in the name of the BoS? I had an excellent time in Nuke-World – maybe even better than in Far Harbor, though with less emotional attachments — and things did not turn out as I expected.
I went into Nuka-World with a BoS mindset, thinking that I would overturn things in favor of the Commonwealth. However, having never set foot in Nuke-World before, I was quickly overwhelmed by its size – like Far Harbor, it was a much larger map than it seemed – complete with a hub and five different parks to explore, each having their own side stories. Even though I was almost immediately given the option to end raider control of the park, I couldn’t do it. At least, not until I had explored the map fully. Once I started doing that, which came with the added bonus of a new companion, meeting a couple new “friends,” and meeting again a familiar Nuka-Cola fan from Fallout 3 (nice touch!), I began to embrace the idea of having Faye become, well…the biggest and baddest raider of all time! In an astounding turn, this choice not only affected Nuka-World but also (some of) the settlements Faye had established in the Commonwealth. I ended my grand time in the theme park once I had restored its power, so I didn’t go deeply back into the wastelands to uncover the greater effects of my choice to go full raider. Someday, I might, because Nuka-World was an awesome ride!
One of the common solutions I’ve seen concerning single-player-fueled disappointment associated with Fallout 76 is that players should just go back to Fallout 4. Having a low opinion of the latter, I thought that route foolish. Now, I see the error of my ways. I won’t budge on the fact that Fallout 4 has a bland main story, but its world is so much more vibrant than I remember, and it’s only made all the better and more compelling with the addition of Far Harbor and Nuka-World, and Automatron (I guess). As my time with Fallout 76 has waned and my sub there is in its twilight, I’m happy knowing that I have an incredible world now to revisit in Fallout 4 for whenever I feel I need a fantastic Fallout fix.
All images, including lede, were captured by author during PS5 gamplay of Fallout 4 (© Bethesda Game Studios).