Fallout 4’s Far Harbor DLC offers a new zone with over 15 hours of engaging content that improves on the core game’s storytelling, but introduces a new puzzle mechanic that may scare away the purists.
Fallout 4 has already received a few DLC updates, but Far Harbor is the content that Bethesda fans have been waiting for. The Automatron content added a short quest line and some new companion building options and the second DLC patch added lots of new toys to the workbench. But Far Harbor is the first true Fallout 4 expansion in that it adds a new zone and over 15 hours of quests and story.
Although Far Harbor is full of everything that makes Fallout great, the DLC is likely to be divisive due to reported performances issues on the PS4 and the introduction of a new puzzle-solving mechanic that will either be loved or hated by players. Spoiler alert: this reviewer loved it.
Much like the core game, Far Harbor kicks off with a missing persons case. The Nick Valentine Detective Agency sends the player character far to the north, where they cross a body of water and find themselves on a fog-filled island. The radiation-soaked mist and fog play a key role in the content, in that they cause tension, add a scary tone, and help to create radiation poisoned monster that need to be destroyed. The hazardous weather is also apparently the cause of some major framerate issues on the PS4. Game Rant reviewed Far Harbor on the Xbox One, so we didn’t experience these issues first-hand and won’t hold them against the game’s score.
Bethesda listened to player complaints loud and clear after the core game’s release and filled Far Harbor with plenty of dialogue (more like what franchise veterans are used to) and meaningful moral decisions. The island is overflowing with well-developed characters and every person and structure has a story to tell. Players who were disappointed by Fallout 4’s minimalistic dialogue during the core game will be happy to find plenty of chatty residents on the island. Although the island is full of interesting characters, the DLC’s new companion is an old fisherman that doesn’t stand out all that well. The character gets the job done and provides some insight and history about the new location, but probably isn’t the companion that players will keep close after clearing Far Harbor.
The main quests lead the player through a story that deals with a conflict between the Far Harbor townspeople, the Children of Atom cultists, and the synth refugees. In true Fallout fashion, players will be forced to make some tough decisions when faced with moral gray areas while helping the residents of the island. We won’t go into spoilers, but the story is plenty rewarding and actually left us wanting to go back and play it again to make some different decisions and see how the outcome would change. Making it through the main story once took us about 15 hours, but we can definitely see how the reports of 20 hours of gameplay are accurate for players who are taking their time and doing a bit more exploring.
For the most part, the actual gameplay of Far Harbor is familiar territory. Quests require the player to go to certain areas on the map and find an item, kill some bad guys, or meet a new character. This all involves the usual running around and gunning down bad guys and avoiding radiation poisoning. Thanks to the fog, it’s harder to see enemies coming, which adds a great suspenseful twist to many of the outdoor encounters. And about halfway through the storyline and the usual quests, things take a turn for the strange.
A series of puzzles need to be solved in Far Harbor that are part Minecraft and part Portal. If that sounds like something you wouldn’t expect to hear about Fallout, you aren’t the only one. The puzzles involve redirecting lasers to hit targets with the help of items built in the settlement tool. The puzzles offered a decent challenge and didn’t get painfully difficult until the final few, which were optional. This departure from the usual quest grind was a welcome change of pace and took us outside of our usual Fallout comfort zone. That departure from the usual Fallout routine may be a turn off for some gamers, but we recommend going in with an open mind and embracing the new challenges.
Fans of gear will find plenty of treasures in Far Harbor. The nautical, islander theme carries over to weapons and armor and players have the chance to fight with everything from oversized fish hooks to a harpoon gun. Of course with new gear comes plenty of new bad guns to stab, shoot, and bludgeon. The theme continues in the monster design and players will spend a lot of time fighting mutated fish and other gross sea monsters.
Far Harbor is jam-packed with content and players who don’t end up being tormented by frame rate issues are likely to love what Bethesda has put together. The area has enough content to keep players busy for between 15 and 20 hours and that’s just to get one of the main story’s endings.
Fallout 4 Far Harbor is now available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One Season Pass for this review.