What do you do when you have far too much to do already. Easy: give yourself more to do! I still have a bevy of quests, side quests and freeform objectives that I’ve racked up since Fallout 4 released in October last year. Preston Garvey has given up nagging me to free any more of his beloved settlements; now he’s a hopeless wreck slowly rocking to and fro, hugging his knees. So, now is the perfect time for, what Bethesda claims is, Fallout‘s largest DLC yet: Far Harbor.
Contrary to the smaller, more incremental DLC updates Automatron and Wasteland Workshop, Far Harbor is a fully fledged batch of new Fallout-y goodness set in a desolate, nautical Maine with more than a whiff of Fallout 3 DLC Point Lookout to it. Initially, it is your goal to rescue and bring back a man’s missing daughter, but once this is revealed to act as little more than a MacGuffin, you’ll find yourself becoming further embroiled in the more significant structural crises the island faces.
Caught between the denizens of coastal Far Harbor, the synth refuge of Acadia, and the unsettlingly devout Children of Atom, you’ve got some big choices to make that will prove vital to determining the outcome of the island. The main quest is pleasingly complex and tinted in many shades of grey, continuing the existential intrigue presented by the synths from the main game. Letting the main quest down slightly is a distinctly out of place Minecraft-style puzzle section, that could’ve been either spread out more, or simply cut altogether.
However, there’s a decent variety of other optional missions if you’re willing to veer from your post-apocalyptic path. The undoubted highlight is a particularly amusing fetch quest; the central cast clearly had a whale of time hamming up their dialogue. Such irreverent moments are few and far between, in what on balance is a fairly relatively dour, bleak bit of DLC.
Contributing to a sense of all-pervading creepiness and melancholy is the gradual flow of irradiated mist. It both obscures your location and those of some particularly hideous foes, creating a palpable sensation of fear and loneliness. The sheer size of the island’s landmass does deliver on developer Bethesda’s promises; the trade-off being that, unlike the densely packed and complexly designed Boston main game, Far Harbor is much more sparse.
In fact, a much more terrifying assailant lurks within the blankness: performance woes. Frame rate issues on PS4 especially have been widely reported, and it can severely hamper your exploration. Notably, engaging in combat and wandering around Far Harbor‘s more populated areas yield far fewer frame rate drops, but once you take a nose around the space between locations flooded by mist, the slowdown is remarkable. Thankfully, it has been claimed by GamesRadar that Bethesda are “actively working” on the stagnant frame rate.
For those willing to brave the performance issues, there’s still more than enough to see and loot. New enemy types are horrifically inventive; mischievously hiding underwater, Gulpers use their swampy environment to take their victims by surprise. Anglers prefer to keep their distance as they spit poison at you. Charming. Less interesting on the other hand are Trappers, who are essentially humans driven to near madness by the mist.
Given the volume of activities to distract and delight you in Fallout 4‘s main campaign, Far Harbor needs to be something essential, which it doesn’t really succeed in being. Far Harbor might be large, but the main game already is. There’s enough here for avid fans of the series to gobble up more of the light role playing they love, but if you’ve still got lots left to do in Boston, with settlements still to be liberated, then I recommend you wait until framey Far Harbor is truly ready for your next excursion.