Fallout 4's selection of post-release content has been divisive. Many will tell you that far too much emphasis has been placed upon the title's settlement crafting system, while others will swear that Far Harbor is better than the main game. From where we're sitting, it feels like Bethesda's latest hasn't quite lived up to its potential. Where Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas did a great job of expanding their respective experiences with chunky doses of downloadable content, Fallout 4's offerings have felt a little flat when taken as a whole.
A lot rests on Fallout 4: Nuka World's shoulders, then. The title's final expansion, it's up to Nuka World to ensure that when we stop to look back on Fallout 4, we'll at least remember that our journey through the Commonwealth ended on a high note.
Unfortunately, this last slice of DLC simply isn't the big finish that many may have hoped for; it never feels like the grand finale that Fallout 4 deserves. If anything, it just feels like another crazy wasteland story - not the definitive end to your vault dweller's tale.
However, Nuka World still stands reasonably strong as an expansion in its own right. The DLC's premise is enticing: Nuka World is a pre-war amusement park now rundown and crawling with Raiders, and you're dragged in to keep the peace between rival gangs, acting as the nicely named Overboss.
Getting the expansion's three Raider clans to play nice essentially boils down to capturing different districts of Nuka World and then handing out each new territory to a gang of your choosing. Naturally, your standing with the three gangs depends on how much land you give them, although aside from some threatening dialogue and the outcome of a later quest, you'll struggle to really notice how your decisions impact the opinions of your psychotic allies.
Indeed, role-playing doesn't, er, play a huge role in Nuka World. Dialogue choices are present in most important conversations, as you'd expect, but opportunities to breathe some further life into your vault dweller are few and far between. A bit of a disappointment given the amount of player choice found in Far Harbor, but this final DLC prefers to emphasise other areas of the release.
Basically, Nuka World wants to you to shoot things - a lot of things. The locations that you have to liberate in order to hand them over to your gangs are typically crawling with enemies, from feral ghouls (ugh, again? Really?) to a whole new breed of Deathclaw. It goes without saying that this expansion is very combat-centric, but at least there are several new types of foe to tear through.
There's also a heavy focus on exploration, which is quite possibly the add-on's greatest strength. Nuka World offers a large new map to traverse, with wide open, almost desert-like expanses making up most of the land that exists outside of the park's various attractions. In some ways, the setting reminds us New Vegas' Mojave Wasteland, especially when you're out in the open and the sun is beating down from a blue sky.
The aforementioned attractions provide a refreshing amount of variety, and make exploration that much more intriguing. As you venture from one area of the park to the next, capturing them as you go, you'll begin to notice that Bethesda has clearly had a lot of fun designing these locations and bringing them to life. Kiddie Kingdom, for example, is full of your typical fairground rides, with spinning teacups adding some stupidity to gunfights with ghouls. If you've grown tired of traipsing around the dusty old Commonwealth, scavenging your way through the same ruined buildings, Nuka World will feel like a breath of fresh air.
Your dealings within Nuka World can have an impact outside of it as well, if you wish. While the expansion may not seem like a true finale, it can alter Fallout 4's endgame to a significant degree. At a point during the main quest line, you'll be tasked with expanding your newfound Raider empire into the Commonwealth proper. This involves picking an existing settlement and overthrowing it, either by wiping out the poor hicks that live there, or persuading them to part with their home.
It goes without saying that this new Raider settlement system may seem a little weird if you're already hailed as a hero for establishing thriving communities under the Minutemen banner, but for those who enjoy being the bad guy, it's a very welcome addition.
Speaking of karmic alignment, it's worth mentioning that Nuka World is, unsurprisingly, geared towards ne'er-do-wells, but it is possible to get a 'good' ending by completing a particular quest which sees you take down the leaders of each Raider gang. A thoughtful option to have, but by seeing this objective through, you'll be missing out on a sizeable amount of content.
It may not be the grand finale that fans of Fallout 4 have been waiting for, but Nuka World is an enjoyable slice of content all the same. With a focus on exploration, the real star of the show here is the theme park itself, which is dripping with detail and dark humour.