Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Fallout 4’s Nuka-World DLC, developed and published by Bethesda.
It didn’t take long for me to smell the procedural generation in Fallout 4’s Nuka-World DLC. Or should I say the stench of it?
After traveling to the abandoned theme park based on every wastelander’s favorite soft drink, I was submitted to the Gauntlet. The Gauntlet represented a series of challenges (mostly killing things) that ended with me fighting Nuka-World’s boss to the death. As wasteland politics go, beating him meant I was the new ruler of Nuka-World. Although I’m sure Fallout 4 meant for the Gauntlet to be tough, my level 79 character sailed through it.
Afterwards, I made the rounds and met Nuka-World’s three faction bosses before things started going downhill. Initially, the faction setup reminded me of Fallout: New Vegas’ strip factions. Each have their own agenda, whether it’s causing violence, raking in money, or some other pursuit.
To prove my loyalty to the factions and their causes, I could take jobs for them. This is where the procedural generation kicked in. I knew something was fishy when the first two jobs (for opposing factions) asked me to go to the same place to deal with a scavenger. At first I thought the game was setting up an interesting choice system — I could put a slave collar on the target to please one faction or murder the target to please the other. That way my popularity with the factions would shift.
But no… that wasn’t it.
Fallout 4’s procedural generation just happened to randomly pin two separate missions in the same place. To make matters worse, both targets wouldn’t appear at the same time, so I had to fast-travel out of Nuka-World back to the Commonwealth Wasteland, deal with one target, fast-travel back to the faction boss to check in, then fast-travel back to the same spot to deal with the second target, and finally fast-travel to the second faction boss to check in.
Because of Fallout 4’s procedurally-generated endgame missions, it’s technically a game I can play forever, but that comes at the price of depth and variety. Although the life of play extends beyond that of its campaign and DLC episodes, that means carrying out the same handful of simple mission types for the same few characters over and over again. If players are looking for an excuse to run across the Commonwealth Wasteland and shoot stuff, this might be perfectly acceptable. However, I grow weary of being asked to travel to a location and rescue an undercover android for the 50th time in a row.
I’d only been playing for a few hours before it started getting stale, but I played little longer and took a mission from the third faction. This one had me murder a group of people for some reason or another. I fast-traveled back to the Wasteland, found the gang, and murdered everyone except the last member who had somehow sunk through the world and into the Earth’s core. He glitched underground and wouldn’t come back out, so I couldn’t shoot him and had to leave the mission unfinished.
The faction quests weren’t main fare anyway, so I decided to follow up on the critical path instead. I came across the remains of a battle between humans and robots. As I approached, robots starting coming out of the woodwork to murder me. Because Fallout 4 rarely offers more than “flood the area with enemies” as a challenge, I rolled my eyes, destroyed them all, and was then tasked with an easter egg hunt of 35 items to find around the park
Ugh. More busywork.
I pressed on to hunt for some of the items and inadvertently got pulled into some kind of robot sideshow demonstration. A voice came over a loudspeaker and warned the nonexistent audience about the Eyebot-killing mayhem they were about to witness.
As the doors sealed shut, I played along and blew up the dozen or so Eyebots that were unleashed. After that, nothing happened. The doors remained sealed. I couldn’t find any exits. I couldn’t shoot out the glass the audience was supposed to watch me through either.
I reckoned some kind of bug locked me in, so I begrudgingly loaded my save from a few minutes prior and entered the building again. This time I noticed a Protectron robot in the arena, too. Maybe I was supposed to hide and let the Protectron kill the Eyebots?
I tried that. Halfway through my plan the Eyebots started attacking me, so I returned the favor. When they were all down, the Protectron started shooting me. I whittled the robot down to aluminum foil and was met with the same situation as last time. The doors were still sealed shut. I couldn’t find an exit. The announcer never said anything again after I claimed my victory over the robots.
Strike one was pushing procedurally-generated missions on me so soon in this DLC.
Strike two was turning one main quest into nothing more than a collect-a-thon in the park.
Strike three was sealing me in a room (twice) with no way of getting out after completing what I thought was the current objective. I can only assume this is some kind of bug?
Three strikes and you’re out, Nuka-World DLC. I’m done.