When Bethesda unveiled the first few expansions within the Fallout 4 DLC Season Pass, you probably wondered what the point of buying it was. So far, Automatron managed to provide a little more than was expected of it, while Wasteland Workshop was so narrowly focused on providing for those obsessed with building. Far Harbor signals the first story-based DLC, as the Sole Survivor ventures into the state of Maine.
As with a lot of Fallout DLC, Far Harbor begins with a new radio broadcast available on your Pipboy, asking you to come to Nick Valentine’s Detective Agency. As it turns out, there is a missing person case for you to solve on the outer fringes of the Commonwealth. Upon meeting the client, it turns out that their daughter took a ship to Far Harbor after getting into contact with one of the locals. A word of advice, make sure to bring Nick along for the ride, as his insight is invaluable.
Arriving in Far Harbor, it quickly becomes apparent that the townsfolk are embroiled in some kind of conflict with everyone’s favourite cultists – the Children of Atom. Secreted away in another part of the island is a place called Acadia, where you will meet a colony of Synths who are trying to make a decent living, but even they have a few skeletons in the cupboard that their leader DiMA would rather keep hidden.
What ensues is a genuine mystery of sorts, one that will see you encountering some of the genuinely creepy things that lurk beneath the swamp and in the fog itself. Among the typical foes from the main game are a bunch of Raider-like Trappers, as well as more Mirelurks than you’ll ever be comfortable with and two new types of aquatic lurker.
You’re introduced to the first of these shortly after arriving on the island, defending the town of Far Harbor against Gulpers – essentially giant cave salamanders that are also found rather inconveniently hanging from trees. You also find packs of wolves, giant praying mantis called Fog Crawlers, as well as jump-scare inducing Anglers and the most hilarious enemy I’ve ever seen: The Hermit Crab. Trust me, it’s worth bumping into.
Even though Far Harbor is significantly smaller than the Commonwealth, it’s still the biggest landscape found in a Fallout or Bethesda DLC. I’ve always got a soft spot for expansions that are the likes of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s Shattered Isles DLC where there is a whole new world to explore and an intriguing self-contained narrative. Far Harbor does largely the same thing, but Commonwealth influences do raise their heads from time to time.
For those who quite liked the nature of Fallout 4’s choices, Far Harbor does this to a slightly lesser degree. This is something I learned the hard way as, due to forgetting the difference between how Quicksave and Save works, I ended up being the bearer of bad news to the parents of the missing girl. The fact the DLC is structured in such a way that allows this to happen brings back some much missed agency to your decisions.
Then there’s the elephant in the room. Far Harbor has one sequence that is frankly infuriating. Without giving too much away, the DLC features puzzles where you have to arrange blocks to bring down walls, so that little bugs can go back and forth between two points, while also setting up turrets to defend against drones targeting the bugs. Needless to say, I want the hour of my life back that I lost on the frankly awful fifth puzzle.
It’s an odd blemish on this otherwise spectacular piece of DLC that marks a definitive high point for the season pass. You get a new place to explore, new foes to kill, new lore to uncover and more people to help/hinder. Far Harbor was definitely going to be the best out of the three, but it certainly exceeded my expectations for this first tranche of DLC. Hopefully some more will be announced very soon and included with the season pass.