Disney has long been ripe for parody. Bethesda is only the latest in a long line of creators to tackle the self-described "Happiest Place on Earth" - a list that includes The Simpsons and Banksy, among others.
Fallout 4's take paradoxically casts you as the bad guy, which makes for an effective contrast with Disney's sugary sweet fare. And speaking of sugary sweet, Nuka-World is a theme park built entirely around the Wasteland's famous Nuka-Cola, making it even more marketing-driven than Disney's famous parks. Despite the differences, though, Nuka-World is very much a recognizable parody of Disney in the way that it's divided into various themed areas, and it fits right in with Fallout's darkly humorous take on the apocalypse. It's just a shame that the actual quests don't quite measure up.
Nuka-World begins when a radio broadcast directs you to the decimated theme park, which lies just outside the Commonwealth's eastern boundaries. When you step into the park for the first time, it quickly becomes apparent that you're walking into a trap, and you're forced to run a trap-filled gauntlet culminating in a battle with a Raider Overboss. When you defeat him, you are crowned the new Overboss, which means managing three Raider gangs - the money-hungry Operators, the sadistic Disciples, and the Pack, who are seemingly into animal cruelty.
Once you meet all of the gangs, it's off to clear out the rest of the expansive Nuka-World. Each themed world brings with it a different challenge; though, sadly, most of those differences amount to having to kill different enemies. Of them all, only Kiddie Kingdom, which is home to a magician ghoul named Oswald the Outrageous (a tip of the hat to Disney's Oswald the Lucky Rabbit), is especially interesting. The rest are rather dry shoot 'em ups, or in the case of the Galactic Zone, fetch quests. Hope you like hunting around for 20 Star Cores for the mainframe!
Outside of exploring the park itself, which is loaded with fantastic nods to Disney as well as a large amount of crafting resources, the main reason to play Nuka-World is what comes after The Grand Tour quest. In essence, it affords you the opportunity to become a full-blooded Raider and start looting settlements, which puts you in direct opposition to Preston Garvey's Minutemen. If you've ever wanted to go full evil in Fallout 4, then this is your best opportunity.
The rub is that there's no "good" option here. You can't reform the Raider gangs or get them to leave peacefully, nor can you incite an armed revolt. Rather, your best option is to kill every single one of them, which is quite the chore even if you're a very high level (I'm level 50 and I got rolled by the sheer numbers). For those who like a little more nuance in their RPG design, it's a disappointing way to end Fallout 4, particularly after in the wake of the excellent Far Harbor.
Still, if you're like me and really enjoy Fallout 4, then there's good reason to pick up Nuka-World. It features a number of high-level dungeons, some of which are quite difficult; a solid new Raider companion in Gage; a number of strong weapons, and the opportunity to go crazy with a gang of bloodthirsty Raiders. In that sense, it's an expansion in the truest sense of the world - a piece of companion DLC that builds upon the game's existing structure.
But as the final chapter of Fallout 4, it's kind of a disappointment. While I was playing Nuka-World, I kept thinking about how limited it felt. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to subvert the Raiders; I would have liked more quests along the lines of Kiddie Kingdom, and I would have liked a greater sense of depth in general. It doesn't begin to offer the nuance of Far Harbor, which built upon one of the game's best characters while introducing a number of wonderful new quests. In the end, Nuka-World's focuses on the dullest aspect of Fallout 4: the actual shooting.
In that respect, Nuka-World could have been a whole lot more, ultimately reflecting Fallout 4's broader weaknesses, specifically the fact that most of its choices come down to who to shoot. As a content pack, though, it offers a good 5-10 hours of new material, some new gear, and some interesting roleplaying opportunities. Just make sure you take care to kick Preston Garvey out of your main settlement before going full Raider. Preston does not forgive, nor does he forget.
Nuka-World's fantastic new setting and cool new opportunities belies its overall lack of depth. There's a lot to do in this expansion, but not a lot of it is all that interesting. It could be worse, but it could also be a whole lot better.
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