You begin the DLC by taking on a case at the Valentine Detective Agency. The Nakano’s daughter has gone missing and you must travel to Far Harbor to find her. Once at Far Harbor the Sole Survivor begins to unravel the mysteries of the island and becomes involved with a three way conflict between a secret synth colony, the natives of the island and the Children of Atom.
For the most part the story is a continuation of themes established in Fallout 4’s story. There are more questions about synths and a person’s identity. Each faction has also has their own general answer and a variety of characters within each faction offer unique perspectives on the situation at large.
Far Harbor feels much closer to Fallout New Vegas than Fallout 4 when playing through its main quest. A variety of outcomes depend on your reputation with each of the separate factions. Still there is also the option to ignore the faction system and murder an entire faction with nothing, but a rolling pin or other weapon of your choice.
The writing and overall story is well done and genuinely interesting. While things like the sarcastic dialogue is well done and can even be done during particularity dark moments, the main quest has the notable difference to previous content. The main story is aware of the perspective of the player rather than the character. For example, when you are faced with the synth leader he asks if you are a synth and what is your earliest memory. The two direct answers reflect the earliest memory of the player, the day the bombs fell, rather than the Sole Survivor’s earliest memory. It is an interesting angle that has not been explored in Fallout.
The largest failing within the main quest is how Bethesda introduces the Children of Atom. Right off the bat, the Children of Atom are only mentioned in a negative light with someone accusing them of a problem plaguing the island. In subsequent meetings, their attitude range from hostile to mildly annoyed by your presence. Given that the Children of Atom were more often than not just another enemy in the Commonwealth, these first impression do not give a reason to like them or even care about them beyond simple curiosity.
The Side Quests
Rarely does Far Harbor ever present the player with a clear good or bad. Even when something is started with good intention it can turn out for the worse if you choose the wrong option. Other times when the player is selfish or evil, it can make NPCS more receptive to you and give you small bonuses. There is also much more evil or dishonest options than the base game content. In one quest you can demand money to keep the identity of a murder secret and in another you can lie about fighting a giant sea creature. Still in some quests you can just deny the task given to you and fail the quest if that is what you choose.
The quest themselves are varied and interesting. A decent number of quests aren’t just a “go here and kill everything and come back” although there are quite a few of those. One quest in particular has no need to even attack anything and instead is a series of puzzles that must be solved. Still others quest have a heavy focus on dialogue with very little combat. Although not frequent these quest happen often enough to keep things fresh and prevent the game from feeling monotonous.
There is very little negative aspects to the quest however there are a few. The same quest I previously praised can be the exact opposite of what many want from Fallout. Solving a puzzle is generally not why someone plays Fallout 4 and although I did enjoy it, others may find it slow, boring and the last few puzzles too difficult. Other unique quest can be blast to play through, but have a disappointing conclusion depending on your expectations.
The Weapons and Armor
Just about every play style gets something unique and interesting to use. There a few different rifles that can be found. The two most common and unique being a lever action rifle the other is the Radium Rifle which is a rifle that also does radiation damage. Those with who use heavy weapons get a Harpoon Rifle and bowling ball launcher. Even unarmed players get unique weapon with the Butcher’s Hook.
Armor has the same variety that the weapons do. Most of the clothing and armor fit the theme of Far Harbor and exude the culture of a seaside town. There are a few piece of armor that moves away from the cobbled together sailor gear in particular some Power Armor and Marine Armor.
Of course this would not be a Bethesda Studios DLC without a “few” bugs or technical issues. While certainly not Bethesda’s buggest piece of content, Far Harbor does contain a number of technical issues that players will run across. Perhaps the most glaring and egregious of these issues is the frame rate. Within the first few moments of leaving the starting town the game will almost immediately drop frame rate. In some instances the frame rate can be so bad that it becomes difficult or impossible to play. While the issue did remedy itself for me after a few quests, it is still an issue that should have been addressed.
The other bugs are not quite as bad usually ranging from the harmless vibrating bush to textures becoming stretched out or not loading in properly. In my experience these bugs did not hamper my ability to play and would be solved by leaving and coming back or reloading. Unlike the frame rate issue, the other bugs did not happen often with only four or so instances that stick out.
The Bottom Line
Far harbor is a massive improvement in almost every way from the original Fallout 4 content. The major grievance against this DLC is the poor frame rate and other bugs that Bethesda is known for.