Fallout 4: Far Harbor review impressions

If Nick Valentine was your Maine man...

Like many Fallout 4 players, I have long been intrigued by the goings-ons of Diamond City’s Valentine Detective Agency, run by none other than my personal favorite (and tragically un-romanceable) companion and synth, Nick Valentine. Despite being introduced to his line of work early on in the main questline, over the course of the game, we don’t get to see much of the detective’s life (which I’m told isn’t easy, but never lacks for excitement). Luckily for us, Fallout 4’s latest (and meatiest) DLC, Far Harbor, gives us a substantial payoff to the detective motif. But that’s not all this add-on has to offer.

With a whole host of new NPCs, quests, and enemies, the island of Far Harbor really does feel like a brand new part of the Fallout world. It has its own distinct tone and its own rules. Meant to expand upon the New England setting already established in the main game, the island of Far Harbor is located off the coast of Maine. It’s covered in what its inhabitants simply refer to as “the fog”, from which all manner of unfamiliar nasties like “gulpers” and “anglers” are likely to emerge. Coping with the fog and the danger it poses is a way of life for the residents of Far Harbor.

Departing the Commonwealth from the Nakano’s Residence in the northeastern corner of the map (the home of your clients for this particular case), the player must travel to Far Harbor by boat. If you haven’t discovered many locations in this part of the world yet, walking to the Nakano’s Residence without being able to fast-travel will take you a while, but ultimately, the long trek gives credence to the name, “Far Harbor”. It will also give you a chance to take in the Commonwealth before experiencing the island’s distinctive personality.

Sent to the island in search of the Nakano’s missing teenage daughter, Kasumi, we’re given the chance to put on our trenchcoats and really embrace the detective role. This quest features Nick Valentine prominently, so I definitely recommend having him with you from the start (you must meet Nick in Diamond City at some point, previous to this, if that wasn’t obvious). There are plenty of characters to question and dialogue to sift through as you search for clues. As you continue your investigation, it becomes clear that this place has more going on than just the disappearance of Kasumi. And much to my delight, synths are involved.

Far Harbor makes smart use of Fallout 4’s mechanics, frequently giving players multiple options for completing quest objectives. Unfortunately, there’s still some wonkiness to the mix. For instance, there are multiple points throughout the main quest where you have to clear an area of enemies. I used the “Wasteland Whisperer” and “Animal Friend” perks in an attempt to do so, but once enemies were pacified, NPCs ignored this and I was unable to progress without killing the creatures I had just pacified (oh, the betrayal!). The fog caused some minor framerate issues for me on PlayStation 4, as well, and some players have complained about vanishing companions whilst traveling about the island.

Despite the missteps, what makes Far Harbor a particularly satisfying piece of DLC is that while playing it, you get the sense that Bethesda has given itself a specific set of goals to achieve with this installment. In other words, Far Harbor isn’t just a mass of new content...it has intentions for its players. If you can get past a couple of awkward bumps in the road, you’ll likely come away from Far Harbor feeling a bit more fulfilled in your Fallout 4 adventures.