Bethesda has a problem, and it isn’t the fog that’s bogging down their “Fallout” experience.
The first major expansion for “Fallout 4” by Bethesda Softworks, “Far Harbor” is presented as yet another look into humanity and what’s left of it in the wastelands of the future. Meandering through a new location, the story struggles to resonate.
After receiving word from your mystery-solving partner, Nick Valentine, a new case is opened, and the latest adventure begins. You both set off to a northern home on the coast of the Commonwealth.
A distant coastal home is your destination where two distraught parents ask you to find their daughter and bring her home. The clues you find all point toward one place: Far Harbor. Taking the boat docked nearby, you’re off to search for the missing girl.
Once docked at Far Harbor, you quickly learn of the island’s deadly fog, the creatures that reside in it and the residents’ desperation to survive.
At Far Harbor is the synthetic humanoid (or snyth) refuge, Acadia, led by DiMA, a synth prototype that wants humans and synths to coexist in peace. The synth also gives you, by far, the most memorable mission, utilizing settlement-building mechanics in a virtual reality tower defense mini-game.
The island also features Children of Atom zealots, a religious cult that dwells in a nuclear-armed submarine base. They also believe that the only way to achieve “division” — their rapture — is to set off the atomic bomb in the submarine base.
Stop me when this sounds familiar.
It is with these three factions that you help in side quests, gain their trust and guide the story along, in an eerily similar fashion from the main game. It’s in this repetitiveness that “Far Harbor” falls short, failing to obtain the charm, quirk or brevity that Bethesda generally does with ease in the “Fallout” universe.
The setting also leaves something to be desired. While the fog helps to set apart this lonely island from it’s mainland counterparts, it’s the same old drab and derelict features seen in the Commonwealth.
The aforementioned DiMA is the standout of “Far Harbor,” however. Diving deeper into what made the synth and the actions he has taken while on the island hints at what lessons humanity may need to take when creating artificial intelligence.
But, there is something missing in “Far Harbor,” just like there was something missing in the main game. The personality captured in previous Fallout games remains absent in a world that is begging for it.
If only Bethesda can see through the fog, they may still be able to find the best in the Commonwealth.