…and I say that as a major fan of Fallout New Vegas, which still takes my number one spot for best fallout game. But goddamn, if Far Harbor didn't scratch the itch like nothing else ever has. I need to rant about this, mainly for my own sake since I feel like my profound gaming moment wouldn’t be understood elsewhere. But maybe this will encourage someone to give this another go, and experience it the same way I did.
SPOILER ALERT… obviously
First of all, Fallout 4 badly needed two things. 1, narrative and story expansion. 2, open land to explore and lose yourself in. Far Harbor delivered both of these things beautifully. Plus, I experienced this DLC for the first time after at least a full year away from the game, on my first survival play-through, with the infamous PILGRIM enb mod installed, and while loosely following this tough STALKER build guide from fudgemuppet:
And goddamn, I totally lost myself on that island in a way that’s tough to describe.
The landscape and soundtrack create a dark and spooky vibe to begin with, but that’s amplified when you have a bleak and foggy ENB like Pilgrim, and are roleplaying a sneaky character who wields nothing but a knife. Every action is just so much more real and vivid. There is a deep sense of mortality knowing how easily you die when you are seen. So with this new gameplay dynamic, My character Artemis experienced her own little short adventures at every turn. I’d hide in corners for a long time waiting for the perfect moment to dash out and strike traveling supermutants. I slipped around ruins slowly taking out trappers one at a time as they left themselves exposed. I read every terminal and took my time uncovering each untold story the island had to offer. I hunted gulpers to make their stealth slurry to have on hand for tough situations. The best though was my first time Infiltrating the VIM factory. I’ll never forget reading about the rogue behemoth on a terminal, and then hearing it’s footsteps start to get louder in the basement. Oh man, that made my skin crawl in the best way possible…
To get a truly great roleplay experience with Fallout 4, I believe your character must always have a firm opinion on the Synths. My early playthroughs didn’t feel very immersive until I made this realization. You must establish your synth opinion early and stick to it. My infiltrator was a railroad double agent who truly deeply felt that she was secretly liberating slaves from the tyranny of the institute. Known only as “Whisper,” not even every railroad agent really knew who she was.. She kept a low profile in public and lived off-grid donning her hunter’s pelt armor. Most enigmatically, she armed herself with nothing but a tactical knife (pickman's blade). She was untraceable by the Brotherhood, and had the Institute fooled. She naturally sided with DiMA, but also did all the Children of Atom side quests as a spy, infiltrating them as she did the institute. Earning their trust was easy. She faked belief, and appeared completely unassuming. Since she carried no guns or merc equipment, she seemed the perfect new child of atom.
There were many moments in the Far Harbor quest that really had their intended shock effect on me. I really wasn’t expecting much, so uncovering DiMA’s past really “wowed” me. I guess that “vividness” from survival difficulty extended to the story for me as well. I didn’t even mind the computer puzzles, as the audio clips seemed a totally worthwhile reward.
I continued to have fun blade-wielding shenanigans in the main game afterwards. Knowing there was a place to send newly freed synths up north brought a great dynamic to the Railroad, though I never did complete the main story. It just didn’t seem like the right thing to do for this character. Artemis's end-game was an endless game of staying two steps ahead of the Brotherhood and Institute from the shadows. And that was so much more fulfilling. Also blowing up the institute is a dumb ending.
Anyway, rant over. Thanks for sticking to the end if you’re still here. Just wanted to put this out there. Maybe it’ll inspire someone to dive a bit deeper into that DLC the same way I did. I unfortunately didn’t take any screenshots of that specific character, but this is what my game looks like:
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