10
7.5

Who runs Bartertown? No, I mean, it's a serious question. Because, obviously, we hear Auntie mumbling that Master Blaster runs Bartertown, but could you imagine him/them actually trying to get anything done other than getting everyone to pay them lip service? Perhaps not.

This is maybe the premise behind Nuka World. You find yourself taking a train to a Disneyland-inspired cola-themed amusement park complete with space-age rollercoasters, amusement arcades and diversely-themed worlds, only to be immediately chucked into a trap-filled gauntlet by the local raider Overboss. Who you handily dispatch in the first act, finding yourself the new boss. Of course, at this point nobody will listen to you, and with three raider gangs inhabiting the park, each of whom hates the others, and not to mention the shock-collared slaves they use for menial tasks, there are a whole lot of people out there to keep happy if you want to avoid the powder keg from igniting. 

It's an interesting premise, and that's just act one. As I mentioned, outside the main hub the park is split into a handful of themed areas, such as Galactic Zone, Dry Rock Gulch and Kiddie Kingdom, each of which has its own problems which the raider gangs seem unable to handle on their own. Add to that a thinly-veiled Scientologist cult, a giant scrapyard and a surprisingly vast section of open wilderness to repeatedly die in, Nuka World is far from the sub-five-hour DLCs we used to enjoy back in the New Vegas days.

That said, it's not without its problems. The aforementioned powder keg actually doesn't go off of its own accord without plenty of player intervention, unsurprisingly. While the narrative strives to impress on you that the previous Overboss' lack of action brought about his downfall, this is after all a Fallout add-on, and you have the freedom to hang out for as long as you like, and nothing bad will really happen. That's kind of the nature of open-world games though, of course. You're free to leave at pretty much any time - some of the missions actually require you to traverse the Boston wilderness far from Nuka World - and when you return nothing will have changed. The gang bosses will all snarl at you the whole time, but until you start favouring one over the others, it stays pretty peaceful.

The different worlds within Nuka World add much-needed variety, and some are the size and complexity of a small DLC on its own. Others, perhaps not so much, and you'll blow through a couple of them in no time. Mostly they consist of fighting enemies (naturally), but they are certainly imaginative in their layout. One area in the Galactic Zone, for instance, discusses the possibility of Vault-Tec establishing new vaults on far-off worlds, with you fending off waves of insane robots while the tannoy announces how the comforts of home living will accompany explorers to the stars. Good atmospheric stuff.

Okay, it's spoiler warning time. If you want to explore the story of Nuka World yourself without knowing what happens at the end, just look at the mark out of ten, shake my hand, and leave with my good wishes. This review is complete for you. 

If you're still here, I'm going to let you into the Internet's worst kept Fallout secret. So at the end of the Nuka World DLC you get the option to lead your raiders out across the Wasteland to raid all of the other settlements out there that you've spent ages building up and defending. Of course, most players are either not going to want to do this, or have already finished the main game and will shruggingly consider it an 'alternative ending' or something. It's an odd choice, but this late into Fallout 4's cycle, I guess it is okay to do something a little crazy. There are some desultory subgame mechanics for this, of course, as you'd expect, and for those who want to play in a different, more psychotic way, this gives an interesting new way to play through the main game. Of course, you need to be around level 30 to really manage with Nuka World, so it's not as if you can just saunter over here at the start of the game and start a campaign of terror, which is sort of a shame.

DLC is a funny thing, really. It's lambasted as a cynical money-grab in many cases, but I feel confident in saying that you'll get your money's worth out of Nuka World. For me, it was the prod I needed to get back into the world of Fallout 4, and wonder why I'd ever really left.