Fallout 4: Far Harbor is an expansion pack for the 2015 video game Fallout 4, developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Announced in February 2016, Far Harbor was released on May 19, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as downloadable content (DLC). In the expansion, the player character is recruited by the Valentine's Detective Agency—which primarily operates in the area of what once was Boston and its surrounding area, now known as the Commonwealth—to help investigate the disappearance of a young girl named Kasumi, who lives with her family in a remote area of the Commonwealth.
Far Harbor can be played in both first-person and third-person perspectives. The player controls the protagonist throughout their investigation on The Island, a landmass off the coast of Maine where the town of Far Harbor is situated. Far Harbor's main gameplay consists of both quests and puzzle sections. Upon completion of the side quests in the game, the player is rewarded with both the franchise's main fictional currency, bottle caps from Nuka-Cola bottles, and experience points. There are a variety of puzzles, such as directing lasers to hit the designated targets, and building using blocks.
Far Harbor was announced three months after the official release of Fallout 4 and was influenced by player feedback on the base game's dialogue system. The development team also noticed players' interest in expansions that added large amounts of explorable territory, and, due to the size of Far Harbor, the price of Fallout 4's season pass—a one-time purchase offering all of the game's expansion packs—was increased. The PlayStation 4 version was re-released in early June 2016 after performance issues were fixed. The expansion received generally favorable reviews from critics. The addition of new quests was highly praised by critics, but some had mixed opinions on the atmosphere and expansion's use of fog. The main criticisms were directed at the puzzles, which reviewers thought were either a waste of time, unnecessary, or overly frustrating.
Far Harbor is an expansion pack for the action role-playing single-player video game Fallout 4. The expansion is similar to the base game in the sense that the player character (the Sole Survivor) is tasked with investigating a character's disappearance. Far Harbor has the character enlisted by the Valentine Detective Agency—a company run by detective Nick Valentine—to investigate what happened to a young girl named Kasumi. Both the base game and the expansion pack offer the ability to swap between first-person and third-person perspectives. The expansion is set on a radioactive, smog-smothered island, and is located in Fallout's version of Bar Harbor, a town in Hancock County, Maine. Unlike the previous iterations in the Fallout series, Far Harbor features three factions which consist of both violent and peaceful non-player characters.
The expansion contains quests and puzzles that the player must solve. The way the player completes the quests depends on how much investigating they do. A quick completion by killing the other characters is not always the best option, as that by completing more side-quests, the player will find options to resolve things more peacefully. Peaceful routes can lead to making compromises such as keeping secrets. In some of the puzzle sections, the player directs lasers to hit designated targets, and in others, the player builds using blocks, reminiscent of Minecraft. Puzzle sections were not featured in the base game and thus is a new feature. Upon completion of side quests, the assisted factions reward the protagonist with bottle caps, one of the fictional currencies found throughout the Fallout series. The player's character also gains experience points. Some of the quests include investigating minor mysteries, retrieving missing items, solving disagreements, and clearing out monster-infested areas.
One of the gameplay mechanics which carried over from the previous iterations is V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System). While using V.A.T.S., the real-time combat is slowed, allowing the player to choose where to shoot the enemy. This can be used strategically: Shooting enemies in the head will typically result in death while shooting the legs can slow them. Weapons can also be shot at, disarming the enemy. Using V.A.T.S. lowers the stamina (Action Points, or AP) of the player. To use more stamina-hungry actions, the player must let it regenerate. The use of Power Armor will result in the player's Action Points being diminished faster if used in combat. The Pip-Boy, a small computer strapped to the character's wrist, also plays a role in both Fallout 4 and Far Harbor. It contains a menu which the player can access to view maps, statistics, data, and items. When the player is able to visit Far Harbor, the Pip-boy will receive a signal from Valentine's Detective Agency.
This expansion introduces the post-apocalyptic version of Mount Desert Island, known in-game as The Island, which is north-east of the Commonwealth, Fallout's post-apocalyptic version of Boston, Massachusetts. The starting point of the expansion pack is the eponymous town of Far Harbor, Fallout's version of Bar Harbor, located in Hancock County, Maine. The Island, where many unique creatures reside, is blanketed by a radioactive fog. The town uses devices called fog condensers to turn the fog into liquid in order to protect its inhabitants, as the creatures are unwilling to go anywhere without fog.
There are three major conflicting factions present in the expansion, all residing in separate areas: the Harbormen of Far Harbor; the synth colony of Acadia; and the Church of the Children of Atom. The Harbormen of Far Harbor are led by the town leader, Captain Avery, and seek to reclaim The Island from the fog that has gradually driven them out of their homes. The Children of Atom reside in an old nuclear submarine base called the Nucleus and are led by High Confessor Tektus. Tektus is a fanatically devout follower of Atom who seeks to disable or destroy the fog condensers, since the Church believes The Island is the holy land of Atom, and the devices are an affront to him. The refuge for the synth colony of Acadia is an abandoned research center at the top of The Island; the group are led by a mysterious prototype synth called DiMA. DiMA is friendly to both the Harbormen and the Children so long as Acadia remains autonomous and isolated from the rest of the world.
The expansion starts after the player completes the "Getting a Clue" quest. In the quest, the Sole Survivor meets private detective Nick Valentine in Diamond City, a settlement in the Commonwealth, and is offered employment by Valentine.
Valentine's Detective Agency receives a request for help from Kenji and Rei Nakano, a husband and wife living in a remote corner of the Commonwealth. Their daughter, Kasumi, has vanished without a trace or explanation, and the Sole Survivor is enlisted to investigate. They discover Kasumi had been in contact with Acadia, a colony of escaped synths living on an island in Maine, and borrow Kenji's boat to follow her. Arriving in the town of Far Harbor, the Sole Survivor finds The Island to be locked in a tense stalemate between the local residents and the Children of Atom. The residents blame the Children for the increased presence of radioactive fog, while the Children believe the town's fog condensers are an affront to Atom.
With the aid of a local hunter and a member of the Harbormen named Old Longfellow, the Sole Survivor finds Kasumi living in Acadia. Kasumi has come to believe that she is a synth, and has sought refuge in Acadia; however, she has started to doubt the intentions of DiMA, the prototype synth leading the community. At Kasumi's behest, the Sole Survivor switches focus to investigating DiMA, and gradually learns he has consciously chosen to store some of his memories on hard drives outside of his body. He has hidden them inside a computer simulation in the Children of Atom's base of operations, the Nucleus, but has grown increasingly concerned that if the Children access the memories, they will have the means to destroy Far Harbor.
The Sole Survivor approaches the Children of Atom to recover DiMA's memories and learns that he put in place a series of fail-safes to protect Acadia, and to preserve the balance of power between Far Harbor and the Children of Atom. These are the access codes to a nuclear warhead, stored within the Nucleus, and the means to sabotage the fog condensers protecting Far Harbor. The Sole Survivor also discovers that DiMA murdered Captain Avery and replaced her with a synth to maintain peace between Far Harbor and Acadia. At this point, the Sole Survivor is faced with a choice: to destroy Far Harbor, to destroy the Children of Atom, or to inform the people of Far Harbor of DiMA's crime and trigger a feud between the Harbormen and Acadia.
If the player chooses to detonate the warhead, then the Harbormen will take control of the island, while if the choice is made to detonate the fog condensers, the Children will become dominant. In both scenarios, Acadia will be spared, though DiMA will disapprove of the player's choices. Alternatively, if the player confronts DiMA over Avery's murder, Acadia may become hostile, depending on the player's dialogue choices. The Sole Survivor is able to establish a more permanent peace between all parties by assassinating or chasing away High Confessor Tektus, and allowing DiMA to replace him with a synth who will adopt a more moderate stance towards the Harbormen.
Depending on the player's progress in Fallout 4 storyline, the Sole Survivor may inform the main factions in the Commonwealth of Acadia's existence. The Institute will send agents to reclaim the synths, while the Brotherhood of Steel will launch an expedition to exterminate them. The Railroad will send an operative to make contact with Acadia, though Acadia will reject their help. These options can be taken up at any point after the Sole Survivor's arrival in Acadia.
In the aftermath, the Sole Survivor returns to the Nakano family back in the Commonwealth. Kasumi, depending on the player's choices, may return with the player character or to stay in Acadia.
Far Harbor was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and was announced three months after the official release of Fallout 4—alongside Automatron, Wasteland Workshop, and teases of other upcoming expansions—in blog post on February 16, 2016. The expansion was released on May 19, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Of the first three expansions, Far Harbor added the largest landmass, and was consequently sold for a higher price. It also added new dungeons (self-contained quest locations), quests, creatures, and other miscellaneous features. The expansion was included in the Fallout 4 season pass, a collection of all the expansion packs, and due to the large amount of additional content, the price rose from US$30 to $50.
The expansion took influence from the player's feedback regarding the dialogue system in Fallout 4, and how it "didn't work as well as other features". The dialogue options in Far Harbor were designed for players to have more flexibility surrounding the game's ending. The development team also found players were interested in visiting new locations, also inspiring Far Harbor. As a result, the expansion required more development costs, time, and resources.
Two weeks into its release, on June 2, 2016, the PlayStation 4 version was re-released to fix performance issues. In a performance analysis by Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, it was discovered that although Fallout 4 typically ran at 30 frames per second, when the player was outside and in Far Harbor's foggy biomes, the frame rate could drop to 15 FPS, and could drop even lower during action-oriented events such as firefights. In the same analysis, the Xbox One version was found to run at 20–30 FPS but experienced different issues, such as stuttering and software lock-ups. After the update was released, the game was more stable. This result was achieved by toning down the level of fog.
Fallout 4: Far Harbor was released to "generally favorable" reviews, according to the review aggregator Metacritic. Reviewers, such as Nic Rowen (Destructoid) and Christopher Livingston (PCGamer), highly praised the addition of new quests but many, including Jack de Quidt (Rock, Paper, Shotgun), Chad Sapieha (Post Arcade), and the reviewers for GameCentral, disliked the newly introduced puzzle sections. The block-related sections of the expansion were compared to Minecraft due to the building aspect by Dan Stapleton (IGN), Chad Sapieha, Trace Cowen (Complex) and Charles Battersby (Geek). In particular, Dan Stapleton expressed admiration of the new quests but said that the puzzle rooms were "so hard to fail I'm not sure why Bethesda bothered with it".
Reviewers highly praised the addition of new quests but disliked the puzzle sections. Dan Stapleton said the Far Harbor expansion contained some of the strongest quest content in Fallout 4. Peter Brown (GameSpot) commended the addition of "hours of side quests driven by curious characters". Matt Wittaker (Hardcore Gamer) appreciated the quests, praising the main questline for its focus on "moral ambiguity and tough choices", stating that was what Fallout fans were seeking. Jack de Quidt (Rock, Paper, Shotgun) abhorred the puzzles, regarding them as "very frustrating" despite considering it "a small part of the release". He also considered the engine insufficient for the intricate puzzle sequences. The reviewer for Game Revolution similarly expressed distaste for the puzzles, stating that it negatively tested the limits of the control scheme. The writers for Metro liked the DLC and how it added "dozens of hours" through the means of side-quests and other activities but disliked the puzzle sections.
Reviewers had different opinions on the atmosphere and the fog. Matt Wittaker said the fog is not much of a nuisance if the player's character was built to mitigate radiation. Dan Stapleton commended the majority of the content except the fog, which "got annoying". Christopher Livingston (PC Gamer) said that "you can literally taste [the atmosphere]". David Ambrosini (IGN) liked the atmosphere. Reviewers were also divided over the storyline: The writers for Game Revolution admired the story and new characters, while Peter Brown found it uninteresting.
Some reviewers had problems with the expansion's repetitiveness, and Nic Rowen (Destructoid) was disappointed with the lack of uniqueness in the release. Chad Sapieha (National Post) said that he was growing weary of the repetitive small tasks like managing loot, and traveling between settlements just to dispose of it, and added that he was done with Fallout 4 and its DLC and prepared to move onto a further installment. Denny Connolly (Game Rant) said that not all of the fifteen additional hours of gameplay were good, noting that the puzzle sections may deter the "purists". David Soriano (IGN) commended the extensive size of the map but alluded to it being somewhat wasted. Alice Bell (VideoGamer.com) and the reviewers at GameCentral commended the value for money, with Bell saying that Far Harbor was the best of the first three expansion packs for getting "the most bang for your buck", even taking into account the design flaws.
In July 2016, Mod DB user Guillaume Veer, who goes by the online alias of BaronVonChateau, accused Bethesda of copying one of his Fallout: New Vegas mods, named Autumn Leaves. When comparing the plot of Autumn Leaves and one of Far Harbor's quests, "Brain Dead", Veer described both of the games as having “a colorful cast of excentric [sic] robots, in charge of a forgotten Vault where a strange murder happened". Pete Hines, the vice president of Bethesda's marketing team, responded that "we love our mod community and would never disrespect them". He continued on to say that any similarities were completely coincidental.
Other similarities were discussed in an article by Mat Paget (GameSpot), some of them being that both Far Habor and Autumn Leaves include a "mysterious death of the prime financier of the Vault" and that both games have a feature where using the character's voice can determine whether they are a robot. Veer noted that he was not upset with the similarities, saying that he takes inspiration from other games too; "I seriously think this is perfectly okay. After all, Autumn Leaves' inspirations are countless ... and being influenced is a natural part of the writing process". Veer said that having the names of modders in the game's credits for acknowledgement would be beneficial. He also said that he would have been comfortable even if Bethesda had deliberately used content from Autumn Leaves. In Veer's same blog post, he wrote that "truth be said, I honestly thought Bethesda's staff played Autumn Leaves, had a blast with it (I hope) took some things out of it and made their own thing for Far Harbor. And I seriously think this is perfectly okay".