Settling the Wasteland in Fallout 4

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By now most people have already gotten the chance to really dig into Fallout 4 and explore all the new additions it has to offer to fans of the franchise.

Bethesda Softworks didn’t hold back on this one. There are the thousands of voice-recorded lines that create diverse conversations between characters AND give non-playable characters the ability to verbally address you no matter how ridiculous your character’s name might be (yes, Mr. Titties, even you). Then there are the player development tweaks like adjusting the layout of the perks system and removing the level cap so you don’t have to spend quite so much time stressing out over whether you should improve a S.P.E.C.I.A.L trait or choose a fun new perk. There is little Bethesda hasn’t thought of. While both these and numerous other newly introduced gameplay mechanics truly make Fallout 4 stand out from its predecessors, there is one that clearly tops them all: settlements.

As if Fallout wasn’t already great at distracting you from the main storyline.

If you played Fallout Shelter on your Android or iPhone, you already have somewhat of idea of how managing a settlement works in Fallout 4. When working on improving your settlement, there are several stats that are shown at the top of the screen: people, food, water, power, safety, beds, happiness and size. These stats are vital to helping you grow your settlement instead of letting it stagnate. For example, if the number of the people were to increase, the amount of water and food you’re producing would need to as well, and those two stats would be shown in red instead of green. You can create everything you need or want for your settlement by scraping and scavenging items in the wasteland. Once the proper adjustments are made, those stats will flash back to green, and your settlement can continue to prosper. You can even check these stats on your Pip-Boy when you’re away to make sure things are running smoothly back home while you’re off fighting Super Mutants.

I’d recommend doing this somewhat regularly, especially once your settlement starts taking off. If you’re slacking in the safety department and haven’t posted enough guards or traps, raiders can pose real threats.

Take it from me, I learned that the hard way.

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We all love the action and gore that Fallout never fails to deliver, so for some, this slower paced aspect of the game might seem like a bit of a chore. As for me, I absolutely love it. To be able to carve out my own place in the wasteland and work to make it thrive really enhances the sense of adventure and survival that already seemed so prevalent in Fallout. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

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Is there anyone who doesn’t pick up every single useless thing they find in these games? Every coffee cup, wrench, or plastic fork? Well, I do, and thanks to settlements, there’s another reason to do so instead of just some unexplained compulsion. Each of these are able to be scrapped and made into valuable material used to build objects necessary for your settlement to function. From a coffee cup, ceramic. A wrench, steel. And a plastic fork, um, plastic. Obviously it takes a lot more than just one coffee cup to install a sink in your settler’s homes, but that’s never a real issue if you love collecting junk like I do, and it’s a clever way for Bethesda to make these small and usually overlooked items worth something to players.

Another great thing about settlements is that once they’re on their feet, they’re constant sources of traders and safety.

As far as trading goes, it starts off small. You can trade some things with a fellow settler here and there, but as the settlement gets larger, you can open up trading posts that specialize in anything from medicine to weapons. This can really be helpful as the game progresses, so you don’t have to desperately search enemy infested areas for a few stimpaks while armed with only a couple of bullets. If you really set your sights high, you can even establish brahmin trading routes between settlements. Safety is found in even the smallest of settlements, so long as an adequate number of defenses are up, and you can always heal up by catching a quick nap in your bedroom.

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Finally, building and designing a settlement is just a lot of fun. After getting all the necessities taken care of, you can start playing around a little more. Spruce up the walls with some paintings, lay down some tasteful rugs, or set up a living room complete with a radio for your settlers to enjoy. These and countless other options are available for you to spiff up your settlements and make them a little homier for the residents. It’s a nice way to get creative and take a break from knocking out quests. It sort of feels like a basic version of The Sims, only I don’t think you can trap people with walls made of chairs. That could be worth testing.

Besides being a little buggy occasionally when it comes to moving items around, overall the settlements make a solid addition to the Fallout franchise and are something I would love to see included and improved upon in any potential sequels.

It looks like Shaun is just going to have to wait.

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