It was clear from the very first look at Fallout 4 all those months ago at E3 that Bethesda was aiming to make a gaming world that was multi-dimensional to an unprecedented degree. Strategies for total game immersion mostly involved beefing up or adding detail to aspects of the game that had already been a part of previous Fallouts, like companions, crafting and relationships. The biggest addition by far, however, and the one that’s truly new to the Fallout franchise, is settlements.
Fallout 4 settlements are clearly designed with a certain type of gamer in mind. Basically, the kind that enjoys The Sims. It’s resource and character management with zombies and lasers – what more could a gamer possibly ask for? Well, if the message boards are any guide, what Fallout 4 fans are asking for is an easier way to understand how to build settlements, and how to keep them ticking over and happy once they’re built. With this in mind, we’ve put together this handy guide to Fallout 4 settlements. You can also take a look at this walkthrough from notable Youtuber MrBossFTW.
As promised by the devs, pretty well everything in the Fallout 4 universe can be put to use. This initially seems like a fantastic idea, but one of the things that it makes more difficult is selective looting. Gone are the days when the wanderer can turn his or her nose up at the broken lamps, pencils and ashtrays scattered around the world. This can present serious problems for those character builds that don’t focus on Strength, especially as the whole looting aspect of Fallout was already a time consuming and obsessive pursuit. For optimal character builds, you can check out this handy guide I prepared earlier.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of the ‘strongback’ perks when they pop up. Grilled radstag is another way to temporarily up your carrying capacity. For those who want to avoid turning Fallout 4 into a process of ferrying junk by fast travel, however, it is still possible to be selective about the loot you gather. In the Pip-Boy menu there is an option to tag components you already have and need more of. It’s also possible to tag components that you don’t have in workshop mode. And for those who have spare settlers hanging around, it’s best to build a scavenging station, which only requires a little wood and steel and is hidden away in resources/miscellaneous. When one of these is in your Fallout 4 settlement, any unemployed settler will deposit junk in this station. Remember also that there is a ‘store all junk’ option. Much time has been wasted by players who have failed to notice this.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS
Probably the most important item in the early days of a Fallout 4 settlement is beds. If you do not have one bed per settler, your minions will constantly be complaining that they have to hot bunk, and this will seriously affect their happiness levels. The maximum number of settlers you can have is basically your Charisma plus 10. So, if you’re Charisma is six, then you need to make sure that you have 16 beds and/or sleeping bags. One thing to note about sleeping bags is that they should be put inside or under shelter.
The other thing that settlers will complain about is food. This can usually be fixed by planting crops around the settlement, but this requires settlers to tend them. It’s also worth noting that the more crops your settlement has, the more frequently it will come under attack. Another way to ensure that food is plentiful is to set up supply lines between settlements. It’s a good idea to have each settlement connected to at least one other. Supply lines will require a Charisma of six and the ‘local leader’ perk, as each supply line must be allocated to a settler who will travel back and forth along it. Probably the easiest way to find settlers for tasks is to install a bell. It doesn’t take much in the way of resources, and ringing it will bring every settler into allocation range.
Defenses are also key. If your settlement is worth attacking at all, it will be attacked. This is Fallout 4, after all. Beyond the basics of fences and guard houses, which are very resource cheap, but personnel heavy ways to defend your settlement, there is a whole range of tripwires, turrets and other staples of the tower defense genre. These more advanced defences will require power. It’s worth noting that unless you are using automated defenses, there is no real need to go to the trouble of hooking up a generator, as settlers apparently don’t care whether or not they can turn on the lights after sunset. Make sure you grab ‘gun nut’ and ‘science’ perks if you want to use turrets.
If you want your settlement to be pretty, there are five copies of a skill magazine called ‘Picket Fences’ hidden around the Fallout 4 world. There doesn’t seem to be any concrete benefit to using this, but it does make things look nicer.
THE HAPPY SETTLER
Once you have supply lines, farms and beds set up, there are still a few ways to increase the happiness of your settlers. Shops is one easy way. Somewhat counter-intuitively, armor and weapons shops don’t increase the happiness of your settlers, but having a good selection of shops selling other goods will. You’ll need the second rank of ‘local leader’ in order to set up clothing shops, clinics and other happiness inducing stores.
Defending your settlements when they come under attack from Fallout 4’s wide selection of raiders and monsters will also increase the general happiness of your people. As well as this, there is a series of quests available through ‘Freedom Radio’, one of the frequencies on your Pip-Boy, which will let you know when any of your settlements could do with a hand. Don’t make the mistake of trying to complete these quests – they’re literally never-ending.
While this doesn’t affect the happiness of your settlers, equipping them with bigger guns and better armor will probably serve to increase the player’s happiness. Settlers’ sartorial choices are truly random, but you can make any settler wear or use practically anything you want by trading it with them. Beyond the hilarious possibilities that this suggests, arming up your settlers will make them more survivable and useful in the event of an attack.
Just like real life, however, it is impossible to keep everyone happy all of the time. Of course, players are free to try, but there are probably better uses for the time spent in the Fallout 4 universe. Once the player has reached a stage where there are only a few warnings over their network of settlements, this is probably the best it’s ever going to get. This is probably the time to stop playing house and go out into the wasteland to shoot something in the face.
[Image via Bethesda]