Fallout 4 Review, And Then Some

Without question, RPG Codex has taken home top honors for "the longest review of Fallout 4 on the Internet" with this elaborate piece that's at least been separated into thirteen smaller, more digestable sections. Specifically, it's broken down into "13 Shocking Facts about Fallout 4 That Will Forever Change the Way You Think about RPGs" like this one:

6. The player-built settlements do not add anything interesting to the game'‹

Before the game's release, Bethesda had spent many hype dollars promoting the settlement mechanic an entirely new gameplay area focussed on rebuilding civilization in a post-apocalyptic world! In theory, giving the player the ability to create their own communities should have had tremendous implications on the game world at large. If you built up every settlement in Fallout 4, you would have control over the lives of over 600 subjects, which would be over half of the total human population of the game world (raiders discounted). This could and should have made a major impact on the gameplay mechanics. How do you govern 600 people? Will you be a dictator or share power with local leaders? Are your settlements a safe haven for one of the factions, or are your settlers hostile to them? Should there be laws and regulations? Should there be a police force? Should you demand taxes for your services? How do you resolve conflicts between different ethnic groups and ideologies? There are a lot of interesting things you can do with this kind of gameplay mechanic, and Bethesda haven't done any of them.

In practice, the settlement mode is extremely shallow and limited. You can put down buildings in pre-designated areas on the world map, and then you can put tables and beds into them. Then you can watch a bunch of NPCs, all named (Settler), sit at the tables and lie in the beds. You can randomly plonk down a water pump and a field of gourds and assign farming jobs to keep your settlers well supplied. Afterwards, you could put down electrical generators and manually run power lines to lights bulbs in every room in the settlement, so that your people can read at night without ruining their eyesight. And your reward for doing all of that would be a little stat counter telling you that your settlers are now happier than before. As I understand it, happy settlers are slightly more likely to give you passive economic bonuses and gift you with random crafting components, which might be quite useful if the game world wasn't already bursting at the seams with easy money and ample resources.

The other (reward) for your labours is an endless stream of dull-as-dishwater randomly generated radiant quests asking you to clear out dungeon X, rescue settler Y from dungeon Z, or to defend settlement A from a horde of randomly spawned mooks. Almost all of these quests are accepted automatically when you walk past an NPC, which is a truly evil design choice. Most of these missions are also under a timer, so ignoring them will eventually cause a big FAILURE message and a happiness loss. I'm sure some players could happily spend months of their lives doing this kind of stuff, but I had already seen everything the settlements had to offer within the first few hours of the game. Afterwards, I just let every quest fail and ignored the mechanic as best I could. At their best, Fallout 4's settlement mechanics are meaningless fluff; at their worst, they're a delivery mechanism for the most braindead kind of busywork.