Games like Fallout 4 take crafting too far for the average player

Crafting in Fallout 4 is simply too much work. I'm stuck with a decision every time I play. Will I kill enemies and complete missions, or search for springs and screws?

Odds are, you've either played, are currently playing, or plan to play Fallout 4 in the future. It's the hottest thing in video games right now. I only have one problem with it: crafting. It's too damn complicated.

Fallout 4 seems to be the pinnacle of "the crafting problem", a serious issue to casual and hardcore gamers alike. I can hear your thoughts: "What's so bad about in-game crafting? I like to personalize my stuff." The issue I have with in-game crafting lies not in the crafting system itself, but in the complexity of it. Slowly but surely, video games are becoming more and more complicated, but "crafting", and "personalization" take the cake when it comes to most complicated part of a game.

The Crafting Problem - Complexity

Once upon a time, a player got to pick the color of their in-game character and which weapon they wanted. Now every single piece of clothing can be customized and interchanged and stylized and crafted personally or found in the environment. Weapons have interchangeable parts and mods and effects that will alter the gameplay. Before you get ahead of yourself, you'll have to pick the right perk tree, so you can earn the gunsmithing perk...so you can craft special attachments. Wait! You can't just craft those attachments! First you need to find objects in the wild and break them down to find tiny attachment ingredients like springs and screws and other bits and bobs. IT'S JUST TOO COMPLICATED.

Rather than spending my time enjoying the game world, shooting super-mutants, or what-have-you, and completing missions, I'm left scouring at the ground, looking for toy cars so I can wheedle one last screw out of them to make that suppressor I've always wanted. Is this a mandatory part of the game? Of course not, but if you want to succeed in the mandatory parts, you'll have a much better time of it with a customized long-barreled revolving pipe pistol over the regular old rig you found in the dirt.

The big issue here isn't the system itself. I like modding my weapons and changing up attachments to suit my play style. The issue is in the ingredients. It's just way too much work to find all the tiny bits and bobs that you need. Yesterday, I spent an hour on Fallout 4 looking for screws so I could make weapon attachments. Who knew it was so hard to find screws in the post-nuclear apocalypse?

The Common Man

Big game developers need to remember that, generally, it's the common man that plays their games. The common man needs to eat, sleep, work, spend time with his family, play a little bit of Guitar Hero on the side... you get the point! Most people, casual gamers especially, don't have a lot of time for gaming, and when all they did on Fallout 4 last night include searching for screws for an hour, they're likely to put in Call of Duty instead. 

I understand that there are players out there who are extremely into the roleplay part of role playing games and like to go searching for ingredients and picking flowers in the meadow so they can brew their very own chamomile tea, but the general populous only has time for, "Give me a gun; I've got an hour to shoot shit." 

Bethesda Softworks and other huge game companies that keep cramming customization and crafting down people's throats should consider a quicker option, as well as an in-depth role-playing way. Maybe include a crafting difficulty selection at the beginning. On easy, all of the tools are at the workshops, you just need to unlock the skills and bring the guns. On hard, you can look for screws all night long. 

But the fun doesn't stop at weapon creation and customization...

Settlement Creation in Fallout 4

Don't even get me started on the new settlement creation in Fallout 4. Remember how angry I was a few minutes ago about looking for screws for an hour? Try clearing branches out of the road at your settlement for an hour and a half!

Of course, settlement creation is only partially mandatory. You get sent back to your home town at the beginning of the game to help out and make a small town of survivors happy. Once you head there, it becomes your fully fledged job to run the town. You need to clear debris, build new houses (including individual pieces of furniture), find food and water for your settlers and more! Can't the NPCs figure out their own lives? Never has a game depended on the player so much! 

The worst part about the settlement creation, as slightly mentioned above, everything is from scratch. Players literally have to put up every single wall of any houses they plan on building. Or, there are pre-fabs. "PRE-FABS?!" an excited BlackTide said as he clicked on the menu icon to learn more. Within pre-fabs players have access to small pre-made rooms such as "Hallway End" and "Corner"; there are also small and large shacks, which are hilariously misleading. Nothing comes pre-set and ready to go. I can't simply point and say "barber shop" and have one appear before my very eyes.


Simpler versions need to be in this game. By the time I have my first settlement up and running, my guns customized to perfection, and my armor polished and looking swanky, Fallout 5 will be out. It's because of games like Fallout 4 that I have about 6 other titles still plastic-wrapped on my shelf. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some screws to find. 

Published Nov. 14th 2015
View Comments
  • MarquisToken
    The crafting system was a really fresh breath of air to this franchise. And it's far from complicated. It's an RPG, with a big emphasis on exploring and level progression, and it has always been this way. Now it's just taken another step in the right direction.
    The wasteland is by far lacking junk in any way, and its hardly a problem to loot the containers and people you kill as you do a quest. If that in itself is a problem, this is probably not the game for you.
    Also it should take some time to get all the best gear. It's all about choice, and there is several ways to get your hands on the weapons you want. If the crafting bench and endless looting is your only way to get the good stuff, you haven't even tried looking for other ways to achieve your goals.
    The one thing though, that makes all the crafting and settlement building a tedious process, is the terrible UI and controls. Consoles is probably a lost cause in this case, and frankly the type of game Fallout is, fits a whole lot better on PC.
    Can't wait for the modders to get their hands on the Creation Kit and take the UI and controls for crafting and settlement management to a whole new level.
  • BlackTideTV
    I agree that Fallout has been made for PC from day one and will continue to dominate the console verisons. A lot of the menus and such are pretty confusing to get used to on console.

    I don't have a huge problem with the methods for acquiring new weapons and armor, just how much work it takes. Combing the wasteland for every tin can is exhausting work and honestly, it turns me off.

    Even when I play, I take a more realistic approach to the game. I like to make it believable. If this, right now, was the post-nuclear apocalypse, I wouldn't be picking up tin cans, overencumbering myself with junk. I'd be picking up weapons from baddies and fitting attachments from different weapons together, rather than creating sniper rifle scopes out of scrap glass and melted down steel.
  • topher339
    I think that the weapon mods could definitely be simplified a bit. Just reduce the needed material by one or two items. All in all, I think it works fine.

    The thing that I really don't like is settlement crafting. It's not at all intuitive or user friendly. A top down view would be so much nicer for buildings and defense placements. Having to walk around and place each individual piece is a pain and rather time costly. As much as I want to build up my settlements, I'm turned off by how inconvenient the system is.
  • BlackTideTV
    I feel ya! With a bit of practice I've found the weapon modifications system a bit more graspable, but it isn't me that I'm worried about in this article!

    I'm writing from an objective point of view. What will the consumers think about the product? Just spitballing, but I'd say about 85% of the market are casual gamers. I think the complexity level of all of the crazy crafting methods will turn them off indefinitely.

    On easier difficulties players should be able to find fully equipped weapon attachments and just put them on their weapons.

    As for the settlement crafting....... like I said in the article! Don't get me started! It's incredibly inconvenient and time consuming as all hell. I literally just spent 3 hours building up 2 settlements (which are still barely finished) before I came on GameSkinny tonight.
  • Sintjagos
    Looks like you'll need to ignore parts of the game. I had to drop halfway a number of awesome games because of similar problems. I like doing the side quest so it ends up taking forever. Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of the most recent time sinks. People with busy schedules may have a problem completing most RPGs but I don't see there being a problem unless it was mandatory or one is a 100% completionist. The complexity they add is awesome. Yeah it might make the game harder if you don't complete the side quest or activities but that seems fair. Maybe there is a market for shortened versions of RPGs or longer games. Not sure.
  • BlackTideTV
    I see what you're getting at but side-quests and crafting are two entirely different things. I'm saying that simply scavenging alone will take you 40-100 hours by the time you are done the game.

    I'm not saying it isn't enjoyable. It's just complicated. I think complicated scares off the casual gamers, which more and more people are becoming every day.
  • Kazeite
    If you find the crafting system to be too complex for you, you can simply choose to ignore it and rely on random drops to produce the gun/armor combination that is pleasing to you.

    Likewise, if you don't want to build your settlement, then simply don't.
  • BlackTideTV
    This is true but, like I mentioned in the article, you can go ahead into the next dungeon, but you might end up having a really rough time with nothing but a crappy pipe pistol. If you upgrade that into a heavy long revolving pipe rifle, it'll be much easier.
  • John Adamczyk
    I've been pleasantly surprised by the game's crafting system, though the way I approach it is a little different. If you try to go out of your way to actually do this stuff, you're probably going to be in for a bad time. But if you just use the crafting system as a "cash-in" of all the junk you've accrued since your last adventure, it's a nice way of getting some free XP and bonuses for your weapons and settlements.

    And for a roleplaying game, I think it'd be hard to call Fallout 4 complicated, even from a crafting system perspective. It's extremely straightforward compared to a lot of the RPGs of yesteryear.
  • BlackTideTV
    Fair enough. It's just annoying knowing that every single thing now has hidden value. Instead of just picking up guns and armor and medical supplies, I now have to pick up everything from toy cars to toasters!
  • !Xabbu
    I respectfully disagree. Fallout 4 is, at heart, a role playing game. If my attitude is "give me a gun; I've got an hour to shoot shit," then I would play Call of Duty. Call of Duty is made for that audience. Fallout 4 is not aiming at that demographic.

    Perhaps Fallout 4 is not the game for you, but I think that you will find that there is no shortage of gamers who wholeheartedly enjoy the roleplaying (and crafting) aspects of it. Indeed, sales figures can probably be taken as an indicator of that.

    If searching for screws for an hour angers you, then just play a different game. These games are meant to be fun. If you aren't enjoying it, you're doing it wrong.
  • BlackTideTV
    Perhaps you don't understand the point I was trying to make here. I like the game. I like crafting and creating my own weapons, but it's just too complicated.

    It takes forever to acquire all of the junk that you need to create weapons and armor. When you destruct other weapons all you get is steel or plastic. I should be able to deconstruct a laser pistol and get a whole ton of stuff; at least enough to fully equip one or two mods to a second one.

    In other RPGs you avoid the junk, but in Fallout 4 you need to pick all of it up and lug it around? Exhausting.

    When it comes to settlements, I should be able to create fully equipped houses, buildings, businesses, for a bunch of extra materials. I don't want to sit here for an hour putting up each, individual wall.
  • Jdublin98
    Having to choose to kill enemies or scavenge is a non-issue. You can do both at the same time. Seriously this piece is ridiculous. Clear a room, then scavenge, rinse and repeat. Fast travel back to your settlement after every raid and empty your junk, rinse and repeat. Com'on (wo)mannnnnnm
  • BlackTideTV
    My piece isn't particularly about scavenging, but I'll weigh in.

    The scavenging isn't a big deal, but the type of scavenging has changed from previous games. Mostly in RPGs, you look for important items (i.e. Weapons, armor, medicine, misc items for objective use). In Fallout 4 literally everything has some hidden value.

    In order to upgrade all of my weapons I need to pick up every tin can and burnt book off the ground? Forget about fast travelling back to your settlement after each raid! You need to fast travel after every cleared room!

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