Why I restarted Fallout 4 and began completely ignoring settlements

Settlement crafting and maintenance sucks the life out of Fallout 4. Once I gave up on it, I found myself exploring and enjoying myself more.

Fallout 4 is massive. One of the biggest, craziest free-roam worlds we've ever seen. There are tons of missions, side-quests, miscellaneous jobs, and random dungeons to explore, on top of simply roaming the Commonwealth as it is. So why did I feel so bogged down and confined during my original playthrough? Settlements.

Settlements, though they might throw in their own flair of creativity to the Fallout franchise, suck the life out of Fallout 4. During my original playthrough roughly 80% of my time was spent on the creation or discovery of settlements. Being a well-rounded gamer with multiple interests, a journalist here on GameSkinny, and a YouTube content creator, I simply do not have the time for crafting and maintaining settlements. 

Lots of Minecraft-friendly players may disagree with my choice to completely disregard the settlement system. It is a highly creative area of the game, and can be quite attractive to players of the previously mentioned stature. However, there are too many bugs in the crafting system to make it enjoyable for an architectural noob like myself, and the entire mechanic seems like it was tacked on at the last second.

Settlement Crafting Problems - a brief rundown
  • There are little to no tutorials on settlement crafting. Players are essentially given the tools and told to build, without knowing much in the process.
  • The camera angles are terrible. It is extremely hard to see the bigger picture when players have to create their entire settlements from first-person. We need a free camera or an overview camera to really see what's going on.
  • Agriculture is glitchy. Whenever players try to cultivate their gardens with the multiple food sources in the world, they'll find that they can't plant as much as they thought. Plants take up an enormous amount of room and are decidedly ridiculous to lay in the dirt. Players could spend an hour on their gardens alone, just turning the same melon over and over again waiting for it to finally figure out that it's in dirt and can be planted.
  • Settlers are stupid. The settlers that come to a player's establishments are, without a doubt, dumb as nails. Take the drive-in movie theater (I believe it is called Starlight Drive-In) for example. I created my best settlement there with beautiful facilities, decorations everywhere, very high class establishment. Nine out of ten of my settlers just stood inside the drive-in movie screen. Furthermore, whenever you try to give settlers a job to do they just stare at you blankly and often refuse to tend to whatever crops or guard post you want them to attend.
  • Junk. In order to build sprawling, fancy settlements you'll need junk. Which means you'll need to pick up every toy car and stick of duct tape you find in the wild, significantly shortening the time you'll have on the outside before traveling back to the settlements (learn more: Fallout 4 takes crafting too far for the average player).

With all of these problems and more, the settlement crafting can definitely be seen as quickly tacked on to check a box. The problems don't end there! Settlements require your constant attention, pulling you away from the actual game. Players can't go ten minutes without having to go check on their poor settlers. There is always, ALWAYS, a stupid notification next to one or more settlements on the Workshop page of the Pip-Boy. 

"Your settlers need food." "Your settlers need water." "Your settlers aren't happy." "Your settlers have no defense." It's exhausting! You'd swear that you're playing some cheap mobile game where you need to care for your little town. Am I playing Smurf Village or am I playing Fallout 4?! 

When you restart the game and decide to completely neglect (apart from the mandatory sections) the settlement crafting system, you'll find that you're doing so much more in-game. Sure crafting is fun, but the real point of the game is to get out exploring and completing missions. I've done more in my first 10 levels of my new character than I did in 25 levels with my previous one. I've entered Diamond City, began a relationship with Piper, joined the Brotherhood of Steel, searched the world for my child, and fought Swan (and died). 

If you ever feel bogged down with things to do in Fallout 4, try giving up on your settlements (the easiest way to do this is restarting the game). When you don't have the responsibility of wiping for every settler in the Commonwealth, you'll get a lot more of the adventuring done, and enjoy yourself more. 

If you're still hung up on crafting settlements, take a look at this step-by-step guide how to craft a better settlement (for beginners)

Published Nov. 25th 2015
View Comments
  • LelPleb
    Maybe if you didn't play on console you wouldn't have these problems ^.^
  • James_6479
    I felt like this too nowadays i ignore preston and usually wipe out most small settlements i come across because fuck them thats y i dont c the point in doing any of it theyre not doing anything but making be be their mum lol
  • Lasombra_1166
    I keep seeing this "all the time" complaint. I'll agree, they don't explain the settlement mechanics enough for people to know what to do and what they are getting into.

    But. It's wholly optional, can be VERY lucrative and can give you a sense of impacting the region. Sure it has problems, I've had the problem of planting crops and settlers acting stupid, but it's hardly breaking my game experience.

    You mentioned them all being hungry or thirsty or unhappy, then you are doing a poor job of building them. Unlocking too many at once without being able to build them up properly. Yeah sure, you'll make that mistake the first time. You'll make a lot of mistakes on the first play through, but after that you'll learn and won't have that issue.

    If you're spending 50% of your time doing something you don't like when it's completely optional, you are the problem not the game. You can simply give up on them at any time, get rid of the beds, food and water and they will leave and you won't be bothered. Ignore them completely but I'm sure you'll whine about pipboy notifications (hardly an issue)

    In short, you're making a big deal about a totally optional part of the game. Is it buggy and need some fixing? Yeah sure. Adventuring has tons of bugs too, so how about you deal with it.

    People who think they need to restart to drop settlements are overreacting, just let them be.
  • xxaosicxx
    Frankly, I wish I had seen this article before I had got 10+ hours deep into the game, because I WOULD have restarted my game, and completely ignored the settlement side of things.

    If I had wanted to babysit a bunch of helpless settlers instead of spending that same time exploring and shooting up bad dudes, then I'd be playing an entirely different game.

    Yes. We can all agree that if you're really into the whole crafting side of things, you can get a lot done in "just a few minutes" - many people have already made their opinions on this quite clear - but I personally do not want to spend one minute building water pumps, or plating vegetables, or constructing turrets. I want to get in my power armour and explore - that's why I bought a Fallout game.

    So, to everyone out there saying "but it's so quick" - it isn't, it really isn't - not if you are playing as a lone wolf, going about your world, putting your stats into shooting, lockpicking, sneaking and hacking... telling me to put my points into Charisma purely to unlock an ability that allows me to micromanage my idiot settlers even more, by telling them to set up trade routes of sorts, is a) completely undesirable to me, and b) a complete waste of stat points.

    So, sod the settlers. Let them all die. I actually wish I'd known what a chore this would be right at the start of the game, and I'd have told the minutemen to go screw themselves with a laser musket and gone about my business.

    Seems to me that finding my son can't be all that important if I've got time to plant potatoes and worry about everyone else.
  • slicendicen4730
    Just sayin, I'm level 80 and I have put 14 days into fallout 4. I messed around with settlements for a whole day until I figured out the quirks, and then realized how easy everything is even with the quirks. I can build the most elaborate settlement in 2-4 hours and I would never dream of restarting my game because that sounds stupid. Maybe I should write articles that help people with fallout rather than convincing them to restart like a damn moron. The most useless article I've read on fallout in awhile and it was so useless to me that it inspired me to ramble on here for no reason
  • BlackTideTV
    I'm going to go ahead and assume that you haven't read the rest of my "Settlement series". The entire objective of this mini-column is to provide out-of-the-box thinking and advice to newer players of the game, casual gamers, or players that prefer the FPS side of Fallout.

    The fact that you're level 80 says it all. I wouldn't be starting over from your point either (although there are people that do multiple playthroughs).

    The entire idea of this article was to think about how avoiding settlements can save a player time and energy, allowing for more game time for questing. You spend 2-4 hours on a single settlement. Most people only have a maximum of 2 hours a day to play. Let me tell you, when I get on my game I'm not getting on to build a settlement for 2 hours straight and then get off. There's no enjoyment for some players - myself included - in that.

    This article was obviously meant for someone just starting their playthrough of the game who was struggling with the balance between settlements and questing. Not someone of your in-game stature.
  • Bennie_9469
    The settlement functionality is an inspired bit of genius. I love it!

    That said, the settlement building TOOLS are garbage. I treat settlement building as a side game and use the console and god mode so I don't run out of materials. As screwed up as the tool set is I wouldn't sink the requisite time into grinding for the materials necessary to build what I want.
  • BlackTideTV
    There's the problem for console players. NO console, NO god mode. If I want to clear and repopulate a settlement, I have to do it one piece of scrap at a time. See how it takes so much extra time for PS4 and Xbox One?
  • Ashley_5914
    This about sums it up. I put so much time into sanctuary and only sanctuary. Other settlements I found seem to be fine in their own without my involvement. So I only concentrate on one. So far no attacks or anything on sanctuary and I'm pretty deep into the game. Those notifications to go save people at this point I deem pointless. I don't care anymore if they die lol. I only care about sanctuary and who lives there. I do wish you could assign people to the houses. But whatever. I'm really into customization, but not so good at building a city. As soon as I leave my settlers get unhappy. And I keep wondering why am I the source of their happiness???? They have food, turrets, beds and water for days. Seriously, my settlement is a farm jungle lol. I have so many crops it's turning into a jungle lol. I even put a single bed in 1-2 seperate rooms in the houses but they only sleep in the upper part of the bar I built which is like a hotel kinda deal, yet they have the nerve to bitch about the bed situation..... Next new character I'm probably gonna ignore the settlement stuff lol.
  • Justasii
    This article summarizes to this: "In the writers opinion, the settlement system distracts from the game." This statement is completely in error as the settlement system is 100% optional. You do not have to do anything with settlements. Ever. You do not have to respond to notifications. Ever. So in this sense, your analysis is wrong. If you had written the article more properly to summarize to say, "I had more fun in Fallout when I ignored settlements and let those poor bastards fend for themselves" you would have essentially been making the same arguments, but with a consistent logic.
  • Si_W
    That is true, I had over 12 settlements before I even noticed that tab on the pip boy...
  • Rob_2444
    I've gone way over the line with settlements. I have 14 I think, at last count, including a couple that I have found and haven't done anything with yet. I answer every call, since I am the Minuteman General I feel it's kind of my job. I have a cool treehouse in Sanctuary, Justice League HQ in Sanctuary where all my companions live when we are not traveling together. I rebuilt the walls of the Castle, turned the Starlight into a full on town...

    I also play the rest of the game, but I get a lot of pleasure out of the building and management aspects. I can level up just building a building--I'm at 33 right now. I get the author's point if you don't like this, and I get that it's an opinion piece, but I just want to add that for some of us this is fun! (Also, if you do it enough, the building system is easy and quite intuitive. The basic thing to remember is to never use the prefabs, and that currently the doors only work on the outside of a building. The two foundation pieces allow you to clip, and using select all means you can pick up a whole structure and move it at once. This is how I build my treehouse and re-fortified the castle.)

    So, yeah, it's a big part of the game for me. And I love it.
  • Ebenezer_5889
    On the exploring-part, true. On the settlements, they're not that time-consuming at all once you get the hang of it.

    On a side note, you say you're a journalist. You might want to check the attitude on certain comments, that kind of responses tend to eat your credibility as a journalist.
  • Gia_4119
    Total noob here - How will I know which settlement quests are mandatory and which ones are not? Will it be obvious?
  • BlackTideTV
    Yes it will be pretty obvious. If you do a lot of Minutemen quests (by talking to Preston Garvey in Sanctuary) you'll unlock a ton of settlements. Basically anytime you go somewhere, get asked for help, then complete that quest, you'll earn a new settlement. Also, a successful storm of the Castle (also available through Preston) will unlock a settlement.

    Sanctuary itself is the training settlement. Once you save Preston and friends in the Museum of Freedom, head back to Sanctuary and you'll be given quests to upgrade the town with food, beds, water, and defense.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    I've only made one settlement: Sanctuary and it's the only one that I'll maintain. I set it up from the beginning as to avoid things later on even before it was part of the quest. Once it did become part of the quest I received check marks up the whazoo.
    Every one plays differently, but there are benefits to having at least one.
  • Jessi_Cat
    I don't find settlements that difficult..I rarely get called back to do anything. Most of the time when I check my pip-boy and saw an exclamation mark beside something I know it's usually a bug. I spend most of my time in sanctuary building up my personal home. I have probably 15 power armors right now that I am storing there. Really the game is what you make it and you obviously just want to focus on the story and questing. Which is fine you should game how you want to.
    Really I enjoy the crafting and settlement aspects. Makes the game realistic to the story since you would need to craft to survive in that kind of setting and making settlements is part of the "rebuild" aspect. Your opinion is your opinion though BlackTide even if I disagree with you. It is still a nicely written article, well-done.
  • BlackTideTV
    Thanks for leaving your opinion Jess!

    I do enjoy Fallout 4's crafting. Though it can be tedious and time consuming, it adds overall depth and, as you said, realism to the game.

    The settlement aspect..... not so much. If this was real world post-nuclear apocalypse and you've just escaped a vault where you witnessed your significant other murdered and your baby stolen, what would you do? Obviously go after the kid. Are you going to take on side jobs and do some dirty work to find the baby? Of course. You'll need to craft the best weapons and other miscellaneous items to get where you're going. One thing you wouldn't have to do is build towns all across the Commonwealth.

    Yes, I know that it's another aspect of the game and I'm still focusing on story, but seriously look at the settlement system from a realistic standpoint.

    >You're building towns for random people who've survived in the wild, alone for 200+ years.
    >You're building these towns instead of searching for your long lost son.
    >You're the only one who can do anything around the towns that you build. The settlers do nothing regarding building, maintenance, etc.

    So essentially you build up random places around the world and strangers just show up and say "I'm taking that house that you just built. It's mine now."

    A lot of people are using Sanctuary and nothing else. The real benefits of the settlement system are actually the supply lines. If you plan on settling, settling everywhere is of most benefit to you. Whenever you come across any of your settlements (there's one every ten minutes) in your journeys you can just drop your gear and it will be interconnected with all of your workshops.

    Perhaps I should write an article on Home Plate since no one seems to use it or... know of its existence? It is literally a personal space with no random settlers sleeping in your bed, no raids against it, and it's a worry-free workspace. Located right downtown Diamond City it has two crafting stations outside, a power armor station, the market place next door, it's fully customizable, and it's map-centric.
  • Si_W
    You seriously spent an hour trying to place a vegetable?

    Settlements are not that difficult, get over it already.
  • BlackTideTV
    Firstly, in this specific instance I have called upon the ancient secret art of hyperbole.

    Besides, you didn't read into this too well. I said the garden takes an hour. The whole garden. It's the single placements that make it takes so long. There are random patches of dirt that just won't allow you to plant in. It's glitchy and weird.

    This article isn't about the settlement system being difficult. It's about how time comsuming, redundant, and glitchy it is. The takeaway from this one is: if you disregard settlements you can get a lot more actual gameplay in and get more bang for your buck.

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