Why I restarted Fallout 4 and began completely ignoring settlements
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).