An Adventure in Modding Fallout 4

Personal experiences in modding Fallout 4 and other Bethesda titles, and how it quickly became as much fun as playing the base game provided.

There I was: 80+ mods installed and my personal version of Fallout 4 had finally been transformed into the ideal post-apocalyptic adventure I had always imagined. Visual upgrades, sound upgrades, gameplay upgrades and more had been included; with 30 hours spent tinkering and improving and testing, I was ready for my main playthrough. I created my perfect heroine: Isabella the intelligent, spunky, resourceful former lawyer thrust into a world she had no right or desire to be in. I survived my initial encounter with raiders and befriended the minutemen. Bella would need allies if she were to find her son and take revenge on those who killed her husband.

Initially I found a functional refuge in rebuilding Sanctuary, the game's first settlement. Isabella, through the help of my previous experience with the game and dozens of hours spent modding it, had developed from a spectator to a major player in the conflicts to come. It was at this point, however, that I heard one notorious line of dialogue. An unfortunate remnant of the vanilla game's many flaws, Preston Garvey had opened his mouth to force a quest down my throat once more. In all my time spent fixing every aspect of the game I had deemed broken or in need of improvement, I had found yet another complaint that needed addressing in Preston Garvey's auto-accept radiant quests.

Pure evil

Those experienced in Fallout 4's modding scene know that there have been successful attempts made at fixing this bothersome feature. In fact, for those willing to look, many of the flaws found in Bethesda games are fixable with the right combination of mods installed. This process was nothing new to me. I had spent time browsing the variety of free improvements available to PC players, and most recently console players, for years. Since I had my hands on my very first gaming computer, I had applied this process to titles such as Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim. This journey often began, ended and promptly restarted whenever I would find a way to break absolutely everything.

Or when this absolute **** broke everything.

But this was part of the fun for me, the work involved brought about a reward in the improvements made. This process was rarely a chore, as it would be to those who prefer the pick-up-and-play method of things. A game that could be enjoyed well enough at its base suddenly became a castle made of sand, moldable to my every desire. All I required was the idea and the will to search for it. This often began with fundamental improvements: Unofficial patches, basic gameplay improvements, and user interface changes to change how the game feels at its core. Then I moved onto simple changes, adding weapons and armour to fulfill mine and my character's materialistic desires.

From there it was any array of mods I felt would improve the experience until the game was made up of features, items and improvements that were a far cry from its original state. I became lost in the work I had undertaken, so much so that it was only recently when I upgraded my graphics card and set out to begin a main playthrough on my new rig that I realized how much time I had spent tinkering. 30 hours, much longer than I spend on average in most games, had been spent working to make the game I had before me as ideal as I could fathom it becoming for the time being. Yet after all this effort, I was still finding flaws to fix and setbacks to solve.

Now, some may find that frustrating to read, it would be a frustrating situation to some. To me, however, this was an opportunity to experience the process over and over again as I jumped between gameplay and modding. This was an opportunity to make a game into an ongoing project I worked consistently to improve. This was a chance to create something I could be proud of, through content provided by talented authors. That, in and of itself, is the adventure of modding.

Beginning to practice writing for fun and as a way to share my thoughts with a community, I hope you enjoy what I can provide!

Published Jan. 12th 2017

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