Filling the world with all sorts of loot and crafting materials waiting to be gobbled out by diligent players is nothing new to the gaming world these days. Collecting junk however was rarely more substance than vanity than in Fallout 4. A mere source for ingame currency in earlier games alike, here collecting and recycling leftovers from humanity’s better days elegantly reinforces the prime narrative of Bethasda‘s doomsday fantasy.
In it, naturally, it’s all about survival. It was not until the fourth installment of the series however, that it also began to be about rebuilding civilization. And despite the clunkiness of its’ building tools, it’s settlements were its’ most brilliant feature. Until their surfacing, collecting scraps in the irradiated wilderness was little more than a procrestinator’s dream built upon the guilty pleasure of playing the wasteland’s greatest hoarder.
Collecting junk was rarely more substance than vanity than in Fallout 4. A procrestinator’s dream built upon the guilty pleasure of playing the wasteland’s greatest hoarder.
That now, all sorts of ressources are needed to craft tools, ammunition and homes for us and our little gang, lends meaning to the collect passion. Much like an actor winning a prize for best supporting role, this feature does not do the heavy lifting, but makes the rest of the ensemble shine brighter. And it does not stop there. After the game was released, the internet did what the internet notoriously is best at and was quickly filled up with like-bating screenshots of the tallest, fanciest, comfiest, funniest, you-name-it selfmade buildings and settlements. As cringy as one might find these online approval contests, it’s allways a sign of success if a game manages to break through the fourth wall and start a meta game outside it’s original boundries. Participating in it means to enter the risk-reward-game and scanning the horizon for extinct villages and diserted supermarkets. Knowing, that chances are that villainious goons will be waiting for us there, but more importantly, so will valuable ressources we need to level-up our settlement and ego. Slowly but surely the game teaches us to read it’s environment and to build up knowladge of were it is most likely to find certain minerals and rare ingredients (don’t get us started on ceremics).
Much like an actor winning a prize for best supporting role, this feature does not do the heavy lifting, but makes the rest of the ensemble shine brighter.
It’s an intriguing concept of motivation to make the player give in to the risk-reward-thinking that is the corner stone to the fascination of exploration in any well designed game world. It’s about straying away from the most efficient path between two quest markers and using your eyes and ears to navigate the world and discover hidden secrets, stashes and stories, that had not been conveniently layed out for the player in a quest log or the mini map. Who would have thought, that of all things it’s settlements would become the feature to glew it all together for Fallout 4?