If there’s one thing you wouldn’t expect from a Fallout game, it’s a newfound appreciation for home design. I mean, it felt like Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer had that covered already. But with the new Settlement feature, Fallout 4 gives you a chance to build up a town and decorate each room. The game encourages it.
It all starts after Preston, Sturges, Mama Murphy, and the rest of the Concord survivors set up shop in Sanctuary. The group intends to make it their homestead, and they need your help to get things running. The first few missions are fairly easy. People need shelters with roofs, and most of the homes in this area are intact. However, a good starting place is bringing up the building menu by stopping at the Workbench, then scrapping any homes that are only rubble with the square button to gain valuable steel and wood reserves.
Going inside viable homes is a good idea too. Furniture that can still be used will have a green outline around it, so many of the tipped over couches, chairs, tables, dressers, and cabinets can be righted and either put into storage or moved to one of the houses you’ll be setting up for your villagers. I spent about an hour rearranging the items in homes that would work so everyone would have a place to go, crafting the first five beds along the way.
Providing resources is also part of the initial settlement setup. Fresh water is needed, which means creating a water purifier for the river and generator to power it. Planting crops is important too, as is setting up some defenses like turrets, walls, and guard towers. If you happen to have a crystal in your inventory, say from collecting a microscope, then building a signal tower to draw in new settlers is a pretty great idea too.
But the best part about the Sanctuary settlement was building my Sole Survivor her own house. Sure, Preston immediately started hanging around the building I put where a completely ruined home stood, but that’s fine. We’re all friends here. It was surprisingly fun to micromanage every part of this town and make sure my place looked the best. I mean, as best as a dilapidated, wooden shack could look, but still. You get the idea.
Many of the building items have a purpose, but there are plenty that are purely decorative. You could add a basketball hoop, as an example, or put mounted animal heads on the wall. I chose to put a Minuteman flag up on the wall of my in-progress mansion, to show my allegiance to the cause. I also nabbed a doghouse from an abandoned home in the neighborhood, for Dogmeat, and took a decorative grill from another yard.
I’m also pleased to report that defending the settlement is rather easy. At least, it is initially. I built up Sanctuary in such a way that a number of strategically placed turrets brought the defensive value up to 30, put enough food in so the number is at 30, have a second water purifier placed in the lake, and even placed a windmill to supply power. 11 people are living in my town now, their happiness is up to 65%, and I even have a shopkeeper.
It also gives a sense of purpose to scavenging. All of the incidental items found around the world can be scrapped at a settlement to gain materials. Instead of mindlessly grabbing items to get a few more bottlecaps, you’ll be taking them in the hopes of getting extra copper, crystals, circuitboards, or nuclear materials for your home’s projects. You’ll start scouring locations in hopes of finding magazines that might add additional crafting items to the catalog.
Settlements are a welcome addition to the Fallout formula, and it really feels like Fallout 4 benefits from having this additional sense of connection for players. Fallout 4 is immediately available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.