I haven’t been doing too much with the settlement system, since I’ve been too busy being killed by everything in the Wasteland, but I’ve played enough video games to know where it’s going -settlements may not actually be a requirement, but eventually, avoiding them will be enough of a pain in the ass you’ll just do it anyway. It’s bad enough being reminded by all my relatives every Thanksgiving that I’m still single – I don’t need a bunch of itinerant brahmin merchants complaining because they have no place to sleep.
Especially since the very first mission (besides the one where you get killed by the Deathclaw) is to talk with Sturges, full time rebuilder and part-time Elvis impersonator:
“The true life is underground,” he said. Then his curled his lip, ran a comb through his pompadour, and handed me a laundry list of chores to do in order to turn Sanctuary from a radroach infested flea motel into a thriving hub of commerce.
First task: render everything down to the bedrock.
I needed the raw materials to make beds so my settlers had somewhere to sleep besides the ground, which is what I assume they’ve been using for the past 200 years. I mean, if I were trapped in a post-nuclear wasteland, my top priority wouldn’t be a memory foam mattress. More like –
Don’s List of Post-Apocalyptic Kit:
1. Canned food.
Like, some really good soup. Maybe some Spam. Mmmm … radioactive Spam. Assuming it isn’t already.
2. Can opener.
3. Pre-war secret military-grade laser weapons.
Because even though these don’t, currently, exist, after the War they’re everywhere, like cell phones today. Maybe you can buy them at mall kiosks the same way? But that’s another blog post …
4. Pre-war secret military-grade power armor.
They sell ’em next to the laser store.
5. A fast car.
(‘Cause I’ve seen Road Warrior.)
6. A spunky animal sidekick to save my bacon when I get captured by radioactive cannibals.
But maybe that’s why I’m the PC. Anyway, beds it was, followed by a water pump. Easy enough.
And it was strangely rewarding to see my settlers, fast asleep in the beds I made for them:
So we got water, we got walls, we got beds – the only thing holding us back from a perfect little Posturepedic paradise was this troubling lack of food.
So Elvis – I mean, Sturgis, sends me off to plant some corn. ‘Cause I’d certainly love to help you with those raiders and the killing and the looting and the dying thing – but first I’ma plant me sum taters!
Planting ‘taters proved … challenging. Along with corn, carrots, and pretty much any other foodstuff.
The workshop menu is counterintuitive in the same way that Windows 7 is counterintuitive – that is, designed to maximize sanity loss. The “you can do this here thing here” option wasn’t immediately obvious, so I kept thinking I didn’t have the right location (plants, shockingly, have to be planted in dirt) even though I was standing in the middle of what, based on the color, I could only pray was dirt.
“There’s dirt here!” I kept screaming at the cats. “Why can I not plant the carrot thingy?!?”
I had to do a search for “how do you plant food?” which it seems to me we pretty much successfully solved with the whole “agriculture” thing, but anyway, it turned out, what I didn’t have was any actual plants.
So it was off into the Wasteland in search of carrots. Or potatoes. But not, apparently, razorgrain, which can only be used to make a Cup O’ Noddles.
You think I’m joking, but the recipe for a “Noodle Cup” is “razorgrain” plus “purified water.” You’d think you’d need at least sum beef broth and salt, but apparently you aren’t picky after 200 years in the Vault.
I learned that recipe from the cooking station at the Red Rocket Truck stop, where I not only discovered the secret ingredient for Iguana on a Stick – Iguanas and Wood – but also made a Radscorpion Omelette, which is way more impressive than the regular chicken omelette I failed to make this morning, but in my defense, Floyd Winchester probably wasn’t as hung over as I was.
And I made Crunchy Squirrel Bits. Crunchy Squirrel Bits!
Simultanously, in my real life, I was making roasted garlic and pepper bean burritos with sauteed mushrooms and side salad, but somehow it wasn’t the same. Cooking in video games is remarkable satisfying, even though most recipes are “kill beast, put over fire.” I think I will do a run in Skyrim as a cook.
Eventually I found some produce – which is actually a lot harder than finding meat, mostly because the produce isn’t actively hunting you down and trying to kill you – and we got a thriving garden going in Sanctuary, once I figured out how to assign the “grow this” option to a settler.
I was even able to give the Vault-Tec guy a job.
Which is the most awesome thing I’ve ever done.
We were even able to supply some of the … finer amenities in life:
All was well in Sanctuary – I was even beginning to get traders, as I discovered when I popped in one day to see this:
But alas, even in a game about a horrid post-WWIII nightmare wasteland, cold hard reality sometimes intrudes, like when I was informed that all of my settlements were under attack at the same time by 50 foot mutant kaiju with flamethrowing machine guns!!1!
OK. It was only 3 settlements. And it was only 5 supermutants and a dozen raiders. Still, I realized I was gonna need to built some … infrastructure. And by that I mean machine guns.
I mean, I can’t go ten feet without walking into some raider hideout filled with more auto-targeting turrets than the Death Star, so they can’t be that hard to build, right? If even a cracked-out razorhead punk-rock thug strung out on Mentats, Jet, and the Dropkick Murphys1 can do it, so can I.
Or not. I got enough to make Elvis happy, over in Sanctuary, but Abernathy Farm was on its own. I needed more equipment – water purifiers, power grids, electronics, oil. Power, oil, and water! So, pretty much The Sims: Middle East.
Elvis was right; the true life is underground.