I continue my play diary of Fallout 4. Or at least I tried. Last time I swore – pinky swore – that I was going to finally rescue Nick Valentine. I had every intention of doing so: I went back to sanctuary to pick up Piper. I wanted to be clear that despite my recent tryst with Cait, she’d always be my number one lady. We hit the Diamond City Market to stock up and things went south from there.
The distractions were extended, but profitable. I gained no less than eight new levels in this marathon weekend session, bringing me to level 43. I took the fourth ranks of Gunner, Science! and Armorer to max out my crafting capabilities, but remain sadly unimpressed with Armorer. I also worked on my core a bit and raised both Strength and Endurance by a point each for the carrying and the sprinting. I also took the first rank of Demolition Expert, so that I could craft explosives (and put all the lunchboxes I’ve been finding to good use) and the third and final rank of Ninja, for those sneaky strikes. Finally I took the last rank of Sneak, although I’ve yet to truly understand how it works.
Obviously, there will be spoilers ahead!
Settlements and more Settlements (and more Settlements)
I quickly fell into a dark, depressing spiral of settlement management. There were high-points and a few new locations, but overall the system seems – at least slightly – broken.
Basically, there are three types of settlement quests. The first is the simplest: a seemingly random settlement complains that a seemingly random location is threatening them. You head over, clear out the ghouls, raiders or super-mutants and Bob’s yer Uncle. The second is similar, but adds the wrinkle of a kidnapping victim to rescue. These offer the option of just paying the ransom, but that just seems wrong, doesn’t it?
The third type of mission results in a new settlement. You either need to clear an area of creatures, allowing new settlers to move in or calling them in via a radio beacon, or you need to help an existing, but non-affiliated, settlement with the standard raiders/ghouls/super-mutants problems. While the locations (the first time, at least) are often interesting, the missions themselves often aren’t.
In some cases they’re plain strange. To acquire the Seaside Cottage, for example, I had to kill a single, lonely raider (I killed the also resident mirelurks as a bonus):
The issue is that they never end. Unlike other quests (and Fallout’s conventions), if you don’t accept or complete these missions within a certain amount of time they fail. This can lead to damage to your settlements, reduced happiness for your settlers or both.
Quests are automatically added to your list when you turn previous missions in to Preston, by talking to the settlers directly, by listening to the Minuteman radio station or just by hearing the radio station over the loudspeakers in the Castle.
I tried stemming the tide by completing the quests and talking to the settlers, but not reporting my success to Preston. After some time, seemingly randomly, the quests completed by themselves.
So I’m in, game; god-dammit, I’m in. I’ll do every damn settlement quest you throw at me! I’ll building defenses! I’ll deal with their concerns! I’ll wipe their asses and tell them bedtime stories! I ended the day with 24 settlements and never had less than three settlement quests queued up the whole time. Yeah, Sean, screw you: Oberland Station needs a ghoul 20 miles away shot in the face.
My Story so Far
Before I got settled, so to speak, I was still planning to go and rescue poor, patient Nick Valentine. You know, actually complete a little of the story. Then I ran into Bobbi No-nose in Diamond City, who reminded me that I had promised her a hand with her tunnel. She claimed to be digging into Diamond City’s strong room to steal from the Mayor. Not the most moral thing I’ve done, but the Mayor is kind of a douche-nozzle. I agreed to help.
Turns out Bobbi was a damn-dirty liar. It was Hancock’s vault we were breaking into. A heavily defended one at that. I like Hancock – he’s a cool cat – so I convinced Bobbi to give it up. As a “token” for not robbing them, one of the guards gave me a mini-gun that sets people on fire. Most people might have sent a card.
When I went to visit Hancock to say “sorry for digging a giant hole into your weirdly distant storeroom,” he decided to give up mayor’ing and come with me. A new surprise companion!
When I sacked the Trinity Church, I found a motherload of “overdue library books” which I forgot to return while I was right there. Since it was close and I wanted to “test drive” Hancock, we headed to the library where I redeemed my token for a Massachusetts Surgical Journal. As to why the library gave rewards for late books is anybody’s guess. While there I tuned into a distress call from the nearby Trinity Tower.
After battling a small horde of super-mutants, we reached the top and rescued actor extraordinaire, Rex Goodman. He had come to the tower to “civilize” the super-mutants by reading them Shakespeare, but only had one convert. (Take a moment to examine Rex’s cell: you’ll be thanked Melee Bobblehead style.)
The super-mutant Strong found Rex’s message compelling. He felt sure that if he could find (and drink) the “Milk of Human Kindness” spoken of in Macbeth, that he would be able to kill all the humans. I can’t say that I was wholly behind the plan, but I did accept Strong’s offer to follow me as a companion; at least long enough to send him to The Slog. I’d barely spent any time with Hancock!
On our way back to Boston Common and Nick, we got an alert (a tiny, brief, hard-to-see alert) that Abernathy Farm was under attack. We rushed to their aid and so began my unwanted obsession with settlements. Happily, Hancock actively enjoyed helping folks out. I had previously investigated most of the trouble spots, but a few were new and interesting.
One such was a trip to Milton General Hospital, a location that my good friend The Silver Shroud had previously visited and told me all about. The actual raiders present were easily dealt with, but upon leaving our attention was drawn to a nearby parking garage. It seemed to somehow call to us.
The elaborate maze of traps, ghouls and pants-crapping crazy that we found took some time to unravel. This was also an amazing example of how integrated environments have become this generation. As large and complex as this multi-level garage was, it was still – technically – outside. This meant that the large group of super-mutants based just next door could – and did! – hear and see me. I was on the second or third level when I suddenly heard the dreaded beep of a mutant suicider and the catcalls of at least three others.
This was one of the most tense I’d ever been in the game. The setting was creepy as hell, I had no way to fall back and all I could hear is that god-awful beep-beep that told me a nuclear explosion could occur at almost any time. And then it did. Far away. I only determined later that the suicider apparently decided a radroach was worth his life.
Later, we were asked to clear out a section of Jamaica Plains for a new settlement. The broader area featured an interesting, extended quest to find the “Treasure of Jamaica Plains”. The secret of the treasure was fairly predictable, but still cute and well crafted. The next new area, and it was a doozy, was Dunwich Borers, a quarry due East of The Slog.
I first found Hugo’s Hole nearby, a comfortable little hideaway only accessible through a gauntlet of high radiation and traps. The hole was unoccupied, but offered up a nice Hazmat suit, an awesome model of Mr. Handy, and a few other goodies. Setting the scene to come, there was a also a holotape that indicated that Hugo was taking orders from something deep in the quarry.
I planned to do a nice, safe stealth run of the quarry itself, but my trusty pal Hancock slipped and fell in. Run and gun, then! The sheer number of raiders made this challenging, but not very. Reaching the bottom we entered the connected tunnels and I had plenty of chances for sneak and snipe. Taking out the raider leader there satisfied the settlement request, but there was also a chained door that delved down even deeper.
Like the Dunwich Building in Fallout 3, this whole area had a definite “Lovecraftian” feel to it. Ghouls, weird lighting and even weirder visions complemented a story of cultish worship in the deepest part of the mine. I came across the Sneak Bobblehead just before entering the final chamber and dealing with the ghoulified cult members. I nearly missed the real end: a flooded room at the bottom of a well. I only noticed it because I, um, fell in. By accident. Except it was on purpose! I meant to do it! I found a couple of mini-nukes and a really nasty knife down there.
After another handful of less interesting jobs, Preston sent me deeper South to help an unaffiliated settlement, the Warwick Homestead. Built on an old waste processing plant, the Warwick’s place had great soil and a terrible smell. They were having trouble with the super-mutants holed up in the Atomatoys Factory. This meshed well: I had already promised Arlen Glass at The Slog that I’d visit the place to pick up some Giddyup Buttercup parts. Two birds with one long-range, hardened sniper-rifle!
Returning to the Warwick Homestead, I tacked on my 23rd settlement; and a lovely one it is! Lots of space, only one approach and a decent sized starting population. It is, in fact, nearly the polar opposite of the Seaside Cottage that I covered above. That’s a couple of ramshackle buildings, no level ground and a giant, muddy hole.
One additional thing I didn’t mention about the Cottage: a Mirelurk Queen lived just a short way down the beach.
This was my first non-scripted encounter with a Queen and I feel that I acquitted myself well. You know, except for getting that settler killed. Sorry buddy, my bad. With enough space to navigate, even these hulking acid fountains just aren’t all that difficult. You may have noticed that I spent much of the encounter trying to cripple her acid-spraying spouts. I never could.
Next time, even more settlement quests!