A Fallout 4 Settlements Spin-Off Makes Sense
Fallout may no longer be the RPG series it once was, but that isn’t exactly a bad thing. It’s journey from pen and paper inspired RPG, to modern action shooter, is easy to plot. Franchises change, even more so when they’re reborn and retooled for a new generation. Fallout 4 represents the biggest departure from the classic build. The core RPG elements are gone, replaced with linear stories and reactive shooting action. It’s most curious addition is settlement building, which creates a wealth of opportunity.
Spin-Offs are not a unfamiliar concept within the Fallout franchise. Fallout Tactics saw the franchise flirt with real time strategy. The much forgotten (for good reason) PS2 title Brotherhood of Steel was a brief skirmish into a top down shooter. New Vegas is the most famous spin off, mostly due to the success of Fallout 3. The franchise has even appeared on mobile devices in the shape of Fallout Shelter.
The wastelands hold plenty of potential for a whole host of ideas and spin-offs. Personally, I’m still surprised there hasn’t been a card combat title popped out. Varying levels of success, both critically and financially, may no see huge departures in the style of Tactics and Brotherhood. Spin-offs more in line with the core game, much like New Vegas, feel much more likely.
Settlements may be a optional element to Fallout 4, but their addition has a profound affect on the whole game. Every item found in Fallout 4 has some level of use with the Settlements. Teddy bears, baseballs, mugs, it all has a use. This new found value gives Fallout 4 a whole new gameplay element, the element of resource gathering in order to create.
It’s no secret that some of the most successful modern games all have the element of gathering to create. Minecraft, Ark, The Forest, Starbound, Rust, the list could go on and on. While they all have different mechanics and concepts, gathering and creating is their linking factor. It’s a trend that shows no sign of stopping, even more so given the level of game time it creates. The sense of ownership over player creations, that feeling of ‘I built this’, it’s motivation and reward.
Fallout 4 may not require the player to partake in it’s Settlement mechanic, but it sure as hell tries to seduce. The sheer amount of items filling the world, screaming out to the player, wink and nudge the player to pick them up. Those few items at least allow a player to try the mechanic. The inclusion of quests that allow the player to sample Settlement building feel like slight pushes towards further investment.
Beneath the fun of building settlements is a whole new mechanic. Micromanagement governs how effective, or ineffective, Settlements become. Managing resources and the happiness of residents becomes vitally important. Setting up trade routes between Settlements is yet another process that provides depth, even if it is pretty basic.
For all that Settlements add to Fallout 4, it’s quite basic. From the actual construction of Settlements, to the micromanagement, simplicity is the govern factor. Bethesda have experimented with base (or at least home) building via Skyrim DLC, Settlements is just the next step forward. This all suggest, at least to me, that Fallout 4 is prime for a Settlement focused spin off.
It doesn’t make sense for Bethesda to develop a feature that affects the whole game, just to leave it. There’s a whole level of depth to be explored when it comes to Settlements. Trade routes, relationships with factions and neighbouring settlements. Exploring the concept of running, maintaining, expanding and protecting the player’s community is ripe for developing.
Much in the same way New Vegas took elements of Fallout 3 and built on them, Fallout 4 feels next in line. Be it DLC or (and most realistically) full release spin-off, Settlements feel like the next driving force in the Fallout franchise. The RPG elements have bee stripped away in favour of action and gunplay. Branching lengthy quests have been replaced with quick skirmishes. Player choice means little. The building blocks are in place for a new spin-off.