Well, goddammit Bethesda.
I try not to give Bethesda any money that I don’t have to – not, at least, until they demonstrate the ability to spend it responsibly. I think it’s unreasonable to keep paying for content developed on an engine which is coming up on its 14th birthday.
I have a weakness for building games, though. I think many people do. It’s intrinsically delightful to look back on six straight hours of video gaming and see something of yourself looking back at you – it’s almost like actually going out into the world and doing something productive.
You don’t get that in RPG’s very often, which when I think about it is a little bit odd. After all the long hours I have spent in the venerable company of Geralt of Rivia or Commander Shepard or Sir Peniswrinkle Mcgillicutty (as is usually the case when I am allowed to name my own character), it seems like I should be able to reflect on all the questlines I’ve finished and moral choices I’ve made and character customization points I’ve spent and have the same feeling of accomplishment. I have, in a sense, built the grizzled end-game veteran from the ground up, albeit out of the scripted building blocks which the developers have given me for that purpose.
Maybe that’s why I don’t get the same buzz from most RPG characters that I do from building functional intersections in Cities: Skylines – RPG characters want you to build them, and are more than happy to help you out along the way. A good city builder, on the other hand, presents you with a moist lump of clay and a scalpel and fucks off somewhere while you figure it out.
Now then. Bethesda Softworks, and their most recent turd garnish.
I have – aha – opinions about Bethesda Softworks, which I will not allow to distract me from the essential thrust of this post – that being an attempt to rationalize my compulsion to rush home and slap down money I don’t really have for the new Vault-Tec DLC.
Settlement building is far and away the best part of Fallout 4, even accounting for Preston Garvey’s famously incessant nattering. I particularly enjoyed the settlements which forced me to exercise some ingenuity in my base building. A prime example of that category would be Jamaica Plain, which is a region of the Commonwealth with absolutely no interest in playing host to a shantytown and it’s attendant gaggle of empty-eyed hobos. Other, more open-ended settlements quickly got boring (lookin’ at you, Spectacle Island), but I look back fondly on the Hanging Gardens of Jamaica Plain which I built out of necessity, being that there’s not a square foot of flat dirt anywhere in the whole settlement.
Bethesda seems to be aware of the fact that the settlement building mechanic is everyone’s favorite, and over the course of their DLC release cycle have been steadily augmenting the wasteland slumlord’s toolkit to include all manner of new and interesting things. I particularly liked how well they (eventually) integrated the Automatron DLC with the extent base-building; little else in the game brought me as much joy as coming over the rise to Finch Farm and waving a cheery good day to Tiffy and Becky, the pink, twelve foot death machines with human skulls instead of faces. Tiffy and Becky roll around on tank treads and bristle with weaponry, and keep an eye on that quiet little corner of my dominion. I could never help but smile as they beep-booped cheerfully in passing.
So now we have Vault-Tec. Apparently we also have something called Contraptions which I had not heard about until just now when I googled the Fallout 4 DLC release list. Contraptions appears to add some stuff to the workshop which really should have been there to begin with – armor and weapon racks, for example, and the ability to manufacture ammunition.
Nuka World I think I can probably pass on. Far Harbor was cool, but not that cool. Vault-Tec, though… I think I’m gonna buy it. I love building games, and while I could, in retrospect, have probably gone without playing Fallout 4 and been none the worse off, I really like the bonus building game it came packaged with.
So goddamit Bethesda.