Games

A Settlement Needs Your Help

Between the announcements around Fallout 76 and the latest updates to Sim Settlements, I’m back in Fallout 4, killing fools in the Commonwealth. In a world of factions and raiders I’m always the take no prisoners do-gooder, with no room to spend lives for the greater good. So I find myself rolling with Preston Garvey and the Minutemen, rebuilding and unifying settlements in Boston and beyond.

The Minuteman life is much like any other Fallout hero, delving in lost vaults or canneries to find artifacts of a lost age. Blowing away hordes of ghouls and packs of Yao-Guai, irradiated mutant bears. Then the call comes in:

“A settlement needs your help.”

Minuteman’s reveille

Everyone loves to hate on Preston Garvey. There’s always another settlement, often more than one at a time. Someone’s been kidnapped, they’re plagued by ghouls, or someone’s betrayed them and taken off with vital equipment. Sometimes homestead you’ve settled need defending, and sometimes it’s isolated pockets of humanity are reaching out to the Minutemen for aid.

The memes are constant, and the quests aren’t that diverse. Show up, apply bullets in the right direction, do a bit of building, and go on your merry way.

Answering the call

I love every minute of it. I show up with the sun at my back, picking off Super Mutants with a fifty-caliber sniper rifle. That’s when I hear the whirr of my companion’s minigun as it releases a torrent of incendiary rounds into the enemy. They trace a path around my dog as he charges into melee, holding raiders long enough for me to put a round between their eyes.

That’s what I’m in it for. The action. The story of a settlement that seems defenseless mustering powerful protectors. Of strangers coming out of the night, tipping a hat and saying “It’ll be okay. We’re here to help.” It scratches every itch I never knew I had from Westerns.

A settlement needs your help

While these quests might make for gameplay tedium, in them I find a lesson about showing up. Community building means being present, so while the gamer in me wants to staple together a pile of planks, put up a radio tower and walk away, the community builder in me wants to be part of a living breathing homestead, and help it change and grow. Sometimes that means putting foot to ass to protect the people who live in my community. It means fixing turrets and planting new crops. It means being a friend, and not a stranger.

In Fallout 4, I get to look around a wasteland of scattered, hopeful people and live in a world where bullets and buildings can make a difference. Where showing up is as easy as a few clicks, and I’ve gathered the things we need to thrive together. So whether i”m blasting molerats in a forgotten Vault wing or clearing mirelurks out of an old quarry, I come when the call goes out.

A settlement needs my help.

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Jim Tigwell

A survivor of two philosophy degrees, Jim Tigwell spends his days solving interesting problems in software. By night he can be found at poetry slams and whatever art opening has the strangest cheese selection. Host of the biweekly Concept Crucible podcast and occasional blogger, Jim is also a juggler, musician, magician, and maker of digital things. You can find his music and videos at Woot Suit Riot, a channel that doubles as a home for wayward and timid creators. Observe his antics there, or heckle directly on Twitter @ConceptCrucible. If the software and internet game doesn’t pan out, he’s determined to be a great Canadian vampire hunter.

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