Crafting, Items, and Workshops
Fallout 4's crafting system might be the most ambitious of its kind, at least in recent memory. One of my biggest gripes about Fallout 3 and Skyrim was all the extra junk that had absolutely no use. Remember all those frying pans, hot plates and miscellaneous knick-knacks you'd find in the Capital Wasteland? Yeah, all of those things have been transformed from crap into scrap.
Everything in Fallout 4 can be scrapped for raw materials. Everything. It actually gets to the point where you'll be madly scrambling through garbage bins looking for aluminum cans or beer bottles to break down for glass, or lightbulbs to smash for copper wire all so you can build up a new turret or string up wires to power your settlement. You can also bust down useless armor and weapons to fuel weapon mod upgrades, which add even more customization to character progression.
Weapon modifications represent one of the most revolutionary leaps forward in Fallout 4. Players can now completely customize their loadout as they see fit, transforming an everyday pipe rifle into an insane skull-smashing monster. The fun really starts when you start upgrading legendary-grade weapons earned from special monsters and quests.
The weapon mods are much more dynamic than just scopes and ammo tweaks. Players can change up the stocks, frames, barrels, scopes and muzzles on every weapon in the game. That being said, every gun is different, and some offer more customization options than others. The mods are extremely balanced, adding and taking away in the same stroke.
A lot of different things come into play when customizing a gun: build type, Perk setup, function and specific trade-offs. For example, sniper barrels have increased damage and accuracy but offer poor hip-fire and melee attacks.
When you find that perfect combination of mods on a specific weapon, it becomes extremely satisfying every time you use it. Slapping a reflex sight on an automatic rifle injects a feel of Call of Duty to every firefight, and adjusting a missile launcher to fire four explosive missiles at a time is just amazing. Getting headshots with a high-powered sniper rifle is just as satisfying, or maybe capping down a baddie from the shadows with a silenced pistol for 3x sneak damage. You can tailor-make every single one of your guns--or skull-bashing sledgehammers--to fit your playstyle.
Armor modding is conceptually similar to weapon modding, but in many ways it's better. You can get really strategic with your armor mods, tailoring them to any given situation by infusing elemental resistances. Let's say you're going to fight a band of marauding Super Mutants. You want to fire up your forge and craft some armor that's high in raw defense with a tinge of radiation resistance.
Maybe there's a huge army of synths just waiting to zap you into dust. In this case, you'd want to smelt a full set of gear that has high energy resistance. For those scavenging trips out into the wasteland, you can take advantage of the Pocketed or Deep Pocketed mods--my personal favorites--to increase your carrying capacity.
Power Armor can be customized for endgame mastery. To get high-tier Power Armor you'll need to level up your Armorer and Science perks a fair ways, but ultimately this will be a tremendous boon for late-game havoc-wreaking. One of the best things about Power Armor--including the massive boost to defense, radiation, and energy resistances--is that it stacks with the armor set you're currently wearing. You can jump into a suit of Power Armor fully decked out in stat-boosting gear to gain some huge bonuses.
Bethesda has given players the tools to create endless combinations and possibilities with their armor and weapons. To keep things balanced, the devs have locked the more powerful modifications behind the Gun Nut and Science Perk trees for weapons and the Armorer tree for armors. Melee weapons are gated behind the Blacksmith tier. Leveling these Perks up is a must for any adventurer.
In some ways, this new "scrap anything" system is cumbersome and is a huge distraction. A lot of the time I find myself meticulously scavenging every area for scrap that I might need later on. If I get too full, I just lighten the burden and offload a couple hundred pounds of junk on my companion. On one level, it's a fantastic addition that means there's a use for every single item, but on a different level, the system turns everyone into crazed scavengers.
The raw scrapped materials are used for every kind of crafting: weapon mods, armor mods, workshop/settlement crafting, and chem stations. There's also cooking, which combines ingredients like meats carved from Ragstag Does and Yao Guai as well as carrots and corn.
Would-be survivalists would do well to make active use of chems. As with weapons and armor, Bethsoft lets users create their very own stat-boosting chems. Sure they can be risky and addictive, but chemists can brew up some insane bonuses by crossing chems to make Buffjet, Psychojet, and other insane combos. You can also craft the extremely necessary Stimpaks and RadAway.
Everyone needs a home in the wasteland. Fallout 3 gave us miscellaneous homes in various towns like Megaton, but Fallout 4 gives you an entire settlement to shape and mold as you see fit. These settlements can grow into towns and then evolve into cities over time and careful curation.
The workshop system is the heart of any settlement. Raw scrapped materials like wood, steel and various grades of copper, aluminum and ceramic are used to create walls, structures, floors, ceilings and everything else. The real key to any settlement, though, is people.
In the workshop, Fallout 4 takes on a kind of RTS/tower defense scope with Minecraft-level customization. As you build and fortify your village people will come in, and you have to play Overseer for a growing populace. That means consistent food, water, shelter, and defense. Denizens can be assigned to various tasks from guard duty to corn-picking, but it's always your job to make sure their needs are met.
When your settlement gets too big, Raiders will actually attempt to raze your hard-earned village. Setting up traps and gun turrets are vital to the safety of your people, and you're given total freedom on what to build and how to assign roles to your townspeople.
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