Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Territory Control and Factional Diplomacy
Again, this is a mechanic that other similar games have done before and has been loosely interpreted into Fallout 4. But I’m talking like S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky kind of control, where groups actively battle for settlements and territory because – well, you know – you’re in the midst of a four-way civil conflict. Increase the population capacities on settlements to something more than a handful of scraggly vagabonds and update the PIPBOY’s map to include territorial boundaries. Each settlement or similar nodes can act as anchors and depending on local strength, will affect the borders of each nation.
We’ve always been in the midst of territory disputes in any incarnation of the game; now we’d have the chance to actually participate in it. And along with the threat of civil war I mentioned earlier among ambitious NPCs, the constant shifting of the map will allow for hours upon hours of replayability after the game’s main quest ends. If the other “main” factions are destroyed, new ones could rise up afterwards (again taking after Mount & Blade) and Bethesda (or whichever modder, if any, would take this on) wanted to up the ante on what it means to make a role-playing simulator, this would be a strong step in the right direction. But you’d need just one other thing…
Robust Economic/Crafting System
Fallout 4‘s crafting mechanics are pretty neat: my OCD tendencies actually play a role in my success as I MacGyver something up out of the junk I’ve accumulated in my travels. One thing I didn’t understand, however, was that I couldn’t just build new weapons from scratch. I can modify the piss out of all my weapons and armor, but I can’t actually make a new gun that I can then hand over to my newly appointed guardsmen? Why does everything else “just work” and not that, huh? HUH?!
For real though: between the modification-only item crafting and the fact that the things I build like chairs or beds and anything else are already “pre-ruined” objects (why would I want to make a broken chair?), the crafting options really need an overhaul. As far as resource shortages are concerned, settlements should be able to produce their own based on their location and what’s present there. Sanctuary, for example, is nestled between a (now dead) forest and a river, both resources that could be tapped for wood and water… well, once it’s been purified, naturally.
Along the same lines as those special NPCs, certain companions and/or promoted NPCs could act as civil specialists, providing bonuses to healing rates or food production. Even special resources (like glowing material, if you’re on the edge of the Glow itself) would make certain settlements worth more than others, making some a strategic target rather than another annoying announcement from our buddy Preston.
I know this all is just scratching the surface, but just these three focuses (foci?) in a mod dedicated to Fallout RTS scenario could go a long way into breathing everlasting life into an already expansive game. Then again, there’s always option #2.
The Fallout RTS
All this buzz about Fallout and real-time strategy stuff just begs the question: why doesn’t Bethesda (or someone they’d be happy to license) just make a Fallout RTS? With the announcement of Bethesda’s three new long-term projects (though not much else in the way of details), maybe my prayers have already been answered and Todd Howard has smiled down upon me, nodding knowingly. But alas, the follow-up was that these mystery projects are “they’re different than anything [Bethesda’s] done before” so the likelihood of any of them being Fallout-related is rather slim.
Still, it wouldn’t take much to make a decent Fallout RTS game. With the game’s setting revolving around the recolonization and taming of the American wastelands, and Fallout 2‘s Vault City as a great example of what that all entails, I can’t imagine how awesome it’d be to actually play city manager. Or war chieftain. Or Brotherhood Elder. The options are as endless as the radioactive dunes themselves. And again, I can’t stress enough how badly I want to be in charge of my own nation in Fallout.
And I could really go either way. Whether the imaginary developer who’d take on such a feat would prefer a civil/resource management game a-la Tropico or a proper military tactics game such as the Command & Conquer games of yesteryear, I’d be fine playing out either scenario. If you’re having a hard time imaging what this would even look like, Crowbox Interactive is already breaking into the post-apocalyptic civilization builder genre with ENDCIV. Just add some swing music and a few Nuka Cola vending machines and you’re set (though that isn’t to diminish what ENDCIV hopes to accomplish on its own… but still, this is yet more proof there’s a demand for something like this).
With Fallout‘s wiley Interplay-loving old guard longing for the old isometric perspective, the game’s aesthetic would feel natural to those used to the Fallout games of the ’90s. Working in other mechanics such as diplomacy, resource management, colonization and resettlement, exploration, and RPG elements here and there for your units, you have all the ingredients to make a sound real-time strategy game and an IP that will keep players immersed and engaged, now seeing and experiencing their favorite franchise as Master and Commander, rather than schmuck who got shot in the head, or half brain-dead popsicle person.
The main barrier here, however, is that, given Bethesda’s ownership of the series, to have a true Fallout RTS would require Bethesda’s approval. Granted, I’m no copyright or intellectual property lawyer so I don’t know what all goes into that kind of conversation, but the fact remains: Bethesda’s gotta be on board.
While I wouldn’t know the studio’s feelings on something like that, the inclusion of settlement mechanics – something I didn’t even know I (and apparently a whole bunch of others) wanted until the features’ debut at E3 a last year. Now, it’s all I can think about. It’s all I want in a Fallout game now.
Please? Come on… you know it’d be fun.