Fallout 76 will give Fallout 4's settlement building system a chance to shine

Fallout 76
Fallout 76 (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Fallout 4 introduced the settlement building system to the franchise, and while it was overall considered a positive addition, there were issues with how it was implemented into the gameplay. Fallout 76, however, is the perfect place for the system to be successful. Here's why.

What went wrong

With Fallout 4, the main issue with settlement building was that it constantly went against the grain of the game's story. In it, you're desperately searching for your missing son who was taken from you during the prologue. However, Preston Garvey's constant reminder to you that "there's a settlement that needs your help" makes it feel like you're supposed to be doing that instead.

If you choose to ignore the settlements, then the game nags on you to no end. But if you choose to focus on them, it feels strange that you're even bothering with the task while your son is missing. This creates a lose-lose scenario where no matter what you do, it seems that you're doing the wrong thing.

Ideally, the settlement building should have been saved until after the main story was completed to prevent this issue completely. This way, there would be no conflict between it and the narrative — and this is something that Fallout 76 has the potential to achieve spectacularly.

Rebuilding what was lost

Based on everything we know about Fallout 76, it's going to be a cooperative multiplayer game about you and your friends working to rebuild the wastelands. This type of story is absolutely perfect for the settlement building system due to the fact that building homes, farms, and defenses is a natural step in trying to civilize post-Great War America.

When supported by the main narrative, the settlement system will likely be exciting and much more enjoyable this time around. Especially with how Bethesda has portrayed the world of Fallout 76 as dynamic, it will be awesome to see how your hard work and dedication genuinely changes the play space. The possibility of mods further adding to the fun is also a possibility (this is a Bethesda game, after all) but with the multiplayer focus that may not happen. Regardless, though, Fallout 76 will be an excellent place for settlement building to shine.

Read: Fallout 76 leveling, Perk Cards, and SPECIAL system explained

Your thoughts

What do you think of Fallout 76 based on what we know so far? Do you think that it will be a better place than Fallout 4 for the settlement building mechanics to be utilized well? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Fallout 76 will be releasing on November 14 of this year on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Check out the links below if you want to pre-order the Standard Edition for $59.99, or go to our all-in-one guide if you're looking to get your hands on one of the other editions.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Makes me curious how they will handle grieving. Will you log in every day to find your settlement has been trashed by another player? Have they said whether you'll be able to limit your personal world so that only your friends have access? Really enjoyed Fallout 4 (hit 100% Gamerscore on the original content last week), but I do agree about the settlements.
  • My guess would be that there are hubs that are always the same, and then the areas outside them are dependent on you and your group. But I’m really not sure.
  • Fallout 4's settlement building is so heavily flawed in every way, that making a Fallout game built specifically for it is such a letdown. Halo 3's forge was easier to use than it, and less restrictive! I hope they totally redid every single thing about it.
  • I liked the settlement building in Fallout 4, but your points are good. I mostly played it as a "game" - i.e. I knew that my son would not really be in peril if I stopped to build settlements and explore the wasteland because it's a game, but I can see how it could wreck immersion for someone focusing on the main storyline. My biggest complaint is that I would have liked more "clean" options. yes, it's a wasteland, but can't I take three broken fences and make one good one between them? That, and the overall settlement building size restriction limited my ability to build out my dreams (especially with the Vault settlement, where I would have loved to make a fully outfitted large vault, but quickly ran into the size limit.
  • Hey Noirsoft, there are actually some workarounds to deal with the settlement size limit. I've heard of mods that remove the limit, but i haven't used them myself. What I do is when it says nothing more can be built, I gather a bunch of weapons in my inventory and drop them on the ground. Next I enter the workshop mode, and one by one, I store each dropped weapon in the settlement workshop. For each weapon you store, the "size limit" bar at the top of the screen will go down. All you have to do is collect your weapons from the workshop and you'll have more space to build. I have a couple massive settlements, and I've used that method dozens of times to allow me to keep building.
  • There are work arounds--collecting crappy weapons, dropping them, and storing them in crafting mode will easily expand the build limit. Repeat it a couple times and you'll be ready to build again.
    Do it enough, though, and the frame rate trashes. It will also do it when it rains, you recruit a decent number of of settlers, or you come under attack. Unless, of course, you have a souped up PC. But on consoles, even the 1X, you can't build much of a vault with the DLC in the cave or outside. I ended up skipping the exploration/opening up of the other cave sectors and just building big dorms and big open areas. More than a vault its a refuge. I agree some decent wood walls, even rustic ones would be welcome in the vanilla game. Real windows, too.
    Better sources of concrete, too. As is, the wasteland workshop and donut shop addons are mandatory to build sometging halfway presentable without going into mods. As for Fallout 76, I'll do as I did with Elder Scrolls and just SAY NO. Non. Nein.
    I could (barely) tolerate online-only and I might play once or twice drop in/drop out coop (ala Borderlands) but I play the Bethesda RPGs as my alone time. Solo. Fairly late at night. To explore and discover. Not to share my failings online with strangers.
    I don't play online shooters for the same reason. I have zero interest in player vs player. No NPC, no sale. If Bethesda doesn't want to make more single player games, I'll go elsewhere.
  • At the end of the day, Settlement building is really no different than wondering around the Wasteland or Skyrim and choosing to play everything but the main quest. You can commit as little or as much time to it as you like, and there are no real world consequences for choosing to ignore the needs of the settlements. I think where some gamers get lost is thinking settlement building IS the main quest, I was 50 hours in before I realized that myself, but I was also completely new to the world of Fallout. So yeah, Todd Howard could have introduced this a little less intrusively, and with more refinement, but it was a nice stepping stone for Fallout 76.
  • Hi Brendan, unless i missed something the last couple of days i think you and others are mistaken about how much "rebuilding" there will be. From my understanding, each person can get their own lilttle camp the size of a house and a yard. That camp will disappear from the server when you log off. When you log back in, it will be onto a random server with random players, and your camp will just reappear where it was before. Additionally, there will be spots around the map that you can clear of enemies to get resources, though im not sure how that mechanic works yet. It has been stated that these areas might allow for some construction, but i wonder for what purpose? If nothing that you build remains persistent then what is the point of building? Add to that the fact that there are no human npcs, your camp will always feel empty. Thats the problem with these "serverless" games, any modification to the environment will just dissapear.
  • Fallout 4 settlement building left you just wanting more creativity and options..but never happened even with updates IMO. We'll see if they cared enough to make it better in 76 or if 5 ever comes out
  • hopefully you can play the game just fine without ever needing to spend time on settlement.
  • Guess I need to dust off fallout 4 and get back into it this weekend in preparation for fallout 76 :)
  • I enjoy settlement building a lot in Fallout 4. My wife would say too much... but whatever. It's like building stuff in The Sims except everything is dirty and you don't have to worry about anyone wetting the floor because you didn't install a toilet. However, your point about having to always save a settlement when you have more pressing things to do, like finding your son, really gets annoying. I mean, Preston Garvey is practically the Jar Jar Binks of Fallout as a result of this.
  • Fallout 4s settlement was a mess and waste of time. It was pain to do many things and frankly didn’t add much of anything other than you had stuff.
  • As someone who started playing Fallout games (and Bethesda games in general) specifically for the settlement building... I'm not even sure where to begin. I mean, you have a good point, in that it can feel a little forced storyline wise, in FO4, to work hard on building when your son is missing... but that's far from the worst part about settlement building. Like. Seriously. Settlement building in FO4 is a complete mess, and I will never, EVER build a settlement without modding my game first. It's an absolute must, because the actual building in the vanilla game makes it ludicrously difficult to build anything that looks good and works for your settlement needs. And I'm really, REALLY hoping they've improved on it for FO76, that they'd taken a look at their players, at the modding community for FO4, and gotten a clue about what they need to include for building mode. At minimum, I'm desperately hoping they're going to include functions similar to Place Everywhere and Scrap Everything. Especially since I'm seriously looking forward to getting a private server with friends and just. BUILDING with them. XD
  • I think adding "scrap everything" to the vanilla came (not counting console commands) would take away some feeling of immersion in the game, but I could enjoy the ability to direct a settler to go and scrap all wood or concrete from naturally placed sources (i.e. not things you placed)
  • Out of curiosity, what about Scrap Everything would take away from immersion? Do you mean just doing it all yourself? I mean, unless you use Sims Settlements (which I don't, but all the love to anyone who does), you're building everything yourself anyway. I do like the idea of being able to direct settlers to go get mats, though. That wouldn't be too different from setting them up at a scavenging station, just more. Environmental. Are we even going to have settlers, though, since we're coming from the vaults, and they said there's no NPCs?
  • I remain optimistic about the game, though I do have my doubts about the settlement building dynamic. There are PLENTY of things that could be improved over FO4 and I hope they do improve, however Todd Howard has stated in interviews that the settlements we saw in the E3 preview are roughly the size that Bethesda envisions for this game. You'll recall that those settlements were little more than camps, with a small footprint and hardly any buildings at all. This makes sense as far as your camp disappearing and reappearing when you log out and in; Bethesda probably doesn't want giant complexes just appearing out of nowhere to ruin immersion for other players. However a ton of people, myself included, ended up fighting through the frustrating build mechanics of FO4 to discover a rewarding challenge in building some huge, intricate, and creative structures or even entire cities. Talk about leaving your mark on the wasteland! And yes, the premise of FO76 does lend itself to settlement building very well. However, im worried that we may gain a polished building tool, but be severely restricted in how we will be able to use it.