Life is terrible inside the world of Fallout 4, but it doesn’t actually have to be quite so bad.
By this point, we’ve seen a lot of the post-nuclear version of America that makes up the Fallout universe. In the era of 3D shooters, we’ve wandered the wastelands of Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and, with the new Fallout 4, Boston. The big thing all those places have in common: living there sucks.
Of course it sucks! The various wastelands are scorched with radiation, littered with half-destroyed buildings and towns, and full of nasty denizens like huge green Super Mutants, giant and aggressive versions of bugs and animals, and raiders who will kill you and steal your stuff. It’s the Wild West with even less government or law to protect those who live there.
But just because life in the wasteland is objectively terrible doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Wastelanders, as the game world’s denizens are known, as a whole could be putting forth a little more effort—after all, it’s been, like, 200 years since the bombs fell. It’s about time the last remnants of humanity got their shit together, even if that just means tidying up the junk pile. Here’s how.
9. READ A DAMN BOOK
A lot of knowledge was lost in the nuclear fires and the following 200 years humanity spent apparently sitting next to campfires feeling sorry for themselves and waiting to be killed. I get that. But wastelanders’ general lack of interest in knowledge—finding it, reclaiming it, preserving it, using it—is the Number One Reason their lives are terrible. There are books all over Fallout 4’s Commonwealth Wasteland, and they can’t all be charred beyond legibility.
It’s not like humanity has never dealt with life in a time of hardship, or eking out an existence in a harsh place full of enemies. That’s actually been most of humanity’s existence, and people learned a lot about staying alive. It’s not like when the power goes out in the modern world, millions of people have no idea what to do and just die.
8. MAKE A PILLOW AND A BLANKET, FOR GOD’S SAKE
I’ve been all over Fallout 4’s wasteland, and I’ve discovered that apparently beds are highly susceptible to the various negative effects of a nuclear strike. Every bed is a disgusting, rust-colored mattress that looks like it was previously home to a puddle of motor oil. Frames are constructed only of tortured, rusted metal that could have been shipped direct from the factories of Silent Hill. Bedsheets are now extinct. On rare occasion, beds have straw pillows, which is roughly comparable to nuzzling up to a shrub to go to sleep.
Listen, Wastelanders: a good night’s sleep is key to a lot of things, like productivity, happiness, and the alertness necessary to not lose your slice of the world to giant cockroaches. Get yourself a blanket, stuff a pillow with basically anything but straw, and build a decent bed. It’s not like beds didn’t exist before 1910. Take some initiative.
7. GROUP TOGETHER, YOU FOOLS
The Commonwealth Wasteland includes tons of single, ramshackle huts where hermits live totally alone. You’ll wonder what was up with these places until you eventually find their bodies, because in a world where everything can kill you, sitting in a tin shack in the middle of nowhere is definitely not a good plan.
Settlements are few and far between in the Commonwealth, for whatever reason; only Diamond City, a town built in old Fenway Park, and Goodneighbor, which is more or less a criminal paradise, have much of a semblance of their shit together. This seems like a no-brainer: when you live in a dangerous place, you need buds. Group up with other folks for mutual defense. 200 years is a really long time in human history. Make some damn towns already. It’s not that hard to pile up some of the trash that’s literally everywhere and build yourself a wall.
6. THERE ARE INTACT BUILDINGS EVERYWHERE BUT YOU LIVE IN SHANTIES
Wander Boston or its suburbs for 10 seconds and you’ll find tons of buildings that survived nuclear detonation, mostly intact, if a little dirty. Yes, they’re often overrun with nasty creatures, mutants and raiders, but there’s a reason for that: nasty creatures, mutants and raiders are smarter than most honest wastelanders. They were walking around and saw an intact structure and thought, “Hey, it’s a thing that would be essential to my survival,” so they moved in.
It’s not like there’s a lack of guns around Fallout 4—you find an arsenal everywhere you go. Get some guns, rope together a posse, and create a new life in one of those cool robot factories. You’ll find you’re a lot happier when you don’t wake up to a radiation storm melting your DNA or a giant mosquito stabbing you in the aorta every other day.
5. STOP EATING 200-YEAR-OLD MAC ’N’ CHEESE LIKE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS
Oh my god, what is the deal with your food, wastelanders? As far as I can tell, you subsist almost completely on cans of centuries-old beans. Diamond City has a noodle-making robot and that is, more or less, the city’s entire food plan. Most people seem content to just roll the dice on the botulism content of a tin of spam-like meat product they found under a pile of trash.
Food grows in the wasteland. I know because I had to plant some for braindead settlers like eight different times during the course of Fallout 4. Humans have enjoyed the benefits of agriculture for more than 10,000 years. Meanwhile, eating ancient preservatives and food dyes is probably stunting these wastelanders’ brain development.
4. GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND SWEEP UP YOUR HOUSES
Look, I know it’s depressing out there. You live in a place that is literally called a wasteland, and it’s more or less a giant landfill that never ends.
That said, you don’t have to live in absolute squalor all the time. Like, why, after 200 years of this life, are all your houses, ramshackle or otherwise, full of leaves? There are still brooms. I know you were born in a post-apocalyptic, hopeless future, but were you also born in a post-apocalyptic, hopeless barn? It’s just lazy, is what it is.
3. MAKE SOME PUZZLES OR SOMETHING, DAMMIT
What do Wastelanders do for fun? Um, apparently, they wallow in melancholy for their entire lives and then get murdered. Create some games! It’s not that hard.
In the words of Dr. Steve Brule, cut up an old photo into a bunch of pieces—you won’t know how the heck to put it back together. Hell, the wasteland still has video games but not one of you has bothered to cobble together a set of checkers?
2. CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY FOR ONCE AND FORM AN IMPROV TROUPE
Even the Dark Ages had plays. Ancient tribes told stories. The Commonwealth Wasteland, it seems, has only a small number of old radio dramas and an annoying radio DJ to entertain it.
These people are bored and sad and have been for generations, and the simple fact is that a small band of comedic thespians of even dubious quality would make a killing. Apart from the business considerations of being the only theatrical entertainment that exists anywhere, any semblance of fun at this point would be amazing for morale. The Commonwealth has, more or less, zero culture. Stop being bored and start being—Oh, I think I heard “Super Mutant fireman” from that gang of raiders on the left! “Yes, and?”
1. STOP BEING A BUNCH OF WIMPS AND LETTING PEOPLE KILL YOU ALL THE TIME
The wastelanders’ generation—Generation I (for Irradiated)—has no initiative. They just wander around, occasionally hammering on ruined buildings even though they don’t seem to have any nails or wood. They can’t be bothered to grow plants, they barely build things, they’re dumb as hell and they contribute nothing to anything. They’re lazy. And worst of all, they let folks kill them all the time, from raiders and Super Mutants to rats that are also moles. This seems to be their major problem, in fact, and it’s exactly why Generation I is letting the world go to hell.
It’s not like there aren’t guns and ammo basically everywhere. Generations past have banded together, built towns, taken over whole countries, and defended themselves against jerkwad invaders. They made this planet great. And Gen I is letting them down with their lazy ways and their obsession with bottle caps. Honestly, who uses bottle caps as currency? A generation that can’t be bothered to do anything but drink centuries-old neon soda, that’s who.
Gen I, you could definitely improve your lives immediately if you stopped letting everything kill you. You’ve had a couple centuries to rest, get shot, and get eaten. Time to pull yourselves up by your bootstraps or your Vault-Tec pants or whatever. Get it together, humanity. You’re the future leaders of the world. The super crappy, slightly glowy world, sure—but the world nonetheless.
Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer and the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory. He was hoping the latter would help him get Han Solo hair, but so far he’s been unsuccessful. He lives with his wife and annoying cats in Los Angeles.
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