Over my summer vacation i started experimenting with the survival difficulty in Fallout 4. I’ve been taking it rather slow, almost as if i don’t have a kidnapped son out there at all. But certain action i took today gave me pause and made me wonder; perhaps i’m doing this all wrong, and if so, is there a right way of playing?

When i pictured survival mode in my head it thought of players constantly on the road, barely making it out of every fight, limbs crippled, having to drag themselves to the nearest town using nothing more than their character’s anus. Running out of ammo and being forced to bare knuckle box a deathclaw into submission. Resorting to cannibalism after discovering that the game won’t allow you to eat dogmeat. Drinking toilet water in a ghoul infested subway station bathroom. Fainting randomly because your character hasn’t slept in over 48 hours and is afflicted with both insomnia and fatigue.

Well shit...

Instead I began my survival mode character with the full intention of never leaving sanctuary and its surrounding area. I decided instead to try and survive with such a parameter. All my skill points went into Charisma, Intelligence, and just enough Luck to get the Idiot Savant perk. I even went so far as to arrogantly name my character Caesar, thinking that through extreme adversity i may one day build a Rome out of Sanctuary Hills. But as it turns out, it isn’t all that difficult to reach a point of comfortability. Months went by before I decided to encounter dogmeat and save the apocalyptic boy scout, The Le Mis reject, Grandma Junkie, Permanent pompadour wig-man, and… umm… The Bitch.

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We reach sanctuary hills and they immediately ignore the already well established settlement that I’ve built there, once again making the limitation of Fallout 4 abundantly clear. By this time I’ve already established close relations with the farmers of Abernathy farm. Fast forward a few more months and i’m now running the aforementioned farm, along with Red Rocket Truck Stop and Sanctuary Hills. All three were meant to be “farms” in more ways than just in the traditional sense. Besides cultivating crops and gathering building resources, i also wanted to intentionally provoke attacks upon the settlement. That way i can keep things interesting and strip the bodies for valuables.

Sanctuary Hills now has an abundance of food, five industrial water purifiers, about 15 scavenging stations, three gunners cages, one raider cage, one level 2 trader, and one level 2 bar in a pretty swanky post apocalyptic Ruby Tuesday. Even with a low defense rating i can count on one hand the amount of times sanctuary hills has been attacked in all my playthroughs. So instead, i have the cages open up into an enclosure, we slaughter the occupants, loot them, and reset the cages. Red rocket truck stop also proved to be a failure in this regard so i mainly use it to store building resources. Abernathy farm is so far the only successful part of this particular experiment. The people there are attacked quite often. They complain, but what do they know? So far only Clarabell, their brahmin, has died, and who knows? Maybe she deserved it.

I’ve ventured into Lexington before, but only scavenged what i could from the outskirts. Today i decided to make a move against the raiders at the corvega assembly plant. I’ve been investing my skill points in stealth skills and figured I’m ready. So I loaded dogmeat up full of food, water, extra ammo and other necessities, relegating him into nothing more than a pack animal. Once i snuck into the facility via the breached pipe, i instructed dogmeat to wait there, embracing him even more as a mobile HQ. That’s when i thought about a dog whistle mod. Hmm...

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I must say it was fun being in a situation where i didn’t know if i was going to survive or not. I haven’t experienced that since Far Harbor. I cleared the interior, went home, came back, killed the fat man power armor guy, went home, came back with a sniper rifle, cleared the exterior, went and came back again, this time in power armor, and ransacked the place. Then it hit me…

Like a kick in the nuts

I may be doing this survival thing all wrong. Only when engaging in combat far away from a settlement am i truly trying to survive. At my settlements it was like that for a little bit, but now? Me and my settlers want for nothing. Fallout 4 is lousy with settlement sites. So conceivably, i can just go from settlement to settlement until i’m never too far away from one. But then i may just be playing it too safe.

So am i doing this wrong? Am i an equivalent to chicken shit for playing it safe? I’d like to hear from anyone reading this.