Seems to be growing well,” I tell the malnourished farmhands before ripping their gourds from the ground and stuffing them down my trousers. Strangely, they’re cool with this, so I try selling the grotty vegetables back to them to see what happens. They buy them. They actually buy back the gourds they saw me steal. Fallout 4 ’s wasteland is my own personal pick ‘n’ mix.
A kidnapped baby isn’t the driving force behind my exploits in this nuclear-ravaged world. No, my primary motivation is building an increasingly epic looter’s paradise loaded with disco balls and pictures of kittens and musical pressure pads that play La Cucaracha badly when you walk on them. The boy comes second after I finish my dance floor, which is probably never, and the whole ‘avenging my dead wife’ thing is third I guess.
So, pockets unfeasibly loaded with corn and melons and something called ‘tatos’ which are a mutated tomato/ potato hybrid that sadly does not work well in song (“You say tato, and I… also say tato”), I travel to Sanctuary. The quaint neighbourhood I lived in before being frozen for 200 years is still standing, and despite peeling paint on the houses and the cars outside them turning to rusted husks, it’s a home I’m committed to rebuilding. My every second exploring the Commonwealth is spent looking for shiny items like a massive featherless magpie, a magpie with opposable thumbs who can fashion those objects into something cool. A magpie on a mission.
A guard in Diamond City strikes up a conversation but I ignore him and focus on scanning the background for umbrellas and spatulas. I walk through majestic environments staring entirely at the floor. I make a beeline for a broken mop in a super-mutant’s lair because I need its precious cloth and that futon won’t make itself. Old newspapers and ashtrays and duct tape and desk fans are the new gold (the old gold, gold, is fairly useless).
My routine involves loading up with lightbulbs and hotplates and teddy bears until I can’t carry any more, giving another ton of junk to my begrudging pack mule of a companion, then hotfooting it back to base after every mission to empty my stash. I imagine typewriters and paintbrushes and battered books streaming from pockets en route like a crappy breadcrumb trail made from sheer garbage.
I can do a lot with these materials, though, like scandalously shredding an American flag and using its material to make a doormat, mounting stuffed animal parts on the walls of my bedroom, scrapping plungers and pencils and using their wood to build a fence around my most annoying settler who keeps asking me for drugs, and harvesting copper from telephones to wire up my electricity pylons and creating a promotional radio station that broadcasts a humblebrag across the Commonwealth. My ultimate aim is collecting enough human bones to make a pool I can swim in like a detestable Scrooge McDuck.
My every action in Fallout 4 is taken with homestead expansion in mind, and as such it’s spoiled other games for me. I don’t want to play something in which filling my clown-car pockets with alarm clocks and spatulas isn’t handsomely rewarded. I’d steal you if I could.