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The perfect way to start a new game of Fallout 4 is with the Sim Settlements 2 mod

Fallout 4 Sim Settlements mod
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Paul is an old coot who recently moved into my Fallout 4 settlement in Sanctuary Hills. I figured he'd hang around, do some farming, maybe work on his house a little, and essentially be just another dude I sprint past without even looking at. Just like all my other settlers. 

But he just ran up to me in Concord. It's surprising, because it means he left my settlement, something that sets him apart from every other settler I've ever met. He has news, too—raiders have taken some of my Sanctuary settlers hostage.

I already know raiders sometimes attack settlements, but along with learning that Paul can decide to leave the settlement on his own, that raiders can actually abduct people is more new information. I dash off to deal with the hostage situation, and find the pack of raiders in the woods pointing guns at some of my settlers. The raiders are angry because I'd killed a bunch of them in Concord a few days ago, but I figure I can talk my way out a bloodbath because there are some dialogue options for negotiation.

Without saying too much, I'll just inform you the negotiations were short and a bunch of my settlers got shot in the head. These new developments are, wonderfully, all part of the Sim Settlements 2 mod, which doesn't just give you some settlement building and management tools but a hell of a lot of story, quests, new characters, and surprises. So far, all of them have been great.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Fallout 4 turns five years old today, and if you're thinking about jumping in and starting over, do yourself a favor and install Sim Settlements 2 first. The sequel to our favorite mod of 2017, Sim Settlements 2 expands on the settlement building system and throws in loads more, including French Bulldogs. Don't you want a French Bulldog running around in your settlement? I assume you do.

Like the original mod, Sim Settlements 2 overhauls Fallout 4's settlement building process in novel fashion. Rather than building every structure and placing every single stick of furniture yourself—which, don't get me wrong, can be quite fun—it allows players to instead zone their settlements. Label areas for residential buildings, industrial structures, farming zones, and vendors, and the settlers who arrive will construct those buildings themselves. The building system pulls from a pool of assets so each building will be a little different, and over time they'll grow and change, giving your base or bases a dynamic, living quality.

That in itself is just plain neat—it feels like your little community is making choices on their own and continuing to work while you're out of town. And there's nothing stopping you from building stuff yourself just like in the vanilla game. It's up to you how hands-on you really want to be.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Where Sim Settlements 2 overtakes the original mod is with the new characters, quests, and systems it introduces. With the mod installed, a rather handsome stranger appears and offers you a new piece of equipment, called an ASAM sensor. This allows you to zone areas on your settlement for construction, and if you want, decide more specifically what sort of building gets built. 

The voice acting is great, from the stranger to old coot Paul (my first modded settler) to the other arrivals, which even include an Assaultron robot who is haunted by the memories of all the people it killed. There are dialogue options in most of your conversations, so you can roleplay in your chats with the modded characters. And these unique and named settlers even have their own stats, which you can increase by building special structures for them. There's actually a reason to care about your settlement's citizens, now.

And the settlement quests aren't just dumped on you in a big pile. The stranger leaves you—he's got a life of his own, you know—but he'll make contact from time to time with new developments and missions. The slow growth of your settlement, and the intermittent nature of the new quests, means Sim Settlements 2 slots in nicely with a new playthrough of Fallout 4—though it also works great with any ongoing game you're playing.

So far, I'm absolutely charmed and extremely impressed with the mod. More stories and quests will be added in an episodic fashion, but there's plenty to get started with in the first chapter right now. 

Christopher Livingston
Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring stories in RPGs so he can make up his own.