A small settlement in Fallout 76 with a guard station
Image Source: Bethesda Softworks

Dear Bethesda, Please Just Make a Management Sim Already

Dwarf Fortress meets a Bethesda game? Yes please!

Since 2015, Bethesda has woven various forms of base building and settlement management woven into their RPG’s many systems. As the years went by and new games released, the settlement systems changed with the game, but never took a backseat to the game’s other features.

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Bethesda seemingly made it their goal to keep base-building relevant to the gameplay no matter what the genre of RPG they were making. As such, I think I speak for many fans of the developer’s games when I say this. Bethesda needs to just make a management sim game already.

Fallout 4 was the start of it all, allowing players to destroy and rebuild a cul-de-sac with a focus on recruiting, maintaining, and defending settlers. Meanwhile, Fallout 76 allowed players to build personal C.A.M.P.S. anywhere in the rolling hills of Appalachia. Additionally, Bethesda developed the player home system in Fallout 76 with the game’s online component in mind. Lastly, players visiting your home could access vending machines that functioned as player-made shops.

Let’s also not forget Fallout Shelter, the mobile idle game that allowed players to hoard resources while recruiting new Vault members as they grew their base and fended off enemies.

Starfield, on the other hand, allows players to craft outposts on any of the 1,000 planets they can visit. These outposts are less settler-focused and more factory and production-oriented than Fallout 4’s settlements or Fallout 76’s C.A.M.P.S. It’s okay for Bethesda to strip away some of the features of Fallout 4’s settlements when so many of Starfield’s other systems are just as impactful.

Starfield planet surface during the day
Image Source: Bethesda Softworks

With Bethesda’s history now in the past, it’s clear that managing settlements is in their DNA. Everything they have learned and implemented could be combined to make a compelling management, settlement simulator. Now, when it comes down to it, the NPCs are what make settlement sims feel alive. Considering Bethesda mostly nailed this concept back in 2015 means Bethesda wouldn’t have to work too hard to overhaul and expand what they already made for Fallout 4.

Games like Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld stand on top of the sim settlement world, and rightfully so. Both games feature a nearly unheard-of level of complexity in the way they simulate their randomly generated worlds and the people, or dwarves, that inhabit it. Using those games as inspiration, let’s imagine what Bethesda’s management simulator would look like.

Starting with the world, Bethesda could use Starfield‘s planet-generation technology to give players an earth-like planet to explore with weather, a day and night cycle, the works! Like RimWorld, Bethesda’s sim could have their planet divided into chunks that players could travel to and create settlements in using each chunk’s generated resources. Alongside said resources, the player could find or rescue other settlers from a variety of randomly generated nearby events.

From there, you would use basic harvested resources to create a simple shelter and some simple workbenches. The person or people in your employ would need a constant drip of food, water, a bed, ways to relax, and exercise. Unsurprisingly, a lot of that would need to be set up, along with your settler’s jobs so they can maintain the settlement’s upkeep while you’re out exploring.

Starfield Busy Town Concept Art
Image Source: Bethesda Softworks

Of course, the settlers in a Bethesda management sim would be autonomous but could be guided by your hand if needed. Now of course, it wouldn’t be a settlement sim if your settlers didn’t get sick, both mentally and physically. The mental sickness in particular could cause odd, emergent behaviors in your settlers, giving the game that exciting sense of unpredictability. Behaviors like lashing out violently and hurting others or you, or verbally, bringing down your settler’s morale via debuffs.

Like Starfield’s planet’s generatable regions, you could visit regions outside of your own with the right vehicle. Doing so could introduce further events, points of interest, and even other settlements to potentially do business and interact with. Beyond that, you might have to worry about invaders from nearby, distant regions, or even from space depending on the game’s theme.

Ideally, Bethesda should create dozens, if not hundreds of events that could happen at random intervals. Additionally, the events could range from odd weather, and sweeping illnesses, to spirit possessions and crop plagues. Mix those randomly timed events with the dynamic and emergent behaviors of settlers and you have a recipe for a very compelling management sim that feels like a Bethesda game.

Of course, this is all speculation, but in ideal developmental conditions with upper management’s approval, Bethesda could likely deliver such a focused title.


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Author
Ali Taha
Whether its new releases, or a new Destiny 2 season, Ali will flex his gaming and freelancer skills to cover them extensively. He started off writing features for Game Rant but found a better home here on Twinfinite. While Ali waits for the next Monster Hunter title, he enjoys publishing his progression fantasy novels as an indie author.