Fallout 4

Sim Settlements is so good it should be an official part of the game, said Chris following the launch of kinggath's Fallout 4 settlers mod last year. It went on to win our Best Mod of 2017 and has since received an equally-impressive 'Rise of the Commonwealth' expansion. 

Now, IDEK's Logistics Station aims to "simplify [the] logistical concerns" of settlement maintenance, by creating an Industrial plot that automates supply lines and improves inter-settlement resource sharing. 

"Settlement networking sucks," says the mod's creator IDontEvenKnow. "Supply lines are annoying to set up, and even more annoying to redefine as you unlock more settlements. The standard system that shares food and water between settlements is just as happy to feed your settlers corn as it is your cache of Mirelurk Queen steaks. Collecting the surplus food, water and tax money that your settlements produce is tedious.

"To alleviate this, I created this mod. With Sim Settlements, your settlers are happy to build their own towns—why shouldn't they manage their own logistical needs as well?"

In practice, players assign settlers to each settlement's Logistics Station, who are in turn automatically assigned a caravan route to their nearest settlement. As your network grows, the mod lets your supply lines maintain efficient routes without additional input—and your supply lines will automatically arrange themselves to "produce a minimum spanning tree."That looks something like this:

Logistics Stations also redistributes resources in a more efficient manner against standard supply lines, which in turn is designed to maintain settler happiness. More information on that, as well how the mod handles storage and resource auto-collection, can be found via the mod's Nexus Mods page

For more on Fallout 4's Sim Settlements mod itself, check out Chris' words here. 

Fallout 4 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Though stealth has always been an element of the Fallout games, it’s never been interesting stealth. It’s been powerful at times, sure, but always a bit bland and never explored in much depth (hey, it’s an RPG, not a sneak ’em up). A new mod for Fallout 4 attempts to shake this up a little by introducing two Metal Gear Solid-ish sneaky tricks: whistling and throwing bolts to lure and distract enemies. It’s not quite on the same level as walking around wearing a cardboard box with a picture of a sexy lady on to distract horny guards, but the Tactical Distraction System mod does sound neat. (more…)

Fallout 4

If you're looking to up your stealth game in Fallout 4, creep on over to Nexus Mods and slip the Tactical Distraction System mod into your bag of tricks. The mod lets you whistle or toss a bolt, creating a sound that will catch the attention of an enemy (or enemies) in the vicinity, luring them over.

These two features work a little differently. Whistling will lure an enemy over to the spot you whistled from, so you can either whistle and then scuttle away, or wait in place to take them out. Throwing a bolt, meanwhile, will lure the enemy to the location where the bolt hits the ground. It's a bit reminiscent of Metal Gear, or Hitman.

Your enemies won't be sitting ducks, modder FLipdeezy promises. They'll search around the area carefully, and they won't be distracted if they're already in combat.

The ability to whistle is automatically added as an inventory item upon installing the mod, while the bolts will need to be crafted at a chemistry station. Check out a video of the mod in action below.

Fallout 4

I'm attempting a non-lethal playthrough of Fallout 4 with the Knockout Framework mod, which lets me punch NPCs unconscious and carry them around in a sack on my back. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Using mods can get messy, especially when a mod changes a major aspect of a game system, like the knockout mod does. There can come a point where the game simply doesn't know how to respond to the alterations the mod is making. A lot of quests in Fallout 4 can only be marked as complete if you kill certain NPCs or monsters, and considering that I'm trying to avoid doing that, it's no simple matter to progress.

Last time, I tackled Preston Garvey's Museum of Freedom quest, which resulted in me leaving Concord with an unconscious deathclaw stuffed in my backpack. Since Garvey will only be satisfied if the deathclaw is dead, the quest remains incomplete.

I want to keep my pet deathclaw, though: it could come in handy. I figure that if I just remove it from Concord for a period of time, Preston might decide I've killed it and let me progress through the story. So, I head to Red Rocket Truck Stop, where I'd previously built a prison for some mole rats, and I drop the deathclaw inside. Sort of. It kind of flops half-in and half-out.

I'm not sure what'll happen if I leave it dangling like this, so I wake it up with a stimpack. Thankfully, after regaining consciousness on the edge of the pen, it sort of hops inside. My pet! My lovely pet!

Naturally, it's not really my pet, it completely hates me. It starts roaring and stomping around and swiping at me with its tail and claws, so I quickly close the door (as if it could fit through that doorway, and even if it could, like a closed wooden door would stop it) and spend some time trying to admire it from the staircase. It manages to hit me, only once, which breaks my leg and sends me limping away with only a shred of health remaining.

I tell ya, playing non-lethally is bad for your health.

After crafting a water pump back in Sanctuary to heal myself (the game won't let me using the crafting bench at Red Rocket since there's a furious deathclaw a few feet away), I head to Concord, and sure enough, the quest still isn't complete. Preston wants that D-claw dead and there seems to be no fooling him.

The only other quest I currently have available is one from Tenpines Bluff, where a couple of farmers want me to take care of the raiders at the Corvega Assembly Plant. Since I've had no trouble knocking out raiders with my cane and my non-lethal shotgun, I figure I can handle that.

I can't handle that.

This isn't some little band of shaggy, stinky raiders like the ones I've encountered so far: there are over a dozen of them outside, including on the roof, and almost twice as many inside. While I do pretty well clonking them unconscious around the perimeter, I'm being constantly sniped from the ones on the roof of the plant, who are too far away for me to hit with my non-lethal shotgun. Inside, I'm immediately and repeatedly scorched by molotovs and grenades. I'm not going to be able to manage this alone.

Well, I do have my own deathclaw. After several deaths and reloads, I return to Red Rocket, zip my deathclaw up in my backpack, and return. With my pocket monster, I figure, I can handle the factory.

I can't handle the factory.

Really, there are three problems. The deathclaw, when awakened, only has one stimpack's worth of health, and though it's still fearsome it's not exactly an irresistible force in its weakened state. The assembly plant, meanwhile, consists of a lot of stairways and catwalks and narrow areas, not ideal for a monster the size of a car. And finally, I'm a weakling in fight with a dozen enemies armed with guns and lobbing grenades. Even if my deathclaw can survive long enough to take out the raiders, I can't. And if the raiders kill the deathclaw, thus completing my Concord mission for me, I can't survive long enough to enjoy it. I die again and again.

Finally, I give up. After some deliberation, I decide to simply take the deathclaw back to Concord, drop it in front of the Minutemen, and let them finish it off.

They don't finish it off.

It's definitely enjoyable watching the deathclaw rampage around the office, but it's too much for the Minutemen and Mama Murphy, quickly knocking them all out (the mod allows NPCs to bash each other unconscious as well). Now the deathclaw I don't want to kill but need to kill refuses to be killed. You suck, Minutemen.

I manage to slip out onto the balcony to see if Preston can be persuaded to come inside and finish the job, but I discover Garvey is, well, a bit broken:

He's alive and conscious, but lying face-down on the balcony. Preston wriggles around, he speaks, he occasionally teleports a bit, but he won't get up. The guy with a fetish for settlements appears to have permanently settled here.

After hitting him, shooting him, and otherwise trying and failing to get him to stand up, I decide to enlist the help of the unconscious raiders in the street below. Maybe if I haul them into the office, they'll kill the deathclaw and I can finally complete this mission.


When I return with the first raider, I find the deathclaw finally, mercifully dead. A few of the Minutemen are awake and acting as if everything is normal, like there isn't a giant dead monster on the ground and their boss isn't outside dry-humping the balcony. What's worse, when I dump the raiders (who now also need to die to complete the mission), their bodies vanish. I drag in all of them, one by one, and they all disappear. You can see above that the hovering red squares on my HUD indicate their positions in the office, but they can't be seen, revived, killed, or hauled back outside.

And so, with Preston doing the eternal worm outside and a pile of unconscious invisible raiders no one can kill, I think it may be time to put a pin in my non-lethal knockout adventures in Fallout 4. I didn't get far, but at least my personal body count is zero. A few raiders died due to my actions and I blew up a few turrets, but the only thing I wound up killing was the game itself.

Fallout 4

The Fallout 4: New Vegas mod project was announced in August last year, and firmly grabbed my attention last month with these dynamic weather screens. Now, the mod has a new trailer that teases its perk system, a shotgun showdown in Goodsprings, and the return of NV's be-nice-or-be-shunned karma system. The Mojave Wasteland never looked so good. 

As you'll see below, the player starts out on the peripheral of the mod's reimagining of opening town Goodsprings, before tinkering with Radio New Vegas via their Pip-Boy, assuming perks as per the original game, and ultimately gunning down what appears to be an innocent civilian. Cue some serious shunning.

Fallout 4: New Vegas is clearly an ambitious undertaking, but it's one I'm already very much looking forward to. As we reported last month, its creators aren't tying themselves down to a hard release date/window just yet and are always on the lookout for new recruits. 

When it's done, Fallout 4: New Vegas aims to recreate everything from Obsidian's 2010 Mojave Wasteland—including all of the game's original quests and story, "with additional gameplay elements and systems from the new and improved engine."

Incidentally, Fallout 4: New Vegas ranked second place in ModDB's Best Upcoming Mods awards

Fallout 4

The draw of Sim Settlements, the Fallout 4 mod we awarded Best Mod of 2017, was that it gave NPCs some agency in creating their own homes and shops on your settlements. All you'd have to do is zone an area for the type of building you wanted, and let your settlers handle the construction and furniture placement, which gave rise to cool randomized homes and shops that would improve and change while you were off doing other things.

Rise of the Commonwealth, the expansion to Sim Settlements, takes the idea a step further by letting NPCs not just build their own stuff but actually plan the settlement completely without your input. You can assign a city leader for each settlement, choosing from Fallout 4's NPCs companions, and put them in charge, as if making them mayor. They'll begin by scrapping the settlement,  decide for themselves where zoned plots should be placed, and then set about building along with the other NPC settlers you've recruited. As the settlement grows, your mayor will even take into account the current shortcomings of the settlement, focusing on more farms or homes or shops depending on what's needed most. Rise of the Commonwealth is another way to have unique, constantly growing settlements without you having to spend time micromanaging everything.

Naturally, you can still contribute and build your own stuff if you like, but the idea is to feel like your settlers are capable of making decisions and managing themselves. They may even build over some of your own constructions (if you built something in their designated area) or even move items you've placed to more suitable locations. And why not? You've put them in charge, after all.

You can also help out by donating your spare junk to boost their scrap supplies, and since Sim Settlements gives you more time to explore you're bound to have tons of extra junk to contribute. You can also still set up supply chains to keep your settlements connected to one another.

As always, modder kinggath and his team have produced some informative orientation videos to explain the basic concepts and finer workings of the mod, and there are future plans to add a wider selection of NPCs that can act as city planners and even provide bonuses to the settlements they're assigned to. Sim Settlements, already great, just keeps getting better.

Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Another year over, a new one just begun, which means, impossibly, even more games.> But what about last year? Which were the games that most people were buying and, more importantly, playing? As is now something of a tradition, Valve have let slip a big ol’ breakdown of the most successful titles released on Steam over the past twelve months.

Below is the full, hundred-strong roster, complete with links to our coverage if you want to find out more about any of the games, or simply to marvel at how much seemed to happen in the space of 52 short weeks.


Fallout 4

Every week, we produce our Highs and Lows feature, rounding up the week in news, games and whatever else is drifting through our heads when we write it on a Friday afternoon. Since it's the end of 2017, we've produced a special round-up of the year, with contributions across our global team. Enjoy, and check back tomorrow for our lows of the year.

Samuel Roberts: Age of Empires 4 exists

Here something I never would have predicted at the start of 2017: Microsoft bringing back Age of Empires. Not just with enhanced editions of the older games, but with a brand new fourth entry, made by the RTS specialists at Relic. Not loads is known about it, but at Gamescom it came out of nowhere with a trailer, and in 2018 we'll hopefully see a lot more of it.This is the first new Age of Empires in 13 years, which is crazy. Along with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, it's cool to see series from that era of PC gaming return. It doesn't get more PC gaming than Age of Empires for me: that series was fundamental to my interest in PC back in the late '90s, after I sampled the first game on a PC Gamer demo disc.

I hope Age of Empires 4 comes with a scenario editor. Earlier this year, I wrote about how much I loved AoE2's scenario editor, and how it let you make 20 William Wallaces fight 20 Joan of Arcs. If we can't violate the truth of history with the most ridiculous large-scale encounters imaginable, it just won't be my Age of Empires. 

Andy Kelly: Paint it black

Okami is one of my all-time favourite games, but for years I had no easy, convenient way to play it. I don’t own any consoles, so I couldn't even play the 2012 re-release, and I had trouble emulating it at a stable frame-rate. So I was delighted this year when it was finally released on PC with 4K support. It finally looks like it looked in my mind when I played it on a PlayStation 2 and a tube TV back in 2006, and I’m stunned by how beautiful those ink wash-inspired visuals still are, even at modern resolutions.

A lot of great stuff was released for PC this year, so it might seem odd that my highlight is a re-release of an 11-year-old game, but I think that proves just how fond I am of Okami. As well as looking gorgeous, it's a grand adventure in the Zelda mould, full of interesting characters, beautiful locations, and puzzle-filled dungeons. It’s just a lovely place to exist in, and I loved every one of its 30+ hours. Yes, it's a big game, and the pace can be incredibly slow, but I can forgive that. It's a game to be savoured, not rushed.

Hell, I don’t even care that it’s locked to 30fps. In light of the game's quality, I'm willing to sacrifice a few frames per second. And I think it's healthy not to let technical limitations dictate your enjoyment of a game every time. When I first played Deus Ex it was at 15fps on a shitty laptop with onboard graphics, and it's still my favourite game of all time. So yeah, Okami is amazing and I'm glad I can play it whenever I like now. I'm listening to the soundtrack as I write this and feeling a powerful urge to return.

Tom Senior: Elite strats

This year I've been cheered by the gentle, ongoing presence of strategy games on PC. It's still rare to get a big blockbuster like Civilization VI every year, but War of the Chosen was brilliant, I had a good time with Dawn of War 3 before it seemed to falter after release, and Total War: Warhammer 2 is going to take over my Christmas gaming time. 

It has been an interesting year for 4X strategy games as well. Stellaris and Endless Space 2 continue to grow, and I look forward to returning to both games next year after they have had more time to mature. Age of Empires Definitive Edition will provide a nice reliable hit of nostalgia in 2018, but like Samuel I'm most excited about Age of Empires IV, whenever that's due. I've been trying to second guess Relic’s approach since the game was announced. The scale of the setting might inspire a move away from the micro-heavy approaches to recent games, and I wonder if we will see a move away from complex progression mechanics and unit upgrade systems in favour of a more sweeping, accessible RTS without the esports pretensions. The future is bright for strategy fans.

Tyler Wilde: Major players

None of my favorite games this year came from Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, Microsoft Game Studios, Capcom, Take-Two, Warner Bros, or Sega. It's not that these publishers have stopped putting out games I enjoy—many of them published some fine games this year—but that the selection of great PC games is becoming more and more diverse and plentiful. My best of 2017 list includes Divinity: Original Sin 2, Night in the Woods, Rocket League (which didn't come out this year but is still my most-played game), Sniper Elite 4, Absolver, and Torment: Tides of Numenera, none of which were backed by a major publisher. I couldn't say the same thing five years ago. And ten years ago? Forget it.

Chris Livingston: VR isn't dead

This is a weird one for me, because among the PC Gamer staff I've perhaps been the most skeptical of VR (possibly because I lived through the first round of VR pie-in-the-sky promises in the 1980s). And by no means have I changed my views on it: it's simply not cheap or convenient enough to become a part of mainstream gaming. And won't, I think, for another decade. Still, I think (and have always thought) the technology is neat if impractical, and I was a bit worried that after it failed to truly catch on for the PC, it might simply wither and die.

So it's been great to see that some developers and publishers are still embracing it. Bethesda went all in this year, releasing a special episode of Doom plus the entirety of Fallout 4 in VR. Both games have their issues, but they're also both extremely enjoyable through a headset. Rockstar released a truncated version of LA Noire in VR, Croteam brought us Serious Sam VR, and there were some smaller games like Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality that use the technology astoundingly well. Gamers are still interested, too: a Kickstarter for an 8K VR headset asked for $200,000 and received over $4 million.

VR isn't dead, and that's good. There's a long road ahead, major advances in the tech needed, and way more games required. It just needs more time, and the more developers (especially big ones) that keep their hats in the ring, the more time it'll have.

Wes Fenlon: Japanese games had a hell of a year

Japanese game companies have been struggling for years, having to spend more and more money to developer big games that bring in less and less cash as their players switch over to mobile. For a long time, this was only a woe for console players—we barely got Japanese games on PC at all! But holy hell, has 2017 been a great year for Japanese games everywhere. Off the PC, the Nintendo Switch has been a phenomenal success, and it's a joy to play games on. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games I've ever played. Yazuka 0 was the talk of the town for months, earlier this year. Persona 5 is the most stylish RPG in ages. Nioh revitalized Team Ninja.

And on PC, the story has been just as great. Nier: Automata proved to be a smash hit beyond all expectations, and it's still being talked about constantly after being out for nine months. Sega and Platinum games brought Bayonetta and Vanquish to PC after years of fans pining, and both look and play as smoothly on PC as they deserve—easily the definitive versions of those games. Resident Evil 7 made the series scary again, something it desperately needed. With every success, it feels like Japanese developers and emboldened to plan PC builds of their games right from the start.

The highlight of my year was tapping into the excitement around Japanese games with an entire week of features devoted to them. The ones I'm most proud of are How Japan learned to love PC gaming again, which tries to capture the how and why of PC gaming finally sticking for Japanese developers, and Phantasy Star Online will never die, a feature about the incredibly welcoming fan communities still playing PSO to this day. I had both of these stories in my head for years, and publishing them was true catharsis. It's hard to imagine Japanese developers topping their 2017 output anytime soon, but that's okay. 2017 was a year of resurgence and renewed confidence, and I think everyone's excited about what comes next.

Jarred Walton: Ryzen shout, the CPUs are out

This year has been insane on the CPU front, and while we didn't award AMD's Ryzen our Best CPU of the Year, it's chiefly thanks to AMD that Intel has pulled out the stops and actually released some compelling upgrades. Starting with the Ryzen 7 parts, and then moving through Ryzen 5, Ryzen 3, and finally Ryzen Threadripper, AMD has become a viable competitor in the CPU realm once more.

My hopes for Ryzen were perhaps too high, but Ryzen 7 is still a very fast processor. The 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 7 models compete well against Intel's i7-5960X, i7-6900K, and i7-7820X, particularly in professional applications. But most games don't utilize lots of cores, so Ryzen somewhat unexpectedly does a bit poorly in games. It comes down to per-core performance, where Intel's architecture is simply better tuned at this stage.

But choice is a good thing, and we should see new Ryzen processors next year that build on this year's successes. Using an updated Zen+ architecture and a 12nm process should allow for higher clockspeeds, and hopefully AMD has refined the core design to improve latencies as well, which would boost gaming performance. There are rumors of new 400-series chipsets, but the new parts should be compatible with existing 300-series AM4 boards. Ryzen was this close to greatness, and the update may actually push AMD over the top.

Tim Clark: Finally winning something

When we moved into our new office our bosses decided to liven up the place with some motivational slogans on the walls. One of these is positioned just behind Evan's head and reads: "Results matter and success feels good". I have had plenty of time to ponder it, it wasn't until my trip to China in the summer that I truly I understood the management inspo. I was there following Muzzy's bid to win the Hearthstone Spring Championship, and though he ended up having a rough tournament, it was fascinating seeing how these young players deal with all the prep and pressure. My feature on that experience is my favourite thing I wrote this year, and China only cemented my love of the tournament scene.

I also got a tiny taste of what it's like to compete. Between the proper matches, Blizzard organised a press tournament to keep us out of trouble. Over the course of multiple 3-2 series victories (two of which I fell 2-0 behind in), and one absolute stomp against a nice Japanese lady who didn't seem to have played the game before. The rush of relief I felt when I won the final—and with a Pyroblast to face, no less—felt better than probably anything I've experienced related to gaming. Plus it meant I got to have my picture take with Ant and (the actual winner) Hoej, both of whom are absolute sweethearts.

Generally speaking I avoid any sort of serious competition, and though this was of course supposed to be a bit of fun, you better believe I took it seriously, even going so far as asking Muzzy for pick and ban advice. So I guess what I'm saying is results do matter, success does feel good. I just needed a children's card game to teach me.

Fallout 4

This year's best mod is Fallout 4's Sim Settlements. Below, our writers share their thoughts on why it made such a meaningful difference to the game. To see the rest of our 2017 GOTY Awards, head here

Chris Livingston: Sim Settlements is sort of astounding to me. It gives Fallout 4 players an entirely new way to build settlements by, essentially, allowing NPCs to build their own. Designate zones for residential, commercial, or industrial buildings, and then sit back and watch your settlers erect their own buildings, randomly pulling from pools of assets so each building is a unique. As your settlement grows the NPCs will add on to their buildings, adding more props and features and even second stories. Each time you visit a settlement, you'll be able to see their progress, which gives your settlements a feeling of real life, and gives your settlers some agency. They aren't just standing around waiting for you to place every last door, bed, or stick of furniture.

The really great thing is, you can still use the vanilla settlement system at the same time, even inside the same settlement. Zone some areas for NPCs to develop, build some areas yourself. You can decide how hands-on you want to be. It's an amazingly thoughtful and well-made mod that could easily be incorporated into the game itself.

Sim Settlements helps make Fallout 4's settlement system feel more connected to the rest of the game.

Joe Donnelly: Fallout 4's settlement system confused me at launch. With so many other things to get on with in The Commonwealth, who could be arsed piecing together makeshift HQs with rickety bed frames, recycled cinder blocks and filthy old toilet bowls? Not me, which is why I paid the Sim Settlements mod little mind when I first caught wind of it. Seriously, if I’m to be dropped into a brutal post apocalyptic world with a shed load of firearms and melee weapons at my disposal, I want to take the scores of weird, hostile and irradiated beasts knocking around to task—not playing interior designer. I get that rebuilding the world is a big part of survival, but I'd rather leave all that to someone else. Enter Sim Settlements.

To quote the mod's ModDB description: "It also feels bizarre that you have to micromanage all these people, and personally plant seeds and decide where people sleep—you're their leader, not their mother! You're supplying these people with security and tons of resources, why can't they kick in and help out with building up the city?"

To this end, my otherwise useless Sanctuary Hills-dwelling comrades were suddenly crafting buildings by their own volition in some sort of nuclear war-ravaged edition of 60 Minute Makeover. The tedium was removed from base building and it was great. And the joy of returning from several hours of roving the Wasteland to find one of my settlers' projects completed, as they toiled and moiled on their next venture was second to none. I mean, who'd have guessed Preston Garvey had such a creative streak? 

In doing so, Sim Settlements helps make Fallout 4's settlement system feel more connected to the rest of the game. Moreover, an adjustable needs system allows the basic needs of your settlers to change over time, meaning maintaining base happiness is more challenging and raid less predictable.

Phil Savage: It's such a great idea for a mod that the main game feels bereft without it. Fallout 4 is a game about communities, and Sim Settlements lets those communities work towards their own recovery.

Read Chris's impressions of Sim Settlements here.

Fallout 4

With the right ensemble of mods, Fallout: New Vegas can look stunning. Instead of relying on a hotchpotch of player-made creations, though, one mod team is recreating Obsidian's Mojave-set interpretation of the post-apocalypse in Fallout 4's Creation Engine. 

Fallout 4: New Vegas is a project comprised of around 100 contributors from various backgrounds, and aims to reimagine Sin City with all of the 2010 original's "quests story and content, with additional gameplay elements and systems from the new and improved engine." 

Announced in August this year, here's a brief pre-alpha short:

Looks pretty neat, huh? The mod's latest ModDB devlog shows off how Fallout 4's dynamic weather system affects New Vegas with varied lighting and ever-changing atmospheric detail.Here's some screens to this end:

Fallout 4: New Vegas is without a hard release date, however its creators note that they're always interested in new recruits. If that's you, head in this direction for the mod team's application form. 

And since we're talking New Vegas, let me point you in the direction of Andy's recent reinstall


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