TLDR: What value is there really in investing more than the bare minimum in my settlements?
So, long story short, I had a long term plan for my settlements with an optimized vendor strategy that would let me pretty much ignore my settlements going forward. However, the 75k cap starting investment for this has me second guessing myself. As much as I love building games (I probably have thousands of hours in Terraria), I'm not keen on the settlement system here. Water farms, food farms, vendors, it all seems pretty unfulfilling.
The only thing I like about the settlement system is the xp from all the missions. Right now, I'm level 28, solely from doing quests for Preston, and I have less than half the settlements at this point. If I ignored them completely, I'd probably be going after Kellogg at level 5 and getting my ass handed to me. As is, 30 levels from what isn't even a major faction, is pretty cherry.
But, what do I really need from the settlements themselves? Water? Sure, since I'm on survival, but I already have hundreds of purified waters from settlements that have maybe a half dozen people and two water pumps. I couldn't imagine the glut I'd have if I actually built a water farm. Food? Technically yes, but I've yet to eat a single thing my settlers have grown. Almost everything I've eaten has been hunted. Junk/salvage? That's kind of a reverse catch-22. Weapons don't really require much, but settlements do. Having settlers salvage is useful to support the settlement, but if you don't have (large) settlements, you don't really need a lot of salvage to keep them in order. Caps? TBH, I bought very little with caps so far. I buy out Carla and Trudy on .45 and .308 on occasion (I'm using a loot reduction mod, so ammo can be hard to come by). I know you can buy certain uniques, but I'm fine with legendary drops or even just regular weapons.
At this point, I'm set up pretty well with a zero-settler personal base in Hangman's Alley. I was about to start the next stage of settlement development where I start building supply lines and shops, but I'm wondering if I even need that. So far, the only really useful thing I'm getting from my settlers is xp. Rather than invest any more in them with shops and supply lines, why not just cap the population at five settlers (one farmer, 4 scavs) and leave it at that (though put in all the useful shops at Oberland, so I have that). They'll be watered, fed, and happy enough. I can still farm them for missions/xp, and will always have a meal, drink and bed whenever I pass through?
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