I posted this on r/fallout and I wanted to also post it here because I think it’s good idea and I’m eager to share it! Covenant is probably the best settlement in Fallout 4. It has a compelling quest line, good characters, and a unique vibe. It also reinforces how paranoid everyone is of the Institute, and echoes what the Old World was like amid the resource wars. Since the player character is from that time period, it serves as a haunting reminder that life back then was not perfect either and many people needed to suffer in order to sustain it. Covenant serves an important symbolic role, but the problem is is that it’s such a small place. I suppose that would make sense because you have to try like hell to prove to everyone that you are not a synth, so that would likely be the cause of why their population is so small. But, it could’ve been so much more.
Imagine approaching the gates of Diamond City, seeing cages of traders, farmers and the like all afraid for their lives. There are huge lines of pack brahmins crowding around, hunkered down by all manner of goods. At the front you see a woman in a red coat and newscap arguing with a security guard administering the SAFE test. He think she’s a synth. Someone from inside vouches for her and let’s her in. You are next and you pass the test with flying colours because your responses are so undeniably human (or are they!?!???).
(The Nick in this Diamond City could be the exception to these measures, but he would have to serve a pivotal role in policing Diamond City like being a Blade Runner or something so they wouldn’t scrap him.)
The threat of synthetic humans and their effect on this society are established from the get go. It is apparent to the player that the only reason Diamond City has thrived for so long is because of their strict anti-synth measures. I understand that a part of Covenant’s charm is that you uncover what is essentially synth Guantanamo Bay and doing so is an arduous yet satisfying process, but this would give Diamond City so much more personality. It would also bolster the main story and at the same time make a statement about the world we live in today. In Diamond City’s current state, people are definitely afraid of synths.
However, it doesn’t really have an impact on their way of life. When you’re let in, the Mayor and the security dude ask you a few questions and then you’re off. Once you’re inside there is a bustling marketplace open for business. (You’ll quickly see in my new version of Diamond City that this is also the case, and that this is one of the only places a farmer can hope to make a living off of their produce because fresh food, liquor, etc is in such high demand, which is why the farmers put up with SAFE test and possible execution). Everyone is happy to sell anything to you (except for Mirna, although she’ll still sell anything to you only with a frown). And yeah there is one occurrence of someone pointing a gun at a loved one, believing that they are a synth. But this only happens once.
What I am suggesting is a continual reminder that living in Diamond City is a nightmare. Each day people are being rounded up and one slip up could get you thrown into a cell as well. The Broken Mask incident is still fresh in everyone’s minds. The store owners will do business with you, but won’t tolerate conversation because they know you might end up disappearing if you fail the SAFE test the next time you take it and they don’t want your name on their conscience(maybe you’ll get to know them better later if you stick around in Diamond City long enough). They know the SAFE Test isn’t 100% foolproof, but it’s generally accepted that it’s better than nothing. Just take a look at University Point.
Don’t get me wrong. Diamond City is a vibrant breath of fresh air as it is. Before getting there, you were most likely battling raiders or desperately trying to shoot the mini nuke in a Supermutant Suicider’s hand before he got too close. Now you get to meet some quirky characters like Piper, Nick, and Takahashi and go on fun quests (see Diamond City Blues.)
But then, that’s Whiterun isn’t it? A bustling city where the player can unwind before adventuring again, engage in some fun quests, and meet some quirky characters (Do you get to the Cloud District very often?). There is nothing wrong with having a Whiterun in your game. Super Mario Sunshine has a Whiterun in the form of Delfino Plaza and it’s great. But this change would change everything. And I suppose that making something different for the sake of making something different is not a good excuse to make something different. The Fallout franchise is about a world trying to attain greatness once again (I know its a huge generalization). The US was a hostile and paranoid place before the bombs fell. Resources were scarce and things were desperate. Diamond City would act as a microcosm to that Old World. Now, instead of living in fear of Communists, the people of the Commonwealth are living in fear of synthetic humans. It harkens back to the tagline of the franchise. And have we seen this before?
Kind of. Vault City was a dystopian hellhole that thrived because of the GECK and slave labour. It was a paradise that was created to serve only the “best kind” of people. It’s weird to say, but this new Diamond City, much like Covenant, would have a more moral reason to be authoritarian. The purpose of interrogating and torturing synths is to protect everyone in Diamond City. Everyone in Diamond City down to Sheffield. And seeing people like Sheffield, you’ll wonder why synths don’t have the same privilege he has: being allowed to live. Synths are sentient beings with various ambitions and talents. If you have Curie as a companion you definitely know what I mean. And later it’s revealed that Danse is also a synth. Of course Sheffield has a right to life just as Danse and Curie do. Synths can even be deprogrammed by Dr. Amari and live without fear that they might be used to harm others by the Institute.
You’ll even question if humans have a right to rule the wasteland, given that synths seem much more capable than humans are, even at being raiders (the leader of the raider gang occupying Nahant Wharf is a synth). It’s that grey moral goodness that Fallout is known for and a settlement that’s a mix between Covenant and Diamond City would serve just that purpose. These two settlements are great tho and I’m glad they exist but this would also be cool in my opinion 😀 (Also this sounds a lot like Blade Runner lol)
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