Ok, guys... this is theoretical, but since you modders have managed to fix most of the issues that Fallout 4 has with the engine, the difficulty levels, the lack of enemy types, etc... what about fixing the main story? After having played it out countless times, I have some ideas about how emphasis could be taken off the search for Shaun, yet keep it relevant, and make the open world aspect more useful and give it a NEED to be explored, rather than just being able to follow the quest markers and ram through it, and having Preston or the Railroad or the Brotherhood, or the Institute throwing radiant quests at you for busywork so rapitly that you don't have time to properly explore between them.
Anyone who hasn't played through the game yet, this will all be spoiler territory, so you may want to walk away now. (obligatory spoiler warning given.)
FIrst, I think perhaps using existing voice lines and animations to make a longer pre-war intro, getting to know your spouse and the neighborhood a bit more just to make it feel more sudden when it all goes down, and less ... perfectly timed. Start with the trip to the park with Shaun and the spouse, spend a short time, have some neighbors talk to you, etc... maybe a trip to the functioning Red Rocket and into Concord to a store for some Sugar Bombs and milk and something for dinner... an overnight sleep after watching TV together and Codsworth helping with Shaun, then waking up in the morning to find the neighbors outside, and the Vault-Tec rep leading you to the vault, getting you in, but being left behind himself. Bomb drops, Put in fridge, but... you don't WITNESS the death of your spouse. You wake up once and they're gone. You check the logs and find someone opened her pod. That would make the frantic yells while opening the spouse's pod make sense, and lead to a more mysterious why? What happened? Why is my baby gone?!
Now, imagine a new mechanic... take the existing lore in the game from the Institute about this "father" person and maybe add some bits in terminals and such about Shaun being this "Father" - none of the crap about not knowing how old he is, you know he was taken, on what date, and what the current year is, so you figure out how long it's been on your own -- protag isn't stupid. But I digress, the new mechanic is a device... perhaps from Doctor Amari, perhaps found on a courser, maybe both so you find it even if you don't meet Amari right away... but a device that can read memories from the gen-1 and getn-2 synths, and do text searches. So you make every dead synth you leave behind a resource. Tech parts for the Automatron robots and crafting supplies should drop and if you use the scanner, you search for Shaun in their memories, and find the relation to "Father" in their heads. Something like "Credentials and Identifiers for key Institute personnel." and in it, Shaun is listed as leader, and a short bio with his absolute authority, date of joining the institute, current age, sex, etc, all listed out. So when you find this record on various synths, protag realizes it's THEIR Shaun. But why is he doing this stuff witht he synths raiding the Commonwealth? And that leads to going after Nick, and using his knowledge of Kellogg to find him, and get an in to the Institute with the whole Virgil/Teleporter lead.
Meanwhile, set the arrival of the Brotherhood to happen on a slightly randomized date, putting it so it happens at one of the random encounter points. So the date arrives and you see them show up even if you haven't confronted Kellogg yet, and let their patrols start. Why the hell are they tied to that anyway. Their goal is the kill the institute anyway, and the institute didn't just show up when you killed Kellogg... so screw that. Make 'em show up suddenly and be a more interesting faction. Setting up a presence in the Commonwealth to try to get the technology of the institute and keep it out of everyone else's hands, like good Brotherhood knights should.
Railroad likewise should not be forced on the player but work on their own. Perhaps even have the Brotherhood vs. Railroad event at Bunker Hill over the synths in the basement happen without you if you take too long. Make events in the world happen in a slightly randomized timeline on their own, with or without you... Make it feel lived in, and like s*** doesn't only happen when the player is present.
The minutemen. My ideas on them are this: save them in Concord, and help them set up in Sanctuary, but no Power Armor/Deathclaw setpiece. Save that s*** for the random encounters later. Perhaps move the armor and minigun, and remove the deathclaw from that scene. Just making it 10 raiders vs. you and Preston should be fine. (and mod the storytelling part for the kids in Vault 81) and once set up, Preston doesn't give you orders. Instead he just asks you to "help anyone you come across that needs a hand" as he does when there's no missions. Then you go help the settlements you come across on your own. They've made it this long, and don't really think the Minutemen will actually come help anyway. Later after the retake castle mission, after you've forged enough ties on your own, THEN and only then, do they announce on Radio Freedom that a settlement needs a hand... but at a FAR reduced rate.
Railroad, similarly, once you join, IF you join, just asks for help sparingly. You might be tough, but you're just one person, why do they expect you to do a million missions when they obviously know from Deacon's intelligence on you that you're a busy person - possible Brotherhood Knight, possible General of the Minutemen, and who knows what else, setting up and helping settlements. They know you can't be their single solution for every friggin' mission they need done... but they ask if there's something they need when you show up.
Brotherhood the same. Much fewer direct missions, but the thing with Danse plays out the same, and they still want what they want, and just send you out if they need a hand.
But all of them should be able to be saved, including the institute, and you should be free, much like the "Diary of a Madman" mod, to not join any factions at all, or join all of them and find a way to negotiate a stable, if teetering, peace between them.
Once you make it into the institute after finding Virgil, you can still help him get his serum, and here's the big change in the Institute storyline: Father can't force you to do things. He makes you head of the institute if you work with them, and then he will try to give you orders, but since you're now the head, you can override him. And he has to accept it. As long as you don't directly attack the institute while there, and get banned, you can veto the action against the railroad and the brotherhood, and broker peace with them.
NEW STORYLINE PIECE: If you do this, then you can direct synths to join settlements as settlers, and they will assist and work like other settlers. You can also, after brokering peace, find synths in faction bases, working alongside the regular members, and occasionally find allied faction members inside the institute.
The finale? Father dies, and you eulogize him, and announce that the Institute will be fully joining the people of the Commonwealth. An entrance is built at CIT, and combined synth and faction patrols start keeping the peace across the commonwealth, with faction bases being reinforced with Institute tech and turrets, and perhaps some new turret and defense designs being unlocked at the Workshops for settlement work, and a new settlement area in the Institute itself or at CIT so you can have an institute-themed settlement there, connected to the institute below.
Once you've gotten the "good" ending (if you manage to pull it off) then all the settlements will auto repair after attacks and the factions will no longer ask you to run to settlements or do missions, as you'd be almost the de-facto president of the Commonwealth. So then you're free to recruit followers from all factions and explore the rest of the commonwealth while the areas between settlements and towns are patrolled by well-armed multi-faction groups. So everywhere you go, if you're jumped by raiders or super mutants or critters, patrollers would jump in to help you.
Bonus ending: Perhaps after more time exploring, you find some technology that was abandoned pre-war with the ability to process radioactive soil and water and clean them, and start taking back the Glowing Sea.
Anyway, it would be ambitious but there are other mods that have done pieces of it - like the immersive patrols thing and the aforementioned "Diary of a Madman" mod and the "Father Companion" mod did a few things...
I just think maybe it's time to fix the bad writing Bethesda did there, and actually make the open world of the Commonwealth RELEVANT and give better reasons for the factions and for you to be part of them.
Thanks for reading, and hope you like the idea.
Not sure what all it would take, but I think this would fix a lot of loopholes and make for a better time just exploring and checking out every nook and cranny of the Commonwealth.
Edited by drakesteele, 06 June 2022 - 06:23 AM.