Rivet City! Neat concept, but it has issues. Of course it has issues, it’s a community holed up in a rusting metal aircraft carrier. Harkness raises a valid point when you talk to him; that it’s a safe location because there’s effectively only a single way in. This is true.
But that also means you’re trapped in there, making a siege trivially easy to win, given they should have massive food issues inside. And a metal aircraft carrier isn’t the best place to try growing things.
There are ways around this, of course. Because radiation shouldn’t actually be a problem, it’d be possible to use the flight deck for growing food. Yes, it’d be a lot of work transporting soil up there, and all the associated logistical hassles in general, but it should be doable. And it’d be safe as you like, unless the Enclave showed up in magical Vertibirds… which they wouldn’t.
Hell, you might as well create a lift of some sort to hoist things up while you’re about it. They’ve already invested in a large swing bridge, so putting that extra effort into a lift system for easily hauling supplies up seems like an excellent plan.
The hydroponics bay is a nice idea, but unlikely to support the entire community. Not without severe supply problems, anyway. And since they apparently trade fresh food with other settlements in return for other goods, they’d have an even bigger problem on their hands.
All in all, this is the least problematic location to my mind. Bethesda at least put some thought into the all-important question of how they survive, but it certainly has some issues that would prevent it being a successful settlement.
Rivet City is an excellent example of Bethesda’s core principals in action; come up with half a dozen awesome locations, no matter how silly, plonk them down in areas roughly evenly spaced to allow the player to reach any of them with minimal fuss, then stuff them with loot / shops / posed skeletons / teddy bear tableaux / whatever.
They didn’t bother thinking of how these locations might connect to each other, or how they’d survive in this world, or how they’d procure food and water. These things aren’t really important to Bethesda, as I noted at the start; they focus wholly on the player and giving them lots of random crap to explore and loot. Trouble is, a boring and nonsensical world is also going to be boring to explore.
All in all, I think this is probably the least outright offensive location in the wastes. It can work with a little tweaking, and there’s a lot going for it. Just build out some wooden planters on the deck for growing food, supplement this with the hydroponics bay, and you’re pretty good to go, especially as the high rainfall of the region means less work keeping everything watered.
Some guard towers and turrets might not go amiss either, given all the Super Muties who seem to be interested in nothing more than eating everyone they come across. I’ll get to them later.
One other possibility exists: fortify the entire area. There are plentiful structures and ruins nearby, all of which can be used for snipers and lookouts, plus concrete and metals for building walls and barricades. So how about making the carrier the main city/hub, but with farmland and defence towers and the like on the mainland, surrounded by walls?
See all the destroyed buildings in the background? We could remove some of those and replace them with rubble walls to enclose our settlement. Some of the people wandering around this area will be able to fill the player in on this; charges were set around the outer buildings to collapse them, then the rubble dragged to build walls/fortifications.
This has a secondary benefit of ensuring there are no tall buildings too close to town for attackers to potentially use to mount an assault from an elevated position. The inner skyscrapers closer to the centre would remain, giving our people their own vantage points.
Anacostia Crossing Metro Station is also right inside the town’s limits, so let’s do something with that. If you head inside you’ll find it’s just a basic raider haunt… because of course it is. So first things first, they’re gone. Instead, we’ll have guards from Rivet City down there ensuring no undesirables from other stations find their way in.
Next, and more importantly, this particular station actually leads you directly to the Mall. And not just anywhere in the Mall, it brings you out literally on the doorstep of the museum where the ghouls are holed up. I’ll talk about Underworld in-depth later on, but for now just remember that we have a direct line between the two settlements.
This gives us a relatively safe underground transit route where trade and commerce between two major settlements can take place. Additionally, above ground we have the Jefferson Memorial not far from the carrier.
What I’m going to do is tie these three general regions together into a large and successful settlement. The carrier is the heart of the city where most people live and trade. It contains the experimental hydroponics bay (and potentially greenhouses built on the deck), various shops and amenities, and is the safe house everyone will take refuge in if something really serious happens.
The area on the land surrounded by rubble walls is going to be the security hub with guards, lookouts, and snipers. The Anacostia Metro Station provides both a means of trade and an escape route if necessary in a worst-case scenario. There’ll be beds and guard stations down there which people will rotate in and out of on a rota basis, taking turns with the topside guys so everyone gets time in the fresh air.
And finally, Jefferson Memorial will be the farmland area where food and animals are grown, raised, and tended. A regular supply caravan will move the short distance back and forth to carry food and supplies in both directions, and this whole area will be equally well fortified.
Fortunately, the memorial is based on an island with only one access route across an easily-defended bridge, and guard towers around the edges will give ample warning for any potential assaults from the water. Speaking of water, it’s everywhere around here, making a great spot for farming.
Of course, we also have the building itself with a sizeable underground complex and plenty of space for people to live, meaning minimal effort required for the farmers to get to work every day; they can simply bed down in the building. And with the insane quantities of water plus the facilities built here, we can say one of Rivet City’s main exports is fresh water.
Returning to the idea of greenhouses built on the deck, and since we already have something of a class divide theme going on with the Tenpenny faction, let’s do something similar here. The main farmland areas outside the carrier are there partly to feed the city, but they also have to give up a percentage of their harvests as a form of tithe which goes to the government and is then traded with other settlements.
Then the hydroponics and greenhouses inside are higher quality and ‘experimental’. In reality, this just means exclusive and generally only enjoyed by the government types inside the carrier. This can lead to a situation of discontent among the farmers and others who live mostly outside the carrier, which gives us plenty of depths to plumb for further conflict, quests, and player interaction.
Tying to other locations, let’s say that fresh water shipments go to Underworld for the ghouls in return for materials scavenged from the DC ruins, plus potentially some interesting goods of a less physical nature based on knowledge, given a lot of the ghouls there are pre-war. I’ll elaborate on this when I talk about them.
Additionally, fresh water shipments make their way over to Canterbury Commons where it’s then sent on to the Pitt. The sheer volume Rivet City can output means they can supply as much as necessary (again, divvied up by the governing body), and the robotics, mechanical knowhow, and free trade via caravans from Canterbury Commons in return are more than valuable enough to be able to trade at this sort of level.
Let’s head back to the carrier and take a look inside now. The vessel itself is actually nicely designed, with a large market and commerce area, plenty of rooms for residents, facilities of one form or another, and the bridge makes for a good command centre with plentiful vantage points outside.
As the main security hub for the city is outside on the mainland, the bridge will be more of a council chambers for the leaders to meet and discuss issues facing the settlement. Probably alongside a primary security hub that coordinates and issues commands to the stations outside and in the Metro as necessary.
Looking towards the science lab, we have the hydroponics bay. Okay, no worries, that’s something that can stay as it is. But we can do so much more with the scientific aspects of this place. Since we don’t really have a location with a heavy scientific bent, let’s make that Rivet City.
Implants like those on sale at the medical clinic in New Vegas would be procurable here. Certain technologies would also be under research, allowing for quests where the player can help or hinder these projects based on their allegiances with other factions and locations, and their own moral leanings and character build. This would of course also tie into the politics of the settlement and the player’s decisions whether to help the common folk outside, the elites inside, or a balance (or exterminate everyone, we’ll get to that playstyle later).
For example, all those schematics the player can come across in the wastes? Why not make those part of a quest to improve Rivet City’s trading goods? Some of the schematics can be for improved weapons, better manufacturing processes, that type of thing. Others will render unique weapons to the player as they do in the base game.
We can also say that Rivet City is currently using cobbled together facilities for manufacturing and they’re looking to improve matters. There will be other settlements with access to the type of machinery Rivet City needs, so the player will have options and quests to hook them up and either create new partnerships and trade deals, or knock them down and take over in the name of others (including yourself!).
The marriage ceremony is an interesting idea, if I’m honest. Why? Simple: because it would provide an insight into human nature if it was better written. Rather than a creepy as hell quest involving drugging some guy with pheromones (though this could still be an option for less morally upstanding characters!), it’d be something along the lines of showing how humanity endures no matter how hard things get.
Even while the world burns, people meet, fall in love, get married, have kids. It’s a powerful message that people and, by extension, civilisation generally endure, that people are still people no matter the hardships they face. It’d be a nice counterpoint to the other facts of human existence, the negative ones like greed and anger and stupidity.
Now sure, if you want to play a nihilistic asshat who loves breaking everything they come across, that’s also fun and would be totally possible. But at least let’s have something a bit more weighty behind the concept of the wedding, some reason for it to exist, and a message or theme to explore, whether positively or negatively.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times now that I’ll be replacing Megaton with a new location, so next part will focus on Vault 101 and the opening act of the game, since those will be tied to the new settlement, then the next part will introduce my Brotherhood of Steel replacement faction and their settlement.