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Fallout 4 Lets You Play With Prefab Houses, Modular Architecture in Video Game Form

Just a month after we published our list of 10 must-play video games for architecture and design nerds, it might already be time to make an addendum. As it turns out, Fallout 4, the latest installment of a popular post-apocalyptic role-playing game, is ripe for exploring some of the most topical architectural concepts today. Prefab shelters? Micro apartments? Wind-powered homes? The world (of nuclear war-torn Boston in year 2287) is your oyster.

While the focus of the game is to level-up your character as you explore this nuclear wasteland (rendered in spectacular detail!), Fallout 4 also introduces the ability for players to build settlements as refuges for "non-player characters," a.k.a. people controlled by the computer via artificial intelligence.

In the game, there are different kinds of locations set aside for settlements, such as a suburban cul-de-sac, crumbling gas station, and a Boston alley. Once you choose a site, you'll be able to build houses out of wood or steel, incorporate basic prefab structures that can snap together, as well as make use of individual elements like floors, walls, doors, and stairs. You can also tap into interior decorating options like furniture, artwork, and TVs, plus infrastructural systems like water pumps and wind turbines.

If you're familiar with the typical subject matter covered on Curbed, then the simple, DIY nature of these settlement construction parameters may immediately conjure up images of the many new prefab dwellings, tiny houses, shipping container homes, and refugee shelters unveiled lately.

Recognizing that these real-life architectural parallels all seem to value efficiency and sustainability, Adi Robertson, senior reporter at our sister site The Verge, set out to conduct an experiment in sustainable settlement building right in Fallout 4. You can read in detail about how that went here, but judging by the gameplay screenshot above (an attempt at a prefab shelter with an attached deck, a common strategy in real life!) and below (an attempt at stacked micro-units), there's a lot of architectural fun to be had!

After experimenting for a while and finding that she didn't have enough resources to sustain a bunch of tiny, self-contained units, Robertson concluded that this type of setup is "incompatible" with the circumstances of the game, which necessitated more of a communal arrangement. But in the real world, where there exists a tiny house "Bestie Row," a reconfigurable micro-unit apartment building, and tiny home villages for the homeless, communal living is often built right into inventive new housing schemes. We can't help but think architecture is still, as it should, more dynamic and fun in reality, but Fallout 4 certainly seems like a promising escape for the design-inclined.

So. Who's going to try it? Or have you already? Please sound out in the comments.

· The great Fallout 4 sustainable housing experiment [The Verge]
· 10 Must-Play Video Games for Architecture and Design Nerds [Curbed]