One of my favorite memories as a teenager was going to an alligator nature reserve in Florida. It was basically just a bunch of federally protected swampland that allowed you to see alligators and other animals in their natural habitat. It was super cool! Less cool when one of them decided to lie down in the middle of the road and not move, but before and after that it was really fun.
And do you know what else is fun?
Fallout 4, baby!
That’s right, it’s time to dust off that sweater vest with the ballistic weave, dig up that ol’ heavily modded 10mm, and start scrounging the wasteland because we are gonna “crawl out through the fallout” back to irradiated Boston!
But we’re not just going to go back and join the fight for or against the Institute. No, we’re going to use the game’s mechanics to build our own nature reserve—basically a zoo with an “open concept.”
Why a nature reserve? Hey, why not?
Now, Fallout 4 was released about six years ago and it is still fun to play! Especially now. Let’s be honest, it’s been a tough year. There’s been Zoom calls, layoffs, Zoom calls to tell you that you’ve been laid off, and tons of children with all that pent-up energy and nowhere to go and nothing to do with it.
Let me tell you what, there’s nothing like screaming children to make you long for post-apocalyptic Boston!
But it’s not just the kids’ fault that we still love to play Fallout 4. In fact, it’s our own inner kid’s fault. The base game alone is really great, and then when you factor in the boatload (yes, that was a Far Harbor pun) of DLC’s and then the truly massive library of community-created mods you get an almost different game entirely! Now let’s talk about those DLCs.
I have a lot of love for the DLCs but some of them can be a bit… one note. That’s the case with the Wasteland Workshop, which was released in 2016. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, and it’s integral to this article, but after a while, it was kind of stale. There are only so many times you can recreate the Thunderdome.
It was still pretty cool, but I would argue that the game’s designers only scratched the surface of what you could do with the settlements. What if, in addition to—or even instead of—building that gladiatorial arena, you also built a nature preserve?
Besides, it’s part of the game. (No, really.)
Let’s backtrack a bit. Do you remember when you first went to Bunker Hill? It’s the trader outpost that also functions—spoiler—as a halfway house for the Railroad. Remember how when you first went there you met the game’s only proactive mayor, got swindled by a little imp offering a tour, and met the bartender who ended up giving you a fetch quest to get his granddad’s hat?
Now, remember when you first met the bartender? He and his son were arguing about whether junior should join the Railroad, fight the Institute and what not, and daddy said something along the lines of, “Helping synths? Are you crazy? You might as well join the Deathclaw Preservation Society.” You know, I take umbrage with that comment.
BECAUSE I AM THE DEATHCLAW PRESERVATION SOCIETY!
You have no idea how long I have been wanting to say that.
So we’re going to do just that. Create the Commonwealth Deathclaw Preservation Society. And you know, the deathclaws need their own nature reserve. There may be a whole bunch of them, but they are constantly being hunted down by angry settlers (ok, so actually it appears that only the Vault Dweller is enough of a badass to take them down since they seem to literally kill everything else) and having their eggs stolen by a gourmet Mr. Handy with a British accent in Goodneighbor. It’s tough being a deathclaw and they need someone to look out for them. And that someone is you.
Because apparently no one else knows how to build anything in this game.
How to build your own deathclaw nature reserve in Fallout 4
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there are loads of games out there that already allow you to make your own zoo! And we can’t even make a proper zoo in Fallout because the creatures keep walking through the walls of the enclosures you build. So why do that here? Well… because we can. And come on, it’ll be fun.
This is going to be a multi-step process, so hang in there with me and we will create a nature reserve worthy of the Commonwealth Deathclaw Preservation Society (not to be confused with their New Vegas or Capital Wasteland branches).
Step 1: Cheat.
No, I’m not joking. This will mean that you cannot get achievements and trophies, but the sheer amount of time you’re going to save will be worth it. The biggest time save will be in getting resources. We’ve all been there, we need one specific item to complete that gun mod and after combing every level of a hospital we still can’t find ONE FRIGGIN’ SCREW!
There’s also the fact that to build some of these things you’re going to need to haul a lot of junk. And you already know how I feel about our passive-aggressive companions.
As an added bonus: not having to get lots of supplies means that you won’t have to completely strip mine your settlements, allowing you to leave in all of the trees and cars and stuff.
So cheating is the way to go. Specifically, cheating for supplies. There are several mods that are really great for this. These are a couple of my favorites:
- “Unlimited Resource Shipment” by Azazel is my favorite. Using a workbench, you can create a “shipping order” for 9999 of all the supplies. You can then either carry the shipping order around and actually use one of the weapon benches that you find around town, or you can store it in the workbench as soon as you’ve made it and still have access to all of that sweet, sweet junk.
- “Craftable Building Supplies” by DMFPROJECTGAMING is also good. With this mod, you can craft any material you need at a chemistry station and it only costs 1 bottlecap. This is really great, especially if you just need that one item to complete whatever, but it can still get really expensive for the big stuff and… it’s just a lot of work for what we’re doing. Still great to have, though.
- Finally, there’s the aptly named “Cheat Mod” by TheRealElianora. This is great because it gives you a butt-ton of building materials in the underground bunker in Sanctuary. There you can find an insane amount of bullets, guns, magazines, building materials, and a Skyrim-esque ring of carryweight that will allow you to have an unlimited carry capacity. This is also a really great mod and gave me everything I needed right off the bat. It’s a good mod, but the materials did—after an extensive program of building a junk wall around all of Sanctuary—start to run out.
A quick note: I only play on PS4 but these mods, and plenty of others like them, can also be found on the PC.
Step 2: Location, location, location.
So we got all of our building supplies, and now it’s time to figure out where to put our nature reserve. We’ve got a lot of options—twenty in the Commonwealth, actually—but we need to keep in mind what we actually need for our nature reserve.
The big thing we need is a lot of space. And I mean a LOT OF SPACE. So no, as much fun as it would be to put our reserve in Hangman’s Ally, there’s just not enough room for it.
Next, we’ll also want a space with lots of stuff already on it. Lots of trees to make our monsters feel at home, couple of ruined buildings, and maybe a couple of rusty cars or something.
And have I got just the place for you! Just across the bay from the Castle is Spectacle Island, a gigantic island that is overrun with mirelurks. After you flip on the switch in the wrecked boat and then run like hell from the mirelurk queen (or, if you’re sufficiently badass, you can fight her) to turn on the machine in the center of the island that makes all the mirelurks docile, you can now use the workbench.
Spectacle Island is perfect! Lots of open space with tons of hills that, let’s face it, are really hard to build houses on. There are also lots of trees and bushes everywhere, as well as a wrecked shipping barge with tons of shipping containers and a couple of floundered boats all around and it even has a couple of ruined houses and a wrecked farmstead.
And someone call HGTV because this bad boy’s even got a master bath! And yes, by “master bath” I do mean that it has an outhouse dangling precariously over the sea that, in true Bethesda fashion, is occupied by a couple of skeletons with one of them bending the other over their knee, frozen in the act of spanking them with a cutting board for a paddle. The skeletons/mannequins/teddy bears are the real heroes of Fallout 4. Just saying.
Anyway, Spectacle Island is perfect and you don’t even have to pretend to change the name!
Another option is the Starlight Drive-In, the old drive-in movie theatre. The problem with Starlight is that it often gets snatched up quickly in the Minutemen quests, so unless you want to start over, you probably already have a thriving little settlement there. Besides, Starlight has the best amount of flat surfaces of any settlement with minimal amounts of trees and nature intruding on it. This makes for a great village and gladiatorial arena but a poor nature reserve.
Step 3: Build cages.
This part is pretty fun but time-consuming. Now cages typically require some steel, copper, springs, and a type of foodstuff. With the mods we already have we don’t need to worry about the steel, copper, and springs but the food can be a challenge.
With the vanilla version of the DLC, the cages require four units of food to capture one creature and then one unit of food to repair it. Now, this is easy for capturing radstags, who like to eat carrots, but considerably more difficult for capturing our beloved deathclaw, who likes to eat yoa guai meat.
Yoa guai meat, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, is very hard to come across but thankfully I’ve got a couple of ideas and tricks for you.
First, we’re going to want to download another mod. “Cages Overhauled & More: Season Pass Version” by 3lric is a fantastic mod. Not only does it give you the option to capture all of the animals and enemies that you’ve encountered in the other DLCs (most notably Far Harbor and Nuka-World) but it reduces the amount of food that you need to capture a creature by half. This means, for those of you who are mathematically challenged, that instead of needing to find and kill four yoa guai for one deathclaw you now only need to kill two. If you don’t want to deal with the massive amount of creatures that you can capture with this mod, then 3lric also has a non-season pass version.
Now we come to actually getting the yoa guai meat and there are two options:
- Farm it. You can always build up a steady amount of yoa guai meat by capturing a bunch of radstags with your cages, killing them, and then using their meat to capture yoa guai. This is a solid plan and only costs a couple dozen carrots to start off with but it will take patience. A lot of patience
- Hunt for it. Polly in Diamond City will sometimes have yoa guai meat in stock and you might get lucky with your own merchants, but your best bet will be to hunt them down yourself. One option with that is to just go exploring and doing quests in the southern half of the map, and on higher difficulty levels you can even get them to spawn close to Concord. Usually you might find lone yao guai when you’re out exploring but I do have a couple of spots in the Commonwealth where you can find two or more:
- two at Fairline Hill Estates,
- two at Rocky Narrows Park,
- a few can be found just north of Jamaica Plain,
- and (my personal favorite) up to four corpses can be found in a small ravine northwest of coastal cottage. Beware of the deathclaw that killed them.
The great thing about hunting yoa guai is that within an in-game week all of the yoa guai will respawn allowing you to kill them all over again.
Now that you have the meat, I would say build a couple of cages. Four or more. We need to build up our pack of deathclaws. Or would they be a “pride” of deathclaws? No. We all know they’d be a “murder.”
Step 4: Build a Beta Wave Emitter.
Found in the “cages” tab on the build screen, the Beta Wave Emitter instantly calms all of your captured creatures, which is necessary if you want to enjoy your nature reserve. It’s also necessary if you want to have more than just deathclaws.
Now, these things are expensive in terms of the experience you need. The building requires you to have the skills Animal Friend and Wasteland Whisperer, which requires 9 Charisma to get. Basically, there are mods and plenty of other cheats that you can use, but just know that you won’t be doing this as soon as you step out of Vault 111. It’s going to take some time.
Step 5: Attract settlers.
Why not? This nature reserve should be viewed by other people in the Commonwealth, not just you, and this way we can also pretend that they’re a part of the Deathclaw Preservation Society.
There’s another reason but I’ll get into that later.
Step 6: Build more cages.
It is a nature reserve after all. You may be specifically protecting deathclaws, but there’s no reason why we can’t also attract some other wasteland wildlife.
Be aware though that some creatures, even with the Beta Wave Emitter, won’t play well with each other. Deathclaws will always go after and kill any yoa guai you’ve captured, and woe betide any gatorclaws you’ve caught if you also have tame mirelurks. Funnily enough, your tamed deathclaws won’t go after your brahmin.
Basically, just do some experimentation to see what works. If you got that “Cages Overhauled” mod I told you about then you can import creatures from all over.
And if you add a couple cats, your settlers will be much happier.
Step 7: Build a museum.
Again, why not? We’ve come this far so why not make a few display cases to Grognak’s Axe and the Silver Shroud’s armor. While you’re at it, make a shrine to your favorite gun! Then assign a settler to sell supplies as a gift shop right outside.
Step 8: Take away all of your settlers’ weapons.
It’s not like they need it. Each tame deathclaw you have adds 10 to your settlement’s security so they don’t need to protect themselves. After all, they have both the deathclaws and you. What could possibly go wrong?
Step 9: Build a switch and connect it to the Beta Wave Emitter.
Everything needs a switch to power it, right? And you always need to have the option to turn anything off for any reason. Right?
And while you’re at it, build this wonderful switch in a high place where no one can disturb you.
Step 10: Get so wrapped up in whether or not you could that you never stopped to think if you should.
You knew this is where we were going. It’s Fallout, and we’re playing like it’s Jurassic Park. Just like it’s Jurassic Park, actually.
This is the real reason why I had you bring in some settlers.
One day when you’re feeling bored with your creation, go ahead and get all of your settlers into a nice and convenient location, or maybe wait until the evening when they go eat at the bar that you made (you know, the one they never thanked you for), and then when they’re all nice and comfortable just… flip that switch. Then sit back and listen to the screams of your settlers and the lolls of those brahmin as they’re ripped apart.
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