For a while I've been meaning to write about Conqueror, a mod for Fallout 4 that let's you play as a raider and take over settlements through force. But due to certain issues I am only getting to do it now. I will get to those near the end of this post.
First you might wondering "Isn't playing a raider what the Nuka-World DLC allows you to do? How is this different?". On the surface, it isn't. In practice though Conqueror has a lot more depth and challenge. It also has the option to play as a Liberator (through add-ons) and unite the commonwealth if you don't like much the idea of playing as a raider.
Disclaimer: I haven't finished the current questline for Conqueror yet nor have gone too far with adding settlements to my raider empire. So treat this more as a first impressions than some actual review of the mod.
Conqueror is the third expansion to another mod, Sim Settlements. If you never heard of Sim Settlements before then let me try to brief explain what it is:
Sim Settlements is a mod that, as the name implies, uses Sim City as its inspiration and adds plots of different types to your settlement. You plop a plot in your settlement assign a settler to it, let them build it and you heap the benefits. For example, instead of having to build a hut for every single settler from scratch with a bed then assigning them to it, just plop some residential plots and assign the settlers to those plots. They will build the houses themselves and even upgrade said houses over time if it is connected to a generator.
Need food? Plop an agricultural plot. Need more scrap? An industrial plot will help you there. Need defense? A martial plot it is. Do you want your settlers to make some money for you? Put them to work on a commercial plot.
The cool thing about it is that it doesn't replace the vanilla settlement system but it can be freely mixed with it. You can have your settlement built only with Sim Settlement plots or use them as little or as much of it as you want and then build the rest with regular settlement items.
It also has an optional dynamic needs system that supplants the one from vanilla Fallout 4. It is a much better way, in my opinion, to visualize if your settlers need more housing, food, water, security and so on.
If you like what Sim Settlements do and wants more, it also has ton of add-ons made by other modders that adds new build options to Sim Settlements plots.
I also mentioned that Conqueror is the third expansion. The first expansion is Industrial Revolution, which adds Advanced Industrial Plots which as the name implies adds industries that gives far more benefits than the basic industrial plots but comes with certain higher costs to balance things out.
The second expansion is Rise of the Commonwealth where you can choose certain pre-built city plans and then just let your settlers build the whole place themselves!
If you end up liking it there is even a "All in One" option that has Sim Settlements plus those first two expansions on the mod's download page and reduce the number of plugins!
Now for Conqueror itself. My initial plan wasn't actually to play as a raider, but it was to use a faction pack and play as the Brotherhood of Steel trying to bring order to the Commonwealth.
At the time though the author of that faction pack had hit a creative wall and was taking a break from the mod. I decided then it was a better idea instead to play Conqueror as-is, as a raider. Turns out it was for the better because there was a lot of subtle differences between Conqueror and regular Sim Settlements that tripped me and made me commit some mistakes. Like a poster in the official Sim Settlements forums said "Conqueror is Sim Settlements on steroids".
With Sim Settlements I just think of each settlement's needs individually. Then just link them through provisoners for my own convenience and to fill out any needs that a specific settlement might not be able to fufill by itself.
With Conqueror you have to think more in terms of empire-wide needs. The needs of your crew are different from regular settlers, they will want rations, wages and gear. Filling those needs is way harder than filling the needs of a regular settlement and if you want to recruit more raiders (which you will have to in order to expand) then you need to make sure those needs are completely filled and that your outposts have enough empty beds to do so.
This in turn means carefully selecting which settlements to turn into vassals as they will be the ones primarily supplying all of those and which are better as outposts so you can have more raiders at your disposal.
Rations comes obviously from agricultural plots, wages from commercial plots and equipment from industrial ones.
You could also build those in your outposts too, of course, but since your outposts will be primarily filled with raiders they won't provide as much as a civilian working on it. Raiders want the easy life and cause chaos after all, not work!
There is also the question that the more a vassal or outpost produces the higher the chance that rival raiders like Gunners will attack and try to take it from you or even the Minutemen might attack to liberate the place. Those end up playing like regular defense quests for settlements except that instead of 3 or 4 attackers you can end up having to fend a dozen well armed enemies.
This was the first part that tripped me. I was thinking of the vassals/outposts just as regular individual settlements and getting really confused why I couldn't get more recruits for my crew.
When I went to look into the comments section of the mod there was one person who claimed all the needs bar for his raiders were filled and he was still not getting any new recruits. He was wondering if it was a bug with the mod and I just took that it was an indication that yes, it was a bug, despite the one of the needs bar in my game not being completely filled. So I went into the mod's options and disabled the "Raider needs" to recruit more people for my crew.
This felt like a mistake for me as it made it pretty trivial to just expand my empire. As I didn't have to carefully balance its needs anymore nor worry about the number of people I had. I just could just keep throwing people at a settlement until I conquered it.
By the time I noticed my mistakes I already had four vassals and two outposts and even the sum of all of those couldn't completely supply the needs of my empire. Worse, since I had leveled up significantly I was getting some really hard attackers which my raw recruits couldn't handle.
On my new playthrough I am finding it a bit hard to get those needs filled up after I get my first vassal so I can recruit more raiders. I have been trying to use the pre-built city plans as-is instead of razing everything to the ground and customizing it to my needs.
Going by the Sim Settlements forums burning everything to the ground and then rebuilding everything with your raider needs in mind might be the best strategy but I must admit it is not one I am entirely happy with. I mean, there is a lot of settlements out there and I am not the best at building cool places. :p
Now to be fair to Conqueror, it does have a pretty good optional questline that starts as soon as you reach Concord and tries to explain the basics of the mod through its first quests. And as excellent as it is there are still things I wish it would have explained too, like for example, there is an option to switch the roles of your recruits. One of those is patrol which not only replaces the regular provisoner between your outposts and vassal but also helps maintain control over it.
There are also Conqueror-specific buildings options in the regular Sim Settlement plots like a Mess Hall that can give food buffs to your raiders before an attack, a hospital that has a chance of saving your warrior from an ultimately death during a raid and so on. That is another thing I didn't expect and kinda found out by accident/reading the comments/forums.
Even the current documentation still feels very bare-bones.
Maybe those details will be added in the future as part of the tutorial/documentation of the mod. It is after all, still in heavy development.
The questline however isn't just a glorified tutorial for the Conqueror systems. Once you meet certain requirements the quest line continues its story, adding new NPCs, giving you new tools to help your raids and just being generally entertaining.
To be honest I am not generally a fan of quest mods because they either don't fit the spirit of the game, the voice acting irritates me or the story just isn't engaging. But what I saw of the Conqueror quest line I have none of those issues and if I didn't know it came from a mod I would think it was part of the original game all along!
If you want to have a taste of the story, Kinggath, the mod's author, is doing a "Let's Play" of it. He also takes the time to make some comments about the development of the mod, testing mods that people in the comments suggest to him and doing shout outs to those mods. I even found some gems through it like "Companion Carry Weight Transfer"!
Now about those issues I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I ran into a bug where my raiders assigned to a martial plot in my vassals would abandon their posts as soon as I entered it. I would assign them again but the next time I returned to the settlement they would be unassigned again.
The other one wasn't from Conqueror but from the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch. It had a bug where I couldn't get a quest from a NPC in Nuka-World.
Both mods had updates since then that fixed those issues and theoretically wouldn't require restarting the game. Unfortunately they still persisted in my save so I decided to restart from scratch and do some personal patches to other mods/tweak my mod list further.
The Conqueror bug with martial plots in Vassals is unfortunately still present in my new game and nothing that I do seems to fix it. It is making me wonder if it is a mod conflict somewhere and I have a couple of suspicions. However to test that theory out I'd need to restart again without those mods.
Which I might just do as I am still not completely happy with my current mod list and I haven't played too far in this current save so it wouldn't be that big of a loss.