Mutant Menagerie – Big Game Hunting
Mutant Menagerie fills the Commonwealth to the brim with all new creatures gathered from a wealth of public access sources. These new, lore-friendly creatures come with unique drops and hand-placed spawns. This mod also adds in dozens of dynamic spawns for new, vanilla, and DLC creatures alike!
The Sole Survivor stood exhausted at the shores of a murky, discolored lake. In their mind, rapidly playing on a loop, the events of the last eight hours laid themselves bare. Staring southward across this dammed up old reservoir – the Survivor truly began to understand. Their life, one which they had known so well just this morning, would never be the same. The Survivor took in their surroundings – wondering if it could have really been two centuries since he had visited the surface. In the wake of the bombs, the perceived end of humanity, stood a new and wholly alien world. From the ashes old ruins sprouted a wasteland of perpetual, nuclear autumn. The rusty horizon was teeming with life as strange as it was familiar. Ducks chirped and quacked just feet away – lacking most of their feathers and, the Survivor presumed, their flight. On a muddy dune to the southwest, a beaver covered in jutting spikes and jagged bone spurs crawled out of the water – to the shock and dismay of a startled, two-headed buck. And on the shoreline opposite the Sole Survivor, meeting their wandering gaze, a bulbous, bloated muskrat clothed in matted fur and yellow boils – Standing nearly at the height of a grown man.
Here on the shores of this forgotten lake, The Sole Survivor recognized that the world had never truly ended. Life changed, adapted, and evolved – adopting the ruined husk of the old world as its new ecosystem. As a deep, lurching croak echoed out from an unknown source somewhere off past western tree line, the Sole Survivor was met with one final truth. Any humans left alive in this brave new world no longer stood at the top of the food chain. Finally collecting their thoughts, the now-focused Survivor brushed off their worn jumpsuit, unholstered their trusty pistol, and began making their way onward. They would conquer the beasts of this new Commonwealth. They would find their son. There wasn’t a mutant in all of Massachusetts big or vicious enough to stand in their way – or so they thought. Welcome home.
Part 1: Overview
This mod adds more than 20 new and lore-friendly creatures, of all shapes and sizes, to Fallout 4’s Commonwealth. It also introduces lore-friendly creatures from Fallout 4’s DLCs to the Commonwealth through the use of dynamic spawns. All spawns have been placed into the open world by hand and on their own separate layers. This mod does not use scripts or modify any vanilla files in order to guarantee a simple, safe, and conflict-free experience. With Mutant Menagerie, the Commonwealth is about to become a much livelier place!
1) Dynamic Spawns
Many of the spawns added in this mod utilize custom leveled actors designed to introduce random, level-appropriate creatures each time the actor respawns. These dynamic levelled spawns are split into predators and prey – with the intent to create fully-fledged and randomized ecosystems throughout the different biomes of the Commonwealth. These spawns do not utilize creatures that are already too common in the Commonwealth, such as mirelurks, vicious hounds, or yao guai, electing instead to prioritize new creatures and creatures from the DLCs.
2) DLC Creature Integration
DLC creatures have been added to the Commonwealth through dynamic and levelled spawns. Ambush encounters have been hidden throughout the
map for some creatures, ensuring that your next adventure into the Commonwealth’s wilderness will have a few surprises. Lower level, reduced-stat variants of high level creatures were also created, ensuring that endgame beasties like gulpers, anglers, and cave crickets can appear occasionally in the early game to spice up combat without entirely steamrolling the protagonist. Great care was taken with these spawns, as with all others, to ensure that they fit into the world without feeling crammed in or overwhelming in any way. They are meant to spice up your experience, not entirely redefine it.
3) New Creatures
This mod adds a wide roster of new mutants to the Commonwealth – all of which are nonhumanoid and as lore friendly as possible. There are hand-placed spawns for all creatures in addition to their integration into my dynamic spawns. The new creatures are split into two categories – heavy hitters and game creatures. Passive “Game” creatures roam the Commonwealth avoiding hungry mutants and trigger-happy hunters, while heavy hitters exist to beat you down and ruin your day. Game creatures drop pelts of varying quality, meat relative to the creature type, and other types of loot designed to make hunting both lucrative monetarily and supplementary for junk hunting. A critter’s size is indicative of its quality, so keep an eye out for the bigger animals! Players can cook new recipes, scrap or sell critter parts, and roleplay the wasteland hunter of their dreams. Heavy Hitters also provide similarly-lucrative loot items, but they won’t give them up easy. Heavy Hitters are creatures designed to fill special roles in combat challenge the player. They all have levelled variants, legendary variants, and drop lists of increasing quality to match. Some creatures are hybridized between Game and Heavy Hitters,
and play a more neutral role in the ecosystem. This usually means they won’t attack until they get close, or will run away once they are confronted with
force. Most creature spawns of all kinds are found in the wilderness areas of the Commonwealth rather than urban areas. For performance reasons, there are no creature spawns in the ruins of Downtown Boston.
4) Cooking and Crafting
As previously mentioned, hunting is meant to become a lucrative practice in the game with Mutant Menagerie – allowing exploring the Commonwealth’s wilderness exploration to replace the dungeon crawling loop that Fallout 4 is known for. My goal with this mod was twofold – give Fallout 4 its Monster Mod, and add a Red Dead Redemption 2–inspired hunting loop to the game for those that are interested. Ambient game creatures drop various odds and ends that both sell for high prices and scrap for a decent number of components. Pelts vary in quality from poor, to good, to perfect. Meat, on the other hand, comes in two categories – regular meat and prime, plump, or succulent meat (creature type dependent). Meats are combined with the various “alchemy” ingredients that litter the wasteland, like bloodleaf or mutfuit, to create powerful and expensive food items. Mutant Menagerie dares you to explore the wild, gather ingredients of all kinds, and become embrace your inner hunter-gatherer extraordinaire as you either peddle your loot and creations for caps or breakdown your pelts and parts to fortify your weapons, armor, and settlements. The new items will be worth more than their vanilla equivalents, new recipes will require more time and effort to craft, and the benefits for your creations will be top tier – forcing you to decide whether you want to sell that roasted critter or use it during your time of need. Lastly, there are many new recipes that prioritize common vanilla fallout 4 ingredients, allowing you to use previously boring items from the vanilla game in new ways.
Why Did I Make This Mod?
Confession – creature mods are my favorite type of mod. I remember when Fallout 4’s creation kit finally was released to the public, I couldn’t wait for someone to release our version Monster Mod or Beasts of Tamriel for Fallout 4. I love these mods for how they rework and integrate custom and publicly available assets into the game and make the world more exciting and organic. Unfortunately, though, those mods never really came. There were a few projects that dabbled in similar areas but, over the years, Fallout 4 never really got its Immersive Creatures or Marts Mutant Mod. I decided I wanted to try and change that. So in 2018, I got to work learning the Creation Kit and studying modding. I built Lokir’s Tomb in the Skyrim SE Creation Kit, studied some of Kinggath’s Bethesda Mod School to fill in the gaps of my knowledge, and watched the singular tutorial I could find for rigging creatures in Outfit Studio at least a dozen times. In 2019, I began working on a proof-of-concept creature mod using publicly available assets and Outfit Studio to see if I could get this off the ground. Now it’s 2021, and I’m ready to release my very first mod to the public – after three years of on-and-off hard work. It’s a little janky, a bit buggy, and nowhere near professional in its quality, but I hope you all enjoy it for what it is, and that these new creatures become a permanent mainstay in your load orders.
Mutant Menagerie was built to be dropped into a load order as a permanent mainstay with very little digital footprint on your game. I’m an art major, not a coder, so I excluded the use of scripts of any kind in creating this mod. All spawns exist on their own layers, no interior cells were touched, no vanilla creatures of any kind were modified, no leveled lists were edited or changed, and I’ve regularly error checked the mod in FO4 Edit to make sure that the mod is clean and runs smoothly. I run a moderate load order on my lower-mid tier gaming pc and my game has crashed maybe twice in the last month of testing – both for unrelated reasons, I believe. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any mod that conflicts with this mod in any major way or vice versa. Unfortunately, though, my lack of coding knowledge also means I cannot build any sort of configuration menus or in-game mod customization for users. I know this is expected of most mods in 2021, but it is not my area of expertise. So, unfortunately, what you see is what you get in that regard.
– Mods that edit and/or add to the vanilla worldspace of Fallout 4, such as custom settlements, Boston FPS Fix, or South of the Sea, may experience issues. Load Mutant Menagerie above such mods to ensure their changes take priority.
– Heavy load orders, especially those that use other creature or spawner mods, may produce blank actors that resemble headless synths. As far as I am aware, this issue can only be fully resolved by lightening your mod list to reduce the strain on your game or minimize the chance for any odd incompatibilities.
I optimized most of the crazier-quality models that I used in the mod, and use a mixture of 4k, 2k, and 1k textures – depending on the asset. With that said, this mod adds a lot of new spawns to the game. Hundreds of new spawns altogether. That may seem like a lot (because it is), but they are all spread out across the entirety of the commonwealth. Outside of the Boston Ruins, there is not a single area I didn’t touch. This mod is incredibly thorough. Static actor fish swim in ponds, rivers, and ocean waters by the dozens, while new creatures roam every region of the wilderness. I have to assume this may impact lower-end systems in some way, though I haven’t seen any FPS impact on my end personally. My PC is a lower-mid tier gaming rig, and I can usually maintain 60 fps with this and a few other mods installed. This mod is an ambitious one, though, and ambitious mods may slow your game down. My best advice is to test and experiment with the mod at your own pace and see if it works for you.