A little while ago, I took the existential decision to stop using Fast Travel. It has transformed the game and given it a totally new lease of life. I live (nowadays) in the Hill Fort. If I want to visit Himfjall, I have to get on my bike and fight my way (Cycle to Contact) all the way up to the Industrial Facility and rtake the boat. It takes me an hour and something wirth battles and adventures along the way. I discover things I’ve never seen before and getting to the Bear Hotel is a real achievement.
Wherever I want to go, I have to get there from wherever I was. I find machines in totally unexpected places, and find much more action than skipping about the map looking for it. If I run out of ammunition (or fill up with crafting resources) I have to find a safe house along the way to craft, or to dump. Suddenly, Safe Houses stop being a mere destination to begin from, but a real refuge, where I can fill up and recover.
I also have to remember where I parked my bike, or I’ve got a long walk to another Safe House to make myself another. It is amazing how many Safe Houses have no bike station! I didn’t think there were any. If it doesn’t, I have to look at the map, and try another, fighting my way there.
On my main East-West access road, there is a Reaper. It is the only one I’ve spawned and it took ages, so I don’t want to kill it, but I have to creep past and find another bike station the other side. I can’t even just cycle past because it chases you aggressively, so each time I have to plan ahead.
Every “mission” is an adventure. To get to the Bridge at the North means planning a route by road and fighting my way along it. Battles? Epic!
Now, there are times I use fast travel. Shopping. Gas cannisters - good for explosive. So, I travel to all the Ind Facs, help myself to gas bottles ten at a time, recycle them and go back to where I was to start again. But that’s it.
In this respect, bikes were a stroke of sheer genius. Sometimes you can just keep cycling and eventually the machines will give up, sometimes you have to get off and fight everything - it all depends on what you are trying to achieve.
You also run out of ammunition, and even medkits, and cannot just travel back to make more - you have to plan and conserve and loot, until you can get to a Safe House. It takes you right back to where every bullet and every medkit used to count.
This has transformed the game for me.