Okay so I have got some Opinions about this! As much as I haven’t played it in years on account of the interface being absolutely brutal, I love the way that Dwarf Fortress suggests meaningful stories. It’s like, if you listen to Friends at the Table, there’s a part where they talk about the power of the gods to rewrite history.
The gods can make things, but they can’t make something from nothing. If they want to make kobolds, a race of lizard/dog people often skilled at mechanics and science, they couldn’t just drop them in. They had to make it so that kobolds were always there, that their society developed in such a way as to value science and engineering. It’s an approach to creation mythology that feels distinctly informed by historical materialism and I love it for it.
And in that same way, it feels like Dwarf Fortress goes so far beyond other games in procedural generation. It doesn’t just make levels, it crafts a continent with comparatively realistic geological features and lets it age for a bit. It doesn’t just place other societies somewhere on them map, it drops named characters onto the map and gives them centuries of time to build cities, trade, make war, make peace, and develop entire histories.
By the time your dwarves show up to settle in, the game world is already full of this context waiting for you to stumble across it. In that way, it contrasts kinda sharply with traditional empire-building games: you aren’t setting foot on an empty world rich in resources, just waiting to be colonized (also yikes that narrative has some Implications), you’re entering a place that already exists, where the people here sometimes decide to wreck your shit for cutting down trees. Your dwarves can make art related to historical events, or even make art referencing other well-known works of art. The idea that this game supports the evolution of multiple schools of art is mind boggling.