It would be nice for NPCs to be fixed and implemented sooner rather than later in my opinion.
I know they are in the game, but they’re still very buggy. It would be nice to encounter gangs of bandits and raiders while you loot the houses of your area or perhaps adding a way to delegate a home area where you can send friendly NPCs you meet and that they will defend for you. So here are my ideas for what NPCs could be in the future
Raiders - Groups of bandits and hunters roaming the wilderness looting buildings randomly and not really listening to anyone.
Group Sizes - 1 to 10 maybe more. Equipment - Rag tag. Dependent on how long they’ve been around and how many buildings they’ve looted. It would be nice if they could build and dismantle camps at night and reequip themselves based on what they find in buildings.
Mutants - Sewer people or just random animal-human hybrids that hang out in certain biomes. Eventually they could build tribes and make weapons, but they start with pretty much nothing. They would rarely raid and you could find mutant battle ground either pregenerated in world gen or mid fight or that have recently happened while you’ve been playing.
Townsfolk - Maybe survivor towns that welcome outsiders where there are shops and quest givers and trainers. All equipped with a mish mash of mutations and equipment that make them feel unique. Perhaps later the player could purchase land within a town’s walls and build a home there. Also raiders could come through and attack places like this.
Other survivors - Truly unpredictable, they may just want to talk and be friends or may try to rob you. Potentially looting alongside or against you and able to navigate around some player built defenses. These guys could just simply be wanderers looking to join up with a town or help you build your own town. Or be lone bandit looking for some easy pickings.
Military groups - Less random and more based on appearance. If you look odd, too mutated, wearing military equipment, gun out etc, they may shoot on sight, but may also be negotiable if you can get close enough to talk.
Science groups - Similar to military, but scientists instead.
Other stuff -
NPC Food needs, in theory NPCs would need to eat and drink just as frequently as the player. Meaning each group would have thier own ways to gather food, bandits, and other survivors would probably raid. Townsfolk could build farm fields. Military and science groups should have a stockpile in a base or cave somewhere.
NPC Sleep needs - NPCs should also require sleep and be forced to sleep somewhere. I.e Raiders building camps for the night, but this should also put them at risk to player raids meaning you could sneak up and steal a bandit’s items while he sleeps with each item having more or less difficulty to steal.
NPC traits, skills and professions - Each NPC created should have a random set of skills, traits and professions assigned to them using the same point system the player has to use. Each NPC should also have a smaller chance of starting with a mutation except for mutants which should always have several.
That is all.