Fallout 4 is out! We reviewed it! We liked it! But make no mistake, it’s a mean place. Deathclaws to rip your face off, an infinite amount of junk to steal, Mirelurks to rip your face off, multiple Sanctuaries to maintain, radiation to avoid, Ghouls to rip your face off, Radscorpions to rip your face off, generally a lot of things wanting to rip your face off basically.
Well your old friends at GameWatcher are here to help! Read our Wasteland Survival Guide below and make sure your face remains mostly attached to your face! Let’s go wanderin’!
Welcome to the Commonwealth
THE BASICS (FROM FALLOUT 3)
One of the best (and worst) things about Fallout 4 is that it plays and feels exactly like Fallout 3, so existing fans won’t need time to get to grips with things. But what if Fallout 4 is your first Fallout? Here’s the basics. The game looks like a first-person shooter, but while there is a lot of shooting it definitely isn’t. There’s a full inventory, levelling up, special skills called Perks (see next section), item management, and the beautiful VATS (fourth section for why!). You can also go Third-Person if that’s more your bag, although it kind of sucks. You also have to be aware of neat tricks the game doesn’t tell you, like holding Tab to get a light, holding ‘R’ to holster your weapon which allows you to walk faster, and drinking Nuka-Cola bottles gets you Bottle Caps (which are the currency of the Fallout world). Also recognise constant dangers, like all water being irradiated, items that show up in Red belong to someone who won’t take kindly to you stealing them, and if you see a Deathclaw run in the other direction.
SKILLS - WHAT DO YOU NEED?
The seven core Skills that’ll govern your entire play fall into the acronym S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Strength (melee attacks, amount you can carry), Perception (finding things, accuracy in VATS), Endurance (health, damage and radiation resistance), Charisma (persuading people), Intelligence (how quickly you level up mainly), Agility (points in VATS, speed), and Luck (the most nebulous of the lot, basically how often enemies miss you and what you find scavenging). You get a certain amount of points when creating your character so spend wisely, as these will determine what kind of person your guy/gal is. If you want a funny second playthrough reduce your character’s Intelligence to 1, but heh, don’t do it the first time. Remember though: this time you can upgrade these skills when levelling up, but you only get one point per level and it’ll one less point you put into Perks.
Remember to scroll down!
PERKS AND HOW THEY WORK NOW
In previous Fallout titles you got to choose a select group of Perks during character creation to give you a boost in certain areas. In Fallout 4 instead as you level up you can continue to add new Perks or upgrade ones you already have to make them more effective. These start with such straightforward bonuses like making different types of weapons do more damage, medicine be more effective, and giving you increased damage resistance. Then things get more weirdly specific, like bonuses that make you both more charming and more deadly to the opposite sex, the ability to kill people in their sleep more effectively, enemies explode in blood and gore, and a Perk that basically turns you into a vampire. Choose wisely. Just remember two things: many Perks require a certain level of SPECIAL Skill points to unlock, and YOU CAN SCROLL DOWN ON THE PERKS SCREEN. Took me 10 hours before I realised that.
TO VATS OR NOT TO VATS
VATS is the Auto-Targeting System built into your Pip-Boy, which you can activate at the press of a button. The world slows down (it doesn’t freeze like previous 3D _Fallout_s, so be quick) and you select a body part of an enemy to target it, then press ‘E’ to fire. ‘Perception’ and various chemical stimulants determines your chance to hit, as well as proximity and angle. Torso is a near-guaranteed hit but is the most armoured. Head is the most lethal but the hardest to hit. Targeting legs (or wings if a flying enemy) can cripple your foe, and arms will stop them from attacking back as effectively. But you often can’t rely on VATS to kill enemies, especially as you often won’t have much AP to draw on so can only muster a few shots - although this can vary depending on the type of gun you use. Most of the time though it’s probably best to get a few early shots in VATS and then rely on skill until your AP recharges…
Honestly though, VATS is mostly about exploding heads
There are a number of organizations at work in the Commonwealth.
Vault-Tec: The creators of the Vaults and Pip-Boys. A corrupt company under the guise of benevolent saviours. The secret of the Vaults is that they were not designed to save mankind. Each Vault was a science experiment using human beings as test subjects. If you find a Vault, immediately ask: what is this one’s nightmarish secret?
The Minutemen: Active only in the Commonwealth, the Minutemen rose to prominence when they defended Diamond City from a Super Mutant attack. However, internal strife and a massacre in the town of Quincy reduced the Minutemen to a single man named Preston Garvey who you meet near the beginning of Fallout 4. Will you join him? Up to you.
Brotherhood of Steel: The Brotherhood are a religious-technological-military organization with many different offshoots and governing styles depending on location. They are not usually active in the Commonwealth but are at last making a push inwards. You’ll definitely encounter them at some point, and will have to discover if they have your best interests at heart.
The Institute: The mysterious Institute are the boogiemen of the Commonwealth, a group of Synthetic Humans in a base no one can find who exist only to infiltrate human society and capture humans for some dark purpose. At least that’s what the rumour-mongering says. You’ll find the truth out, I’m sure.
There are a number of different companions you can take with you as you explore the Wasteland. I won’t list all of them, but each have advantages and disadvantages. Your faithful hound Dogmeat’s the first you meet - he’s wonderful, can sniff out items, and can disable enemies for a short time, but obviously isn’t much of a talker and can’t use guns. Preston’s tough but he’s a little boring. Piper the journalist is fun and good to have around. Synthetic Detective Nick Valentine is great, radiation-proof, and will use any gun you give to him, but he falls a bit too easily. There are more, but they’re a bit more optional so I’ll let you find them for yourself. Remember to Trade with them, let them store your stuff, then force them to equip better gear by pressing ‘T’. Oh, and talk to them of course. They’re judging you all the time.
Be nice to Nick
ENEMIES OF THE WASTELAND
Just take it as red that most things in the Wasteland are out to get you, so be ready. Raiders are the most prevalent human enemy, and while you’ll see armoured versions with better weapons they go down easy. Super Mutants are the same, except a lot tougher. Synths are single-minded and relentless, but a good energy weapon will take them out. Then we have the radiation-soaked creatures. Ghouls are fast zombies, and particularly watch out for the tough Glowing Ones. Molerats and Radroaches are pretty harmless but can give you rad damage. Mirelurks and Radscorpions are tough and armoured, but are vulnerable in the face. Yao Gui are zombie bears and are as tough as they sound. And Deathclaws? Run the other way, as mentioned.
WATCH OUT FOR SKULLS NEXT TO ENEMY NAMES!
What the title says. It means they’re several levels above you. You can defeat them, but they can get you more easily. Also look out for the word ‘Legendary’ in an enemy description. It also means a tough enemy, but one carrying a special bit of loot!
WATCH YOUR HEALTH!
Your health meter is pretty standard, and Stimpaks or food/drink items can replenish it. However you can also get direct limb damage that can affect your walking, aim or sight, so make sure you head to the Stats page and use a Stimpak if that happens. Radiation damage lowers your maximum health bar, so make sure to use Rad-X (resistance) and RadAway (remove) effectively. Don’t use them too much however, same goes for combat chemical stimulants like Jet (slow time) and Psycho (damage increase and resistance), otherwise you get addicted and start suffering withdrawal symptoms such as getting progressively weaker. If that happens make sure to get to a doctor to remove it. There’s one in Diamond City Market for a start.
Preston Garvey guards Sanctuary with his life
HOW TO USE SANCTUARY AND OTHER OUTPOSTS EFFECTIVELY
For the first time in a Fallout game you have a proper customisable base. Sanctuary Hills, your ol’ neighbourhood, becomes available as a base after you rescue Preston Garvey and his group. It seems optional but it’s actually pretty essential. The goal is to keep the people living there happy by placing beds, crops, water pumps and defences. You can do this by using the Workbench or holding Left Alt anywhere in the base. On this view you can then scrap detritus or any junk you’ve gathered to get resources and build what you need in the fairly straightforward menu. What you gain is a safe place for companions to gather, a storage place for Power Armour, easy access to upgrade stations and a trader, and Cogsworth’s there and you don’t want to disappoint him right? After all, he’s been waiting for you to come home for 200 years. There are other outposts around the Commonwealth that you can find or unlock too, but Sanctuary should be your main one.
DON’T FORGET YOUR POWER ARMOUR
Speaking of Power Armour it works a little differently this time round. Instead of just a regular piece of powerful clothing it’s more like a wearable mini-Mech suit. You’ll encounter your first set while rescuing Preston Garvey near the start of the game. Press ‘E’ to enter it and suddenly you’re radiation resistant, very well armoured, and even the UI’s different! Hold ‘E’ to get out at any time. The catch? If damaged it needs repairs and requires pretty rare Fusion Cores to power it. To make repairs or add mods find a Power Armour Upgrade Station (there’s one next to Sanctuary, and you can build one actually in there if you can’t be bothered to walk), transfer the suit there and get to work. Use wisely, and make sure you have backup Fusion Cores handy especially if you’re heading into the Glowing Sea.
Stupid bug! You go squish now!
ALWAYS DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Watch what you wear. Most outfits have different attributes. Some won’t give any damage protection. Some offer radiation protection. Others provide boosts to one or more of the SPECIAL skills. This goes for hats too. Remember that basic wear can have plates put on top of it to cover each part of your body, and better versions of these can be found around the Commonwealth or crafted. I’ve mentioned equipping gear on companions in the section above, but did I mention that includes Dogmeat too? Dog armour, collars, and bandanas are all equippable on the little guy!
Currently there is no way to clean up the rather atrocious “list style” inventory, and yes, it’s even worse while trading where you literally get a list of every little thing in your inventory. Just hope the guys at Nexus Mods sort that out soon. In the meantime I have two tips. First, when scavenging if you don’t like the rather basic search press ‘R’ to go to the proper Transfer screen, where you can see everything properly (including weapon and outfit stats) and store items if you wish. Secondly, remember to press ‘Q’ in the Inventory to Favourite items or weapons, which you can then assign to the number keys ‘1’ to ‘=’. Very useful, and very understated.
There are two types of items you can find to gain permanent upgrades. Bobbleheads are the rarest, giving a +1 to certain SPECIAL skills or other abilities. These are found at certain major locations, but there are only a certain number in the game so they’re a great collectable - especially as you can display them on a cool stand in your room. The other items are more common, which are Books/Comics/Magazines such as Grognak The Barbarian and US Army Training Manual. Pick them up, read them, and then sell them on. Keep them pristine.
MANAGE YOUR JUNK!
Yeah, you hoarder, I’m talking to you. Wonder why you can’t run anymore? You’re carrying too much crap. Yes I know you think that Abraxo Cleaner will be useful, but it won’t. Pass it to your companion, store it somewhere convenient, reduce it to useful components at a workbench to build things at Sanctuary, sell it, or just throw it away. Alternatively though, find the Junk Jet gun (Fallout 4’s version of the Rock-It Launcher) at ArcJet Systems and you’ll be able to turn that trash into a powerful weapon! Otherwise, stop hoarding stuff you big hoarder.
And the final, most vital piece of information you need…
The most important thing to know in a Bethesda open world game is: IF IT LOOKS INTERESTING IT PROBABLY IS! See something intriguing in the distance? An odd corner where something could be hidden? Or a suspicious gap in the wall? Then investigate! At least 70% of the time it’ll be something worth your time. And if not, well… ooh, what’s that suspicious glow over there? Go find out!
Thanks for reading the Fallout 4 Wasteland Survival Guide folks. Hopefully now you feel you have enough information to survive anything the Commonwealth can throw at you, or at not get your face ripped off by the majority of creatures you encounter! Remember: whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you less not dead!
Found on the skeletal, faceless remains of Chris Capel
About Chris J Capel
Chris joined us in 2011 and loves Star Wars, comics and bad videogame movies.
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