The player shooting at zombie-like Ghoul creature in Fallout 76.

How to Use VATS in Fallout 76

War, war never changes. But if you’ve played previous 3D Fallout games you may be surprised to discover that VATS doesn’t work quite the same way in Fallout 76. So, to help you find your feet, here’s how to use VATS in Fallout 76.

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How VATS Works in Fallout 76

In Fallout 4, you could use VATS (or V.A.T.S.) to pause time and deliver some serious slowmo damage to enemies. It was a nod to Fallout 1 and 2’s turn-based combat, which was neat. But since Fallout 76 is an online game, you can’t really put the whole world into slowmo. So, here’s how VATS actually works in Fallout 76.

  • With an enemy in range, hit L1/LB on your controller
  • You’re now in VATS mode
  • Use the right stick to switch between body parts if you’ve unlocked the Concentrated Fire perk (it may also be unlocked if you chose to start at level 20)
  • The percentage shows your chance of hitting. Hit R2/RT to fire.
  • You can keep going till your Action Points (AP) run out.
  • Also, use the D-Pad to switch between targets.

You’ll also rack up critical points, which lets you enter Critical Damage Mode by hitting Y or triangle, where attacking does major, major damage. AP points tick down slowly while you’re in VATS mode, and you lose a chunk for each shot you fire. AP regenerates outside VATS, and you can get perk cars that boost your AP regeneration.

Since time isn’t frozen, your enemies are still coming. You can also move in VATS to retreat, but given how much damage some of Fallout 76′s foes can deal, it’s less of a blessing than in Fallout 3, 4, or New Vegas.

Is it still worth using? Absolutely, but if enemies are swarming you, it’s not the life-saver it once was, so you’re better off just running and putting some serious distance between you.

Fallout 76 is available now on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.


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Chris McMullen
Chris McMullen is a freelance contributor at The Escapist and has been with the site since 2020. He returned to writing about games following several career changes, with his most recent stint lasting five-plus years. He hopes that, through his writing work, he settles the karmic debt he incurred by persuading his parents to buy a Mega CD. Outside of The Escapist, Chris covers news and more for GameSpew. He's also been published at such sites as VG247, Space, and more. His tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though he'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based. At Escapist, he's covered such games as Infinite Craft, Lies of P, Starfield, and numerous other major titles.