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The Definitive Fallout 4 Survival Guide

(Now nearly spoiler free! Plus 25 bonus survival tips for Advanced Wasteland Wanderers!)


[Take a trip down memory lane. For the month of August, The Escapist is pulling the best of the best guides out of retirement. These are the top-ranked guides, re-published and re-shared.]

Fallout 4 is finally here! Breaking records on Steam and causing mass “sick days,” Bethesda has brought the post-apocalyptic Wasteland to the next generation; this is the definitive guide to help you navigate it.

The Commonwealth of Boston can be an overwhelming place for players new to the Wasteland, and even Fallout pros may find some of the redesigned mechanics confusing. If you are an experienced survivor and are here for the advanced tips, you can fast travel there now! If you have yet to play, or are just getting started, the opening sections will provide you with some great advice.

Table of Contents:

Check out even more Fallout 4 Easter eggs and secrets on The Escapist:

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Table of Contents:

YOU’RE S.P.E.C.I.A.L! Character Creation Tips

The first thing to know when creating your character is that you will be able to make adjustments before you leave the vault. In other words, your initial options are not set in stone. (Once you leave the vault, however, your character is locked.) It is also worth nothing that there isn’t a level cap in Fallout 4; your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats can be upgraded indefinitely throughout the game. Your build will determine how you play, but the leveling system leaves room for flexibility. You can add unlimited points and adjust your strengths should you find yourself unhappy with your initial build.

Try to anticipate what kind of game you want to play and put your points into the proper S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats. You want to be a charming smooth-talker with a knack for leading? Put those points into charisma. You want to be a hulking beast? Max out strength and endurance. Want to outsmart everyone you encounter? Intelligence is the stat for you. (Although Fallout is known for some… interesting… conversation options with an extremely low intelligence stat.) Cater to your play-style, but don’t overthink it.

Welcome To The Commonwealth!

After experiencing an amazing opening sequence, you are thrown into the Wasteland with nothing but your Vault 111 jumpsuit and a gun. Now what? If you are new to Fallout, the sheer size of the game can be daunting. The map is enormous and has hundreds of locations to explore. There is a seemingly endless amount of gear and items to discover. Luckily, the Fallout series is great at easing the player into the world and unlocking options as the game progresses. It is best to stick to suggested quests if this is your first time in the wastes. It is also wise to stay close to home, as enemies are stronger the further into the Wasteland you venture. Don’t get overwhelmed, take it slow, and enjoy the ride.

Staying close to home doesn’t mean you must stick to main story missions; the beauty of Fallout is player choice. If you don’t feel like advancing the main story, go explore! There are tons of locations to discover and if you get in over your head you can always run back the way you came.

While exploring the Commonwealth you are bound to run into colorful characters. The dialogue system is brand new in Fallout 4 and results are mixed. Instead of choosing the exact dialogue you will respond with, you now choose one of four vague options. Not knowing exactly what your character will say is odd, but most of the time you will have an idea of what the tone will be. Also new; persuasion is now indicated by color. Options closer to green have a higher chance of success; closer to red indicates a higher chance of failure.

Wasteland Survival Guide, Pt. 1: Combat Tips

Veterans of the Fallout series will feel right at home with the combat system, as Fallout 4 is basically an upgraded system of Fallout 3. The gunplay is better than ever and seems more like a true first-person shooter. The older versions were very unforgiving and left most players opting for VATS to get the job done. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or VATS, is a mechanic that slows time and allows the player to perform critical and high-precision shots.) VATS is still very useful for getting out of sticky situations, but isn’t the crutch it used to be. The AI is improved in Fallout 4 and enemies will use cover and other tactics to try to kill you. Here are some basic combat tips to get you started.

  • Utilize a combat style that corresponds to your character. A character with high strength will be best unarmed or with melee weapons, while a high agility will make you more effective with small guns. It doesn’t completely limit how you play, but it’s a good idea to stick to your strengths.
  • Use cover. Leaving yourself out in the open is a sure path to a quick death.
  • Ammo is pretty scarce. Make sure to carry weapons that require different ammo types in case you run low with your favorite gun. Prepare for extended runs into the wasteland with plenty of ammo, aid, stimpaks, and chems/meds.
  • Running is always an option. It is easy to get into trouble, encountering a large group of Raiders or a creature that is just too powerful. Sprint wisely, however, as it now consumes AP (Action Points). Escape is usually a viable solution should you find yourself out of options. Put your equipped weapon away to sprint out of deadly situations even faster.

Wasteland Survival Guide, Pt. 2: Weapons, Armor, and Aid

Gear is vital to staying alive. Equipping the right armor will make fights easier and allow you to take more damage. Using powerful weapons is equally important to dole out punishment. There is more customization than ever before and crafting fun weapons that are effective killing machines is extremely satisfying. Here are a few basic types of weapons and armor:

  • Unarmed/Melee: This is the preferred combat style if you like to get up close and personal. An unarmed build takes dedication, but there are weapons to improve your hand-to-hand fighting skills. Brass knuckles are the most basic; stronger unarmed weapons can be found as your progress. Melee combat is fun, but tough. Most human enemies will have guns, therefore getting close without being seen is crucial. There are tons of melee weapons, from pool cues to combat knives.
  • Guns: Gunplay is awesome in Fallout 4; players can utilize an array of guns that range from peashooters to rocket launchers. The best way to get accustomed to the guns of Fallout 4 is to test them. When you acquire a new gun or mod that you like, take it out and try it on some low-level enemies. Always make sure to use the right gun for the right situation. It may seem obvious, but using a sniper rifle in close quarters or a shotgun in the open is a a recipe for disaster. Make use of the damage, rate of fire, and range stats to make good decisions. Keep in mind the guns types are separated on the perk tree. (Handguns, Rifles, Automatics, Snipers, Big Guns all have a different perk to increase effectiveness.)
  • Energy Weapons: Energy weapons will be found later in the game. They are just as fun to use as classic guns, but require the Science! perk to upgrade.
  • Explosives: Explosives are fun, yet dangerous, weapons to play with. Mines are a bit safer than grenades and can be effective traps in buildings.
  • Armor: Use your character build to determine what armor is right for you. If you like sneaking and agility, use lighter armor. If you are building a tank specializing in melee, the extra weight of heavy armor won’t be an issue. Power armor tips are in the “Advanced Tips” section of this guide.
  • Aid: Aid is very important to your survival. Food and water heal well, and stimpaks can be used in a pinch. Keep an eye on your rad levels (indicated by the red portion of your health bar). Many food and drink items increase rads; maximum health is reduced as your rad levels increase. Find a doctor or use Rad-Away to clear radiation sickness. Chems can be advantageous in combat, but use in moderation, as addiction is possible. Chem addiction causes stats to go down should you fail to feed your addiction.


Wasteland Survival Guide, Pt. 3: Crafting Tips

The new crafting system is massive. There are already guides completely dedicated to crafting! These tips won’t illuminate the full potential of crafting, but are some basics to get you started.

  • If you plan on crafting and building up your settlement, loot EVERYTHING. The older games had little incentive to carry around a bunch of coffee cups or rolls of duct tape, but the new system allows players to break down junk for valuable materials.
  • You can tag materials in the menu, highlighting items containing that material when you are looting! Some of the harder-to-find materials are: adhesive, copper, aluminum, oil, screws, and fiberglass/fiber optics.
  • Breaking down junk into materials is rather confusing. You do not need to drop all your items and break them down into materials. Any materials from junk you have in your inventory or workshop is added to that material count. If you craft or build something the junk will automatically be broken down for parts and excess materials will be stored in your workbench.
  • If you find a gun you don’t want to use that has a mod you like, you can remove the mod for use on another. This even works for mods that you do not have the perk to access! Just remove the mod before you scrap the gun and it will be in your inventory.

Home, Sweet Home: Settlement Building Tips

Settlement building and workshop mode is the easily the biggest addition to Fallout 4. This mode allows you to build towns exactly to your liking and is even more customizable than character creation. Here are some basic tips to get the most out of your settlement. (Advanced Settlement tips can be found in the next section.)

  • Scrap everything you don’t want when you start. There are a ton of materials in Sanctuary to get you started. Tidy up before you begin your rebuild.
  • Follow the quest line from Sturges to get started. Food, water, and defense are the cornerstones of a successful settlement; his quest line gets you headed in the right direction.
  • Electricity is needed to run vital parts of your town, and to make it look good. Electricity can be confusing; toy around and use the help section to aid in the building of a good grid. You will want to construct a Comms Tower to attract new settlers as soon as possible.
  • Make sure your defense is always higher than your combined food and water to avoid attack.
  • Build turrets on higher ground for better line of sight on atackers. Thanks to 008Zulu for the tip!
  • Put floors down before you start building from scratch; it makes walls much easier to snap where you want them to.
  • Connect settlements as soon as possible. (Requires Local Leader perk.)

Check out even more Fallout 4 Easter eggs and secrets on The Escapist:

Table of Contents:

War Never Changes: Advanced Tips

Going beyond the basics, these tips will help advanced players get the most out of Fallout 4.

General Advanced Tips

  • Be careful who you anger or kill! You won’t get a second chance with an NPC that hates you or is dead.
  • Hacking terminals is a bit different than older games. You can still back out before lockout, but lockout only last ten seconds (not forever like Fallout 3). There are also certain sections that can be highlighted and selected to remove dud words or give extra guesses. If a full section is highlighted between brackets < > ( ) [ ] it is one of the bonus sections.
  • VATS detects mines! If you are in an area with mines go into VATS and they will be highlighted. Whether to shoot or disarm them is still up to you though…
  • Stimpaks heal 30% of MAXIMUM health. (Editor’s Note: This originally stated incorrectly that the healing was a percentage of remaining health, rather than maximum health. We apologize for any confusion.) Food heals at a set HP rate.
  • Collect overdue books. You can turn them in to certain locations for rewards.
  • You must sit or lie down to wait.
  • Gear adds bonus S.P.E.C.I.A.L points. It is a good idea to have a few builds to maximize stats when needed. (For example, equipping a few charisma-enhancing items will net better prices at vendors.)
  • The right gear can increase S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats above 10. Equipping clothes with stat bonuses or consuming chems can raise INT, CHA, STR or any of your stats to 15-17! Your base stat can also increase above 10 if you use the right Bobbleheads. Thanks to Billy Inlow for the tip!
  • You can change the color of your pip-boy screen. The color you choose will also be the color of your flashlight!

Advanced Companion and Settler Tips

  • Companions can carry a ton of junk for you, just like in other Fallout games.
  • Companions do not need to be healed with Stimpaks. Only use Stimpaks if you want your companion to return to battle.
  • Companions and Settlers will never run out of ammo with their default weapon; if you give them a different weapon they require the appropriate ammo.
  • The Lone Wanderer perk works even with Dogmeat as a companion.
  • You can use Dogmeat to get a chilly high-level item earlier than intended…

Advanced Settlement and Crafting Tips

  • You can raise and lower walls and items while building. Hold E and use scroll wheel on PC; X and L1/R1 on PS4.
  • Use rugs to place items in spots otherwise unavailable. Place the item on the rug and move it to the desired spot; stash or move the rug when finished.
  • Adhesive can be made by cooking Vegetable Starch using Corn, Tato, Mutfruit and Purified Water and subsequently breaking it down for materials.
  • Excess water and food will be stored in your workbench. You can produce a ton of Purified Water and use it to heal or sell it for a nice profit.
  • You can assign settlers to specific tasks in the workshop menu, and put companions like Codsworth to work.
  • Settlers can work 6 TOTAL food, not 6 plants. Fast travel between settlements to instantly grow crops.
  • Build a bell in your settlement to call all settlers to you when rung. This allows for easier job assignments.
  • Be careful if you dump all your junk into the workbench. Cool decorating items like Deathclaw hands and valuable items like pre-war money will be broken down if left in the workbench. It’s a good idea to dump your junk and do a quick run through inventory to pick out anything you don’t want scrapped.
  • You can name your guns to make it easier to find what you want. For example, starting each name with the ammo type will section all those guns together. Using (-) before the name will keep them at the top of the list. Or just give them awesome names you will remember.
  • You can equip companions and settlers with any weapon. Place it in their inventory and equip it. Settlers require ammo but do not use ammo. Give them a weapon and one bullet — a Minigun and one 5mm round is all they need to defend the settlement! Thanks to Robert Patrician for the tip!

Advanced Power Armor Tips

Power Armor is very powerful and pretty rare. Finding fusion cores to power them can also be a pain. Here are some tips to get more Power Armor and keep it running with cores.

  • Sprinting, strong melee attacks, and VATS drain power cores quickly. Avoid these actions whenever possible to keep armor running longer.
  • Power Armor stats always override your regular armor. The stats on your clothes are totally ignored while inside a Power Armor suit, so don’t rely on those S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bonus stats. Thanks to Sewa_Yunga for the tip!
  • Take the cores out of extra Power Armor. If you don’t, you may see someone running away in it!
  • You can sell nearly-empty fusion cores to vendors and receive more caps than empty cores.
  • You can pickpocket enemies of their fusion cores, causing the enemy to leave the armor for the taking.
  • You can fast travel without using any energy from the fusion core, and can fast travel with an empty core.

Born Survivor To Legend Of The Wastes!

Whether a Fallout first-timer or a vet looking for an edge, this guide will help you start your journey through the Commonwealth. While the game has gotten some mixed reviews, it is one of the most massive and entertaining gaming experiences of next-gen gaming. Fallout 4 shines in the same areas its predecessors did: total player choice with endless options. It’s a big Wasteland out there and the surface has barely been scratched; this guide will give you the tools to go out and explore it! Don’t overthink your decisions, play how you want, and HAVE FUN!

Check out even more Fallout 4 Easter eggs and secrets on The Escapist:

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