It’s a mean old world outside Vault 111. And it’s changed a lot since you were last here. Weapons, armour and companions all work differently in Fallout 4, and there’s a lot that seems completely baffling when you start the game fresh from suspended animation.
But don’t let that put you off. What follows is a series of handy tips for new and veteran players alike, covering munitions, friendships, health, combat, quests and those bloody aggressive little molerats.
Pip-Boy is unwieldy, ditch it for the quick menu
Pip-boy sure looks cool. But in reality it quickly becomes a chore to use. It’s slow, and once you get an hour or so into the game it’ll be crammed with stuff, making it difficult to find anything in a hurry. This is why you need to set up your quick menu (using the d-pad) with your favourite weapons and gear. There’s 12 slots in total, with three slots per direction on the d-pad.
Use one for medications and food for health regeneration. Another for your three most used weapons, another for explosives (mines, molotovs and grenades are devastating if you use them right) and the other three… well, it’s a personal preference. I like pistols but you could fill it with brutal melee weapons. All of these will be on hand without you ever having to slow down the action.
Bonus tip: hold circle to switch on your Pip-Boy flashlight.
Power Armour runs out of battery quickly
The iconic Power Armor can be upgraded and modded in Fallout 4, but it also requires a Fusion Core to function. These batteries run low pretty quickly, and you don’t want that happening in the middle of a firefight. Make sure you reserve the Power Armor for the big quests, rather than trying to wear it all the time. If you do need to abandon it somewhere it will always be marked on you map. You get the armor very quickly (by completing the When Freedom Calls quest in Concord).
Bonus tip: there’s a Fusion Core in the Super Duper Mart in Lexington and another inside the ArcJet building.
You need to scavenge for food. For weapons. For everything. In order to survive and thrive, you’ll need pretty much all items you come across. Everything has a value, and we don’t just mean that whatever you loot you can sell on.
In Fallout 4 you’ll be base building and weapon crafting and you need every bit of duct tape and glue, every spring and wire when you break down an item. It can all see a bit random – part of the house I built required a tricorn flag – but there you go. Nothing goes to waste in the post-apocalyptic economy. Don’t try and carry it around, you’ll shuffle to a bloated stop. Store it at a workbench and use it when you need it. If it’s not a weapon, meds or food, you probably don’t need to lug it around with you.
VATS isn’t just for precision headshots
VATS doesn’t pause the action but it does slow it down for you to take a shot at a specific body part. You will still take damage if you’re in a Raider’s firing line, and those Ghouls are quick to slash at you even as you ready a chest shot.
But it’s not just about using VATS to pinpoint limbs for maximum damage. The world of Fallout 4 is dark, or else you’ll find yourself in massive locations where you can’t even see where enemy fire is coming from. Hit the left shoulder button to slip into VATS and it will automatically highlight your foe on the screen. It will also pinpoint mines on the floor when you had no idea they were there. Use it for recon when you’re approaching any large area.
Build a couple of lethal weapons
You’ll find plenty of weapons on enemies even early on, but there’s no point carrying around pipe pistols, rifles, shotguns, lasers and 10 other different types of weapon. Decide which weapon you like best (and does the most damage), then get yourself to the weapons bench in Sanctuary. Here you can scrap those five pipe pistols you’ve picked up and focus on modding one or two lethal weapons.
Even the most basic pistol can be devastating with a new stock, barrel and sights. Build yourself one pistol or sawn-off for close encounters, a nasty little spiked melee weapon and a rifle with good range and you’ll only need those three for a good chunk of the early game. Everything else should be dismantled for parts.
Scribe Haylen & Knight Rhys are your early leveling-up buddies
Get yourself to the Cambridge Police Station and complete the Call To Arms quest. Now you’re a member of the Brotherhood of Steel you can do quick fetch quests for Scribe Haylen and killin’ quests for Knight Rhys.
They both ask you to do simple tasks, often sending you to the same location. They’re easy and if you string 3-4 together you’ll shoot up at least a couple of levels in an hour: you’ll also earn XP just by killing, unlocking and finding new locations. Save your Perk points and use them to get Locksmith Rank 2 so you can pick Expert locks (which also means you can raid the police station safe for some serious explosives). You’ll regret not being able to unlock ammo boxes, and be forever asking yourself what was behind that door if you don’t.
Give Mama Murphy some drugs
Mama Murphy loves Jet. Give her some and you’ll earn some XP. You dirty little dealer, you. Come back later and she’ll ask for more goodies.
But seriously, the way you interact with some settlers changes the way others will deal with you. Giving Mama Murphy drugs pisses off the straight-laced Preston Garvey, and you might need him and his Minute Men companions. What we’re saying is, be mindful of even the simplest of interactions, as they have a wider-reaching effect.
Only Ghouls rush in
Ghouls aren’t armed, but don’t let that fool you. They will rush you in large numbers, overpower you, and slash you to pieces.
In wide open areas if you see them from a distance take a long shot and stand your ground as they run towards you so you can finish them off – or aim for the legs and prevent them closing in. In confined spaces you’ll see them lying on the floor. You might even think they’re dead, but get close and they’ll spring to life. Make sure to headshot them before they get up. If all else fails and a group surrounds you, keep moving and use a double barreled shotgun at close range.
Scout out all buildings
Circle every building that’s part of a quest and find alternative entrances where you can. You may need decent lockpicking Perks. There’s always another route in, and often the front door is heavily guarded.
Also be aware of snipers on rooftops as you approach and automatic turrets inside buildings as both can cut your HP in half should you blunder into them. Turrets take a lot of firepower to take down, but often cough up loads of ammo when you’ve destroyed them. Or look for a terminal to over-ride its settings and turn it on your enemies. The good thing about turrets is they don’t move so once you get in cover you can always lob a grenade from safety.
Don’t underestimate a melee weapon
Sure, they never look very glamorous, but they can be brutal. Bloatflies, ghouls, molerats – they all attack quickly, close and in large numbers. Guns aren’t a lot of use here, and neither is VATS.
Instead, go full-on caveman with a spiked bat or electric baton. They’re easy to make at the weapons bench. They’re also very handy for confined indoor spaces with human enemies. Don’t try and pick them off while they use cover – rush them and swing for their heads.
Look out for Legendary Enemies
This took us by surprise and is new to Fallout 4. You will come across “Legendary” enemies during your travels. They aren’t common, but once you do a certain amount of damage you may be told “Legendary enemy has mutated!”. At this point they seem to go a bit wild and you should concentrate your firepower on them for a quick kill.
In either case, search the Legendary enemy when it’s dead and you’ll be rewarded with a good piece of loot, marked with a star. It might be a weapon or piece of armour with a special ability such as giving you better resistance to super mutants.