The ultimate list of things you didn’t know you could do in Fallout 4
We’ve done beginner’s tips. We’ve done advanced tips. We’ve written a fuckton of guides. We’ve just generally assumed everyone can read menu prompts. And yet you still haven’t completely dominated the Commonwealth and brought it under your mighty dominion!
Well, fine. But this is it! This is the last time. Behold, VG247’s list of things you didn’t know about Fallout 4. Don’t be proud. Look at them all. No one knows everything, after all.
1. Equip NPCs with new gear – including Power Armor
It’s really easy to miss the button prompt for this, but the trade menu isn’t just for offloading excess inventory weight on your buddy. Dress them up in armour to keep them alive longer in battles and hand over more powerful boomsticks for tough fights. Note that you’ll need to give them ammo for anything but their default weapon, so this isn’t an unlimited missiles exploit.
If you’re yet to figure it out: face your active companion and press the activate button (Cross/A). If you’re close enough the menu will change, with one option for Trade (Square/X). Add whatever you want your buddy to use to their inventory panel, just like trading with a merchant, then highlight it and press Equip (Triangle/Y). You can even dress Dogmeat up in collars, helmets, muzzles armour and adorable little bandanas, or put all your settlers in uniforms or silly costumes.
2. Quicksave during conversations – or leave them
We’ve all been there, or at least 90% of my pals have; you finally get Piper to idolise you, summon up the courage to confess your feelings, hammer the persuade button and – she turns you down.
Avoid this situation by quicksaving at any point in the conversation; opening the pause menu won’t interrupt or exit the conversation. You can either quicksave right at the persuade prompt for the most efficient reload-and-repeat run, or while your character still has movement. In the latter case, you can just walk away and resume your chat later; useful if you’ve been asked to get involved in something you’d rather steer clear of for a while.
3. Build a Bobblehead display and magazines rack
Have you looked through your Workshop meny thoroughly? I mean really thoroughly? Because if you haven’t built a sweet display for your Bobbleheads yet, I’m just going to assume the answer is no.
As well as the dedicated Bobblehead display there are a couple of options for showing off your magazine acquisitions – flat shelves and spinning displays. Whatever works with your decor, hey. If you want more decorating options, remember you can always drop items from your inventory then hold down activate (Cross/A) to pick them up and move them around, arranging them on shelves around you.
4. Assign your Settlers to specific beds
If you’re anything like me, you like your settlements to be neat and tidy. If I have decided a settler is going to be a guard, I put a bed in a house near the guard post. Likewise for farmers, traders and scavengers.
Unfortunately, the wretched NPCs have other ideas, and sleep wherever they fancy – even in beds you’ve decided are your own! Fix ’em good and proper; open your Workshop menu, activate the settler in question (Cross/A), then activate the bed you want them to sleep in. “This resource has been assigned.” You bet it has.
5. Build a bell to gather your settlers
One of the best little shortcuts in the Workshop menu is the bell. Plonk this down somewhere central, give it a ring, and wait a moment; all your settlers will wander up from wherever they’ve been hiding while you’ve been trying to find someone to please, please, PLEASE man the defences. No shirking, you lazy individuals! I don’t dungeon crawl all day so you can stand around and complain about the weather.
Some players like Redditor BunyaminButton like to build themselves a fancy chair on a podium near the bell. Ring, ascend to your perch, and watch your subjects gather before your throne. Bit egotistical, but very satisfying.
6. Build a water purifier for free health boost items
Pumps only produce a very limited amount of water, so if you’ve got the gear and the knowhow plonking down a proper water purifier in a nearby puddle is a very good idea on its own merits. It has a pretty cool side-effect, though: excess purified water will be stored in your Workshop.
It’s not as useful in end-game, but for the first 20 levels or so Purified Water is a great healing items. Grab a dozen, stick ’em in one of the slots on your quick menu, and never chow down on radiated Nuka Cola again.
Settlers assigned to farms and scavenger stations will also place their produce in the Workshop inventory, by the way.
7. Hold your breath while sniping
Hands a bit shaky when you’re going for a headshot with a high-powered scope? Hold your breath! You’ll see the button prompt when you aim down sights using a compatible weapon.
Be warned: like sprinting, this uses Action Points. Then again, perhaps if you’re manually aiming you’re probably too far out for VATS, and if your stealth is good enough, you won’t need it. In any case, the Sniper perk can make it less onerous.
8. Make a Chem cocktail
Like to use Chems? Why settle for regular boring drugs when you could make a super drug, with the powers of two or more supplements? Visit any Chem crafting station with a bunch of different candies to see what options are available to you.
By the way, there’s a Chem crafting station in Sanctuary Hills. It’s hidden behind the drug dealer’s house – that’s the intact one near the bridge out of town, with a terminal in it. You can move it somewhere more convenient, if you fancy.
9. Mod your armour, already
How are so many of you walking around in unmodded or very basic armour. How. How! Spend the damned perk points so you can tinker with your gear. And don’t just make it tougher, either. Sure, you can up the defensive capabilities, but if you’re playing a sneaky character who rarely gets hit, you’ll be better of going for Muffled (better stealth) or Deep Pocketed (extra carrying capacity).
Remember: mods stack on top of basic stats, so it’s worthwhile stripping your gear back occasionally to compare it to other stuff. Most armour comes in three tiers of effectiveness, and you want your mods on the best stuff – preferably with Legendary bonuses, too.
10. Claim a free SPECIAL point
After you leave Vault 111, visit your old home in Sanctuary Hills. Search Shaun (the baby)’s bedroom carefully and you should turn up a book called “You’re SPECIAL”. If you can’t find it, try scrapping the furniture; the book should fall to the floor.
Collecting this book grants you one extra point to assign to your SPECIAL stats. Nice.
11. Challenge yourself with a focused build
What’s that? Fallout 4 too easy for you, even in survival mode? Mix things up with a deliberately unbalanced character build, focused on a specific perk or SPECIAL stat. Set your Intelligence as low as possible and trust to Luck perk Idiot Savant to get you through. Ramp up your Endurance and grab the Ghoulish and Cannibal perks for an unusual Wasteland lifestyle. Buff up Strength and swear off guns, using melee only. Or try a pacifist Charisma run for a very tricky challenge.
These builds may seem utterly broken at first, but with a little smarts they can be absolute powerhouses. Don’t forget that Bobbleheads and the You’re SPECIAL Magazine will bump your SPECIAL ratings up, by the way! Going past ten points yields only negligible results.
12. Cook up a feast
Absolutely essential for survival mode: don’t ignore that Cooking crafting station! Any non-humanoid creature you dispatch has a high chance to drop meat of some kind or another. While this raw material will heal you, it’s usually riddled with rads.
Cooking meat at a crafting station will make the meat safe to eat, increase its healing power and often add bonuses like extra carrying capacity or action points. Some “recipes” only require one piece of one type of meat – although at higher levels it’s worthwhile waiting until you can make the more complex fare, or you’ll need half a dozen snacks to repair your health bar. Youn can also cook up vegetable starch to junk for adhesive, which is vital.
13. Talk to your companions
If you open the command menu (face your companion and activate them – Cross/A) you’ll see an option for “Thoughts?” This is worthwhile checking periodically if you’re invested in the story and characters, as the large roster of Companions have a surprising number of tidbits to share about whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time – in addition to a rotation of generic comments.
Plus, they’ll often give you a healing item or chem for your efforts. Nice.
14. Don’t sell your looted guns and armour
You’ve probably have noticed that you pick up a lot of trash loot in Fallout 4. Unlike the actual junk you collect, it’s no help in building your settlements, weighs a ton, and is worth almost nothing when you try to sell it to vendors.
You could just leave it where the bodies fall, but don’t. Take it home scrap it all at your Workshop for a ton of extra crafting materials. If you’re going for a build with at least five points of Intelligence, put it all in a crate and scrap it after you pick up the two Scrapper perks at level 23. You’ll get a ton of rare components.
15. Select multiple objects at once in Workshop view
I got so mad when I learned this trick I threw a plate on the floor. Hold down activate (Cross/A) in Workshop view to highlight multiple objects at once; then scrap or store them all in bulk. Update: to clarify, this only works on items that are touching or very close together. Sorry!
Anyway, how much time have you wasted highlighting and scrapping objects one by one? Try not to bite through your smartphone in frustration, okay?
16. Charge your Laser Musket
Fallout 4 makes a point of telling you this, but it’s easy to miss: Laser Muskets can be charged up multiple times so that their shots are more powerful.
You’ll use more ammo, but also your weapon won’t totally suck. A fair trade off when you’re stuck with one of these and don’t have the skills to mod it up.
17. Take cover
Avoid death by never being where bullets are. Look, any fool can strafe back into a doorway to reload, but did you know you can actually fire from cover?
To activate this feature, just approach a corner and aim down your sights. Now you’re doing that annoying thing enemies do where you can only get a clear shot on one arm in VATS – and you’ll take far less damage as a result.
18. Use VATS to counter grenades and mines
VATS is your best friend. it’s not just for knocking Feral Ghouls off their feet (though you should) and leaving melee enemies with broken arms (do that too, obviously): it can save your bacon in a tight corner.
Grenade lobbed your way? Smash the VATS key and blow it up at a harmless distance. Worried about mines? Spot ’em – and even shoot them! – in VATS.
19. Shoot something explosive
I know, I know; you’re all about that limb damage. But there are often better targets in the environment – or even on the bodies of your foes.
Many barrels, tanks and even cars can be made to explode with a few bullets or a molotov. Molotovs themselves can be shot in enemy hands, if you’re quick enough – as can Super Mutant Suicider’s mini-nukes, although then you don’t get to loot it. Power Armor users are vulnerable to Fusion Core explosions which render them almost helping – if they even survive! Just remember many of these tactics can be used on you.
20. Drop and take all
For those of you allergic to reading menu screens: when you open your Workshop menu you can press Triangle/Y to quickly deposit all your junk.
Similarly, you can press Square?X to take all from any container or companion’s trading inventory.
21. Use Dogmeat in genuinely useful ways
Dogmeat is cute and all, and his perks actually make him one of the most useful companions combat-wise, but did you know he can actually be really helpful beyond that?
Unique among companions, giving Dogmeat orders is good for more than just getting them out of doorways and tight corridors. “Fetch” opens a bunch of contextual prompts – you can have him seek out enemies (very useful for clearing dungeons and settlements quickly) or look for loot (ditto, for getting in and out with all the treasure when the enemies are down).
By the way, the excellent Lone Wanderer perk still activates if you choose Dogmeat as your companion. It’s pretty cheap at three Charisma, too. Lost Dogmeat? Build a doghouse at the last Workshop you sent him to – and make sure there aren’t other doghouses hidden elsewhere around the settlement! – then fast travel out and back in.
22. Rename your weapons and armour
The inventory is a horror, isn’t it? But there’s an easy fix. The menu is alphabetised, so you can force the menu to prioritise your gear – or chuck it right at the bottom. Can’t stomach a set of equipment called AAA or ZZZ? Use special characters instead.
Equipment can be renamed at the appropriate crafting station, regardless of your SPECIAL stats and perks. You can even use HTML tags to make equipment names bold, italic, or marked with a bullet point. Nice.
23. Assess your stealth status
I can’t believe the game doesn’t make this explicit, but there is an analog indicator of how close your enemies are to finding or losing you.
Just watch the brackets around the word HIDDEN or CAUTION. the further apart they are, the safer you are. Essential knowledge for early levels of stealth builds, as there’s otherwise little feedback on your success besides suddenly having your head blown off while attempting a pickpocket.
24. Buy a house in Diamond City
There’s a pre-made house in Diamond City, if you’d rather not deal with a Stettlement but want a central base. It’ll set you back 2,000 caps at the mayor’s office.
It’s actually a pretty nice pad, with a rooftop patio and plenty of room. You can customise it just like any Workshop, too.
25. Tag specific components
Most people know that if you’re trying to build something in Workshop view and don’t have the gear you can press the left bumper to tag the missing components, so that when you’re in the field you can easily spot keen items.
But did you know you can do this manually for any kind of component? Go into the junk section of your inventory and press the left bumper (it’s C on a keyboard) to open the component pane. Here you can label all the good stuff – adhesive, circuitry, screws – so you’ll always know when not to walk past a pile of toy aliens (or whatever).
26. Increase your SPECIAL stats
One of my friends told me to “get especially fucked” for handing over this little bit of knowledge, which had somehow passed them by: you can use perk points to level up your SPECIAL stats. Jus highlight the top row, where the stat explanations are, and Bob’s your uncle.
Really, friends, you should always thoroughly explore and read menu screens. I hear some people didn’t realise you could scroll the perks chart down, either. That’s a thing, by the way.
27. Sneak to improve accuracy
VATS likelihood too low to chance a shot? Bullets spraying wildly all around your target instead of lining up neatly in their face as intended?
Crouch! As any marskman will tell you, a good rest is essential for precise shooting. This isn’t video game nonsense, but a classic brace position. Utilise it and nail those headshots. Just don’t forget to switch back out of stealth so you can move quickly – and so guards in Diamond City don’t accuse you of needing to poop.
28. Put a floor down, you nimrod
No, I’m sorry, I can’t help but laugh. So you’re trying to raise your bed count, but for some reason the lovely beds you’ve plonked down in this amazing house you built don’t count as “sheltered. Why??
Well, it might be because they’re standing on bare dirt in a place where molerats pop out of the ground every ten minutes? Or maybe it’s because your walls and roof are all slightly, slightly out of alignment because you didn’t start with the floor. Ha ha. No, I am sorry. Ha ha ha!
By the way, you can scroll the mouse wheel or use the bumpers to raise and lower objects when placing them. Useful for not building shacks in mid-air.
29. Tailor your weapons and armour loadout by damage type
This really only applies to higher difficulties (or speciality builds struggling to overcome their courageous decisions), but having a set of armour for each damage type can really turn the tide of battle.
Conversely, having the right weapon for the job can make a big difference – some are weak against enemy, while others laugh it off as the gentle brush of a lover’s touch. Don’t waste your time giving them a tickle when you could be making it rain body parts.
30. Stick power conduits on your buildings
You don’t need to waste precious copper building wires to every damn thing inside a building; stick a power conduit to the side of the house, run a wire to the nearest generator (or pylon), and power everything at once.
This took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. I don’t want to talk about it any more.
31. Establish supply lines between settlements
if you have any interest in basebuilding, the Minutemen or just the general happiness of the Wasteland, buy the Local Leader perk. This opens supply lines between settlements, which means you cna move materials between settlements without having to lug them manually.
You’ll need a spare Settler to take advantage of this. Open the Workshop menu and activate a non-companion NPC (Cross/A) and look for the option to send them to another base. This will eventually make all your salavaged components and stockpiles available everywhere. Absolutely damned delightful.
32. Recruit traders to your settlements
If your settlements are big enough (build a recruitment beacon, keep meeting all the settlers’ needs, and establish supply lines) and you meet their requirements (you need at least one of every kind of shop and service centre) you’ll be able to recruit unique NPCs to come and live in them, tending your stores and providing neat bonuses.
There are eight traders to recruit. Two are found in Vault 81. One is found in Goodneighbour. The others are all in random encounters.
33. Get more hacking attempts
Ten seconds is really not that long to wait for a hacking reset, but if you really want to avoid it, you can give yourself more chances to guess the password.
All you have to do is look through the code in the hacking mini-game and pick out batches of special characters which highlight as if they were words. Click these and you’ll get an extra chance at the password. Nick Valentine’s companion perk also grants one extra try, and reduces the cooldown.
34. Pickpocket Fusion Cores from Power Armor
If you’re good enough to stealth up behind an enemy in Power Armor, I wonder that you’re not high level enough to just kill him, but whatever; people seem to love this one.
Pickpocket an enemy in Power Armor and if you’re lucky you can pluck the Fusion Core right out of the suit without their noticing. Bam: their effectiveness is hugely reduced. Run circles around them.
35. Change the colour of your Pip-Boy display
If you’re playing on console you might not have gone into the game’s settings menu at all. Well, do so, and change your Pip-Boy display with RGB sliders to whatever shade suits you best.
Note that it’s not a very good idea to choose red, yellow, or orange, as it makes it very hard to distinguish normal dialogue from persuasion attempts.
36. Keep levelling, forever
There’s no level cap. Enemies do not scale with you. Spend your perk points wherever you fancy! By the time you’re done seeing and doing everything in the dense, dungeon filled maps, you’ll have everything you could ever want.
You’ll also be massively over-powered, of course. Turn the difficulty up and stick to the southern area of the map; that’s where the toughest baddies roam.
37. Make the most of Fusion Cores
There are two useful things to know about Fusion Cores:
1) If you whip a core out right before it empties completely, you can sell it for a tidy sum.
2) Take them out of your Power Armor when you get out, or NPCs may take it for a joyride.