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Fallout 4 tips and tricks

We were originally going to call this article Fallout 4 tips and tricks for beginners, but it’s really a rather useful collection of Fallout 4 tips that everyone should know.

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Fallout 4 tips and tricks

We were originally going to call this article Fallout 4 tips and tricks for beginners, but it’s really a rather useful collection of Fallout 4 tips that everyone should know.

Fallout 4 can be a touch overwhelming, in terms of scope and scale. It takes around twenty minutes to run the map diagonally, there are well over 200 locations to visit, and virtually endless quests if you include all the radiant faction nonsense; plus there’s 275 different perks and levels for customising your character, and all the extra perks and mods you can learn from skill magazines and companions, and you can build your own settlements and… basically there’s a lot to do, and it can be daunting even for series veterans.

In other genres you might write off a bad run and start again if you made a few poor decisions – scrub the map on a strategy, perhaps, or restart the season on a sports sim – but in a game like Fallout 4, where you invest a lot of time and energy into your creation, that’s just not a palatable option. That’s why you need to know some simple Fallout 4 tips and tricks.

Fallout 4 tips: Character

Fallout 4’s character creation, like with previous games in the series, are based on a series of stats called S.P.E.C.I.A.L. These stand for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck – see our compilation of Bethesda’s informational videos for more on each stat – but their relative merits aren’t always apparent, which can make getting the right stats roll tricky. Maxing out your Charisma will allow you to talk your way out of most situations, for example, but you might find yourself woefully lacking when it comes to combat and survival skills.

Base Stats

Thankfully your base stats aren’t set in stone. As in previous Fallout games, you can improve your base S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats with skills books and bobblehead figurines – keep an eye out among the junk, and the racks upon racks of burned and ruined books – but you can also choose to spend points on improving your base stats when you level up. Your base stats, and your experience level, will subsequently determine which perks (or skills) you can obtain.

Perks

Gone are the days of grinding your skills to improve them. You won’t achieve an improved lockpicking skill by attempting 20 locks, for example; instead you’ll progress up through the ranks of bobby pin mastery by selecting increasing ranks in the Locksmith perk. These will only be available if your base Agility stat is high enough – 4 or greater – and you meet the requisite experience level requirements: level 7 for Expert, level 18 for Master and so forth.

With a point to spend with each level gained, and no level cap in Fallout 4 – it was a mere 20 in Fallout 3 – this means you can effectively ‘correct’ a bad roll, with enough time and effort. Even if they’re not on a combat-heavy play-through, most people will probably find they want to work their Strength stat up to 6 so they can receive the additional carry weight of the Strong Back perk, for example.

Fallout 4 tips - Character gender

Gender

Oh, and one final Fallout 4 tip for character creation: it makes no difference whatsoever if you’re male or female, in terms of stats and abilities. Bethesda games have always put equality to the fore in this regard, by not making male characters ‘naturally’ physically stronger than female ones, for example.

Fallout 4 tips: Combat

Combat has been a weak point in the Fallout series. After switching from the isometric, tactical view of the early series, first-person gunplay was fiddly and unreliable in Fallout 3 and New Vegas; it was unfortunately far too easy to piss through your ammo and do very little damage whatsoever. I believe that’s known as not being able to hit a cow’s backside with a banjo, in football parlance.

Thankfully, as we mentioned earlier, combat is greatly improved. Gun-play in Fallout 4 now feels like a slick, quality first-person shooter, and is closer to Destiny or Borderlands; it’s a dramatically improved experience for it.

V.A.T.S.

The poor combat mechanics in earlier titles led to most (if not all) players having to rely on the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System – or V.A.T.S for short – as a crutch to prop up their deficiencies; or perhaps to be fair and more accurate, to overcome the deficiencies of the game’s mechanics. Ultimately, Fallout 3 and New Vegas felt more like a turn-based strategy game as a result. Flipping into V.A.T.S. would cause time to stop while the player picked their targets, based on some chance-to-hit percentages, and unload on their enemies until their Action Points stat ran dry.

You’d then either try your best to fight in open combat that felt like you were trying to use a gun with oven mitts on, or try and keep moving to avoid getting hurt while your Action Points replenished and you could once again become a time-stopping deity, sweeping aside all in your path.

V.A.T.S. in Fallout 4 is different. Time doesn’t stop any more – it merely slows down for a less God-like tactical advantage – which means indecisive players need to learn to act fast, or lose out. That, combined with the improvements in open gun-play, means you’ll be relying on V.A.T.S. a lot less, but there a few Fallout 4 tips to help you get the best out of it.

Critical Hits

Critical hits are different in Fallout 4, too. Where in the past they were simply a dice roll based on your Luck statistic, they’re now far more interactive. Each time you score a successful hit in V.A.T.S. your critical meter fills up, and when it reaches the top, you can choose to trigger a critical against the selected enemy. Not only does a critical hit deliver more damage than a regular attack, it’s also guaranteed to hit, regardless of how low the percentage chance to hit is.

The fill rate of your critical meter is still tied in to your base Luck stat, but you can choose to hold on to a critical hit with the meter filled; storing a critical in the bank for when you really need it can come in handy.

Selective Targeting

Selective targeting is nothing new in Fallout 4. Within V.A.T.S. you can cycle through the various body parts of enemies, with your chance of hitting said body parts reflected in percentages on the screen, based on the accuracy of your weapon, the distance and cover level of the enemy, and any perks or chems that might improve your chances.

As experienced players will know, there are certain places you should target for certain enemies. Hitting a feral ghoul in the leg will leave them unable to walk, and render them a relatively harmless crawling zombie. A mirelurk has a heavily armoured carapace, but targeting its face allows you to deal significantly increased damage to its soft, fleshy insides. Shoot off a radscorpion’s tail, and it’ll be marginally less dangerous to you.

One-shot Kills

There are times when, if you don’t make the shot first time, you’re going to die. In these scenarios a stored critical (for that guaranteed hit) plus an above-average knowledge of the V.A.T.S system will mean the difference between life and death. If you’re fighting Super Mutants and you hear beeping, then keep a look out for an enemy with a glowing right arm – these are Super Mutant Suiciders, carrying the portable nuke ammo from a Fat Man launcher – and you need to hit their right arm while they’re at least twenty feet away, or the resulting explosion will kill you.

Fallout 4 tips - Critical hits

If you’re fighting anything with a fusion core – be it a human enemy in Power Armour, or the deadliest-of-all Sentry Bot – a single tap to their fusion core will cause them to explode in a small nuclear reaction, much like the Super Mutant Suicider. Unfortunately these enemies wear their fusion cores in the centre of their back and rarely turn away from you, but remember the guaranteed hit of the critical: even if you only have a 1% chance of hitting, that’s still effectively 100% with a critical hit, and any amount of damage to a fusion core will end the fight immediately in spectacular fashion.

Explosives

In Fallout 3 you had to equip a grenade in place of your primary weapon – which was clunky and interrupted the flow of combat, but it did come with the added advantage that you could throw grenades through V.A.T.S. – which made them a pain to switch to, but damn effective when you took the time to do it. In Fallout 4 grenades have been moved to their own button, which means you no longer get the benefit of V.A.T.S. when throwing; this renders them more convenient but less effective, at first glance.

If you throw a grenade then switch to V.A.T.S. while the projectile is still in flight, you can hit it with a well-aimed shot and cause the grenade to go off immediately. This is especially useful when enemies are on the move towards you and you need to detonate a grenade early, and can also give you a tactical advantage against dug-in foes. By being able to throw area-of-effect bombs (like Molotov cocktails) in the air above an enemy’s position and rain the fire down from above, you can effectively bypass forward-facing cover.

You can also discover otherwise-hidden land mines by tapping V.A.T.S. periodically while exploring, and can “disarm” them from a safe distance without having to risk getting close enough to trigger them (for “disarm” read: “shoot them and make them go boom”).

Sniping

Sniper rifles are also dramatically improved in Fallout 4. The addition of the weapon crafting system means that – with the right levels in the Gun Nut and Science! perks – you can outfit most any weapon with a scope of some description. Fit anything with a short optical scope or better, and you’ll be able to hold your breath while aiming through the scope to eliminate weapon sway, at the cost of Action Points while your breath is being held. Add a Recon Scope, and the digital display will tag targets for you so you can track their movement.

And if you’re sneaking up on enemies and want to get the drop on them? Don’t even think about using V.A.T.S for that first shot: the best you can ever achieve through V.A.T.S. is a 95% hit percentage (unless you’ve stored a critical) which still means a 5% chance of missing, but a steady head-shot while sneaking up on an unsuspecting enemy will kill most normal size/level foes outright.

Cover System

One element of the fantastically improved combat system in Fallout 4 that the game never actually teaches you, is that it has a rudimentary cover system. Surprised? Yes, so were we! This seems like the sort of thing a helpful NPC in the game might want to teach you, or perhaps those Fallout 4 tips that flash up on loading screens, but we had to discover this one ourselves.

There’s no Gears of War-esque press-A-to-stick-to-this-waist-high-wall nonsense going on here though; that just wouldn’t work effectively in an open-world game like Fallout 4. Instead it’s refreshingly simple and easy to use: just stand up close and face the wall (or other covering object) in the rough direction you want to fire, and hit the aim button. If you’re close enough to the edge of cover, you’ll lean around it to enable you to fire with only your head, shoulder and weapon exposed. Release the aim button, and you’ll pop back in.

Fallout 4 tips: Power Armour

Fallout 4 is unusual in the series, in that you get access to a suit of Power Armour very early on. Gone are the days of lugging around a complete set of scavenged Power Armour in the vain hope that one day a holier-than-thou faction will teach you how to use it: you get a suit very early on, but getting the best out of it can be tricky.

Benefits

Power Armour, as you’d expect, confers a benefit to defence. Having a hulking great piece of steel between you and your enemies is always going to be more effective than regular armour, but it also offers additional resistance to radiation, electrical and fire damage. Suits will generally improve one or more statistics, and all will grant a bonus to strength. You’ll also be able to fall from greater heights and take less damage, and the bass-note thud of the armour hitting the deck sounds amazing.

Types

The amount of protection and other benefits varies greatly depending on the type of Power Armour you’re wearing. From the standard-issue T-45 and T-51 that are relatively common through the Commonwealth, up to the Brotherhood-favoured T-60 and the most powerful post-war X-01 suits, you’ll find the protection on offer (and the value of the armour) improves as you move up through the ranges, and can all be improved by modification. Even some raiders have scavenged sets of Power Armour and restored them to working condition, but raider suits cannot be modified.

Mods

Power Armour in Fallout 4 is modifiable, just like every other armour type in the game, although some of the modification types for Power Armour are unique. The helmet for example can be fitted with a headlamp, that replaces the player’s PipBoy light, and tracking technology can improve the HUD while worn. Leg and arm pieces can have their physical prowess improved, and the torso can even be fitted with a jet pack; useful for those hard-to-reach places.

Fallout 4 tips - Power Armour mods

Two unique types of modification for Power Armour are the model type, and the paint. Paint jobs are tied in to factions within the game, like the Brotherhood of Steel or the Minutemen, and each one provides different benefits, and be applied to all parts. Similarly the model type can be changed on each individual part, e.g. T-51B, T-51C, and the letter signifies the level of the equipment. Higher letters means more protection and greater the relative health of the component, and you can also mix and match parts of different types or models to build your perfect set.

Repair

Thankfully, repair isn’t a mechanism that was carried forward from Fallout 3 and New Vegas. While it was an interesting and realistic mechanic to have equipment degrade through persistent use, the rate at which it happened (and the fact you had to harvest like-for-like parts) generally made it a massive pain in the ass. The one item that can however become damaged, and therefore require repair in Fallout 4, is the Power Armour. An individual component’s health will fall as it receives damage and if it is allowed to hit zero, the piece will be unequipped until it is repaired at a Power Armour crafting station.

Fusion Cores

Power Armour is no longer just a passive piece of clothing. It’s a working piece of equipment that requires a specialist ammo as its power source: Fusion Cores. Cores are depleted through operation of a suit of Power Armour and performing certain actions (e.g. sprinting) will cause a Fusion Core to expire faster. When your final stocked Fusion Core is depleted, you will be ejected from the suit and have to replace the core before you can continue; if you have no replacement cores available, your suit will be left stricken in the wastes until you can return and re-power it.

Fusion Cores are a scarce resource, particularly early on in the game but they can be found, usually in power generators in the basements of buildings and facilities throughout the Commonwealth. They can be removed from the panel of a generator with no ill-effects, so don’t worry about powering down that Super Duper Mart; just check you’re not stealing from someone who might get mad at you.

Fallout 4 tips - Finding Fusion Cores

You can also buy Fusion Cores like any other ammo, but they’re expensive. Thankfully this works both ways, and if you remember to sell a Fusion Core before it is completely depleted you will receive some caps in return; a depleted core is entirely worthless.

Leaving Power Armour

One more thing: if you’re going to leave your Power Armour unattended, remember to remove the Fusion Core. You don’t want a raider coming through your settlement and making off with your prized possession, because if that happens you’ll probably never see it again. Oh, and don’t think that just because you’ve left your Power Armour in one of your settlements, that it will be safe; your settlers, and even your own companions will go for a joy-ride in your suit if it’s left with a Power Core in the slot.

They might run out the core in your settlement and leave it somewhere you can easily find it, but they could just as easily wander off and make it impossible to locate. They’ll often refuse to get out until a core runs down too, meaning you might not have access to the Power Armour in a pinch.

One of the most important Fallout 4 tips we can give you is to remove your Fusion Cores, people.

Fallout 4 tips: General

We’ve already written some in-depth guides on what to do if you can’t build beds in your settlement, or how to find companions that have gone astray. We’ve even covered some of the non-game technical issues like being unable to connect up the PipBoy app, and some purely frivolous activities like playing dress-up with Dogmeat, but here are some general Fallout 4 tips that might come in handy.

Sleeping

Fallout 4 tips - Well Rested bonusIt’s not immediately apparent, but sleeping is very good for you in Fallout 4. Even one hour’s shut-eye in any bed you find will restore your health and heal any crippled limbs – though it won’t shift radiation poisoning or chem addiction – which has obvious benefits; but if you sleep in a bed that you own then you’ll get a Well Rested bonus, which increases gained experience for a short period.

Waiting

Waiting doesn’t confer any benefits like sleeping, but it can be useful if you’re waiting for a store to open or have to undertake a quest at a specific time. There’s no dedicated Wait button in Fallout 4 though, so series veterans might find themselves confused as to how to do it. The answer is simple: simply sit on some furniture, like a couch or a bar stool, and the Wait option will present itself.

Cooking

In previous Fallout games, the heavily processed foodstuffs left over from before the Great War were a staple diet for restoring health, at the cost of a little radiation increase. In Fallout 4 there’s a better way: simply cook up anything you find in the Commonwealth – be it grilling meat from dead critters, or boiling vegetables to make a stew – and you’ll not only remove any radiation, but you might add some extra benefits too. Grilled Radstag for example grants you a temporary carry weight bonus, in addition to restoring health, which can be handy if you’ve over-encumbered with loot.

Looting

You can now loot items from downed enemies simply by hovering over them and clicking, which is obviously a lot quicker but can lead to lots of accidental menu opening for series veterans.

Junk

In previous games, junk only served two purposes: to be sold for caps (or traded, for certain items) or fired at enemies from the Rock-It Launcher, now known as the Junk Jet in Fallout 4. Now every piece of junk you will find in the Commonwealth – yes, every single one – is made up of component parts that can be used in crafting. You can even mark component parks you need from the crafting menu to stop you having to guess while stocking up on junk, and the Scrapper perk will help you find rarer/more useful things.

Toy cars contain springs which are incredibly useful in weapon crafting; TV dinner trays are made of aluminium, which is important when upgrading Power Armour; ceramics from coffee cups will come in handy when building electrical items in your settlement; and adhesive? That stuff is gold dust.

Adhesive

When crafting firearms and armour, most anything you do will require some form of adhesive. This can come from reels of duct tape or pots of glue scavenged in the Commonwealth, but adhesive will almost certainly serve as the limiting factor on your crafting. However if you plant the right crops (mutfruit, corn and tatos) in your settlement and cook them up in the right quantities with some purified water, you’ll be able to produce vegetable starch, which brings with it a whopping five adhesive units for crafting.

Fallout 4 tips - Vegetable starch adhesive

Custom Naming

You can rename pretty much any item in the game. This seems frivolous at first, but given the procedural naming of modified items – smashing all the mod operands together like a compound German noun – losing track of your favourite items can be a real nuisance. You can also include tags in item names for bold and italics, and slapping an underscore at the front will always keep an item to the top of your inventory.

Pockets

We’re not going to tell you which mods are the best because that’s highly subjective, but one that we can heartily recommend is the Pocketed mod that can be added to most armour types. Adding pockets – which generally requires adhesive and leather – to individual pieces of armour will increase your overall carry weight when equipped; by significantly more than the extra weight of the pockets adds to the worn weight of the pieces of armour.

Shared Inventory

All your crafting tables within the same settlement share inventory, meaning if you’ve scrapped a load of weapons for steel you don’t have to ferry it back and forth to the Power Armour station, and so forth. Keep in mind however that this inventory isn’t shared across settlements (until you reach level one of the Local Leader perk, and even then, only when you assign settlers to the supply lines) so it can be very easy to place items in storage and forget where you left them.

Settlement Improvements

Some settlement improvements are obvious and are available from the beginning – beds give settlers a place to sleep, turrets help to keep the bad guys away – but others aren’t immediately available. One of the most useful things you can do is to build some shops, to save you having to make trips to other locations (or wait for Trashcan Carla to roll through town) when you need to sell junk or stock up on ammo. You don’t get access to store building until you reach the second level of the Local Leader perk, which requires a Charisma stat of 6 and experience level of 14; you can also build new crafting stations when you reach this level.

Assigning Settlers

Settlers who are left unattended will try to make themselves useful – they might scavenge junk from the wreckage or tend to crops – but if you want someone to perform a specific task, you’ll need to assign them to it. This is particularly important when wanting a settler to man a guard tower or work behind the counter of one of your new stores, as they won’t think to pick these tasks up automatically and the game doesn’t tell you; simply select the settler within the workshop menu, then select the location or task you want to assign them to.


So there you have it, our handy guide of Fallout 4 tips and tricks for beginners everyone, really. If you don’t have Fallout 4 then you could always pick it up from Amazon, but it’s frankly a little odd that you read this entire article without it.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.