Stay alive in the Wasteland with our Fallout 4 tips and tricks
There’s no denying it, the Boston Commonwealth is a dangerous place. Your life out in that post-apocalyptic wasteland is tough, especially when there are raiders and mutants and factions you’re at war with.
The authorities aren’t going to have your back. You’re more likely to get killed by bandits, giant nuclear-warped critters or droid than actually get help from The Institute. Oh and don’t forget about the radiation sickness; that’ll get you too.
Resources are scarce and ammo limited, and people look to you for leadership even though you don’t have a clue what’s going on. Can you survive? Can you bring hope to this desolate landscape? Maybe with a few Fallout 4 hints and tips, you can.
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1. Loot, scavenge and scrap
Look, this is a world where civilization has gone to pot, supplies and materials are never plentiful and most folk need to rig ramshackle stuff together, make do and mend. To survive you’ll need weapons, armour, mods, medical supplies and ammo, and all are expensive to buy. That’s why you need to search every cabinet, chest, shelf and locker and never leave a corpse undisturbed.
Feel free to leave bulky, low-value items that can weigh you down, but remember that, in Fallout 4, most things can be recycled into something else. Even junk can be transferred to one workbench and then accessed from a workbench elsewhere, where it can be scrapped for materials for weapon and armour mods or base resources.
You’ll also note that, while in the main workbench menu, you can wander around the vicinity converting existing items into raw materials with a tap of the ‘scrap’ button. Make the most of this and give your people the resources they need. Don’t waste anything. Grab everything you can.
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2. Maintain a balanced arsenal
In the early stages you’ll find yourself short on ammo, and while you can buy more from trading posts and city stores it’s hugely expensive. For this reason we’d suggest collecting a selection of weapons using different ammo types, so that you can switch from, say, a laser musket to a shotgun or a pipe rifle when you run short of the appropriate cells or shells. This doesn’t mean holding on to every weapon – switch to stronger weapons when available (you’ll see a plus sign next to them in your inventory to tell you that they’re more powerful than your current gun). What’s more, while some weapons are good all-rounders, others are particularly good in specific situations. Hold back the mini-gun or the sniper rifle for when you need them, and don’t waste shotgun shells in long-range firefights. You’ll find it a lot more useful when you’re up against ghouls or mutant hounds.
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3. Learn when and when not to use VATS
VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) can be incredibly useful in some combat situations. Squeeze the left bumper/L1 button and the game goes into a slow-motion mode where you can highlight different enemies then target specific areas of those enemies using the dual analogue sticks. You can see what chance you have of hitting your target, and even time things to optimize accuracy and damage. This is brilliant when tackling isolated foes at medium or long range, but at close range with a handgun, shotgun, minigun or SMG you can be better off aiming manually or even firing from the hip. You can fire longer bursts at targets and you won’t get stuck watching helplessly as a ghoul closes in to claw you while you’re waiting for the action meter to refill.
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4. Master the Workbench
Weapons, armour, power armour and base resources all have their own workbenches where you can build or modify equipment. You’ll also find chem- and food stations where you can make medical supplies or rations. All are important. Power armour is vital in some boss fights or major battles, but use it carelessly and the parts get broken, so you need to make repairs and upgrades to keep it in active service. With weapon mods, meanwhile, relatively lowly weapons can be transformed into versatile everyday shooters, perfect for tackling bands of gangsters, ghouls or raiders.
We’ve got further looting armour than modifying our own, but even here you can convert basic items into something tougher. Don’t think of crafting as a side-activity; think of it as the homework that helps you when you’re fighting for your life.
5. There’s more than one way to skin a hideous radioactive mutant cat
You can’t play Fallout 4 without any kind of violence, but that doesn’t mean that you always need to go loud. It’s possible to sneak past some enemies or – if you have enough charisma – persuade some to stand down. You can also hack terminals and activate robot security, letting them tackle ghouls or raiders while you chill out and watch. Preserve your health and your ammo where possible, and look for other ways to handle aggressors without a straight-up fight.
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6. Use the in-game help
Fallout 4 has a lot of complex systems, not all of which are explained within the game itself. Future walkthroughs, FAQs and strategy guides will make things easier, but don’t neglect the excellent in-game help system, accessed through the pause menu. There’s enough detail here to cover and clarify most of the more challenging aspects of the game, particularly the crafting, base-building and companion-management stuff.
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7. Proceed with caution
The world of Fallout 4 is a dangerous place, and while you’re usually OK if you follow the different quest lines it’s still easy to blunder into situations where you won’t be powerful or well-equipped enough to cope. Save often, quicksave more often, and don’t be afraid to run away from a battle that you can’t seem to win. We’ve defeated some enemies that outmatch us through persistence, strategy and luck, and the game occasionally spawns more challenging, legendary foes which are hard to beat but leave more rewarding loot. All the same it’s sometimes easier – and more satisfying – to return a few hours later with a super-sized can of whup-ass, and give them the pasting they deserve. If you’re struggling, run away.
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8. Focus your perks
As with any RPG there’s an art to character building – and we don’t just mean finding the right hairstyle and beard to go with your choice of cheekbones. As you level up you’ll earn points you can assign to your SPECIAL stats or use to unlock and enhance perks. It’s always tempting to go for balance, creating a jack of all trades who can handle any situation, but we’d suggest focusing your perks in a few key areas to maximize your combat capabilities early on. With so many weapons and opportunities to mod them, you can double down on rifles or automatic weapons and boost your accuracy and damage through the roof, or build a brawler who can tackle more foes hand-to-hand. Later on you can look at adding balance, but in the early stages play to your strengths.
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9. Don’t go it alone
Companions make your life much easier. Your first, the faithful Dogmeat, will sniff our enemies and useful items and is great for holding bezerker-style attackers off so that you can finish them before they get close. Others, like Preston and the intrepid reporter, Piper, will back you up in firefights and carry scavenged resources around. Remember that you can equip your companions by trading items with them then switching items in their inventory to equipped. And don’t forget to heal them, either. A dying companion is no help at all.
10. Invest in Intelligence
If you’re struggling to work out how to spend your skill points in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system, we’d recommend going for Intelligence first.
The higher your Intelligence, the quicker you’ll earn experience points and the faster you’ll level up.
11. Get the Idiot Savant Perk
After you’ve got some Intelligence, grab yourself the Idiot Savant Perk. It’s Level 5 of the Luck skill, but it’ll gain you more experience from every action.
Trust us, you won’t regret it.
12. Send Preston away
If you don’t want to have irritating “Go here, do this, come back” quests being thrown at you all the time, we’d suggest you ditch Preston.
Send him to one of the settlements you go to least and then you’ll soon find your life is a lot less interrupted, meaning you can get on with more important things.
13. Get yourself the Ballistic Weave
The Ballistic Weave is an armour mod that allows you to add defensive stats to certain clothing items including entire outfits that can actually be worn under full armour.
It makes you quite the formidable foe, but you can only get it through performing certain quests for the Railroad Faction.
You’ll need to make your way though the initial Railroad faction quests until P.A.M offers you a series of Jackpot missions to secure DIA caches. You’ll need to complete Boston After Dark and Mercer Safehouse first though.
Once you’ve completed one or two Jackpot missions, Drummer Boy will tell you that they need to speak to Tinker Tom, who will in turn tell them about the old ballistic finer tech they found in the caches.
Then you’ll find Ballistic Weave is unlocked at all armour workbenches, with Tom selling you some armoured gear of his own.
14. Tag a weapon
If you’re looking to make a mod for a specific weapon, there’s a handy way to keep track of what you need to build it.
If you tag a weapon mod at the workbench, whenever you pick up anything in the Wasteland that contains parts, elements or components you need, it’ll be highlighted with a little magnifying glass.
This lets you know there’s precious cargo within so you don’t just ditch it.
Have any tips or tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below.