Feature Article

The Beginner's Guide to Fallout 4

Like Vault-Tec, we're here for you.

You've just booted up Fallout 4 for the first time, and as the opening sequence music swells, the thought suddenly hits you: this is your first Fallout game. You know it takes place after nuclear war has devastated the world, and you know you're playing as the sole survivor of Vault 111. But even after half a year of news bites and a trickle of leaked info, you have no idea what you're getting into mechanically. How do I fight? What fun stuff can I do with Dogmeat? What is all this talk about perks and skills and how do I make sure I'm not a weakling forever? After jumping on the hype train and forking over your cash, you find yourself in the Wasteland with absolutely no idea what to do.

Let us help you. There's lots to unpack in Fallout 4, from lore to how you level up to where you can find and do certain things. Much of the good stuff--like base building and romance--will come later. And as you explore the Wasteland you'll learn many new things along the way; there's enough to do and see that you'll be making discoveries and unlocking perks many, many hours in. But for now, here's everything you need to know to get yourself through those first few hours.

How do I create a character?

Fallout 4's opening minutes include character customization. You can choose the gender, body build, skin color, and other visual traits of your future Wastelander, as well as sculpt all facial features. This is also where you'll allocate your first 21 points into the seven stat categories, called S.P.E.C.I.A.L. You can allocate as many or as little points as you want into each category.

After this beginning sequence, you will get another chance to change your name and redistribute stat points. You can also change your face with a surgeon's help later in the game.

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What is S.P.E.C.I.A.L? How do I use it?

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is Fallout's acronym for the physical and mental stats that determine your different attributes. Through combat, crafting, base building, and other activities throughout the Wasteland, you will earn experience points. These points are used to unlock Perks that will teach you stronger, more specialized skills, and you will choose where to distribute them throughout the following seven stat categories:

  • Strength: How much melee damage you do, carrying capacity, ability to craft specialized armor and add special customizations to melee weapons.
  • Perception: Your awareness of the environment and situations, weapon accuracy in V.A.T.S, lock-picking ability, and rate of successful stealing.
  • Endurance: Total health, taste in food, resilience against radiation and physical damage, how much Action Points sprinting will drain.
  • Charisma: How well you can persuade and negotiate with others, the ability to persuade dangerous animals to assist you, how well you resist addiction to harmful substances.
  • Intelligence: How many experience points you earn per level, better access to new places, technology and knowledge, and more complex weapon crafting.
  • Agility: Reflexes in combat and increased efficiency in stealth, chances of dodging enemy attacks, increased AP for use with V.A.T.S., and faster weapon reload speed.
  • Luck: Speeds up recharge rate of critical hits, increases chances of finding rare items.

What are Perks?

Perks are bonuses and abilities that are tied to your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats. There are several dozen perks, and many perks have multiple tiers that confer increasingly powerful benefits.

Gaining a perk is a two-step process. First, you must unlock the perk by putting a specific number of points into its relevant S.P.E.C.I.A.L. category. For example, placing six points into the second perk in the Endurance line will give you 20 percent greater damage resistance.

You can tell a perk is unlocked when the image of the perk chart changes from a dotted outline to a faded illustration. Then you can activate the perk by putting a point into that perk specifically. You can tell a perk is activated when the illustration is bright and colorful. Once the perk is activated, you gain its benefits. You can unlock perks in any order, so long as your level is high enough to access them.

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What is AP?

AP are your action points. The gauge in the bottom right of the screen measures them. AP is drained by sprinting, holding your breath while scoping to steady your aim, and using V.A.T.S. Normal movement like walking and shooting does not take AP. The meter can be restored by walking, resting, or using certain consumables.

How do I get around?

On foot. You can walk or sprint, but the latter uses up your AP, shown in the bottom right of the screen.

The vibrant green bar bottom-center of the screen is your compass. It shows which direction you are traveling and features icons indicating quests and points of interest. In the Pip-Boy menu, you can set a waypoint for specific quests, which will show up on the green bar (you can change this bar's color in the Settings menu).

After visiting a location for the first time, you can select it on your map in the Pip-Boy menu to fast travel to it.

How do I equip items? How do I use them?

To equip an item, go to the Pip-Boy menu and open your inventory. Selecting an item like a pistol or Molotov cocktail equips it directly. To have multiple weapons easily accessible, you can assign them to your Favorites. Press the Fav button as listed in your Pip-Boy, and you will see a menu that corresponds to your D-pad. While in the Wasteland, use the D-Pad to select the item, and press the action button to equip or use it.

To use items to regain health or AP, go to the Pip-Boy menu and select them to use directly. If you have more than one Stimpak and want to map them to the Dpad for quick use later, you can highlight and Fav them.

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How do I get armor? How do I make better armor?

Armor and other clothing items can be found tucked away in drawers, suitcases, or lying around in abandoned structures. You can also loot clothing and armor off slain enemies and buy high level armor from vendors wandering the Wasteland or in Diamond City. You can equip apparel in the Pip-Boy menu.

All apparel adds weight to your character and some boost damage or radiation resistance. Items called "outfits" usually include pieces that cover your full body, and can be equipped all at once. Other clothing needs to be equipped as separate pieces, and allows you to assemble your own unique look based on your needs. With clothing like Raider armor or leather pieces, it's also a good idea to wear long johns or other undergarments as well, otherwise you'll just be walking around in armor and underwear. If you're not sure what you look like, switch to third-person view to check things out.

You can craft better armor at crafting tables. You can augment armor by modifying and adding pieces of junk to it, or by combining it with other pieces. If you don't have the right materials for certain armor, you can use the "Tag for Search" function. This will highlight items containing the material you need as you scavenge the Wasteland.

How do I fight?

There are two ways to fight: traditional shooting and melee or by using the V.A.T.S. system. For traditional shooting, Fallout 4 has lowered sensitivity when aiming down sights, which allows for more accurate shots, as well as added a mild aim assist when targeting.

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What is V.A.T.S.? How is it different from regular shooting?

V.A.T.S. is the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. V.A.T.S. works best for characters with higher perception stats and uses up AP. To initiate V.A.T.S., press the appropriate button to slow down time and view your enemy's weak points. You will see the damage you will deal by hitting each body part, and you can select which area--the torso, the arms, the head or the legs--to target. Cue up your shots by pulling the trigger on the area you want to shoot, then unleash all your shots by pressing the "Execute" button. You stand a better chance of filling your critical hit gauge and landing them with V.A.T.S.

How do I heal?

You recover health by using Stimpaks, resting in beds you find, or by eating food. However, some food items will give you minor radiation poisoning. Other consumables like Nuka Cola will restore your AP.

How did I get RADS? How do I get rid of RADS?

RADS are radiation poisoning. When you have RADS, your overall HP is reduced--signified by the red bar that encroaches on your health bar from the right side. You get RADS by eating food containing them, being attack by irradiated enemies, or passing through areas that are still irradiated--you will know you're in an irradiated area when you hear a persistent clicking sound and a notification pops up on your HUD.

To get rid of RADS, you use a medical drug called RadAway. You can also find a doctor and pay 40 caps to have them cure RADS. You can also use Rad-X and equip radiation-resistant armor to be greatly reduce radiation's effect on you.

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What are all these drugs?

There are many different drugs, called "chems." The most beneficial include Stimpaks, which restore health, as well as RadAway and Rad-X, which dispel and protect you from RADS, respectively. Other common chems that induce temporary effects include Jet, which slows down time for 10 seconds; Psycho, which allows you to do greater damage and resist greater damage; Buffout, which boosts strength and endurance; and Med-X, which makes you damage resistant.

Chems are all beneficial in some way, but your character can develop a dependency on some of them, so use with caution. Another drug called Addictol will cure you of any addictions you have. You can also visit a doctor to cure any addictions.

What is all this junk I can pick up? Can I use it all?

Junk is everywhere. Searching rundown buildings and other broken structures can sometimes yield more useful items such as duct tape, while materials like metal and plastic can be picked up nearly everywhere. These items can be used in crafting weapons, armor, and structures for your home base.

However, be judicious when picking up junk in your early hours in the Wasteland. If you're carrying too much, you will be hindered from moving quickly. Don't overload and make sure to drop off junk at crafting tables when you can. When at workbenches, always select the "store all junk" option to lighten your load considerably.

You can also sell junk to vendors. Or, if you want to keep some things on hand, give them to your companion; companions such as Dogmeat can carry quite a bit of crap. Just remember to empty their inventory at shops and crafting tables.

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How do I use crafting tables?

You can find craft tables in some buildings, and there will be one in your first home base. Here you can drop off all your junk, apparel, and food items that you aren't using. Inventory is not shared across crafting tables in Fallout 4's early hours, but later on you'll be able to unlock a Perk to unify your stashes across the Wasteland.

There are also specific crafting tables for creating and modifying armor, weapons, and chems.

Is there any currency? How do I trade?

Currency in the Wasteland are bottlecaps, which can be found scattered or buried in buildings or looted off corpses. Caps can be used to purchase items from other vendors in the Wasteland, such as buying chems from drug dealers.

If you find any Pre-War money, pick it up: you can trade it to a specific vendor for caps. As for trade, some vendors will give you items in exchange for junk instead of taking caps. You can also sell all kinds of items to vendors, which is a great way to earn extra cash and keep your weight down.

How do I know if I'm advancing the story?

Fallout 4 does not differentiate between main story quests and side quests. You can view quests names and objectives in the Pip-Boy menu, but you'll have to unravel the narrative path on your own.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

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Alexa Ray Corriea

Alexa Ray Corriea is never not covered in glitter at any given time.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4

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