Fallout 76 Guide: Survival Tips And Where You Should Go First
By Alessandro Fillari | @afillari on
Welcome To West Virginia
Fallout 76 is a much different from previous games in the franchise. First off, it's the first online game in the series' history, with a far more in-depth focus on survival and crafting. This new approach on the familiar post-apocalyptic RPG's mechanics will take some time getting used to--and players will be doing that together in a shared world. You won't be alone out in the wasteland, which should bring some comfort in the path ahead, though, rogue players are more than likely to give you a hard time if you aren't careful.
In this guide feature, we've come up with a handful of tips and a short list of things to do during your first few hours exploring the ruins of West Virginia. As the earliest game in the Fallout timeline, set only 25 years after the bombs fell, the inhabitants of Vault 76 will explore a world that's still in disarray after the nuclear apocalypse. Though the setting of West Virginia was largely spared from the bombs, radiation and chaos have seeped into the valley, irreparably altering wildlife, and unearthing creatures that many thought to be legend.
While the main hook is the focus on surviving a violent, irradiated world full of other players online, the familiar aspects of the Fallout experience are alive and well in 76--there are even some surprises for the eagle-eyed fans to uncover. If you've been playing the beta, you'll be happy to know that all of your progress is transferring over to the full game. But if you're new to the game, here's a quick survival guide to help you overcome the odds.
For more info on Fallout 76, be sure to check out footage from the first 50 minutes of the game, and along with our chat with Pete Hines about the current state of the game, and what lies ahead. If you're more curious about how the game is, read our Fallout 76 review.
Explore The Vault
Instead of being rushed out the Vault door like in other Fallout games, with hostile Vault-tec security or irradiated radroaches nipping at your heels, you're afforded the chance to calmly prepare yourself for the expedition on the surface. After creating your character and taking a quick photo of yourself for you nametag, you'll grab your new pip-boy and get to explore the vault at your leisure--and even interact with other players starting out as well.
Once you leave your room, be sure to examine every point of interest on your way up to the entrance. These stops will get you stocked up with new items and supplies, which includes a starting set of Perk Cards, purified water, and the all important C.A.M.P device--allowing you to build structures in the outside world. Around the Vault, you'll find various holotapes that tell you more about the residents of the bunker, which includes the vault Overseer who's gone missing. Once you're ready, make your way towards the exit of the Vault. Though rest assured, if at any time you want to return, the Vault's door will always be open to you--even allowing for fast travel at no cost.
Take In The Sights
Starting out in the Western portion of the map, set in the Appalachian region, you're in a prime spot to branch out into the other parts of the West Virginian wilderness. Your map is one of the most valuable resources you have, which highlights many of the major attractions in the area--akin to an amusement park guide. But in between those major points of interests, there are many different areas that house valuable loot, interesting story details, and some usual monsters to fight. Moreover, you'll often find events and side-missions while exploring, which can open up some interesting diversions.
While the entire map is free to explore at the beginning, it would be best not to branch out too far into other regions. Here are some interesting locations that you can explore in the early hours of Fallout 76, all located in reasonable distance from the Vault
- Top of the World Ski Lodge: Located in the center of the map on top of a mountain, making it one of the highest spots in game. Resembling an old-school, gimmicky resort, this ski-lodge now houses bloatflies and Super Mutants. When exploring this site, you'll also be able to find one of the game's more unusual melee weapons known as the Ski Sword.
- The Greenbrier Resort: Found just south of the ski lodge, this resort is an extremely ritzy location that feels more like a time capsule than a ruin. With an army of Protectrons maintaining the grounds and keeping nasty foes out, the resort is in surprisingly good condition having survived more than twenty years of no activity. While exploring the inside, you will find mobs feral ghouls, all of whom have kept their attachment to the posh lifestyle of their past lives.
- Horizon's Rest: Located just west of the Top of the World ski lodge, this ruined plane has been converted into a multi-level living quarters for survivors. However, the owners have since abandoned it, leaving behind an armory filled with weapons, ammo, and armor for anyone who's able to find the clues to unlock it.
Stick With The Beginning Story Missions
Once outside, you'll start the early missions of the main story. In an interesting approach that's different from past Fallout games, many of the tutorial segments take place in the open world. In a more trial-by-fire approach, you'll gradually learn more about the many systems at work while collecting a set of new weapons and supplies. Despite being given some basic survival items from the bunker, you're still an unprepared Vault Dweller in a new world, and you'll need to get new supplies fast in order to survive.
Though you may have the urge to get started on your adventure and explore on your own, it's really in your best interest to take on the early missions in the main quest. Right outside the Vault door is a Mr. Gusty robot, who will let you know where to go next in your quest to find the Overseer. Within the first 10 minutes of stepping outside, you'll acquire new weapons, armor, and get used to the more nuanced mechanics in Fallout 76. This will go a long way in helping you get your feet wet in the open world, and you'll still come across many side events and opportunities to take on.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Building your character up from scratch is one of the hallmarks of the Fallout series, and 76 is no different. However, the early hours of Fallout 76 are not as generous as other games in the series, and it'll take time to gradually build up to the more familiar archetypes of previous games. But before you reach that point, you'll need to understand that you'll often have to work with what you have at your disposal--even if it's mostly scraps of items and word-down weapons that have seen better days. It's important for you to get out of your comfort zone and try out new methods and solutions for survival that you wouldn't normally take on in other games.
Rethink What Makes You SPECIAL
Given the more survivalist nature of Fallout 76, you'll have to be constantly on your toes and adapt to any situation that comes you way. The systems at work in-game allows for more flexibility, letting you refocus your character's strengths at anytime. Once you start leveling up, you'll be able to allocate SPECIAL points and gain new Perk Cards for your character. While all the SPECIAL points you invest are set in stone, the new perks you can set on your deck can be swapped out at any time.
As you increase in power from leveling up and acquiring new gear, you'll be able to flesh out your character in more interesting ways. Players that often favor firearms and explosives may find themselves in a position where they'll have to double down on melee weapons and hacking, and many of the perks you find will offer up some interesting buffs to make builds that were made on the fly seem worthwhile.
Just outside of Vault 76, you'll encounter other players who have also started their journey. While you're totally free to explore on your own and take on whatever challenges that come from being a lone wanderer in West Virginia, there are many benefits to exploring in a group. When in a group, you and your squad can communicate with each other through voice-chat--though only in short-range--which will allow you to coordinate quests and how you'll clear our some of the more challenging locations housing Scorched, Ghouls, and Super Mutants. Though this is totally doable on your own, getting a group can lessen the hassle and spare some precious resources that you would end up spending on your own.
Grouping up in a Fallout game is still a new concept, so it's better to get a feel for it sooner rather than later. To team up with others, walk over to another player and invite them into a party. If they accept the invite, you'll partner up instantly. Up to four people can work together, with each member getting their own share of the loot. However, if you want to splinter off from the group and do your own thing, you're free to do so. If you've put a lot of distance between you and your group and want to return to them, you can open up the map and fast travel to a party member, allowing you to great distances without much hassle.
Always Be Collecting
Scavenging for junk items and gear is a normal part of your journey in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. While the cheap desk fans, baseballs, and plastic cups may not seem so valuable, breaking them down to basic materials can lead to crafting new weapons, armor, and support items. The screws from a desk fan for instance can be used to craft higher-end weapon and armor upgrades your paltry starting weapons, which will help even the odds when things get tough. Moreover, items can be gathered from the game world itself, including downed tree logs, which offer wood.
However, it's important not to get too greedy when exploring and junking all these items. With the deeper survival mechanics in place, every item you have in your inventory has a set weight. And with all those items added up, you'll likely find yourself overencumbered at the worst possible time. If you can't find a workbench to scrap items, you can always stay on the lookout for stash boxes, which are often located in residential areas, red rocket stations, or can be built with the C.A.M.P.. Despite this being an online game, you're not racing against others to scavenge the nearby ruins for junk. Every player will get their own haul of items, and you're never left empty handed after seeing another squad of vault dwellers rummage through a place.
Get Crafting and Stay Healthy
While there are plenty of supplies and new weapons to find in the field, these tools won't be in that great of a condition and you're much better off not leaving things to chance. The gear you create and modify with your own hands with the resources are what make the difference between surviving a shootout with Mole Miners or finding yourself face-first in the dirt.
Once you have those materials, it's best to start investing them into better items and supplies. Along with the weapon and armor workbenches, you'll need to utilize the cooking and chem stations to craft food, clean water, and healing items in order to stay healthy. While you certainly able to eat whatever stale food or use worn down weapons and armor, it all has to be done with caution. Poor weapons will breakdown fast, and dirty water and rotten food can lead to diseases and sickness for your characters--including the particularly nasty case of Radworms.
Challenge Another Player
Once you reach level 5, Fallout 76's player vs player gameplay will open up. Despite every character coming from the same Vault, where they shared safety and comfort from the outside elements, all previous friendships formed in the bunker are tossed by the wayside. While you're not committed to taking part in PVP, you may come across a relentless player who's got their eye on you. When another person attacks you, they will only deal chip damage to your character--a small fraction of their actual attack power. However, it does add up over time, and they can kill you if you've lost enough health--or if they just happen to catch you after a nasty scrape with some monsters.
If this happens, you have several options at your disposal; you can fast-travel away from them, block them, or even try to engage them in a fight. The later option can go a number of different ways, especially if you're up against a stronger player, but it lead to interesting results--the winner takes any junk items that their opponent had upon their defeat. Since this is a first for the series, you may want to try out player combat as early as you can to get a feel for it. While you can usually avoid PVP, there may come a situation where dueling could work out for you, especially if they're an underleveled annoyance. However, it's usually in your best interest to keep fights clean. If you ambush others and take them out with chip damage--with the other player not fighting back--you'll be marked as a murderer and left with a large target on your back for others to see.
Take Your Time
To put it bluntly, Fallout 76 features the largest map of the series--there is no way you'll experience many of the game's more defining events during the early hours. With so much ground to cover, it's a good thing to take your time and soak up all the details during the beginning of your journey. While many players will be eager to dive into the questline dealing with the nukes, which Bethesda have been teasing since the game's reveal, this is an event that will take several hours to work up to. Moreover, many of these quests will require high-end gear, such as power armor and high end, as it puts you face to face with some of the game's most dangerous monsters, including 76's new elite foe known as the Scorchbeast.
Once you've amassed an arsenal of weapons, supplies, and strengthened your character to a point where you can handle many of the tougher challenges, you'll be able to venture out into West Virginia's more notorious areas, which includes the Savage Divide and The Mire. But you're better off taking things slow, and enjoying yourself until that time comes.