Fallout 4 (+All DLC) Quickstart Guide

Fallout 4 is an absolutely massive game. It’s easy to get lost in the sheer quantity of places to go, stuff to do, and things to shoot. After playing it for literal days of real-life time, I’ve compiled my “must know” tips, hints, mods, tricks, and other assorted interesting stuff.

Picking SPECIAL and Perks

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Choosing how to build your character is always something a personal decision in Bethesda games. There are many ways to play, and each one can be just as satisfying as the rest. Still, not every skill is created equal, and you never quite know at the outset what the “best” Fallout 4 build is.

My personal favorite way to play is as a “sneaky sniper” who uses stealth crits to one-shot enemies. Being able to deal with tons of simultaneous enemies at virtually any range while using the minimum amount of ammo is a big plus for me. Keep that in mind as you listen to my recommendations.

When choosing your SPECIAL stats, there are two things you should know. One, in Fallout 4 you can sink a point into any stat at any level up, instead of taking a perk. As long as your character is kinda sorta viable at low levels, you can always address your weaknesses as you move up in levels.

Second, there’s a free SPECIAL point that you get from reading a book under your son’s crib after the prologue. If you build out your character and realize you’re just one point short, don’t fret! Of course, bobbleheads are back, so you can get +1 to each of your stats if you find them. You’ll probably be pretty far into the game before you collect them all, though.

The first perk I’ll mention is this: Idiot Savant rocks. As far as earning experience goes, it’s way, way better to take ranks of Idiot Savant than invest in INT. Taking this perk requires LCK 5, so you probably want to get there ASAP. Idiot Savant can give you 3x or 5x the experience for actions, randomly, with the chances increasing the lower your INT is. Reddit geniuses have studied it and shown that Idiot Savant is better than high INT at giving you experience.

The other “generally useful” stat to consider is CHA, especially for the Local Leader perk at CHA 6. If you plan on playing the “settlement minigame” (more on that later) at all, getting Local Leader to at least rank 1 is a really good investment. Speech checks aren’t nearly as important in Fallout 4 as they are in nearly every other Fallout game, though. Most of the time, you’re just going to get a slightly better reward from passing a speech check,

Beyond those two, your choice of other stats really depends on what kind of character you want to play in Fallout 4. STR is key for melee fighters and END makes them tanky. Meanwhile, take PER for ranged fighters, and AGI for sneaky folk. There are a lot of secondary/derived stats that are impacted by each, but that’s sort of the broad strokes.

You can continue leveling indefinitely, as there are always new enemies to fight and procedurally generated quests to play in Fallout 4. It’s more a matter of “when” and not “if” when it comes to maxing out.

While we’re here, let’s chat a bit about perks.

  • Almost all weapons can be modded to be automatic or single shot. Single shot does more damage, but obviously the rate of fire is lower. For ammo conservation reasons, I tend to prefer single shot weapons. Thus, I took the Rifleman perk and maxed it out.
  • Lone Wanderer still works if you have Dogmeat as your companion. This can be pretty powerful, since Dogmeat can carry stuff and tank damage for you, plus you get all the Lone Wanderer benefits stacked on top.
  • If you want to go nuts with custom gear, you’ll need Armorer, Gun Nut, and Science at the very least. These are only required to craft mods; you can still swap mods between gear of the same base type without them. For instance, if you find a sweet scope on a 10mm pistol, you can move it onto another 10mm pistol that has a damage boosting mod without any ranks in these perks. But you won’t be able to craft a new scope/sights without the requisite rank. Bottom line: you can generally scrounge pretty decent gear without these, but extremely late game gear will benefit from being able to craft your own.
  • Scrounger is good in the early game for keeping your ammo supplies topped off. Shops are kind of few and far between in this game, and without investing in settlements or your barter abilities, you’ll probably end up short on ammo at times.
  • Scrapper is another perk that’s good for settlement nuts. You can take weapons and/or armor and break them down into rare components when in your settlements if you have enough ranks of this perk.
  • Hacker and Locksmith are both just as essential as they’ve always been. Good loot is often locked behind some sort of mechanical or electronic lock.

Mods to Consider

I’ll assume for this section that you’re on PC and can use NexusMods. If not, you might have to deal with the more limited selection available on consoles. I’m not usually a “#pcmasterrace” snob, but for Bethesda games, you miss out on a lot if you can’t be free to mod as you please.

The mods I used were:

  • Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch – Always a lifesaver. I still ran into a few glitches here and there, but this fixes a lot of issues you’d otherwise have.
  • Fallout 4 Texture Optimization Project – This is a big mod, but if you’re at all concerned with your computer’s ability to play Fallout 4, this will help you make it run smoother.
  • WET – Just some better water textures. Given that you’re on the coast or on islands for a lot of Fallout 4, better looking water is a nice feature.
  • No Negative Affinity and No Affinity Cooldown – I tend to like to play without companions, but then you miss out on their perks. Also, some companions (like effin Strong) hate things that are core to the game. You can tweak how this mod works, and just take the no cooldowns, or you can cheese it and get max affinity in one action.
  • CBBE – CBBE is the body mod for Bethesda games. By default, women without armor on are nude, so if that bothers you, make sure you opt for underwear when you install. (Which of course, you won’t, you perv!)
  • Improved Map With Visible Roads – Upgrades the Pip-Boy map so that it’s a bit clearer and easier to navigate.
  • Achievements Mod Enabler – Using mods disables achievements, which I think is BS. Luckily, there’s a mod to fix the fact that mods break achievements. How very meta.
  • Load Accelerator – This mod disables VSYNC while on load screens, which makes loading WAY faster. If you have issues where you leave a building and it takes minutes to load your game, give this a shot!
  • Love to Craft Legendary – With this mod, you can craft legendary mods for your weapons and armor. Now useless legendary gear can be recycled into something useful!

Settlements for Fun and Profit

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Fallout 4 doesn’t really have a lot of NPC-run towns. Sure, there are a few, but they are very much outnumbered by the number of player-owned settlements. You can’t throw a hunk of radscorpion meat in this game without hitting a damn settlement, it seems.

Really, the settlement portion of Fallout 4 is almost completely optional. You can spend hours making everything “just so” or you can pretty much ignore it completely and suffer no ill effects.

So why bother? Well, for one, you’re probably going to want a safe, accessible place to store your gear. That location might as well be tailored to your needs, right? Picking a settlement to make your “base” is a natural fit.

Beyond your first settlement, though, the motivation is resource production. Settlements will passively produce food and water that you can collect and use or sell. In return, you’ll occasionally have to protect them from attacks and keep the people at least a bit happy.

Settlements are complex, and there are a lot of things Fallout 4 doesn’t adequately explain before throwing you in the deep end and assuming you can swim.

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First off, the Settlement Recruitment Beacon. New settlers won’t arrive at a settlement until this has been built and powered, and it has to be switched on to work. You’ll find the Beacon under Power -> Misc. It should be built near a generator of some sort in order to run. The beacon’s light is green to indicate it is on. You can also read “On” on the switch itself, assuming it’s bright enough to read it.

You’re going to want to build structures to provide food, water, and defense in your settlements. Keep in mind when budgeting your space that settlers will continue to arrive until there are 4 unemployed settlers, or until there are 10 + CHR residents in the settlement.

Food is typically provided by plants, and settlers can work up to 6 plants each. Mutfruit is a wasteland staple since it produces 1 food per plant, versus most other plants that produce half that. Just keep in mind that overproducing food increases the chances that your settlements will be attacked.

Water can be pumped or purified. I prefer pumps since they don’t require power and are generally cheaper. They must be placed in dirt, but this is really not that big of a deal in most locations.

Defense is produced by a variety of methods, but turrets are probably the most scalable solution. The basic machinegun turret is my go-to. It’s relatively cheap to build and has a crazy long range, and it provides 5 units of defense. I tend to build them up high so that melee invaders can’t reach them. Build a staircase so you can get up on top of structures to place the turrets, then store the staircase in the workshop afterwards in case they need repair. You can build your own “gun towers” out of workshop materials if there’s not enough good roof space.

More people will tend to come to your settlements faster if the settlement is happy. Happiness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, and is the average of all individual happiness in the settlements, plus any modifiers. Non-humans (ie, brahmin, robots, synths) always have a happiness of 50, while humans will have a happiness of 80 assuming you meet their three basic needs (food, water, and a bed with a roof over it).

Getting above the “80 cap” for Fallout 4 settlement happiness requires adding some other elements to the settlement itself. Certain shops add happiness, although you’re going to need more perks to build them than most settlement buildings. Animals also help, so consider buying a dog if you find one for sale.

With the Wasteland Workshop DLC, you can also trap dogs and cats. If you’ve got the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC, you can follow the quests at Vault 88 to unlock several other happiness buildings. The effectiveness of these buildings varies depending on your choices during this quest. My favorite building is the slot machine, which if you pick the “Lost Revenue” option, will generate 15 bonus happiness in your settlements. It also doesn’t require a settler to operate it, unlike shops and the other Vault-Tec DLC items.

Achievements in Fallout 4

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Fallout 4 was fun enough for me that I opted to go for 100% of the achievements. I used this guide for most of the basic stuff in the base game. They’ve got some good listings for all the collectible items and some decent info about the story-related lockout points. Do note that their guide to settlements is not particularly accurate, however.

Multiple Endings Achievements

There are several different endings to Fallout 4, and like New Vegas, there are achievements tied to some of them. In general, you can play through the story and choose whatever options you want – killing synths in the Commonwealth doesn’t make you hostile towards the Institute, for instance. There’s really no global “karma” or generalized faction reputation. Only starting/completing certain missions in certain ways will lock you out of the various factions.

Instituionalized is where things start to become tricky. Past this point, I suggest just creating a new save every time you complete a faction mission.

It’s safe to play Brotherhood of Steel missions until you get to the end of Blind Betrayal. Right after you turn this mission in, you’ll start a mission that commits you to the Brotherhood of Steel over the Railroad. Playing Mass Fusion for the Brotherhood will then lock you out of the Institute.

It’s safe to complete Railroad missions at the same time as Institute missions, although you’ll lock out of the Brotherhood of Steel after the Mass Fusion mission. You’ll want to work on Underground Undercover as you’re working through the Institute.

The Minutemen are a minor faction by comparison to those three, so once you have done Old Guns, you can safely ignore their story missions. There aren’t any achievements further down that chain.

Tricky Achievements in the Base Game

Luckily, most of the base game achievements are things you’re just going to be doing anyway as you explore.

Benevolent Leader is probably the worst of the bunch. If you’ve got the Vault-Tec DLC, though, it’s a lot easier. I finished this DLC, which unlocks the vault settlement as well as a bunch of happiness-increasing items. I turned off the beacon so that only the first 1-2 settlers were there, and built them a bunch of slot machines. If you picked “Lost Revenue” as the slot machine’s mode, they generate a bunch of bonus happiness. Then, just leave the settlement alone and eventually the happiness will hit the cap.

Lovable isn’t that bad, but it can be grindy if you didn’t opt to use a companion affinity mod. Codsworth loves it when you modify weapons, so just have him around when you play with your weapon mods. You can attach/remove the same mod over and over and he doesn’t care. In the vanilla game, though, there’s a 24-hour cooldown between actions, so plan on doing a lot of waiting/sleeping. You could also just travel with a companion for a long time and let this happen organically, but I prefer to roll alone.

Prankster’s Return might be a bit painful if you’re not that into pickpocketing. Honestly, I never saw the benefit. There just weren’t that many friendly NPCs that had stuff I really wanted. What I did here was accumulate enough perk points from leveling up so that I could save the game, buy the pickpocket perks, do this achievement, then load my old save again. I pickpocketed someone from one of my settlements after assigning them to work at a guard post way far away from the rest of the people in the settlement, so there was less of a chance I’d be caught.

Tricky DLC Achievements

Automatron

Automatron‘s achievements are pretty straightforward. As you loot robots, make sure you pick up their “custom” parts, as this unlocks those parts for building at the robot workshop and counts towards Robot Hunter. You’ll have to make some modifications to a robot (or two) as part of the main story quests for this DLC, so just build a whole bunch of the stuff you’ve unlocked to make The Most Toys pop.

Wasteland Workshop

This DLC is probably the least well explained.

Trapper requires that you build one of each cage type. Cages require some basic materials, plus usually a food or drug item. Try to stockpile at least a few units of each type of meat as you explore the wasteland and you’ll be in good shape. Some of the cages will trap animals that drop meat which can be used to build other cages. Just be careful when killing things like brahmin in your settlements – this can turn your settlers hostile. I built my cages in a line in the same order as in the build menu, so that I could keep track of which ones I was missing.

Docile requires you to have 5 tamed creatures. You’ll have to build cages and the Beta Wave Emitter in order to meet this goal. The Beta Wave Emitter requires perks that require high CHR, so this might be another case where you want to stockpile perk points, make a save, unlock the perks, build the emitter, trap creatures, and pop the achievement. Then load your old save and spend the perk points on something you actually want.

Instigator makes you start a spectated arena fight. To start an arena fight, you have to assign a settler to one of the colored pads you build in the cages menu. They will then fight creatures, or alternatively settlers assigned to the other color pad. In order to make the fight spectated, you need to build a Quitting Time Siren and turn it on so that people stop working and go watch the fight. Might as well do this one at the same time as Docile – after Docile pops, turn on the siren, assign a settler to an arena pad, and you should get this shortly thereafter.

Far Harbor

Far Harbor’s not that bad. There’s two factions, but there aren’t any faction-specific achievements, so don’t worry about locking yourself out. The Islander’s Almanac is the only collectible, and there are only 5 to find. I used this list to locate them.

Contraptions Workshop

For Show Off, I was initially confused by the “armor rack” requirement. For the other ones, you just transfer the item to the container and you’re done. However, for the armor rack, you have to go into the rack’s inventory and press the “equip” button. (Note that this is also the way you make settlers and companions equip gear, which I didn’t realize!)

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Mass Production is easiest to do with .45 ammo. Just build an Ammunition Plant and set it to build .45 ammo with a terminal. Then load it up with fertilizer and steel. Steel is available at most “general goods” vendors, and fertilizer is created by brahmin at your settlements.

Nuka World

Ugh, man, frickin’ Nuka World. This one’s got the ones that gave me the most trouble…

Eyes on the Prize requires you to earn and then redeem 100,000 tickets. Argh. You can earn ~1,000 tickets by playing the shooting gallery, and if you you have a weapon with explosive ammo you can just shoot at the middle every 10 seconds or so and clear it easily. That’s still 100 freaking rounds of the shooting gallery, though.

For Beverageer, you’ve got to first find all 20 Nuka-Cola recipies. Then you’ve got to assemble all the ingredients at a Nuka Mixer station. Finding the recipes is a pain, and the mixes themselves require colas that you can only find in Nuka-World.

All Sugared Up isn’t too bad, as long as you mix up some colas that last a while. Look for ones that grant rad resist or carry weight, as they tend to have a longer timeout than those that just restore HP or AP. Make sure to chug one before you go into combat and you’ll knock this one out quick.

If you’ve invested a lot in the settlements minigame, then Hostile Takeover is going to be painful. You’ve got to take over 8 settlements in the Commonwealth for the raiders. This also makes Preston Garvey SUPER upset. I created a checkpoint save before taking the first camp, then I bought out settlements and finished the main story quest of Nuka World. Then I loaded my save and went back to what I was doing in the main game.

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