12 things in Fallout 4 they don’t tell you – but you really need to know

“We will all go together when we go,” sang the satirist Tom Lehrer of the nuclear arms race. “What a comforting fact that is to know.” But how wrong he was: Bethesda’s Fallout 4 gives us a post-apocalypse jam packed with survivors, mutations, and all sorts of opportunities for the entrepreneurial survivor.

Much of the appeal of a Bethesda game lies in creating your own adventure in the enormous spaces they provide, but Fallout 4’s many depths are poorly served by the tutorials – even central mechanics are explained with cursory text windows, soon forgotten, or sometimes never touched on at all.

Consequently, some of this world’s real magic can only be found by poking around. Here are some tips about where to look, starring our own character – who, entirely coincidentally, bears a passing resemblance to Jeremy Corbyn.

1. Settlements

The post-apocalyptic legend known only as ‘Corbyn’ has renounced diplomacy in favour of quick results

There’s a lot of fun in Fallout 4’s Settlements, and if you want to unlock them as quickly as possible, follow the Minutemen questline that starts in the game’s early stages. The first time you meet them everything ends up back at Sanctuary, which is a fine starting point – and even better when you find this hidden basement containing three gold bars and other lovely loot.

The ‘hidden basement’ in Sanctuary, to the town’s east

Two things are badly explained. The first is that you connect up your power supply by opening the workshop menu and looking for the “connect wire” prompt at the bottom of the screen: laugh all you want but this frustrated me for ages. The second is that once you’ve set up crops or trading stations, you need to assign settlers – also done using the workshop menu. Build a fetching bell like this to pull them all together easily.

Bear in mind that settlers assigned to food can work multiple crops

This is key to supply lines, which I unlocked and then failed to use for about 10 hours. The upgrade description reads like it works automatically, but you have to assign a settler to cover specific routes – again, through the workshop menu once the option’s available. Some of this is lack of explanation, some is just bad interface design.

2. Massive Damage!

This chap’s got good defence against physical and electrical damage, and is totally immune to radiation damage

The size of your gun matters, but also incredibly important in Fallout 4 is what your enemy’s resistant to. It’s easy to ignore this but simple to check with the early ‘Awareness’ upgrade for your Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting Systems (VATs) – which shows symbols for the damage types alongside a defence value from low to high. Focusing on using the right weapon scores faster kills and saves wasted ammunition: it’s a critical skill.

3. Hide!

‘The end of the world didn’t exactly go great for us, did it Bill’

At the top of the bad-explanation list goes the utility of the basic crouch. When you crouch an icon reading [hidden] will appear, indicating your character’s entered stealth mode – and Bethesda’s enemy AI is idiotic, so it’s much easier to hide in plain sight than you’d think. On top of this, if you’re spotted, crouch behind cover and your character will actually take cover – and can lean out at the edges to aim.

4. The Lone-ish Wanderer

The Lone Wanderer perk’s bonuses increase as you put more points in, making the combo with Dogmeat deliciously OP

One of the biggest problems with Fallout 4 is the limited weight of items your character can carry. There are various workarounds for this (try cooking meat from the cow-like creatures, Brahmin) but by far the best is a trick built into the Lone Wanderer perk. This increases the damage your character can take and the maximum they can carry – as long as you don’t have a companion.

But! Right now, Dogmeat doesn’t count: you can take Lone Wanderer and toddle off with man’s best friend – both keeping the various perk bonuses intact and having a companion to store stuff with. If you’re just going out loot-hunting, there’s no more efficient setup. However, this is almost definitely a bug and is likely to be patched soon.

5. Here Boy

For ease of finding Dogmeat, the best thing to do is scrap every kennel in your main settlement but one

Fairly simple tip, but I wish I’d known this sooner. You can easily lose track of Dogmeat and, unlike other companions, he doesn’t come running to the bell. Always make sure to send Dogmeat to your main settlement and build a dog house for him – then whenever you need to find him, that’s where he’ll be. Makes sense I suppose.

6. Magic Jaws

What a tempter! I always race to master lockpick in Bethesda games, for sights like this pain me so

One final tip for this most noble of animals. On leaving Vault 111 at the start of the game you may have been taunted by the Cryolater, an insanely good gun held behind unbreakable glass with a master lock. To get inside, you will need to become an excellent lockpicker – meaning many hours of play stand between you and the weapon.

No such rules apply to our four-legged friend, however. You meet Dogmeat shortly after leaving Vault 111 and, if you return, can bag the Cryolater. First get Dogmeat to stand in its vicinity, then instruct him to search for items, making sure you’ve cleared everything else lootable. Et voila, the gun warps from the case to this magnificent beast’s jaws – and if you trade items, he’s even stored the ammo too. Good boy!

Somebody’s getting an extra helping of meaty chunks later

7. Mod smart

This beauty was made by a friend, who assures me, ‘it’s a monster that wrecks everything’

The Gun Nut perk is an essential early pickup, because with this (and later ammo-specific perks like Science!) you can turn a standard base weapon into something like the above. But a key, unexplained thing with weapon modifications is to strip the good ones from guns you don’t want – by replacing them with a lower-tier mod. If you just scrap or sell weapons, the mods go too, but if you strip them you can acquire and use mods you can’t yet create yourself.

8. Personalisation

Cameron may be long-gone by 2287, but the words still sting

Renaming your favourite guns can be done at any weapons bench, and allows you to further inhabit that roleplaying experience. On another note, if you want to give your power armour a natty flame look then head straight east from Vault 111 to the Robotics Disposal Ground, where there are a few nice surprises.

Try triggering the ‘local map’ view when in a prolonged engagement – great for spotting useful terrain

9. Colour co-ordination

Minty fresh



Notice my Pip-Boy’s attractive white hue? From the game’s pause menu – not the Pip-Boy menu – choose “Display” and you can alter the colour of both the game’s heads-up display and the Pip-Boy interface. One of the best things about this is that the Pip-Boy’s built-in torch reflects your choice – and using white light makes it, to my eyes, much more useful in dark areas.

10. Hangover fuel

Reminds me of a pub I once went to in Swindon

All the crafting elements of Fallout 4 can be a pain, but cooking provides all sorts of useful side-effects to replace expensive drugs and medications. Comrade Corbyn is fond, in particular, of drinking some vodka before a big fight – which means he’s always on the verge of alcoholism. But cook up a Radscorpion omelette and bingo, addiction cured, and we can start on the whiskey. Head to the radioactive desert that sprawls across the south-east of the map to get more ingredients than you can handle.

Sadly there’s no cookery bonus for killing Radscorpions in extra-crispy style

11. You can go back … if you want

Hey, I’m just saying it’s possible. Not that it’s cool

Fallout 4’s world is huge but, if you want to re-visit a cleared location with everything re-spawned – from enemies to random loot – the same 30-day rule applies as did in Skyrim. Sit on a piece of furniture anywhere and you can ‘Wait’ for a set time to trigger this respawn manually, the only downside being you have to wait in 24 hour blocks. I’m not saying this is fun or even practical. But if you want to rinse an especially rich building again or replay an especially good fight, this is how.

12. Turn it off then on again

Maybe try turning it sideways?

One of Fallout 4’s more serious issues is that you can sometimes end up in a situation like this – where the game has spawned a brahmin inside the house that’s trying to get outside and blocking my only exit. Most glitches aren’t nearly as bad but, if this happens, the classic IT solution applies: just saving and reloading respawns everything and should get your wasteland domination back on track.

Someone had misquoted Corbyn on Bin Laden one too many times

That’s it from us (and from Corbyn). But if you have any Fallout 4 tips to share with fellow wasteland wanderers, please add them in the comments section!

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