Please support Game Informer. Print magazine subscriptions are less than $2 per issue


25 Fallout 4 Tips To Help You Conquer The Commonwealth

by Matt Bertz on Nov 09, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Hello, fellow Vault dweller! Whether you have already toured through the remnants of Capital Wasteland and the New California Republic or you’re a greenhorn venturing into the irradiated ruins for the first time, these tips will boost your chances for survival and even give you a leg up on the dangerous encounters you’re bound to find yourself in.

Explore, Explore, Explore
The critical path isn’t everything in Fallout 4. In fact, the game is most enjoyable when you forget about your lengthy list of quests and simply venture into the great unknown, taking in the sights and investigating those new markers showing up on your compass. 

Hack Smart
Players are given four tries to hack a computer terminal. If you fail out, you have to wait a handful of seconds before attempting again. If you’re on your fourth attempt and still don’t have a lead on cracking the code, we recommend simply backing out and starting over to avoid temporarily locking yourself out.

Don’t Wear Power Armor While Exploring
The power armor is a great boon in combat scenarios, but the fusion cores needed to operate it aren’t abundant. Rather than waste that precious energy walking across the Commonwealth, we recommend exploring without it and retrieving the power armor only when you know you are walking into a combat-centric scenario.

Light Things Up
Exploring a dingy raider hideout? Don’t forget that your PIP Boy doubles as a flashlight – hold in the Circle or B button to shine some light on your environment. If you can’t stand the sickly green glow, you can change the color of your PIP Boy in the display settings of the option menu, which in turn changes the color of your flashlight. Select a white hue with a tint of yellow, and it will be indistinguishable from a normal flashlight.

Dress For The Occasion
Before you go into town or engage in some in-mission dialogue, change into a more charismatic outfit. No one wants to flirt or offer a bargain to a guy dressed in gross raider armor, so always carry clothes and accessories that offer charisma bonuses. Changing into the debonair threads may give you the personality boost you needed to trend the conversations in the direction you intend them to go.

Talk To Everyone
Expect to run into a lot of strange and interesting people during your time in the Commonwealth. While some are there for simple entertainment, you never know who is going to throw a quest your way, so it pays to play the role of politician and try to meet as many people as you can as you move through a settlement or city. 

Hoard Everything
Television shows like Hoarders give viewers a glimpse into the tortured psyches of people who just can’t let go of possessions, but Fallout 4 makes us think these people may just be living in the wrong era. In the Wasteland, everything offers value for crafting weapons, armor, and structures in your settlements. Even innocuous items like aluminum cans yield critical resources you can use to build better scopes for your rifles. Before venturing away from a settlement, dump all non-essential gear so you have more room for gathering whatever odds and ends you come across.

Don’t Bother Selling Guns And Armor
The Commonwealth economy seems to devalue weapons. Don’t expect to fetch good rates for common gear; in fact, once you have the Scrapper perk, it’s more worthwhile to break down weapons for rare components like circuitry, nuclear material, and copper than it is to earn a couple extra bottlecaps in trade. Even if you don’t have the Scrapper perk yet, we recommend stashing your unwanted weapons at a settlement so you can harvest the materials later.

Get Hacking And Lockpicking Perks Early
Nothing in Fallout 4 is more annoying than clearing out an abandoned facility of feral ghouls, then stumbling upon a safe or terminal that requires a higher-level skill to pick or hack. With hundreds of unexplored buildings still littering your map, what are the chances you’ll remember to come back to this location? That’s why we recommend leveling your lockpicking and hacking skills as soon as you can.  

The Gun Nut Perk Is Another Great Investment
When you first venture out of Vault 111, you aren’t going to be coming across the stronger weaponry any time soon. But with the Gun Nut perk, you can give the dime-a-dozen raider guns decent damage and accuracy boosts by improving the barrels, stocks, scopes, etc.

Plan Ahead When Picking Perks
You can’t unlock every perk in one playthrough, so we recommend charting out your long-term plans early on to make sure you don’t get locked out of that end-game ability you want to see in action.

Read on to learn more about companions, V.A.T.S., and settlement building.

Don’t Waste Stimpaks On Companions
Your companions won’t be remembered for their combat prowess, often running into the fray haphazardly and getting incapacitated. Your first instinct may be to run to their aid, but we urge restraint. Stimpaks aren’t an infinite resource in the wasteland, so we recommend saving them for yourself. It sounds cruel, but your companions will eventually rub some dust on their wounds and get up after you finish cleaning up the remnant enemies in a given fight. 

Load Up Your Companions
Like any Bethesda game, expect to be hitting your head on the encumbrance ceiling all the time in Fallout 4 as you gather more resources and gear. When you’re at your carrying limit, don’t forget you can transfer items to Dogmeat and other companions. Each has a weight limit, but you can almost double your looting capacity by loading them down like pack mules.

Bring Dogmeat Closer to Home
Some of us had a hard time tracking down Dogmeat after we sent him back to the Sanctuary settlement. If you can’t find your best friend, look for a doghouse in the northern end of the settlement. He should be there. If you want to keep him closer, you can grab and relocate the doghouse.

Customize Your Companions
In addition to dutifully hauling your loot for you, you can play dress-up with Dogmeat and your other buddies. After moving the gear over to their inventory, you can have Dogmeat (for example) wear various collars, bandanas, goggles, and life-extending dog armor by hovering over the item you want and pressing the equip button. Different buddies have their own preferred items, but you have some leeway when it comes to outfitting them. 

Travel With A Full Arsenal
Ammunition can be hard to come by in the wasteland, so it’s important to travel with a full stock of weapons that use different kinds of bullets. When you have a wide variety of weapons rather carrying a few favorites, you’re better equipped to handle ammo shortages.

Use V.A.T.S. Strategically
With the new and improved shooting mechanics, loading up V.A.T.S. for every combat scenario isn’t necessary. Why curse at a series of missed dice-roll headshots when you can just line them up yourself in real time? But that doesn’t mean V.A.T.S. is useless. It’s great for locating enemy positions and shooting fast-moving enemies like bloatflies. Building up your critical and saving it for a tough enemy can also help when fighting against Deathclaws and Radscorpions. 

Always Engage Legendary Enemies
One of the loading screen tips Bethesda provides recommends that you avoid enemies with a skull next to their name, as they are more powerful than you. Don’t listen to that nonsense. If you see a legendary enemy (which will have a star next to its name as well as a skull), dig your heels in for a fight. Why? Because this tier of enemies drops rare loot you won’t find anywhere else.

Power Armor Is Not Compatible With All Melee Weapons, So Plan Accordingly
If you are planning to play as a melee specialist, it’s worth knowing that some melee weapons cannot be used in conjunction with the suit. We recommending traveling with two melee weapons – one of the more-powerful ones that you can only use outside of the armor, and another that can still be used while donning the Brotherhood of Steel look. 

Getting Hands-On With Objects
Like previous Bethesda games, you can still pick up and move objects in the environment by putting the cursor on them and holding in the interact button. This can allow you to move wayward crates and barrels (not to mention corpses) out of the way while looting buildings, or hide your floor safe under a pile of tires in your outpost.

Don’t Feel Pressure To Build
The settlement element of Fallout 4 is interesting end-game content, but if you aren’t having fun building and protecting these new communities, remember that it’s is entirely optional. Don’t waste time doing it unless you like it.

Basic Building Tips
The settlement-building system offers a lot of customization options, but Bethesda did a poor job of spelling out the controls. Here are some of the basics:

  • Triggers rotate objects in the world when you’re placing them.
  • You can run electricity cables by pressing triangle while looking at the generator (there aren’t any wires in the crafting menus)
  • Need to assign people to jobs like harvesting food or defending the settlement? Approach them while in workshop mode, then walk to the place you want them to work and click on it. 
  • Building a 90-degree wall (i.e., a corner) can be surprisingly difficult, as walls will autosnap together into a straight line. In order to avoid this, attach a ceiling to the first wall piece where you want the corner to be, then build the perpendicular wall off the ceiling. 


Those are our quick tips to get your adventure started. If you some insight to share as well, leave your hot takes in the comments section below.