Fallout 4 has finally dropped today, and it looks to have certainly lived up to the hype. Although there were early indications that there would be frame rate issues on PS4, it seems that either this has been fixed or it was an isolated glitch to begin with. Fallout 4 has dropped to stellar reviews from gamers and gaming journalists alike, with Gamespot calling Fallout 4 an “argument for substance over style.” But, like all Fallout games, there is an immediate need to make critical, potentially game-changing decisions before you even get out of the first room in the first area. With this in mind, here are four important things to know about Fallout 4 S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills before you make your choices and head out into the wasteland.
Luck Be A Lady
In previous Fallout games, luck hasn’t really done very much for us. In Fallout 4, however, this is a seriously overpowered stat. Luck gives you everything from significant boosts to crit damage, the mysterious stranger, who appears randomly and obliterates everything in combat (including bosses), automatic Action Point (AP) recharges, and more. In fact, luck is such a powerful stat that if you’re a bit of a purist when it comes to survival gaming, you might actually want to leave it alone. If, however, you want to spend most of your time turning Fallout 4 characters into pink mist and raspberry jam, luck will probably be one of your best bets.
Use Your Words
Charisma has always been a fairly important stat, but in Fallout 4, there seems to have been a real effort to funnel players into developing their speech based skills. There are a great number of both main story and side quests that simply won’t play out properly unless your charisma is high enough to circumvent the random “dice roll” in the dialogue options. Of course, you could ignore this and spend hours saving and replaying conversations, but that’s time you could be spending exploring the wasteland. Fallout 4 can be a significantly truncated experience for those who don’t have the skills to lay the charm on NPCs.
And speaking of talking, it’s very important that you don’t rush past named NPCs early on in favor of blasting something that you can see moving on the horizon. Like a lot of Bethesda games, Fallout 4 works best if you overload on quests early on in order to save hours of fruitless wasteland wandering later. As always with an RPG, it’s best to inculcate a habit of talking to everyone. And Fallout 4 definitely makes this worth it — the side quests, while containing a fair amount of fetch and carry type quests, are still exceptionally well written and overlap the main narrative in complex and rewarding ways.
Don’t Forget Your Gun
Having said all that, the core of Fallout 4 is still combat. It would be a bad idea to dump all your points into luck and charisma while neglecting those old standbys: agility, strength, and perception. Anything less than four points in either of these characteristics leads to a seriously underpowered fighter, which means quite a lot of dying horribly in slow motion. Setting up a framework early on that allows you to invest perks in the shooting related skill trees will, as always, stand you in good stead throughout the game. While it is technically possible to spend your time just talking to people and completing fetch missions by stealth, there’s no getting away from the fact that most of this world is out to kill you, and the best way to deal with that is to kill them back.
Remember Your Friends
Like all its previous versions, Fallout 4 will frequently leave you agonizing over whether to put hard-earned points into functional skills like lockpicking or just keep on ramping up the kill skills and hope for the best. Lockpicking has always been a major sore point for me, with the choice to focus on splattering enemies generally resulting in a stress-inducing number of locked containers being left for a “later” that never happens. In Fallout 4, however, there is a neat workaround in the form of companion Nick Valentine, who is a robotic film noir cliche. Nick is a master lockpicker, so as long as you have him following you about you should have no problems opening things. It should be noted, though, that if your playstyle is anywhere near as murderous as mine, Nick will very soon become unhappy with you and may leave you altogether. Fallout 4’s morality engine is very similar to past games, and you can offend or alienate your companions with relative ease.
On another note, there are far more potential companions in Fallout 4 than in any previous iteration of the game, and you’ll meet them much earlier. There are enough of, in fact, that it’s easy to forget their locations should you wish to pick them up later. It’s probably a good idea to send them all to your home base as you meet them in order to save much frustration later.
[Images via Bethesda Softworks]