Fallout 4 is an intimidating megalith of a game, throwing the player into an enormous open world with few rules and even fewer explanations. Many reporters and game reviewers have commented bitterly on the mysterious settlement building interface, and a host of other issues, mostly to do with not being spoon fed tutorials.
But even for those who are intimately familiar with the Fallout universe, there are many parts of the game that were initially a complete mystery. This is largely because some entirely new mechanics have been introduced without detailed (or in some case, any) explanation. But now, after many hours of gameplay, we feel qualified to share some general tips on how to get the most out of your Fallout 4 experience.
WALK THE LINE
Because of the way the landscape is constructed, as well as the minimalistic guidance of the side quests, this NW to SE line of travel is the most natural line of progression over the first 30 or so hours of the game. While it is technically possible to jump around by using chance discoveries from story quests as fast travel points, Fallout 4 rewards the player who walks the line. Like most games in the franchise, players who jump ahead leaving big gaps in the map will suddenly find themselves facing opponents several levels ahead, and will burn hours dying repeatedly in interesting ways. Ignoring the demands of the main and side quest lines and slowly meandering across the map will net the player a myriad of kills and rich loot drops, quest unlocks and other rewards, and all for a fraction of the stress. There’s also the fact that you can “pre-complete” quests. So, if you happen upon a library, for example, and clear it of supermutants, there will be a handy 200 caps bounty awaiting you when you finally meet the NPC who wanted this done. So you shouldn’t worry about having to do things twice because you did them early — it doesn’t happen.
There’s also the fact that there just aren’t that many wandering traders around in the first hours of the game. It wasn’t until I’d racked up 24 hours of gameplay that I actually encountered a travelling trader, and outside of Diamond City, specialized weapons and armor traders are practically non-existent. So, if you want good gear, by far the best and cheapest way to do it is to make it. If you absolutely refuse to craft anything at all, you should probably just go and get a copy of Call of Duty.
But this is just a matter of trial, error, and discovery. Okay, and maybe a bit of internet searching. Once you have your settlement up, however, it is deeply satisfying to watch it grow in population and prosperity. And if this doesn’t do it for you, there are the practical benefits. Each settlement is a loot warehouse, aid station, trading hub (eventually, if you build stores) and, if you so choose, fire support base. Having a network of settlements across the Commonwealth will prevent you from having to endlessly ferry between Sanctuary and every point in the wasteland and, most importantly, if you don’t have eight settlements, completing the game for the Minutemen is not an option.
So in short, the best way to enjoy Fallout is to simply chill. Spend some time wandering around, put in some hours doing the simulations, post-apocalyptic style, and forget, I repeat, forget about knocking out quests in a linear and efficient manner. This will lead to much less stress, much more enjoyment and, possibly, forgetting what it’s like to go outside.
[Image via Bethesda]