How To Get The Best ‘Fallout 4’ Experience

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

Fallout 4 Jumping or racing ahead on the map should come with a health warning.
[Image via Bethesda]
While Fallout games are famously non-linear, being focused on character freedom of choice and free roaming in some of gaming’s richest and largest sandpits, there is, in fact, a certain linearity to the way Fallout is built. In the case of Fallout 4, the line is a diagonal, starting in the NW corner of the map and heading SE. In one of the randomized loading screens, a typically laconic hint tells us that the farther South one travels, the more dangerous the Commonwealth becomes, but I have yet to speak to anyone other than myself who has seen this.

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.

EMBRACE CRAFTING

Fallout 4 Many games claim that you can customize weapons to suit your play style. Fallout 4 delivers.
[Image via Bethesda]
If you are the sort of player who likes to ignore the crafting or management elements of an RPG and just go out after kills and thrills, Fallout 4 is likely to prove a frustrating experience. Taking a leaf out of their Skyrim playbook, Fallout 4’s crafting system is rich, complex and, most importantly, effective. Weapons and armor can very quickly and easily be upgraded to a quality significantly higher than anything that can be found in a trader’s stock (legendary items aside). There is also the fact that inflation seems to have hit the Commonwealth very hard indeed — good gear has always been expensive in the wasteland, but in very specific ways it is even more so in Fallout 4. It’s as if the devs are trying to tell us something.

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.

SETTLEMENTS

Fallout 4 Shack Foundation (PS4, Xbox One, PC) Building settlements can be a confusing and slow process, but the benefits are significant.
[Image via Fallout 4]
Settlements are an integral, if somewhat confusing part of Fallout 4. It almost feels as if there is another, completely separate full time gaming experience embedded in the Fallout 4 world. Making and defending settlements is potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay in itself. I’ve already published a general guide to the principles of settlement building, but what I didn’t mention was how important settlements actually are. Yes, they are time consuming, and yes, initially, the task of building a settlement is completely bewildering. And that’s without even going into trying to build defenses for one when the settlement building interface cuts you off from the surrounding landscape with a green ring of light, making it near impossible to see likely lines of approach and attack. And then there’s all the business of walls, doors, and the fact that various essential items such as recruitment radio beacons and scrap stations are hidden in unlikely “miscellaneous” menus (Power/Miscellaneous for the beacon and Resources/Miscellaneous for the scrap station). And let’s not even talk about power, with it’s long slider of electronic bits and bobs that would only be recognizable to a trained electrician.

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]