How To Use Cover In ‘Fallout 4,’ And Other Unexplained Mechanics

There is no question that Fallout 4 is one of the hottest game releases of the holiday season. According to IGN, Fallout 4 players on PC have already logged 4.5 million hours, and has pipped GTA 5 for the most concurrent users (400,000 verses 360,761, respectively). Even with all these players and all this play time, one of the most consistent complaints about Fallout 4 is the almost total lack of explanation of various mechanics in the game. Things like the cover mechanic, aspects of settlement building and more basic Fallout tropes, such as companion use, have left many new and even some seasoned wasteland wanderers completely stumped. Let’s have a look at some of the least understood aspects of Fallout 4.


Much was made of the fact that Bethesda had conscripted some big talent from Halo house Bungie in order to improve the experience of Fallout 4 as a shooter. Many of these improvements, however, have been made without any real effort to notify players, apart from the occasional laconic reference during a loading screen. To pop out from behind cover in Fallout 4, simply walk up to a wall or barrier until your avatar dips their weapon. Once the weapon is dipped, this is the signal that you have entered cover. To pop out and fire, simply use the “aim” button/trigger and you will find that your character sticks its head out.


Fallout 4 involves a very large amount of crafting. This crafting mechanic is ignored at the player’s peril, as there are very few items in traders’ stock that can top a well-crafted piece of armor or weaponry. But, while assessing the effect of various upgrades is easy enough, with a handy stats window appearing to the left of a highlighted item, the way workshops and supply lines work is somewhat less clear. In order to establish a supply line, you will need the “local leader” perk, a perk which is linked to Charisma. A minimum Charisma level of six is required. Once you have the first rank of “local leader,” enter construction mode in the workshop and walk up to a settler. There will be an option to directly assign your settler to a resource, but this is separate from the option to link them to a supply line. On a controller, the supply line button is the right bumper. It is well worth having a quick look at your map before doing any of this. The pip boy map has a “supply lines” view, which can be accessed using the left bumper whilst you’re in the map.

It is possible to store items and junk in workshops (remember that you can “deposit all junk” when you interact with a workshop inventory). If you set up supply lines between all your settlements, all junk that you store in a workshop will be available in all settlements. Other, non-junk items, however, are location-specific. If you store a weapon or a piece of armor in a workshop, it is to that particular settlement that you need to return to should you want to use it again. This is also true for power armor.

A quick note on how to make life easier when collecting junk: tag things for search. There are a couple of ways to do this. In the workshop menu, using the “tag for search” button will place a magnifying glass icon against any components that are missing/insufficient for crafting the item currently highlighted. In the pip boy menu, your inventory has an option for “component view,” which will allow you to individually tag things like oil or screws. Rare or heavily used components like oil and adhesive can be made. Oil requires a chemistry station (which can be constructed in the “crafting” section of the workshop) and adhesive is made at a cooking station. For oil, you will generally need to be collecting bones and cleaning products. The easiest way to ensure plenty of adhesive is to create surpluses of corn, mutfruit, tatoes and purified water in one or more settlements. This surplus will be stored in the workshop, which will allow you to craft adhesive at any cooking station.


Speaking of power armor, this is probably one of the most clunky crafting mechanics in the whole game. In order to put your power armor into a frame, what you need to do is walk your armor right up close to a frame and then exit it. Once you’re out, interact with the frame, not the armor, and choose “craft.” This will pop you out into a third person view with your avatar behind the armor, which is now neatly stored in the frame. One thing that is also unexplained is the distinction between power armor and pieces of power armor. Wandering the Commonwealth, you will come across various pieces of armor that can only be equipped when you are in a power armor exosuit. The exosuit itself, whilst called power armor, is not, in fact armor. To equip power armor, the player needs to enter an exosuit and then equip whatever pieces they own. When crafting, at least one piece of armor needs to be equipped on the exosuit, otherwise the game will tell you that you have no pieces of armor equipped and won’t allow you to craft.


Like most Bethesda games, NPCs in Fallout 4 have a distressing tendency to behave in very weird ways indeed. So your settlers will often be found just standing around, or wandering in curt loops around the place. The temptation is to assign each settler to a specific job, but this can be a labor intensive and confusing process, especially considering the way that settlers hide themselves in nooks and crannies of settlements. There’s also the fact that the majority of your settlers will all just be called “settler.”

It is well worth constructing a bell. The bell is hidden away in the Resources/Miscellaneous part of your workshop. There is no explanation as to what it does or why one should build one, so players can be forgiven for missing it. Ringing this bell will cause all your nearby settlers to gather around it, thus allowing for a convenient distribution of tasks to all “spare hands.” It’s quite a bit easier and quicker, when you have new resources to assign, to simply ring the bell and then re-distribute all your jobs to whomever should turn up.

It should be noted that settlers do not need to be assigned to food resources. Settlers will automatically, if they are available, assign themselves to gathering crops. Settlers need to be manually assigned to scrap stations, shops, cannons and guard posts. If you have spare settlers, they will either assign themselves to food or, if you have an assigned scrap station, they will wander around scrapping things for you.

It is well worth arming up your settlers. As you progress through the game your enemies will level with you, and this includes the enemies that will attack your settlements. Giving them higher level weaponry will make them much more useful in a firefight. It should be noted, however, that you will have to manually equip these items in the settler’s inventory and that you’ll have to give them ammo. Giving them one 5mm round should give them infinite ammo for any weapon.

[Image via Bethesda]