You can’t wait to get home and play Fallout 4. Neither can I, and I’ve already played 60-some hours. The thing is, there are some bumps to overcome as you start to dig in. Dense menus can be confusing, and the huge variety of systems can be difficult to learn without help, with incredibly useful elements hidden deep in help menus or given mysterious names. Here are a few things that helped us have more fun as we ventured into the Commonwealth wasteland.

Personalize the wasteland.

That floating robot you’ve seen in the promo images? That’s Codsworth. He’s your robot butler, and he’ll be by your side whenever you need him, if you’ll have him. One bonus that comes with keeping the old boy with you? He knows your name, if you want. During character creation, if you fill in a name that Codsworth knows, he’ll call you by it throughout the game. Not only are there tons of regular names, there are a bunch of goofy and nerdy names as well. If Joey or Eric isn’t enough, famous science fiction character names like Scully, Ripley, Snake, and Deckard are available as well. The Fallout wiki has already started compiling a database of as many as the community can think of in case you want to browse instead of guess.

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Don’t wander around in the dark.

Your Pip-Boy has a light on it. Don’t wander around in the dark. Instead of pressing the button you use to bring up your Pip-Boy, hold it down to turn the light on and off. You can go into the game menu and select a different HUD color if you’d rather bathe yourself in some color other than green, too.

More arms than an octopus.

Fallout is all about inventory management. It’s simultaneously one of the best and worst parts of the game. Part of that is keeping yourself stocked for every situation without weighing yourself down. There are a variety of different types of ammunition, from .38 to .45 to missiles and mini-nukes. Not all the ammo weighs you down, but it can be pretty scarce at times, and there’s nothing worse than running out when a Super Mutant Suicider is bearing down on you. Make sure to keep a variety of weapons on hand to get the most use out of your various ammunition types. Instead of spending a ton of money scrounging for the one type you like, switch back and forth and keep things rolling. Similarly, keeping a charisma-enhancing suit in your inventory for talking situations isn’t a bad idea, either.

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Less Power Armor, more fun.

Speaking of combat, Power Armor is different this time around. Not only is it heftier and more fun to customize, not only does it clank and hiss nicely as you walk, it also requires power. When you step into Power Armor in Fallout 4, it feels substantial, but every moment you’re in it requires power. You won’t be wandering the wasteland in Brotherhood of Steel getup. Instead, you’ll leave your armor at home while you explore and head back to your home base of choice to pick the gear up for a specific mission.

Grab those overdue books!

Sure, they might be 2500 months overdue, but those books still have some value. If a book is labeled as overdue, grab it. Next time you stop by the Boston Public Library, drop it off for tokens that you can then use to buy some cool items, like one of those stat-boosting magazines. They’re scattered all over the place but still tough to find and easy to miss, so grab them when you see them.

Hoard smarter, not harder.

It’s tempting to pick up everything you see in the wasteland. But you don’t need everything. You’ll have plenty of steel and wood, for example. Some stuff, though, is tougher to find. Screws, crystals, and gear aren’t rare, but they’re uncommon enough. Fallout 4 makes it easy to know what you want to pick up, though. When you’re building anything, whether it’s a weapon mod or a structure for your base, if you’re missing something you need for it, there’s a button at the bottom of the screen to tag that item for search. Any items you don’t have enough of will get added to the list. That way when you’re out playing reverse garbageman, any item packing the supplies you need will get a handy magnifying glass over it when you move your cursor over it to let you know to take it home with you.

One supply line united.

As you start to establish more bases, pulling in settlers, setting up defenses, you’ll open up more work benches. Those benches each are filled with items. You want access to those at that base, but why leave them there when you could use them at home? When you’re in base builder mode, you can assign settlers to do things like tend the garden or the scavenging table. Another thing you can do is click – using the right shoulder button on Xbox One or R1 on the PS4 – the Supply Line button. That tells that settler to be a runner between the base you’re at and whichever one you select. Anytime you setup a new base, point one of your settlers to it and you’ll find that you run out of items less and less over time as your network grows.

Go off the rails, but don’t forget about the story.

It’s impossible not to go off the rails in this game. So don’t worry if you end up wandering around. But don’t stay lost for too long. There are some very cool quests early in the story. As soon as you can, you’ll want to visit the Cambridge Police Station to link up with the Brotherhood of Steel. They might be jerks, but they have the best weapons. Head to Boston Common to follow the Freedom Trail. This is a real landmark in Boston, and it leads you down a fun questline in the game after starting with an interesting mission that has you touring many of Boston’s now-ruined landmarks. Don’t forget about the main quest, either. Bethesda is experimenting with some more involved storytelling and they’re getting better at it.


Pick your perks and plan ahead.

I can’t tell you what to pick because I don’t know how you’ll play the game, but here are some perks to pick early on to get you access to more areas and better gear:

  • Hacker – There are computers all over the place, and they’ll let you open doors, disable turrets, turn on power, and some will simply give you missions through text. You don’t want to be locked out of them because you don’t know how to computer.
  • Locksmith – There are pickable locks everywhere. The better you are at lockpicking, the more you’ll be able to hoard and use later. You’ll also be able to find some great ways around bad situations.
  • Scrapper – Weapons aren’t worth much in the wasteland. They’re a dime a dozen, almost literally. This perk helps you pull more and more uncommon supplies out of weapons and armor when you scrap them.

Read and listen

Read mission descriptions and listen to holotapes. Check out the extensive help menu. There’s information everywhere and more so than guns or bombs, information is power in the wasteland. The more information you collect, the more missions you’ll have access to. Plus, some of those Holotapes are video games.

If you have any tips, jump into the comments and let us know. This is just a quick primer and is by no means anywhere near comprehensive. The guide for this game is 544 pages for a reason.

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