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7 things in Fallout 4 they don’t tell you – but you really need to know

“We will all go together when we go,” sang the satirist Tom Lehrer of the nuclear arms race. “What a comforting fact that is to know.” But how wrong he was: Bethesda’s Fallout 4 gives us a post-apocalypse jam packed with survivors, mutations, and all sorts of opportunities for the entrepreneurial survivor.

Much of the appeal of a Bethesda game lies in creating your own adventure in the enormous spaces they provide, but Fallout 4’s many depths are poorly served by the tutorials – even central mechanics are explained with cursory text windows, soon forgotten, or sometimes never touched on at all.

Fallout 4
Consequently, some of this world’s real magic can only be found by poking around. Here are some tips about where to look, starring our own character – who, entirely coincidentally, bears a passing resemblance to Jeremy Corbyn.

1. Settlements
Fallout 4

The post-apocalyptic legend known only as ‘Corbyn’ has renounced diplomacy in favour of quick results
There’s a lot of fun in Fallout 4’s Settlements, and if you want to unlock them as quickly as possible, follow the Minutemen questline that starts in the game’s early stages. The first time you meet them everything ends up back at Sanctuary, which is a fine starting point – and even better when you find this hidden basement containing three gold bars and other lovely loot.

Fallout 4

The ‘hidden basement’ in Sanctuary, to the town’s east
Two things are badly explained. The first is that you connect up your power supply by opening the workshop menu and looking for the “connect wire” prompt at the bottom of the screen: laugh all you want but this frustrated me for ages. The second is that once you’ve set up crops or trading stations, you need to assign settlers – also done using the workshop menu. Build a fetching bell like this to pull them all together easily.

Fallout 4

Bear in mind that settlers assigned to food can work multiple crops
This is key to supply lines, which I unlocked and then failed to use for about 10 hours. The upgrade description reads like it works automatically, but you have to assign a settler to cover specific routes – again, through the workshop menu once the option’s available. Some of this is lack of explanation, some is just bad interface design.

2. Massive Damage!
Fallout 5

This chap’s got good defence against physical and electrical damage, and is totally immune to radiation damage
The size of your gun matters, but also incredibly important in Fallout 4 is what your enemy’s resistant to. It’s easy to ignore this but simple to check with the early ‘Awareness’ upgrade for your Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting Systems (VATs) – which shows symbols for the damage types alongside a defence value from low to high. Focusing on using the right weapon scores faster kills and saves wasted ammunition: it’s a critical skill.

3. Hide!
Fallout 4

‘The end of the world didn’t exactly go great for us, did it Bill’
At the top of the bad-explanation list goes the utility of the basic crouch. When you crouch an icon reading [hidden] will appear, indicating your character’s entered stealth mode – and Bethesda’s enemy AI is idiotic, so it’s much easier to hide in plain sight than you’d think. On top of this, if you’re spotted, crouch behind cover and your character will actually take cover – and can lean out at the edges to aim.

4. The Lone-ish Wanderer
Fallout 4

The Lone Wanderer perk’s bonuses increase as you put more points in, making the combo with Dogmeat deliciously OP
One of the biggest problems with Fallout 4 is the limited weight of items your character can carry. There are various workarounds for this (try cooking meat from the cow-like creatures, Brahmin) but by far the best is a trick built into the Lone Wanderer perk. This increases the damage your character can take and the maximum they can carry – as long as you don’t have a companion.

But! Right now, Dogmeat doesn’t count: you can take Lone Wanderer and toddle off with man’s best friend – both keeping the various perk bonuses intact and having a companion to store stuff with. If you’re just going out loot-hunting, there’s no more efficient setup. However, this is almost definitely a bug and is likely to be patched soon.

5. Here Boy
Fallout 4

For ease of finding Dogmeat, the best thing to do is scrap every kennel in your main settlement but one
Fairly simple tip, but I wish I’d known this sooner. You can easily lose track of Dogmeat and, unlike other companions, he doesn’t come running to the bell. Always make sure to send Dogmeat to your main settlement and build a dog house for him – then whenever you need to find him, that’s where he’ll be. Makes sense I suppose.

6. Magic Jaws
Fallout 4

What a tempter! I always race to master lockpick in Bethesda games, for sights like this pain me so
One final tip for this most noble of animals. On leaving Vault 111 at the start of the game you may have been taunted by the Cryolater, an insanely good gun held behind unbreakable glass with a master lock. To get inside, you will need to become an excellent lockpicker – meaning many hours of play stand between you and the weapon.

No such rules apply to our four-legged friend, however. You meet Dogmeat shortly after leaving Vault 111 and, if you return, can bag the Cryolater. First get Dogmeat to stand in its vicinity, then instruct him to search for items, making sure you’ve cleared everything else lootable. Et voila, the gun warps from the case to this magnificent beast’s jaws – and if you trade items, he’s even stored the ammo too. Good boy!

Fallout 4

Somebody’s getting an extra helping of meaty chunks later
7. Mod smart
Fallout 4
This beauty was made by a friend, who assures me, ‘it’s a monster that wrecks everything’
The Gun Not perk is an essential early pickup, because with this (and later ammo-specific perks like Science!) you can turn a standard base weapon into something like the above. But a key, unexplained thing with weapon modifications is to strip the good ones from guns you don’t want – by replacing them with a lower-tier mod. If you just scrap or sell weapons, the mods go too, but if you strip them you can acquire and use mods you can’t yet create yourself.