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A Complete Beginner's Guide to Fallout 4

Embarking on your journey through the post-apocalyptic wastelands of the Commonwealth can be as daunting as it is thrilling. Fallout 4, a masterful creation by Bethesda Game Studios, plunges players into a vast open world filled with dangers, mysteries, and opportunities at every turn. Whether you’re a vault dweller venturing out for the first time or a seasoned scavenger, this guide is your holotape to survival, success, and the discovery of what lies beneath the surface of this richly detailed universe.

Setting foot into this ravaged world without a little know-how is like hopping into a rad-infested pool without a radiation suit. Fear not, for we’ve got your back. Let’s start with the very first steps in Fallout 4: character creation, understanding the interface, honing combat skills, and navigating early exploration and quests.

Character Creation: Crafting Your Wasteland Identity#

Creating your character is more than just deciding whether you’ll have a rugged beard or what shade of green your eyes will be; it’s about strategically laying the groundwork for your journey through the Commonwealth.

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Attributes#

The backbone of your character’s abilities in Fallout 4 is the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. Each letter stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. These attributes govern everything from how much you can carry, how well you negotiate, to how often you’ll find yourself landing critical hits in combat.

  • Strength affects your carrying capacity and melee damage.
  • Perception enhances your accuracy in V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) and increases detection capabilities.
  • Endurance determines your health and stamina.
  • Charisma is key for persuading others and getting better prices from merchants.
  • Intelligence influences experience points gained and the effectiveness of hacking.
  • Agility impacts your action points in V.A.T.S. and your ability to sneak.
  • Luck plays into the frequency and quality of loot drops, as well as the recharge rate of critical hits.

A well-rounded character is advisable for beginners, but don’t shy away from building a character around your preferred playstyle. Whether you’re looking to charm your way through the Commonwealth or blast through with brute force, allocate your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points to support your tactics.


Every level up grants you a point to invest in a perk. These perks, organized under the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. categories, provide new abilities or enhance your stats. Planning your perks is crucial for developing your character’s strengths. Want to crack open every safe you come across? Invest in the Locksmith perk under Perception. Dream of being a smooth-talking mercenary? The Lady Killer/Black Widow perk under Charisma might be your best friend.

Basics of Interface: Navigating the Wasteland with Ease#

The Pip-Boy is your go-to device in Fallout 4, acting as your inventory, map, radio, and data terminal all rolled into one. Familiarizing yourself with its interface is key to not getting overwhelmed.

Quick Inventory Management#

Keep your essentials (weapons, stimpaks, and radaway) favorited for quick access. This can be done by assigning them to the D-pad on consoles or the number keys on a keyboard.

World and Local Map#

The world map on your Pip-Boy gives an overhead view of the Commonwealth, while the local map is crucial for navigating interiors. Icons denote places of interest, some of which might not be immediately visible until you’re close enough or have heard about them through NPCs.

Early Combat Skills: Surviving Your First Firefights#

The Commonwealth is rife with danger, and knowing how to defend yourself is paramount.


The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System is a lifesaver, especially when you’re still getting your bearings. It allows you to pause time and target specific parts of your enemies’ bodies. Headshots are often lethal, but don’t overlook the tactical advantage of crippling limbs to slow down fast attackers.

Weapon & Ammunition Awareness#

Your weapon choice should match your playstyle, but keeping a variety in your arsenal will prepare you for any situation. Ammo can be scarce, so make every shot count. Scavenging and looting are essential for keeping your ammunition stockpiled.

Initial Exploration: The Lay of the Land#

Stepping out of Vault 111, the sheer size of the Commonwealth can be overwhelming. While it’s tempting to head straight to Diamond City, as many NPCs suggest, there’s value in wandering.

Sanctuary Hills#

Start with the area around Sanctuary Hills. It’s relatively safe and offers a chance to practice combat, scavenge for supplies, and learn the basics of crafting and settlement building.

Scavenging is Key#

Keep an eye out for duct tape, wonderglue, screws, and aluminum. These materials are crucial for weapon and armor modifications, as well as building up your settlements.

Stay Cautious#

Learn to approach each new area cautiously. Use cover, and remember, running away to fight another day is always an option. Stealth can be your greatest ally in navigating tougher areas.

First Quests: Setting the Stage for Your Commonwealth Saga#

Out of Time and When Freedom Calls#

These initial quests introduce you to the Minutemen and the concept of settlements. Rescuing Preston Garvey and his group from Concord sets you up with your first companions and leads you on the path to rebuilding the Commonwealth.

Following the Freedom Trail#

While not strictly one of the first quests, “Road to Freedom” is a crucial early step for players intrigued by the game’s factions. Following the Freedom Trail not only immerses you in the rich history of the Commonwealth but leads you to the secretive Railroad faction.

Jewel of the Commonwealth#

Your first major urban exploration quest will direct you towards Diamond City. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of NPCs, quests, and combat scenarios. Consider this quest your introduction to the larger narrative arc and the complexity of the world Bethesda has crafted.

Fallout 4 offers a post-apocalyptic playground like no other, with every ruin telling a story and every shadow potentially hiding danger. As you step out into the Commonwealth, remember that this world rewards the curious and the bold. Whether it’s through bolstering your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes, mastering the Pip-Boy, or choosing the right quests, your journey in Fallout 4 is yours to shape. The wasteland is harsh, unforgiving, and incredibly addictive. Happy exploring, survivor.

A Complete Beginner's Guide to Fallout 4
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