Over the course of reviewing Fallout 4, I played rather a lot of it. Funny how that works out, eh? And so on this, the day of its release, I'm sharing with you a few things that I wish I'd known before I started to play.
I'm going to assume that you are a functioning, intelligent human being, and thus are aware of basic tips like "save often" and "shoot the gun at the bad man." You have played a videogame before, right?
Instead, then, here's a small selection of tips designed to help you make the best of the post-apocalypse you're about to eagerly enter. (Of course, you could skip all this 'playing the game properly' stuff and just start messing with Fallout 4's console commands.)
There are no dump stats...
...but some stats are more dump than others.
As part of your character creation, you're asked to pick your SPECIAL stats. That's strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck, if you're wondering. You've only got a handful of points to assign at the start, but don't sweat them too much.
Levelling has been streamlined in Fallout 4. Perks and skills have been rolled into one, and are each tied to one of the SPECIAL stats. Bloody Mess, for instance, is the third Luck perk—and so requires three points invested in Luck. When you level up, you gain a perk point. You can use this to unlock or improve a perk, or to increase a SPECIAL stat.
There are some perks I'd recommend, whatever your build: Locksmith, which requires four Perception; Hacker, which requires four Intelligence; and Scrounger, which requires two Luck. Beyond that, it'll depend largely on your build. Want to be effective with melee, and never worry about inventory space? Go for Strength. Want to be sneaky, or treat Fallout 4 like a straight up shooter? That's agility. Want to let VATS do the work? Perception.
Head here if you want to pre-plan your perks.
Don't overdo the settlements
Settlements are a cool feature, but can take some work to get properly running. You need food, people to work the land, and a lot of materials scavenged from out in the world. My advice: don't get too many settlements too early.
The first faction you meet, the Minutemen, are the most closely tied to the settlement system. Work for them, and you'll start capturing settlements at an alarming rate. The busywork of it quickly becomes overwhelming.
My advice? Unlock the Sanctuary and Red Rocket settlements, and cool it off until you've spent some time collecting more resources. It's more manageable, and means you won't be interrupted by a defence event for some half-built shithole that people have inexplicably moved into.
Make a home
While we're on the subject of settlements, let's talk about your home base. It's important to have one. That sounds obvious, but it's not something you really designate in game. Every settlement is yours, but, even within that, it's helpful to have a place that's definitively yours.
I picked the Red Rocket just outside of Sanctuary. I did this because it's empty, and so I didn't have to put up with NPCs whining because they didn't have any food and beds. Also it's where I found Dogmeat, and dogs are fundamentally better than people. And, more to the point, it has a near-complete set of crafting benches—including a power armour station.
Here's why it's important to have an easy to find, easy to remember base: junk. You need lots of materials, and so it's a good idea to be picking up junk on your travels. Pre-war money is great, because it's a source of cloth. Anything with aluminium in is amazing, because you need it to repair your power armour. Glue is wondrous, because it's a key component in most weapon mods.
That junk takes up space, so you'll want to regularly transfer it to a workshop—preferably, a single workshop. Supply lines can connect workshops together, but to do that you need the Local Leader perk (six Charisma) and a spare settler for each two places you connect. In short, it's a pain in the arse. If you always know where your components are, there'll be less guesswork, and less need to set up a labyrinthine supply network.
Don't rush through the main story
[Note: the image has nothing to do with this point. I just didn't know where else I was going to use it.]
Okay, this might seem obvious—but it's worth pointing out anyway. Unlike pre-DLC Fallout 3, the game doesn't end after the main campaign. That doesn't mean you should rush through it, though. The campaign is inherently tied to the faction system, and, as you go through the plot, things change enough that certain faction quests can be locked off to you.
I recommend powering through the story until you reach Diamond City, and then slowing things down to enjoy the world. It's not too big a deal—it'll usually be obvious when a major shift is about to happen—but it's worth being aware of if you want to savour everything Fallout 4 has to offer.
Get a good range of guns
Ammo is pretty scarce in the Fallout universe. Sure, you might think you're ammo rich, but all it takes is a few tough enemies, and that stockpile can deplete fast. A lot of enemies can be bullet sponges, especially early on before you've had a chance to loot the most powerful weapons.
When you're choosing what weapons to carry with you, make sure they all use a different ammo type. That way, you've got options when your favourite inevitably runs out.
If you see a star, kill it
There are a few ways Fallout 4 denotes how tough an enemy is. The first is their name. A raider is a pushover; a raider scum slightly less so. The second is through the icons that can appear by their name. If you see a skull, that's a big, tough bastard you're fighting. Probably better to leg it until you're better prepared.
Enemies with stars by their name are designated as Legendary. They're also pretty tough, but you should definitely try to kill them. Legendary enemies will always drop a Legendary item, and these can be great. They're guns and armour pieces with a special bonus. Some are unique—usually those found via quests—while others, seemingly, are randomised. Still, they constitute some of the best items in the game. It's always worth downing a Legendary just to see what they'll offer up.
Also, if you're feeling really confident: the higher the difficulty, the more Legendaries will spawn.