How to get started in Fallout 76

It's Reclamation Day! Fallout 76 launched a bit early for most of the world today, so you can get started playing Bethesda's first multiplayer Fallout game right now.

If you didn't participate in the beta, there's a few things you should know. Below, you'll find some helpful tips on taking your first steps in Fallout 76.

Join a team

If you're like me then you'd much rather play Fallout 76 completely on your own, but don't sweat the idea of having a bunch of complete strangers on your team. It's pretty painless: you don't have to literally team up and stick with other players at all times. Just having other players on your team means you get some XP and caps when they complete quests, even if you're not actively helping. Even more useful, you can fast-travel to their locations, which makes it easier to get around the map.

Not all perks are passive

As you collect perk cards for various buffs and bonuses, be aware that while most of them are passive and don't require action on your part besides slotting them, a few need a keypress to activate. The scavenger perk like Scrounger, for instance, that increases your chances of finding additional ammo in ammo containers, doesn't work without you telling it to. You'll need to look for a search prompt below the loot window (tap the spacebar) before you actually loot the container. As you can see in the gif above, it shows the perk's animation and adds some extra .308 rounds to the loot.

Remember you're basically not safe anywhere

Fallout 76 isn't like Far Cry 5, where you'll be constantly under attack by enemies and animals at every turn. There's plenty of quiet time even when you're out exploring, and at times I've run around for long stretches without encountering enemies. But that doesn't mean you're safe. Even inside trading posts or areas you've cleared, there's the potential for danger. Enemies are persistent and will chase you quite a long way, so if another player drags some monsters into an area you're hanging out in you may wind up in a fight while you're just trying to use a terminal or access a vendor. Keep your head on a swivel!

Things respawn quickly

I walked into a small warehouse that turned out to be filled with proximity mines and spike traps, which blew me up. A few minutes later I walked through the same warehouse... and the mines and traps had all respawned. They blew me up again.

This isn't entirely a bad thing, because loot and power armor and other items respawn, too, but so do things like traps and monsters. Just remember that even though you may have recently cleared out an area doesn't mean it won't be back to 'normal' relatively quickly.

Wood is easy to find: just look down

I'm used to gathering wood in survival games by chopping down trees, but there's no need to pull out your axe in Fallout 76. If you can't find a precut woodpile (they're often next to houses), you can just look down while you're running around in the wilderness. Logs and fallen trees will give you extra wood scraps with a single click, and can be used for building and cooking.

You earn Atoms while playing

As you complete quests and challenges, you'll start earning Atoms, Fallout 76's 'meta-currency' (as Bethesda calls it). The virtual cash can be spent in the Atomic Shop available in the main menu, where a number of new items have been added since the beta. There's new outfits and skins for your armor and Pip-Boy, emotes and photo mode poses (like the heart-hands one you see above, which is what I spent my Atoms on), and items for your camp. There are sure to be more added in the weeks and months ahead.

Here's what you can spend your Atoms on in the Atomic Shop. You can also purchase Atoms for real money.

Unfollow quests

As you explore you'll wander into public event zones or near quests and they'll be automatically added to your list, but they'll also be displayed on the right side of your screen. In a busy area you might be auto-added to several quests in the span of a few seconds. It can be distracting having all of this text cluttering your screen, not to mention a bunch of waypoints showing on your map. You can turn off quest tracking either in your Pip-Boy or by clicking the quest markers displayed on your map.

Power armor fits in your pocket

Once you find a set of power armor, it's yours to keep and no one can take it from you, quite unlike the pesky NPCs of Fallout 4 who would occasionally abscond with it. You can also carry the power armor in your inventory (somehow) when you're not using it. Where can you find it? We've got a guide for the best locations to find power armor when you're playing the beta today.

Invest in melee or unarmed attacks

Ammo isn't exactly scarce, but it's not terribly plentiful, either, and item condition is once again a feature (it wasn't in Fallout 4) meaning you might find yourself a long way from civilization with no ammo for your favorite gun, or that your gun has broken altogether. So don't forget to invest in melee: throw a couple SPECIAL points into Strength, keep some unarmed or melee perk cards handy, and add a few different melee weapons on your favorites list.

Use your stash boxes

You'll find them in Red Rocket Stations and train stations around the map: a big Vault-Tec crate. Anything you place inside it can be magically accessed from any other stash crate in the world, including the one at your camp, making it a nice dumping ground when you're on the go and getting overloaded with loot.

Don't worry too much about dying

Dying will happen a lot in Fallout 76, and the penalty is losing your junk items. You can then retrieve them from the site of your death (they'll be in a paper bag) when you respawn, though they'll likely be surrounded by the enemies that killed you to begin with. It's best not to sweat dying too much in Fallout 76 and to plan around it—if you're completing an objective in a dangerous area, consider stashing your items before you have a run at the mission. This'll reduce the stakes for dying to almost zero, and you can keep attempting it until you succeed.

(No, that's not Dogmeat watching me die, that's the wolf who mortally wounded me, who then very considerately watched me die.)