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Fallout 76 Guide: How To Survive The Wasteland Once Again

Bethesda’s grand adventure is out now for the public. And we’re pretty sure a number of you are pretty lost about the game. What is it? Can you still play it single-player like the past Fallout games? How does the VATS system work here? Will this game still have content post-release?

Never fear; we’re here to help. We have some major tips on making your Reclamation Day a pleasant and fun one. We can’t promise you a bug-free day though; that’s up to Bethesda to sort out.

Basic Tips & Tricks


This Is An Online Game…

As an online multiplayer game, Fallout 76 has no pause function. You can still be attacked while you’re hunting for an item in a menu, for instance. So you should always have a melee weapon favorited; a firearm with a lot of ammo helps too.

When you’re surprised by enemies, one or two taps left on the D-pad will give you the emergency weapon you need (and tapping right will use a Stimpak). Any other weapons should be assigned to the weapons wheel, not favourited.

Furthermore, when bringing up the Pip-Boy, toggle it to the overlay (the View button/touchpad on console controllers) so that you can continue to see the world around you while navigating the menus.

Keep Your Melee Weapon Ready

Ammunition is a lot more scarce in Fallout 76 than in past games. Mongrels and Feral Ghouls move quickly and are best dealt with using a machete, knife, or hatchet.

Killing Docile Radstags or Brahmins for food and hide is also best done with a melee weapon as opposed to a firearm. Why waste bullets on livestock when a club does a better and more efficient job?

Light It Up

The button you use to bring up your Pip-Boy is also the one that turns on/off your light. You’ll need your light a lot in Fallout 76. Hold this button down to turn it on. X/Square both readies (tap) and puts away (hold) your weapon (or fists).

RB/R1 is a bash attack with the weapon in your hand (the butt or stock of a gun if you’re out of ammo). The best bash attack to have is a gun with a bayonet affixed. Bayonets are either found or crafted.

Scavenge Everything

Until you reach level 5, you should be picking clean every building, dwelling or site you encounter. Then break down the junk at any workbench (X or square when you step to it) and store all the junk in a stash box.

Keep in mind these pointers:

  • Raw materials take up less space than junk items.
  • When you die, you lose all your junk and have to backtrack to get it before someone else does.

While you may trade with other human players, and there are robot vendors (in places like the Morgantown Airport, or the railroad station in Sutton), caps are harder to come by than in past Fallouts — and anyway, you will likely need your currency more for fast travel or relocating your CAMP site.

You should expect to craft and modify, or find and repair, what you need rather than buy it. Seriously consider increasing your strength (to increase carry weight) or taking Luck Perk Cards that improve the condition or the number of items you find.

Keep Well-Fed & Hydrated

Food and water will be a greater concern than in past Fallout games. This will also increase your exposure to radiation. Consider taking Perks that either increase the nourishment/hydration you receive from drinking and eating, or Perks that reduce the rads you absorb from eating impure food.

Being careless about food or water will mean emergency side trips to find and/or cook some, or eating raw or irradiated things out of desperation. It can get in the way of what you really want to be doing, so plan ahead.

Clean Your Healing Items

Both RadAway and Stimpaks may now be diluted, using purified water, at a chemistry station. While this halves the healing gained from a full dose, it also lets you take half doses when you’re trying to heal lesser amounts of damage, and save a full Stimpak or RadAway bag for when you are gravely hurt or seriously suffering from radiation poisoning.

For this reason, purified water is so valuable it should rarely be used as a thirst quencher. Drink impure water instead, taking the minimal radiation hit (or mitigating it with Rad-X) and flushing that out with a diluted RadAway dose once it accumulates to about a quarter of your health bar.

You can take radiation just from gathering dirty water (from a stream, a pump or a tap). When you are stocking up on water supplies, pop a Rad-X and then also use this time to fully hydrate yourself (and eat any irradiated food).

Down With The Sickness

Diseases play a greater role, and with enough radiation you can acquire mutations — some of which are helpful, and nearly all of which carry drawbacks. Mutations can be cured (along with radiation) by taking RadAway, but note that RadAway also significantly lowers your disease resistance for a good chunk of time.

The Starched Genes Perk, which we haven’t seen through level 10 yet, will allow you to keep beneficial mutations after a RadAway flush.

Sleeping on bare ground (a mattress or sleeping bag) also significantly increases your chance of contracting a disease. This is why the first base-building plan you find is for a standing bed (it’s on a bench at the Overseer’s Campsite).

There are standing beds inside the church in Flatwoods, which serves as a Responders’ hospital. Sleeping on the ground after taking RadAway is a sure way to contract a disease.

Sort Out Your Weapon Copies

Scrap duplicate weapons rather than keeping them for resale or trade. When you scrap a weapon, you will unlock a mod recipe for that weapon. This includes knives; scrapping a combat knife (found at the Overseer’s Campsite) gives you the serrated edge mod to upgrade the machete.

Ready Your Ranged Weapons

It’s also a good idea to have only one weapon per type of ammunition — for instance, a bolt-action pipe pistol, unmodded, is redundant alongside a short hunting rifle (both use .308 ammo). Scrap the one that’s in worse condition.

At crafting benches, you can click the left thumbstick to see the available recipes (that is, all the items for which you have ingredients or components). But pay attention to the condition of your weapons, as repairing them will usually require the same components (adhesive particularly).

Further, some weapons will be in worse shape but have a higher potential condition (represented by the condition bar next to it in the Pip-Boy menu). One item may be in better condition than a duplicate item but have a lesser optimal condition.


Events Horizon

Avoid the “Events” (marked on your map by a yellow hexagon) when you are early in your adventure (through level 5, at least, if not longer). They will automatically be added to your list of quests if you enter the area where one is going on, so just ignore it or unfollow it inside your Pip-Boy or map. Events are chorelike experiences that waste ammunition and don’t provide enough of a reward in weapons, gear or other items, especially if fought solo.

Avoid claiming Workshops early on, for the same reason as you should avoid Events. Once claimed, Workshops will have to be defended against waves of enemies that also eat up ammo and degrade the condition of your weapons for little return.

What To Do After The Starting Area

After completing the missions Flatwoods has to offer, and loading up on useful gear and items, the most obvious next step is to turn back north for Morgantown Airport to continue the main quest line there.

The Morgantown Train Yard on the way has a Power Armor Chassis (and at least a couple of pieces of armor) inside one of the abandoned box cars, along with one Fusion Core to run it.

The Gorge Junkyard is on the way to Morgantown Airport. While it contains useful weapons and resources to scavenge, it’s also a Workshop, which in Fallout 76 costs caps to claim and then must be defended against waves of pestlike enemies. The upside is that a claimed (and defended) Workshop will produce resources for the owner as long as they hold it. A Workshop is not essential to your adventuring at very early levels, but an easy one to take and defend (if you have enough ammo) is here at The Gorge Junkyard.

You’ve probably also gotten notices to keep searching for your Overseer’s holotapes, which will take you to her childhood home in Sutton (and that contains a standing bed, among other useful items and resources). The Sutton train station has a robot vendor, Stash Box and Chemistry Station. From there, the next tapes are in Morgantown High School and then Vault-Tec University, both of which offer plenty of scavenging and combat encounters to level up.

What You Need To Know About The CAMP

The CAMP is a base that you build from scratch after selecting a location. Your CAMP is movable, but it costs caps to do so. The advantage in making a CAMP is to have all of your basic needs met in one place (rest, food, storage, gun and armor repair, and modification), even though you will find the same resources in scattered locations around Appalachia. Fast travel to your CAMP is always free. Moving a CAMP will cost caps relative to the distance you are moving it.

If you’re about level 6 or lower, pick a CAMP site if you come across an aesthetically pleasing area in your early adventures. Otherwise, wait until after you have finished the missions (including the CAMP tutorial) at Morgantown Airport.

Don’t worry about picking a geographically advantageous location yet, as the map is vast and you will be spending a lot of time in one place before moving on to another. After you’ve explored all of the regions in Fallout 76 and gotten an idea for what resources are where, then it might be a good time to start thinking about a permanent CAMP with elaborate structures and amenities.

How Leveling Up Works In Fallout 76


SPECIAL and Perks have been part of past Fallouts. In Fallout 76, they work a little different. Let’s break it down.

-Each time you gain a level, you get to assign one point to one SPECIAL attribute (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck).

-Then, at periodic times, you will unlock Perks, represented in this game as Perk Cards, and apply them to that attribute.

-Perk Cards correspond to one SPECIAL attribute. For example, “Lead Belly” (take less radiation from drinking dirty water) is tied to Endurance.

-The number of cards a player may equip depends on how high that attribute is. For example, a player with 4 Endurance would be able to equip a maximum of four Endurance Perk Cards in their loadout.

One important thing to note: this loadout may be changed at any time, not just when a player levels up. Keep this in mind as you enter specific situations. You can always equip a lockpick card, pick a safe, and then switch it out for something more generally helpful after you’re done.

Which SPECIAL Should I Level Up First?

Early on, this is a very easy question: Every player starts with a 1 in each SPECIAL attribute, so just pick whatever seems right; you’ll be adding another point to your SPECIAL soon enough.

In past Fallouts, many players spent a lot of time allocating a pool of points into an optimal starting build before even beginning the game. In Fallout 76, you will have to work to build up a character that suits your playing style while enjoying greater flexibility to change that style.

SPECIALs will generally improve several things within the game — hit points, action points, weapon accuracy, melee damage, critical hit chance — as they always have. As such, there is some usefulness in boosting up an attribute even if there is no card to lay on it.

Let’s lay out the different stats in SPECIAL:

  • Strength will increase the damage a player causes with melee attacks — which are very useful early on as ammunition is scarce and must be crafted. Strength also increases the amount a player may carry, which is useful for those who will be more into crafting and building.
  • Perception increases weapon accuracy within VATS, the combat targeting system used in Fallout 76. It also increases awareness of enemies and others nearby. Perception and Agility often work together for a stealth build.
  • Endurance will increase hit points, will allow players to sprint longer (clicking left thumbstick while moving) and increases disease resistance. In Fallout 76, disease plays a much greater role in day-to-day survival.
  • Charisma has a new use in Fallout 76 because of multiplayer interactions and the lack of human NPCs with dialogue options. Beginning at 3 Charisma, a player can share the benefits of a Perk Card with every member of their group. Charisma also affects the awards one gets from group events. Those who intend to play a lot of multiplayer with Fallout 76 should consider ranking up Charisma.
  • Intelligence will affect the condition and durability of items you craft, and likewise may be a good general improvement for those with a crafting bend to their activities. It also affects how much material is produced from scrapping junk, and hacking computer terminals.
  • Agility affects the player’s Action Points (both how many attacks can be made within VATS and how long they may sprint) and the ability to sneak undetected (by crouching, with a click of the left thumbstick).
  • Luck mainly affects the condition and durability of looted items; better luck — better things found. Better Luck also means a faster recharge to the Critical Hit rate within VATS combat.

For every level gained, players may increase a SPECIAL attribute by one to a maximum of 15. Players stop increasing SPECIAL at level 50.


How To Get More Perk Cards

Every time a player levels up, they choose one Perk Card. Note that this only unlocks it for use in the SPECIAL loadout. It doesn’t immediately apply it to that loadout.

It is important to know what your SPECIAL numbers are before you choose one of these Perks. So be sure you have the slots to equip it.

After a few levels, you’ll get a pack of Perk Cards. This pack contains four Perk Cards chosen at random (and even a stick of gum that marginally reduces hunger). All of these cards go into the player’s collection; not all will be immediately available. Random draws may sometimes give players a card requiring them to be a higher level than they are.

Card packs are then awarded at levels 6, 8, 10 and every fifth level thereafter. They are obtained only by levelling up. Thankfully they’re not for sale (for virtual or any other currency) and are not an item found in-world.

How To Choose & Rank Up Perk Cards

In the early goings, you should pick Perk Cards you know you can play to get the most value out of a limited collection.

However, acquiring duplicates of a single card (by choice or randomly out of a pack) allow you to rank it up if you wish. This results in one new card carrying better effects. But this choice needs to be made carefully.

For example, Player A had a rank 1 First Aid Perk Card equipped. A duplicate First Aid Perk Card was found in the fourth-level card pack draw. Player A chose to combine the two into a higher-ranked card.

However, Player A only has 1 in Intelligence, which is the slot for this Perk. The higher ranked card needs at least 2 Intelligence. This means that choosing to upgrade here puts it back in the player’s collection until their Intelligence is at least 2 or higher.

Veteran Fallout fans should note that some base skills in past games, like lockpicking, hacking, and targeting limbs in VATS, are accessible only with a Perk Card. However, as one’s card loadout may be changed at any time (from within the Pip-Boy), players may build according to their play preferences and then swap in a skill as the situation calls for it.

Joining a multiplayer group is also a good time to switch up Perk Cards, especially if you have a high Charisma which allows some perks to be shared. Protip: you will continue to acquire Perk Cards after level 50 even if you can no longer increase their SPECIAL.

The Best Perks Of Fallout 76

Here they are. Keep these if you want to survive.

  • First Aid – Being able to get more out of Stimpaks is essential.
  • Gunsmith – If you’re looking to craft better weapons, you’ll need the Gunsmith Perk.
  • Born Survivor – This Perk will automatically use a Stimpak when dropping below a certain health value. It can really help you out in a pinch.
  • Mysterious Stranger – The classic returns. Have a guy help you out at random intervals.
  • Scrounger – You’ll have a chance to find more ammo when searching ammo containers.
  • Pharmacist – Rads can be a real issue in Fallout 76. This Perk allows you to remove more with each RadAway.

All The SPECIAL Perk Cards Available In Fallout 76


Yep, all of them on one handy feature. We’ll be updating this in case we missed a card or two.

Strength Cards

  • Bandolier – Ballistic weapon ammo weighs less.
  • Batteries Included – Energy weapon ammo weighs less.
  • Bear Arms – Heavy guns weigh less.
  • Bullet Shield – Gain damage resistance while firing a heavy gun.
  • Expert Heavy Gunner – Non-explosive heavy guns now do more damage.
  • Expert Slugger – Two-handed melee weapons now do more damage.
  • Gladiator – One-handed melee weapons now do more damage.
  • Iron Fist – Punching attacks do more damage with a chance to stagger your opponent.
  • Pack Rat – The weight of all junk items is reduced.
  • Shotgunner – Your shotguns now do more damage.
  • Slugger – Your two-handed melee weapons now do more damage.
  • Sturdy Frame – Armor weighs less.
  • Thru-Hiker – Food and drink weigh less.
  • Travelling Pharmacy – Chems now weigh less.

Perception Cards

  • Butcher’s Bounty – Chance to find an extra meat when you Search an animal corpse
  • Concentrated Fire – V.A.T.S attacks on the same body part gain accuracy and damage
  • Crack Shot – All pistols now have more range and accuracy when sighted.
  • Expert Picklock – Gain +1 Lockpicking skill and the lockpicking ‘sweet spot’ is X% larger
  • Green Thumb – Chance to reap twice as much when harvesting flora
  • Master Picklock – Gain +1 lockpicking skill, and the lockpicking ‘sweet spot’ is X% larger
  • Night Person – Gain +1 INT and +1 PER between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Pannapictagraphist – You hear directional audio when in range of a Magazine
  • Percepti-bobble – You hear directional audio when in range of a Bobblehead
  • Picklock – Gain +1 lockpicking skill and the lockpicking ‘sweet spot’ is 10 % larger
  • Refractor – Gain +5 energy resistance
  • Skeet Shooter – Shotguns have improved accuracy and spread
  • Sniper – Improved control and can hold your breath longer when aiming with scopes.

Endurance Cards

  • Aquagirl – No longer take Rad damage from swimming and can breathe underwater.
  • Dromedary – All drinks quench thirst by an additional 15%.
  • Good Doggy – Eating dog food is now three times as beneficial.
  • Hydro Fix – Chems generate less thirst.
  • Iron Stomach – Your chance to catch a disease from food is reduced.
  • Lead Belly – Take less radiation from eating or drinking.
  • Natural Resistance – You are less likely to catch a disease from the environment.
  • Professional Drinker – No Chance of getting addicted to alcohol.
  • Revenant – Gain +25% damage bonus for 2 minutes when a player revives you.
  • Slow Metabolizer – All food satisfies hunger by an additional 15%.
  • Thirst Quencher – Drinking any liquid has a reduced chance to cause disease.
  • Vaccinated – Chance of catching a disease from creatures is reduced.

Charisma Perks

  • Animal Friend – Aim your gun at any Animal below your level for a chance to pacify it.
  • Bloodsucker – Stimpaks now satisfy thirst, no longer irradiate, and heal 50% more.
  • Bodyguards – Gain Damage and Energy Resist (max 18) for each teammate excluding you.
  • E.M.T – Players you revive come back with health regen for a short time.
  • Happy Camper – Hunger and thirst grow 40% more slowly when in camp or in a team workshop.
  • Happy-Go-Lucky – Your luck is increased by 2 while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Hard Bargain – Buying and selling prices at vendors are better.
  • Inspirational – When you are on a team, gain 5% more XP.
  • Lone Wanderer – When adventuring alone, take 10% less damage and gain 10% AP regen.
  • Party Boy/Party Girl – The effects of alcohol are doubled.
  • Philanthropist – Restore some of your teammates hunger and thirst when you eat or drink.
  • Quack Surgeon – Revive other players with liquor!
  • Spiritual Healer – You regenerate health after reviving another player.
  • Squad Maneuvers – Run 10% faster when part of a team.
  • Strange in Numbers – Positive mutation effects are +25% stronger if teammates are mutated too.
  • Team Medic – Your Stimpaks now also heal nearby teammates for half the normal strength.
  • Vampire – Bloodpacks now satisfy thirst, no longer irradiate, and heal more.

Intelligence Cards

  • Contractor – Crafting workshop items now costs 25% fewer materials.
  • Exotic Weapons Master – Unknown.
  • Expert Hacker – Gain +1 hacking skill, and terminal lock-out time is reduced.
  • First Aid – Stimpaks restore 10% more lost Health.
  • Grease Monkey – Workshop items are 30% cheaper to repair.
  • Hacker – Gain +1 hacking skill.
  • Licensed Plumber – Your Pipe weapons break more slowly and are cheaper to repair.
  • Makeshift Warrior – Your melee weapons are 30% less likely to break and cheaper to repair
  • Master Hacker – Gain +1 hacking skill and terminal lock-out time is reduced.
  • Pharmacist – RadAway removes more radiation.
  • Science – You can now craft energy guns (plans required).

Agility Cards

  • Action Boy/Action Girl – Action Points generate faster.
  • Adrenaline – Gain +6% damage for 30s per kill. Duration refreshes with kills. The % increases with each new card rank.
  • Born Survivor – Falling below a certain level of health will automatically use a Stimpak.
  • Dead Man Sprinting – Sprint faster at increased AP cost when your health dips below a certain point.
  • Dodgy – Spend 30 Action Points to avoid 10% of each enemy attack.
  • Guerilla – Your automatic pistols now do more damage.
  • Goat Legs – Take less damage from falling.
  • Gun Fu – VATS swaps target on kill with +10% damage to your next target. That percentage increases with each new card rank.
  • Gun Runner – Running Speed increases.
  • Marathoner – Sprinting consumes fewer Action Points.
  • Moving Target – Gain increased damage and Energy Resistance while sprinting.

Luck Cards

  • Can Do! – Chance to find an extra canned food when you search a food container.
  • Good With Salt – Food in your inventory will spoil more slowly.
  • Junk Shield – Carry junk to gain damage resistance. (no power armour)
  • Luck of the Draw – Your weapon has a 10% chance to regain condition when hitting an enemy
  • Mystery Meat – Stimpacks may generate edible meat tissue. Higher rads improve the chance
  • Mysterious Stranger – The Mysterious Stranger appears more often when using VATS.
  • Packing Light – Your pistols weigh less.
  • Pharma Farma – Chance to find extra first aid Chems when you search a Chem Container.
  • Scrounger – Chance to find extra first aid Chems when you search an ammo Container.
  • Starched Genes – You will never mutate from rads and Radaway will never cure mutations.
  • Serendipity – While below a certain level of health, gain a small chance to avoid damage.

How To Find The Friendly Mothman (via Kotaku)

The Mothman can be randomly found throughout the game world, but the chance of an encounter is low. Instead, there’s a surefire way to summon him. If you head east of Vault 76 to Landview Lighthouse at night, there’s a chance you’ll get to participate in a special event called “The Path to Enlightenment”. You, and possibly some random friendlies, need to kill 50 fireflies and use their bioluminescent fluid to activate the lighthouse.

It’s a pretty quick process that you can even pull off solo. If you do, you will summon the “Wise Mothman”. The friendly Mothman can grant you the “Wisdom of the Mothman” buff if you interact with him/her/it. It gives you a 5% experience gain for an hour; pretty useful for the start of the game.

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