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Fallout 76 guide: tips to prepare for the Wastelanders update

Everything Steam players need to know

It's easy to say that Fallout 76 didn't have the best of starts, but the game is now coming to Steam, along with the new Wastelanders update. If you have been holding off until now, we're here with out updated guides that explain a ton of changes that have come to this online game.

It's likely that you won't be able to access the Wastelanders stuff until you've progressed through some of the base game, so here are some tips to get you up to speed.

Fallout 76 guide

Set in the land of Appalachia, which is basically West Virginia and parts of it surrounding states, the region is a very mountainous one that has all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures based on the local folklore. Those wandering into the world for the first time since the Atom Bombs dropped, you may be wondering just how to survive in this hostile wasteland.

In this Fallout 76 guide, we're going over some of the best tips, from learning about weapons, armor, diseases, mutations, perk cards, and much more.

Fallout 76 map

With every Fallout game comes a brand new region to explore. In Fallout 76, this is the region of Appalachia, an area that includes the entire state of West Virginia and part of its surrounding states. "MapGenie.io" have created a rather nifty interactive map that you can find here. Use it to keep track of all the locations for items, quests, and other resources. This does not currently include any information about the Fallout 76 Wastelanders update.

Finding stash boxes and vendors at train stations

Inside the rail stations, there is a map on the wall with some pins stuck inside of it. It turns out that these pins indicate where all of the train stations are in the game, so you can bring up your own map to show where your train station is in relation to the main map. This is vital because each one contains a free Stash Box to enable you to store everything you have picked up, and a Vendor that can sell you various items.

Fallout 76 guide

Weapons and armor tips

We have a fair few more in-depth guides on weapons and armor, as well as Power Armor, but here are some big things to keep in mind:

  • First things first, the fashionable clothing like hats and outfits don't offer any defensive bonuses. If you want to prevent damage, you're best off equipping body armour or finding one of the coveted Power Armor sets hidden in Appalachia. Gas masks on the other hand do provide a tiny bonus. If you want more details on weapons, head to our Fallout 76 weapons guide, and here are our tips for Fallout 76 armour.
  • Since weapons and armour can break, you'll occasionally need to repair them. This can be done at any workbenches in Appalachia, either at your CAMP or in other locations. If a piece of equipment should become broken, it won't disappear from your inventory, but you won't be able to equip it. More on those in our Fallout 76 CAMP guide.
  • One of the weirdest things I discovered while playing was that even though some weapons are exactly the same in terms of their mod equips, level of weapon, and overall rating, their maximum condition will vary drastically from weapon to weapon. So just because you have two guns that otherwise are exactly the same, flicking between one and the other will reveal that one has better condition potential, making it the easier choice to scrap the other and improve the better weapon.
  • Finally, regarding those coveted Power Armor frames that we explain more about in our Fallout 76 Power Armor locations guide, you can find them often next to Power Armor Stations. Should you come across one, if you transfer armour plates that you are unable to equip into your inventory, you can enter the frame and lock its ownership to you. After this, you can exit the frame and put it into your inventory, or allow it to be transferred automatically to your inventory after a short amount of time.

Fallout 76 guide

How perks and SPECIAL work in Fallout 76

Much like all the other Fallout games, you can allocate points to one of the SPECIAL stats upon levelling up, but you'll also be able to choose a Perk Card. There's usually a new type of card per SPECIAL rank, though this is not always the case. This card doesn't have to be from the stat you just increased, so you can take a Perk Card specialising in one-handed weapon damage, even though you just increased Charisma. They are filtered by category for easy navigation.

You can find out everything about them in our Fallout 76 perk cards guide, so head on over for the full rundown of how to equip, obtain, and upgrade them, as well as a full list of the currently known Perk Cards in the game. You should also be made aware that Bobbleheads and Magazines are very different to their Fallout 4 counterparts. For more on why this is, check out our Fallout 76 Bobbleheads.

Hacking and lockpicking

Perhaps one of the exceptions to the common rule about Perk Cards is how to upgrade your lockpicking and terminal hacking prowess. You can find more general tips on how both now work in our Fallout 76 lockpicking and Fallout 76 terminal hacking guides respectively.

Managing diseases and mutations in Fallout 76

After being exposed to the elements and fallout for five levels, you'll start to contract diseases, perhaps even begin mutating. Diseases are only removed with cures or by letting it run its course. Bed rest in a decent bad with a frame is one way to prevent diseases entirely. Ironically, dying doesn't even get rid of it, or indeed any radiation you might be accruing. You can find out more about all the diseases in our Fallout 76 diseases guide.

Radiation is a little more problematic as only RadAway can get rid of it. However, it can also introduce new mutations, more on those in our Fallout 76 mutations guide, that either enhance or deteriorate a particular part of you. Useful mutations can be kept if you so wish, by using the Starched Genes perk card, which allows you to keep any active mutations forever, or prevent any new ones from coming.

Fallout 76 guide

Combat in Fallout 76

Make sure you have a melee weapon as backup. Ammunition is not easy to come by, even though guns are plentiful initially. You can also visit any Tinker Station to craft more ammunition, but you'll need the corresponding junk to make them.

Since the game has a rather limited view, either first or third person, VATS can be your best friend. If you tap the button when nothing is there, you'll just get an audio cue, but if something is there, it will flag up. This can be great for spotting enemies or minefields and other traps, but each press does cost Action Points (AP), even if it doesn't detect anything. Therefore you should use it only when you think you might need it.

VATS has also changed in Fallout 76, so that your target is highlighted in real time. The percentage to hit will increase depending on how far away you are and your stats. You don't need to manually aim, but with the right perk card equipped, you can target specific points on their body. The critical meter is also back from Fallout 4, meaning you can pull off a critical hit once it is filled with any shot.

Finally, don't be too afraid to take on an enemy that's a higher level than you. They may be able to dish out more damage than lower levelled versions, but the rest of the stats don't scale in the same way. For example, a Bloatfly can be killed rather quickly despite being several levels higher, but it can also deal more damage if you get too close. Should you run into a high levelled, big scary monster with each claw the size of a small car, then you should probably run.

How PVP and death works

Fallout 76 is, for better or worse, a multiplayer experience. You can join up with your friends to complete quests, events, and take over workshops. But chances are that a lot of people will want to kill each other instead and Fallout 76 caters for those players who just want to kill each other. We have a more in-depth Fallout 76 multiplayer guide available for those who want it, but the most ridiculous thing you can do is gather launch codes in order to launch nukes at enemies. If you want to know more, our Fallout 76 nukes guide has all the steps for initiating the launch sequence, as well as all the information you'll need about what happens to the local landscape.

Fallout 76 guide

How to craft in Fallout 76

There are plenty of crafting stations in the game, with Vault 76 and the Overseer's Camp being particular crafting hotspots, a bit like one of those startup hubs in bigger cities. However, since only one person at a time can operate any workstation, it may be better to invest in creating your own crafting station at your own CAMP. While you're at it, make sure to build a "Vault-Tec Stash" for storing all your items and junk.

Also, be sure to collect as much junk as you can have on your person within reason. It can be scrapped into base components that are useful for crafting, weapon and armour modding, building, and even preparing elegant wasteland cuisine, though it's better to bring it intact back to your CAMP. However, there is a catch in that when you die, you drop all your junk you currently have in your inventory in a "death bag". This can be retrieved by simply picking it all up, as long as nobody got to it first. When you have enough junk, you can either spend some caps to transport it to your CAMP, or head there personally to store it. Keeping items in the Vault-Tec Stash will allow you to use them at a workstation or when at your CAMP.

As for building structures at your CAMP, Blueprints can be placed to save your layout. This means that whenever you log out of the game or just need to move the location of the CAMP to somewhere less hostile, you can restore your camp to how it was by bringing up the blueprint list. Just be mindful of where you're building your camp as it can only be built on flat ground and not near any other buildings that already exist.

Finding recipes and mods

While you're searching for loot, you should also keep an eye out for recipes. You'll begin your new life in post-apocalyptic Appalachia with a few basic recipes, but the only way you'll find any more is by finding them in the wild and in chests, or trading from designated traders and other players.

Those wishing to be the next top chef can find food recipes by finding food or plants for the first time, while mod recipes can be found by dismantling a weapon with that mod. If you dismantle a weapon or armour piece in perfect condition, you may even obtain a recipe for that item, but otherwise traders and looting chests seem to be the best way to find them. You can also get a tutorial on how to prepare food and drink by following the main quest-line, which will also reward you with some bonus loot to get you started. Some valuable stuff can be found via treasure maps, so head to our  Fallout 76 treasure maps guide to begin your search in earnest.

Also, if you see any timber, make sure you grab it as wood is required for cooking recipes. Even critters moving around can provide invaluable meat used to make a small snack in a pinch. Bodies of water can be collected and processed to filter out any impurities, so be sure to keep a steady supply.

Fallout 76 guide

Tips for Fallout 76

In addition to the tips above, there are some more general things to keep in mind didn't have their own place. These range from quality of life changes to important changes to core features within Fallout 76 like fast travelling:

  • If you're not happy with how your in-game character looks, you are able to customise their appearance at any time. You don't even need to exit the game first in order to do so.
  • The Pip-Boy always takes up the entire screen, which is fine for a singleplayer experience. But for Fallout 76, this can mean that the world is going on without you, and you could therefore be vulnerable to being attacked. You can toggle your view of the Pip-Boy so that it shows your surroundings a little better when perusing the menus.
  • As this is an online game, make sure to use your quick-slots so you're not navigating through menus to change weapons or heal yourself.
  • For those that just prefer playing Fallout games in third person, this is entirely possible and is done in much the same way as previous games.
  • Tired of the same old loading screens? Photos taken within Photo Mode will be used if you fast travel or any time you would load your character into the world of Fallout 76. So if you want to add that personal touch, get to snapping pictures.
  • If you're looking for general loot, don't worry about other players taking items from containers before you. Since each container is made for that player, only you will be able to loot its contents. Items left out in the open however are a different story, with Bobbleheads, magazines, and Power Armor being primary examples. These items do respawn after a time, so don't be too disheartened if someone else takes it first.
  • Completing mini-challenges is worth doing if you want Atom Points. These are premium currency that are otherwise available to purchase directly at the game's launch, and are used to buy cosmetic items. If you don't want to fork out real cash for atoms, then mini-challenges will be the other way to earn them. More on that in our Fallout 76 challenges guide.
  • Keeping well fed and watered is more important than you might think. You'll certainly be more thirsty than hungry, though neither of the two bars decreases too quickly. You do get a bonus for having both of the bars over 75%, so make sure you've got a steady supply of rations.
  • Fast travelling can now cost caps. You can fast travel anywhere you've visited before, but the further away from your current location it is, the more it will cost you. Have a steady supply of caps for those times where a long trek is just too much to bear.
  • You can fast travel for free to Vault 76, your deployed CAMP, and the location of any player in your party of four.

Fallout 76 guide

Fallout 76 guide series

These should be enough Fallout 76 tips to get you started on your adventure in the outside world, away from the safe confines of Vault 76. We hope you'll check back soon as there's the many quests that the game has throughout the ruined world of Appalachia, what each perk card does, and what you need to craft certain weapons. But for now, do check out the rest of our guides below:

Fallout 76 Wasteland guides

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About the Author
Dave Irwin avatar

Dave Irwin

Former Guides Writer

Dave was a guides writer for Rock Paper Shotgun from 2018-2020. He previously worked as a freelancer for TheSixthAxis, Tech Advisor and Kotaku, producing hundreds of guides to help people get better at their favourite games. He now writes guides for PCGamesN.