Fallout: A Brief Guide for Newcomers

Image by Flickr user: Kenneth DM (cc)

Only two more days until we finally get another chance to dive into the world of Fallout! It’s amazing how quickly we’ve gone from that surprise E3 announcement to being only days away from getting our hands on the game, isn’t it? For those who will be getting their first introduction to this series through Fallout 4, or who might be nervous about starting with Fallout 4, you don’t need to worry about missing anything important. Aside from a few references here and there, the Fallout games are mostly disconnected from one another. There’s no overarching plot that you need to catch up on, and no major characters you need to know about. Going in fresh should work out perfectly fine for you. However, if you don’t want to go in completely blind and would like to at least have a basic familiarity with the Wasteland before jumping in, then I believe I can be of some assistance. Please read on for a quick primer on the Wasteland and how to survive it.

The Wasteland

Needless to say, the Wasteland is an incredibly inhospitable place to live. It’s absolutely infested with all manner of mutated creatures, all of which are hostile to everything and everyone. Your survival in these wastes is entirely dependent upon realizing just where you rate on the wasteland food chain. In the beginning, you’ll be near the bottom. Stick to the roads (since they’re mostly clear) and do your best to engage single enemies rather than groups. However, if you happen to run into a Deathclaw or a Cazador then your only hope is to turn-tail and book it out of there! Both of these enemy types are
manageable at higher levels, but your chances of winning are minuscule if your’re just starting out. Oh, and one more thing: stay away from areas with radioactive waste lying around. It attracts some of the nastier baddies in the wastes, and you just don’t want to have to deal with that in the early days of your wasteland adventures.

Guns, Lasers, Bombs, and Fisticuffs

Self-defense is absolutely essential in that nation-wide death trap known as the wasteland. So the question isn’t whether or not you’re going to need to defend yourself, but is instead how you’re going to go about it when you’re inevitably attacked. In the past, just about every approach was a viable means for dispatching any enemy. However, first timers will probably be better off taking out their foes with good ol’ fashioned guns and ammo. Guns are typically easy to find, and the ammo is plentiful too. It’s the perfect option for new players who don’t know the ins and outs of building a character for melee or energy weapons. Still, just know that if you’d really rather just punch everything to death or vaporize it, then you can rest assured that Fallout will give you all the tools you need to do just that. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to combat.


No matter where your travels in the Wastes take you, you’re certain to come across at least some of these organizations. Some will offer quests and provide much needed supplies, while others are only interested in seeing you dead. Major factions include:

The Brotherhood of Steel

The Brotherhood of Steel is a closed-off society that have charged themselves with the task of recovering Old World technology and keeping it out the “wrong” hands. It sounds like a noble goal, but unfortunately the Brotherhood defines “the wrong hands” as anyone who isn’t in the Brotherhood of Steel. They are generally a neutral faction in that they don’t normally participate in local conflicts. Their only goal is acquiring new technology. So, as long as you don’t attack them, they’ll be perfectly happy to leave you alone as well. Still, if you’d like a set of that nifty power armor that most of them wear, they have been known to take in outsiders from time to time; provided that they prove their worth first of course.

The Enclave

The Enclave are descended from the remnants of the old United States government. They have highly advanced technology, the knowledge to use it, and are extremely hostile towards anyone who isn’t in the Enclave as well. Their original goal was to “cleanse” the wasteland of all mutated or irradiated creatures and people in order to make it suitable for the Enclave to re-settle it. However, in recent years the Enclave has been largely destroyed, and indeed has not exhibited any major activity since their major bases on the east and west coasts were destroyed. No one has been able to completely confirm their annihilation though, so it you happen to spot someone in some unusual power armor, either engage with caution or steer clear of ’em.


The New California Republic has been growing stronger and stronger over the past couple of years. As their name suggests, they’re in control of much of what was once California, but it goes further than that. As they’ve expanded, they’ve also captured territory in Nevada as well. As it stands, their reach extends all the way to New Vegas and the Hoover Dam. They’re a west coast faction, so it’s doubtful that they’ll be encountered in force within the Boston wasteland. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter a scout or two. If you do happen across a scout, don’t worry. NCR is not a hostile faction by default, so you should be fine if you keep your conversation amiable.


“Raiders” is a blanket term for the countless gangs of ne’er do wells you’ll encounter during your travels. With few exceptions, they cannot be negotiated with and must be dealt with accordingly. Their aim is almost always to kill you and take your stuff, so make sure that they don’t do that. Raiders are pretty weak when compared to most other enemies you’ll encounter in the wasteland, so don’t be afraid to engage them if they decide to try and make you their next victim.

Notable Critters

We’ve already mentioned the two deadliest creatures to be found out there, but a bit more detail couldn’t hurt right?


Long-considered to be the deadliest horrors to be found in the wasteland, Deathclaws are indeed a force to be reckoned with. They’re tall, fast, muscular, and have long-claws that are sharp enough to penetrate all but the toughest armor. They also posess an incredibly keen sense of awareness, so unless you’re looking at it through a high-powered sniper scope, by the time you see a Deathclaw it’s already too late. The tips for dealing with Deathclaws are:

1) Deal with them at extreme range

2) If you aren’t able to deal with them at range then quickly cripple their legs.

3) If you aren’t able to quickly cripple their legs, RUN!


Cazador aren’t terrible to deal with on their own, but thissue is that Cazadors are never alone. They’ll almost always be encountered near a hive, and when they aren’t they almost travel as a group of 3. Cazadors hit hard, are unpredictable, and are extremely poisonous. They’re traditionally found in the Mojave desert, but it was hinted that they could travel east if they were so inclined, so if you see a giant and extremely angry-looking wasp buzzing around, you’ll know what to do. Unless they’re blocking the path towards your objective, there should be no reason to ever engage a Cazador. Just leave ’em be.

If you must engage them however. You’re going to want either an assault rifle or combat shotgun to compensate for their erratic movements. If you can, try crippling their wings in order to hamper their movement.


These are the horrifying result of bears being exposed to too much radiation. They’re less agile than Deathclaws, but don’t let that fool you. Yao-Guai are just as deadly as Deathclaws and are even more durable. Be wary of them when entering caves and the like, otherwise you might just become a tasty treat. If you must engage them, shoot them in the face with a high-powered combat shotgun. If there’s more than one, you’ll either want a minigun or a plasma caster.


The term “abomination” is also quite fitting for this creature. It is the sad result of a human (or even several) humans getting exposed to radiation and something known as the Forced Evolution Virus (FEV). Centaurs are horrifying masses of flesh with entirely too many limbs. They can be found working with other mutants and in areas where a great deal of radioactive waste has been dumped out in the wastes. They are slow-moving, but are also durable. Their primary attack is to spit a poisonous…something at you from range, or whipping you with the tendrils they have instead of tongues. Do not engage them without a healthy supply of Rad-X, RadAway, and stimpacks. Combat shotguns and plasma rifles are probably your best bet against these…things…


Mirelurk are tall monstrosities that vaguely resemble horse-shoe crabs. You can find them in and near irradiated streams and ponds, from which they typically won’t stray too far. If you’re going to engage a mirelurk, then make sure to do so with a powerful combat shotgun. They are heavily armored everywhere but in their eyes, so unless you can hit that eye you might as well not even bother. Flamethrowers are also highly effective.

Finally, there’s the Lakelurk. It’s supposedly a different species of lurk, but the two associate quiet closely, with mirelurks almost acting as guards and workers for lakelurks. If your character is still at a low-level then be prepared for a tough fight. Lakelurks don’t have the armor of a mirelurk, but their capacity for offensive combat has been increased to compensate. End the fight quickly if you can, because when they hit you, they hit HARD. Make sure to bring armor, Med-X, and Stimpaks if you plan on taking one down. Combat shotguns and flamethrowers are also going to be your best friends against these guys as well.

Super Mutants

These guys are somewhere between a feral creature and a hostile faction; they could be a faction but behavior varies between types and even individuals. Super Mutants typically stand between 10 and 12 feet tall depending on the type you’re dealing with. Most have a greenish-yellow skin tone, and all posses extreme physical strength and stamina. Most Super Mutants are very quick to anger, possess little intelligence, and are hostile to just about everything.

These are among the most powerful adversaries you’ll encounter in the Wasteland, so I’d advise avoiding them while your character is at level 10 or lower. If you must engage them however, then here are some tips:

1). Engage them at range if possible.

Most super mutants favor melee tactics, and will do their best to rush over and bash your skull in. If possible, do so from an elevated position that they can’t easily reach. Preemptively clearing them out an area at range will not only give you a head start on damaging them, but will also give you the chance to gauge their numbers. Super Mutants are rarely by themselves, usually moving in groups of at least 3.

2.) Take out the lesser mutants first

Most super mutants run in for the melee attack, but the older and more powerful ones will be content to sit back and shoot at you with miniguns, flamethrowers, or even plasma casters. If you spot a mutant with one of these weapons, you should still try to take them at range, but do from a position with plenty of cover since you’ll still need to clear out the melee guys before you can engage the big one.

3.) Use overwhelming force

Rocket launchers, mini-nukes, sniper rifles, and plasma casters. Don’t hesitate to bring out the big guns when confronting super mutants. It takes quite a lot to bring these guys down on the normal and higher difficulties. So if you’ve got it, use it! If you don’t want to use it, then find a way around the encounter.

A note: not all super mutants are hostile. Several individuals, and even groups have retained enough intelligence to deal amicably with others. So you don’t necessarily have to shoot them on sight, just be ready to do so if you’re reasonably sure that they’re hostile.

Other Tips for Beginners

Other than being careful about who and what you run into, I do have a couple more pieces of Fallout wisdome to share:

1.) Don’t be afraid to explore!
Once you’ve gotten a feel for the types of enemies are in the area, don’t be afraid to explore. The world of Fallout is filled to the brim with secrets to find and loot to plunder. If you don’t go out of your way to exploreyou’re going to miss a lot of it.

2.) Be opportunistic when filling in your map!
While you’re exploring a major point on your map, do your best to discover as many local map markers as possible. You’re going to be spending a lot of time trekking back and forth in the wasteland, so it’s absolutely worth your while to unlock fast travel points as you go. Believe me, it’s going to save you a ton of time as you get into the later portions of the game.

3.) Save Often!

Since each Fallout game is largely disconnected from the rest, there isn’t much else that you “need to know” before jumping with Fallout 4. Really all it takes to play Fallout is a willingness to explore and learning when retreat is the best option.

What are you most looking forward to with the new Fallout game? If you’re new to the series, what about Fallout 4 has convinced you to jump in?


  1. This is just the kind of article I need! I play a lot of Elder Scrolls, got really addicted to Skyrim, but know very little about the Fallout series. However, I’m really excited to dig in to Fallout 4 this month! This is a great starter. 🙂


    1. Hatm0nster says:

      I’m glad it was helpful! I remember being really intimidated by the sheer scale of Fallout 3, and probably would have had difficulty getting started if I hadn’t had a strategy guide.

      Also, I’ve added a section on Super Mutants to the post. They’re rather important to Fallout so it’s probably worth giving it a look.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I will take a look now. =)


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