WIP – This page is a work-in-progress. It’s not perfect, but it’s (probably) better than nothing.
Spoilers are generally avoided. While some things are mentioned (the game has been out for a long time now, and this is a guide, after all), no plot points will be discussed here, so don’t worry about having things spoiled for you.
Also note that this is a guide for a game. Games are meant to be fun. While this guide is intended to give some tips towards an efficient start to the game, if you don’t want to play efficiently, that’s cool. Enjoy games your way.
IN THE BEGINNING…
Fallout 76 is an expansive game, and I’ve had several friends tell me how intimidated they were when getting started. Those familiar with the series will know that, while there’s always been plenty of freedom with exploration, this is the first real online game (yes, there have been multiplayer and online features in the past, but nothing on this scale). With this being an online game in a more or less shared world changes the pacing and possibly the priorities players have getting started. With that in mind, here are some helpful hints for beginning Fallout 76. Please note that if you’re looking for guides on leveling up fast, gearing up your character, etcetera, we’ll (hopefully) have more guides that focus on those later.
First off, as with many online games, Fallout 76 is a server-based game, but there are no persistent servers, so you don’t have to worry about picking the “right” server for your playstyle, or to be able to join friends. You can join friends, they can join you, or, if you or a friend have Fallout 1st (a premium service) you can play on private servers by yourself or with your best buds. When you log out, your character and base get packed up, so you don’t have to worry about anything happening while you’re offline.
For those of us who are terribad at character creation, it’s nice to know that (as is common) there are several preset default characters to pick from, but also, even after you save your choices, you can change everything about your character but their name at any point, for free. So if you don’t want to stress over making your toon look perfect right now, don’t worry about it.
After you finish creating your character, the game starts a steady stream of minor tutorials at you. You can skip most of them, but some are worth doing to learn the ropes, and others provide functional benefits. For example, in your room in Vault 76, you can sleep in the bed to receive a temporary XP buff. You can play the guitar for a temporary bonus to your AP (action points, kinda like mana or stamina). You can also jump on the computer and either play the holotape game, or eject it and take it with you so you can play it later (there’s an achievement tied to holotape games, if you’re into that). After you grab your Pip-Boy, you can follow the trail of minor goodies leading out of the vault. It’s not a big deal of you skip picking these up, but free loot is great.
WHILE YOU’RE AT IT…
We’ll get to the main objectives in a moment, but there are a few things that you’ll want to get in the habit of doing regardless of what else you’re up to.
If you’re like many of us, when you jump into a game like this, you want to get everything, and you want it now. Go for good stuff if you want, but don’t feel like you have to rush it. While you’re leveling, you’ll swap out gear regularly, so don’t sweat getting the ultimate legendary gear right off the bat. When you get closer to level 50 (the highest level for gear), then you’ll want to start amassing that sweet, sweet loot. For now, just enjoy the journey, and push for getting to level 50.
Set Valuable Scrap for Search
Okay, that may not make sense right away, but you can go into you Pip-Boy menu and mark valuable scrap as desirable (like adhesive, screws, aluminum, etc). After you’ve set it, whenever you find junk in the world that contains those things, it’ll show a magnifying glass to let you know you should grab that.
Sell Stuff – Make Caps
Whether you’re using the vendor machine at your camp to sell items to other players, or selling items to NPC vendors at train stations, make sure to be regularly selling, so you have a regular source of spending money. You can currently sell up to 1400 caps worth of items to NPC vendors every day. That amount doesn’t reset on a game clock, but 20 hours from when you, personally, sold the first thing to the vendor. If you’re looking to buy something from a vendor, preferably sell something first, because a portion of what you spend at vendors goes back into their cap pool. That means you can sell them even more of your worthless garbage! Yay!
Learn to Manage Weight
Inventory management. The bane of my existence. So many games make this such a painful part of the game that one would think we’d have learned how to handle this, but it still bears saying. Figure out what you want to keep, and what you can live without. Scrap heavy junk items into much lighter scrap. Regularly go to vendors. If you don’t need it, and you can’t sell it, then just drop it.
Join the Team!
Even if you’re a lone wolf, maybe consider joining a team, at least once in a while. First, some perks and mutations (Yes, you freak!) gain extra efficacy when you’re grouped up. Also, team members can (if they’re not jerks) share perks with their teammates, making everyone stronger. Some of the daily challenges also require (at least momentarily) joining a team. Beyond that, an update in August 2020 enabled Public Teams, which grant even more bonuses for being in a team, and simultaneously removed some potential griefing activities (for example, in a regular team, teammates can build in each other’s camps, but not in a public team. You don’t have to worry about what StudMuffin2593 is writing in neon lights on the side of your house).
Events Are Your Friends
Sure, you may have real friends, but unless they’re giving you loads of XP, loot, and frantic combat, they’ve got nothing on events. Most of the events are worth doing, and the public events (which give you a pop-up notification) even allow free fast travel, which is handy while you’re still getting up to speed. Also, most public events allow for really cool social interactions where you group up with the rest of the server to fight the latest monstrosity to plague Appalachia, while snapping pics and sharing loot. Yeah, not everybody you’ll run across is cool, but most of the community is great, and events highlight that.
While you may feel like you’re too cool for scouts, joining up with them provides some fantastic perks and cosmetics, especially if you’re not planning on stomping around in power armor for the rest of your in-game life. For example, you can earn a craftable backpack that increases your defenses AND adds to your carry weight. Further ranking up and merit badges can help you unlock mods for your backpack that can make it even more useful for how you play. And, conveniently, we already have a series of guides for the merit badges to make your life easier.
WHAT’S IN A STORY?
There are multiple major and minor storylines in Fallout 76, and while you can generally do them in virtually any order you want, there are some things which are easier or make more sense to do before others. Again, while we’ll include some details, we’ll be avoiding major spoilers, and mostly providing general guidelines. Please note that (note entirely dissimilar to other Fallout games), much of the storytelling is done through computer terminals, and a significant amount is through audio recordings on holotapes. When you get to Flatwoods (we’ll talk more about that later), they kinds throw too many of these at you at once. If this is your first time playing, it’s probably best to stop and listen to the tapes before moving on. If you don’t, and you pick up another holotape, you’ll miss the rest of what the first one was saying. This isn’t a problem in most areas of the game, but is a big issue in Flatwoods.
If you complete these story missions in the intended order, one mission line will automatically send you off to start on the next, so it’s not hard to follow. Having said that, you don’t have to do them in the intended order, and occasionally, it’s probably better to jump ahead a bit.
This is kind of an overarching storyline, and you’ll be touching on this intermittently throughout your ventures through all of the others. Don’t ignore this, but don’t necessarily try to rush through it either. Just complete it as you’re completing everything else. I guess it’s worth noting that there is the official and original story, her personal story, and then the new Wastelanders story, but for all intents and purposes, you’ll still be handling them the same way.
This is a great early questline that was introduced with the Wastelanders update. While we’re mentioning it before The Responders storyline, we recommend doing them both simultaneously, or doing The Responders storyline first. Either way, This is centered in early and easy areas of the map, and so it’s good for experience, a bit of loot, and an introduction to the game. It’s also a decent story in and of itself, so enjoy it whenever you get around to it. These quests take place in The Forest region.
While this minor set of quests has been in the game since launch, it was given extra emphasis later, to help players gain more levels and get more story before getting into the harder areas of the map. This is a good thing to do after you finish the stories for The Responders and The Wayward.
The Responders are the first of the factions you’re introduced to in Fallout 76, and their story covers the vast majority of the tutorials, as well as getting you set with good early gear. We highly recommend doing this first. It’ll help you learn the game, help you get some levels under your belt, and set up the rest of the story for the game. These quests are primarily set in The Forest region with a little bit of Ash Heap thrown in there.
The Raiders questline can be done immediately if you want, but again, we’d recommend finishing all of the previous segments before this, both from a story perspective, as well as from a character progression standpoint. This series of quests takes place in The Savage Divide.
We’re going to break slightly from the logical order here, and suggest that you start the missions for The Enclave at the same time as the Raiders, or slightly afterward. From a story perspective, you should do these ones at the end, but there are significant benefits to starting this as early as reasonable. so that’s why we’re putting this here.
The Free States
The next faction you’ll meet is the Free States, centered in The Mire region of Appalachia. This is the first place where players who have rushed through often find themselves unprepared. Make sure you’re leveled and geared enough, unless you’re a masochist, in which case, have a blast!
The Brotherhood of Steel
In the south end of The Mire, and in the Cranberry Bog you’ll get a taste for what the Brotherhood of Steel was doing in Appalachia. This is the most difficult region of the map, so come prepared.
The Raiders/Foundation (Wastelanders)
These are new storylines added with the Wastelanders update. From a story perspective, it makes sense to do this after you’ve finished everything else. On the other hand, it’s beneficial to start grinding reputation with these factions as early as you can. But then again, there are certain hurdles you can’t pass with these factions until you’ve cleared specific portions of the main storyline, and other benefits from main-story progress as well, so it’s really up to you. Our recommendation is to save these for last, but whatever floats your boat.
There are some other minor questlines that are great for when you’re looking for something to do, but don’t really fit into the main story. Some of these can be accessed by clicking posters at a train station, or occasionally in the camps of other players, some you just have to stumble across.
If you’ve gotten to that point, you should already be level 50 (or pretty close to it), and everything the game has to offer will be open to you. If you’re a traditional single-player gamer, and you don’t have much interest