In a post-apocalyptic Boston, you are but a lonely wanderer traveling the Commonwealth looking for your son. Your journey takes you from city to city, fighting battle after battle, and talking your way out of trouble (or into it) but, more than anything, you’re taken to a personal playground with hours of content to unleash however you please. Some ways to kill time are obvious at first and will present themselves linearly if you just follow the story but others, the more rewarding ones, hide in the shadows waiting for you to uncover them.
This isn’t a design philosophy unique to Fallout 4, Bethesda has been doing this for years. Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim all feature countless secrets that make them worth revisiting years and generations later. As Fallout 4 is newer, that surely means there’s content still to be found. It’s unlikely you’ll find every single detail in one playthrough, and that’s fantastic.
The best kind of games are the ones that keep you coming back because they keep on giving you reasons to. Your playthrough of Fallout 4 wasn’t the same as mine, and mine wasn’t the same as your friend’s, and your friend’s his friend’s. In many ways, Fallout 4 is the ultimate water cooler game where you can just trade secrets and tips with each other as everyone experiences Boston in a different way. Fallout 4 is far from being completely found out but what has been found lends itself to a level of excitement that’ll keep the post-apocalyptic RPG alive for years to come.
15 You Can Play The Original Donkey Kong
If you’re one of those rare breeds that gets the urge to play the original 1981 arcade Donkey Kong while traversing the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Fallout then, boy, do I have some great news for you. Just find the Red Menace holodisk in Vault 111, bust out that Pip-Boy, open up the misc. tab, and save Vault Girl from Communist China Donkey Kong by jumping over bombs and barrels.
Plenty of games have done the Donkey Kong mini-game reference before, but Red Menace’s sheer absurdity makes its inclusion all the more worthwhile. It takes the Pip-Boy to a new level of interactivity, creating a game within a game with context and framing that’s never felt more natural. There’s something calming about trying to best your high score while taking an occasional break from finding your son. In a way, though, isn’t Vault Girl the son you’ve really been looking for all along?
14 You Can Herd Your Settlers
Settlements were advertised as one of Fallout 4’s biggest new features. But between Preston’s constant neediness and your settlers generally ignoring all the nice houses you’ve built for them, it can be a bit difficult to immerse yourself in a settlement you’ve spent countless hours working on. Still, you can have some fun with it if you get a bit creative.
First thing’s first, you need some wood and steel. Once you’re set, just craft them into a bell. Now you can have some fun. Wherever you put that bell, settlers will flock to it when you ring it. And not just some settlers, but every settler. You can make their lives a living hell by plopping that bell down in weird or dangerous location. They are your sheep, and they flock to you whenever you call for them. Plus, it makes assigning jobs super easy.
13 You Can Get An Extra SPECIAL Point
SPECIAL, it’s the cornerstone of the Fallout franchise that makes your character who they are. The sheer customization available thanks to the SPECIAL system makes the Fallout character creator one of the most dynamic and immersive ones currently on the market. Whether you’re looking for some classic role-playing or efficiency, every SPECIAL point will have loads of value, which makes finding extra ones in the wild all the more impacting.
As soon as you meet exit Vault 111 and meet Codsworth, head back to your home from the beginning of the game and go to your son Sean’s room. There, simply interact with his “You’re SPECIAL” book, and you’ll be given a free SPECIAL point to allocate where you please. In any Fallout game, this would be an incredible boon to find so early, but Fallout 4 makes it all the more important due to how few SPECIAL points you start out with.
12 You Can Listen To A Pleasant Bedtime Story
If there’s one thing Bethesda does better than most developers out there, it’s giving their audience something they had no idea they’d been yearning after for so long. The New Squirrel is Fallout 4’s answer to bedtime, and it might be one of the best holodisks available in the entire canon.
Found in Fiddler’s Green Trailer Estates, The New Squirrel is a magical adventure about a young squirrel named Ricky and his friendship with a red squirrel. A beautiful story told in three acts, The New Squirrel has an ending, and message, you’re sure to never forget.
11 You Can Go On A Rocket Fueled Frenzy
With how many weapons Fallout 4 gives you, you can turn your journey to find your son into something so much more: a circus of explosions. Look, your kidnapped infant son is probably fine; there’s no reason why you can’t just step off the beaten path for a bit. And I know just the spot for you to wind down after a long day on the Commonwealth.
Northeast of Relay Tower 0BB-915, there’s a little wooden shed full of gas canisters and homemade rocket launchers. Simply place a canister on the launcher, shoot its backside, and watch it fly and plummet into a soothing explosion. Do be careful, though, because one wrong shot can mean a canister spiraling out of control, slamming into the shed, and setting off all the other rockets. But maybe that’s exactly the therapeutic cleansing you needed to do, all along.
10 You Can, And Should, Counter Grenades With VATS
One of the biggest things Fallout 4 brings to the table is the revamped combat. More than ever, gunplay feels incredibly smooth and fast-paced, to the point where it can be easy to forget that VATS is available at the click of a button. While it’s certainly possible to get through the game without relying on VATS, it adds an element of strategy unique to Fallout.
Perhaps the best way to make good use out of VATS is by utilizing it as a counter mechanism. When an enemy lobs a grenade or other equally upsetting explosive at you, your gut reaction might be to find cover, but you’re better off opening VATS and shooting it right out of the air. If you’re quick enough, you could catch the grenade right as it's being thrown and blow up any enemies in the vicinity. Realistic? Not really, but efficient? Oh, absolutely.
9 You Can Pair Lone Wanderer With Dogmeat
As it’s one of the better perks in the game —by decreasing how much damage you take and increasing your weight load by a minimum of 50 and maximum of 100— Lone Wanderer is absolutely worth investing in. It does come with one disadvantage: you can’t have a partner. For some players, this might not be a big deal. Going solo in Fallout is a very legitimate strategy, and maybe you don’t want the baggage of looking after party members. For others, it’s a bit of a blow, but there is a workaround if you’re a dog lover.
For whatever reason, Fallout 4 does not recognize Dogmeat as a companion which means you can keep your dog adventuring with you while also sporting one of the best perks available. He’s not much for conversation, but he can still pack a punch during a fight, and it’s always a pleasant experience traveling with man’s best friend.
8 You Can Use VATS As A Radar
In the same vein as using VATS to knock grenades out of the sky, you can also use VATS to find any explosives or traps in your immediate area. Fallout 4’s Boston is incredibly detailed which means it can be hard to process every single piece of visual information you’re given on any given screen. Sometimes, it’s just too tough picking out all those little things waiting around the corner to kill you. That’s where VATS comes in.
If you’re feeling unsure in any given area, VATS can be a literal lifesaver. It’ll pause the game and make traps, explosives, and enemies glow so that you can take a breath and plan an appropriate course of action. Most people rely on VATS entirely for combat, but there are legitimate reasons to be using it constantly. Fallout is designed with the quick breaks in mind so use your VATS and don’t accidentally stand on a landmine just because you thought you saw some bottlecaps near it.
7 You Can Shutdown Power Armored Enemies By Pickpocketing Them
Thanks to the updated combat Fallout 4 is sporting, enemies need to be able to pack some extra heat. Power Armored foes have a ton of health, they do a ton a ton of damage, and they are absolutely relentless. Finding yourself staring down the barrel of a power armored enemy’s gun is practically a death sentence if you aren’t good at the game. But who says violence is the end all be all?
If you’ve got enough points in stealth and know what you’re doing, you can actually sneak up behind a power armored enemy and pickpocket their fusion core to disable their armor immediately making them easy picking. You can also shoot their fusion core with VATS if you’re good enough, but then you don’t get the added benefit of owning an extra fusion core.
6 You Can Visit The Cheers Bar
If you’ve ever visited Boston, and care about popular 1980s sitcoms, you’ve probably either visited the Cheers bar or at least recognized the fact that it existed. In their quest to make a post-apocalyptic Boston as accurate as possible, Bethesda has spent painstaking hours replicating the city’s many nuances. One of the nicest details being their recreated Cheers bar.
Located in Fallout 4’s Back Bay, the Prost bar is an unmarked landmark that perfectly replicates the feeling of entering the real Cheers bar in Boston, right down to John Ratzenberger’s skeleton in the corner of the bar.
There’s not much in the way of loot besides a couple of grenades, but the attention Bethesda has put into recreating a Boston and sitcom landmark is truly splendid. You won’t be getting any of the clever back and forth the show is known for, but you’ll still be getting a chance to take in some local history. Explore Beacon Hill and Boston Common, and go someplace where everybody knows your name.
5 You Can Celebrate Christmas
There’s something truly special about a holiday being acknowledged in a video game. It’s like a special episode of your favorite show. All the characters take a break from whatever’s going on and join in on the festivities. You know that they’ll be back where they were next episode but, for a moment, you can enjoy a brief respite. If you pay attention to Fallout 4’s in-game date you’ll have the chance to experience a holiday special of your own.
On December 25, head to Diamond City and revel in a Christmas themed Fenway Park. The streets are lit up with ornaments and colorful lights to celebrate the birth of Santa Claus and partake in the general spirit of goodness associated with the holiday. There’s really not much else to do besides takes it all in but sometimes that’s more than enough. (Bonus: Head to Diamond City on October 31st.)
4 You Can Go Bowling
Bowling: the best sport. It challenges your hand-eye coordination, how fast you can throw, and how much bowling alley beer you can drink before you admit to yourself that, no, it wasn’t worth $10. If you’ve ever gotten the urge to test your ball chucking skills in Fallout universe, Bethesda’s about to give you everything you’ve ever wanted.
At Back Alley Bowling in the General Atomics Galleria, you’ll find Tenpin, a Mist Handy, who will offer you a game of bowling for the cheap price of $5000. Now, you can pay him the money with enough pre-war cash, but the lanes aren’t actually up and running, so it’s a bit of a waste to pay the fee. With the lanes down, you’re effectively resigned to knocking down each set of pins once so make a backup save just in case you really want to come back here later.
3 You Can Exploit The Fusion Core Market
Fusion cores are basically your all purpose battery for power armor so once they’re drained, you won’t be using that precious armor. Thankfully, they’re not too rare, but it’s still easy to find yourself without a core when you really need one. If you have a core that’s about to run out of juice (they only last for twenty minutes real time) with no way to recharge it, then you might feel compelled to just deplete it entirely. Resist that urge, because there’s money in that juiceless core.
So long as there’s even 1% of power left in that fusion core, it can be sold for full price to a merchant. The Commonwealth citizens can’t tell the difference between a full core and a near empty one making a barely full fusion core a helpful 100+ bottle caps in a pinch. It’s not exactly fair bartering but who can blame you in the wasteland?
2 You Can Visit The Ship From JAWS
Ah, The Orca, the finest fishing vessel known to man. It's located outside of Oberland Station for whatever reason, instead of in New York like in the book but, hey, Jaws was filmed in Massachusetts so we should cut Bethesda some slack here. Unlike the Cheers bar, The Orca isn’t something you’re going to find on a regular tour of Boston but rather something exclusive to Fallout 4. Its inclusion is simple —like most Easter eggs are— but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
You won’t be able to explore the entirety of The Orca, unfortunately, but you can find a machete and a reference to the film in place. On the dock, there’s a giant mutated shark on the dead on the boat next to a skeleton that very much references Robert Shaw’s character from Jaws, Quint, the captain of The Orca. Hangout with a skeleton, play with your new machete, and take in the beautiful open seas of Oberland Station.
1 You Can Visit One Of The Series’ More Disturbing Vaults
In the depths of the Malden Middle School lies Vault 75, one of the most upsetting and downright freaky vaults in the entire Fallout canon. There are plenty of unnerving vault backstories found in other games, but Vault 75 really takes the cake with the sheer level of depravity and implications present.
Students were invited with their families to enter the vault when the bombs dropped but, shortly upon entering, all adults were killed by the security staff. The kids were then forced to undergo torture and several grueling exercises to ensure only the strongest genes would live on. At the age of 18, the children would “graduate” and be sectioned off. Some would be “harvested” for their genes, the smarter ones would join the scientists in charge, the weaker ones were killed, and some of the “harvested” children would be killed after the fact anyways. Vault 75 is one of Fallout 4’s darkest points, and nothing echoes that more than walking through the halls of a broken safe house where childhood and innocence were all but erased for a failed experiment.