I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, given the fact that Fallout is a post-apocalyptic world, but whenever I’m wading through the wasteland, I gotta make sure that not only am I well prepared for all the dangers the new world but I look damn good too.
And since Fallout 4 has more armor customization than any game out there, that’s not a hard feat to accomplish. On the contrary - there are so many choices of attire in Fallout that I have a hard time choosing my outfit! You could go for the Mad Max-esque accouterments that seem to be all the rage with bandits and raiders the wasteland over, or you could go a little upscale and maybe dust off a centuries old suit or two.
But my hard-earned bottle caps are always going to be spent on the best power armor money can buy.
However, not all armors are built the same. There are some real gems waiting out there in the wastes for an adventurer brave enough to go find them, and there are some awful clunkers out there too.
Here are some of the best (and the worst) armor sets you can find in the Commonwealth.
15 BEST: Ballistic Weave Armors
This isn’t actually a single set of armors, but a whole bunch that all have one thing in common: they can be upgraded using ballistic weave.
For those that go down The Railroad’s questline far enough, Tinker Tom will eventually give the Sole Survivor ballistic weave. This workbench upgrade will drastically improve certain pieces of everyday clothing that you come across by giving them insane damage resist bonuses.
The best of the best are outfits that not only accept ballistic weave but will also add additional armor pieces on top of them too. Clothing like Army Fatigues, Military Fatigues, Baseball Uniforms, and the Minuteman Outfit will all accept ballistic weave upgrades while allowing external armor to be worn as well.
14 Worst: Raider Power Armor
I know that if you want to fit in with the locals, it helps to have jagged metal shards poking out from every joint, but Raider Power Armor really is bad. The damage resistance isn’t that much better than ballistic weave, and the energy resistance is actually far less.
Just about the only good thing that can be said about the Raider Power Armor is that it’s easy to repair, only requiring steel for maintenance. Steel is just about the most abundant resource you can find, however, to upgrade the armor you’ll need aluminum which is a lot harder to come by.
You're basically just wasting power cores by using this armor.
13 BEST: X01 Power Armor
The big daddy of power armors is, of course, going to make it pretty high on this list. And why wouldn’t it? The X01 gives you the best defensive stats, the best radiation resistance, and the best HP. Just about the only thing wrong with it is how expensive it can be to maintain, requiring more materials to repair than any other armor out there.
If you want to walk around the Commonwealth as a human tank, the X01 Power Armor is the only way to go. If you can manage to get all the resources together, it's an incredible power fantasy. It's extremely satisfying to put on the gear and stomp around.
12 Worst: DC Guard Armor
I remember when I first set in Diamond City and I saw these guys wandering around, I laughed. I mean, 1930’s era catcher’s armor and a football helmet? How is that going to stop a bullet, much less a laser?
Things don’t get any better when you actually grab some for yourself and get to see the pitiful damage resistances this armor provides. You can build much better for yourself just from raw materials, or you can loot better armor from a raider’s corpse.
Just try not to laugh at the guards as you walk on by. You would want to hurt their feels. It takes time and energy to find the whole lousy set.
11 BEST: Destroyer’s Armor Set
Power armor isn’t the only way to defend yourself. Fallout 4 has some fantastic unique armor plates that you can strap onto just about anything to give yourself a bulwark against random Deathclaw attacks.
Some of the best strap-on armor you can get is the Destroyer’s Armor set. Found in stores all over the Commonwealth, this set is a great way to get reliably good armor with some fantastic bonuses. Using both Destroyer’s leg armor pieces provides a 20% movement speed bonus that lets you zip around the Wastes like you’ve taken a double dose of Jet.
10 Worst: Dirty Trench Coat
There’s a certain style to be had with trench coats - I know that. I know that the Silver Shroud famously has a trench coat and it also looks pretty good. And I know that the trench coat gives a +1 Endurance and +1 Charisma modifier too. And it even can accept ballistic armor to give it some pretty good damage resistance.
But here’s the problem: it can’t take any additional armor pieces, meaning you’re blocked from combining this armor with something like the Destroyer’s set.
Plus it’s dirty. I mean, ew. At least you're preserving a small piece of American suburban history on your shoulders.
9 BEST: Marine Assault Armor
If the maximum defense is your aim, then Marine Assault Armor is your game. Part of the Far Harbor expansion, this armor has the best defensive stats of any non-power armor short of a ballistic weave. When combined with a ballistic woven undercoat, this armor rivals power armor for defense.
There’s also the potential for the Marine Assault Armor to outshine even unique armor, as every armor drop has a chance to spawn with legendary prefixes which provide incredible stat boosts. It may take awhile to farm, but they’re well worth the effort. (Not to mention how phenomenally cool y0u look sporting this gear).
8 Worst: Undershirt & Jeans
If you want to play Fallout 4 on hard mode without actually fiddling with the game settings, try playing with some plain ‘ol undershirt and jeans. They have no damage resistance, no radiation resistance, cannot accept any armor, and give a single +1 to Luck as a stat boost. Which you will need.
Just about the only thing going for it is you get to romp around in jeans and sneakers, which I’m sure is what most of us would prefer to be wearing when hiking. But if I have to deal with Deathclaws and Super Mutants, I’m gonna want something with a little more protection. OK, a lot more protection. In this gear, you're basically one step up from your childhood Pjs.
7 BEST: Acadia’s Shield
Acadia’s Shield may only be a single piece of chest armor, but providing three stat boosts to Intelligence, Endurance, and Agility is something that no other armor piece does. Every other armor will boost two stats at most, but Acadia’s Shield flies in the face of convention and straight onto your torso.
Even though the defensive statistics are not the greatest, in Fallout 4 your inherent stats are far more important than a few points of damage resistance. A single point of added Endurance is worth the trade, and the Agility and Intelligence will go a long way to passing skill tests down the line.
6 Worst: Sack Hood With Straps
Frankly, I’m surprised this is even an option to acquire in-game. Wearing this makes you look like an escapee from an end-of-the-world mental asylum. You’ve got one eye to see through, burlap covering your face so you can’t wear anything like glasses, and leather keeping...something strapped to your face.
I’m actually a little confused as to what that device could be. It gives you a tiny bit of radiation resistance, so it might be a rebreather, but I don’t think it’d be very effective what with the whole thing being made of fabric. Moreover, you basically look like a failed Halloween costume — yikes.
5 BEST: The Dapper Gent
Remember when I said you gotta look good in the Wasteland? Well, there ‘ain't no better way to look good than by wearing a Dapper Gent. The black fedora has a classic timelessness that fits for just about any occasion, be it chatting up some dame it Diamond City to tear-assing from a troop of angry Super Mutants.
On top of a big +2 to Charisma and a 15% damage reduction from robots, the hat also comes with some pretty stellar damage resistance numbers too. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this formal hat. You'll be whistling tunes from the era and tilting your brow to all the wastelanders in no time.
4 BEST: T-60 Power Armor
Runner-up to the X01 is naturally the T-60 Power Armor, which possesses the second best defensive stats in the game. But for me, there are a few reasons I’d pick the T-60 over the X01.
First of all, the T-60 is both easier to find and easier to repair once you have it. When survival in the wastes depends on having supplies on-hand, ease of maintenance cannot be stressed enough. The T-60 can also mount the unique Tesla armor pieces that provide a massive damage boost to all energy based weapons.
Best of all, the T-60 is the heaviest armor that can be painted with the Atom Cats paint job, which significantly reduces the action points lost due to running. Combine the Atom Cats paint with the jetpack, and the T-60 is the most mobile armor in the wastes.
3 Worst: Trapper Armor
The Far Harbour expansion grew the Fallout 4 arsenal with a lot of fantastic armors and weapons. And it also gave us Trapper Armor.
Let’s break this outfit down. You’re wearing old tires, bent and twisted pier steel, and a lobster trap on your head. You can only see what’s directly in front of you since you’re wearing a lobster trap on your head, and you have to be careful not to stab everyone around you with tetanus-infecting rusty metal. So basically you're about as potent a threat as an actual lobster ...
Oh, and it's stats are crap too.
2 Worst: Cappy Glasses
So I said earlier that most glasses in the Fallout universe give you a +1 Perception bonus for wearing them. All except these. The Cappy Glasses give you nothing. That’s right: nothing. You’ve just got bottle caps on your face. You’re like a walking advertisement for Nuka-Cola and a 1960s campaign to convince high schoolers not to smoke the reefer. Thy also happen to look like 2/3 of a crummy fidget spinner — so it's all bad news.
It doesn’t even provide any damage resistance. All it does is take up 0.2 of your weight capacity. And make you look like an idiot.
1 BEST: Operator's Goggles
Long-time players of the Fallout series know that you should always be wearing glasses whether you need them or not. The reason being is that nearly every pair of glasses out there gives a +1 Perception bonus.
I know when I wear someone else’s glasses I can barely see in front of my nose, but that’s beside the point.
Found in the Nuka-World expansion, the Operator’s Goggles not only give a plus to your perception, but in a first for Fallout also give damage resistance as well. And you can still wear a fancy hat on top of them too.