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9 hidden mechanics Fallout 4 never tells you about

Fallout 4 carries on that great tradition of Bethesda RPGs: it’s huge. Overwhelming huge, in fact. When you take your first step out into the newly-obliterated wilderness, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was one of the biggest open-world games out there. A cursory look at the map shows you just how much space you have left to uncover. And when you consider a large swathe of those landmarks are dungeons with their own maps, the scale magnifies again. Fallout 4, unarguably, is huge.

A side-effect of this monstrous size is that a few basic gameplay mechanics that Bethesda smuggled into the game simply don’t get communicated to the player. That’s not to throw shade at the developer – Bethesda does a lot of on-boarding in the RPG very well indeed! – it’s just that there are so many mechanics that some understandably fall through the cracks. We’re here to help you understand those and better explain some elements of the game that the developers simply brushed over in the early hours of the title.

Looking for more help with Fallout 4? Check out our other guides:

Cover System

On first glance, Fallout appears to be one of those cruel shooters where your character's full range of motion is either bolt upright or gnarled crouch, while Raiders contort into cover, blind firing and probably laughing at your bracketed knee joints. Then someone worked out there's a full cover system the game never actually tells you about.

As explained here (opens in new tab), when you walk next to corner, your gun will dip - your quiet visual cue that you're now technically in cover. Hit your iron sights (LT/L2/Right Mouse) and you'll see that your character now leans out of cover like some kind of actual human scared for their compromised safety in a sudden hailstorm of ordinance. Useful!


Chief among my interests in Bethesda games is taking advantage of the developers peerless commitment to junk and using the Grab function to make new pursuits for myself. I enjoy making tottering piles of weaponry, like my character is some kind of medieval ATF agent, or filling a room with stomachs. When I turned on Fallout 4, I thought my time of experimentation was over - the old right stick click no longer did the job.

Thankfully, the buttons simply been swapped, so I can still complete my bone palace - hold your interact button (A/X/E), and whatever interactive item you're pointing at will suddenly begin to float, letting you reposition it at will. With Fallout enemies' new tendency to come running after hearing you clatter over a kitchen's worth of Old World saucepans, it can even be a handy stealth option - just grab any obstacles and pop them down out of clumsy foot range.


Unless lit by bioluminescent fungus or angry, oxygen-slurping Molotov flames, odds are that most of Fallouts more hostile indoor locations will be pretty dark. Given a general lack of electrical generators and a wish to get the jump on hardy wanderers like yourself, enemies tend to hide in shadows. Time to smoke them out.

Turns out, your centuries-old Pip-Boy has one more trick upon its well-moulded sleeve. Hold the button to bring up your menu (B/Circle/Tab) and you'll begin emitting nuclear-powered light (in a lovely touch, its co-ordinated with whatever UI colour you've chosen). Every suit of Power Armour comes with its own headlamp - and you can change what kind of light you want by heading to the Helmet section in a Power Armour crafting station.

Supply Lines

If you're going to spend time building a sizeable settlement this is, if not essential, then really, really, really, very, really helpful. Grab the first rank of the Local Leader perk (it's in the Charisma section) and you'll be able to send supply caravans from one settlement to another. That might not mean much, but let me ask you - have you ever tried to build a Radio Transmitter and been told you don't have a crystal, because you stored it in a workshop 50 miles away? This solves the inevitable rage-destruction.

Supply caravans mean that connected settlements pool their Workshop contents - enter Workshop mode, highlight a spare Settler, and you'll see an option for Supply Line pop up at the bottom of the screen. Hit the button and choose which settlement to send them to - as soon as their name changes to Provisioner you'll be able to share resources. My tip - Sanctuary comes with a ton of wood and steel, making it the ideal place to pair with any fledgling settlement.

Holster Weapon

I basically use this one for screenshotting, so perhaps not essential stuff but, and I hope you'll agree with me on this, it is a thing that exists. Completing the triumvirate of long button press actions (sadly, holding the jump button doesn't make you fly, or suplex NPCs or something), holding the reload button (X/Square/R) has your character put away their gun which, if anything, makes conversations seem a tad more civilised.

Extra Inventory

All of your companions are, secretly, musclebound freaks. Especially Dogmeat. Dude is ripped. Talk to any of them and select the Trade option to bring up their inventory - after which you can scroll through your items and load them up with all the Power Armour pieces you don't want to lug home - having a companion effectively more than doubles the amount you can carry. The Trade menu serves an altogether more cosmetic function, too...

Clothe Your Companions

Spending hours in a blasted Wasteland, it suddenly becomes important that the companions you spend all that time looking at, well, look nice. Luckily, they're easy to outfit - trade them some clothes (or weapons) and, if they're useable, an Equip prompt will appear at the bottom of the screen. Hit that (Y/Triangle/T) and they'll emerge looking simply sparkling.

Certain items even work on non-human companions. Dogmeat can wear more than you'd think (mine's currently in light armour and some fetching welding goggles), and Codsworth has a penchant for hats (although he's a bit picky - he'll wear bowlers, but not fedoras, like any English gent worth his salt).

Running low on a crafting material can be a troublesome process - not least when it's something generally invisible, like gears, and you start having to comb through irradiated junk to find a suitable pick-up. But there's a solution.

If you come across any greyed-out material while crafting, a prompt to Tag For Search will appear. Hit that, and any time you highlight junk containing that material in the wild, a magnifying glass symbol will appear next to its name, indicating that you've hit paydirt. Incidentally, if anyone knows where to find some paydirt, I really need it for that bone palace I said I was building.

Drunk conversation

OK, maybe this isn't a mechanic, but it's somehow more important to me than anything else in this list. Get your character smashed up on delicious booze, and they'll act differently in conversation. My favourite element of this are the already hilarious dialogue-skip noises. Instead of your yeahs and uh-huhs, you'll suddenly hear them slurring out concur! and generally making an arse of themselves. It's the little things that mean the most.

Still after some help? We've got 15 more Fallout 4 tips (opens in new tab) for you.

Joe first fell in love with games when a copy of The Lion King on SNES became his stepfather in 1994. When the cartridge left his mother in 2001, he turned to his priest - a limited edition crystal Xbox - for guidance. And now he's here.