Originally published on GameInformer.com November 27, 2015, at 1:00 PM.
Selected for Blog Herding -- The Best Blogs of the Community, 12/3/15.
Selected for Game Informer Newsletter, 12/5/15.
6,284 views as of June 4, 2018.
Update 6/4/18: Select screenshots from this pictorial appear at bottom.
Bethesda wants you to survive Fallout 4's Wasteland. They've given you plenty of weapons to loot and craft, and attributes to boost when you level up. You want to survive. You use all these and V.A.T.S. to vanquish every enemy. But ever wonder what it would be like to fail? Over and over? Do you find yourself imagining what a death animation might look like?
This public servant decided it was time to sacrifice the progress I'd made in the game, put my character into harm's way and show others exactly what it means to lose spectacularly and often. It wasn't easy, but I did it. Well OK maybe I exaggerate a smidge. And by smidge I mean a lot. Yes, I'm sharing my misfortune with you so you can live vicariously through me. Or is it die vicariously?
In the first example, my character, Killissa (you can cut through the irony with a scalpel), was wearing Power Armor. Under most circumstances, one would be pretty hard to kill when protected by such a suit, but if you're a certified Bullet Sponge like me (thanks, trophy from Clive Barker's Jericho), waiting till it disintegrates is just a formality.
The key in this scenario is to progress like a bull in a china shop, not slowing to listen for telltale signs of danger lurking around the corner, like foes broadcasting, "What was that?" Faster than you can shout "Surprise!" you'll be attacked by a handful of Raiders firing their hot lead welcome. Pray you're as lucky as I was and that one of your enemies is carrying a minigun.
To ensure success, turn your back and run away, making certain to not run so far that you're safe. In case you instinctively head for high ground, consider a metal-grate elevated walkway, guaranteeing exposure to enemy fire. It shouldn't take long before a combination of ranged attacks and melee assaults takes you down (which reminds me, don't look over your shoulder for pursuing enemies).
A sure way to fail is to first case the joint, figure out where everyone is holed up, then toss a grenade into the entryway. If any stragglers emerge, finish them off with a Molotov cocktail. If you're a glutton for punishment, take the minigun, finish your rounds and pick off what few foes might have avoided your initial assault.
The next meeting actually takes some planning. You'll have to leave behind the ruined Power Armor, but before heading back to the wasteland, don't forget to find a crafting table and destroy the armor in your inventory that you think are spare parts but are actually equipped. This will dramatically improve how easily you succeed in not surviving.
At this point, avoid using stealth to approach an enemy outpost, alerting its inhabitants of your incursion on their territory. If possible, make sure that there is a Power Armor-wearing, Fat Man-carrying Boomer among the group. That way, your puny guns are no match should you have second thoughts, especially if you remembered to destroy your armor in advance!
The last ingredient is finding terrain that guarantees you will be seen and get stuck, preferably a rocky hill overlooking the camp that requires you to jump up and down in order to get around the rocks. If you can time it just right, you should be able to jump exactly when the Fat Man bomb arrives, sending you flying to your preordained demise, just like Killissa.
If you chicken out, you can always pick off the less imposing foes from a reasonably secure vantage point, such as a decaying highway overpass. That will improve your odds when luring out the Boomer hulk. And if you're especially cowardly, fire your rifle over and over when he inexplicably freezes at a distance, then unload the minigun when he wises up and charges.
Scavvers are not very bright but then they don't need to be if you're trying to not survive. Perhaps that's why one I came across had two automated turrets for his protection, conveniently placed side by side. Of course one can take the easy way out and approach death head-on, but where is the satisfaction in such an expedient and predictable conclusion?
Despite wearing heavy armor (since the Boomer apparently soiled the Power Armor you at least can equip his impressively armored undies), you can cut short any showdown in spectacular fashion with a well-placed explosives toss. Just remember you're trying to not survive, and you won't take out your enemies by mistake.
One way to guarantee you fail is to equip explosives, then in the midst of a firefight conveniently forget that you did so. Pressing the wrong button at the right time will allow you to toss your explosive right at your feet. In my case, I forgot I'd picked up the Fat Man and unloaded its nuclear payload within spitting distance. Fallout, indeed! And the Touchdown! trophy to go alongside Bullet Sponge.
Should your survival instinct get the better of you, you'll equip grenades instead of a thermonuclear device and lob them from a clifftop onto the turrets below. With those automated lead dispensers out of the way, you can play cat and mouse with the lone scavver, toying with him until you scrape by in a duel of mediocre marksmanship.
Mirelurks, like Deathclaws, are among the easiest enemies to lose to. Even if you try to avoid them, your trusty companion (in my case, Dogmeat) will ensure that you don't go unnoticed. With no option but to fight, the best tactic is to get in close so vain attempts at using V.A.T.S. at least will shorten your quarry's response time.
Then you can either watch the Mirelurk's slo-mo windup while still in V.A.T.S. and take one on the chin, or panic and run (I was going to say like the wind, but that's insulting to air currents). I did both. The good news is that it doesn't matter, because these crab people are quick and will run you down like the fleshy snack that you are.
If you have second thoughts (but still have not buffed your stamina attribute), firing away with a rifle from a distance could eliminate their threat. In theory, that is. My weakling character lacks the skill or arsenal to make mincemeat of a Mirelurk, so they are quick to turn the tables. So if you're serious about not surviving, start and end with a Mirelurk.
Scavvers and explosives go together like PB & J, and can be just as messy. When confronting these foes, the element of surprise is very important. And if you go in like me, you'll be surprised often. The key is eschewing stealth so you make the most noise possible. An alert scavver with a penchant for pyrotechnics can then satisfy your deathwish.
But why let them do all the work or take all the credit when you're perfectly capable of doing their job for them? After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And in this regard, Fallout 4 does actually provide an assist. With no visual arc to denote where an explosive will land, tossing one is an exercise in chance.
Even from a hilltop advantage, with a clean shot at a trio of scavvers below, you don't want to make it too easy. Allow them to see you, back away from the edge to avoid their fire, then make some fire of your own by planting that equipped Molotov cocktail cleanly at your feet for a seriously hot finale worthy of a scavver's respect.
Of course, mistakes happen. A poorly thrown Molotov cocktail will quickly turn the scavver's gathering into a barbecue. At this point, it's not worth wallowing in self pity. Commit to the error and follow through, using the anger at your own ineptitude to dispatch the sole survivor in a gory V.A.T.S. display. At least you might experience some catharsis.
Lapses in judgment can be expunged with a visit to your neighborhood Super Mutant. These green grouches are only too eager to help you not survive and, though slow, can make quick work of poor defenses. This is where a lower level and inadequate inventory can really shine as you don't mount an effective response.
In this example, you do have options. You can fall down the cliff to the mutant below and, if the fall doesn't kill you, the green goliath will oblige. Otherwise, you can more carefully descend the hilltop to engage him, flee accordingly, then succumb to his lethal charms once you exhaust V.A.T.S. and your measly bullets. Both work (trust me).
Despite having options, misfortune can strike at any time. If you allow too much distance between the two of you, you'll have an unfair advantage even with otherwise inadequate attributes and subpar weapons. Using V.A.T.S. to deplete Super's health and the minigun to erase the rest, you'll prevent him from giving you the satisfaction of an early demise.
Some missions are made to reward you with a mercifully quick and glorious end, especially if your level is below its threshold for even a modicum of survival. One such example involved robots who, despite their charms and civility, can be a malfunctioning mess of homicidal circuitry. Such quests are a treasure trove of disaster for stubborn adventurers.
This is where quick saves come in handy. By saving the game just prior to a nasty encounter, you can guarantee a repeat performance that should more than satisfy any itch to not survive. Take advantage and don't be afraid to mix it up: Use rapid fire V.A.T.S. shots with your most powerful rifle; next, a minigun; then, a combination; throw in a grenade-guns combo (pun intended), etc.
And again. Truth be told you could replay that scenario a dozen times with different approaches but the same result, i.e. a fall from on high that does manage some variation in the style with which you exit: swan dive, back flip, somersault, etc. Not surviving in Fallout 4 is rarely as prolific or entertaining.
You can even throw in the ill-placed grenade toss once or twice like Killissa to pad your exit toll for this mission. But even such a bonanza of buffoonery couldn't save it from becoming stale. At some point even the most determined to not survive will look elsewhere in the Wasteland for the next happy ending.
One boon for anti-survivalists (besides the lack of explosives visual arc) is the inventory weight limit. It's kind of a cheat, but can be effective in a pinch. Just get the attention of a gunner conscript, for instance, and stand your ground even behind cover. Even should you step in and out of cover, or panic and try to escape, it won't matter because your heavy inventory will make you a slow, easy target.
Of course if facing off against one gunner conscript, you might slip up and actually take them out. But don't fret, as there are plenty more foes where he came from. Indeed, the Wasteland is replete with enemies large, small and in-between, all hard-wired to do your character harm. So buck up, head out, and allow yourself the luxury of not surviving once in a while. Take it from an expert.
I'll end this public service with one last but extremely helpful tip: Ignore your plentiful inventory of boosts and buffs designed to increase your attributes and skills even temporarily. These wonderful assists will only derail the enjoyment of your fragile mortality. I can't tell you how many times I've neglected to use them! Cheers!!
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