The beta version of the new and extremely taxing Survival mode was released last week and I’ve done my best to wrestle the foul mutated beast into submission. However, after becoming extremely battered and bruised from trying, I learned that I would have to change my standard approach.
The survival mode brings in huge amounts of new challenges as well as the standard ‘enemies are harder’ approach, and many of them do take a fair bit to get used to. You now need food, water and rest to survive, not getting one or more of these will seriously hamper your stats and efficiency, there’s no fast travel and saves are restricted plus everything (including ammo) has a weight. However, there is now Adrenaline which gives you bonuses for each successive kill which you really do need.
If you want to get access to the Survival Beta, access the options/preferences for the game from your Steam Library, select the Beta’s tab and select the survival beta option from the drop down. Now, first thing to note is that none of your mods will work, on any difficulty while are using this beta, but I believe mods will only be cancelled on the non-survival modes when it is released.
There are many things that I learned from the Fallout 4 Survival mode but the below are definitely the key ones for me.
Tough but Stupid
I decided that I should provide my lone survivor with as much chance of survival as I could, right off the bat. That meant shed loads of Endurance, Luck, and the rest shared between Strength, Agility and Perception. I also wanted my survivor to grab as much experience as he could, so I deliberately gave him intelligence of 1 and the first perk he got was Idiot Savant. If I was going to survive I needed to grab skills and upgrades as quickly as possible. Hacking into computers and robots was less important to me in this game.
If you ignored the settlement building element of Fallout 4 on other modes, you won’t be able to on Survival mode. Building your own settlement ensures a good food and water supply, a nice place to rest plus at the later levels a place to sell goods, and get healed. One of the first things I did was get the Local Leader perk. I was level 6 before I’d even got to Concord. Incidentally you can now refill empty bottles for a good source of dirty and purified water from a pump.
In survival mode you can’t just quick save when you want. In fact, you can only save when you go to sleep. So there’s no more saving just before a tricky bit or mid-conversation so you can try other options. Save when you can but remember the more you sleep, the more food and water you might need. Like all the other parts of Survival mode, it’s a balancing act.
No Quick Fixes
Stimpaks and Rad-aways, the staple part of the regular game work at a slower rate now. If your limbs are blown half off, and you have 10% health left, don’t expect to be able pop a few stimpaks and to jump back in the fight. You’ll need to hobble away and hide until your health has slowly recovered.
Oh, and talking about stimpaks and rad-away’s, these now have side effects. Taking a stimpak will lower your hydration and make you thirsty, while a rad-away will make you hungrier. So, even if you do take a stimpak to help you during combat, you’ll only be hurting yourself by lowering your SPECIAL stats.
To survive the new survival mode, you have to learn to think creatively. The tactics you used on other modes may not work this time around. I struggled to kill the Deathclaw in Concord, even with a minigun and fully repaired suit of power armour, but you know who had no trouble in killing him? It was the people living at my Red Rocket Truck Stop settlement. Even in normal clothes and armed with pipe pistols they still killed him, while I assisted them from a protected position. Is it cowardly or clever? In Fallout 4 survival mode it’s clever.
Keep Your Weapon Options Open
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to specialise as purely melee or ranged. As ammo has a weight now, you have to be careful how much carry, melee weapons don’t have ammo of course but you have to be close enough to use them. Because I gave myself more Strength than Agility I prefer to favor melee but I always have my trusty 10mm with me in case I can’t get close enough. Survival mode is not a place you can perform a cavalry charge into groups of enemies and walk away afterwards.
I found out to my surprise that you can also become ill and or infected by certain things in the game. I was about to infiltrate a satellite array to retrieve a silver locket. I cleared the top area of raiders, although most of the work was done by some rather aggressive bloatflies. Before I entered the main building I took a little nap, on what I now realise was a very dirty, half-rotten mattress and I got parasites, which means I now get hungry twice as fast. Illness is out there everywhere and only antibiotics or a trained medical professional can remove them.
One Shot Kills
It’s good to know that Survival Mode is still packed full of one shot kills. Although very few of them will be yours at the early stages of the game. I killed 5 molerats only to be one shotted by a normal Mirelurk. Assume anything and everything can instantly kill you, because you know what? It probably might.
The biggest thing I learned from the survival mode of Fallout 4, is that you do what you can to survive. You run away, eat dog food, steal, lie, cheat because it can be the difference between staying alive long enough to see a new radiated dawn and being turned into a pile of radioactive mush.
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Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife and his player 3. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.