So I decided to start up Fallout 4 again a while ago and this time around try and do a survival mode run. I had to read up a bit on what it would entail as it is supposed to be much more difficult but a lot of players also seem to agree it is the way it was meant to be played. We’ll see I guess!
Now, after a reinstall of my OS I sadly lost a bunch of screenshots of the progress I made so a lot of this first bit will be from memory, which admittedly isn’t all that great, so bear with me. Luckily the first part tends to be mostly the same in every playthrough so there’s isn’t much variation until later in the game.
I play with a few mods, I try to minimize it to reduce impact and prevent potential crashes as much as possible, but there are a few that I deem essential, others that improve enjoyment, and some that just plain make the game prettier to look at. First of all I added the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch because no Bethesda game should run without their specific users-made fixes. Then there’s a bunch of texture improvements, UI enhancement so there’s less scrolling and more data with less clicking, full dialogue so you don’t have to guess what you’re going to say when choosing an option.
Then what I absolutely never run without is Everyone’s Best Friend, which enables you to keep Dogmeat as a companion along with any other companion. This was always supposed to be in the main game but got disabled at release for some reason. All the code and even some dialogue is still in the game. All this mod does is re-enable it. It’s the way it’s meant to be played I’m sure.
Since Survival Mode is hard and I’m not the greatest gamer in the world I did make a few tweaks to make it easier on me by adding the ability to use established trade routes as a fast travel point using the Journey mod. This means once I’ve set up settlements and set a trade route between them I can travel from those settlements to any other that has a trade supply line set up. It still means I cannot travel to any that haven’t been set up yet, nor can I travel from anyplace other than a settlement with a trade route. So there is still a massive amount of walking involved, just less so from established settlements. I also use a mod someone recommended to me to dump your loot into any random outside container and put a Salvage Beacon in it to alert a Salvager NPC to pick it up and bring it to the settlement of your choice. This helps tremendously reduce the amount of running back and forth you have to do, especially when you’re knee deep in an area without any settlements nearby.
So I made Alex, an older black woman who just wanted to settle down but then the bombs fell and her life turned upside down. I never cared for the fact that her history is very heterosexual but thankfully that is a very minimal part of the story. I go through the usual starting antics. Son gets kidnapped, frozen for 200 years, wake up and find my way to Sanctuary. Blah blah, boring stuff and anyone who has played this game before knows this part by heart now. Since I have no desire to use a Mr. Handy as a companion I quickly find Dogmeat and start working my way to Concord and find Preston Garvey. As much as he gets on my nerves he is a pretty decent companion, especially for the first part of the game. I rescue the guy, bring him and the handful of additional survivors back to Sanctuary and set up my first temporary home base. I have no intention of staying here but as I progress through the first few levels of the game I make sure it is well protected before I practically abandon the place.
A lot of this first part is just desperately trying to gain levels for perks, find some proper armor and weapons, and not trying to die all the time due to illnesses. I was not prepared for how badly disease and illness would affect gameplay and it wasn’t something I could properly address until much later as I did not have the requirements to do something about it. I was going to turn Alex into a sniper build but I honestly didn’t pay a whole lot of attention during character creation so I didn’t have quite the right setup yet which would need correcting over the levels. I had no desire to start over, I just decided to ‘suffer’ for a while.
One of my main priorities was to set up as many settlements in the area as I can to make travel a bit easier though at first that was still a bit tricky, especially having to clear entire buildings before a settlement would align with me. Still, I slowly made progress and managed to set up places like Abernathy Farm and Outpost Zimonja. Eventually I made it to the Starlight Drive-In which I slowly built up to be my new home base. Once I made it to level 16 I had enough S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points to build a clinic to help ease the pain of the rampant illnesses though it wasn’t as helpful as I hoped and realized I was going to have to learn how to make antibiotics myself one day.