Fallout 4 is a Bethesda game, and that means it has an interesting and complicated in-game economy. Your vault survivor can scavenge for numerous resources — some common, and some scarce — which you can use to craft upgrades for your settlements and modifications for your weapons and armor.
The game also includes a number of weapons like the Gamma Gun, the Missile Launcher and the Cryolator, which are devastating, but which require ammunition that is extremely scarce. And finally, your power armor gives you extremely powerful defenses and augmented stats, but it runs on rare fusion cores which you must scavenge in the world.
However, because Fallout 4 is a Bethesda game, the game’s vendors somehow have access to a nearly-endless supply of all the rarest stuff. The problem is that, unless you cheat, those goodies tend to be prohibitively priced. As a result, most players won’t have enough currency income to be able to take advantage of all the goodies.
This is your guide to building your character and your settlements in order to fix this situation.
Building your settlements
The amount of caps you can accrue from looting enemies and doing quests will never be sufficient to fund your bottomless need for salvage, bullets and stimpacks. Fortunately, shopkeepers in Fallout take trade. Your objective is to get the vendors to swap you their precious treasures for something that is extremely common and renewable. Something like the crops you can grow at your settlements.
So, I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?
Mutfruit is the most lucrative crop you can grow. It’s worth more than any other crop in the game, and the fruits weigh only a fifth as much as a tato, and one tenth as much as a melon or a gourd. The only drawback to mutfruit is that the bushes take up a lot of space in your settlement, and the fruit is difficult to see as you’re running past quickly to try to harvest a whole field of the stuff. As a result, tatos and corn might be a little quicker to harvest, but corn is worth only two-thirds as much and tatos will fill up your inventory space very quickly.
This is how you capitalize on mutfruit’s strengths while dealing with its difficulties.
You’ll want to specialize four or five of your settlements to produce large amounts of crops. To do this, you need to provide enough water, beds and defense to keep a large population happy.
There’s no reason to get elaborate with this. Sleeping bags are the cheapest beds, and they take up the least space. Throw a bunch of them on the ground someplace. Scatter defense turrets around the perimeter of your settlement, throw down a few water pumps and get going. Don’t forget to build a radio beacon to recruit more settlers, and a power generator to power the beacon. That’s all you should be worried about for now.
The Local Leader perk in the Charisma tree lets you to assign one settler from each settlement to form a supply line, which allows you to access your stash from all your workshops, making it much easier to build things at your settlements. This is a perk worth taking, but you may prefer to invest the perk elsewhere and lug all your stuff around with you. It’s all about your tolerance for grunt work.
I recommend arranging the mutfruit bushes in rows, so you can quickly harvest a lot of fruit by simply running in a straight line while hitting the button to interact with the bushes. Each settler can manage six bushes, so it’s pretty easy to get multiple settlements producing fifty fruit each.
The respawn timer for crops is very fast. I usually harvest my best five settlements, rest for 24 hours at the last stop, and then repeat. On PS4, it takes about 20 minutes to farm about 600 fruit, but it may be faster on PC, especially if you have an SSD, since your load times will be shorter when fast-traveling among settlements.
Keep this loop going and you’ll be drowning in fruits. Now let’s look at how to maximize the caps earned from them.
Specializing your character
If a baseline character hauls his crops into Diamond City, however, the vendors won’t offer enough value to justify the effort of building those settlements and harvesting all those crops.
The first thing you need to do is max out your Charisma. To do this, you need to have a baseline Charisma score of at least 6, since the Charisma stat both lowers the prices vendors charge for items and raises the prices they pay. 6 Charisma is also the requirement for the local leader perk, so it’s very useful to hit this threshold.
If you have six in Charisma you can put on Black-Rim Glasses to raise your Charisma by a point, and a suit or a dress that raises it by two more. These are common items which are easy to find, and can be purchased from the clothing vendor in Diamond City if you don’t get them elsewhere. Drinking a beer also temporarily increases your Charisma by one, which will bring you to 10.
You’ll also need the first two ranks of the Cap Collector perk, which gets you 32% more value for the stuff you sell, while slashing prices by 28 percent.
To fully maximize your price benefits, you’ll need to do a little bit of adventuring. There are eight issues of a perk magazine called Tales of a Junktown Jerky Vendor which you can hunt down in the Commonwealth, as well as a bobblehead that improves prices for both buying and selling by 5 percent each.
Some of the magazines are in dangerous places, but you should be able to go after all of them once you hit level 20 or so. You may want to take your power armor when you go to Big John’s Salvage, which is infested with Super Mutants, and to the wreck of the FMS Northern Star, which is far to the south of the map, in an area where you may encounter dangerous enemies like Mirelurk Kings.
The bobblehead and one of the magazines are behind a master-level lock in Longneck Lukowski’s Cannery, but one of your companions, Cait from the Combat Zone, can pick the lock if you don’t have a high enough lockpicking skill.
Finally, you can use Grape Mentats, a powerful chem that increases your Charisma by 5 and improves barter prices by 10 percent. The problem with the Mentats is that each one requires 2 Hubflowers, which, as far as I can tell, can only be found in the world and are on an extremely long respawn timer, making them impossible to farm efficiently in large quantities.
Also, there seems to be a limit on how much the prices can be modified; With 10 Charisma, all 8 magazines, the Cap Collector perk and the bobblehead, a fusion core costs 241 caps, and Grape Mentats only brings the price down by one cap, to 240. However, Grape Mentats will increase the price vendors will pay for each tato from 5 to 6, and the price for each ear of corn from four to five, so if you’re farming these as well as mutfruit, a Grape Mentat might be worth several hundred caps if you’re rolling into town with an inventory full of crops.
Considering that mutfruit are worth six caps each, and you can harvest field of fifty or sixty bushes in a couple of minutes, you can get a huge amount of caps with a modest time investment, and those caps buy a lot more since you’ve also lowered the prices vendors charge for goods by about half.
With the talent, max charisma, and all the collectible bartering improvements, your crops will be worth about four times as much as they would be at baseline, relative to the modified cost of the goods.
For reference, I spent about 45 minutes harvesting crops to create an impressive screenshot of my character selling a huge amount of mutfruit for this article. I collected 970 mutfruit, as well as about 400 tatos and 180 corn by running between my settlements, which is a lot more than I’d ordinarily need to stock up for some quests — I was just trying to prove the point. You can see in the image that I am buying 4874 caps worth of goods from the gun vendor.
This includes five fusion cores, a shipment of 50 aluminum, 150 cryolator ammo, some gamma ammo, his full stock of .45 ammo, .308 ammo and all of his finest grenades. I had enough crops left over to buy all the grenades, gamma ammo and useful salvage at the junk vendor, all the blood packs on all the vendors in Diamond City, a shipment of cloth, a shipment of antiseptic and some chems. Buying this stuff would have cost me more bottle caps than I’ve earned from quests or found in the world up to level 35.
What to buy, and where to buy it
There are several places with multiple shops close together, but I prefer the shops in Diamond City, because the doctor there sells a shipment of antiseptic, and the gun vendor sells a shipment of aluminum. You’ll need a lot of antiseptic for stimpacks, and a lot of aluminum for weapon mods and power armor repairs.
It’s better to buy blood packs and antiseptic instead of stimpacks, because crafting your own healing items saves about 10 caps (or 1.7 mutfruit) if you get your antiseptic from shipments, and significantly more if you’re buying cheap junk that can be salvaged into antiseptic, like Abraxo cleaner, turpentine and toothpaste. Also, you get 13 experience each time you craft a stimpack. However, the vendors usually carry about 10 stimpacks each, and only 2-4 blood packs, so if you want to load up on a lot of stims quickly, you may just want to buy them ready-made.
In Diamond City, you can also buy chems from the junk vendor, the doctor, and the drug dealer, all without stepping through a door with a load time, so you’ll have a wide selection to choose from. Unfortunately, it’s very rare for the vendors to sell Grape Mentats.
Both the gun vendor and the junk vendor sell fusion cores, and the gun vendor usually stocks 5 of them.
Both vendors stock large amounts of various ammo types. If you have a laser rifle or a combat rifle, you’ll never again have to resort to using a pistol or a pipe gun because you’re short of ammo. The gun vendor usually has about 150 ammo for the Cryolator, but it’s still expensive at 12 caps per shot even after all your cost reductions, so you’ll still want to save that for the most difficult enemies. The vendors also stock pulse grenades and cryo grenades, as well as less exotic explosives like frags and molotovs, so you won’t need to worry about running short of fireworks.
The junk vendor also sells a lot of good salvage items that contain rare commodities like circuitry, aluminum, crystal, and nuclear material. Be sure to drop junk on the ground from your inventory and scrap it yourself. It can waste materials if the workshop scraps it.
Building a character who can take advantage of this wealth
Intelligence and Charisma were a great way to go in Fallout 3, when Intelligence opened up more dialog options while Charisma helped you pass the speech checks. In Fallout 4, Intelligence only increases experience gains in combat and unlocks its perk tree, and no longer impacts conversations. While Charisma still influences speech checks, those checks seem less important in Fallout 4 than they were in previous games.
However, Intelligence has a lot of interesting perks that mesh well with our ability to obtain tons of materials and fusion cores.
First of all, with high Intelligence, you can get the Science perk, which works with Gun Nut and Armorer to give you the best modifications for your weapons and armor, giving you access to damage-increasing receivers, barrels and stocks that improve your accuracy, and a range of customizable sights and scopes.
You can also improve your armor, including your power armor, tremendously.
Perhaps the biggest payoff in the Intelligence perk tree is the Nuclear Physicist perk, which requires 9 Intelligence and can double the lifespan of your fusion cores. This allows Intelligence-based characters to use their power armor much more than other characters, and with your merchant bonuses dramatically increasing your access to cores, you can use your armor pretty much all the time, if you want.
Similarly, the Chemist perk gets you much more value from the chems you use, which works very well with your ability to buy all the chems you can swallow.
So, an Intellect/Charisma character has all the tools and the wealth necessary to run around the Commonwealth like Tony Stark on PCP, shrugging off explosions from inside your walking tank and blasting everything with tricked-out custom guns.
Good luck out there!
So, this is how I’ve been playing Fallout 4:
- Constructing settlements that I can quickly harvest for lots of crops
- Building into perks that maximize my bartering ability
- Collecting items that improve my bartering: 8 Tales of a Junkyard Jerky Vendor perk magazines, and the Speech bobblehead
- Bartering my crops for tons of fusion cores, chems, rare materials, powerful ammo and grenades
- Specializing in perks that allow me to use all the stuff I bought to upgrade and modify my gear.
- Suiting up in upgraded power armor, getting twisted out of my mind on buffjet and psycho, and making everything explode.
I’ve found this to be pretty effective. The ability to use power armor liberally also makes it a lot more palatable to consider raising the difficulty level to try to find more legendaries.
But feel free to discuss the comparative merits of an agility/luck, stealth/crit build in the comments, and if you know a reliable way to get hubflowers in quantity, please share it.
Happy hunting, and happy farming!
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