Combat in Fallout 4 will be covered here. Fallout 4 is a first person shooter (with third person option) that is augmented with the V.A.T.S. system which allows the player to pause the game and use action points for more precise targeting.

Combat Information



The V.A.T.S system can be used by the player at any time. To activate the V.A.T.S system, press RB on Xbox, [Computer Key] on PC, or [PS Input] on PS. This will activate V.A.T.S as long as there is a valid target within range and sight. You may also activate V.A.T.S regardless of whether or not a valid target is present by holding the activation input. Doing so may allow the player to scan for targets that are slightly out of V.A.T.S activation range or scan for people of interest. Players can activate V.A.T.S regardless of their AP level; however, AP does not regenerate so long as the V.A.T.S menu is open. 

V.A.T.S Menu
The V.A.T.S menu has many features. 

  • HP and AP are visible in each corner. 
  • At the top center of the screen will be the name and health bar of the current target. A red health bar indicates an enemy or hostile target while a green one indicates a friendly or non-hostile target. A portion of the health bar of the target will blink with the amount of damage an attack is expected to produce given all attacks hit. 
  • Just below the health bar will be a resistance bar that displays a target’s resistance to different damage types if the perk Awareness is owned. 
  • At the bottom of the screen will be an input guide. Just above this will be your critical bar which will blink when full and a critical attack is ready to activate. 

In the center of the screen will be your current target. Depending on the target, a number of areas on the target’s body will be indicated. The current selected area will be highlighted in green (default) or whatever color the player has selected for the V.A.T.S menu. The player can choose which area to select by using the “body part” input. Each area will contain a small box which has a number and a bar. The number represents the chance the player has to hit that target area with an attack. This value has a minimum value of 0 and a maximum value of 95. This maximum value usually indicates a 100% chance to hit said target. This value is only a prediction and may not reflect the outcome of the attack. For example, attacking with a 95 while the target moves behind cover could result in a missed shot. The bar within the target box indicates the health of that body part. Each successful attack against a body part lowers the health of that body part, whether that attack occurred in or out of V.A.T.S. Once that bar is empty, that body part becomes crippled. The currently selected area will also have a name at the top of the box, such as “head”, “left arm”, or “tail”.

Target Selection

Once the player enters V.A.T.S, time will slow to a near stop. While the V.A.T.S menu is open, the player will be unable to attack, but all other entities will be able to do so at slow speed. This gives the player time to make a decision. The player can cycle through targets using the “Cycle Target” button regardless of whether or not the target is in front or behind them. As long as they are visible and in range, the entity can be targeted. The player can select a target area. This will put a red indicator around that target area. Selecting an area for attack will cost AP dependent on the weapon used and player stats. Players can select multiple target areas for attack. The player can also select areas to attack on multiple targets as long as they have enough AP. Total predicted spent AP will be indicated with red chunks on the player’s AP bar. AP is spent during each attack rather than as soon as the attack begins. The player can also reload using AP in V.A.T.S. if they will run out of ammo during the attacks. Melee attacks cannot target specific areas; only a target is targeted. Once you are ready, press the “accept” button. This will begin the salvo of V.A.T.S attacks. 


The salvo of V.A.T.S attacks also occurs in slow time. The series of attacks will occur in the order in which the target areas were selected. For example, if one selected “Raider Right Arm”, then “Raider Head”, then “Raider Right Arm”, attacks would occur in that order. Successful attacks fill the critical bar by an amount dependent on the player’s stats. Failed attacks will not end the current V.A.T.S salvo. Once a target’s HP has reached 0 during a salvo, no more attacks will be made against that target. Any AP that would have been spent for those saved attacks will not be spent. 

Critical Attacks

A singular attack may be made into a critical attack by using the “critical” input. Critical attacks have their damage multiplied by a factor dependent on a player’s stats. Melee critical attacks have a higher critical damage multiplier than ranged critical attacks. V.A.T.S critical attacks do not recharge the critical meter. Stealth critical attacks do not require the player to use the “critical” input. 

V.A.T.S Tips and Tricks

  • Entities that can be targeted using V.A.T.S include enemies, creatures, and throwables
  • A successful attack on a throwable will immediately explode it (if it is an explosive)
  • Melee attacks do a singular attack per V.A.T.S input. However, chaining melee inputs causes the player model to “jump around” an enemy with each hit, making you harder to hit. 
  • Automatic ranged weapons fire a burst of projectiles per each V.A.T.S attack. This burst of projectiles will either all hit the target or all miss. 
  • Each attack frame can leave the player vulnerable to attack due to the glitchy nature of the system. Attacks may occur in quick succession or with a short break between them. 
    • For this reason, reloading in V.A.T.S is not recommended unless necessary. 
  • If you reload outside of V.A.T.S and immediately open the V.A.T.S menu, the reloading action continues at regular speed while the time is slowed. This allows the player a quick reload in the middle of combat. 
    • This is particularly useful with weapons with long reload times. 
  • Combined with forced V.A.T.S use outside of combat, this may completely negate the need for reload speed perks and mods. 
  • If the Automatron DLC is installed, the heads of robot-type enemies will receive less damage than other body parts. Therefore, it is advisable to target other parts. 
  • Though the head typically deals the most damage, the torso is usually the easiest target to hit. 
    Arms and legs should not be ignored. Incapacitating these areas can seriously limit a target’s ability to attack or escape. 
  • Lower V.A.T.S hit chance usually correlates with successful attack value, such as increased damage or unique incapacitation. 
    • Despite this, it is not always worth it to attack these low-chance areas due to the lower expected damage. In addition, attacking these areas against non-special enemies or weak enemies is not worth the time nor effort. 
  • Forcing open the V.A.T.S menu is especially useful for scanning for targets or mines. 
    • Alternatively, tapping the V.A.T.S activation input can achieve this without having to enter the menu each time. 
  • The target health bar will show the predicted damage of all attacks including the following attack. 
    In other words, the damage shown is all attacks plus the current selection if you were to add in another attack. 
  • Typically, given the non-100% chance of hitting each hit, it is smart to add in one or two attacks past what is necessary to confirm the kill. 
  • V.A.T.S attacks can be canceled using the “return” input at any time, even during the salvo. This can be useful if a situation changes or a more advantageous course of action is found.

Damage Types

  • Ballistic

Ballistic/Physical damage is the most common damage type. Most ballistic weapons will deal exclusively physical damage. Physical damage is effective against almost any enemy, though some highly armored enemies will have extreme resistance to it. Enemies in power armor, colossal enemies, mirelurks, and bosses are typically resistant to physical damage.

  • Energy

Energy damage is the next most common damage type. Energy damage is most associated with laser weapons; however, incendiary and cryo attacks deal energy damage as well. Energy damage tends to be slightly more effective against creatures and human type enemies as compared to physical damage, though energy damage is effective against most enemies. A notable exception for this is the radscorpion, which has a very high energy resistance.

  • Radiation

Radiation damage is less common than the two main damage categories, but its role in the game is very important. Radiation damage can come from a variety of sources, including certain guns, radiation storms, and radioactive barrels/environments. Radiation damage is very harmful for the player. Any accrued radiation damage will increase the player’s rad level. In Fallout 4, radiation damage lowers the maximum health of the player. This effect appears as a red portion at the end of the player’s health bar. This radiation effect does not end until the player uses consumables, visits a doctor, or the decontamination arch if they have the “Wasteland Workshop” add-on. Radiation damage is very effective against human enemies, weak against robot enemies, and actually beneficial for creatures and ghouls, who can heal HP from radiation attacks. 

  • Poison

 Poison is a very rare type of damage. Poison damage typically occurs over a few seconds. Few weapons have an innate poison effect. It is more often seen with attacks done unto the player from creatures, such as blood bugs. Due to its rarity, it is not recommended to invest heavily into poison or its resistance.

  • Explosive

Explosive is a subtype of physical damage. Explosive damage is caused by many throwables, missile launchers, and the Fat-Man. Some explosive weapons will deal both physical damage and another damage type.

  • Bleed

Bleed damage is another subtype of physical damage. It is similar to poison damage in its rarity and its damage-over-time effect. However, it is unique in how it is not subject to physical damage resistance, making its effect extremely powerful in the right circumstances. 

How to Throw a Grenade or Explosive

Press and hold the melee button until you hear a sound and then release to deploy your explosive. Equip your explosive through your Pip-Boy as you would any weapon. It's icon will appear on the HUD above your ammo info.

How to use cover system

Fallout 4 features a leaning-while-aiming (semi-sticky) cover system. To enter cover mode, face the wall at the edge of it, then aim down the sights. The character leans out of cover. This also works for low covers; if you crouch while facing the cover. However, it only works when in First Person PoV. Have fun sniping enemies from behind a cover!

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