Survival Mode in Fallout 4 is a beast. The game ramps up the damage and health of enemies while decreasing your own effectiveness in combat. It also makes everything more realistic in terms of ammo having weight, being over-encumbered causing health problems, and wellness being something to maintain with sleep, food, water, and medicine; to name a few changes.
However, there are some character builds that can give players a chance at surviving Fallout 4 in this challenging mode. Every build will struggle in the beginning, but for those who can get past that initial phase, these builds give the best chance at surviving and thriving into the endgame.
Updated on September 15, 2021, by Ben Baker: Playing survival mode can often feel limiting when creating a new character. There are certain perks and stat distributions that seem almost mandatory to survive. This can leave you feeling like some Fallout 4 builds and playstyles are out of reach. To help mitigate this problem and give you more ideas on how to play survival mode your way this article has added some unique builds.
These are more roleplay concepts that can still help you survive the horrors of survival mode. The early game will always be difficult, but with some patience and a bit of cleverness, you can find yourself wreaking havoc across the commonwealth.
13 Brotherhood Of Steel Knight
The Brotherhood is one of the more powerful factions when it comes to survival mode. They give the player access to some of the best power armor in the game and strong laser weapons. Most useful is the Vertibird that provides a fast and effective way to travel the wastes.
The Brotherhood of Steel Knight leans into the strengths of this faction. With this Fallout 4 survival build your goal is to exploit power armor with high intelligence and perks like Nuclear Physicist, Gun Nut, and Scrapper. The idea is to travel with the Veritibird and blast enemies with the laser gun in a suit of modified Power Armor.
12 Cowardly Scrounger
The Cowardly Scrounger is perhaps one of the more difficult Fallout 4 survival builds on the list but can be surprisingly effective if done right. This path has you slowly creeping across the landscape and avoiding fights whenever possible. This means a high Agility for Sneak and probably Night Person to do traveling at night. Your goal is to gather useful items and as many caps as possible.
You’ll also want perks like Lead Belly to eat anything and save money while you stockpile. Over time you’ll have the funds and supplies to eventually fight your foes now and then. It’s a slow way to play, but you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in this game without ever fighting.
11 Synth Scientist
The Institute is one of the powerhouses of the Commonwealth for a reason. This Fallout 4 survival build has the player embodying the Institute in a way that does well in survival. High Intelligence is essential for fast leveling and using either laser or radiation weapons is key. Radiation damage is tricky, but when done right can really tear enemies apart, especially if your character has Nuclear Physicist.
You’re also in a position to take advantage of power armor, particularly the X0-1. Getting either X6-88 for stealthy approaches or the Automatron for direct assault is also helpful. The name of the game is run and gun so having high Agility with Moving Target helps a lot. Solar Powered is also a given.
10 Lucky Simpleton
This is the weakest build on the list, but surprisingly fun and viable in survival. Luck is key and you want every luck-based perk; Ricochet, Four Leaf Clover, Grim Reaper’s Sprint, Critical Banker, Better Criticals, Idiot Savant, Mysterious Stranger, Bloody Mess, Scrounger, and Fortune Finder.
The beginning is annoying, but if you live in VATS and stay patient you’ll find enemies dropping like flies in the latter part of the game. Go with a good semi-automatic and strong Power Armor as you’ll find plenty of Fusion Cores and ammo at level 30 with Scrounger.
Sharpshooter is good for survival as the idea is to remain undetected and kill your enemies from afar with a modified Hunting Rifle. Enough intelligence for Gun Nut and high agility for Sneak, Ninja, and Night Person to kill enemies with one headshot while sneaking. Quick Hands is also helpful if they don’t go down right away.
The only downside to this build is that any fight in close quarters is a problem. Offset this with a strong companion like Strong to act as a meat shield or get yourself a nice set of Power Armor and sneak as much as possible indoors.
This build struggles a bit in the beginning, as most do in survival, but gets progressively stronger until combat is no longer a problem in mid-game. You want really high intelligence to level up quickly, get Chemist to give yourself needed chems and meds, and Nerd Rage to make you stronger as your health goes down.
High endurance is also critical for durability as it gives Toughness, Lead Belly, Aqua Boy/Girl, Adamantium Skeleton, and Solar Powered. Enough stats to get Armorer ensures your armor is in top shape, Rifleman so you can fight with a strong semi-automatic rifle to minimize ammo needs, and Lone Wanderer so you can carry more.
7 Manifest Destiny
Settlements can be a tremendous help in Survival as they give you an unlimited source of free supplies, a fallback point, beds, a place to stash things, and other perks. This build fully utilizes Settlements by having a high charisma to get Local Leader to establish caravans, traders, and boost population sizes.
In terms of actual combat, you want enough agility to get Commando for automatic weapons as ammo storage is no longer an issue thanks to your network and the rest goes in endurance for whatever durability perks you want. Now expand slowly across the wastes establishing highly defensible settlements as you go and retreat back to the nearest one when the fighting gets too tough.
6 Pain Train
This build has you use Power Armor in conjunction with Blitz to bash your enemies silly. You want high agility to get Blitz, Action Boy/Girl, and Moving Target. Lots of strength for Rooted and Pain Train. Then absolutely everything else in Endurance with some durability perks like Life-Giver, Solar Powered, Toughness, etc.
The idea is to sprint to your enemies until you’re in distance, Blitz to your enemy via VATS, bash their head in with a melee weapon or unarmed combat, rinse and repeat.
5 Explosive Paladin
Power Armor is your best friend in survival as it gives you extra carrying capacity, better defenses, and more versatility. High intelligence is needed for fast leveling, Medic, Gun Nut, Scrapper, Science, Chemist, Hacker and Nuclear Physicist is a must for keeping your Power Armor running.
Your weapon will be a Fat Man, or a similar explosive weapon so Heavy Gunner and Demolition Expert are needed. Scrounger will help with ammo and finding Fusion Cores. The idea is to take it slow, stock up on Fusion Cores, keep your Power Armor and guns in top shape, and blast anything in your way.
4 Power Slugger
This build has you tackling survival with melee and using Power Armor to do it. You’ll want high intelligence to get Nuclear Physicist, Scrapper, Science, Armorer, and Blacksmith to improve your Power Armor and modify melee weapons.
Big Leagues, Rooted, and whatever you can dump into Strength to improve melee damage. Upgrade your Power Armor with Welded Rebar or Reactive Plates for added melee damage, and Calibrated Shocks so you can carry more stuff. Then just get a powerful weapon like Atom’s Judgement and start swinging.
3 Walking Tank
This build is about durability so you want a solid set of Power Armor and a good stash of fusion cores. High intelligence with Power Armor, Armorer, Science, and Nuclear Physicist helps. High endurance for Life-Giver, Toughness, and Solar Powered so you regenerate health passively and have a deep HP pool with good damage resistance.
Then get enough stats for Heavy Gunner for a minigun and Strong Back to carry enough ammo for your gun. Enemies will take a while to go down and you’ll be repairing your Power Armor a lot, but it works.
2 Powered Black Ops
This build is probably the most balanced of those on this list and adaptable to many situations. Using Sneak, Moving Target, Mister Sandman, Rifleman, Gun Nut, and Ninja creep up on enemies in a stealthy set of Power Armor and take them down with a suppressed semi-automatic rifle.
Dump stats into intelligence to get Nuclear Physicist and whatever you can into endurance to give yourself durability. Sneak through encounters, prioritizing targets you can kill quickly and quietly, and then be prepared to run and gun if you’re discovered.
Arguably the most effective build for Survival is also the strongest build on regular difficulties. Get your hands on the Deliverer, have a lot of agility and luck, then get the perks Sneak, Ninja, Locksmith, Action Boy/Girl, Gunslinger, Gun Nut, and Mister Sandman.
Using sneak creep up on enemies at night and use VATS to take them down quickly and quietly. If anyone wakes up start blowing away legs for melee fighters and heads and arms for ranged fighters. As you get stronger keep raising Luck to get the other interesting and helpful perks for VATS and to boost criticals.
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