Love it or hate it – and presumably, like us, you love it – Fallout 76 took the bold decision to switch up the classic franchise in several different ways. It extrapolated age-old Western RPG mechanics for the online space, providing players with a host of new ways to play and a detailed new open world brimming with opportunities.
Naturally, combat will be a crucial metric for leveling up your character, and weapons are only one half of the equation. The other half is armor, an area of the game that was vastly improved upon in Fallout 4 and finetuned in Fallout 76 to adapt to its online arena.
Having braved the tantalizing yet deadly Appalachian wasteland for dozens of hours, I’ve experienced my fair share of victories and defeats. At either end of the spectrum, armor was a crucial component; in this guide, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about kitting yourself out for combat.
Bottom Line Up Front
- Armor is a crucial component of survival in Fallout 76, and is your main defense against both ballistic and energy against damage from enemies, environmental hazards, and more.
- To choose the best armor, It’s important to consider several factors like weight, damage resistance, and set bonuses. Upgrading and modifying armor will also be a vital ability for continually improving a set of armor.
- There are many types of armor in Fallout 76, whether it be regular armor, power armor, and legendary armor.
If you have time for a slightly more in-depth summary, don’t click off before you’ve checked out the How Armour Works section below. I’d also recommend checking out the Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of the article; you never know, that burning question you had might be answered there!
Fallout 76’s Armor System: New Additions
The armor system in Fallout 76 is similar to that of Fallout 4 in the series but with some notable differences. Here are a few ways that armor works differently.
A more Advanced Crafting and Modification System
Compared to Fallout 4, Fallout 76 offers more advanced options to upgrade, craft, and modify your armor. This allows for much better flexibility than before.
The game introduced the CAMP (Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform) which allowed players to make upgrades and craft on the fly thanks to the portability of the system. Crafting materials and available mods are also considerably more varied and more abundant, offering players more options for customizing their armor.
Power Armor Changes
Thankfully, Fallout 76 made fusion cores last longer and easier to obtain. What’s more, the player can use or build dedicated Fusion Core Processors, which actively generate the fuel source over time.
With this being an online game where individual expression is considerably more important, developers have also added a great number of new paint job options for your personal suit of power armor. For more on that topic, you can check out this page, which details all the available liveries.
A Greater Emphasis on Legendary Armor
Legendary armor and weapons were still found in Fallout 4, but Fallout 76 places greater importance on these pieces. You’ll be able to find legendary pieces more easily, and there are many more types to find.
As more content gets added to the game, we can also expect more pieces to be added over time; these pieces of armor represent an important incentive for play.
This type of armor is easily identified by a star symbol next to its name. Each piece provides a varied spectrum of upgrades from their regular counterparts across all the armor metrics mentioned below in the Armour Stats section.
Uniquely, some sets can also provide buffs to the player’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats. Unlike Fallout 4, these legendary effects are randomly generated.
One of the biggest differences between Fallout 4 and Fallout 76’s armor systems is that this game scales armor stats to the player’s level. Unlike in Fallout 4, the higher your level, the more likely it is that you’ll find more powerful sets. You’ll also be able to craft stronger and more efficient armor than lower-level players.
In Fallout 4, players can craft any armor they want from the start of the game (so long as they have the necessary materials). In Fallout 76, though, there’s the additional step of needing to learn armor plans.
These are set blueprints that are found throughout the world to produce a specific armor set. Even if a player has the necessary materials for an armor set, they won’t be able to craft it if they don’t have the necessary plan.
During your time in Fallout 76, you’re going to spend a lot of time comparing stats—numerical values that determine your effectiveness with practically every item in the game. Naturally, armor has its own set of stats. Let’s take a look at what all those numbers mean!
Note: The numerical ranges described below do not represent an absolute range in all cases, but after the upper limit, the value of further increases provides dramatically diminished returns.
- Damage Resistance: The damage resistance stat is pretty simple: it determines how much the armor protects you from traditional attacks, be they melee, ballistic (bullet), or explosive in nature. The stat has a numerical range of 0 to 300 for regular armor and 0 to 600 for power armor.
- Radiation Resistance: This stat dictates how much the armor will protect the player from the accumulative effects of radiation. It has a numerical range of 0 to 1000 for all types of armor.
- Energy Resistance: The energy resistance metric displays a piece of armor’s resistance to energy-based weapons, such as laser and plasma weapons. A higher energy resistance level will cause the effects of energy weapons to dissipate more evenly. Like damage resistance, this stat has a numerical range of 0 to 300 for regular armor and 0 to 600 for power armor.
- Weight: Weight determines how much a given piece of armor will encumber the player. The numerical value ranges from 0 to 50 for normal armor, causing excessive slowness towards the higher end of the scale. Power Armour weights range from 0 to 100, and due to the movement mechanics at play when using it, they don’t have as much of a negative effect regarding speed and agility at higher weights.
- Durability: In Fallout 76, armor degrades over time as it does in Fallout 4, and the durability stat ascribes a numerical value between 0 and 200 for that degradation. Degradation increases with accumulative damage, and once the value hits zero, your armor will need to be repaired at a workbench to be usable.
Types of Armor
As with Fallout 4, there are many different armor sets you can focus on collecting throughout Fallout 76. You can, of course, piece together different sets for your own unique get-up, but before doing so, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the main kits.
It’s worth noting that the descriptions below only denote each piece of armor’s main stats. Each piece can be modded with a variety of unique attachments, and there are also several different paint options for each set.
- Leather Armor: Leather armor is one of the more basic armor types in the game, and as such, it only offers moderate protection when compared to the other more durable types. It’s made from animal hides and provides basic protection from enemy attacks, with the main benefit being that it is lightweight and easy to find. In this sense, leather armor is most likely going to be the first choice for new players.
- Raider Armor: Raider Armor is very similar to the leather armor described above, but it offers more protection due to the addition of various scrap metal pieces that cover the most vulnerable areas of the body. Like Leather Armor, it is also lightweight, making it a good choice for players who want to move quickly. Raiders are also one of the most frequently encountered enemies, again making this armor type a solid choice for new players.
- Scout Armor: Scout Armor is similar to combat armor but provides particularly good protection from energy-based weapons. It is also lighter than combat armor and has a lower sneaking detection rate than most other armor. It’s great if you want to get in and out quickly in a stealthy manner.
- Metal Armor: While the above two armor sets are a mixture of soft and hard surfaces, each piece of a metal armor set is made from scrap metal. It provides better protection than leather or raider armor, but because it’s heavier, you won’t be able to move as quickly with it. It’s also relatively easy to find and put together, as scrap metal is an abundant resource.
- Combat Armor: Combat armor is likely the first specialized armor set you will encounter in Fallout 76. It’s a more advanced armor type that provides extra protection from ballistic-based weaponry. It is stronger than metal armor but also heavier; this is a trade-off you’ll have to explore yourself.
- Power Armor: We’ve already covered the benefits of power armor extensively above, but it’s worth mentioning here that the type of defense it provides is greater than any of the other types. Of course, it has its drawbacks, but there’s nothing that Power Armor doesn’t excel at. As such, it’s one of the harder items to acquire in the game and is invariably out of reach for new players.
- Marine Armor: Marine armor is a specialized type of armor that is designed for underwater exploration. While most other armor in the game doesn’t have an essential use case, you can’t expect to explore underwater areas efficiently without it. It has high resistance to radiation and is also a good all-rounder for performance in the other stats. For these reasons, it’s become a favorite among the fan base.
- Secret Service Armor: Secret Service armor is somewhat of an anomaly in the armor category; it is unique in that it’s only available to high-level players. It is highly moddable and has some of the highest damage resistance in the game.
Where to Find Armor
Armor can be found as loot from enemies you defeat or in containers throughout the wasteland, such as lockers, safes, or cabinets. It’s rarer to find particularly prized or rare pieces of armor this way, but it does happen on occasion. Whether it happens can also depend on the difficulty and severity of the enemy you’re facing.
You can purchase armor from vendors throughout the game world, including faction vendors, traveling merchants, and player vending machines.
Vendors are most likely where you’ll find the best pieces of armor as easily as possible, but that will also come at a price. Buying from a vendor may be the easiest way to acquire armor, but it’s always going to be the most expensive.
Some quests in Fallout 76 reward you with armor as a completion reward. This will depend on the type of quest, its length, and the difficulty of completing it, but you can often get a cool piece of armor at the end in the same way you’d get an interesting weapon or a high amount of caps.
Armor is often used as the main reward following the end of a quest.
Events are set multiplayer activities that only happen at a certain time on a certain day. They represent special opportunities to work with other players and score new gear.
During many of these events or at the end, players are rewarded with cash and items, and many times, you’ll be gifted some special armor for your time. You can keep track of all upcoming events by visiting the official events page.
Armor doesn’t have to be acquired as a whole unit: it can also be crafted by collecting parts. You can check the requirements for parts for a specific piece of armor by having a look at its page in the crafting station menu, and then go hunting.
As you loot, inspect the items you find within your Pip-Boy to check if they can be scrapped into the required material.
It is important to note that the type and quality of armor you can find or purchase can vary depending on your level and location in the game world. Higher-level areas and enemies will generally have better-quality armor drops. Additionally, joining a faction or completing certain quests can unlock access to faction-specific armor sets.
Three Top Tips for Choosing Armor
Consider what You’ll be Coming Up Against most often
The most common enemies in the game are Raiders, Feral Ghouls, Mole Miners, Super Mutants, and Robots. Take a look at their stats and consider the best armor pairings that will give you well-rounded defensive options.
You don’t want something overall heavy, but you’re going to need proper protection against bullets and melee attacks to go against these enemies. Combat armor is the natural progression from the more basic leather and raider armor.
Consider Armor Weight
It’s easy to get lured in by a given armor’s impressive damage resistance, but this most often comes at the cost of maneuverability. If you can’t take cover or escape from a fast enemy when you need to abandon a fight, that extra damage resistance won’t make a scrap of difference. Always pay attention to the weight stat!
Pay Attention to the Set Bonus
The “Set Bonus” refers to a specific buff received when multiple pieces of a given set are worn together.
Therefore, wearing a set as a whole increases that piece of armor’s effectiveness as well as enhancing each piece of individual armor’s abilities by working together for the same end benefit. Always consider seeking out a specific set rather than mismatching.
As I briefly touched on earlier, there are also various mods that you can apply to your armor to enhance its properties. Here are the seven mods I consider most useful, though you may come across several more on your journey that are particularly efficacious for your play style.
You can find mods in many different ways, from vendors, corpses, and loot, or by making them yourself at a workbench if you have the necessary materials.
No matter how you obtain them, you’ll need to be at a workbench to install them. Some mods may also require specific perks to use, so be sure to check out the stats for each mod in your Pip-Boy before going to the effort of hunting for it.
Seven of the most Useful Mods
- Pocketed: The pocketed mod is a simple but vital addition to any piece of armor in that it adds pockets to the clothing. This has the obvious effect of allowing you to carry more items on your person while wearing it—an often underrated ability until you find yourself over-encumbered without the desire to part with any of your precious loot!
- Shadowed: If you’re anything like me, you most enjoy sneaking around an enemy camp, stealthily picking off each Raider or Super Mutant one by one as they run around in total confusion. The shadowed mod enhances the fun of this playstyle significantly, offering your armor greater sneaking abilities with a drastically reduced likelihood of getting detected. Pairing it with the scout armor is my personal favorite, as it already has enhanced stealth abilities.
- Dense: The Dense mod provides the player with greater resistance to explosives. I found it a great choice to use with Power Armor, as usually, the situations you’ll use this armor type most often in are the particularly dangerous ones—the type of encounter where you need a lot of firepower and plenty of resistance to bombs, missiles, and grenades. You’ll be even more of a walking tank if you stack this mod on top!
- Lead-lined: Some of the best loot in the world is encapsulated in the most dangerous areas, and usually, those areas are the most irradiated. As such, if you want to go for the top prizes, you better get yourself some armor that has a high resistance to radiation and use the Lead Lined mod, a key addition to your armor if you need extra protection from deadly nuclear areas.
- Strengthened: The Strengthened mod increases the damage resistance of your armor. Above all, this is one of the most fundamentally helpful mods available, both in its ability to enhance your combat prowess and in how you won’t need to spend as much time repairing your gear.
- BioCommMesh: BioCommMesh is a torso armor mod that reduces the duration of negative effects from environmental hazards; often, it’s not the initial attack that does the damage, but the lasting, continuous draining points that make environmental damage so deadly. If you’re exploring hazardous environments, which will form a large part of your adventures in a Fallout game, you’ll want to check this mod out!
- Ultra-Light Build: There aren’t many instances in Fallout where you can have your cake and eat it, so to speak, but the Ultra-Light Build mod is perhaps the closest you’ll get to that sentiment regarding armor. This mod reduces the overall weight of the armor you’re wearing, meaning that you can have the benefits of high-damage armor like combat or metal while still receiving the benefits of faster movement speeds and greater agility.
Favorite Pieces of Armor from the Community
- Secret Service Armor: The Secret Service Armor has maintained its popularity among players for a long time. The set can be purchased from Regs at Vault 79 using gold bullion; it has high damage resistance, energy resistance, and radiation resistance and can be heavily upgraded with mods to provide additional benefits.
- T-65 Power Armor: The T-65 Power Armor is the most advanced set of power armor in Fallout 76, providing the highest level of damage resistance and energy resistance of any power armor set in the game. Locating and piecing together this armor set was one of the most fun challenges in the game for me.
- Unyielding Armor: Unyielding Armor is a type of legendary armor that provides a significant boost to all special stats except endurance when the player character has low health. This can make it a powerful choice for players who want to maximize their damage output and combat effectiveness.
It’s worth noting that there are many other armor sets and combinations that can be effective in Fallout 76, and what works best for one player may not work as well for another. It’s important to experiment with different armor sets and mods to find what works best for your playstyle and combat strategy.
Question: Is it better to Look for New Armor or Repair what You Have?
Answer: That all depends on the armor. During the early game, the leather and raider armor you find is readily available. In this case, it can be easier to simply replace it with a more durable variety as and when you find it instead of making the effort to repair it.
Once you advance further into the game, however, you’ll be using more prized armor that you’ve spent a lot of time piecing together and upgrading. In this case, you’re not going to simply want to toss it out and find more; it’s much more beneficial to take the time to make a repair.
Question: How can I Increase the Durability of My Armor in Fallout 76?
Answer: Armor’s durability is increased by upgrading and modifying it. Some of the mods I discussed above, such as the Pocketed mod, both increase the carrying capacity of your armor and reduce the amount of damage it takes.
Other mods, such as Dense or Padded, can increase your resistance to certain types of damage, meaning you won’t have to repair your armor as often.
There’s also a perk I didn’t include above, but that will be helpful in this instance: it’s called the White Knight perk. This perk reduces the amount of material required to repair armor. There’s also a perk called “Fix It Good,” which you might be interested in, as it increases the durability of repaired armor specifically.
Question: Won’t I be at a Huge Disadvantage as a New Player with only Leather or Raider Armor?
Answer: Indeed, this armor isn’t the greatest, but everyone has to start somewhere. Thankfully, the game has been designed so that you are not heavily penalized for your lower abilities and armor. The enemy difficulty is scaled so that you have a fair fight, and the cooperative nature of the game encourages other players to play together and help each other out.
Fallout 76 Armor Guide: Conclusion
Armor is a critical component of survival in Fallout 76. Choosing the right armor and keeping it in good condition can mean the difference between life and death in the wasteland.
By understanding the different types of armor, how to craft and modify them, and how to choose the right armor for your playstyle, you can increase your chances of survival and thrive in the dangerous and unforgiving world of Fallout 76.
If you have more burning questions concerning armor—or anything else related to Fallout 76, for that matter—make sure to stop by the Fallout 76 board on Reddit to quiz the community. Have fun!