Fewer things in the Fallout series are more recognizable than suits of Power Armor. Whether it’s the iconic Fallout 2 menu screen or the panning shot of the Brotherhood of Steel member in Fallout 3‘s intro, Power Armor has always made an immediate and lasting impression.
Fallout 4 makes significant changes to how Power Armor works compared to its’ predecessors. Some see them as improvements, others as steps backward. Me? From a gameplay perspective? I find Power Armor in Fallout 4 to be very satisfying. Welcome to our Fallout 4 Power Armor Guide.
Related: Comprehensive Fallout Armor guide
Power Armor: From Suit to Exoskeleton
In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Power Armor was a technologically advanced version of a knight’s armor. To wear it, you needed Power Armor training from certain members of the Brotherhood of Steel.
Things are different in Fallout 4. Power Armor is now an exoskeleton. Like other armor in the game, you augment the base Power Armor frame with modular Power Armor pieces.
Power Armor no longer requires training to wear and is no longer exclusive to the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave. Even raiders have managed to scavenge Power Armor frames and scrap together makeshift armor pieces for them.
Power Armor is Far Tankier and Stronger
Fallout 3’s Power Armor provided some of the highest damage resistance in the game. Every set deducted 1 or 2 points of Agility from the Lone Wanderer. However, they also increased Strength, Luck, and or Charisma, depending on the armor you wore. Some Power Armor sets, like Linden’s Outcast Power Armor, provided minor skill bonuses.
In Fallout 4, skills are gone, so no more skill bonuses.
The most noticeable difference between Power Armor in Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 that you recognize immediately is how huge people in Power Armor are in Fallout 4. While in Power Armor, you tower over humans and ghouls. It’s more akin to Spartan Armor from Halo than Power Armor from Fallout 4.
This hulking frame isn’t just for show; it’s got the durability to back it up. There’s a moment in Fallout 3 that has always stuck with me. There I was, helping the Brotherhood of Steel clear out Arlington Library of raiders. And BAM. A Brotherhood Paladin gets decapitated by a raider with a Chinese officer sword.
How on Earth is that Even Possible?
Well, in Fallout 4, it isn’t. Power Armor is great in Fallout 3 but not nearly as durable as many feel it should be. In Fallout 4, it makes you a walking, talking tank. And it is glorious. Get a running start, jump into the air, and watch the ground shake as you land.
Benefits of Power Armor in Fallout 4
Power Armor is vastly stronger in Fallout 4 than in Fallout 3. Fall damage? What’s that? Even in a Power Armor frame, you no longer take any fall damage. Go to the top of the Fallen Skyscraper and jump off if you don’t believe me.
Power Armor boosts your Strength a ton, setting it to 11 while wearing it. It also gives you a flat +50 additional carry weight. And that’s without modifications (More on those later).
Because of the benefits it provides, Power Armor is excellent for players seeking to use a Melee build. Power Armor provides the second strongest protection against Radiation in the game, inferior only to the Hazmat suit. But given that the Hazmat suit provides zero damage resistance, Power Armor is the superior overall choice.
I’ll go more in-depth on it in a later section, but you can apply mods to your sets of Power Armor to give them all sorts of additional bonuses. These range from stat and carry weight increases to fun stuff like jetpacks and Action Point refresh speed.
Power at a Cost
Another new addition to Power Armor in Fallout 4 is fusion cores. These are miniaturized nuclear batteries and the power source for any Power Armor you come across.
By default, a fusion core at 100% capacity lasts for 20 minutes in real-time. But that’s if you only perform standard actions. Any actions that drain AP, like sprinting or using power attacks, will drain the fusion core quicker.
Fusion cores can be bought from various vendors, especially those dealing in weapons, and looted from generators at numerous locations in the Commonwealth. Though it’s random, you sometimes get your hands on four fully charged fusion cores from ammo boxes.
Cons of Power Armor
Fusion cores are expensive. Unless you utilize the melon farm or purified water baron strategies, you can’t afford to use Power Armor much in the early game (To be fair, you seldom need to anyway, as enemies are pretty weak then).
As you get to the higher tiers of Power Armor, they will start to cost a significant number of valuable crafting components per armor piece. Repairs alone will set you back a decent chunk of aluminum (Unless you use the lowest tier of Power Armor).
You can no longer swim while in Power Armor. Instead, you walk along the bottom of whatever body of water you’re going across. Very, very, slowly.
You can breathe underwater longer while in Power Armor, but not for an unlimited time. In many instances, you’ll start to drown before you can reach the surface unless you have Aquaboy/Aquagirl peak or use mirelurk cakes.
While using Power Armor, your radar functions less efficiently. You lose elevation indication, which tells you if enemies are above or below you. You also can’t accurately distinguish how close or far enemies are to you on the radar. Being a walking tank can’t be all perfect, I suppose.
Do I think these cons outweigh the pros? Not even close. Refrain from using Power Armor much in the early game, and keep it at home if you’re going somewhere wet. Otherwise, it’s game on.
Power Armor Variants in Fallout 4
Counting the Power Armor frame, there are six default versions of Power Armor in Fallout 4. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find some unique Power Armor out in the Commonwealth…
Power Armor Frame
The Power Armor frame is the foundational exoskeleton for Power Armor in Fallout 4. Like complete sets of Power Armor, they set your Strength to 11, increase your carry weight, and nullify fall damage.
Power Armor frames have poor damage and energy resistance, having only 60 of each, which is lower than complete sets of standard armor. There’s no reason to explore the Commonwealth in just a frame unless you want to give yourself an extra challenge.
You can purchase Power Armor frames from numerous vendors like Arturo in Diamond City or KL-E-0 in Goodneighbor. Both of their inventories restock, so there’s an unlimited supply of Power Armor frames from vendors.
There are only two Power Armor frames out in the wild of the Commonwealth. You can find one at the Atom Cats’ garage and the other at the Revere satellite array. If you’re a stealthy character, you can get Power Armor frames from any enemies wearing Power Armor out in the Commonwealth.
Power Armor needs fusion cores to function. Sneak up behind someone in Power Armor, lift their fusion core, and they will exit the frame.
Raider Power Armor
Okay, remember how I said that Power Armor turns you into a walking tank in Fallout 4? I take that back. At least when speaking of Raider Power Armor. They’re more like Humvees at best.
Aesthetically speaking, Raider Power Armor is similar to Ashur’s Power Armor and the Tribal Power Armor from Fallout 3’s The Pitt DLC. Modified with raider power armor and scrap metal, Raider Power Armor is the weakest form of Power Armor in the game.
Raider Power Armor comes in two forms: Raider I and Raider II. They provide excellent protection against radiation like all other Power Armor but have the weakest energy resistance of them all. Regarding damage resistance, Raider I and Raider II are identical to T-45 and T-45b Power Armor, respectively.
On the upside, you can repair any Raider Power Armor with just steel, as aluminum is required only for the initial upgrade to Raider II. On the downside, the HP of Raider Power Armor pieces is hilariously low and will require constant repair.
Raider Power Armor has access to far fewer mods than any other Power Armor and has no alternate paint jobs, which is a real shame. Considering it’s Raider Power Armor, I would’ve loved to have been able to paint the torso with a skull or give the armor a blood splatter design or something.
Raider Power Armor is not totally useless, at least on Survival Mode. It does have access to the Rad scrubbers and Blood cleanser mods, and when combined with its’ low repair costs, it has some use in early-game Survival.
But at the safe time, it feels like a waste to use up precious fusion cores on such low-tier Power Armor. As a result, these are glorified statues at Sanctuary for me.
Raider bosses and high-level raiders regularly use Raider Power Armor out in the Commonwealth. However, after getting two for your display collection, the pieces aren’t even worth picking up as they have terrible weight-to-value ratios.
T-45 Power Armor
T-45 Power Armor is the first Power Armor used by the U.S. military in the armed conflict that ended the world and the most common Power Armor in the Commonwealth.
A base set of T-45 Power Armor provides 500 damage resistance, 320 energy resistance, and 1050 radiation resistance. Like every other set of Power Armor above it, T-45 has six different models. F is the strongest model and provides 110 damage resistance and 950 energy resistance (Radiation resistance never scales without mods).
The Minutemen paint job is exclusive to T-45 Power Armor sets. You can obtain it after joining the Minutemen, and it increases Charisma by 1 with every armor piece painted.
T-51 Power Armor
T-51 Power Armor is a significant step up from T-45 Power Armor. T-51f provides 1340 and 1090 damage and energy resistance, respectively.
Due to how Power Armor sets spawned in the Commonwealth work, it’s easy for players to accidentally skip over it entirely before they get a chance to grab a set. I’ve got you covered on that in a later section.
Aesthetically speaking, I think T-51 Power Armor easily has the best selection of exclusive paint jobs. T-51 Power Armor is the favorite of The Railroad, and they’ve got a pretty good color scheme. Additionally, there are the two Vim! paint jobs, and the abraxo cleaner variant.
The best of them all has to be Sugar Bombs, though. Imagine being a raider, minding your business, and taking a nap. You get up from your bed, and all you see is the face of that kid from the 200-year old cereal box. Talk about the stuff of nightmares, am I right?
T-60 Power Armor
T-60 Power Armor is the set of choice for The Brotherhood of Steel and the Atom Cats. It’s also probably the most common Power Armor you’ll see after you’ve left the early game behind you.
T-60 Power Armor is extremely durable, providing nearly 1000 damage resistance at T-60A. T-60F Power Armor offers 1580 and 1245 damage and energy resistance, respectively.
As you would expect, the Brotherhood of Steel and Atom Cats paint jobs are exclusive to T-60 Armor. Additionally, there are several variants of the BoS paint job, depending on your rank.
X-01 Power Armor
Similar in design to the original Advanced power armor of the Enclave, X-01 Power Armor is the strongest set of Power Armor in Fallout 4. It’s also the hardest set to find if you’re not careful with working around the leveled Power Armor system.
A base set of X-01 Power Armor is nearly as strong as a maxed-out set of T-51 Power Armor. As a set of X-01 MrkVI, you’re getting 1820 and 1390 damage and energy resistance.
The X-01 series has an exclusive paint job in the form of The Institute paint job. You obtain it by siding with The Institute in the main questline.
Power Armor Paint Jobs
Along with changing the functionality and design of Power Armor, Bethesda has added another new addition: paint jobs. You can apply these paint jobs to your Power Armor to give yourself additional bonuses (Mostly to your stats).
There are 24 paint jobs in total. Many are exclusive to one set of Power Armor. Several paint jobs, the Hot Rodder paint schemes, must be found out in the Commonwealth before you can apply them.
- Abraxo (Exclusive to T-51 Power Armor. Increases Agility)
- Atom Cats (Exclusive to T-60 Power Armor. Increases Agility and reduces AP drain while sprinting)
- Brotherhood of Steel Knight (Exclusive to T-60 Power Armor. Increases Strength)
- Brotherhood of Steel Paladin (Exclusive to T-60 Power Armor. Increases Strength)
- Brotherhood of Steel Sentinel (Exclusive to T-60 Power Armor. Increases Strength)
- Hot Rod Flames (Increases Agility)
- Hot Rod Pink (Increases Agility)
- Hot Rod Shark (Increases Agility)
- Institute (Exclusive to X-01 Power Armor. Increases Intelligence)
- Military (Increases Strength)
- Minutemen (Exclusive to T-45 Power Armor. Increases Charisma)
- Railroad (Exclusive to T-51 Power Armor. Increases Perception)
- Sugar Bombs (Exclusive to T-51 Power Armor. Increase Strength)
- Vault-Tec (Increases Charisma)
- Vim! (Exclusive to T-51 Power Armor. Increases Strength)
- Vim! Refresh (Exclusive to T-51 Power Armor. Increases Agility)
- Explosive Shielding (Reduces damage from explosions)
- Lead Plating (Increases radiation resistance)
- Photovoltaic Coating (Increases AP refresh speed by 20% in sunlight)
- Prism Shielding (Increases energy resistance)
- Thermal Coating (Exclusive to X-01 Power Armor. Increases energy resistance)
- Titanium Plating ( Increases Armor Health)
- Winterized Coating (Increases energy resistance. Not applicable to X-01 Power Armor)
- X-01 EMP Shielding (Exclusive to X-01 Power Armor. Increases energy resistance)
Any paint scheme that increases a stat will work with any paint job so long as they all boost the same stat. For example, the Minutemen and Vault-Tec paint schemes work together.
Modding Power Armor
Armor in Fallout 3 were all complete sets. In Fallout 4, most armor is now modular. And that includes Power Armor. The inclusion of mods allows players to tailor their loadout to match their playstyles perfectly.
But before we get into the good stuff, allow me to tell you what you’ll need.
Perks Needed for Power Armor Modding
If you want access to all of the Power Armor mods in the game, you will need the following perks and ranks:
- Science! Rank 4
- Armorer Rank 4
- Blacksmith Rank 3
Crafting Components Needed for Power Armor Modding
You’re going to need a hefty supply of crafting components if you want to deck out your Power Armor. Most of them are pretty premium, too. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Nuclear Material
- Fiber optics
As you would expect, higher tiers of Power Armor require more crafting components to mod than their inferior counterparts.
Power Armor Mods
Power Armor is now comprised of six modular armor pieces:
Each armor piece can be modded to provide you with additional utility. If you’re playing on Survival Difficulty, one of the best Power Armor mods is the Rad scrubbers mod for your helmet. Rad scrubbers remove all radiation from food and water, which is tremendously useful in the early game when your options are limited.
Most other helmet mods focus on improving your ability to find or hit your targets. The Targeting HUD highlights living enemies, and the VATS matrix overlay increases your hit chance in VATS.
All of the mods for your arm armor pieces focus on improving your prowess in melee combat. These mods include ones that give your unarmed attacks bleed or energy damage, or decrease the AP cost of melee power attacks.
Unless you are a melee-focused character, you can safely leave these mods for last or not bother with them at all.
The torso mods are where things get really fun. If you want to make a Junkie build, you can install the Blood cleanser mod to lower your chance of drug addiction. If you want a bit of a safety net, the Medic pump mod is perfect for you.
It functions as a better version of the Auto Stim legendary effect, automatically using a stimpak when your health drops below 50%. But unlike the Auto Stim legendary effect, which occurs only every 60 seconds, the Medic pump mod has no cooldown time.
Some great torso mods for Melee Sole Survivors are the Tesla coils and Reactive plates. Tesla coils deal energy damage to nearby enemies, and Reactive plates reflect 50% of melee damage back on attackers, respectively.
My personal favorite for exploring unknown territory is the jetpack. It’s great for traversing tricky locations. When I’m assisting settlements or farming exp at areas I’ve already been to, I go with the Motion-assist servos to increase my Strength and carrying capacity.
Last but not least are the legs mods. My go-to is the calibrated shocks for additional carrying capacity, but the AP refresh speed increase while moving from the Kinetic servos is nice, too.
Recommended Perks and Items for Power Armor Users
With the repair skill gone, Bethesda needed to move on to something different for the “skill” bobbleheads. In the case of the Repair bobblehead, that means a 10% increase to fusion core duration.
You can find the Repair bobblehead very early in the game at the Corvega assembly plant.
Nuclear Physicist requires 9 Intelligence and a minimum level of 26 to cap out, but it’s well worth it. Nuclear Physicist, among other things, increases the duration of your fusion cores, as well as radiation damage.
With rank 3 of this perk, fusion cores last twice as long. Just be careful with the whole ejecting fusion core part of Nuclear Physicist rank 3. You eject fusion cores from your Power Armor by holding the grenade button/key, and these things are basically mini mini-nukes.
Where to Find Early Sets of Power Armor
While it’s true that Power Armor is difficult to sustain in the early game due to fusion core shortages, still. It’s Power Armor. Of course, you want to use it as soon as possible. Luckily, there are more than a few sets not too far from Sanctuary that should satisfy you.
West of USAF Satellite Station Olivia
A short jog west of the raider-invested USAF Satellite Station Olivia is a randomized set of Power Armor near a crashed Veritbird. It can scale up to T-51, but it’s likely the first set of Power Armor you’ll get your hands on, so it’ll probably be T-45. Just head straight east after exiting Vault 111, and it’s impossible to miss.
South of Drumlin Diner
South of Drumlin diner behind a locked security gate on a ruined train is a randomized set of T-45 Power Armor. Hack the Advanced terminal to unlock the gate and claim your prize.
East of Tenpines Bluff
Head east down the cliff near Tenpines Bluff. You should see a ruined blue train on the train tracks. Inside is an Advanced terminal that unlocks the nearby security gate with a randomized set of T-45 or T-51 Power Armor.
Southeast of the Rotten Landfill
Due south of Tenpines Bluff is the Rotten landfill. It’s flooded with mole rats. Southeast of this trash heap is a lake. At the bottom of that lake is a crashed Vertibird and a randomized set of T-45 or T-51 Power Armor.
Where to Get Full Sets of Every Power Armor Variant
The problem with randomized sets is that they’re random. Sometimes you get lucky and get a full set of Power Armor. Other times, you get a set with two armor pieces. And that’s no fun. But don’t worry, Xavier’s got you covered. Here’s how you can get full sets of every Power Armor in the game.
T-45: Museum of Freedom
Here’s an easy one that I’m sure most people already know. After speaking with Codsworth at Sanctuary, he recommends you head to Concord to find help there. Do so, and you’ll run into the infamous Preston Garvey engaging some raiders.
All you have to do is charge in and help Preston out. In the last leg of the quest, you’ll head to the roof of the Museum of Freedom, get a full set of T-45 Power Armor (And a minigun), and fight off a Deathclaw.
T-51: North of Old North Church
Remember how I said you could use the leveled Power Armor system’s level caps to your advantage? Well, here’s one of the ways how.
Just north of the Old North Church is a partially-sunken barge. Locked behind a cage is a full set of Power Armor. Hack the Advanced terminal to unlock the gate.
T-51 Power Armor is the highest-tier power armor that can spawn here. Just make sure you’re at least level 14 when you come by here, and you’ve got your prize.
T-60/X-01: Nation Guard Training Yard and South Boston Military Checkpoint
Both locations can spawn full sets of Power Armor up to X-01, so it makes no difference which you go to first.
The National Guard Training Yard has two sets of Power Armor on-site. The set you want (Most) is in a shipping crate on the northwest side of the yard. You’ll need to break an Expert terminal to access it.
The South Boston Military Checkpoint is a small Gunner base. Kill a couple of Gunners, then head west behind the main building. A full set of Power Armor is behind an Expert terminal locked gate.
Question: Is Buying Fusion Cores Worth it?
Answer: I would argue no. You’re better off just keeping Power Armor on ice in the early game. Play through Fallout 4 for a while, and without realizing it, you’ll have a ton of fusion cores to spare.
Question: Why can’t I Apply a Brotherhood of Steel Paint Job to my T-60 Power Armor?
Answer: You first need to officially join the Brotherhood, which you can only do after completing Act 1 of the main quest. A lot of Brotherhood content is gated behind Act 1 completion.
Question: Do any Merchants Sell Power Armor Besides Power Armor Frames?
Answer: Yes. Rowdy over at the Atom Cats garage is a Power Armor merchant. She sells all things Power Armor-related, though her stock is dependent on your level.
There you have it, folks. That’s everything you need to know about Power Armor in Fallout 4. It’s definitely a lot different than Power Armor in previous Fallout games. But it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. And I’m guessing most of us play video games for fun, so all’s well that ends well, right?
What’s your favorite set of Power Armor and paint job in Fallout 4? Let me know! In the meantime, I’ll see you out in the Commonwealth!