When Bethesda licensed the rights to develop several Fallout games and later acquired the franchise entirely, fans of the Interplay era were concerned with what direction Bethesda would take the series.
I’m sure we’ve all heard at least one person refer to Fallout 3 as just Oblivion with guns. And while Fallout 3 did have its fair share of controversy, it introduced some things to the franchise that Fallout fans generally view as welcome additions to the world of Fallout.
One such thing is the wasteland creature known as the Yao guai. Before we continue with our Yao Guai Guide, let’s see what it actually is.
What is a Yao guai?
Yao guai are descendants of the American black bear. Mutated by the aftereffects of the Great War, the American black bear became a monster.
American black bears are arguably the most harmless bear species in North America. In the prehistoric years of North America, predators like saber-toothed cats and dire wolves outclassed and dominated black bears.
Black bears developed the ability to climb trees as a defense mechanism to save them from predators who lacked tree-climbing skills. Over time this ability, combined with their relatively low placement on the predator pyramid, made black bears passive and more likely to flee than fight.
Those traits have stuck with American black bears to this day. Unless there’s something wrong with it (Like rabies), a black bear attack is exceedingly rare unless you invade its’ personal space. And even then, it’s a defensive reaction, not a predatorial one.
Unfortunately for the people in the world of Fallout, the Great War changed American black bears for the worst. No longer timid and inclined to stay away from humans, the Yao guai is one of the deadliest species in the post-apocalypse.
They are much bigger than their ancestors and far more vicious, attacking almost anything that isn’t a fellow Yao guai. They are strong, fast, and have massive sharp claws. Taking into account their patchy hide and cold white eyes, it’s easy to mistake any Yao guai you see as being a zombie bear.
What does Yao guai mean?
Yao guai comes from the real-life term yaoguai. It’s the combination of the two Chinese words yao (妖) and guai (怪). Separately, the words have multiple meanings, but together, the word loosely translates into a term meaning strange monster. That sounds like a pretty accurate description of Fallout’s Yao guai.
In the Fallout universe, the descendants of prisoners of Chinese internments camps came up with the word to describe the mutated form of the American black bear.
So what exactly is the Yao guai in-game, and what dangers does it pose to you, the player? Let’s find out.
The Yao guai made its debut in Fallout 3 and is probably the first enemy you’ll come across in the Capital Wasteland that is extremely dangerous. They are very similar to Deathclaws in that they have a deadly lunge attack. Several swipes from one of these beasts will take you out at full HP at lower levels.
Despite their size, they’re relatively quiet and can often sneak up on you if you’re not careful. You don’t know terror until you hear the low rumbling of a Yao Guai’s growl, only to turn around and find yourself halfway into its jaws.
Thankfully, most roaming Yao guai will be wandering alone, though sometimes you may have to contend with two at a time. The only places in the Capital Wasteland with a high-density population of these beasts are the Yao guai tunnels and Yao guai cave. Stay far away from both of these places until you are at a higher level. There’s also always a couple of them wandering around behind Canterbury Commons.
Point Lookout is home to many terrifying creatures and beasts, and one of them happens to be a Yao guai.
Ruzka the Wonder Bear
In the northwest corner of Point Lookout’s map, you can find Ruzka. Previously a show bear for the circus, as hinted by the big red ball, Ruzka is now just another Yao guai.
Scavenger’s Yao guai and Animal Friend
One of the neatest random encounters in Fallout 3 that you may not know about is the Scavenger with a Yao guai. At first glance, you might have the knee-jerk reaction of shooting it because, you know, it’s a Yao guai. But if you get up close, you will see its’ name is Scavenger’s Yao guai, and it’s non-hostile.
While you, unfortunately, cannot have your own pet Yao guai (Yet), you can pacify wild Yao guai if you have the Animal Friend perk. With the second rank of Animal Friend, Yao guai can come to your aid in battle if they are nearby.
Fallout: New Vegas
Along with the standard Yao guai, you will also run into cubs and giant Yao guai while exploring Zion Canyon. The cubs are nothing to worry about, but the giant ones can be a problem if you aren’t careful. They are arguably the fiercest enemies in Zion. If you want to try your luck, head for the Yao guai cave.
The Ghost of She
By taking on the Rite of Passage quest from White Bird, you will have to defeat the Ghost of She.
The Ghost of She is a flaming variant of the giant Yao guai, who can also multiply herself when at low health. If you successfully defeat her, you can obtain one of the best unique items from Honest Hearts.
Yao guai gauntlet and She’s Embrace
You will notice that numerous members of the Sorrows tribe utilize a weapon known as the Yao guai gauntlet. It is similar to the deathclaw gauntlet and is a strong weapon for unarmed players that ignores damage resistance and threshold. It can deal nice critical damage and has a good bonus critical multiplier.
If you are interested in this weapon or want to give it to a companion like Veronica, then make sure to complete the Rite of Passage quest. Doing so will reward you with the unique variant, She’s Embrace. It’s better than the standard Yao guai gauntlet in every way.
A franchise staple now, Yao guai are back and menacing the good and bad folk of the Commonwealth. Like many enemies in Fallout 4, Yao guai spawns fall under the tier system. As you level up, you will begin to see different varieties of Yao guai, including the Yao guai ghoul. Or, as some might call it, a zombie bear.
Yao guai are far less common in the Commonwealth, so you won’t run into these nearly as often as you did in the Capital Wasteland. They are more dangerous, however, especially on Survival Mode. All their attacks can stagger you. If you’re unlucky enough, they might stun-lock you.
Every variety of Yao guai, except the highest tier Dusky Yao guai, is susceptible to the Animal Friend perk. And unlike in Fallout 3, you can make Yao guai you pacify into companions.
Those who survived the Great War really got the short end of the stick. Imagine living through nuclear annihilation only to go outside and have to deal with giant, mutated bears.
Well, that’s what the survivors of Appalachia have to do because the Yao guai menace is one of many you have to deal with in Fallout 76. All the variants from Fallout 4 are back, along with a new version in the scorched Yao guai. Animal Friend is back as well, and you can pacify Yao guai and send one to one of your camps.
Son of Fluffy
Before the war, a scientist, Dr. Frank, was conducting animal splicing experiments. Almost all of his experiments failed, except one. He successfully spliced a bovine brain and glands with a rescued bear. He named the bear Fluffy, and it was docile for a while. Eventually, however, it became increasingly aggressive and escaped.
Dr. Frank suspected Fluffy was terrorizing the nearby townsfolk when news of two murdered hikers got out. He went out to find Fluffy, seduce him, and bring him back to his lab. He managed to find Fluffy in a cave, but neither survived the encounter.
Fluffy lived on after death through a son aptly named Son of Fluffy, who became a Yao guai after the bombs fell. By taking on the side quest Unsolved: Tracking Terror, you can find and slay the Son of Fluffy.
What’s the best way to deal with Yao guai?
If I were in a post-apocalypse with giant mutant bears, I’d steer clear of them as much as possible. Or, if combat is inevitable, taking them out from afar is the best option. Sniper rifles are best for the job, though mines can do wonders as well. Sometimes these beasts can get the drop of you, however, so you have to be able to handle them in close quarters, too.
Yao guai are a melee type enemy, and like with all melee enemies, my recommendation is you should first go for the legs. Yao guai are like deathclaws and have a lunging attack. Their lunging attack does the most damage, but they can’t do it with a crippled leg.
Crippling their leg also significantly reduces their movement speed and makes it possible for you to run away or create distance.
What drops can you get from Yao guai?
In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, you get one item from Yao guai: Yao guai meat.
Yao guai meat in these games provides a minimal amount of healing, but it comes with a 10% damage boost for several minutes. You cannot stack this effect by consuming multiple pieces of Yao guai meat, but you can stack it with other items that increase your damage, like Psycho. It’s pretty good, especially if you use chems, but not too big of a deal.
New Vegas increases the usefulness of Yao guai meat slightly with the inclusion of Hardcore Mode. Along with the other effects, eating Yao guai meat reduces your starvation by 100 points in Hardcore. Despite the expansive crafting system, New Vegas doesn’t have any recipes that require Yao guai meat.
The Ghost of She has an exclusive drop in her Ghost of She’s paw, which you need to craft She’s Embrace.
Fallout 4 greatly expanded the crafting system, including food recipes. Unlike in New Vegas, you can use Yao guai meat to craft two useful consumables: Yao guai roast and Yao guai ribs.
You can make Yao guai roast with one Yao guai meat, a tato, and a carrot. It heals 210 HP and increases your melee damage by 10% for 60 minutes. Even if you don’t use melee weapons often, the big heal is nice.
To make Yao guai ribs, you only need one Yao guai meat. It heals 165 HP and increases Damage Resistance for 15 minutes. It’s definitely the more universally useful of the two dishes.
Just don’t make my mistake and hoard your consumable components endlessly. I did this on my first playthrough, and by the time I remembered they existed, I was far beyond the point where they had their most usefulness. Obviously, don’t go wasting either of these to heal 40 HP, but don’t wait until your Stimpaks heal 100% of your health to remember you have some Yao guai ribs in your back pocket.
The Yao guai drop pool remains largely the same in Fallout 76, though they can also drop new junk items like waste acid and loose springs. Prime Yao guai can also drop prime meat.
Question: Why can’t I pacify Dusky Yao guai?
Answer: You can only pacify animals that are lower level than you, and Dusky Yao guai spawn matching your Sole Survivor’s level.
Question: Can I pacify legendary Yao guai?
Answer: Yes. It’s possible to pacify any legendary animal or wasteland creature except the highest tier enemies like Dusky Yao guai.
Question: Which is better, the Yao guai gauntlet or Deathclaw gauntlet?
Answer: The Yao guai gauntlet and She’s Embrace weapon are more midgame unarmed weapons. The standard deathclaw gauntlet isn’t available in Fallout: New Vegas (Without console commands), but there are two unique versions: The Fist of Rawr and Fist of the North Rawr (Wild Wasteland only). Both of them completely outclass the Yao guai weapons.
I’m not putting much money on a new Fallout game coming out anytime soon. Starfield gets the most buzz from Bethesda news these days, and Skyrim is older than Fallout 4. Add in Fallout 76, and we’ll be lucky to see a new main entry into the Fallout series by 2025 at this rate.
But, when a new Fallout does come out, I’ll be ready for it. I’m pretty disappointed by how rare Yao guai encounters are in Fallout 4 and hope that’s one of many things Bethesda changes to the Fallout formula in the next entry.
It would also be nice if they expanded upon Yao guai-related weapons. I always wondered why bows were nowhere to be found (Classic Fallout has throwing spears, at least). I think it’d be pretty awesome if we could make arrows or throwing knives out of Yao guai claws. Just thinking out loud here. Not much else I can do at this point, right?
What are your favorite wasteland creatures across the series? I’d love to know. I’m sure many of them will be covered here. Until next time, I’ll see you out in the wasteland!