This page provides players new to Fallout: DUST with all the advice they will need to survive the Mojave and surrounding areas.
Trying to tackle DUST without prior experience in Fallout: New Vegas in Hardcore Mode is not advised.
This article does not spoil DUSTs main and only quest of escaping the Mojave, but In the end of it you will find a link to an article helping you solve it.
Character creation in Dust should not be handled exactly as one would in vanilla New Vegas. A high-Speech, high-Barter, high-Charisma playstyle will almost certainly result in the player having a very difficult time playing Dust. This isn’t your neighborly Vegas paradise. This is a true wasteland, where almost everyone you encounter is keen on killing you and taking your equipment, or worse. Plan accordingly when creating your character.
To begin, take all of your SPECIAL points out of Charisma. High Charisma is a dreadful waste of SPECIAL points, and will get the player nowhere. Perception's also dead weight too given it mostly benefits the compass, which is practically disabled in DUST. Rather, invest your points in more concrete statistics, like Strength or Intelligence. A high Strength can help raise your lowered carry weight, and high Intelligence will ensure that you gain more skill points upon leveling up.
See the Fallout: Dust SPECIAL page for the changes Dust introduces to SPECIAL and derived statistics, and if you're concerned about the drastically lowered carry weight, then give the Backpacks provided by DUST page a visit.
Skill Point Distribution
Skill points should generally be focused towards more combat-based skills, like Guns or Melee Weapons. However, a plurality of skill points should be placed in more specialized areas, namely Lockpicking or Repair. Lockpicking allows access to many helpful supplies, and Repair can keep your equipment in good condition. Furthermore, the Repair skill can allow you to craft makeshift weaponry, which can prove very helpful. Survival skill gives access to good perks (e.g. Roughin' It, especially good when combined with Bedroll KitB).
Perks and Skills at a glance
Helpful resources for deciding on how to sketch out the perks, traits and statistics of your Survivor are provided in the Fallout: Dust Perks and Fallout: Dust Traits page, with additional information being kept in the Fallout: Dust SPECIAL and Fallout: Dust Level pages.
Selecting a good starting location can be especially tricky. The names placed on the doors at The Beginning are rather vague, or even deceptive. Therefore, it is recommended to save your game before selecting a starting location. This allows you to rethink your decision should you choose poorly.
Recommended starting locations are the Abandoned Warehouse or the Shack reachable through a door in the same room as the Abandoned Warehouse. The Abandoned Warehouse is located nearby to Camp McCarran, in a relatively safe position. Furthermore, the warehouse comes with a makeshift sniper rifle with ammo on the staircases, with the possibility of more weapons and equipment on corpses.
The Shack door leads to Jeans Sky Diving, with a good chance of providing lootable corpses close to Goodsprings Source. Nearby Ghost Town also provides for valuable resources and gear.
Most importantly, wherever you start, DO NOT forget to grab the Crafting Kit. The kit is an invaluable tool for survival in Dust, and weighs only a single pound (and if you happen to run into a Hot Plate, grab that too). The usefulness of the crafting kit will be covered later.
Survival in Dust is to be approached somewhat differently from vanilla New Vegas. Most harvestable plants have been removed, and water, especially the clean variety, is very scarce. Dust has amplified the survival needs, and as such, it is recommended to keep track of supplies to avoid running low on the necessities. If that wasn’t enough, survivors now have to deal with the Sanity system, meaning that endless slaughter of other humans for supplies will no longer be strictly profitable. Pick your fights carefully, and know when to save your ammo for more perilous situations.
Hunger, Thirst, and Sleep are no longer mild inconveniences. In Dust, the Hardcore Mode survival needs prove a constant threat to survivor health. Stock up on food and water, even if it is irradiated, and do not be afraid to take a nap when the opportunity presents itself.
Thirst is easily the most threatening of the survival needs. Most sources of water in the Mojave are now either irradiated or absent altogether. The Courier’s Stash add-on proves immensely helpful in managing Thirst, as the Vault 13 Canteen can help temporarily stave off dehydration. Toilets are a common source of water, though often irradiated. Lake Mead has become Mead Canyon, drained of all water.
Food and Sanity go hand in hand with one another. Cannibalism solves the food issue permanently, but can take a massive toll on Sanity. Buildings with people nearby are the best places to find food, namely Nipton. The McBride ranch house in Novac still has the many Brahmin Steaks located in the fridge, though Novac itself is heavily populated with cannibals.
Sleep is the least threatening of survival needs, but should not be overdone. Sleeping too long will cause your other needs to skyrocket, and can even cause death upon awakening. Therefore, keep sleeping low on the priorities list. Focus on Hunger and Thirst.
If all the hardcore needs are just a tad too hardcore, don’t worry. Hardcore mode, while the intended game mode for Fallout: Dust, can be toggled off at any time.
Possession of a Crafting Kit is quite easily the most important step towards Quality of Life in DUST. Any starting location keeps a Crafting Kit to be picked up, allowing for on-the-spot preparation of food, drink and even ammunition.
Visit the Fallout DUST Crafting page for a comprehensive list of craftable items.
The new Sanity system is merely a repurposed Karma system, with the good and bad roles reversed. Most actions that would normally gain Karma in normal New Vegas (killing ghouls, killing Fiends, etc.) now cause a loss of Sanity. Actions that would lower Karma (theft, etc.) now raise Sanity. However, some new Sanity boosters and perks have been integrated to work in tandem with the Sanity system.
Insanity is caused by having your sanity drop too low, and is usually caused by excessive killing and/or cannibalism. While generally regarded as bad, Insanity has its perks, both figuratively and literally. Hallucinations caused by insanity can cause Fugue States, which can lead to surprising outcomes. See the Insanity page for more information.
Combat has, as with most everything else in Dust, been made much more difficult. You are more fragile, but so are your enemies. However, this isn’t exactly an even playing field when you have no assistance in fending off a horde of cannibals. Bullets no longer appear in boxes of dozens. All munitions now appear individually, making ammunition exceptionally scarce.
A good approach to combat in Dust is stealth. Being stealthy allows you to pick off your opponents individually as opposed to taking them all at once. It also allows you to save ammunition. Stick to the shadows and strike from cover.
The scarcity of Ammo makes slicing and brawling more common in the Mojave. Having at least one decent melee weapon is recommended most of the time (even if you aren't going for a Melee build), just to have something fall back on.
Speaking of ammunition, always loot the weapons of off your opponents, as you will keep the additional munitions, even if you drop these weapons right after looting them.
Unique and useful loot
Dust adds a few new unique(-ish) items that prove incredibly useful. The first is the McCallum Rifle. One copy, with all of it's mods (silencer, scope, long barrel) can be found in a small shack connected to railway tracks a bit north of Repconn HQ. It uses 45-70 Gov't ammunition.
The second unique item is a stun gun. It is hidden on a roof of El Rey Motel inside a small, locked chest (the key is inside one of the rooms). It works like a recharger pistol so you don't need ammunition. Incredibly useful, both in stealth and combat.
The third item is a unique Hazmat Mask Mk II. While it's not the best as a helmet, it gives player a nightvision, which is incredibly useful at nights. It can be found inside Lucky 38, on one of the corpses. Another copy can be found in Sealed Sewers under NV.
The fourth item is the Medicine Stick, located at a tribal outside Novac, now known as "Tribal Rifle"
The fifth item would be a powerful power armor known as "Scorched Power Armor" found at 188 Overpass and in Camp Golf, but it requires power armor training, which is not available in DUST.
Flare Gun is not unique, since beside the one copy in Zion, there's another one in the Long 15, in one among many useful crates and boxes. Long 15 is easier to explore than Zion, at least. Smaller, so enough time for stealthboy to sneak around and picking up all the loots.
Check the Weapons of DUST page for information about weapons unique to DUST and their properties, and the DUST Backpack page for improving your carrying capacity in order to take advantage of the above advice, despite the limited carrying capacity in DUST.
Non-unique, useful loot
Beginners might want to try and get their hands on a set of Throwing Spears. These are easy to craft or obtain from opponents, completely silent and first and foremost incredibly powerful. Aiming might require some practice, though, and Throwing Spears are certainly not one of the weapons of choice for close quarter combat, or if swarmed.
For sniper characters, the Ratslayer still located in Broc flower cave might prove the be very useful, being a unique variety of the Varmint rifle equipped with a night vision scope, silencer and extended magazine, still having an unmatched multiplier of chance of a critical hit. While getting to Broc flower cave is a rather dangerous undertaking, surprisingly the inside of the cave is guarded by annoying, but not mortally dangerous foes. On the flipside, being a unique weapon, keeping the Ratslayer in shape might prove to be not worth the trouble for non-sniper characters.
With a little bit of luck, the Gun Runners' Vendortron might be found alive near Vault 34. You will probably have to eliminate all Tunnelers in the area prior to it being willing to trade with you.
If your character is insane, you can get the alien blaster but first you need to kill aliens which isn't easy task. Alien are located in the same place as in vanilla game, east to Brooks tumbleweed ranch.
They are NOT at the starting places, but quite nearby. so you would need to walk out a bit.
Jean Sky Diving shack, northeastern toward ex-Sloan, about a third of the way there's a scripted massacre place. Among the assuredly corpses lie on the ground there's one Jumpsuit Armor, with +10 guns. It's not unique apparel, but it's only available quite a while later. This fixed placement of good stuff is unique among all 9 starting places.
Captain Dean Boat Rentals has a complete set of Makeshift Crossbow, quite valueable anyway you look at it. More than that, it has a Great Khan armor, which help in vault 3's dealing.
Lucky Jim Mine start is a bit of a puzzle due to quite a few ways to go. Searchlight north gold mine and Coyote Mine nearby has 20+ dynamites with only wild life block the way. Northward, the Three Crosses has Liberator in the hand of a chieftain, and a trio cannibals wearing Tribal Power Armor and .45 SMG
Northward of Hidden Armory is the Red Rock Village. At night you can try to sneak into the longhouse to kill for their Great Khan armor. This equipment is vital to pacify the Tribals (and much more else where) in vault 3 and allow a complete looting of an entire vault. This operation is easiest for starting at Hidden Armory. Survivors starting elsewhere can only do it with great long treks and difficulty.
Tunnelers from the Divide have, as Ulysses predicted, invaded the Mojave. Anywhere you would normally find Geckos in vanilla New Vegas, you will now find Tunnelers, who appear to have driven the Mojave Gecko population to extinction.
Tunnelers are very difficult combatants. What they lack in health, being taken down in a couple shotgun blasts, they more than make up for in damage and numbers. They strike in packs of three or more at once, and two or three slashes from them is an almost assuredly fatal. Furthermore, a possible bug exists with the Tunnelers that causes them to detect you more easily if you are sneaking. This can make it very difficult to avoid detection, though the Tunneler Detection Fix on the Nexus remedies this problem.
Tunnelers are better driven off or avoided than killed. For every Tunneler you kill, two more will come to take its place. Tunnelers are afraid of fire and other sources of bright light, meaning that flare guns, flamethrowers, and flash grenades are effective at driving them off long enough for you to escape. Additionally, stick to the roads. Areas off the beaten path are often swarming with Tunnelers, and straying from the road can lead to a dozen Tunnelers intercepting you.
If you are detected by Tunnelers and don’t have the firepower to kill them or drive them off, run for the high ground as fast as possible. This will at least slow them down long enough to give you a fighting chance, or cause them to flee if you are on top of something on which they cannot navigate. Boulders scattered across the desert can provide a temporary reprieve from Tunneler attacks, allowing you to take pot shots at them to clear a path to the next boulder or other high ground.
Tunnelers provide for excellent food (Gecko Kebab, Tunneler Steak), though, and with a weapon like the loot- and craftable Makeshift Crossbow (or Throwing Spears) they can be one-shot killed, even with low-level characters. Use Tourniquets (crafted from Leather Belts) to boost your Poison Resistance, if you happen to encounter a Venomous Tunneler.
Should DUST’s difficulty prove too much of a challenge, there are plenty of ways to make DUST easier. Toggling off hardcore mode is the simplest option, removing the survival needs and ammunition weight. This method comes at great cost to one of the core aspects of DUST, but should the player require a “practice run” of sorts, it’s a viable option.
The DUST fast travel mod on the Nexus re-enables fast travel for DUST. This makes traveling the Mojave far less tedious, as it allows fast travel like the vanilla game.
The Weightless Ammo In Hardcore Mode mod makes ammunition weightless even if you are in Hardcore Mode. As an odd side effect, it also increases the amount of ammunition you will find in DUST (where you would normally find one bullet, you will now find 12 or so). This allows for a more gunplay-friendly experience and lower difficulty.
The Mods for DUST page contains information on more mods for DUST.
Tribals are quite territorial and will shoot if you enter a distance they deem dangerous, carrying weapons they deem dangerous (any), and stay too long in their sight. With that said, and all 3 condition satisfy, you probabbly can skirt through their area with some difficulty and much speed. No dally, now.
Of course there's exception to this rule, which is a most aggressive type of Tribals that look no different from others. Enter their sight and they will initiate attacks immediately and leading others into a full scale assault. Example of this is the trio of Tribals right next to Allied Technologies Office. Two of them can hesitate quite sometime, but if the last see you, the jig is up right that moment.
The essence of diplomacy is any Great Khan clothing, and a visit to Vault 3 wearing it. You must get recognized by the Vault 3 fiends as a drugrunning Khan for the Tribals of their affiliation to ignore you.
Of course, Fiends are Tribals but not every Tribal is Fiend. You must know which is which, a hard task considering their equipments are not that different. Thus care is called for when you attempt diplomacy with Tribals.
Great Khans armors are now rare armors only found in certain places: Chance's grave, maybe one of the bodies in Tribal Village, Melissa group in GK encampment, a survivor body in Captain Dean Boat Rental, and old man Oscar Valesco. Red Rock area dont have any living person wearing it.
Escaping the Mojave
See Escape the Mojave for instructions on solving DUST's main quest