The world of Fallout 4 is a pretty grueling one. From being chased by Deathclaws or getting mauled by ghouls, there's already quite a bit of challenge within the basic, vanilla version of the game itself. However, Bethesda didn't want to just stop there, which is why Survival difficulty is an official feature in Fallout 4.
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This difficulty basically turns the game into a full-on survival experience, with real stakes and no manual or autosave. Players can only save when sleeping. Moreover, the Sole Survivor will be subjected to thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. While this difficulty alone is pretty good, there are a few mods that make it even better.
However, Fallout 4 could use a bit more "survival" in its gameplay. Despite the Sole Survivor being a fish out of the water, things get easy very fast for them. Thankfully, new Fallout 4 survival mods that play into the game's survival aspect are still being made by the community.
Updated on September 23, 2022, by Patrick Armstrong: Fallout 4 isn’t a pure survival game. That may seem odd since making one’s way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by monsters, mutants, cannibals, and bandits has “challenging survival activity” written all over it. Whatever the base game lacks in built-in survival mechanics, however, mods have more than made up for. Here are some of the best mods for making a true survival experience in Fallout 4.
Some of the best mods are gigantic projects, total overhauls that rework entire games from the ground up, vastly expanding the vanilla experience or even transforming it entirely. Yet a mod doesn’t have to be large or overhaul core mechanics to be good; even tiny mods can sometimes be excellent.
Survival Stats Widget is as small as it is impactful. It makes a small change to the HUD, adding meters that let the player track their Hunger, Sleep, and Caffeination at a glance. Since so many survival mods put a premium on being well-fed and well-rested, it’s nice to know right away how good one is doing in those areas.
23/24 N.E.S.T. Survival Bunkers
Fallout is all about survival in an irradiated wasteland: it’s even in the name. While the Vaults may be some of the most iconic places where people have survived the end of the world, they aren’t the only ones. N.E.S.T. Survival Bunkers introduces some welcome variety on that front.
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Adding 30 bunkers, shelters, and holdouts to the game, this mod gives the player a variety of options, whether they’re looking for a new place to explore or just somewhere to bunk down for the night. The designs of these shelters are based on Cold War bunkers, so they feel realistic and fit in well with the rest of the setting. Just don’t expect them to always be safe.
22/24 Survivalist Armor
Surviving the apocalypse is great and all, but it loses a bit of fun if the player doesn’t look the part. Vanilla Fallout 4 doesn’t do a terrible job in this department, giving players a variety of outfits and armor that more or less look good and make sense. There could always be more and better options, however.
The Survivalist Armor mod adds a new armor type with light, sturdy, and heavy variants, all of which can be found in the wasteland, crafted at a workbench and customized. Rugged and weathered, the Survivalist Armor looks right at home in the wasteland and is perfect for helping the player survive against some of the game's more terrifying aspects.
21/24 Lost World
Fallout is one of the most iconic post-apocalyptic survival games, but it’s hardly the only one. Other games have done just as much in their own way to help shape the genre and provide gamers with an incredible experience.
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Stalker is one such game. That FPS survival horror title cultivated a reputation for its unique aesthetic and hardcore experience, and the Lost World mod does its best to create a similar experience within Fallout 4. The mod retools much of the core experience, not only changing the way the game looks but also shaping it into a much more pointed survival experience. Lost World succeeds on virtually every level.
20/24 Smarter Companions
Fallout 4's companions are easily one of the best aspects of the game due to how immersive their stories are. However, despite the game clearly making them different types of fighters, it doesn't matter that much which companion players choose on their adventure.
This mod actually makes the choice of a companion a strategic choice. Each companion has very distinct pros and cons, with special sets of abilities that will complement certain play styles. Now, players need to choose very carefully who they can trust to have their back in the game.
Players familiar with the Dark Souls franchise will know that going into the menu won't actually pause the game itself. In Fallout 4, this is a simple way to exploit a tough situation by going into a menu to heal or use other consumables, which makes the game a bit easier to play.
Thankfully, the mod Fallsouls ensures that even when hacking a terminal, lockpicking, or using the Pip-Boy, the game time isn't frozen. It makes for some truly difficult gameplay since players can't rely on a paused game to gather themselves. At the same time, it's just a bit more realistic and plays well with various survival mods.
18/24 Better Locational Damage
Strategic combat is one way to improve Fallout 4's default combat, and that's certainly what Better Locational Damage achieves, making it a must-have Fallout 4 survival mod. Headshots, in particular, have been tweaked with this mod to ensure that some enemies that are bulkier need a specific type of weapon or ammo to receive a headshot. Some of the largest enemies, like Deathclaws and Behemoths, will no longer take any headshot damage.
Other changes include the general health pool of enemies, as well as the importance of gear. Gear is actually now more important than health since leveling up won't scale the player's health pool. Helmets will now actually prevent headshots, both on the enemy and the Sole Survivor.
17/24 Darker Nights
Sometimes, it's the simple mods that make the biggest difference. For a truly harrowing survival experience, players can opt to install the Darker Nights mod, which will make Fallout 4's relatively "light" nights incredibly dark and hard to see in.
This will make wandering at night time in a nuclear wasteland a real challenge. Some of the features can also be played around with to change how well enemies detect the player in darkness. For an extra challenge, give enemies better night vision.
16/24 Arbitration AI Haul
Combat is a major part of Fallout 4, but it's not without its flaws. To make Fallout 4 more survival-friendly, the mod Arbitration tweaks the AI of enemies and turns combat into an actually interesting and strategic experience. Players can also finally say goodbye to the abundance of grenades being chucked at them by enemies.
One of the more remarkable changes is in stealth and stealth detection. Enemies will be smarter about searching for the player. To counterbalance the increase in damage and enemy deadliness, reloading and walking speed have been increased as well, though each of these features can be changed in the mod's menu upon launching Fallout 4.
Radiation is one of the major survival aspects of Fallout 4, but it isn't perfect with its mechanics. That's where the mod PIRAD comes in to make radiation even more dangerous and realistic with its effects, as well as where it could realistically threaten the player.
New magazines and suits have been included in the mod as well, and shielding from radiation is more important than ever due to the complications that follow from not doing so. Radiation poisoning is no longer a joke with this mod, and with now breakable hazmat suits and gas masks, it's important to keep that protective equipment in order.
14/24 Damn Apocalypse
A lot of players tend to shy away from mods due to them being so heavy on their games. However, there are some mod packs like Damn Apocalypse that work well, even for those who would rather not strain their PCs when installing mods. With DLCs taken into account as well, it's the ultimate combination of smaller mods and tweaks for a quick survival fix.
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The mod has a bit of everything, from changing how loot and the economy work to making combat a bit more realistic. There are new items as well, mostly trash, which will encourage players to craft rather than find what they need in the wild. It's a staple Fallout 4 survival mod.
13/24 Start Me Up
The beginning of Fallout 4 is memorable and iconic. It really puts urgency in the player's heart to go and find Shaun. That being said, sometimes it would be nice to just be born as someone else and spawn in a completely different location.
The Start Me Up mod is fantastic for players who want a much more challenging start. Sanctuary Hills is pretty easy and full of useful loot, so spawning in a location further down south with nothing but a shirt on the Sole Survivor's back is the ultimate challenge. Even better, the mod adjusts the game's dialogue accordingly.
12/24 Loot Overhaul
The abundance of stuff is a major issue in Fallout 4. There's just so much junk and other loot everywhere the player goes that surviving actually feels fairly easy if the player knows where to look for specific items. Moreover, it doesn't even make sense for areas to be so full of loot in an era of raiders and radiation.
The Loot Overhaul mod and its 2017 patch are a necessity for Fallout 4's modded survival mode. The patch is a must-download since it'll also cover all of Fallout 4's DLCs. Finding useful junk items will no longer be an easy task with this mod.
11/24 Survival Options
If playing on survival mode is a brand new experience, it might be a good idea to install this mod called Survival Options. It allows players to customize the default preset for survival that Bethesda has introduced, which is great for players who are only getting into this type of gameplay.
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The mod can be found on the Pip-Boy, and basically allows the player to tweak options for every aspect of survival, including sleep, hunger, thirst, combat, diseases, bed, and even save options. There's no better way to start than making a custom preset fit for one's needs.
10/24 Realistic Survival Damage
One of the main issues in the vanilla Survival difficulty is that players will do much less damage to the enemies. As such, they'll often find themselves using more ammo to kill simple creatures in the wasteland, which feels a bit unrealistic and tedious at times.
Realistic Survival Damage balances this out by ensuring enemies aren't just bullet sponges. It doesn't make the game easier but rather ensures the player won't be mowing down the same gang of ghouls for five minutes straight. In terms of combat mods, this one is a must-have Fallout 4 survival mod.
9/24 True Storms
Nothing makes surviving in the wasteland more atmospheric than the dynamic weather system of Fallout 4. Sadly, it could use a little more work and a bunch more detail in order for it to feel real and engaging. That's exactly what this mod aspires to do.
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The True Storms mod adds more weather effects and sounds, both outdoors and indoors. The weather feels more realistic overall and a lot more intense than in the original game.
8/24 Some Assembly Required
Power armor is one of the most essential parts of successfully surviving in the wasteland. However, it's really easy to find around the Commonwealth, with how prevalent it is. That just seems to take away from the immersion and the challenge of the game.
Some Assembly Required is a highly recommended Fallout 4 survival mod for those who play with power armors in particular. It makes finding power armor actually feel good and rewarding. Full sets will no longer be a common occurrence, so players will really have to look around and be sparing with their resources.
Fast travel is one of those controversial features in open-world games that tends to take away the feeling of immersion. That's why in Survival difficulty, it's actually disabled, and players are forced to walk everywhere on the map, which can get pretty tedious.
A nice tweak to this is the JOURNEY mod, which allows players to fast travel to settlements only. This actually makes sense from a story-telling perspective as well. In terms of which Fallout 4 survival mods to start with, this one is easily among the first ones players should get to increase the stakes.
6/24 Sleep Or Save
The only way to save in Survival difficulty is to sleep, but this isn't actually that realistic. The player could wake up and make a bunch of preparations in the morning, only to have to sleep again in order to save the game. This just doesn't make much sense.
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The Sleep or Save mod allows players to choose between the two instead of always sleeping. Beds and sleeping bags are now valid save points in the game, which makes sense and doesn't take away the challenging part.
5/24 APC Transport
If fast traveling to settlements doesn't feel right, there's another mod out there that replaces the fast travel feature with a brand-new vehicle. This APC also doubles as a storage space for players, and it's also great for sleeping and saving the game while on the go.
The APC doesn't travel absolutely everywhere, either, which makes it feel realistic. It has about 36 locations for the base game, including some of the major cities.