Fallout 4 has been one hell of a project for Bethesda Softworks over the past few months while they pump out updates and downloadable content with mixed success. While some changes like performance increases have been received with open arms, a few additions to the game have felt a little lackluster or without purpose – but those additions are starting to make a little more sense with the overhauled Survival Mode on the horizon.

Originally Survival Mode was designed as the hardest level of difficulty available to Fallout 4 players at launch. The problem was that it didn’t introduce any new mechanics to the gameplay though, instead opting to take the easy way out by making healing more difficult, damage more difficult to dish out and increasing the number of legendary enemies placed around the map. Sure, the mode was difficult – but after you leveled up your character and built a few sets of power armor? You were okay in the toughest situations as long as you could heal fast enough by using hundreds of stimpacks.

It was disappointing, lazy and frustrating for franchise veterans – especially considering how successful Survival Mode was in Fallout: New Vegas. But that’s all about to change thanks to the newest patch from Bethesda featuring detailed changes to Survival Mode that make it more difficult, rewarding and take advantage of the many unique mechanics Fallout 4 offers.

With limited amounts of ammunition, it's more important to make every bullet count. 

Announced and put into beta on PC March 29, the new Survival Mode has a long detailed list of changes that make Fallout 4’s moment-to-moment gameplay the masterpiece it deserves to be. Here’s just a few of the important highlights that can be found over on Bethesda’s blog.

Quicksaving, manual saving and almost all autosave points are disabled. In order to save your game, you will have to find a bed in the wasteland and sleep for at least an hour.

Fast Travel is disabled entirely, meaning that you will have walk from point A to point B and endure the dangers in-between.

Exhaustion, hunger and thirst are now a daily part of your life in the wasteland. You’ll have to manage each in order to prevent your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, immunity to disease and fatigue from building up by eating, drinking and sleeping.

Carry weight for your character has been cut in half and items like ammunition and medical supplies now have weight. You’ll have to carefully prepare your inventory for each journey and deal with the consequences.

Illness is now present in the wasteland and can hurt your character in a variety of ways. As you overall wellness decreases, you’ll become more susceptible to these diseases which can only be cured by antibiotics or a doctor.

Essentially, Bethesda is working to provide an experience more akin to Dark Souls where Fallout 4’s game systems actively work against each other in order to force the player to make choices. It’s an excellent change of pace considering how many different systems were placed into the game that didn’t really matter because players could easily negate the dangers they impose.

Simple things like radiation storms now have very serious consequences involved. 

Take radiation storms for example, which are part of Fallout 4’s dynamic weather system. In the game they will pour radiation on your character over a short period of time reducing your overall health and combat effectiveness. To fix the problem all it requires is a pack or two of radaway followed by a stimpack to restore your lost health, which is hardly a sacrifice.

Radiation storms in the new Survival Mode are a different case entirely. Like in the original game, these radiation storms will pour radiation on your character over a period of time reducing your overall health and combat effectiveness. To fix the problem you’ll need to use a pack or two of radaway, which will decrease your hydration and increase your level of fatigue. In order to negate the effects of using those two doses of radaway, you’ll have to drink water to hydrate as well as caffeine to help with the fatigue. After dealing with the radiation, you’ll have to use a stimpack to restore your lost health which will further decrease your hydration and require another drink or two of water to fix. It’s also important to note that you’ll have a limited supply of each too, because every resource listed has an increased weight and your character can carry about half of what your used to.

But if you’re looking to avoid all of the above? You can just hop into the nearest indoor area and wait out the radiation storm – but there might be a few dangers lurking inside you’ll have to deal with.

My new best friend in Survival Mode. 

Due to the various changes, Survival Mode now makes settlements more valuable as well – because they offer protection, food, water and beds to save you progress and rest up for your next journey. These locations become safe houses and supply lines for you on your journey through Boston, but also become more difficult to build due to the weight limit and danger of going out to look for the required resources. It’s a fascinating and engaging change of pace that makes you care more about what you build, when you build it and how you protect it from outside attackers.

During my time with the beta of Fallout 4’s overhauled Survival Mode I found myself making decisions based on the consequences I knew I would suffer through because every move is a calculated decision filled with satisfaction and regret. I felt like I was playing a heavily modified version of DayZ in one of Bethesda’s beautiful wastelands – which is exactly how Fallout 4 was meant to be played.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore, giphy.com