Yesterday Fallout 4’s Far Harbor expansion landed with a big splash, releasing the largest landmass Bethesda has ever created. As you might have guessed, Far Harbor is an absolutely massive expansion filled with tons of new equipment, activities and questlines to pursue as you’re exploring the new island.

After spending a sizable amount of time with Fallout 4’s latest expansion though, I realized that there were a few things I wish I knew going in – some that quite honestly have a profound effect on the player experience within Far Harbor. Unlike the base game, Far Harbor has much more of an RPG-styled background, with changes to dialogue and character interaction that veterans of the franchise will certainly appreciate.

Here’s some of the most important things to prepare for.

Bring Nick Valentine

While you may be tempted to spend more time with Far Harbor’s new companion Old Longfellow, I strongly urge you to ditch him for your old synth buddy Nick Valentine while completing the main questline of the new expansion. Throughout the main questline (and a majority of the side quests for that matter), Nick Valentine offers a tremendous amount of interesting dialogue about the new NPCs and new areas scattered about Far Harbor that felt paramount to the new expansion’s premise. While some are certainly more beneficial than others, I can’t stress bringing him along with you enough – it just makes for a more interesting journey.

Unlock Every Faction within the Commonwealth

If you havent completed a sizable amount of the main questline within Fallout 4, I highly recommend you do so to the point where you are in contact with every main faction. These factions actually play an optional part in the main storyline of Far Harbor which loops back to the base game and their motives within it. So if you plan to ally your character with a specific faction, it’s important to be a member of them before diving into Far Harbor’s main quest.

Charisma is King

While speech checks didn’t feel like an important part of the base game, Bethesda has clearly made them a more important element within Far Harbor’s various quests. Throughout my time with Far Harbor so far, I’ve encountered speech checks frequently while interacting with the new cast of characters. This time though, the speech checks have a huge impact on the way both side and main questlines play out – meaning that you’ll want to pass as many as you can. Just make sure your character has a decent charisma stat along with a few charisma-enhancing drugs or clothing items before stepping into the quests Far Harbor offers, otherwise you may not reach the desired outcome. It’s also worth noting that there are many skill checks within this expansion outside of charisma, so be prepared with high S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes or stat-boosting gear.

Finish Every Side Quest

While many of you may be tempted to rush through the main questline within Far Harbor, it’s important for you to complete the plethora of side quests the new expansion offers before rushing ahead. Many of these quests will actually be blocked or cut off from you without warning if you progress too far in the main quest before completing them, which will prevent you from obtaining some of the best rewards in the expansion.

Bring Radiation Resistant Gear

No matter what difficulty level you are playing on, radiation is one of the most dangerous threats you will face in the new expansion. The new landmass is almost completely covered in a radioactive fog that residents of the island have been fighting for as long as they can remember. Naturally this fog will constantly expose you to radiation, which is so high in some areas it can kill you within a few seconds of exposure (especially in Survival Mode). In order to combat the fog, I recommend bringing a hazmat suit along with a healthy supply of Rad-X and RadAway or a set of power armor if you have the cores required to power it.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore