Upon starting a new game, you can choose to either play as a pre-created character or create a customized character. The three pre-created characters are Max Stone, Albert Cole, and Natalia Dubrovhsky, each with their own gameplay preferences. If the player instead chooses to create their own character, they may choose to edit the following features:
- Setting the seven SPECIAL attributes on a scale of 1-10
- Choosing three Tag skills, which make training those skills easier
- Optionally choosing up to two traits, which each have their pros and cons
When enough Experience Points are gained, the Vault Dweller will level up. The immediate effect is gaining a set of skill points to improve your existing skills. Also, every 3rd level, or 4th with the Skilled trait, the Vault Dweller gains a perk to further improve themselves. The maximum level that can be reached is 21.
Find the Water ChipEdit
With Vault 13 in danger of running out of water, the Vault Dweller has 150 days to find a replacement water chip. After exiting the rat-infested cave entrance of Vault 13, the Vault Dweller is free to explore the wastes of New California. The only known destination is Vault 15, due east of 13. Along the way, they will encounter the town of Shady Sands, which contains a rope needed soon and the location of the Hub needed for later. Getting to Vault 15's command center requires getting past even more rats, now accompanied by pig rats and mole rats, as well as using ropes to get down to the second then third level. Upon getting to the bottom, they will discover the room is totally destroyed, but will gain 500 XP.
With Vault 15 no longer being an option, the Vault Dweller must travel to the Hub to find other options. By speaking with Martha Rastello or buying a holodisk from Mrs. Stapleton, the Vault Dweller learns of a possible chip at Necropolis. Heading to the city and navigating it by sewers, they learn of the ghouls living in the city, led by Set. They also encounter their first super mutants guarding the Watershed. After dealing with them and navigating through Vault 12, the Vault Dweller successfully obtains the water chip and must return to Vault 13.
Note: The next two quests can be completed in any order.
Destroy the Mutant leaderEdit
Realizing the threat these super mutants pose on Vault 13, the Vault Dweller must find a way to get rid of them. The leader of the super mutants, the Master, operates underneath the Cathedral, which can be found through exploration or being marked by Katja in the Boneyard. To gain access to the underground portion, you must collect either collect a COC badge from a random member then another one from Morpheus himself, lockpick both doors, or convince Morpheus to take you to the Master directly. If the third option is not chosen, you must fight through several units before finally reaching the Master.
To defeat the Master, the Vault Dweller can either talk with him, fight him, or activate the nuke hidden in the fourth level. Talking him down requires either a Speech check or Vree's autopsy report from Lost Hills, while activating the nuke requires a Science check or the nuke key from Mariposa. If fighting him, they must beware his Gatling lasers and psychic abilities, which can be countered by the Mental Block perk or the psychic nullifier. No matter what, the nuke will then be armed, requiring you to flee the map before it detonates.
Destroy the source of the MutantsEdit
With a super mutant army preparing to invade the region, the Vault Dweller must destroy them at their source to save the Vault. To accomplish this, you must make your way to the Mariposa Military Base, west of Vault 13. The super mutants guarding the entrance can be dealt with either through combat, by tricking them using a radio, by infiltrating the building with a set of robes, or by enlisting the help of the Brotherhood of Steel from Lost Hills. If the robes are used, they will take you straight to the command room, otherwise alarms will trigger upon entering the building.
Triggering the alarms, results in having to fight through super mutants and getting past yellow and red force fields. Yellow force fields can be temporarily disabled with a Repair check while red force fields must be wrong through while taking some damage. At the deepest parts of the base, you will encounter Lieutenant, leader of the base, and his guards. After dealing with him, set the base to self destruct and flee the map before it detonates.
With both the Master dead and Mariposa destroyed, the Vault Dweller will return to Vault 13, resulting in the ending of the game playing.