If you are a cautious player and want to level up a bit before doing anything too dangerous or facing those Super Mutants you've heard about then this guide will give you some simple ideas on which quests to follow to gain some XP, caps and weapons.
Includes some minor spoilers but I've tried to leave major ones out
A good lock pick skill is essential as is a min. 25 in explosives if you want somewhere safe to store items and rest early on. Repair skill is also helpful.
Note: You don't have to do anyhting after 3 in the order I've given.These are just my recommendations.
1-Before exiting 101 make sure you've taken all that you can carry. You may need to leave some of the food and clothing behind due to low weight limit. For instance don't loot Rad Roach bodies or take spoons and forks etc.
2-Exit 101 and head left along the broken road into Springvale. Loot what you can that sounds good including named books/mags, money, ammo, weapons and nuka cola leaving behind empty bottles and tin cans and dropping any food or limited clothing to make room. You can always come back later. Search the houses on either side of the main street and area around the rocket and cars. Leave the other buildings for now.
3-Head to Megaton. Once inside get the "Power of Atom" quest from Lucas Simms. Save just after you enter and before he talks to you. Try and get the 500 caps promise from him. If you fail simply reload and try again. You may need to cange your clothing or take something to improve your speech skill.
4-Once you've successfully negotiated with him and gotten information about the town head to Moriarty's. You can talk to him and try to get info out of him and his employees (be nice to Gob for slightly better discount on items including stimpaks). Get the "Silver" quest off Moriarity. It doesn't matter how much he wants you to pay for the info you won't have to pay it if you have a decent lock-pick skill or can get the info from Gob or Nova. (Ignore Lucy West for the moment if she is in the bar).You can talk to Burke if you want and go either way with him it won't matter. However, if you blow up the bomb you won't get the house or other quests and items or be able to trade with Moira (although you can do her quests). If you do want to blow it up wait till you've done everything you can in Megaton and ignore Burke until you are ready to blow it up. If you don't fix the bomb or blow it up and do not speak to Burke, this will keep Hitmen off your case but you will still meet Talon Company eventually, especially with Good Karma status.
5-Break in everywhere you can, although there will be some places you simply can't at the early stages. If a house is blue/green (not red) when you approach you can just enter but watch out for the residents. You can easily loot a house even the residents are home by making sure that they cannot see you when you open a container. Use your proximity meter on the left hand of the screen to keep note of their position. Sometimes you may have to wait and watch their patterns to determine the best time to grab something. Attempting to open a locked locker or box near a sleeping resident will often awaken them so you might want to leave these alone unless you don't care about killing local residents. Just remember that you may lose access to quests or information if you kill them.
Lucy West's house is usually open even if she is in the bar. Jericho's is fairly easy to lock pick. Lucas Simms place is fairly easy to loot even with him and his son in it. Commons, you can raid quite easily just keeping an eye on the residents for containers that are red, otherwise much of the stuff that is out in the open is free without bad karma. The Children of Atom shack is a little harder because there are quite a few people in there usually, but again, just keep an eye on residents. Things are usually easier when people are asleep late at night. I'm not sure if this is true for everyone but in my experience if Nathan is in Moriarty's even if his and Manya's bus is locked you can break in and she won't be there.
Break into Moriarty's back door in the very early morning say around three or four am. You can always watch the bar proper to see when he has gone upstairs or is out front taking inventory. Use the terminal but careful about going to far into the room toward the cabinet as you can been seen from the bar area unless using a stealth boy.
Check Moriarty's and Brass Lantern to see if the NPCs are in there as it's the best time to loot their homes.
Moriarty's upstairs rooms can be looted, best time is when all the doors are open just make sure no one can see you through the holes in the floor. Same for the Craterside Supply. Best to rob that when open and not break in until much later in the game or you just want to loot and kill everyone. Watch opening shack doors as there may be someone asleep in there and if you get caught everyone will turn hostile.
Loot Brass Lantern after midnight. Andy Stahl goes to bed and his sister hangs about for a little while but then goes to sleep. Leo Stahl should be in the Water Treatment Plant. The computer terminal in the office opens the safe.
The Doc never leaves his office but he does sleep.
There is often a brief window when Walter is on his way to Moriarty's late at night and Leo Stahl is on his way to the Water Treatment plant. You can then loot Walter's room. There are also times when he can be found outside the Treatment Plant during the day and evening before Leo Stahl comes.
5-During the day go to the Doctor's office and get the Leo Stahl quest, then late at night go to the Water Treatment Plant and convince him to give up drugs for which he will reward you.
6-With a high enough repair you can get the repair quest from Walter and fix the three leaking pipes and then get the option to sell him scrap metal.
7-If you haven't fixed the bomb already go ahead and do so and get the house and your 500 caps. Sell anything you want to Moira in Craterside, The Brass Lantern or Gob in Moriarty's or the Caravan's outside Megaton. Leave anything behind in your house you don't need on a mission.
8-Head back to Springvale and loot some more including the extra houses you ignored earlier. Enter Silver's house and finish her quest. You can simply talk to her to get 300caps or kill her and loot her place. Looting the buildings closes to the school may attract the raiders attention you can simply enter the school and kill them or leave it alone for now.
9-Go back to Moria and get the "Wasteland Survival Guide" quest if you haven't already. My opinion is to do the radiation one first as it's the easiest. Just go down to the radiated water around the bomb and stand in it and drink as much as you can to get over 600 rads then go back to her for treatment and reward. Take the Super Dupermart quest second and go over there and deal with the raiders out front and then the ones inside and loot everything you can. You may have to make a couple of trips. The bins out back are good for leaving items you can't carry right away. Don't forget to stop by the house on the road on the way to the Super Duper mart and always check mailboxes! You may have random encounters near this building so be prepared.
10-after Super Duper Mart take the "Minefield" quest. Depending on how you travel there you may meet a lot of enemies. My best advice is stay away from the waters edge because of Mirelurks. Cross the river just south of Meresti Trainyard but avoid it for the moment. You will probably encounter an animal or some raiders and possibly a Protectron south of the trainyard but not too many if you stay low and travel at night. If you can, head first to Agatha's House and get her quest and some nice Ammo. You will probably want to wait until you have some followers and a little more XP before doing her quest. Her house is a safe fast travel spot for this part of the map. Caravan's stop at her house during the day. You can follow them to the road to avoid Raiders in the Wastes but don't follow them too long as they go in a different direction and can get killed if you are in the area and they are attacked. They do not respawn if that happens. Then follow the road on your map to Minefield. You can choose not to kill Arkansas and save him for the slavers quest or kill him if you find it too difficult to disarm mines while he is shooting at you and blowing up cars. He will also have keys to the homes but you can lock pick them easily enough. There is loads of loot around town so again you will need to make a couple of trips.
A note on what attracts Arkansas' attention. When you approach cars there is a trip wire which lets off a small fire in the car, this alerts Arkansas to shoot at it till it blows up. If you have your radio off you will hear the distinctive sound the trip wire makes. It's a sort of crunching noise as if you were treading on dry leaves. The higher your explosives the easier it will be to retrieve mines because you will have longer to difuse them.
11-You can then head to Scrapyard to find your first follower Dogmeat.
You should have reached around level 4 or even 5 by now possibly 6 and gained loads of loot, weapons, armour and ammo not to mention food, stims and other goodies you can sell now or keep. All without having to encounter too many hard enemies.
Although you may have to have a run in with Hitmen if you disarmed the bomb. With Broken Steel installed at Level 4 there is a chance for a random encounter with a lone Enclave soldier.
Things will also depend on the the difficulty level you set, what perks you have and what specials.
Best advice is to save and save often in different slots so you can go back if needed.
Springvale School and The broken bridge over the river are both good places to kill and loot for exp both have several raiders to kill. Springvale school does contain giant ants as well.
Maps are your friend and roads keep the newbie safer than trekking out across the wastes even if it's the most straightforward and quickest direction. Try to stay hidden as best you can.
Be careful about fast travel as enemies can respawn every few days in certain places so be aware of appearing in a nest of raiders unprepared.