With new content right around the corner and seemingly many people returning or starting I figure this might help a bit. I've spent 901 hours playing 1 character and over 200 across several others. My main is level 465 and I have a second character at level 180. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about leveling up.
This is intended to be a guide at the basic entry level. I'm not going to discuss many perks or much combat. Just ways you can level up in a fast way. If you have friends, group leveling is easier, but I am going to assume you are solo. In addition leveling does become MUCH easier with a few key items if you can/want to trade with others. Mostly Recipes/Plans that are harder to come by. A Shielded Underarmor and Mutation Serums are also very useful if you can find other players to trade with. Many players are very generous to newer players and you can often find serums fairly cheap.
It is much easier to level if you know ahead of time a general plan for your character. I would suggest looking at https://nukesdragons.com/fallout76/perks?v=1&s=1111111&d=&w=&n= to create a build you think you might enjoy, or get ideas for when perks become available.
- Buffs – Sleep in a bed every 2 hours or after a death. Can be tedious to maintain if you die often. Cranberry Cobbler is a basic recipe that grants 5% bonus exp. You can find a number of Cranberries and many other fruits/veg at Aaronholdt Farmstead in the North West of the map. You can place a CAMP on top of the cranberry farm if you want to.
- Explosives – These are highly efficient regardless of situation. Any and all explosives can used to good effect if you don't mind killing yourself on occasion. Using cars to explode and kill enemies can be very useful. A good example is to sprint through the Whitesprings Golf Club, aggroing as many ghouls as possible. Then to run back to the parking lot and destroying the cars when the ghouls are near. It requires no perks and almost no weapons (you can punch down a car if desperately needed).
- Perks – If you're in a team Inspirational is a must. A Few key perks I highly recommend are Blocker, Lone Wanderer, Grenadier, Demolition Expert, Bloody Mess and Adrenaline. With these few perks you take significantly reduced melee damage and have a very very high damage output with explosives. I would try to build around these perks if you want to level up quickly with raw damage.
- Mutations – Speed Demon, Marsupial and Bird Bones completely change the dynamics of the game. Marsupial and Bird Bones especially give the game an almost low gravity style. It almost feels like playing a Halo game in space. Without question prioritise getting Speed Demon and Marsupial. If you want to level up fast, being able to run faster makes sense.
- Tough Enemies – Knowing your enemy is the fastest way to level up. Taking 5 minutes to clear out an area instead of 2 minutes, because you don't know enemy weaknesses, is a factor not often discussed.
- Sentry Bot – Kill these as often as you can. The level 60 ones around Whitesprings offer 550~ exp. More with buffs. The easiest way to kill them is to target the Fusion Core in VATS using Concentrated Fire. Up close 1 shotgun blast can be enough to kill it instantly.
- Assaultron – Run. It's melee will kill you, as will its laser beam. It only offers 100~ exp, but level 46 ones will kill you. It is easily crippled if you target its legs. Around Whitesprings I would only kill Sentry Bots and flee from the rest while at low levels.
- Mr Gutsy – Level 52 version are the most deadly. Up close they will kill you in seconds. Their weak point is their thruster. If you can cripple or crit the thruster in VATS they go down fast.
- Super Mutant – Head Shots are the easiest way. Either via stealth/sniping or up close with a shotgun, shoot them in the face. Their melee attacks are often much stronger than the basic ranged attack. Beware of multiple Minigun wielders as they can shred you quickly. Level capped ones are very bullet spongey. Explosives work well, especially in areas like West Tek where you can hit multiple enemies at once. Using cover to your advantage is the best way to survive as you can quickly become overrun from all angles. I like to place a mine near a corner then run for cover.
- Mirelurk Queen – If you can cripple its Spout it can't do its spit attack. It's legs are also very weak to being crippled. Focus on controlling it before trying to kill it. I would cripple the spout as priority as often they will only do the spit attack if they are unable to move. If both legs and spout are crippled it is basically a free kill. At level 465 these are the only things in Appalachia that can kill me regularly and its only because of the poison attack.
- Grafton Monster – The spouts on its back are its weak spot. Crits in VATS will often kill them quickly. They offer good drops and exp so are often worth killing.
- Bears/Deathclaws/Gulpers/Wendigo – These will sprint at you VERY quickly. The perk Blocker is the best way to deal with them attacking you. With Blocker you can easily withstand multiple attacks, without it you should be dead in 2 swipes. Crippling their legs will completely neuter all creatures. Deathclaws weak point is its belly. I've yet to figure out a Gulper's, but it feels like a weaker/reskinned Deathclaw. Don't be afraid of a Wendigo. It's extremely fragile. Often the most annoying part of a Wendigo is it's disease, Sludge Lung (reduces max AP and AP regen).
- Events – Do as many as you can in lower level areas. The exp they grant remains the same at all levels. The following are among the best and I would probably try to avoid most others as they are either too time consuming or not worthwhile;
- Leader of the Pack – North Eastern Forest region. Always spawns 4 legendary or crown wolves. Each spawns with its own pack. Any sort of starting weapon will easily do the job here. Best chance at low level Legendary gear.
- Battle Bot – Southern Ash Heap. Requires you to kill 1 level 30 Sentry Bot and 2 mid-20s Gutsy's. Very quick and easy. Often awards legendary items.
- Grafton Day – In Grafton. Kill 1 Grafton Monster and its done. Always spawns a bunch of Super Mutants and Ghouls. One of the quickest events you can find.
- Manhunt – At Grafton Dam a touch north east of Morgantown. Requires you to kill 1 Named Super Mutant. The area is always swarmed with Super Mutants if the event is active. If you can't access the interior of the Dam you can hit Mad Dong Malone with explosives through a wall. Nuke Mines and Nuka Grenades both seemingly ignore walls/structures when factoring their explosion. You can also access the dam with 3 Pick Lock and I think you can drop down onto a broken pipe and enter through that (not 100%). This event awards 500+ exp for completion, one of the highest in the game.
- Horde Events – The Toxic Valley, The Ash Heap and The Mire Horde Events almost always spawn you right near your target. These will also give you easy access to fast travel locations around the area. Savage Divide, The Forest and Cranberry Bog Horde events usually require you to check multiple locations to find the target. These can be very slow to finish without fast travel locations, but can be a good way of discovering these locations.
- Enclave Events – All of these are very very easy to do. But they first require you to progress through the Enclave quests. This can be done at any level I believe. You just have to head to the Abandoned Waste Dump in The Mire to begin it. Dropped Connections and A Real Blast spawn tons of enemies at you while you activate the satellites. The Bot Stop events are much simpler but with fewer enemies.
- Uranium Fever – This event is up so often it's crazy. You always get 3 Legendary/Crown enemies. But they cap out at level 40. Fantastic to try do this event all the time while leveling. Mole Miners are very fragile and offer a good variety of scrap, as well as all variants of shotguns. Occasionally this event can spawn very very few enemies, other times its a non stop mole miner factory.
- One Violent Night – This event is amazing. Constant Crown ghouls spawning non stop. Almost always spawn in packs. This event is perfect for using mines. Often I can kill a freshly spawned group of ghouls with 1 mine placed near a doorway. In addition you can take cover from above if you aren't that strong yet. You can also place your Power Armor Chassis down in a doorway, completely blocking it, forcing the ghouls to either stand still or be funnelled through a different entry. Explosions make this event fun.
- Workshops – If you plan on playing for a long session it can be good to try grab a few workshops. These give you very simple events that you can build up a base to help with. Often this can be a fun activity, taking a Workshop and then shoring up a good defence to help you kill the waves of enemies. Any workshops will do the trick for leveling up, pick your favorite or whatever is close by.
- Quests – You will want to follow the main quest line at some point while you play to gain access to certain things. The Brotherhood of Steel chain is the final line and is VERY tedious with its DMV quest. The Raider quest chain for Rose is also kind of tedious. In fact most of the quests are just fetch quests and listen to holotapes. Most are fairly boring but are good for sending you to new locations. I would use the main quests as a break from trying to grind levels. In addition they usually send you to locations that don't often get touched so you can get some good scrap.
- Grenade Farming – Super Mutants drop grenades in fairly good quantity, but there is a safer way. Raider corpses. Top of The World is my favorite location. Up near Rose herself is a number of corpses all with chance to spawn grenades. Next is the Pleasant Valley Cabins and more specifically there is a market row area. This area has over a dozen raider corpses as well as recipes/plans/mods/outfits. If you've done/doing the Mistress of Mystery quests, Brody's room is at the end of market row.
- ADVANCED Farming Route – This is my favorite farming route, listed in order, not including events. This is not a beginner route, but many of these locations are not overly hard with correct tactics. You can use fast travel between each spot or run if you don't have locations. If a Workshop Defend event spawned I would wait until it told me the enemy type and wave number. If it was worthless enemies I would ignore the event, similarly if it was 4 waves of mediocre enemies. In the past I would write a note down if a legendary enemy spawned at any location and make sure to return to that location as often as I could in that session.
- Abandoned Bog Town – Probably the spot where I've seen the most Super Mutant Behemoths, though not many. The elevated and half destroyed buildings make good spots for turrets.
- Robco Research Centre – Supers, Ghouls and Robots. The interior is tedious and full of offices. It's hard to clear it out quickly. I often skip the interior. The cars around the exterior can make for great ways to kill enemies.
- Generals Steakhouse – Usually 10+ super mutants. Sniping off the roof guys then clearing out through the main entrance is my preferred method. You can also aggro them all and force them to come outside towards the cars and use those. This is a good spot for melee.
- K-max Transmissions – Only 3 lads spawn here, but always a Crown enemy. Run directly north up the road and you will find 2 groups of enemies fighting each other. Usually scorched/supers vs beasts/ghouls/aquatics. You can let them hurt each other before engaging, or just start chucking explosives. I prefer the latter.
- Dabney Campground – Run west from the spot above and clear out and take the workshop. A good spot to scrap and stash your stuff.
- Treetops – Stingwings/Snallygasters/Honeybeast/Sloth spawns. All of them are very easy to kill. All offer good rewards. The treetops itself is a fantastic spot to get leather for crafting gear early game.
- Big B's Rest Stop – I usually run directly down the hill from Treetops. Ghouls/Supers/Scorched spawn. Always a Crown enemy inside the building on the left. Run west along the road from here to reach an overpass where 2 random encounters can spawn. There is also a Stash Box inside the red rocket.
- Harper's Ferry – So many enemies. Scorched/Ghouls/Supers. A ton of interiors to clear out, but most times you can drag enemies to cars or even frag mines around the outskirts. For the interior areas grenades work well. A ton of cover in this area, so you can take your time if needed.
- Tanagra Town – Sometimes around the base of the crater a Deathclaw or Sloth or other large creature might spawn. Climb up the vines etc to the elevated town. Once you reach a small cave get ready. A ton of Cave Crickets spawn inside here. A couple of explosives easily take care of them all. I usually get 1000~ exp from this cave.
- Dyer Chemical – Immediately to your right spawns 2 Gulpers. In this area of water can also spawn Strangler Blooms which are used for Radshield (useful much later in the game). The plant itself is full of robots, mostly Gutsy models. Use cover as much as you can, they will usually try to run to you. You can clear the interior sewers if you want as well, but I usually skip this as the sewers only spawn ghouls and rads suck.
- Crevasse Dam – Behind where the fast travel places you is a random encounter location. This spot always spawns Super Mutants and always 2 Crown Supers. Occasionally the enemies can spawn in weird spots, like inside of the ground or a wall. Otherwise, you can drag them outside to the cars and make happiness explosions. Usually on the dam walkway ghouls or bloatflies spawn. Looking off that walkway to the east you can see 3 Stingwings in the distance. If you kill these Stingwings without jumping off the dam and then run to their corpses, they usually respawn instantly. In the area around these Stingwings you can also find 3 bear corpses. 1 submerged right near the Stingwings spawn point, another by the northern shore and the last floating in the air right on the shoreline of the lake. Easy spot for springs/acid.
- Excelsior Model Home – Spawns 2 groups of enemies fighting eachother. Usually humanoids vs aquatics. Fairly easy to kill most of these mobs as they are already injured from their own fighting.
- Highland Marsh – Mirelurks. Kings and a Queen. This is a tough spot. Avoid this if you are not experienced, otherwise try to use the trees to make the queen miss her poison and just try to go nuts with explosives. Alternatively go in stealthy from a far.
- Freddies House of Fears – Ghouls or Scorched, usually a very easy clear. Grab your clown costume and make sure to equip it if you see a Wendigo. I usually take a jog up the road and take Red Rocket Mega Stop after.
Most importantly, enjoy your time. Fallout 76 offers many different ways to play and at almost any pace.
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