The one Fallout 4 mod I’ll never play the game without

Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG series Fallout is going through something of a renaissance right now, with the acclaimed new Fallout TV show leading to a player count resurgence across all the games. One title in particular that’s blowing up quite a bit, though, is 2015’s Fallout 4. It’s the latest single-player entry in the franchise, and one that’s widely enjoyed for its expansive open world, diverse set of combat skills, highly customizable weapons, and settlement base-building mechanic.

Though often criticized for lacking some of the writing depth you’ll find in other Fallout games, it’s nevertheless considered to be one of the best Xbox games and best PC games ever made — and like Skyrim before it, Fallout 4 has proven to be a fantastic foundation for modding. Talented community members have published thousands of ambitious mod projects for the open world RPG over the years, to the point where on the hosting site Nexus Mods, there are nearly as many mods for the PC version of Fallout 4 as there are for both Fallout 3 and New Vegas combined. Xbox players can get in on the fun, too, thanks to console mod support (check out the best Fallout 4 Xbox mods I recommend).

These days, you can find a Fallout 4 mod for pretty much everything, and there are several I consider to be staples in my load order, such as the legendary Place Everywhere for settlement building or the gorgeous texture overhaul Vivid Fallout. Of these, though, there’s one I will never play the game without: Start Me Up Redux, a modernized version of a beloved mod that addresses the game’s overly long intro sequence while simultaneously solving one of the biggest issues I have with its writing.

Fallout 4’s tutorial intro is a long 15-20 minutes to sit through on repeat playthroughs, but with this mod, you can skip it entirely. (Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Fallout 4’s opening in which you’re whisked away to a Vault while nuclear war rages and put on ice to awaken nearly 200 years later was pretty gripping the first time I experienced it, and I didn’t really mind sitting through it a few more times on my second and third playthroughs, either. On my fourth, though, I was sick of it, and by the time my fifth rolled around, I was already browsing the Nexus for some kind of a skip so I could bypass the 20-minute long intro and get to the fun stuff.

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That’s how I first found Start Me Up, which gives you the option to jump directly to your first steps taken in the Commonwealth the second you finish making your character and choose their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. character stats. No more Vault-Tec solicitors knocking on your door or unskippable scripted sequences to get through — just say it’s time to “wake up,” and you’ll load right into the beginning of your post-apocalyptic adventure.

It was then that I also learned of Start Me Up’s “alternate start” functionality, which adds the option to give your character a different backstory and choose how leveled and geared they’ll be, along with where you’ll first spawn in the wasteland. Want to start out as a wandering scavenger with nothing but a ramshackle Pipe Pistol to your name? You can. How about as a Brotherhood of Steel Scribe in Paladin Danse’s squad? You’ve got the option. A mercenary, armored and armed to the teeth? Yup. Nearby NPCs that would normally be hostile will even be friendly, should you choose to begin the game as a Raider or a Gunner.

Though the mod’s intro skip is what drew me to it, this is ultimately what’s kept me in love with Start Me Up in the long term. I prefer when RPGs give you lots of room to roleplay creatively and come up with your own character, but between its fixed protagonist backgrounds and linear story about rescuing your kidnapped son, Fallout 4 does the opposite. With Start Me Up, though, you can experience the game free of these narrative constraints, with a backstory of your own choosing. It even tweaks quests and dialogue from the main questline so you can complete it without having to, as the project’s original author TinyManticore said, “play as the ‘concerned parent.'”

Sick of playing as the “concerned parent” Vault Dweller from Sanctuary? With Start Me Up, you don’t have to. (Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Start Me Up Redux can be downloaded here and is easily installed with a mod manager like Nexus Mods’ Vortex or the community-made Mod Organizer 2, as is the Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch its scripts rely on. Oh, and if you’re on Xbox, don’t worry — there’s a console version of the mod available, too, as well as one that’s compatible with the Full Dialogue Interface project. Make sure you read their descriptions and also install any mods listed as requirements.

If you’d prefer something simpler that doesn’t touch the game’s quests and simply gets you past that annoyingly long tutorial, check out SKK Fast Start New Game. It’s very lightweight and works perfectly, and it, too, has an Xbox version. Another mod from author SKKmods I like to pair either Start Me Up Redux or SKK Fast Start is SKK Fast BoS (Xbox edition here), which, spoiler alert, makes the Brotherhood of Steel arrive in the Commonwealth one in-game week after you help Paladin Danse at ArcJet Systems regardless of your story progress.

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