Fallout 1 Controls

In the world of Fallout, nukes fell from the skies and you now have to survive a harsh, heavily radiated world that seems to have stopped in the 1950s, but somehow managed to get lasers, robots, nukes, and other cool gadgets. Your character grew up in a vault, but now he/she has to leave it to find a... water purification controller chip, whatever that is.

It's 80 years later and it's a dog eat dog world out there. Mutants everywhere, raiders, unthinkable violence... this is what you have to face to save your people from dying of dehydration. But you cannot do that if you don't know how to play Fallout. If you're not familiar with Fallout 1 controls you are probably going to quit the game very quickly, as it can be unforgiving to newcomers and literally can't be played without a guide. That's why I'm here! I want to show you these amazing Fallout games Bethesda did NOT make...

fallout 1 controls

Because it's such an old game (released before 2000), you might find Fallout 1 controls weird at first. The turn-based mode doesn't make it any easier and will likely turn most players away. But bear with me! I will teach you how to get past that and enjoy the game that started everything. Would you like to know more?

Fallout 1 Controls

Here's what you'll learn in this article:
  1. know the interface
  2. accessing your inventory
  3. combat and turns
  4. how to move your character
  5. how to talk to NPCs (people)
  6. reloading your gun
  7. move on the world map
  8. hotkeys for quicker actions

I tried to keep this guide short and to the point, so please make sure you go through the entire article. If you want to learn more, make sure you also read how to play Fallout!

Fallout 1 Controls > The Interface

The first thing you'll notice after the Overseer is done talking to you is the interface. Let's have a good look at it, shall we? Take a few moments to study the picture below:

fallout 1 controls interface

If you press the ESCAPE key, the in-game menu will pop-up.

fallout 1 controls menu
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Fallout 1 Controls > Inventory & Items

You start the game right outside the Vault Blast Door. The first action should be to equip yourself with a gun. Bring up your interface by clicking the INV button at the bottom of the screen (hotkey: i). Click & drag the pistol to the ITEM1 slot. Release the mouse button. Repeat the action for the knife and ITEM2 box. You are now armed and dangerous! Notice the info on the right: your name, your stats, resistances, how much damage your gun and knife do, and the weight you're carrying. Click on the DONE button to exit the interface.

fallout 1 inventory

You can see now that you have a weapon equipped. Two, actually, but we'll talk about that later. Let's go back to the inventory (press i or click the INV button) so I can show you how to use an item. Place your mouse cursor over the flares icon. Hold down left-click for options. The first option, the binoculars, will always provide info about the object selected. The second option, the hand, will 'use' the item. In our case, the character will turn on one of the flares. Keeping it in your inventory doesn't do you any good, so let's drop it. Move your cursor over the lit flare at the bottom, hold down left mouse button and choose the drop hand icon. Click DONE to exit the interface. You can now see the flare on the ground, lighting up a small area around it and making it easier for your character to shoot in the dark.

how to play fallout 1 vault 13

Items in your inventory can be used, dropped, or sold. For example, if your hit points get dangerously low (they became red) after fighting with the cave rats, you can 'use' a stimpak to recover. Now, place the mouse cursor over the vault door console/computer (to your left). A text will appear in the info window (bottom right) saying: "You see: Door Entry Computer." This is very common in Fallout 1: you'll often get information when placing the mouse cursor over various objects in the game world, and some of that information can be hilarious, so it's worth checking out. When you see the hand icon, left-click. It will say that your computer no longer recognizes your access codes. Bastards!

TIP: If the mouse cursor is at the upper or bottom parts of the info window, an arrow will be visible, allowing you to scroll back and forward through the messages.


Now, look to the right of your character: you'll see a skeleton on the ground. That's Ed. Ed's dead. After feeling sorry for Ed for a whole second, let's loot his body! Right-click to turn the cursor into an arrow and then left-click on Ed's body when you see a hand. Drag and drop items from the right (loot) to left (your inventory). Click DONE to confirm. Sorry, Ed!

TIP: You can always loot dead enemies after the combat ends. Or even during combat, but that will take AP, so I don't recommend it.


You can pick up items from the ground by simply left-clicking on them. They will be added automatically to your inventory. Pay attention to your surroundings as some items are hard to see, especially if you're playing Fallout 1 with the HD patch.

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Fallout 1 Controls > Combat

To initiate combat in Fallout 1, either left-click on your weapon slot on the bottom interface or press A. Enemies will glow red when in attack mode. Often, opponents will attack automatically when you're in their range, like those pesky rad rats you're facing now. Left-click on them to engage. If you're not in their range, move closer. It also helps to move closer if you have a ranged weapon with low hit percentage, such as a plasma rifle or a rocket launcher. When in combat, movement, firing, and any other actions are done in turn-based mode (you take turns with your enemies).

TIP: Invest more points in "Small Guns," "Big Guns," etc. to increase your hit chance with those guns. Your character's Perception is very important to land shots.


Now, let's try attacking those cave rats... Either initiate the combat yourself or move close to one of them. Unlike the recent games, you can attack everyone in Fallout 1, even kids, even your Overseer! That's the meaning of true roleplay; unlike those p*ssy Bethesda characters that just faint when you attack them. The Wasteland is an unforgiving place.

fallout 1 controls combat

You will notice that a gunshot drains 5 Action Points and then there's some left. You can use those AP to either run away or fire another gun, or even punch someone. Click on the red, round button above to the picture of your pistol to switch to knife, which only takes 3 AP to use. Alternatively, press B. Switching weapons in combat doesn't cost AP.

If you right-click once on the weapon slot, a targeted attack symbol will appear in the lower right corner of the box. Should you click on a rad a rat now, you will make a targeted attack. This will allow you to attack specific areas on your targets, such as the head or the legs. Some areas of a rat are harder to hit. However, you'll be able to inflict more damage or other effects if you're successful. Should you right-click on the pistol again, a RELOAD text will appear. Let-click to reload your gun. This action will draw 2 AP if in combat mode. Some weapons and items have an ammo bar, some don't. Pay close attention to it.

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Fallout 1 Controls > Movement

Moving in Fallout 1 is fairly simple, but if you don't know how to run (and most players don't) it can be a pain in the arse. First, your cursor must look like a red hex. If it doesn't, right-click once. Move by simply placing the cursor where you want to go and LEFT click once. Double-click to run (you can also hold SPACE and left-click). If you're like me and don't care about Sneaking, you can turn on "Always Run" from the game Options, so you won't have to double click all the damn time.

fallout 1 how to move

You can exit the area you are currently in by bringing your character to the darker edges of the screen. This will take you to the outside world (the world map). To move on that map, simply left-click anywhere. When you move, time passes, so don't be moving without a purpose! Only go to the places you know -- the buttons on the right side of the screen. As you move towards Vault 15, you will notice a green circle showing up on the world map between the two vaults. A circle denotes an important area. Vault-13 has one since it is important.

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Fallout 1 Controls > Talking to People

Talking to NPCs is pretty straight forward. NPCs are people in the game world. NPC stands for "non-player character." The NPCs have their own stories and motives, so feel free to interact with them and see if they have any useful information or quests for you.

fallout 1 how to talk to people

Some NPCs will not talk to you. Some will shoot first, then ask questions. To engage with those that do have something to say, first make sure your cursor is an arrow and not a hex. Right-click once, remember? Then move the mouse cursor over an NPC. A face icon will show up. Left-click to interact with the person.

TIP: You might think that you can't talk to a (rad)scorpion in this game, right? Wrong! You will be surprised about some of the NPCs and items you can interact with.


Some NPCs will have short over-the-head dialogues lines when you click on them. Those people don't have much to say to you. Some dialogues are automatically displayed when nearby or as warnings (if in red). If someone asks you to back off, it would be wise to listen; unless you're bored or you think you can handle them.

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Fallout 1 Controls > Hotkeys

You may press F1 during the game at any time to get Help. And by help, I mean Fallout 1 shortcut keys. Some can be used in combat, some can't, and some are useless. At least to me since I never use them. Alright, let's see now...

You may use numeric keys (1-8) to activate a skill. I only use 2 for lock picking. You might want to use 1 for sneaking (make sure Always Run is turned off in Settings) and 3 for pickpocketing (if you made a Steal build). Check the rest of the hotkeys below.

fallout 1 shortcut keys

Use ESC to access the in-game menu or dismiss non-dialogue windows (ie. loot).

Press the SPACE bar or ENTER to end turn/combat.

If you lost your character press the Home key to center the camera on him/her.

I brings up your inventory (consumes 4 AP in combat).

S opens your SKILLDEX (or you can use the numeric keys 1 to 8).

P accesses your PipBoy to check the date or rest (can't be used in combat).
Z allows you to rest & heal (cannot be used in combat and specific locations).

A initiates combat (alternatively, click on your weapon slot).
B switches equipped items (doesn't use AP in combat).

C activates your character screen (use it when you level up or to check skills).

N cycle through actions for equipped items (alternatively, right-click on item box).

CTRL + X quits the game (but will ask you first).

CTRL + S/L brings up the Save/Load menu.
Even faster, use F6 and F7 to Quick Save and Quick Load.

Is your game too dark? Use the + and - keys to adjust brightness on the fly (very useful).

Want to know the version of your Fallout game? Press V and check the bottom left window. Finally, you can quickly check the date by pressing the ? key.


Well, that's pretty much it! I hope you've learned a lot about Fallout 1 controls and how to use hotkeys to get around the game faster. See you around the Wasteland, vault dweller! Or in my Facebook group, whichever is closer to you.


Read next: How to play Fallout 1


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