Fallout 4's armour situation is a bit confusing. I'm not talking about Power Armour here -- I'm talking about the more everyday stuff your character can wear to keep him or her safe from the hazards of the wastes.
If you want to give your character some protection, you can either wear full armour suits, or you can mix and match individual pieces of armour. Full suits may be tempting and snazzy, but they're typically pretty shitty as defensive wear. Individual pieces of armour can be a pain to collect, and parsing what stats they grant you can be perplexing too, so I'm not surprised to see so many people go "fuck it" and choose to just run around in something simple, like the Silver Shroud get-up. But you can do much better, if you set your mind to it!
This guide is written with the assumption that you already understand the basics of armour, how it works, and how to tell what's good. It also assumes you've already got some of the best basic gear around, such as Combat Armour. If that doesn't describe you, make sure to check out our basics guide here. Otherwise, let's hop right into the good stuff.
While it's possible to get Legendary gear from vendors, including your own settlement vendors, purchasing pieces is pretty damn expensive. Most of your legendary gear will likely come from Legendary enemies, which spawn randomly during your encounters out in the wasteland.
Here's the thing about Legendaries: You can farm them. There are a few spots where you can farm, but here's my favourite. The National Guard Training Yard. You'll want to note this down, as it's a location that's useful even if you're not going to farm legendaries.
Once you've cleared this locale once, it's really easy to go through a second (or third, or fourth...) time. It only takes a few minutes to encounter a Legendary enemy in there, which makes runs pretty quick.
There are other options of course, including the Super Duper Mart, The Boston Public Library, and Fallon's Department Store. Really, any generic location/building that you highlight on the map that does not say "CLEARED" on it tends to be fair game here. Experiment as you go along; you might have other spots that are more useful to you.
So, once you pick a spot, do both a quick save right outside the location farming. Enter the door -- the game should auto save. Go through the dungeon, and kill a legendary enemy; pick up the loot. If you don't like the type of loot at all, reload your quick save. That should reset what you'll find inside the dungeon. If you do like the loot inside, but you just don't like the randomised effect it gives you, load the game's auto-save. This should lock the loot down, but not its effect.
After you clear a farming spot, it may take a couple of in-game days for it to respawn the enemies. You can fast-forward time by either sleeping, or sitting somewhere and selecting "wait." Getting a full set of Legendary gear shouldn't be too hard, but getting a set tailored to your specific playstyle might take some time/reloading. I'm over a hundred hours into the game right now, and I still have a few pieces that, despite being legendaries, are just kind of OK.
It's What's Underneath That Counts
So, we've covered the different armour pieces you can put on. But what will really round out your armour set is your under armour. You start out with a basic one, the Vault Suit. There are more, of course -- here's a full list. Personally, I spec for combat, so I find that the most useful piece of under armour is the Army Fatigues, which grant you Strength +1 and Agility +1. The clean variety is better than the ragged Dirty Army Fatigue version, in my opinion, but you can't go wrong with either. You can find Army Fatigues on Gunners, at the National Guard Training Yard, and in Jamaica Plains.
Having good under armour is a start. What you really want to do is unlock modifications for this type of armour. For that, you'll need to find the Railroad -- which will probably mean playing through a few hours of the story first. You'll want the "Road to Freedom" quest, which will lead you straight to them. If you get stuck in the middle of that quest, here's a big hint: the password is "Railroad."
You'll have to join the Railroad to unlock under armour modifications, but don't worry. You don't have to stick with them. What you want to do is, do a few of their starting quests. One of these should introduce you to PAM, a robot who appears in a side-room at the Railroad hide-out. Talk to PAM. She'll send you on quests.
After doing two or three quests for PAM, she should send you on a quest to locate a DIA cache. This is what you're looking for. Do that quest, report back to PAM, and after you do, go ahead and talk to Tinker Tom. He should say this:
Congrats, you've unlocked Ballistic Weave, a special type of armour modification. Not only will this allow you to upgrade under armour so that it has way better stats, it will also let you upgrade full suits, such as dresses, tuxedos, and more -- which means that you don't have to sacrifice fashion or utility! Here's a full list of what you can upgrade with Ballistic Weave lining, if you're curious. Once you have it, you should be able to go up to any armour workbench, and a new option should come up, like so:
Personally, I upgraded my Army Fatigues. Now they sport this kind of stats:
90 damage resistance and 90 energy resistance! Pretty badass, especially considering that its damage resistance was basically negligible starting out. I'm not actually level 39 yet, so I haven't unlocked Armorer rank 4, which means that I haven't upgraded these Fatigues all the way. They can get up to 110 Damage and Energy resistance, which is amazing when you consider this is just a single piece of armour out of many.
Hilariously, Ballistic Weave also allows you to upgrade a variety of different hats, such as Battered Fedora, Green Rag Hat, Newsboy Cap, and the Trilby Hat. You can purchase most of these in Diamond City, at Fallon's basement. It's pretty easy to miss, but it's right here:
You couldn't pay me to wear a Fedora, and the rag looks as bad as it sounds, so currently I'm running around with an Armoured Newsboy Cap. It's a pretty ridiculous concept, given that a single hat as 90 damage/energy resistance but hey. Whatever prevents Super Mutants from crushing me!
The last thing to note here is that lining your armour with Ballistic Weave can be resource-intensive. You'll need Adhesive, Ballistic Fibre, and Fibreglass. We walked you through how to grow your own Adhesives in our general tips guide. Ballistic Fibre can be grabbed from Military Grade Duct Tape, Military Ammo Bag, and can also be purchased by KLEO in Goodneighbor in packs of 25 (not cheap!). Fibreglass, meanwhile, can be found within Abraxo Cleaner, Aluminium Canisters, Cigar Boxes, Jangles the Moon Monkey, Telephones, and more. Some of these crafting materials can be hard to find, but they're worth it.
Show and Tell
All said, following these tips I'm currently equipped like so:
All together, this get-up boosts my Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, and Agility, and it also slows down time, protects me when I'm in low health, and quickens my Action Point refresh speed. It's not the best around, but I'm pretty happy with it; I don't have trouble with most enemies I encounter anymore. That said, it's a more combat-oriented build, so I'm curious what you guys are wearing and why. Feel free to share your armour builds in the comments.