Lockpicking, a staple activity in the Fallout franchise, is a little different in Fallout 76. The minigame is somewhat tougher, Bobby Pins are scarcer and the skill necessary to pull it off is part of Fallout 76’s new, different Perk system. This guide will explain how to pick a lock, how the Picklock and other Perk Cards work, and where to find Bobby Pins.
The lockpicking minigame is structurally the same as the one players remember from past Fallouts published by Bethesda Softworks. Players need a Bobby Pin to attempt a pick, and the pin can break. Run out of pins and your picking attempts are over until you find more.
Lockpicking in Fallout 76 is harder because bobby pins are less plentiful and, some feel, more prone to breaking. A very light touch on the right analog stick as you work the lock will be necessary.
Further, lockpicking and the difficulty of the minigame are no longer contingent upon one’s Perception skill. Locks are gated by a difficulty rating that players must match by having a Perk Card (or combination of them) of equivalent rank equipped. There are some Level 0 locks which anyone may attempt, but the basic Picklock perk, which lets players attempt to pick Skill 1 locks, is not unlocked until a player reaches Level 5. The Expert Picklock perk (for Skill 2 locks) is unlocked at Level 19, and then the Master Picklock perk (Skill 3) is unlocked at Level 40.
The swap-anytime nature of Perks in Fallout 76 means players can hold their Picklock perk in reserve, keeping something more useful equipped in their Perception slot until a situation where it is needed. That and a sensible approach to the minigame are all it takes to get through a lock.
How to play the minigame
When you pick a lock, you will use the left stick to position the Bobby Pin to find the “sweet spot” where it supposedly hits the tumblers in the lock. Then you will use the right stick to rotate the lock with the screwdriver. If the pin is in an improper position, the rotation will stop and the controller will vibrate. If you are forcing too hard or continue to push through a vibration, the pin will likely snap.
To begin, pick any spot in the 180 degrees available to you with the left stick, and slowly test the lock by pressing left on the right thumbstick. Steadily press left until the lock stops or you feel a buzz.
If the lock stops, note how far you were able to rotate the lock before it did. If it was almost immediate, you are very far from the “sweet spot” and will need to move the pin much further from where you started. If you nearly completed turning the lock before it stopped, you are very close and only need to go incrementally in another direction.
Move the pin a second time and try rotating the lock again very slowly. If you meet resistance, the pin must be set somewhere between your first location and the second one. Split the difference and try the lock again. Many low level locks have larger sweet spots and can be easily jimmied in two attempts, if not one.
One method to use is to start at either 45 degrees to the left or right, rotate slowly until you are blocked, and then move the bobby pin to straight up and down (90 degrees). If the pin immediately freezes, the sweet spot is toward the extreme end of where you started, left or right (less than a 45 degree angle).
Picklock, Expert Picklock and Master Picklock cannot be ranked up — that is, combining duplicate Perk cards into one card to achieve a better effect. But to pick a Level 3 lock, one will need all three cards equipped, and so therefore at least a 3 Perception in order to equip them. Again, it’s best to hold any Picklock perk cards in reserve (and Hacker cards, as well) until situations where they are needed, and devote one’s Perception (or Intelligence) to more persistently beneficial Perks in the meantime.
Players may find that Bobby Pins are scarce in the early goings of Fallout 76. There is no sure location for finding them, and they are not craftable. They seem to spawn at random like other useful items and junk objects, and are occasionally dropped by enemies (most often Feral Ghouls). Robot vendors occasionally sell them if you have the Caps. Vendors are always located at train stations (along with Stash boxes) so if you haven’t discovered one, or need to find a new vendor, explore along the railroad running the center of the map. There are also Responder robot vendors in the church in Flatwoods and in the terminal of the Morgantown Airport.