Ulti-Man's Guide to Playing Fallout: New Vegas on Hardcore Mode

#1PS3_Owner29Posted 3/5/2011 2:35:08 PM(edited)
Hello! Thank you for visiting Ulti-Man's Fallout New Vegas Guide on Hardcore. I am Ulti-Man (also known as ps3_owner22 on GameFAQs) and I will be your chauffeur today (and hopefully everyday, praying that this guide doesn't get reposted somewhere else).

Table of Contents:
I. What is this?
II. What exactly does hardcore do?
III. Getting started in a SPECIAL way...
IV. Getting started some more in other ways
V. Skills: the hardcore-est of them all!
VI. Hardcore perks: the do's and do not's
VII. Frequently asked questions

I. What is this?

I am not going to tell you what to do and exactly how to make your character for the easiest and most enjoyable time playing hardcore mode, rather, what I'm going to do is give you advice, tips, answer frequently asked questions, etc. While I will outline some choices regarding SPECIAL stats and the greatest skills to focus on (apart from you personal character type's), I will not give you point by point breakdowns on what you should do with your SPECIAL stats and skill points every level; the guide's purpose is simply to help you get the most out of hardcore while still retaining your own character build of your choice. Now without further ado, let's get started!

Notice: This guide contains minor very early game spoilers. It shouldn't spoil anything more than the first 20 minutes of the game for you, but be warned.

II. What exactly does hardcore do?

Hardcore mode adds a new level of difficulty to the game, making it more realistic, notably adding weight to ammo and making the player need food, water, and sleep. The full list of changes is as follows:

- Stimpaks do not heal you as soon as you use them, rather over a period of several seconds
- Ammo now weighs a small amount per bullet
- You must eat food, drink water, and sleep or else you will die
- You're limbs can only be healed by a doctor, a doctor's bag, a hydra, or sleeping in a bed that you own
- RadAway, like stimpaks, work over time
- Companions you work with can now die forever, not just get knocked unconscious
- All healing items do not heal as strong as they normally do

III. Getting started in a SPECIAL way...

Ooh, pretty graphic-ed cutscene. How nice. But wait! Ow... the light! And, uh, who are you? Oh, Doc Mitchell... hi. Well, you are currently recovering from a bullet wound in the skull; ain't that a kick in the head? Anyway, after you banter with the Doc for a bit, choose your gender and name and such, you will walk over to a vigor tester; this is where you will choose your SPECIAL stats (as the You're Special! book did in Fallout 3).

Unless you want to read some amusing SPECIAL stat titles for each level of each letter, just skip to the end of the slides to the overview section. By default, each stat has a level of 5 (out of a maximum of 10), and you have 5 more to deposit into whatever stats you choose; a total of 40 points. Your best bet is to empty every stat to one so you can deposit points more freely.
#2PS3_Owner29(Topic Creator)Posted 3/5/2011 2:32:05 PM
One of hardcore mode's main burdens (literally) is weight for objects (namely ammo) that don't have any weight to it in the normal game. Additionally, hardcore adds the necessity of food and water, replenished only through, well, food and water. For these two reasons, it is essential to have a high strength for a greater carrying weight. A minimum of 7 strength is recommended from me, but, especially if you are planning to use big guns that weigh more, you can go up to level 9 (not 10, however, because you will find a way to raise your SPECIAL stats even further later in the game). And if you are feeling overburdened later in the game (which you probably will if you like to carry a healthy amount of guns, clothing, health items, etc), you can (and should) take the Strong Back, which raises your carrying weight by another 50 pounds. Note that you start off with 150 pounds worth of carrying weight, plus 10 pounds per strength level. This totals to a maximum of 250 pounds, or 300 with Strong Back.

Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck are all up to you and your character build. I do recommend, however, a high intelligence level; the higher it is, the more points you can spend on perks every time you level up. Additionally, endurance is moderately important in hardcore, as damage is much harder to heal, and the higher your endurance, the more hit points you have. And the poison resistance it increases per point is also a nice plus (especially when dealing with a “certain type of creature” you are likely to encounter). And please note that your Endurance level determines how many implants your character can have implanted; one implant per endurance level. Note that implants raise your SPECIAL skills, along with do other helpful things to your character.

If you ever feel like you need another SPECIAL point in a SPECIAL skill, you can either buy (for a hefty price) a SPECIAL implant for that specific stat (one per stat) or get the Intense Training perk which allows you to increase one SPECIAL stat by one. Either way, permanently increasing one does not come at a very simple price.

IV. Getting started some more in other ways

After you choose your SPECIAL stats, you go on to choose your tag skills and optional traits, in a some what tedious process. Tag skills are skills (like barter, guns, medicine, repair, etc) that you instantly raise by 15 points. These are completely up to you and all depend on what your character build is. However, I will outline good skills to focus on in hardcore below. Your traits are also up to you. Read each one carefully, as they all have an upside and a downside. But, do not in any means take the small frame; the agility bonus does not in any way overcome the downside of fragile limbs, especially in hardcore where limb repair is much harder.

Now that you are done with all of that mumbo jumbo stat stuff, you can finally embark on your journey. But wait! First, snoop around the Doc's house for any valuable items you can sell or potentially use later in your life. Food, medicine, and water are all essential for survival. Additionally, if you're repair is above 25, you can go over to the bed you woke up in, and to it's left, there is a broken 9mm submachine gun you can fix. If you don't have high enough repair, don't worry; you can go back to fix it later, if you wish. Don't worry about stealing things (if you're a good character); your karma does not matter in New Vegas nearly as much as in Fallout 3, the game being judged by a reputation system.
#3PS3_Owner29(Topic Creator)Posted 3/5/2011 2:36:38 PM(edited)
Finally, you can talk to Doc Mitchel for, if you want it to be, the last time. He will give you a small number of provisions (a bit of money and ammo, a gun, and a pip-boy, most notably). You will also be asked the dire question of if you want to play hardcore mode. Ignore the humorous disclaimer recommending not to play it and hit the Yes! option like it is your job. And now you're off into the world.

From this point on, the guide will not follow the story and the player's actions, rather provide tips and good ideas about playing on hardcore as I said it would before. I told you I wasn't lying!

V. Skills: the hardcore-est of them all!

There are some skills that, in hardcore, are significantly more important and vital that in playing normal mode. Particularly, medicine and, to an extent, barter. Medicine, both the skill and the physical item, is very important in hardcore mode. Particularly because it is the only thing, besides the aid of a doctor and a bed that you own, that can significantly raise your health, heal your limbs, and reduce your radiation. Food and drink items in hardcore aid your health much less on hardcore mode; their main purpose is to feed you and quench your thirst to stop your from dying, which is nice, but a slight annoyance when you are used to drinking a few Nukas and then be able to fight that deathclaw with less fear again.

Now, the higher your medicine skill, the more effective medicine is. So, if you have a low medicine skill and use a stimpak, the greatest source of health in a medicine, your health won't be increasing too significantly. However, if your medicine skill is high, your health will be too following a stimpak injection. Do not get the feeling that you are going to be wasting a ton of medicine if your skill isn't high enough, because you won't be. But it is a very helpful skill to have high, especially on hardcore. This leads to the other useful skill to have high.

Barter. The higher this is, the less things cost. Nice, right? If you've played Fallout 3, you probably thought that barter wasn't too important, and you're right. It's a bit different in New Vegas, mainly because things cost much more than they did in the previous Fallout game. It is a good idea to focus some of your skill points to barter in hardcore not to save your money, but to be able to buy that medicine you need in the heat of the moment and still have enough caps left over for that food and water you remember you need. You will find many things free for picking throughout the wasteland in the food, drink, and medicine range, but you will probably need to buy some products sometimes, and if you have the opportunity to buy more provisions with the same amount of caps, it is a good idea to.

VI. Hardcore perks: the do's and do not's

Perks are all about giving you abilities and, well, perks you wouldn't normally be able to do otherwise. And when playing hardcore mode, it is a good idea to take (and not to take) a few special perks. I am not going to go through all of the greatest and worst perks in the game, rather outline a few that would be a very good idea to take and not to take when specifically playing with the hardcore option (though many of the perks would likely be almost if not as helpful if not in hardcore).

Perhaps the two greatest early level perks are Comprehension and Educated, both level 4. The former's greatest asset is the additional skill point from reading a skill book, while the latter gives you two more skill points to distribute whenever you level up. These skill points can help greatly, especially the latter with passive skills, as every point helps.
#4PS3_Owner29(Topic Creator)Posted 3/5/2011 2:33:15 PM
The Pack Rat perk is especially helpful in hardcore. Everything that weighs under two pounds (which is virtually every health item, as well as ammo and some miscellaneous items) now weighs half as much. So, essentially, regarding health items in particular, you can carry twice as many objects, which is extremely helpful, and cuts down emphasis necessary hardcore-only items put on your carrying weight.

The Adamantium Skeleton reduces limb damage by 50%; helpful in any case, much more helpful in hardcore. Stimpaks, in hardcore, no longer heal limb damage; that job is now only for Doctor Bag's and Hydras. These are rarer items, and since the only other thing that can heal your limbs is a doctor, stronger bones can never hurt.

Jury Rigging; a hefty requirement of 90 repair will allow you to fix any item with a similar item, rather than the exact same type. This is particularly useful for saving your money on repairs for rare items you don't usually see a duplicate of.

Notably useless perks you should stay away from are Friend of the Night, Bloody Mess, Quick Draw, and Here and Now.

VII. Frequently asked questions

Q: Should I play on hardcore?

A: I don't know, nor does anybody else on this board. If you have played Fallout 3 a good deal or have played through this game at least once, and are up for a challenge if you thought either of the formers were too easy, yes. If you are a Fallout noob, obviously don't take the challenge right off of the back; you'll likely get frustrated quickly.

Q: Am I missing out on anything if I play on hardcore?

A: No, unlike the Wild Wasteland trait that removes a certain gun from the game, the hardcore mode only adds challenge.

Q: Is there really nothing better than stimpaks for healing?

A: No, that's not necessarily true. You can make foods at campfires that are just as good if not better than stimpaks, but this requires a high survival skill, as well as having to gather materials to create the foods, making stimpaks the better healing item. And with a higher medicine (as opposed to survival as you would need to make these foods) stimpaks are truly the greatest.

Q: I get an achievement for completing hardcore. What else?

A: Nothing. Nothing at all except your satisfaction, whatever that means to you.

Q: That's it? That can't be, what a rip-off!

A: The journey is the true reward, not the end and it's results.

Q:I just want the dang achievement, honestly. What do I do?

A: I suppose. Check out this topic made by ThermalStone: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/959557-fallout-new-vegas/57236095

Q: Are you going to end this guide now?

A: Yes I am!

Thank you for reading everybody. I would really appreciate a sticky; we really need one for this board. If it seems fit, I will update the guide. Additionally, you can use the rest of this topic to ask some questions I potentially did not answer for you throughout the guide. I, as well as other community members, will be glad to help. And the questions will help me with a potential future update to the guide.

In conclusion, thank you for looking and hopefully stickying. I hope the information was helpful for future hardcore players. Ulti-Man out.
#5AOS17Posted 3/5/2011 3:17:34 PM
Wow This guide is insane! I can't even read it because of how epicly long it is!

Great job! You've successfully blown my mind Ulti-man!

Keep it up
#6Mikey_RPosted 3/5/2011 3:39:34 PM
Bone thrown.
Fan board for most racing games. Just updated for ease of use. Enjoy.
#7DaRk_OnImUsHaPosted 3/5/2011 4:35:22 PM
ewww, this topic is gonna get sticky
Hi. I disapprove of this MoFaT
#8Razer1313Posted 3/5/2011 4:42:54 PM
Very interesting, ive already played and beat the game on hardcore but youv given me some helpful insite..
To bad ive already taken Bloody mess and made a horrible hardcore character for this play through :(

p.s. Nice guide
#9PS3_Owner29(Topic Creator)Posted 3/5/2011 4:44:35 PM
I may have slightly misspoken about Bloody Mess; it's not as much bad as it is a waste. But it breaks any quests where you have to kill somebody in a certain body part/not destroy a certain body part.
I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not. ~ Kurt Cobain
http://tinyurl.com/BRracing/ - A board for racers and video game fans alike!
#10PS3_Owner29(Topic Creator)Posted 3/5/2011 8:45:58 PM
I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not. ~ Kurt Cobain
http://tinyurl.com/BRracing/ - A board for racers and video game fans alike!