Character Creation FAQ by Haeravon

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    Character Creation FAQ by Haeravon

    Version: v1.02 | Updated: 09/05/15 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Table of Contents

    1. Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
    2. Introduction
      1. The DLCs
    3. S.P.E.C.I.A.L Attributes
      1. Implants
      2. Lonesome Road DLC Bonus Attribute
      3. Strength
      4. Perception
      5. Endurance
      6. Charisma
      7. Intelligence
      8. Agility
      9. Luck
      10. My Personal Build, Attributes
    4. Skills
      1. Barter
      2. Energy Weapons
      3. Explosives
      4. Guns
      5. Lockpick
      6. Medicine
      7. Melee Weapons
      8. Repair
      9. Science
      10. Sneak
      11. Speech
      12. Survival
      13. Unarmed
      14. Skills I Tag! (and why)
      15. Skill Point Allocation
    5. Traits
      1. Built to Destroy
      2. Claustrophobia
      3. Early Bird
      4. Fast Shot
      5. Four Eyes
      6. Good Natured
      7. Heavy Handed
      8. Hoarder
      9. Hot Blooded
      10. Kamikaze
      11. Logan's Loophole
      12. Loose Cannon
      13. Skilled
      14. Small Frame
      15. Trigger Discipline
      16. Wild Wasteland
      17. My Personal Build, Traits
    6. Perks
      1. Level 2 Perks
      2. Level 4 Perks
      3. Level 6 Perks
      4. Level 8 Perks
      5. Level 10 Perks
      6. Level 12 Perks
      7. Level 14 Perks
      8. Level 16 Perks
      9. Level 18 Perks
      10. Level 20 Perks
      11. Level 22-28 Perks
      12. Level 30+ Perks
      13. Additional Perks
      14. My Personal Build, Perks
    7. Getting Started in the Mohave
      1. New Vegas Medical Clinic Run
      2. Alternate Route
      3. Jackpot Winner!
      4. Infinite Experience
      5. "Free" Repairs
      6. Noteworthy Gear
    8. Hardcore Mode Blues
    9. Books
      1. Big Book of Science (7)
      2. Chinese Army: Spec. Ops. Training Manual (7)
      3. D.C. Journal of Internal Medicine (5)
      4. Dean's Electronics (6)
      5. Duck and Cover! (5)
      6. Grognak the Barbarian (6)
      7. Guns and Bullets (6)
      8. Lying, Congressional Style (6)
      9. Nikola Tesla and You (6)
      10. Pugilism Illustrated (6)
      11. Tales of a Junktown Jerky Vendor (6)
      12. Tumblers Today (5)
      13. Wasteland Survival Guide (5)
      14. Workbench Crates [Honest Hearts]
      15. Skill Book Recipes [Old World Blues]
    10. Updates/Thanks
      1. Version 1.01 to 1.02 changes (11/27/2010) (170,216 bytes)
      2. Version 1.02 to 1.03 changes (3/15/2011) (218,493 bytes)
      3. Ultimate Edition Version 1.01 Changes (11/22/2012) (286,065 bytes)
      4. Ultimate Edition Version 1.02 Changes (9/5/2015)
      5. Special Thanks

    Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition

    Version 1.02

    Written by: Nathan Garvin

    Email: Theendbringer (at) Hotmail (dot) com.

    If you're going to email me about this guide, make sure you put "Fallout: New Vegas" as the subject, or I'll probably end up deleting it as junk. If you would like the text version of this guide, e-mail me and ask for a copy.

    Guide Information
    This FAQ was made in Notepad, and is best viewed in a simple text editor. The default text is Lucida Console at size 10 font, but any fixed-width font will work... if not with the intended aesthetics intact. Note that this is an incredibly large FAQ, and depending on your computer, internet speed, and the restlessness of computer gremlins, you may have to refresh this file several times to get the whole thing to load. Look for the ***END OF FILE*** line at the bottom to ensure you've got the whole thing.

    I have no affiliation with Bethesda, Obsidian, or any other parties involved with this game. This is a not-for-profit fan-made guide. If you wish to post, mirror, or quote this guide, feel free to do so. Credit would make me happy, an email would make me feel good. Let your conscience be your guide, just like all good people.

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    Hello, kiddies! Another Fallout game, another Fallout Character Creation FAQ. If you read my previous FAQ for Fallout 3 you'll have a good understanding of how this FAQ will be laid out, and what it'll try to do. If not, then read on. This FAQ is designed to help you create a characters with the best chances of surviving in the Wasteland, or at least to give you an idea of how the SPECIAL stats, perks, and skills work so you can make an informed decision on how to best build the character you want. It's mostly informational, but I do have my own opinion on the best way to do things and what works best. Follow it or not, but most of all, I hope you come out with a better idea of how you want to play the game. If that's the case, Whether you do things my way or not is irrelevant. I'm fairly power-gamey, and I focus more on a general build, rather than specialization.. or rather, I try to focus on making the most powerful character I can. After all, a character who is good at talking his way out of a fight is fine, and a gunslinger has its uses.. but a character who can do both is obviously better. Right?

    This version of the guide is for the Ultimate Edition of Fallout: New Vegas. If you don't have all the DLCs, the full level cap, and all that good stuff, this guide probably isn't going to help you all that much. I've left my old Character Creation FAQ for the original game intact on Just make sure the title doesn't have 'Ultimate Edition' in it, and you'll be fine. Some people who have played the original game and read the original FAQ can rightly view this as an unspoken v1.04 of my previous Character Creation FAQ-with all the juicy DLC stuff you've been waiting for.

    The DLCs

    With the Ultimate Edition you get all the DLCs and all the pre-order bonuses.. the pre-order bonuses are mostly nothing special (although I love the Vault 13 gear, for nostalgia purposes!), just some junky weapons and medicore armor to making the early-going easier. The deck of cards I got for buying this on day one is still the best side-bonus that came with the game, as far as I'm concerned. Anyways, the real deal is that all the major DLCs increase your level cap by five-four DLCs, base level 30, the new level cap is 50, with all new perks and twenty more levels of skill points to make the old build well and truly obsolete. The new gear you'll start out with thanks to the 'Courier's Stash' DLC is listed below:

    Classic Pack

    Sturdy Caravan Shotgun 20 Gauge Round x40 Binoculars Armored Vault 13 Jumpsuit (I love this!) Vault 13 Canteen (again, nostalgia love..)

    Tribal Pack

    Weathered 10mm Pistol 10mm Round x50 Stimpak x5 Tribal Raiding Armor Throwing Spear x10 Broad Machete Bleak Venom x5

    Mercenary Pack

    Lightweight Leather Armor Lightweight Metal Armor Mercenary's Grenade Rifle 40mm Grenade x24 Doctor's Bag x3 Super Stimpak x3

    Of these items, the only real standout is the Vault 13 Canteen. It contains an endless supply of water that will mitigate (not eliminate) your H20 level in Hardcore Mode. It cannot be activated, it's automatically used once every so often, lowering your H20 level a bit. It's handy, if not necessary.

    S.P.E.C.I.A.L Attributes

    Your seven attributes are cleverly formed into the acronym 'SPECIAL', which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck.

    Attributes do a number of things for you-depending on what the actual attribute is, but they all give a 2 point bonus to their related skills for each point in that attribute. For example, if your Strength was 5 your base Melee Weapons skill would get a 10 point bonus. Luck is the exception, which gives a 1 point bonus for each two points in Luck to all your skills. This also means that when determining your skill points, each skill starts out with at least a +2 bonus (for your minimum of 1 in each attribute.) But.. more on that later.

    I will give you a brief description of each attribute, as well as list what bonuses it gives. Below the chart listing the nuances of the effects of that attribute will be my build choice when it comes to that attribute, and a rating following it. The grade is somewhat arbitrary, as it 'rates' the attribute in measure of importance. You can get a feel for the rating an attribute will get just by looking at the number of points my build requires.


    Instead of Bobbleheads, in New Vegas you have Implants. Again, anybody who played Fallout 1 or 2 shouldn't be surprised by the concept of shelling out caps to have your character surgically augmented. You can get one Implant per point of Endurance you have (not counting points gained from gear worn or from getting an Endurance-boosting Implant). Naturally, this means you shouldn't use Endurance as a dump stat, at least, and at most, if you're a power gamer, you should strive to have a high Endurance to get as many Implants as possible. The Implants are listed below, along with the Caps they cost, and the bonuses they give. Note that buying an Implant rewards you with a perk corresponding to that Implant, which is how I will identify the Implants listed below. Also, to my knowledge there is no significant down-time associated with these surgeries. You shouldn't starve to death or dehydrate from having a surgery, even though it does fast-forward time by three hours.

    Agility Implant4,000+1 Agility
    Charisma Implant4,000+1 Charisma
    Endurance Implant4,000+1 Endurance
    Intelligence Implant4,000+1 Intelligence
    Monocyte Breeder12,000Regenerate Hit Points
    Luck Implant4,00+1 Luck
    Perception Implant4,000+1 Perception
    Strength Implant4,000+1 Strength
    Sub-Dermal Armor8,000+4 Damage Threshold

    Obviously these Implants differ in potency.. the Sub-Dermal Armor Implant is better than a Toughness perk, and for Hardcore players, how can life get much better than health regeneration? On the other hand, for a build like mine that uses Charisma as a dump stat it might seem mindless to bother getting enough Endurance in order to boost Charisma.

    You can buy the Implants from Doctor Usanagi at the New Vegas Medical Clinic. Check the {MOH002} section to see how to reach this area with a new, low-level character.

    Why Get the Monocyte Breeder Implant?

    The Monocyte Breeder is NOT a combat implant. It heals too slow to make any difference in a fight. Why bother with it then? Well, two reasons, one good, one bad. First the bad reason-save a few essential considerations, such as meeting perk requirements, weapon requirements, and having enough Intelligence (and hence skill points) to max out all your skills, there are few good reasons to invest more or less into many of the attributes. Simply put, the health and extra implant we can get with a point of Endurance is worth more than what the other SPECIAL attributes offer. Now for the good reason-in Hardcore mode, the Monocyte Breeder is not a lackluster implant, as it will allow you to heal by resting, waiting, or even fast travelling. Sure as hell beats having to snarf food, constantly drink from a water source, or make yourself a Stimpak pin-cusion.

    Lonesome Road DLC Bonus Attribute

    At the end of the 'Lonesome Road' DLC you'll get one of four perks, depending upon your actions... the only interesting thing we need to focus on here is the fact that all these perks will give you one SPECIAL point to allocate-just like picking an Intensive Training perk, but for free! It's something to keep in mind, but since it happens so late in the game, I wouldn't really consider it a 'build' consideration. I'm just as happy putting it in Luck and getting the 1% critical hit chance.


    Skills: Melee Weapons

    Strength is a measure of your raw physical power. It affects how much you can carry, the power of all melee attacks, and your effectiveness with many heavy weapons.

    "Strength'll tell you how easily a cowboy totes his saddle, and those bigger firearms, or how much help he's gonna be for ya in a saloon brawl."

    Strength has a more important role in New Vegas than it previously had. If you played Fallout 1 or 2, you'll remember that weapons in those games also had a minimum Strength requirement. So too, for New Vegas. Strength also increases your melee damage, carrying capacity, and gives a bonus to your Melee Weapons skill. In my mind, however, the most important thing it does is it effectively limits what weapons you can use. If you don't have enough Strength to use a weapon, your aim will wobble, and you'll have a laughable to hit rate in VATS. For melee weapons, it may slow down your rate of attack. Now, as far as unarmed, melee, and explosives are concerned this is only so much of a handicap. Most of the time you don't need a great deal of accuracy with, say, a Fat Man. The increased spread hurts, but with an explosive weapon or a Minigun, some inherent inaccuracy is built into the weapon anyways. With a Sniper Rifle, however, accuracy is a much greater concern, and considering that higher damage weapons give a much better damage return over high Damage Threshold than lower damage weapons, you're going to want to use the bigger, badder guns.

    With all that said, the 'bigger, badder' category really starts at a Strength of six, especially if you use ranged weapons. With the Weapon Handling perk you can lower this requirement by two points, meaning that most characters really only need four Strength.. or three, with the Implant. With the DLCs installed, however, the build changes a bit. First, we have twenty more levels and many more books to boost our skill points with-meaning we need less Intelligence. These SPECIAL points have to go somewhere, and Strength isn't a bad place to put them. Also, in the Old World Blues DLC you'll get one of two perks to choose from (they can be switched out at will);

    Strength ScoreMelee DamageCarry CapacitySkillsDescription
    10.5160+2Wet Noodle
    21.0170+4Beached Jellyfish
    31.5180+6Doughy Baby
    52.5200+10Average Joe
    63.0210+12Barrel Chested
    73.5220+14Beach Bully
    84.0230+16Circus Strongman
    94.5240+18Doomsday Pecs
    105.0250+20Hercules' Bigger Cousin
    • You can increase your Strength by one point by getting the Strength Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.
    • You can increase your Strength by one point by getting the Spineless perk in the 'Old World Blues' DLC. This perk replaces Reinforce Spine, they do not stack.
    • You can increase your Strength by two points by getting the Reinforced Spine perk in the 'Old World Blues' DLC. This perk replaces the Spineless perk, they do not stack.

    My Build

    I put five points into Strength. The Implant will raise my Strength to six-which is all I'll need for most of the game. Once I complete the Old World Blues DLC, I'll pick the Reinforced Spine perk and raise my Strength up to eight. This is enough to use pretty much any weapon in the game, and it allows me to dispense with Weapon Handling entirely. If for some reason I need more Strength... well, there's always Power Armor.


    Skills: Explosives, Lockpick, and Energy Weapons

    A high Perception grants a bonus to the Explosives, Lockpick and Energy Weapons skills, and determines when red compass markings appear (which indicate threats).

    "A perceptive cowboy always knows when there's a lit stick of dynamite nearby... or when a varmint's sneakin' up on him."

    Perception's big draw is that it increases the distance as which you notice threats-red marks on your compass. Granted this is only useful for avoiding said threats, or ambushing/sneaking up on them. Still, if you are a ranged fighter, this is useful for letting you know where your enemies are before you engage. Yep, that's right out of the old FAQ, and it holds true in New Vegas.

    There are, however, a few changes in New Vegas that diminishes... or rather, replaces... the use of Perception in New Vegas. First, you can just toggle VATS to spot enemies far outside of your range to locate them, so long as you have a line of sight. With one side kick you get a perk that highlights enemies when you aim, and with another you get a perk that vastly increases your detection range. Both of these perks make having a high personal Perception score rather moot. Add into this the fact that with the new iron sights you can effectively snipe outside of VATS much easier... you don't need a high Perception to find-and kill-enemies.

    It still has its tactical uses to be sure, and more importantly it is a requirement for some perks, but you don't need nearly as much Perception this time around. In fact, with the larger range of Perception you'll get from one companion, you will see enemies on the compass much earlier than is useful. It doesn't really do you much good to know that there are hostiles on the far side of a mountain, does it? Especially not until you find a way to reach that side of the mountain, in any case. The best thing Perception does is it allows you to get the Better Criticals perk. Without this you can really use it as a dump stat. That said, I can't see why anybody would ignore +50% critical damage. Keep your Perception up at six (or five plus the Implant) to have access to this perk.

    Perception ScoreSkillsDescription
    1+2Deaf Bat
    2+4Senile Mole
    3+6Squinting Newt
    4+8Unsuspecting Trout
    5+10Wary Trout
    6+12Alert Coyote
    7+14Big-eyed Tiger
    8+16Monocled Falcon
    9+18Sniper Hawk
    10+20Eagle with Telescope

    You can increase your Perception by one point by getting the Perception Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

    My Build

    I start out with a base of five Perception.


    Skills: Survival and Unarmed

    Endurance is a measure of your overall physical fitness. A high Endurance gives bonuses to health, environmental resistances, and the Survival and Unarmed skills.

    "You can't keep a good cowboy down, not if he's the endurin' type... and not if he's got a six-shooter the size of all tarnation."

    As the description says, Endurance increases your Health and some resistances. Presumably your resistance to poison is the same as in Fallout 3, as your radiation resistance remains unchanged. Since you only receive five Hit Points per level in New Vegas (as opposed to 10 in Fallout 3) Endurance plays a more crucial role. Most importantly, however, in New Vegas your Endurance determines how many stat-boosting Implants you can receive. There are a total of nine Implants, and you can get one for each point of Endurance you have.. not including an extra Endurance you may get from an Implant. If you want as many Implants as possible, you're going to want a high starting Endurance. Since this attribute also boosts your Survival, it's a good pick for people playing in Hardcore mode.

    Endurance ScoreHit PointsPoison ResistanceRadiation ResistanceSkillsDescription
    11200%0%+2Basically Dead
    316010%4%+6Do Not Bend
    418015%6%+8Handle with Care
    826035%14%+16Flame Retardant

    You can increase your Endurance by one point by getting the Endurance Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

    My Build

    The more the merrier in Endurance, I start out with a whopping eight Endurance. This allows me to get all the Implants in the game, save the Charisma Implant.


    Skills: Barter and Speech

    Having a high Charisma will improve people's disposition of you, and give bonuses to both the Barter and Speech skills.

    "You'll find there are some smooth-talkin' cowboys out there that got themselves a voice that sounds like an angel's harmonica."

    Charisma isn't any better in New Vegas than it was in Fallout 3, with the exception of the bonuses it gives to your companions' nerve, which significantly increases their Damage Threshold and Damage. Still, this is a character creation guide aimed at making the strongest character for this game as possible.. not for making the strongest companions. At the end of the day I'd rather have a strong main character than a strong side-kick. Keep the benefits in mind, sure, but realize that a high Charisma is going to cost you in other areas. I use it as a dump stat and let Speech and Barter get me through the conversations in the game.

    Charisma ScoreSkillsDescription
    2+4Old Hermit
    3+6Creepy Undertaker
    4+8Peevish Librarian
    5+10Substitute Teacher
    6+12Cheery Salesman
    8+16Movie Star
    10+20Cult Leader
    You can increase your Charisma by one point by getting the Charisma Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

    My Build

    I start out with one point in Charisma. There's really no great reason to start out with more. If you want to be a silver-tongued devil, get a high Intelligence and just use Speech instead.


    Skills: Science, Repair, and Medicine

    Intelligence affects the Science, Repair and Medicine skills. The higher your Intelligence, the more Skill Points you'll be able to distribute when you level up.

    "A smart cowboy's good at most anything, from suckin' the poison out of your rattler bit to fixin' your broken wagon axle."

    Intelligence is again a solid attribute.. and even though it has been reduced in potency, the fact remains that a character with higher Intelligence will have higher skills, which does all kinds of good things. Not only will you pass more [Intelligence] checks, but more skills means you'll pass more skill checks, too, and in New Vegas, there are alot of them. Simply put, a more Intelligent character is a more versatile, stronger character. And yes, half-points do carry over to next level, so with a 9 Intelligence, you'd get 16 skill points to distribute on one level, and 17 on the next. With all the new DLCs, Intelligence has become somewhat less useful. Sure, with more levels you stand to gain more benefit from each point of Intelligence.. but there are so many new levels, so many new books, that we just don't need as much Intelligence to max out all our skills. Having a high Intelligence is still nice for some dialogue options.. but it's nothing a well-timed Mentat can't get us.

    On a mindless tangent, does anybody else find it odd that you move from 'Knucklehead' at four Intelligence, to "Knowledgable" at five? Isn't 5.5 the average result of a 1-10 system? So shouldn't five denote a (slightly-less-than) average intelligence? And why the huge upgrade? Knucklehead is an insult, and Knowledgable is what you call somebody when... well, they display competence in a field.

    Intelligence ScoreSkillsDescription

    You can increase your Intelligenceby one point by getting the Intelligence Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

    My Build

    I start out with six Intelligence. My first priority, as in Fallout: New Vegas is to get the Intelligence Implant from the New Vegas Medical Clinic so as to ensure I'm gaining as many skill points per level as possible.. hence the 'Getting Started in the Mohave' section. Again, we don't need quite as much Intelligence with the expansions installed, so an end total of seven is more than enough.


    Skills: Guns and Sneak

    Agility affects your Small Guns and Sneak skills, and the number of Action Points available for V.A.T.S.

    "When a fella's in a gunfight and shoots the other guy six times before they can get off a shot, it's cause that fella is agile."

    Agility is more of a mixed bag in New Vegas than it was in Fallout 3. Action Points are still good and all, but since VATS doesn't make you more-or-less invincible anymore, it can be a liability. It's often better to use VATS sparingly, when you have time to pull off some safe shots, rather than spam VATS relentlessly. Being able to use VATS more often is better than taking more shots in VATS. Also with the new iron sights, you can kill enemies more effectively at a distance.. again, lessening the need for VATS this time around. Still, you should keep a minimum of six points (or five plus the Implant) if you intend to get the Silent Running perk.

    Agility ScoreSkillsDescription
    1+2Walking Disaster
    2+4Accident Prone
    5+10Under Control
    7+14Knife Thrower
    8+16Knife Catcher
    9+18Acrobatic Marvel
    10+20Walks on Water
    • You can increase your Agility by one point by getting the Agility Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.
    • You can increase your Agility by one point by selecting the Small Frame Trait.

    My Build

    I grab seven points of Agility to start with, raising it to eight with the Small Frame trait. It will eventually reach nine when I get the Implant, which is plenty as far as Action Points and reload speed is concerned.


    Skills: All skills

    "Some folks claim not to believe in luck, but when they lose in a duel you'll hear them say, 'That lucky son-of-a-gun!'"

    Doesn't the loser of a duel often die? Anyways.. Luck is a great skill, especially with poor Intelligence suffering. From Luck you will get a half-point bonus to all your skills (rounded up), which tops out at +5 once you have nine Luck, making nine really the terminal score for Luck. Considering this, Luck can potentially give you the highest skill bonus of any attribute, and the fact that each point also translates to your critical hit chance makes it a very nice attribute indeed.

    Luck ScoreSkillsDescription
    1+213 Pitch-black Coats
    2+4Broken Gypsy Mirror
    3+6Sickly Albatross
    4+8Spilled Salt
    5+10Coin Flip
    6+12Stacked Deck
    7+14Lucky 7
    8+16Leprechaun's Coat
    9+1821-Leaf Clover
    10+20Two-headed Coin Flip

    You can increase your Luck by one point by getting the Luck Implant perk from the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

    My Build

    I start out with eight Luck, and with the Implant I bring it up to nine, which is as high as it needs to be. Even the critical- hit happy builds should be satisfied with this, and I really can't see stripping a point from another S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Attribute for one measly point of critical hit percentage.

    My Personal Build, Attributes

    The numbers below are the starting attributes I pick, and the numbers in parentheses are what they'll be when I get the Implants, complete the 'Old World Blues' DLC, and select the 'Small Frame' Trait. This does not include any boosts I might get from worn items (temporary boosts) or the free SPECIAL point you'll get to allocate at the end of the 'Lonesome Road' DLC.

    Now, for some notes about the build. I've been conflicted about a few alternatives, so I feel it's best to mention them than pretend this build is absolute. First, Intelligence has been reduced by the DLCs a bit-but it could stand to suffer more. This has everything to do with perks-so if you're not familiar with the perks.. well, bear with me. By my math (which isn't anything I'm proud of, by the way), this build will-if you get all the skill books-end up with surplus skill points. This doesn't even include the random books you can get in 'Honest Hearts' (I try to count randomness out of the build somewhat). You can really even ignore all skill books that require explosives, console codes, and other tricks and still have enough skill points to max everything at 100 (although we'll admitably be cutting it rather close). Ultimately, however, I like having an intelligent character (a few dialogue options will be unlocked, and having seven allows us to pop Mentats and pretty much get them all-but it's really a vanity thing). Also.. the benefits of raising the other attributes at the expense of Intelligence is rather minute. A few points of Health from Endurance, an extra 1% critical hit chance from Luck, a paltry amount of Action Points from Agility? These are negligible benefits. At the end of the day, I'd rather just be lazy and not have to uncover every book in the game, and give myself a large surplus. People who don't play in Hardcore mode can safely ignore Survival, however, and save themselves a great bit of skill points, which in turn allows you to safely drop Intelligence even further.

    Strength58+1 Implant, +2 Reinforced Spine
    Perception56+1 Implant
    Endurance89+1 Implant
    Intelligence67+1 Implant
    Agility79+1 Implant, +1 Small Frame
    Luck89+1 Implant


    Skills determine how good you are at various activities, anything from picking locks, hacking computers, attacking with various weapons, sneaking, interacting with NPCs and so forth. Your skills are every bit as important as your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and your perks.


    You start out with two points in each skill, and get an additional two points per S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute in related skills with the exception of Luck, which gives .5 point for each point of Luck (rounded up).


    You select three skills to tag after being tested early in the game. Unlike the first two Fallout games, this doesn't double your rate of skill point increase, it merely adds a 15 point bonus to those skills.


    You gain 10 skill points per level plus half your Intelligence score. The sooner you get to the New Vegas Medical Center and buy yourself a shiny new Intelligence Implant, the more skill points you'll have in the long run.

    Skill Books

    In addition to perks, leveling, and intelligence, you can get skill bonuses from books throughout the game. Unlike in Fallout 3, you no longer gain one point for each book, you now get three (or four, with the Comprehension perk). Of course, with bonuses like this you can't expect to find quite as many of them.. but even if you find three or four, that's a significant number of skill points.


    Magazines, like books, exist only to boost your skill points, albeit temporarily. Magazines normally boost your skill points by +10, but with the Comprehension perk this bonus increases to +20. For most skill this is not a huge deal, although the benefits of popping a Milsurp Review to boost your Guns before a big fight is obvious enough. For some 'checked' skills, however, a temporary boost can be just as good as a permanent one. For example, the Speech skill is really only used in conversation. If you reach certain benchmarks you can succeed at Speech checks, which greatly helps with questing, improves rewards, etc. However, you don't ALWAYS need a 100 Speech. In fact, most of the time you're not even using that skill. This is where magazines shine, as with Comprehension you can leave Speech at 80 and just read a magazine before you need to make a check. The Barter, Lockpick, and Science skills all fall into this category as well.

    Breakdown of Skills Points

    There are 13 skills in the game, each of which can be raised to a score of 100, for a grand total of 1300 possible points in the game. With the inclusion of a whopping 20 more levels to the game, maxing out all your skills at 100 is now pretty easy to do-so much so that the Comprehension Perks and the Intelligence Attribute are now less interesting to power- gamers like myself. On the other hand, Educated now gives 46 levels worth of skill points-or a total of 92 points over the game, and the increased number of books means Comprehension will go further, too.

    The breakdown of skill points below shows how my skill points are allocated at level one, with their projected totals once I have the implants purchased. If your SPECIAL Attributes don't match mine, you'll have different numbers. Remember, you start out with a base of two points in each skill, plus two for every point in the governing SPECIAL Attribute for that skill. Also, Luck adds one point to each skill for every odd point of Luck (1 = +1, 3 = +2, etc, up to +5 with a Luck score of 9). When we get our Implants, naturally every SPECIAL Attribute (save Charisma) will increase by one, making the related skills increase by +2.. and since my Luck is raising from 8 to 9, I get another bonus to every skill. Hence, all skills will receive a +3 bonus save Barter and Speech, which get +1. What follows, then, are my base skills after the New Vegas run*. In the 'Perks/Traits' section I account for three things-the bonus to Agility from having the Small Frame Trait, the whopping +5 bonus to each skill that Skilled gives me (it's an absolute must-have Trait) and the bonus Strength I'll receive (much later) from completing the 'Old World Blues' expansion and getting the 'Reinforced Spine' perk.

    Base Skill Points
    Perks & TraitsTotal
    Energy Weapons2143524
    Melee Weapons2153928

    See the Getting Started in the Mohave section of the guide for more information on the New Vegas Medical Clinic Run.

    Now that we've got that down, let's figure out how many points we can expect to get from leveling and Tag! skills, and see where that leaves us.

    346Base Skill Points
    +66113.5 Skill Points per level/45 levels (7 Intelligence)
    1052Skill Points distributed by level 50

    With 1052 skill points we can get an average of 80~ in each skill.. Which honestly, is pretty damn good already. But why settle for good when perfect is within reach? The previously mentioned books weigh in at three skill points per copy (or four, with the Comprehension perk). There are, on average, between five and six skill books per skill in the game that can be found-not including the extra skill book per skill that can be made via recipe holotapes found in Old World Blues, and not counting the random Workbench Crate books in "Honest Hearts". In total, that's at least seven skill books per skill that can be found, or 21 bonus skill points per skill (28 with Comprehension). Still, I don't tend to work that hard, so my simplified maxing tips are as follows:

    • Pick Skilled as one of your traits at the beginning of the game. You can survive the experience hit, trust me, and the 85 Skill Points you'll get in return are well worth it. If
      you reset your traits at the Auto-Doc in The Sink (Old World Blues) and pick Skilled again, you can score another 85 points!

    • Get either 'Comprehension' or 'Educated' at level four. This will allow you to be lazier with hunting down skill books.

    • Get all your skills up to a base of 80 (Sneak and Science need fewer points).

    • Find as many skill books as possible-you'll need about seven per skill to raise your scores to 100. Educated will allow you to add more points to skills where you find fewer skill books, Comprehension will allow you to max your skills with only five skill books.

    • In the meantime, use skill magazines to boost your skills to succeed at skill checks, when necessary.

    With this approach you won't need to complete all the expansions and find every book. Get your skills to a base score of 80, then just use skill books as you find them. If you get all the skill books in the Mohave, most of your skills should be doing pretty good. "Old World Blues" is a great expansion to do, as it includes two Sneak skill books (Chinese Spec. Ops. Training Manual) , a Science skill book (Big Book of Science) and a recipe from which you can make one skill book per skill, for a total of 48 skill points (64 with Comprehension). I was able to max out all my skills by level 45 with this method, and only completed 'Old World Blues' and 'Honest Hearts' (and only bothered to get two skill books from the latter expansion).


    Related Attribute: Charisma

    The Barter skill affects the prices you get for buying and selling items. In general, the higher your Barter skill, the lower your prices on purchased items.

    The higher your Barter, the more Caps you'll get when you sell things, and the less Caps items will cost when you buy them. In addition to this useful bonus, Barter often acts as a Speech substitute.. allowing you to haggle for better deals and rewards. However, Barter will not cover all your Speech checks (and vise versa), and Repair may actually do better at saving you money. In Hardcore mode you typically have to find things to sell to make Barter effective.. which means exploring or hunting/killing enemies, which takes time, and hence, resources. It's a fine skill if you have the points to spend, but it's usually one of my later concerns.

    Energy Weapons

    Related Attribute: Perception

    The Energy Weapons skill determines your effectiveness with any weapon that uses Small Energy Cells, Micro Fusion Cells, EC Packs, or Flamer Fuel as ammunition.

    A bit of a weapon shakeup here, Flamers now belong to Energy Weapons, and not to the now-defunct Big Guns category. Still, Energy Weapons are in direct competition with Guns as a primary arms. Explosives might have their own niche, but if you're using a ranged weapon, it's either Guns or Energy Weapons. The most conventional Energy Weapons are either Laser Pistols, Laser Rifles, Plasma Pistols, or Plasma Rifles, which are by default short to mid-ranged weapons. There are weapons that function like shotguns, the Gauss Rifle takes the place of a Sniper Rifle, and there's even a cannon-type weapon. There are fewer types of ammo.. which is a blessing and a curse. You won't get Armor-Piercing ammo, and more powerful weapons tend to burn through their ammo quickly (the Gauss Rifle, for example, takes five 'rounds' of ammunition per shot.) Overall I prefer to go with Guns, which just seem to have a better selection of ammo and higher relative damage. Not to mention the fact that they are more readily available. Still, I can't argue with the fact that YCS/186 is a superior long-ranged weapon, outperforming the Gauss Rifle in both damage, weight, proficiency requirements, and ammo consumption, and a Multiplas Rifle kills enemies with satisfying speed. Seriously, take a Multiplas Rifle out with Maximum Charge ammo and go shoot up some Deathclaws. It's effective, I'll give it that.


    Related Attribute: Perception

    The Explosives skill determines the ease of disarming any hostile mines and the effectiveness of any explosive weapon (all mines, all grenades, Missile Launcher, Fat Man, etc.)

    You will certainly notice the delay you get when it comes to disarming mines, but that's not a reason to raise a skill, right? No, it's the fact that Explosives now govern all weapons that.. you know.. cause explosions? Now it's a skill worth considering, since Explosives are a wide and often powerful variety of weapons, easily able to overcome the Damage Thresholds of enemies. Of course, it is still a limited-use and often expensive collection of weapons.. and certainly not one for use against most enemies. Frankly, I'd rather shoot a Deathclaw with an Sniper Rifle, rather than stock up on heavy and expensive Explosives. In fact, I'd rather use Guns to do everything Explosives can do, which is why I have no inclination to endorse it as an essential skill. In fact, it's one of the last skills I tend to raise.


    Related Attribute: Agility

    Guns determines your effectiveness with any weapon that uses conventional ammunition (.22 LR, .357 Magnum, 5mm, 10mm, 5.56mm, .308, .45-70 Gov't etc.).

    The Guns skill consists of a stupidly wide variety of weapons with an equally stupidly wide variety of ammunition. Including such mainstays as the 9mm Pistol, Hunting Rifle, Assault Carbine, Light Machine Gun, Riot Shotgun, Sniper Rifle and.. Anti-Material Rifle?.. It is a truly diverse and powerful weapon skill set. It is in direct competition with Energy Weapons for your primary ranged arms, and in my mind, Guns win out. Guns typically deal more damage (especially with Hand Loader) and settle at a comfortable Strength requirement of six.. even for the Sniper Rifle. If anything, Guns might suffer from having too many options. Do you go with the Brush Gun for its low Action Point costs, get the Cowboy perk, and get your Repair skill up to 90 in order to make 45-70 Gov't Hand Load ammo, or stick with the Sniper Rifle, Gobi Rifle, or The Machine and use .308 Hand Load ammo? Or do you do both? Heck, you can even decide to play with revolvers and stick with the Ranger Sequoia. No matter what you decide to do, you can expect to deal a lot of damage with Guns, at close range, long range or from even beyond the Perception range of your enemy. It's a lot of power and versatility for one skill, and in my mind everybody who really wants to kill things, and kill them well, should get at least 75 points in Guns.


    Related Attribute: Perception

    The Lockpick skill is used to open locked doors and containers.

    It's a brief description for a rather straight-forward skill. You'll find locked boxes, doors, crates, etc. of various degrees of difficulty. Obviously you're going to want to get into them, and this requires your Lockpick skill to be at different levels. This is a pretty useful, if not obligatory skill for everybody to have. Thankfully, however, if you get Comprehension you can just get your score up to 80 and just use a Locksmith's Reader Magazine for when you encounter a [Very Hard] lock.

    Lockpick SkillLock Difficulty
    0Very Easy
    100Very Hard


    Related Attribute: Intelligence

    The Medicine skill determines how many Hit Points you'll replenish upon using a Stimpak, and the effectiveness of Rad-X and RadAway.

    This skill, for all its apparent worth, can be ignored. There is always another way of handling a situation, from donning an Environmental Suit, to visiting a doctor, to just using more Caps. It's more useful in Hardcore mode to be able to ignore these inconveniences, but in a normal game you don't really need a high Medicine score. That said, there are a good number of Medicine challenges in this game, so from a story aspect it's not entirely bad to splurge a little extra.

    Melee Weapons

    Related Attribute: Strength

    The Melee Weapons skill determines your effectiveness with any melee weapon, from the simple lead pipe all the way up to the high-tech Super Sledge.

    Melee Weapons is again in competition with Unarmed, and it again loses. Paralyzing Palm might not be as awesome in New Vegas as it was in Fallout 3, but it does give Unarmed an edge. Also, many of the better perks the two share (Piercing Strike, Slayer) require you to have a large number of points in Unarmed. To its credit, Melee Weapons does control the Ninja, Unstoppable Force, and Super Slam perks, but it does seem to be the loser in this competition, nonetheless. It's also hard to compare a Super Sledge to a Displacer Glove or Ballistic Fist. Your natural inclination is to specialize in one or the other, but unfortunately New Vegas requires you to pay attention to both, whereas with Guns and Energy Weapons you can get by just fine with one or the other.


    Related Attribute: Intelligence

    The Repair skill allows you to maintain any weapons and apparel. In addition, Repair allows you to create items and Guns ammunition at reloading benches.

    Repair is still good in New Vegas, for many of the same reasons. There has, however, been one significant change to how the skill works. You no longer need to get your Repair skill up to 100 to repair an items condition to 100.. the higher your skill the more you repair when you combine an item, but if you have enough of them you'll be able to fix an item to your heart's content. Also, some weapons and armor are prohibitively rare, making fixes with Repair difficult (unless you have the Jury Rigging perk). You need a whopping 90 Repair Skill score for this, but there are other considerations, too. You'll need 50 Repair to make Weapon Repair Kits (restores 25% of an equipped weapon's condition, which is just great for fixing all that rare expansion gear you bring into the Mohave, or vise-versa), and you'll need a 70 Repair score to get the Hand Load perk.. which you can use to make .308 JSP ammo, which turns the Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle into the Finger of God. I'd suggest getting up to 70 once your Survival and questing skills are up to snuff (like Speech, Lockpick, Science), but the last points can wait a while.


    Related Attribute: Intelligence

    The Science skill represents your combined scientific knowledge, and is primarily used to hack restricted computer terminals. It can also be used to recycle Energy Weapons and ammunition at workbenches.

    Again, like Lockpick, you'll encounter terminals with varying difficulties which you'll typically want to hack. Also like Lockpick you will be able to get your Science skill up to 80 and just fill in the last 20 points with a Programmer's Digest for the [Very Hard] hacks.. provided you have Comprehension, of course. The crafting is somewhat moot, as Stimpaks require a score of 70 and components that are more annoying to find than simply paying the Caps for the Stimpak. Everything else that's useful, like ammo recycling or Doctor's Bags, typically have a much lower requirement.

    Science SkillHack Difficulty
    0Very Easy
    100Very Hard


    Related Attribute: Agility

    The higher your Sneak skill, the easier it is to remain undetected, steal and item, or pick someone's pocket. Successfully attack while undetected grants an automatic critical hit.

    Sneak is a nice skill that allows you to steal loot, score sneak attack criticals, and move past enemies when you'd rather avoid (or at least delay) a fight. Most items can be stolen by being patient and waiting for potential witnesses to leave, and sneak attack criticals are more easy to score than ever, now that you have iron sights and don't need to approach as close. Both of these factors mean you really don't need a Sneak score that's terribly high, although if you want to sneak anywhere near an enemy, much less past one, you're going to want the Silent Running perk.. which requires an obligatory minimum investment of 50 Sneak. I tend to wait a bit to invest in Sneak, since I don't bother sneaking much (in combat at least, where a high skill matters) until I have the Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle, which requires at least an 80 Lockpick score (plus a magazine with Comprehension) to get, and a 75 Guns skill to use, and a 70 Repair score to make good ammo for. You can see, then, why I wait to invest into Sneak.