Updated date:

Comprehensive Guide To Fallout New Vegas





The Basics of Character Building

The very first decision you make when you start Fallout is what kind of character you wish to play as. This is a huge decision because it will affect how the game is experienced. Whether you want to go up-close-and personal or pick 'em off from a distance, walk the world in it's shadows or talk your way into victory, there are a few things you should know. First of all, choose your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points based on what type of character you wish to make. If you plan on using melee weapons and bashing your way through enemies, allocating some points into Strength and Endurance would be a great idea. On the reverse side, if your goal is to be a hacker or healer, don't keep your intelligence low. As you level up, distribute a good portion of your skill points into the skills you plan on using most. While putting all your skill points into your preferred weapon seems attractive, it will leave you weak in other aspects of the game. Try to balance out your skills. As your character progresses, more perks will become available to you. Choose those according to your desired class too. Lastly, remember that if you want to change your class mid-game, you can do so!

Summary of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Effects

AttributeSkills Affected Other Things Affected


Melee Weapons

Weapon Efficiency, Inventory Carry Weight


Energy Weapons, Lockpick, Explosives

Compass Range


Unarmed, Survival

Health, Radiation and Poison Resistance, Number of Implants Attainable


Speech, Barter

Companion Nerve (Courage)


Medicine, Science, Repair

Number of Usable Skill Points Per Level


Guns, Sneak

Number of Action Points (AP), AP Regeneration Rate, Weapon Handling Speed


Affects All Skills Slightly

Critical Hit Chance, Enemy Mishap Chance, Gambling


V.A.T.S. stands for Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. This pause battle system allows you to slow down the speed of the battle and aim at specific parts of the opponent's body (With the exception of melee and unarmed combat, which only gives you one option until you unlock special V.A.T.S. attacks). It also shows how likely you are to hit the body part. The closer you are, the more likely you are to connect! You can also target multiple enemies at one time, assuming you have the require number of available Action Points. This is great to use when the battle is a bit much to handle. It also allows you to maximize the damage and efficiency of your ammo usage. There are multiple perks which allows you to use V.A.T.S. more frequently or for increased efficiency. If you are building a class that relies on accuracy and stealth, I highly suggest these perks. In addition, increasing your Agility will increase the number of Action Points you have.



Hardcore Mode

Hardcore Mode is a much more challenging version of Fallout New Vegas and it is also new to the series. It was designed with the veteran player in mind, and incorporates more realistic game-play. While Hardcore makes the games a lot more challenging, it is also more satisfying for the experienced player, and includes a 100 point achievement/ gold trophy if you manage to beat the entire game on Hardcore. It introduces a whole list of new challenges to the game, which I will talk about in the following sections. First off, those rubbish food items you find around the Fallout universe isn't rubbish anymore...

Hardcore Mode: New Status Effects

Alright, so you have some kind of idea on how you want to build your character, and distributed your attributes accordingly. The next thing you have to decide is whether you want to play on Hardcore Mode, which is new to Fallout New Vegas. Casual Mode will keep game-play basically the same as Fallout 3. It is HIGHLY recommended you stick to casual if you lack a lot of experience in Fallout. Hardcore Mode introduces a lot of new challenges. First of all, there are three more things you need to keep an eye on and manage that will cause adverse effects and ultimately death if left unchecked. Dehydration (labeled as H2O) increases at the fastest rate of the three. It takes approximately a half hour to reach the first level of dehydration. Note: This doesn't take into account fast travelling, which increases dehydration instantly, as well as the other two. To reduce it, you need to drink from water sources. This also requires you to carry water with you constantly, using up valuable inventory weight. Starvation (labeled as FOD) increases at a little less than half the speed as dehydration. To reduce this, you must eat various food items, but be careful because most food items also carry adverse effects such as temporary stat reduction and/or increased radiation and dehydration. As with dehydration, this forces you to carry around food, taking up more weight. Sleep Deprivation (labeled as SLP) increases at half the speed of starvation and four times as slowly as dehydration. To reduce this, you must sleep in a bed or consume an item that decreases it (the most effective is the atomic cocktail). All three of these use the same escalating points system that radiation poisoning uses. The adverse effects get gradually worse for four stages, then instant death if you reach the fifth stage.

Stages of Status Effects

Note: The top numbers denote how many points in each stage you have to reach before the effect occurs.

Status Effect2004006008001000

Radiation Poisoning (RAD)

-1 END

-2 END, -1 AGI

-3 END, -2 AGI, -1 STR

-3 END, -2 AGI, -2 STR


Dehydration (H2O)

-1 END

-2 END, -1 PER

-3 END, -2 PER, -1 INT

-3 END, -2 PER, -2 AGI, - 1 INT


Starvation (FOD)

-1 STR

-2 STR, -1 CHR

-3 STR, -2 CHR, -1 PER

-3 STR, -2 CHR, -2 PER


Sleep Deprivation (SLP)

-1 AGI

-2 AGI, -1 INT

-3 AGI, -2 INT, -1 END

-3 AGI, -2 INT, -2 END


Hardcore Mode: Healing

The biggest difference between healing in Casual and Hardcore Mode is that in Casual Mode, using healing items heals instantly, while in Hardcore mode every healing item in the game heals gradually, including RadAway. However, using items to decrease dehydration or starvation is instantaneous. This can make a big difference in battles, where using stimpaks can no longer bring you back to full health. It is completely possible to still die after using multiple stimpaks in a battle. Also, food items are more effective in Hardcore Mode than in Casual, especially if you invest points in Survival. In some cases, food can even heal you in greater amounts and faster than a stimpak can.

Note: Crippling any body part causes character to flinch, making them easy targets for damage.

Crippled LimbEffects


-4 PER, Reduced Accuracy, Occasional Blurred Vision and Ringing Noise


Drastically Increased Flinching


Drastically Reduced Accuracy of Two Handed Weapons

Right Arm

-10% Melee Damage


Impaired Mobility

Hardcore Mode: Crippled Limbs

Crippled limbs are caused by excessive damage to a particular section of your body or the body of your enemy. Crippling can be caused by either damage directly from weapons, traps (such as explosive mines and creative tripwire-based traps) or simply by falling from too great a distance. This can make battle significantly more challenging if you are crippled or provide a great advantage if your enemy has fallen victim. In Casual Mode of Fallout New Vegas, crippled limbs can be healed by using a Doctor's Bag, going to a doctor, sleeping, or simply by using a stimpak directly on the limb. Using a stimpak for general healing also heals all of your limbs slightly. In Hardcore Mode, however, the only ways to heal crippled limbs is by using a Doctor's Bag or visiting a doctor. There are various perks which can decrease the chances of having your limbs crippled, such as Adamantium Skeleton, which reduces the amount of damage your limbs receive from weapons and explosives by 50% (It doesn't affect damage from falling) and Toughness, which increases your overall damage resistance by 10%. There is also Hit the Deck, which increases your damage threshold against any explosives by 25. These are important perks to take if you are playing Hardcore Mode, as crippled limbs are significantly harder to heal.

Hardcore Mode: Weight

One of the key differences about playing in Hardcore Mode is that nearly everything has weight now, with the exception of stimpaks, RadAway, chems, and skill magazines. This includes ammunition. No longer can you tote around thousands of round of ammo. Most ammo is light, such as the .22 LR which only weights .01 pound. But if you choose to use more heavy weaponry, your weight is going to suffer. Each missile weighs 3 pounds. This has a huge impact on game-play because you have to take caution when packing ammo, as it is fairly easy to get carried away and find yourself over-encumbered. The Pack Rat perk is a terrific perk for Hardcore Mode because it halves the weight of any item originally weighing 2 or less. This means you can pack twice as much of most ammo types at the same weight as you could without the perk.

Hardcore Mode: Companions

Companions are people found throughout the Fallout universe that can follow you, providing combat support as well as perks as long as they are your active companion. In Casual Mode, they cannot die. Instead, they are knocked unconscious when their health drops to zero and revive a few moments later. However, in Hardcore Mode, they actually die (and often do). This requires you to take good care of your followers if you wish them to survive. This adds a fun, albeit challenging, aspect to the game. It's completely optional however and it's completely possible to beat the whole game without recruiting a single companion, so don't stress out if one (or all) of your followers die in service. They are disposable!

Lily, one of the possible companions in Fallout New Vegas.

Lily, one of the possible companions in Fallout New Vegas.


Now that you have chosen whether or not you are going for more casual game-play or a more challenging route, it's time for you to explore the vast world of Fallout New Vegas! It is an immense world filled with hours upon hours of quests, both main and side, as well as many locations waiting to be pillaged. There are also dozens of unique weapons, armor and items for the completionists out there, as well as snow globes scattered throughout the Mojave Wasteland. These have replaced the bobble heads of Fallout 3.


In Fallout New Vegas, the main questline is but a small part of the game-play you can experience. A majority of the quests are side quests, which can extend the game-play to well over 200 hours. There are 3 tutorial quests, 2 main quests which branch off into 25 different quests (depending on the choices you make during the game) with 5 different possible endings. This means you have to play the game 5 times to experience every possible ending, which adds a substantial amount of replay value. Along with the main quests, there are also 81 side quests and 81 unmarked quests, which are quests which you can choose to complete to gain experience and rewards but do not appear on your quests screen or show up as quest markers. There are an additional 12 quests with the Dead Money add-on, 22 quests with the Honest Hearts add-on, 19 quests with the Old World Blues add-on, and 9 quests with the Lonesome Road add-on. Including the unmarked quests, this is a total of 254 possible quests in Fallout New Vegas. So go out there and explore!


One of the most interesting aspects of Fallout New Vegas is its vast number of explorable locations. Without any of the add-ons, there are 187 locations to be found, with many of these locations having unmarked explorable locations inside them. For example, the Nellis Airforce Base has 10 different buildings to explore inside it. These locations can range from caves, to abandoned houses, to various structures and landmarks, and even whole towns and cities. Dead Money adds 7 marked locations, Honest Hearts adds 53, Old World Blues adds 35, and Lonesome Road adds 30. With all the add-ons, there are a total of 312 marked locations to discover. Many of these locations has their own little backstory that you can find out while exploring. One of the more notable examples of this is the various vaults.

These rare, pre-War artifacts are widely considered to be useless baubles, but rumor has it that some collectors will pay dearly for them. - Fallout New Vegas Loading Screen

These rare, pre-War artifacts are widely considered to be useless baubles, but rumor has it that some collectors will pay dearly for them. - Fallout New Vegas Loading Screen

A unique weapon in Fallout New Vegas.

A unique weapon in Fallout New Vegas.

Two skill books as portrayed in real life.

Two skill books as portrayed in real life.

Unique Items and Collectibles

As an in-game hoarder, I find it necessary to try to collect every collectible and unique item in a game. Fallout is an excellent way to exercise your collecting abilities. Aside from the assortment of regular items, weapons and armor you can collect, there is also a great variety of unique items you can find throughout the Fallout world. Including content from all the add-ons, there are 81 possible unique weapons, including 15 Unarmed weapons, 15 Melee weapons, 25 Guns, 18 Energy weapons, and 8 explosive weapons. Without the add-ons, there are 44 unique weapons, with 6 being Unarmed weapons, 9 being Melee weapons, 14 being Guns, 11 being Energy weapons and 4 being Explosive weapons. Note that not all 81 unique weapons can be collected from a single game, as certain factors can eliminate some unique weapons and replace them with others, such as the Wild Wasteland trait.There are also approximately 27 pieces of unique armor and clothing to be found. Note that I included the different vault uniforms as unique clothing because they are only found in one place, even though they are not strictly unique because you can find multiples of the same clothing in the corresponding vaults. Scattered around the Wasteland is unique miscellaneous items to be found. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I have found over 50 unique miscellaneous items. There are also 7 limited edition Mojave Landmark Snow Globes hidden in the world, with an additional 4 if you have all the add-ons. These can be 'sold' to a robot in the Lucky 38 Casino once you have progressed far enough in the main questline, with the exception of the ones found in the add-ons. Though the robot 'buys' them, they still appear in your presidential suite in the Lucky 38. This is also an excellent place to store your collected items, because there is several storage containers in your suite once you have upgraded. I suggest sticking all of your items in the various containers marked as Weapon Lockers, because there is a glitch in some of the other containers that can cause all of your placed items to randomly disappear from the inventory. There is no known fix to this and you cannot recover your lost items. In addition, there are a total of 52 skill books which can be found, which differ from skill magazines in that they permanently raise the associated skill by 3 (or 4 if you have the Comprehension perk). Most skills have 4 associated skill books to be found, with the exception of Repair which has 3 and Science which has 5. These do not include the skill books you can make or find in the add-ons. Dead Money adds one more skill book for each skill, except for the Wasteland Survival Guide which affects Survival. Honest Hearts has workbench crates which have a random chance of having skill books in them, but there is no solid number. Old World Blues adds 2 more Sneak skill books and a Science skill book, as well as the ability to craft skill books of your choosing. Lonesome Road adds one more skill book for each skill. An advanced player should distribute their skill points with skill books in mind. For example, if he/she has all the add-ons, the Comprehension perk, and doesn't include crafting skill books, that player can find 8 Science skill books, which equals to 32 skill points. He should only increase the Science skill to 68 and use the skill books to raise it to 100 (He/she could also factor skill magazines, which temporarily raise the associated skill by 20 with Comprehension and could reach 100 in Science with only a base skill of 48).

In the End, It's Up to You!

However you decide to play the game, whether you want to be good or evil, a marauder or thief, or any other way you can think of, remember that how you play the game is completely in your hands! I included some useful ideas on how to approach the game, but they are far from the only ways to go about it. This hub is simply meant to be a generalized guide of things to think about while playing the game. This is only part one. I will be writing other hubs about Fallout New Vegas, including some more advanced strategies and more detailed information. If there are some things I left out of the topics I discussed, please tell me and I will fix it! I think Fallout New Vegas is one of the greatest games to ever be released, and I hope you find as much enjoyment from it as I do!


King Gregg Schultz from United States of Canada (R.F.F.) on January 01, 2015:

The real-life skill books in the picture are so cool! I've seen some great fan-made "Wasteland Survival" lunchbox kits with homemade stimpacks and the like as well, which I think also included some portrayals of the magazines like La Fantoma, etc. Really neat stuff.

Samuel Franklin on September 13, 2014:

Very impressive overview of New Vegas.