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Mojave Guide – Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas Perks

A survival guide to the Mojave wasteland. Covers character creation, gameplay mechanics, modding and more.


After waking up on Doc Mitchell’s bed and customizing your Courier’s appearance, the Doc tells you to use the Vit-o-Matic Vigor Tester across the room.

This is where the most important part of the character creation takes place: the SPECIAL stats. These stats can only be raised in very specific circumstances later in the game, so a well-thought-out build is very important in the beginning. You only get 40 points to distribute between the seven stats.

The stats and what they do, right here:


  • Strength – Melee damage, carry weight, Melee Weapons skill, weapon usability.
  • Perception – Compass detection range, Energy Weapons skill, Lockpick skill, Explosives skill.
  • Endurance – Poison and radiation resistances, Unarmed skill, Survival skill, hit points, number of implants allowed later in the game.
  • Charisma – Companion nerve, Barter skill, Speech skill.
  • Intelligence – Amount of skill points per level, Medicine skill, Repair skill, Science skill.
  • Agility – Amount of Action Points for VATS use, Guns skill, Sneak skill, reload and draw & holster speed.
  • Luck – All skills, critical chance, gambling odds.

Each SPECIAL point adds +2 to all the related Skills. Luck adds 1 point to every skill per 2 Luck levels.

All the stats have at least a few dialogue checks throughout the game, and many perks have SPECIAL stat requirements, something I will cover later on.

Now, the beauty of New Vegas lies in its massive flexibility in character builds. Any possible SPECIAL combination can finish the game, no problems. But as always, some people want an optimized build, to give them a little edge in the Wasteland.

My personal favorite build, regardless of skill choices is:


  • Strength – 6.
  • Perception – 6.
  • Endurance – 7.
  • Charisma – 1.
  • Intelligence – 7 or 8.
  • Agility – 7.
  • Luck – 5 or 6.

Strength 6 allows you to, with Weapon Handling, meet the Strength requirement for most weapons in the game, only the impractical, heaviest weapons excluded.

Perception of 6 allows you to pick all the useful Perception-related perks and gives a nice compass detection range.

Endurance at 7 allows you to pick 7 implants later in the game and leaves you with a nice 235 hit points. By purchasing an Endurance implant, and reaching 8 E, you will be able to take any Endurance-related perk in the game, including the excellent Implant GRX from Big MT.

Charisma. Now, I don’t like this stat at all. The only real use it has is the companion nerve system. Each point in Charisma adds 5% to your companions’ DT and Damage, up to a maximum of 50% in each at a C level of 10. I don’t feel like its worth investing any points in this, except for RP reasons, in which case this whole section is irrelevant.

Intelligence. Possibly the best stat in the game. I set it to 7 or 8, depending on how high I want my Luck to be. Governs skill point gains, which is an extremely important thing. I like to be able to level up 3 or 4 skills up to the 90’s really fast, and this is where Intelligence helps. The skill point gains also help offset the loss in Speech and Barter levels due to the low Charisma level.

Agility, 7. Again, allows you to pick any related perk, except Tunnel Runner, which requires an Agility of 8. And yet again, this is easy to “fix” by purchasing an implant, as Tunnel Runner is a mid- to late-game perk with its level requirement of 26.

Luck. With 5 Luck, you won’t be winning much in the Casinos, but by purchasing the Naughty Nightwear from Freeside’s lovely general store, you can reach a level of 6. A Luck level of 6 allows you to regularly win at Blackjack in the Vegas casinos, if you know the very basics of the game. A downside to a even numbered Luck level is that you won’t gain any more skill points than with the number below it.

Skills & Tagging

Doc Mitchell’s interview starts with you picking your Tag skills. You have to pick three skills for tagging.

Tagging only increases the skill level by 15, so picking your tag skills isn’t something you have to think about for hours, but its still a good idea to pick three skills you want to focus on once you get out of the Doc’s house.

I’ll be listing all the skills and what they do here.

Non-Combat skills:

Skill/Effects/Associated stat:

  • Barter – Buy and sell prices, frequent skill checks – Charisma
  • Lockpick – Well, picking locks, obviously. Very Easy at 0 skill, Easy at 25, Average at 50, Had at 75 and Very Hard at 100. – Perception
  • Medicine – Increases Stimpak, Super Stimpak, Rad-X, and RadAway effectiveness. Crafting non-chem medical supplies. – Intelligence
  • Repair – Effectiveness of item repairing. In NV, you can repair items too 100% condition with low repair, but a higher skill makes it faster and cheaper. Repair skill also allows you to craft ammunition and other items at the Reloading Bench and Workbenches. – Intelligence
  • Science – Hacking terminals: Very Easy at 15 skill, Easy at 25, Average at 50, Hard at 75 and Very Hard at 100. Also allows Energy Weapon ammo and chem crafting. – Perception
  • Sneak – Makes sneaking undetected easier, and affects pickpocketing success chance. When attacking an enemy while in Sneak mode results in a guaranteed critical hit. – Agility
  • Speech – Used only in conversations. NV has plenty of Speech skill checks in dialogue, often resulting in a peaceful resolution to a potentially lethal situation, gaining otherwise hidden information, etc. Useful skill. – Charisma
  • Survival – Increases food healing, allows crafting of high-quality food from raw meats, fruit. Highly useful on Hardcore mode, as Survival-crafted foods heal more than stimpaks at a high level. – Endurance

Combat skills:

Skill/Effects/Associated stat:

  • Guns – Damage, accuracy, aim sway with regular firearms – Agility
  • Energy Weapons – Damage, accuracy, aim sway with Energy Weapons, includes fire-based weapons – Perception
  • Unarmed – Damage with “unarmed weapons”. Glove-type weapons, knuckles, etc. – Endurance
  • Melee Weapons – Damage with melee weapons, also affects non-explosive throwing weapons – Strength
  • Explosives – Damage with all explosive weapons: grenades, mines, rocket launchers, etc. also makes disarming mines easier – Perception

Now, the important part. What should you tag?

Tagging at least one weapon skill is a good idea, just pick one that suits your SPECIAL build, or one that sounds interesting. Guns is the easy choice: they are easy to come by and have great variety. You should never pick more than one weapon skill to start with, but specializing in a second one later on is a good idea.

For the other two tag skills, there are certain skill pairs you probably shouldn’t pick:

  • Science and Lockpick. Hacking and picking locks do mostly the same thing, but there are far more locks to pick than terminals to hack. Science skill makes up for the difference with the crafting possibilities.
  • Medicine and Survival. Both are used for healing and crafting. Medicine is probably a better skill on normal ( coward babby ) mode, but Survival is far superior on Hardcore. Survival healing scales better and reduces hunger and dehydration, but Stimpaks heals faster. Again, only pick one, not both.
  • Speech and Barter. Pick Speech for more skill check possibilities, Barter for a slightly smaller skill check amount, but much better buy and sell prices at traders. Both are great skills in NV, and I always pick one.

And the final two. These aren’t a pair like the ones above: they work well with almost any combination of skills.

  • Sneak, which complements any weapon skill ( except maybe the slightly less stealthy Explosives. ) and makes combat much easier. Guaranteed critical hits are always nice.
  • And finally Repair. Repairing is something every character has to do occasionally, be it fixing your gun after murdering a pack of Fiends or keeping your clothes looking nice after taking a couple of hits when running away from the aforementioned pack.

With the SPECIAL build, I listed in the second section, I usually pick a weapon skill, repair and speech or barter. This combination makes for a smooth-talking Courier, making a profit selling repaired items, while still being a capable fighter.

Remember, any SPECIAL, skill and perk build is perfectly viable and capable of finishing the game, these tips are just basic guidelines for a nice experience straight from Goodsprings.


Traits are an optional part of the SPECIAL system. They are perks you choose in Doc Mitchell’s house after a brief interview. You can choose one, two or skip them entirely.

The traits are an excellent way of customizing your character, as they offer some advantages with minor disadvantages. A roleplayer’s dream, hm?

I’ll be going through every single trait in the game in this section, starting with the pre-OWB traits.

Wild Wasteland, adds about 50 Easter eggs to the game, found throughout the Mojave and the DLC areas. Contains Monty Python references that alone make the trait absolutely worth picking. Downside is, you can’t get one of the most powerful Energy Weapons in the game, as that is replaced with another strong, but highly impractical Energy Weapon.

Trigger Discipline. Makes your shots 20% more accurate, at the cost of -20% fire rate. This trait, in combination with perks like Sniper and Commando make you incredibly accurate in VATS. Note: This trait is actually quite terrible for sniper characters, as a 20% accuracy increase to a gun with pinpoint accuracy doesn’t actually do much at all.

If you’re planning to use automatic weapons like the minigun, LMG, any SMG, etc., this trait is an excellent choice. You’ll hit more often, and won’t waste as much ammo doing so.

Also increases AP costs for all weapons in VATS. (Includes Melee, Unarmed, and Explosives in addition to EW and Guns, for some reason.)

Fast Shot. Reduces accuracy by 20%, but increases fire rate by 20%. Now, contrary to what you might think, this trait is great for sniper characters. Take the Anti-Materiel Rifle for example. It has a spread of 0,015. A 20% increase in the spread leads to a spread of 0,018. Such a small change is completely unnoticeable, but a 20% increase in fire rate with the slow-firing long-range weapons is very useful.

Also slightly reduces AP costs with Energy Weapons and Guns in VATS.

About Fast Shot and Trigger Discipline. Never take both. Ever. The way the game calculates percentages is a bit silly, and taking both would result in a 4% decrease in accuracy and 4% decrease in fire rate.

Small Frame. Increases Agility by 1, but increases limb damage by 25%. Think of it as a free SPECIAL point at character creation. You can leave your Agility 1 point short at the Vit-o-Matic, spend that point somewhere else and counteract that by picking Small Frame. A 25% increase in Limb Damage is not very noticeable, as you’ll most often get crippled by mines or traps, and they cripple a Courier with a regular frame as well.

Kamikaze. Adds 10 Action Points, but reduces your Damage Threshold by 2. With VATS being nerfed after Fallout 3, this trait is probably not worth it. DT is a fairly important stat, and you really don’t want to trade any of it away.

Heavy Handed. Unarmed and Melee attacks deal 20% more damage, but Critical Hit damage is cut by 60%. This trait is ideal for close quarters characters that don’t rely on Sneak or Luck crits. Weapons with low critical chance, but high damage are optimal for a Heavy Handed Courier.

Loose Cannon. Increases throwing speed and action point cost by 30%, but cuts throwing range by 25%. Not particularly exciting or character-changing. Works for all thrown weapons from spears to grenades.

Built to Destroy. 3% increased critical chance with all weapons, but they degrade 15% faster. Again, not particularly exciting. If you’re planning to focus on Repair, this trait can be quite nice. You’ll have to repair your equipment more often, but you’ll get luckier in combat and won’t have to use as much ammo because your opponent’s head exploded.

Four Eyes. +2 Perception when wearing glasses, -1 when not. Lowers your base perception, so with a Vit-O-Matic set Perception of 6, all perks will treat is as a 5. There’s a pair of eyeglasses on Doc Mitchell’s desk in the room you wake up in, if you’re feeling like a thieving bastard.

Good Natured. +5 to Barter, Medicine, Repair, Science and Speech. -5 to Energy Weapons, Explosives, Guns, Melee Weapons, and Unarmed. One of my personal favourites. Counters my usual 1 Charisma quite nicely, and the lower weapon skills aren’t really a big issue, as they should be leveled more as a side skill anyway. Extremely good trait, when coupled with OWB’s finest trait, Skilled.

And now the traits added by the DLC, Old World Blues.

  • Early Bird. Gain +2 to all SPECIAL stats from 6 am to 12 pm, but lose 1 in all from 6 pm to 6 am. Excellent trait if you’re planning to get the Solar Powered perk that increases Strength by 2 when in sunlight. This combination can make you an unstoppable melee god.
  • Claustrophobia. +1 to all SPECIAL stats when outdoors, -1 to all when indoors. Note that the game treats separate cells like Freeside and the Vegas Strip as indoor areas, so you might experience some weird issues with your skill levels being lower than expected. Great for RP’ing, but I wouldn’t pick it myself.
  • Hoarder. Adds 25 lbs to your carrying weight, but you suffer -1 to all SPECIAL stats when your total carry weight is under 160 lbs. If you’re an OCD scavenger or play on Hardcore, this is actually a pretty good trait. Ammo weighs in HC mode, so the extra 25 lbs helps you carry quite a large bunch of bullets, and you’ll often find yourself carrying lots of stuff anyway.
  • Hot Blooded. You gain 15% more damage and lose 2 Perception and Agility when you go under 50% health. The in-game description of this trait states a 10% damage increase, but its actually 15%. The negatives can easily be countered by using chems, something you should be doing anyway if you’re at such a low health. Do drugs, kill enemies.
  • Logan’s Loophole. Lowers the level cap back to the pre-DLC cap of 30. Also doubles chem effect length, and removes possibility of addiction. It’s a nice reference, but I don’t like the fact that it messes with the chems. Turbo, Buffout, Med-X, Mentats, and Hydra (and the rest) spam with no consequences? No thanks.
  • Skilled. Now, this is my absolute favourite trait in the game. +5 to all skills, but reduces experience gain by 10%. Excellent synergy with the Good Natured trait I covered earlier, and the lower XP gain is not a downside at all. I personally prefer slower leveling, and there’s more than enough content to reach level 50 even with the decrease in gains.

So, what would I recommend?

Wild Wasteland, Skilled, Good Natured, Small Frame and Fast Shot. From my experience, those are the definite best traits for almost any kind of character.

Now, if you do want to play something more exotic, do think about the rest. They’re all perfectly viable and fun.

Gameplay Mechanics

Item statistics:


  • DAM: Damage per shot or hit.
  • DPS: Damage Per Second. Weapons with high rate of fire often have fairly
    high DPS as well.
  • WG: Weight, in lbs.
  • VAL: Value at 100 Barter skill; don’t expect to get this much at a lower level.
  • STR: the weapon’s Strength stat requirement. Not a hard requirement: you can use the weapon at a lower Strength, but at a lower accuracy.
  • CND: Condition. Try to keep the CND bar as high as you can, okay? Lower condition means more jamming and less damage. Not good when that deathclaw is eating your face.
  • The small weapon skill icon: Skill requirement of the weapon. Again, it’s a soft requirement, meaning you can use the weapon at a lower skill level, but it won’t be as effective.
  • Ammo counter: Simply shows how much ammo of the correct caliber you’re carrying.
  • Effects: Some weapons have special modifiers, found below the ammo counter. These range from higher critical chances to armour piercing. Highly useful.

Armor: mostly the same as weapons, but I’ll cover the few special things with armour here.

  • DT: Damage Threshold. Your DT value gets subtracted from all damage taken, with a maximum of 80% reduction.
  • Effects, this field shows any special effects the item might have. Many items have minor skill or stat bonuses or penalties. These effects will NOT help you (or prevent) with when picking perks at level up: you’ll have to reach the requirements even when naked.

Clothing, Light, Medium or Heavy: armor type.

  • Clothing items rarely have any DT at all, but almost always have some small stat or skill bonuses, ranging from +2 Melee Weapons and +2 Speech to +1 Charisma, +1 Intelligence and +15 Science.
  • Light armor usually weighs the least of the proper armor types, but also offers the least protection in the form of DT. There are several perks that, when combined, can make light armour the best type to wear. Because of the lower weight, you’ll have a better time sneaking in light armour. This is also the most common armour type found across the Mojave.
  • Medium armour offers a nice balance between weight and protection. This armor type isn’t very common in the wasteland, only used mostly by mercenaries, NCR troopers, and Legionaries. Some pieces of medium armour have high enough DT to warrant using armor-piercing ammo.
  • Heavy armour is the least common armour type in the Mojave, probably due to the massive weight that makes such armor highly impractical in normal wasteland life. Offers incredible protection, with some pieces reaching an insane 25 DT. Most heavy armours have a -1 Agility penalty, as they are incredibly bulky. Heavy armors are highly durable, but when you do need to repair them, it can be extremely expensive.


Excellent guide to the hacking minigame here. Most of the steps detailed can be skipped, because you have effectively unlimited attempts: simply back out of the terminal when you have one attempt left. When you activate the terminal again, you’re back at 3 attempts. Hacking Terminals Guide.

Hardcore Mode

HC mode is a new FNV feature, inspired by some Fallout 3 mods. In short, it makes the game a bit more realistic and significantly more challenging at times. I suggest everyone to give it a shot: the changes it makes are surprisingly fun.

A detailed list of all gameplay changes:

  • Healing items (stimpaks, food, water, etc.) heal over time. You can stack different healing items for faster HP / second, or stack multiple items of the same type for a longer healing effect. This also makes Survival incredibly strong in Hardcore, as you can stack multiple high-quality Survival food items for massive heals and buffs.
  • Different healing items also have different HP / second and healing effect lengths: stimpaks heal fast, but have a short effect, and food items usually heal slower, but have significantly longer effects.
  • The amount of HP healed is the same as in normal mode, but the change removes the possibility of spamming stimpaks for full health while the game is paused.
  • This change also applies to RadAway: it heals radiation poisoning over time and stacks in the same way as multiple healing items of the same type.
  • Crippled limbs can only be fixed with a Doctor’s Bag, Hydra, sleeping in an owned bed or visiting a doctor. Doctor’s Bags also only partially heal limbs, in a similar way Stimpaks do in normal mode.
  • This change essentially makes crippled limbs an actual problem if you’re low on supplies and far away from a doctor. Not being able to Stimpak-heal limbs forces you to either risk addiction to Hydra or carrying heavy Doctor’s Bags when adventuring in the desert.
  • Ammunition has weight. Pretty simple, you can’t carry a thousand rounds of every ammo type anymore. A welcome change, in my opinion. Most ammo types are fairly light, but will weigh you down if you want to carry 7 weapons, all with different calibers.
  • Companions can die. I personally don’t really like this change, because of how stupid the companion AI is. They get stuck in terrain and eaten by coyote puppies and such, and having to reload when that happens isn’t very nice. In normal mode, they spring back up after combat has ended, but in HC, they stay down. I use a mod that makes companions essential in HC mode, as their quests are some of the best in the game, and they’re all interesting people in general.
  • You have to drink, eat and sleep to survive.


  • H2O, thirst / -1 Endurace / -1 Perception, -2 Endurance / -2 Perception, -1 Intelligence, -3 Endurance / -2 Perception, -3 Endurance, -2 Agility, -1 Intelligence / You died, drink some water next time. 1 / 10sec
  • FOD, hunger / -1 Strength / -2 Strength, -1 Charisma / -3 Strength, -1 Perception, -2 Charisma / -3 Strength, -2 Perception, -2 Charisma / You starved, eat a brahmin after loading a save. 1 / 25sec
  • SLP, sleep deprivation / -1 Agility / -1 Intelligence, -1 Agility / -2 Intelligence, -3 Agility, -1 Endurance / -2 Intelligence, -3 Agility, -2 Endurance / You died. Try sleeping or drinking coffee. 1 / 50sec

On HC mode, food items have a -FOD effect and water has a -H2O effect. For some bizarre reason, Nuka-Cola and Sunset Sarsaparilla have a +H2O effect, and will dehydrate you, instead of doing what drinks like that actually do. In the modding section below (some time in the future), I’m going to cover a few essential mods. One of those “fixes” dehydration effects on some drink items.

Perks, overview

Fallout 3 Perks

Perks are essentially traits with only positive effects and level, skill or stat requirements.

Perks allow for an insane level of specialization. For example, a Guns characters can pick from several perks that make certain weapon types incredibly powerful: Cowboy increases damage with lever-action weapons and revolvers, Grunt increases damage with military weapons, etc. Same goes for all the other weapon skills.

New Vegas has a massive selection of about a hundred perks, but because you gain one Perk every two levels, you only get 25, with a level cap of 50.

Because of the low amount of Perks you can pick, choosing the right ones is very important if you want to build a fun and effective Courier.

Perks are also awarded as rewards for completing Challenges and certain Quests. Most of these give minor bonuses like 5% more damage against insects, but some give new Unarmed special attacks like the Scribe Counter.

In the next few sections, I will be covering every single perk in the game by listing their effects, skill and stat requirements, and my personal opinion on them. I’ll cover the Perks in level requirement order, but note that you can pick a lower level perk at a higher level too, so don’t worry if you see more than one interesting perk in a specific level section.

Perks from the DLC will not be separated or marked, as I assume most people own the Ultimate Edition.

CTRL-F for easy access to my thoughts on whatever perk you might be considering for your Courier.

Perks, level 2

  • Swift Learner, increases experience gains by 10%. Requires 4 Intelligence.

Waste of a perk slot, as faster leveling in a singleplayer game is absolutely pointless. You’ll have more than enough quests to do and things to shoot to reach the level cap even with the -10% XP from the Skilled trait. You should never take this.

  • Retention, triples Skill Magazine effect length from 1 minute to 3 minutes. Requires 5 Intelligence.

Only useful if you’re going for a crit build and will be using lots of True Police Stories magazines. Other than that, not very good as magazines are mostly used to pass skill checks, hack terminals and pick locks, and the game pauses during all those activities. Extra time for the effect doesn’t help at all.

  • Intense Training, grants a single freely distributable SPECIAL point. No requirements.

You should never have to take this perk, assuming you built your SPECIAL build properly in the first place. Gaining SPECIAL points later in the game without wasting a perk slot is possible by purchasing implants from a certain medical clinic, finishing Lonesome Road and gaining certain perks from Old World Blues. Intense Training should only be used for fixing a poorly built SPECIAL.

  • Hunter, increases critical damage against animals and mutated animals by 75%. Requires 30 Survival.

Doesn’t work on mutated insects or abominations like the Nightstalkers. You won’t find yourself fighting Bighorners, Mole Rats or other regular animals all that often. The normal animals have fairly low health anyway, so a normal sneak critical should kill them in one hit even without this perk.

  • Heave, Ho!, 50% increase in throwing weapon range and velocity. Requires 5 Strength and 30 Explosives

Essential for Explosives characters, as the longer throwing distance reduces chances of accidentally blowing up your own face, and faster moving projectiles are always useful. Work for non-explosive thrown weapons too, like spears and tomahawks. Surprisingly, also affects Grenade Launchers and other Explosives weapons that are not exactly thrown. All in all, an excellent perk for an Explosives or throwing weapon character.

  • Rapid Reload, increases reload speed by 25% with all weapons. Requires 5 Agility and 30 Guns.

Highly useful for Explosives characters, but the steep Guns skill requirement might be a bit of a problem. Also a good choice if you’re going to use guns covered by the Cowboy perk, as they usually reload each shot separately.

  • Friend of the Night, permanent “night vision”. Requires 6 Perception and 30 Sneak.

I’m not sure why anyone would ever take this perk. The game is bright enough at night and this just makes the game look ugly as hell. And if you really need low-light vision, pop a Cateye pill.

  • Cherchez La Femme and Lady Killer, 10% increase in damage when fighting female NPCs and open up some dialogue options. No requirements.

Pretty good perks. A 10% damage increase can be quite noticeable and there are quite a few women you’ll be shooting at during the game. Also open some amusing dialogue options with certain characters.

  • Black Widow and Confirmed Bachelor, 10% increase in damage when fighting male NPCs and open up some dialogue options. No requirements.

A solid perk for a character that wouldn’t benefit much from the other level 2 perks. Most of your human opponents will be male, so a 10% damage increase won’t hurt ( you, at least. ). Just like the two above this, these too open some funny dialogue choices and Black Widow allows you to totally humiliate a certain Chairman.

  • In Shining Armour, adds +DT when wearing metal armours and reflective eyewear and getting shot with Energy Weapons. Requires 20 Repair and 70 Science.

Except it doesn’t. It’s bugged and doesn’t do anything because of a small mistake in tagging which weapon class is supposed to be affected. If it did work, it still wouldn’t be a very good perk, as the game only classifies very few armours as metal armour.

  • Junk Rounds, allows you to craft ammunition from scrap metal, tin cans, and casings. Requires 6 Luck and 45 Repair.

You get one bullet or shell for 1 Scrap Metal, 5 Tin Cans, and the appropriate casing or hull. Pretty good perk, but probably not the best thing to pick at level 2. I personally think the level 6 perk, Hand Loader is far better than this, as it allows you to craft special ammo, instead of the normal boring ammo.

  • Light Touch, when wearing Light Armour, you gain 5% critical chance and your enemies suffer -25% critical chance. Requires 6 Agility and 45 Repair.

One of my favourite perks in the game. I’m a Light Armour guy, and this perk is damn good for those Couriers looking to wear mostly the lighter gear. Goes damn well with Joshua’s armour later in the game.

  • Old World Gourmet, 25% increased addiction resistance, 50% increase to snack foods health regeneration. Also adds a healing effect to wine, vodka, and Scotch. Requires 6 Endurance and 45 Survival.

Snack foods include most pre-War food items, so picking this perk allows for very cheap, fairly effective healing. I personally prefer Survival crafting foods, but for those who grab all the pre-War food anyway, this is a good choice.

So, best first perks? Light Touch, Old World Gourmet, Rapid Reload, Heave Ho!, or one of 10% damage increase perks.

Perks, level 4

  • Cannibal, shockingly, allows you to eat human corpses for health and a minor Karma loss. No requirements.

Each corpse heals about 25 health. After feasting on 25 corpses, you gain a special perk ‘Dine and Dash’, that allows you to harvest human flesh from the corpses for eating later. Excellent perk on Hardcore, as you can just nom away at the corpses of your fallen enemies, instead of carrying a hundred stinking Brahmin steaks in your pack.

There’s also a hidden challenge for consuming four major faction leaders, but I’ll let you figure that out yourself, you cannibal bastard.

  • Comprehension, you gain one more skill point from books and doubles the skill points from magazines. That’s 4 points per book and 20 with the magazines. Requires 4 Intelligence.

Not especially useful, as you’ll get more than enough skill points, assuming you have a fairly high Intelligence. The total skill point gain from this perk is only 64, or 72 if you abuse the Honest Hearts cave loot. Not much for the time it takes to find all the books.

This does, however, allow you to leave many skills at 80 and rely on the magazines to pass certain 100 skill checks. Highly useful if you’re playing at a lower level cap than 50.

  • Educated, +2 skill points at each level up. Requires 4 Intelligence.

Comes up to a total of 92 extra skill points if you pick it at level 4. Great perk for leveling a few skills really fast, and in general a far better choice than the perk above this. If you want to pick this, pick it at a low level, to maximize the amount of extra skill points.

  • Entomologist, 50% increased damage when fighting mutated insects. Requires 4 Intelligence and 40 Science.

Works against cazadors, scorpions, ants, mantes, and bloatflies. Great perk for taking out cazadors and giant radscorpions. Cazadors are incredibly annoying to kill because of their insane speed, so a 50% damage increase really helps, you can easily cripple their wings with a shot or two. Radscorpions on the other hand are already slow, but have very high DT, so again, a 50% increase in damage helps a lot. Highly recommended if you ever have trouble killing these nasty enemies.

  • Rad Child, adds health regeneration when suffering from radiation sickness. Requires 70 Survival.
    • Minor rad poisoning: 2hp / second
    • Advanced rad poisoning: 4hp / second
    • Critical rad poisoning: 6hp / second
    • Deadly rad poisoning: 8hp / second

Great perk for Melee and Unarmed Couriers, as health regeneration is always helpful when a Gecko is eating your face. New Vegas has very few areas with radiation, so when you find one, try to remember where it is so you can come back later to stand around and get to the Deadly rad poisoning level. (+800 rads, but be careful, as 1000 rads kills you instantly) The health regen effect does not affect specific limb health, so make sure you still carry Doctor’s Bags ( or Stimpaks on coward-mode :3 )

  • Run ‘n Gun, 50% less spread with one-handed Guns and Energy weapons when moving. Requires 45 Guns OR 45 Energy Weapons.

All in all, a great perk for those of use who love revolvers and pistols of all types. Allows you to take advantage of the higher movement speed when using one-handed weapons. Note that it requires either Guns or Energy Weapons, not both, like most perks.

  • Travel Light, 10% faster movement speed when wearing Light Armour.. or nothing at all. Requires 45 Survival.

Another good perk for us Light Armour users, as it increases the biggest advantage Light Armour has over the other two classes. Affects overall movement speed, not only run speed like the Perk description says.

Just about all level 4 Perks, except Comprehension are worth picking if they suit your plans. My personal favourites are Educated and Run n’ Gun.

Perks, level 6

  • Bloody Mess, 5% increase in all damage, and more importantly: makes your enemies explode in a cloud of body parts and blood. No requirements.

The damage increase is pretty small, and the exploding corpses can make looting a bit tricky, especially when murdering crowds of enemies. Not a very impressive perk, although looting power armour from an eyeball you find is always funny.

  • Demolition Expert, 20% damage increase with all explosives. Requires 50 Explosives.

An obvious choice for Couriers specializing in Explosives. Affects grenades, mines, grenade and rocket launchers: anything that not only kills your enemy, but moves them to an entirely different plane of existence. Pick this if you regularly blow♥♥♥♥♥♥up.

  • Ferocious Loyalty, when your health drops below 50%, your companions gain 50% damage resistance. Requires 6 Charisma.

DR is a flat reduction in damage, instead of the threshold system used by Damage.. Threshold.. That means your companions will take exactly 50% less damage when you’re at under half health. Not particularly useful, as most of the time you should be using some healing items if you drop so low on health. The high Charisma requirement makes this Perk makes this perk horrible and not worth even thinking about.

  • Fortune Finder, significantly increases the amount of bottle caps found in containers. Requires 5 Luck.

Not a specific percentage increase, but always at least doubles the amount of bottle caps. Not worth grabbing, as you’ll be swimming in caps simply by scavenging buildings you come across and selling all the loot you collect on your exciting adventures.

  • Gunslinger, increases VATS accuracy by 25% when using one-handed Guns and Energy Weapons. No requirements.

With the major nerfs to VATS in New Vegas, any VATS-related perk, except maybe the Sniper perk, are probably not worth taking. VATS is only really useful at very short ranges and spotting targets. At short ranges, you’ll hit the 95% hit chance cap anyway, so perks like this won’t really help.

  • Hand Loader, doubles the chance of recovering casings and hulls when using Guns and unlocks custom ammunition crafting recipes. Requires 70 Repair.

This is an excellent, perhaps even essential Perk for Gun-users who also focus on Repair. All the special ammo types have increased damage, in addition to other special effects like armor-piercing or smaller spread. Some also increase the durability hit per shot, so be prepared to repair your guns more often. Shouldn’t be a problem at 70 Repair, but still an important thing to remember.

I personally always pick this perk when playing a Guns-orientated Courier. A great way to make plenty of these special ammo types is simply breaking down the regular ammo types and using the components to craft the more powerful, new ones.

  • Lead Belly, reduces radiation from consuming irradiated water and food by 50%. Requires 5 Endurance.

Not a useful perk at all. You won’t be drinking much irradiated water anyway, and Rad-X and Rad-Away are very common meds in the Mojave. Don’t take this.

  • Shotgun Surgeon, ignores 10 DT when using shotguns. Requires 45 Guns.

Essential perk if you’re planning to use shotguns. -10 DT allows you to punch through just about any armour, even with regular buckshot. Not much to say here. Take it if you like shotguns.

  • The Professional, 20% increased critical damage with one-handed Guns or Energy Weapons. Requires 70 Sneak.

Despite what the in-game description says, it affects all critical hits, not just sneak crits.

Another great perk for us revolver and pistol users. Works extremely well with weapons that have a higher critical chance, like Lucky. Again, not much to say, other than that it’s a damn good perk if you like using the weapons it covers.

  • Toughness, increases DT by 3. Has two ranks, for a total of +6 DT. Requires 5 Endurance.

One of the better perks in the game, especially if you like using Heavy Armour. +6 DT with a power armour makes you a god of bullet eating. Pretty much nothing will ever deal full damage to you, except deathclaws.

Works really well with Light Armour as well, as it negates the lower DT you gain from the lighter gear. Great when combined with the Light Armour perks I covered earlier.

  • Vigilant Recycler, doubles the chance of recovering drained cells when using Energy Weapons and also reduces the cost of recharging cells to three drained cells. Requires 70 Science.

Great perk if you’re using lots of Energy Weapons, as their ammo is quite costly. Being able to recycle more consistently is a great way to save bottle caps. Also allows you to craft Optimized cells if you’re running the GRA DLC. Think of this perk as the Hand Loader of Energy Weapons. Excellent perk, and totally worth picking.

  • Mad Bomber, unlocks 7 new explosive recipes at workbenches. Requires 45 Repair and 45 Explosives.

Basically adds new explosive weapons, 3 new grenades, 3 new mines, and a new time bomb. All these are crafted using either other, weaker explosives or regular trash items like scrap electronics or sensor modules. Take this perk if you want more variety when blowing up everyone.

Perks, level 8

  • Commando, 25% higher VATS accuracy with two-handed Guns and Energy Weapons. No requirements.

Another perk that only affects VATS, and as such not a very useful perk. Skip this, and pick something that affects combat as a whole.

  • Cowboy, 25% more damage with revolvers, lever-action guns, dynamite, knives, and hatchets. Requires 45 Guns and 45 Melee Weapons.

One of my favorite perks, and an essential one if you’re planning to use mostly revolvers and lever-action weapons. The Melee Weapons skill requirement is a bit steep for Gun users, but it should be fairly easy to reach with a high Intelligence. Excellent perk, as a 25% damage increase really makes guns like Lucky and the Brush Gun shine.

  • Living Anatomy, shows exact HP and DT values at your target’s HP bar and adds 5% damage to humans and ghouls. Requires 70 Medicine.

Helps with figuring out when to use special ammo, and the slight damage increase is pretty nice. Not hugely useful, but if you’ve invested so many points in Medicine at such a low level, you’re probably aiming for this perk.

  • Pack Rat, items with a weight of two pounds or less weigh 50% less. Requires 5 Intelligence and 70 Barter.

A damn good perk, especially on Hardcore mode. Essentially allows you to carry twice as much ammo, food, and drinks. Also useful on noob-mode, especially if you’re a really thorough scavenger, grabbing everything with you. High Barter requirement, but you should be leveling up Barter anyway, as it is one of the better skills in the game.

  • Quick Draw, 50% faster equip and holster speed. Requires 5 Agility.

I’m not exactly sure what the point of this perk is. Only use I can really come up with is using multiple single-shot weapons to avoid long reloads, or something like that? I don’t know, don’t pick this.

  • Rad Reistance, 25% more radiation resistance. Requires 5 Endurance.

Not a good perk, as it’s been over 200 years since the Great War, and the Mojave area wasn’t even hit by many bombs. There really isn’t a lot of radiation to resist, and there are many much better perks available. Avoid this one.

  • Scrounger, significant increase in ammo found in containers. Requires 5 Luck.

You’ll find about twice as much ammo in containers with this perk. Not worth taking, as it has the same problem Fortune Finder at level 6 has: you’ll be swimming in ammo and bottle caps after a while, and before that, you’ll still find more than enough bullets for the early game weapons.

  • Stonewall, +5 DT when attacked with Unarmed or Melee Weapons and removes the chance of being knocked down. Requires 6 Strength and 6 Endurance.

Essential for anyone thinking about specializing in Unarmed or Melee, as you’ll always be taking some hits at such short range, and a DT increase of 5 is pretty significant. Grab this if you often find yourself toe-to-toe with nasties.

  • Strong Back, increases your carry limit by 50 lbs. Requires 5 Strength and 5 Endurance.

Pretty good perk for just about any type of Courier. Take this if you feel you need more carrying capacity, simple as that. Modest stat requirements make it an easy perk to get for pretty much anyone.

  • Super Slam, Unarmed and Melee Weapon attacks have a chance of knocking down your enemy. Requires 6 Strength and 45 Melee Weapons.

The exact chances of a knockdown are 15% for Unarmed or one-handed Melee and 30% for two-handed Melee weapons. Great perk if you prefer Unarmed or Melee, as knocking down your enemies obviously renders them unable to fight back, giving you time to murder the crap out of them. Doesn’t work on Rippers and Chainsaws, for obvious reasons.

  • Terrifying Presence, more dialogue options to terrify certain characters. Requires 70 Speech.

Adds a grand total of 16 new dialogue options throughout the game. Some of these options are quite humorous and usually lead to combat, the character running away or giving you certain quest items. Only pick this if you really, really want to experience these few dialogue options.

  • Grunt, 25% more damage with 9mm and .45 Auto pistols and SMG, assault rifles, grenade launchers, frag grenades, and knives. Requires 45 Guns and 20 Explosives.

Great perk if you want to use the weapons[] it covers. Excellent alternative to Cowboy, for Couriers who want to use Guns, but not necessarily the cowboy-style ones.

  • Home on the Range, ability to sleep at campfires. Requires 70 Survival.

Allows you to fully heal yourself at campfires. On Hardcore, it only heals the basic HP pool, but doesn’t restore limb condition, and doesn’t give the Well Rested bonus of 10% more experience.

  • Sneering Imperialist, 15% more damage and 25% higher VATS accuracy when fighting raiders, junkies or tribals. No requirements.

Not hugely useful, as most groups this covers have pretty low health and DT anyway, so a 15% damage increase isn’t very noticeable. It also adds two dialogue options, both found during the Honest Hearts DLC

  • Tribal Wisdom, 50% less limb damage from mutated insects and animals, 25% poison resistance and the ability to eat mutated insects when sneaking. Requires 70 Survival.

A pretty good survivability perk, makes radscorpions and other such nasty creatures cry. Eating insects instantly restores 12 HP and reduces hunger by 12 points when playing on Hardcore mode.

Perks, level 10

  • Here and Now, instantly level up again. No requirements.

No, just no. Never ever take this perk. You’re giving up a perk slot without actually gaining anything. No.

  • Animal Friend, has two ranks. At first rank, animals won’t attack you. At second rank, animals actively help you in combat, but not against other animals. Requires 6 Charisma and 45 Survival.

Insanely high Charisma requirement pretty much removes any chance of ever taking this perk, unless your SPECIAL build is silly and has more than 1 Charisma. Ignoring the ridiculous Charisma requirement, it’s a pretty nice perk, especially in Big MT, as that place is crawling with Nightstalkers.

  • Finesse, increases critical chance by 5%. No requirements.

Essential for high-Luck crit-focused Couriers. Takes into account critical chance multipliers on some guns, like Lucky, leading to an incredibly high crit chance and body parts everywhere. Great perk, and because of the lack of any skill or stat requirement, it is a great choice for any build.

  • Miss Fortune, Miss Fortune appears during VATS and “deals” with your enemies. Requires 6 Luck.

She has a 10% chance of appearing per VATS sequence. The effects of her appearing are a bit complex, so I won’t be covering them here. Instead, try clicking this[] link, for the entire list of possible effects and the conditions in which they occur.

  • Mysterious Stranger, the Mysterious Stranger appears during VATS to kill the crap out of one enemy. Requires 6 Luck.

He too has a 10% chance of appearing per VATS sequence. He has a special .44 magnum revolver that deals a nice 18002 points of damage, and obviously kills any enemy with one shot.

I don’t really like this or Miss Fortune at all, as a 10% chance of something cool happening isn’t exactly impressive. That, and the fact that I usually build my characters pretty well makes both the Stranger and Miss Fortune a bit pointless.

  • Mister Sandman, silently and instantly kill any sleeping human or ghoul. Requires 60 Sneak.

You pretty much never have to kill sleeping people in New Vegas, so I don’t think this perk is worth grabbing.
In case you do, however, you will gain a bit of extra experience each time you use the perk’s special Murder action. This is done by sneaking up to a sleeping person, interacting him and picking Murder, instead of Pickpocket.

  • Nerd Rage!, +15 DT and Strength boosted to 10 when HP below 20%. Requires 5 Intelligence and 50 Science.

A good safety net perk for Melee or Unarmed Couriers, even if it’s not the intended use implied by the name and icon. Pretty much makes you a god for a moment, before healing back up. I’m not a huge fan of this perk, but I can see how it could be useful to some.

  • Math Wrath, reduces all AP costs by 10%. Requires 70 Science.

This is possibly the best VATS-focused perk out there, but still only a marginally useful perk in general, because of how weak VATS is in New Vegas. If you really want to improve your VATS, take this perk. (For a specific plasma-build, get this, Plasma Spaz, Ain’t Like That Now and Fast Shot: a total of 70% reduced AP costs for plasma weapons.)

  • Night Person, +2 Intelligence and Perception between 18:00 and 05:59 in-game time. No requirements.

Only really gives +4 to the I and P -based skills, slightly longer compass range and an easier time with a few dialogue checks. The effects are even worse if you have more than 8 points in either stat. The stat boost from this does NOT affect the amount of skill points you gain when leveling up and does NOT allow you to reach stat requirements for perks you couldn’t get during daytime. Not a good perk.

  • Plasma Spaz, reduces plasma weapon AP costs by 20%. Requires 70 Energy Weapons.

Pick this over Math Wrath if you use plasma weapons exclusively, or if you’re going for the very specific plasma-VATS build I mentioned in the Math Wrath entry.

  • And Stay Back, a 10% chance per pellet of knocking down your enemy when using shotguns. Requires 70 Guns.

Essential perk for those shotgun-loving Couriers. Note that the chance is calculated on a per-pellet basis, so buckshot is the best ammo type to use with this perk.

  • Fight the Power!, +2 DT and +5% critical chance when fighting NCR, Legion and the Brotherhood of Steel. No requirements.

Great perk for Couriers who ♥♥♥♥♥♥off either the Legion or the NCR early on in the game. Also helps a lot in a few specific quests late in the main storyline.

Perks, level 12

  • Fast Metabolism, 20% more healing from Stimpaks. No requirements.

Pretty good perk if you rely on Medicine for your healing needs. Makes Stimpaks almost compete with Survival foods. Significantly better on Hardcore mode, as it increases the amount of healing per second, instead of making the heal effect actually last longer. On babymode, you can simply slap on more Stimpaks instead of taking this perk.

  • Ghastly Scavenger, allows you to eat Feral Ghoul and Super Mutant corpses in sneak mode. Requires the Cannibal perk.

Pretty much Cannibal, rank 2. Not especially useful, as you won’t really be fighting all that many super mutants or feral ghouls throughout the game, and the effects of actually eating one are pretty small at 50HP, 5 Rads and a small Karma penalty.

  • Hit the Deck, +25DT against all explosives. Requires 70 Explosives.

Yes. Useful for just about any Courier, and especially so for those specializing in Explosives, as this also protects you from your own bombs. Makes using grenade launchers and such far safer, especially indoors.

  • Life Giver, +30HP… Requires 6 Endurance.

Nope, not worth it. 30HP isn’t much, and absolutely not worth a perk slot.

  • Long Haul, being encumbered no longer prevents from fast traveling. Requires 6 Endurance and 70 Barter.

Great perk if you’re a very thorough scavenger, as it allows you to carry a billion pounds of “useful” loot to your stash without taking forever doing so. Normal Couriers are better off getting perks like Strong Back or Pack Rat.

  • Piercing Strike, ignore 15DT with all Melee and Unarmed attacks. Requires 70 Unarmed.

Essential for any Unarmed (and Melee, despite the high Unarmed requirement) Couriers. Very few enemies in the game have more than 15DT, so this perk basically allows you to cut through any armoured enemies like they were naked Freeside junkies. Simply put, an excellent perk.

  • Pyromaniac, +50% more damage with fire-based weapons. Requires 60 Explosives.

If you want to use fire-based weapons like the Shishkebab or Flamer, you really need this perk. Curiously, while it requires only Explosives skill, most weapons affected by it are covered by Energy Weapons, Melee, and Unarmed. Also makes the Anti-Materiel Rifle with incendiary ammo pretty much godlike.

  • Robotics Expert, +25% damage against robots, and gives the ability to shut down robots when sneaking up to them. Requires 50 Science.

A 25% damage increase is pretty big, especially considering the high DT some robots have (Big MT robo-scorpions, hnnghn) Disabling robots can be a bit tricky, but doing so renders them “unconscious” and grants a small XP boost. Great perk for anyone, especially if you’re planning to play through the OWB DLC.

  • Silent Running, running no longer gives a penalty to sneaking. Requires 6 Agility and 50 Sneak.

Great perk if you use sneak at all. The walk speed while sneaking is insanely slow, so any speed boost is always nice. Essential for sneaky Unarmed or Melee Couriers who have to close the distance as fast as possible while still staying hidden.

  • Sniper, increases the chance to hit opponent’s head in VATS by 25%. Requires 6 Perception and 6 Luck.

This is the only VATS perk I personally even consider taking, even though Math Wrath is definitely better for heavy VATS use. For those who rarely use VATS, being able to accurately score headshots is a useful ability.

  • Splash Damage, explosives have a 25% larger splash radius. Requires 70 Explosives.

Another essential perk for Explosives-users. Make sure you get Hit the Deck with this, or you will die. Makes weaker explosives like Dynamite viable later in the game, which allows you to blow more stuff up cheaper! Great.

  • Unstoppable Force, 4x damage when striking a blocking enemy with Unarmed or Melee. Requires 7 Strength and 90 Melee Weapons.

Makes you an unstoppable force, surprisingly. You can pretty much just mash mouse1 in close combat with this perk, and everyone dies. Not much else to say. Take this if you use Melee or Unarmed.

  • Heavyweight, halves the weight of all weapons with a weight of over 10 lbs. Requires 7 Strength.

Excellent perk if you like using heavy weapons like missile launchers or miniguns. If you really, really like the weapons covered by this perk, take it. Otherwise, nah, not worth it.

  • Hobbler, increases the chance to hit opponent’s legs in VATS by 25%. Requires 7 Perception.

I guess it could be pretty useful if you want to go Deathclaw-hunting, but even then, I think simply shooting them with a big gun in the head would be a better tactic than going to VATS range to aim at their legs.

  • Alertness, +2 Perception when standing still in sneak mode. Requires 10 > Perception > 6.

Not worth it. Increases your compass range a bit when still in sneak mode, but other than that, pretty much useless.

Perks, levels 14 & 16

Level 14:

  • Adamantium Skeleton, 50% less limb damage. No requirements.

Great perk for pretty much anyone, because at some point you will get shot at, blown up, cut by machetes, etc. Less limb damage helps conserve Doctor’s Bags and Hydra (or stimpaks on lolmode), makes combat easier because you won’t get the crippled penalties as often.

  • Center of Mass, 15% damage with torso shots in VATS. Requires 70 Guns.

Increases damage with all weapons types, despite only requiring a high Guns skill. Has the same problems as all the other VATS perks, and is probably not worth your time.

  • Chemist, doubles the duration of every consumable item effect in the game. Requires 60 Medicine.

This is a bit buggy, and not only affects chem effects like the in-game description says, but actually doubles the duration of every single consumable item effect. This includes chems (both positive and negative effects), skill books, stimpaks, food, etc. For once, a bug that actually makes something extremely strong. Great perk, especially for the massive buff to Survival.

  • Jury Rigging, repair any item with a roughly similar item. Requires 90 Repair.

Simply the best perk in the game. Allows you to repair your fancy Anti-Materiel Rifle with cheap Varmint Rifles, Single Shotguns, etc. Makes repair incredibly flexible and highly profitable. You’ll never have to worry about repairing your weapons or armour again: just pick up some cheap low tier stuff and repair your awesome gear with those.

Useful for every Courier ever, even those who avoid combat, as repairing high tier items with low tier items is incredibly profitable.

  • Light Step, never set off floor-based traps. Requires 6 Agility and 6 Perception.

Floor-based traps include mines, pressure plates, bear traps, and trip wires. A pretty good perk, as New Vegas has several heavily trapped areas. Especially useful in Sierra Madre, as that place is absolutely full of bear traps, trip wires, and mines.

  • Purifier, +50% damage against ‘abominations’ with Melee and Unarmed. No requirements.

This perk covers all mutants ( and Mr. House, wat. ). You will be fighting quite a lot of them throughout the game, and extra damage at melee range is always nice, especially against Deathclaws, Tunnelers and Ghost People.

Level 16:

  • Action Boy / Girl, +15 Action Points, 2 ranks. Requires 6 Agility.

Again, a VATS perk, not worth it. If you really want to spam low-AP cost weapons in VATS, consider taking this. If not, don’t even think about it.

  • Better Criticals, critical damage increased by 50%. Requires 6 Perception and 6 Luck.

An excellent perk for anyone. With this, you can absolutely destroy anything, especially with sneak crits. 50% more damage with crits is a huge boost for any weapon type, so if your P and L are high enough, take this perk.

  • Chem Resistant, 50% less chance of addiction. Requires 60 Medicine.

Not a very good perk, considering how easy it is to get rid of addiction: small payment at doctors, of free at the Sink.

  • Meltdown, makes enemies killed by energy weapons explode in a small burst of plasma. Requires 90 Energy Weapons.

The damage dealt by the explosion depends on the damage of the weapon that killed the target, so if you use low-damage weapons like the Laser Pistol or Flamer, this is probably not worth taking. With a Gauss Rifle, the explosions are devastating. Works well indoors and against weak, swarming enemies. Note, however, that the explosions will also damage you as well, assuming you’re standing too close. This is a pretty big downside, and should be taken into account when considering this perk.

  • Tag!, +15 skill points in any non-tagged skill. No requirements.

No. Don’t take this. One perk slot for 15 skill points is a ridiculously bad deal, especially when compared to Educated, which grants a total of 92 points if picked at level 4.

  • Weapon Handling, reduces weapon Strength requirements by 2. Requires <10 Strength.

Basically allows you to use heavy weapons efficiently even at a lower Strength. Pretty useful, especially if you started with a low Strength of 4-6.

Perks, levels 18 & 20

Level 18:

  • Computer Whiz, allows you to hack terminals previously locked by failed hacking attempts. Requires 7 Intelligence and 70 Science.

Absolutely pointless, as you should never fail at hacking. If you can’t find the correct password, just cancel out from the hacking interface, open it up again and it resets the whole thing.

  • Concentrated Fire, chance to hit a specific body part in VATS increases with each subsequent hit on that body part. Requires 60 Guns and 60 Energy Weapons.

Every shot increases the hit chance by a mere 5%, so this perk isn’t really good, even for those who use VATS all the time. Only useful if you use low AP price weapons.

  • Infiltrator, allows you to pick locks previously broken by the ‘force lock’ mechanic. Require 7 Perception, 70 Lockpick.

Just as pointless as Computer Whiz. You should really never use the force lock feature, unless you have a 100% chance of success. Skip this, not worth it.

  • Paralyzing Palm, 30% chance per hit of paralyzing your target for 30 seconds. Requires 70 Unarmed.

Excellent perk for Unarmed Couriers. 30 seconds gives lots of time to either beat the crap out of you target’s friends of the target himself. A 30% chance is a pretty good one, especially considering the fast “fire rate” of unarmed weapons. Only works on Unarmed weapons, unlike some perks that apply to both Unarmed and Melee.

  • Walker Instinct, +1 Perception, and Agility when outside. Requires 50 Survival.

Not very useful, as it only gives a slight AP bonus, slightly longer compass range and tiny skill boosts to Perception and Agility skills. If you really have nothing better to pick, this can be an okay choice. Note that many outdoor areas like the Strip, McCarran, and Freeside are not actually considered outdoor areas, and rather handled as indoor cells.

Level 20:

  • Explorer, reveals all locations on your map. No requirements

No point to grabbing this. Just explore the Wastes yourself.

  • Grim Reaper’s Sprint, +20 AP when you kill an enemy in VATS. No requirements.

Massively nerfed from its Fallout 3 counterpart. Not a very good perk at all, as 20AP isn’t much, and with many weapons, not enough for even more shot. Not worth it.

  • Ninja, +15% critical chance with Unarmed and Melee Weapons and sneak crits deal 25% more damage. Requires 80 Sneak and 80 Melee Weapons.

The ultimate sneaky Melee / Unarmed Courier perk. One of the best perks for close combat Couriers. Despite requiring Melee Weapons skill, the bonuses apply to Unarmed too. The critical chance part of this perk isn’t very good, as it multiplies crit chance by 1,15 instead of applying a flat 15%. No matter, though, as the 25% increase in sneak crit damage is what makes this perk shine.

  • Solar Powered, +2 Strength and 1HP/sec when outdoors between 06:00 and 18:00. Requires 7 Endurance.

Highly situational and probably not worth a perk slot. The health regeneration is very minor and +2 Strength isn’t very useful either.

  • Eye for Eye, for each crippled limb, you deal 10% more damage. No requirements

An interesting perk, only really useful for Melee and Unarmed Couriers. Works well with the Small Frame trait, as it allows you to gain the damage bonuses easier. If you often find yourself with crippled limbs and want to turn that to a benefit, pick this.

  • Atomic!, +25% fire rate, 25% faster movement speed, +2 Strength and +2 DT while being irradiated. AP regeneration bonus when suffering from radiation sickness. Requires 6 Endurance.

Good perk if you’ve picked other radiation-based perks, if not, probably not worth taking. An interesting tactic pointed out by Littlepip that hugely benefits from this perk would be finding irradiated puddles of water, waste barrels, etc., standing near them to gain the 1rad/sec and the benefits associated with being irradiated. Highly situational, but seems like a fun little trick.

The AP regeneration thresholds:

Radiation level/AP regeneration bonus:

200-399 – x1,1.
400-599 – x1,2.
600-799 – x1,33.
800-999 – x1,5.

  • Mile In Their Shoes, +1 Perception, 5% Poison Resistance and +5 Sneak after eating nightstalker squeezin’s. Requires 25 Survival.

Not worth it, as the squeezin’ isn’t a very good food item to begin with: some of the components heal more than the final product itself!

  • Them’s Good Eatin, all living creatures have a 50% chance of having ‘thin red paste’ or ‘blood sausage’ on them. Requires 55 Survival.

Excellent Survival perk, especially on Hardcore mode. The food items are pretty good on their own, but both can be upgraded with cheap ingredients on a campfire, resulting in a dependable, efficient way of keeping your Courier healthy.

The products found on corpses are extremely valuable: think red paste has a value of 125 caps and blood sausage is a nice 175 caps. The refined products are even more valuable, at 250 caps per jar of thick red paste and 350 caps per black blood sausage. Highly profitable, as about 50% of all corpses will have one of these items.

Perks, levels 22 to 28

Level 22:

  • Laser Commander, +15% damage and +10% critical chance when using laser weapons. Requires 90 Energy Weapons.

Excellent perk if laser weapons are your thing. Affects all laser weapons, the LAERs and the Pulse Guns. Allows you to reach a nice 52% critical chance with all crit bonuses that affect these weapons.

  • Nuka Chemist, adds three special Nuka-Cola recipes to workbenches. Requires 90 Science.

All the special recipes have slightly better HP/s effects, in addition to the extra effects listed below.

Special Cola/Special effects:

  1. Nuka-Cola Victory / +10 AP and -1 Perception for 2 minutes
  2. Nuka-Cola Quartz / +2 DT and low-light vision for 2 minutes
  3. Ice cold Nuka-Cola / -60 Sleep

These special Colas are pretty good, but you can find more than enough of Quartz and Victory by simply exploring the Wastes.

  • Spray ‘n Pray, reduces friendly fire damage to companions by 75%. No requirements.

Only useful if specializing in Explosives and playing on Hardcore. Other than that, absolutely pointless.

  • Irradiated Beauty, sleeping removes 100 Rads or removes all Rads on baby mode. Requires 8 Endurance.

I’m not entirely sure what they were thinking when they came up with this. Not useful at all. You won’t find yourself irradiated that often, and when you do, you can just pop a RadAway.

  • Voracious Reader, allows you to craft skill magazines from blank magazines. Requires 7 Intelligence.

Damaged books are automatically turned into blank magazines, which can be turned into a copy of any skill magazine in your inventory when using a workbench. If you regularly rely on magazines to reach 100 in any skill, this could probably be pretty useful. Another use would be for easy access to True Police Stories magazines, which are extremely useful for Couriers specializing in critical strikes.

Level 24:

  • Slayer, +30% attack speed with all Unarmed and Melee Weapons weapons. Requires 7 Agility and 90 Unarmed.

An incredible, must-have perk for anyone using Unarmed or Melee Weapons, and especially useful for those using slow, two-handed weapons. For some reason, doesn’t affect AP costs in VATS, but does affect swing speed while in VATS.

Level 26:

  • Nerves of Steel, +20% AP regeneration rate. Requires 7 Agility.

One of the better VATS-based perks, but faces the same problem as the others: VATS simply isn’t very useful in New Vegas. Only pick this if you use VATS very often.

  • Lessons Learned, +1% experience gain per level gained. Require 6 Intelligence.

At level 26, gives a +26% experience boost. Totally useless, as NV is a singleplayer RPG and leveling speed doesn’t matter at all. Also, at level 26, you should have a few skills at very high levels, so any experience boost is especially pointless.

  • Tunnel Runner, +25% movement speed when sneaking in light armor… or naked. Requires 8 Agility.

Highly useful for all sneaky Couriers, and works very well with the other Light Armour perks from earlier levels.

Level 28:

  • Rad Absorption, -1 Rad every 20 seconds. Requires 7 Endurance.

Pointless. The rate at which radiation decreases is horribly slow and you’d be better off just taking some RadAway if you’re badly irradiated.

  • Roughin’ It, Well Rested bonus when sleeping outside. Requires 100 Survival.

Well Rested gives a 12-hour 10% experience gain boost. So yeah, not a good perk at all.

Perks, levels 30 to 50

Level 30:

  • Implant GRX, non-addictive Turbo drug. Requires 8 Endurance. 2 Ranks.

At rank 1, you get 5 doses that last 2 seconds each, and at rank 2, 10 doses at 3 seconds each. These are found under the Aid section in your inventory. Turbo is one of the best drugs in the game, and a non-addictive version is even better! Extremely strong when combined with the Chemist perk and Logan’s Loophole trait.

  • Burden to Bear, +50 lbs to carry limit. Requires 6 Strength and 6 Endurance.

Basically Strong Back rank 2. Pick it if you really need even more inventory capacity. Allows you to reach a massive 400 lbs when coupled with Strong Back, Hoarder, and a certain duster.

Level 36:

  • Broad Daylight, Pip-Boy light no longer affects sneaking success. No requirements.

What, why? No.

Level 40:

  • Certified Tech, +0,25% critical chance against robots and some extra loot on destroyed robots.

Yeah, the perk is bugged and only adds 0,25% to your critical chance, instead of 25% like the in-game tooltip says. The other part adds an 85% chance of finding a fission battery, 2 pieces of scrap metal, two sensor modules and three pieces of scrap electronics in addition to default loot on destroyed robots. Not hugely useful, especially with the bugged crit chance.

Level 50:

  • Ain’t Like That Now, +25% AP regeneration rate, +20% attack speed, immune to all critical hits and resets karma to 0. Requires Evil or Very Evil karma.

Just pick it at level 50 if you’ve somehow managed to reach Evil karma. I’ve personally never went under Neutral, even after stealing everything on my path…

  • Just Lucky I’m Alive, +4 Luck when finishing a fight with less than 25% health, +50% critical hit damage, immune to all critical hits and resets karma to 0. Requires Neutral karma.

Pick it if you’re Neutral at level 50. The crit damage boost is massive and makes your sneak crits absolutely devastating. The Luck bonus is highly situational, and as such not a huge deal. Crit immunity isn’t hugely useful either, but does reduce overall damage taken.

  • Thought You Died, +10% damage, +10HP for every 100 karma points, immune to all critical hits and resets karma to 0. Requires Good or Very Good karma.

The worst karma-based perk, but still worth picking if you’re Good or Very Good by level 50. 10% damage increase is pretty good, but the previous perk’s crit damage boost is much more useful. 10HP per 100 karma points would be pretty useful if the perk didn’t also reset karma to 0. The maximum amount of extra health you can gain from this perk is 100.

Perks done, freakin’ finally! Comment if you have any weird build ideas that could benefit from perks I didn’t cover in detail.

Special Unarmed perks

Fallout 3 Vault

Contains spoilers!

Skip this if you want to find out where to get these special attacks yourself.

Ranger Takedown

While moving backwards and attacking at the same time, you perform a special attack that knocks down your target. Highly useful in just about any situation, as a knocked down enemy is almost guaranteed to be a dead enemy within a few seconds.

You gain this special perk either by passing a 30 Speech check when talking with Ranger Andy in Novac, or by completing the unmarked quest “Andy and Charlie”, in which you have to investigate the Ranger Station Charlie and report your findings to Ranger Andy.

Legion Assault

While moving forward and performing a power attack (hold down the attack key), you perform a higher damage jump attack.

This perk is gained by passing a 50 Unarmed skill check when talking with Lucius in Caesar’s Tent. Also requires a reputation of ‘Liked’ or above with the Legion.

Scribe Counter

A counter-attack, performed by attacking right after blocking an enemy attack. Often instantly cripples the enemy’s torso, assuming you have a high-quality Unarmed weapon.

Gained by giving Veronica Santangelo a dress. Formal war or White Glove Society attire, to be specific. This can be quite buggy, so if you didn’t receive the perk after giving her a dress, try reloading a save and doing it again.

Khan Trick

When performing a power attack while moving left or right, you throw sand at your enemies, stunning them. Requires you to stand on either dirt or sand, so won’t work in underground bunkers with metal floor! Also, only works on humans.

This special attack is gained by completing the quest Aba Daba Honeymoon for the Great Khans.

Mods, the Nexus and installation

A mod or modification is the alteration of the program code of a video game in order to make it operate in a manner different to its original version.

Where to get mods?

  • The largest and most active modding community for the game can be found right here, in the New Vegas Nexus. Almost every mod ever made for the game is downloadable on the site.
  • This site, Gamespy’s Planet Fallout is another great source for mods. Significantly smaller selection of mods than on the Nexus, but does contain mods not found anywhere else.

This section of the guide will focus on how to use the Nexus. I have no experience with Fallout Planet myself, so I won’t be covering it in detail.

To download files larger than 2Mb in size from the Nexus, you will have to register an account on the site. The registration process has caused quite a lot of confusion after the Nexus administration introduced the premium and supporter system.

During the registration process, you’ll encounter a page that has a list of different subscription plans.

This part has lead some people to believe that you have to pay to use the Nexus. If you don’t want to pay a monthly subscription, simply leave all the options unticked and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Simply clicking on “Create Account” (Click on the screenshot to enlarge.) lets you continue the registration process without paying anything.

How to get mods?

The absolute easiest way of getting mods into your copy of New Vegas is to first download the Nexus Mod Manager (Click on the picture to enlarge, again) Simply run the installer and you’re done.

Now, how to download the actual mods? I’ll be using Millenia’s excellent AK-74[] mod as an example in this section, but the steps apply for almost all mods.

Under the “Files” tab, you’ll find a list of downloadable… files. Nowadays, most files have the green “Download with Manager” option available.

Clicking on it downloads the file directly through the Nexus Mod Manager, which also installs the mod for you. Much more convenient than the old manual installation method.

If a mod you’re looking at doesn’t have a manager download option, you will have to download and install it manually. Any good mod should include a Readme file with installation instructions. Simply follow those and you should be fine.

After downloading, you can find the mod in a list in the Nexus Mod Manager’s “Mods” tab.

To install it, all you have to do is double-click on it. (Blue row in the screenshot.) Uninstalling is exactly as easy, simply double-click on the mod, wait for the manager to do its thing and you’re done.

Mod recommendations!


Highly work-in-progress. Please leave a comment, if you think your favorite mod should be on this list.

Stability & Performance

  • 4GB Fix


  • Jsawyer.esp

Essentially a “director’s cut” mod for the game, made by the lead designer, Joshua Sawyer. Absolutely essential for me, and I would recommend this mod for anyone. It fixes a bunch of silly oversights, makes the game a bit more challenging and makes some balance changes. Compatible with most mods, requires all DLC and starting a new game after installation.

The major changes are:

  • Level cap is 35, instead of 50. Results in less perks and skill points by the end of the game. A weaker Courier, but adds a bit of depth to the character development system. Also adjusts level +35 perks to be obtainable with the lower level cap.
  • Health calculation revamped.

Jsawyer version: 50 + (End * 10) + ((Level – 1) * 5) Example: 50+(5*10)+((1-1)*5) = 100 HP
Vanilla version: 100 + (End * 20) + ((Level – 1) * 5) Example: 100+(5*20)+((1-1)*5) = 200 HP

This means that a Courier with 5E only has 100HP with Sawyer’s mod, versus 200 in Vanilla. Note that the same formula is used by all humans in the game: everyone dies faster. Reduces the often bullet sponge-y feel of the combat, without making weapon skill irrelevant like some ‘increased damage’ mods.

  • Damage Resistance added to all Heavy and Medium Armour, in addition to the normal DT. Combined with the above, this change makes armour far more important than in the vanilla game. 1DR = 1% reduction in damage taken. A simple change that makes the heavier armour types more attractive.


Fallout 3 Best Mods

  • NMC’s Texture Pack

The very best high res landscape texture pack for the game. Three different packs available: Large, Medium and Small. Both Large and Medium absolutely require the 4GB fix listed above (at some point..)

This pack retextures the following:

  1. Roads
  2. Landscape
  3. Trees (ie trunks/branches)
  4. Vehicles
  5. Buildings
  6. Interiors
  7. Medium to large sized objects (eg. toolboxes, Nuka cola vendors, chairs, cupboards etc).

The Console

The in-game console can be used to do pretty much anything from god mode to spawning items to fixing quest script errors. There’s an absolutely insane amount of commands you can use; far too many for me to list here.

Someone else had the time and energy to do that, though. The Console Guide.

This guide includes just about every useful command available.

Common Technical Problems

Fallout 3 Stutter Remover

Crash while in-game?

Troubleshooting steps:

  • Make sure you meet the system requirements. This step can be skipped if your PC has more power than a broken toaster from the early 80s.
  • Make sure you’re running the newest graphics card drivers. Its good practice in general to keep the GPU drivers updated, so even if you’re not experiencing crashes with the game, this step is highly recommended.
  • Verify integrity of game cache through Steam. In the library, right-click on the game, open Properties, Local Files tab, and then hit the ‘Verify integrity of game cache’.

The process takes a while, and most likely results in “1 file failed to validate and will be reacquired.” message. This is normal, and nothing to worry about. If there are more files missing, that’s most likely causing crashes, but Steam will automatically redownload the missing files, and fix the issue.

  • Does the game crash at cell change or other loading screen? (Fast travel, at building entrances, after sleeping / waiting) If so, try disabling all autosaves in the in-game settings screen.

Disable “Save on Rest”, “Save on Wait” and “Save on Travel” under the Gameplay settings screen. If you do this, make sure you remember to save manually more often, as you won’t have any autosaves to fall to, in case of death, crash to desktop, wrong conversation option, etc.

  • If you’re running any mods, make sure you don’t have any conflicts. Two mods that change the same feature, NPC, area, weapon, etc. conflict, and sometimes cause crashes.

For example, you shouldn’t use two mods that add a beard for Veronica. While this example wouldn’t cause crashes, its still good practice to avoid mods with very similar features.

  • More on mods. If your game crashes consistently when you do something specific, try figuring out whether any of your mods affect that very thing. If you do find out, disable the mod and try running the game without it. This is usually the first step you should take, if you know your way around the Gamebryo engine’s mod system.

Mouse Acceleration?

An annoying feature, left in the game from the console version, and no way to disable it in-game.

Well, there are ways to disable it through modifying an .ini file. Go to “Steam\steamapps\common\fallout new vegas”, located in your Steam’s installation folder.

Open up “Fallout_Default.ini” in your text editor of choice. Notepad works fine.

Search for “[controls]” in the file, and paste the following under it.





Then exit and save the file. After that, you have to set the file to ‘read only’. You do this by right-clicking the file in the folder, picking the Properties option. The ‘read only’ box should be found in the bottom of the default tab. Place a tick on it, and hit OK.

Mouse acceleration should now be gone, and you can finally enjoy proper, accurate mouse controls.

Mismatching head and body skin colors?

Another .ini fix, but this time the file is FALLOUT.INI, found under “C:\Users\<your Windows username>\Documents\My Games\FalloutNV”. Open it up in your text editor of choice, and search for the line:


and change the 0 to 1, so it looks like:


Now all the skin colors should match. This won’t fix the obvious seam in every NPC’s neck, that’s a problem with the engine itself and how it generates heads. There are some mods that make it less noticeable, but its always going to be there.

Unfortunately there are so many technical issues left in this game, I can’t cover every single one of them. These were just the most common ones I’ve seen complaints about, but feel free to contact me if you’d want me to add something more. I will be covering general bugs and stability fixes in a ‘Mods’ section later on.

In general, if you’re having problems with the graphics not loading properly, a black screen, etc. its highly likely your GPU drivers are outdated, and an update is in order.

Extra stuff, WIP

Fallout New Vegas Cheats

Some mostly useless, but interesting information.

Carry weight is calculated with the formula:

150 + ( Strength x 10)

A character with 5 Strength would then have a respectable 200 lbs carry weight.

Skill points per level are calculated with:

10 + ( Intelligence / 2 )

If your Intelligence level is an odd number, the extra 0,5 points carry over to the next level, and you will alternate between two amounts each level.

A Courier with 5 intelligence would then gain 12,5 points per level, so he will alternate between 12 points and 13 points.

Hit points are determined with:

95 + ( Endurance x 20 ) + ( Your character’s level x 5 )

A level 1 Courier with 5 Endurance would then have 200 hit points.

Action points for VATS are calculated with:

65 + ( 3 x Agility )

A 5 Agility Courier would then have 80 actions points. Note that regenerating action points to max takes 16,66 seconds, regardless of the Agility-gained value. Perks that add action points will also add to the regeneration time.

Original Link – Continuation of discussion

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