Video games are a big part of my life, and I wish I wanted them to stay that way.
As is so often the case, I have found myself playing Fallout: New Vegas again, and I would still call it a timeless work of art. The only difference between playing now and when I played in the past is that I have the difficulty set to very hard, and hardcore mode is turned on. Luckily, my favorite build for the game is also the best build to play through the entire game with!
Spoiler alert: If you're the type of individual to care about spoilers, this is your warning not to go any further! You will not be warned again!
So, without further ado, let's hop into the best build for every difficulty in Fallout: New Vegas.
Choosing Your Gender: Play as a Male
When it comes to playing RPGs, I always tell people to play as a female, and this is because females tend to always get a more unique feel to their dialogue. That still holds true in Fallout: New Vegas, but if you choose to be female, then you will lose out on crucial experience opportunities. When you have the game set to hardcore and very hard, missing out on a single bit of experience because of your gender is not a good option.
Therefore, you must choose to be a male so that you can utilize Caesar's Legion to its fullest. Yes, Caesar's Legion sucks, but you can at least use them for their side quests that offer amazing items and experience. If you'd prefer to play as a female, then you must realize that you will not be given as many special items and you will be denied access to the fighting pits that grant you a top-tier machete.
You have been warned!
The Best Way to Place Your SPECIAL Skills
Take a look at the picture above, and realize that this is how you need to place your SPECIAL skills. I'll provide you with a brief explanation as to why each skill needs to be placed in this way:
- Strength 10: Your strength is the first-most important skill at your disposal. Not only does it affect your melee, but it allows you to carry a lot more weight in your inventory. On hardcore difficulty, and for the best build, you want as much carrying capacity as you can get!
- Perception 3: I've never really found a use for perception in my many playthroughs of Fallout: New Vegas, but it is great to have some points in it for the very-few perception checks in conversations.
- Endurance 10: You're going to need to take a heavy hit, and the only way to increase your damage threshold naturally is to up your endurance level. You're going to be using stims and chems like crazy if you don't invest heavily in endurance.
- Charisma 10: It goes without saying that charisma is the most important skill in any RPG, so don't expect me to say anything more. Don't argue, just up that charisma skill!
- Intelligence 5: Though not as important as your other skills, you need to up this for the few intelligence checks in the game. It will also help you to get a few helpful perks later on.
- Agility and Luck 1: Arguably two of the most useless skills at your disposal, I say leave them at 1. I've never actively sought to level these skills, never needed them, and I'm never going to utilize them. The best build for the game does not require them.
You can feel free to tinker and experiment with the placement of these skills, such as reducing endurance to a low level, but just make sure to leave strength and charisma at ten. There can be no argument against setting strength and charisma to ten, and I advise you do not mess with that in any way.
Placing TAG Skills and Choosing Which Skills to Level First
If you choose to place your TAG skills as pictured above then you will not be going wrong in such a choice. I've chosen only the most important skills to add that TAG bonus to, and this is with the future kept in mind. You need to focus on leveling your skills in the order that follows:
- Repair: Get that sucker to ninety as soon as possible, don't level any other skill until you do!
- Speech: Put this up to one-hundred as soon as you can, because every major character will offer you a speech check.
- Medicine: Getting this skill as high as you can is optional, but I'd recommend getting it to at least 90. It's crucial for a few medicine skill checks, and makes life a lot easier.
- Barter/Science: Which one you wish to level first is up to you, but I always level these two equally up to about 50. Cheaper prices, and access to some nice craftables; no reason not to put some points in there.
- Melee: The final most-important skill to level is your melee skill. Melee is one of the most overpowered mechanics in the game, and you'll want to get this to one-hundred if you can manage to level high enough to get it there.
- Any other skill you want: Personally, I like to level sneak and lockpick after all these previous skills have been levelled to completion. It's up to your desire and playstyle from this point onward.
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Feel free to switch up how you level these skills, the order isn't important if you don't care about ease of use and narrative, but what I've offered you here will make everything much more simple for you if you follow it strictly. This is a melee build, so don't expect to be doing much with guns, explosives, and energy weapons. You don't need any other skills than the main ones, anyways.
Picking the Best Traits
A lot of diehard fans swear by choosing the Wild Wastelands trait at the beginning of the game, but I'd argue that there are only two traits worth choosing with very little wiggle room. Those two traits are pictured above, and the reason you need to choose them are as follows:
- Heavy Handed: This perk is going to up your melee damage, and the best build is a melee build. This is the one trait that is unarguable, so choose it!
- Hoarder/Good Natured: I prefer a higher carrying capacity so I choose hoarder, but you may also do way better choosing Good Natured. Good Natured is, for most, the best choice!
You could always choose to experiment with your traits, or even go without choosing a single one, but why would you deny yourself the chance for skill buffs? Always think about the fact that you can always level/buff the skills you need later on, so you want to make the most of the traits you choose now.
Choosing Your Perks
How you choose to place your perks is really all up to you, and it is based on what you feel would work best for your playstyle. That doesn't mean there aren't good choices to have no matter who you are, though. There are three perks that I won't let you argue with me on.
Those three perks are Black Widow, Cherchez La Femme, and then Jury Rigging—for male characters the titles of the first two perks would be Confirmed Bachelor, and Lady Killer. You are going to want to pick up those perks in that order respectively, as well, because you won't be able to get Jury Rigging until level 14, and repair 90. However else you choose to place your perks is on you, but always keep in mind that you want to reinforce your skills more than you want to learn new ones!
Try taking food and melee weapons perks over any other perks if you choose to experiment. As well, you always want more skill points, so don't be afraid to keep taking the Swift Learner perk when no other perks appeal to you.
VATS Is Your Best Friend So Use It!
VATS is the only combat resource available to you in Fallout: New Vegas that is both abundant, and self-replenishing. That being said I rarely see other people using VATS to its fullest extent. Don't be like other people!
Make sure that you use VATS any time you can, because combining it with melee weapons makes you an overpowered monster! Battling a radroach? Use VATS! Going toe-to-toe with a bloatfly? Use VATS! That raider hyped up on psycho starting to look at you like a tasty morsel? Use VATS!
No matter the combat situation you need to understand that VATS is an unlimited, and useful resource. When using this build it will allow you to avoid heavy amounts of damage from groups, while also shifting your focus from enemy to enemy without the time it takes to reacquire targets in real-time. Heck, even if you are out of AP you can still use VATS to catch your breath, pause time, and pick a new strategy!
May Luck Be a Lady for You!
With this final section I'd like to close out by saying if you followed this guide down to its exact nuances then you are already well on your way to a successful playthrough on any difficulty. This build, though it takes patience and skill, is the best build to use in Fallout: New Vegas, and it hasn't failed me yet!
Of course, you could always go another route away from melee weapons, but if you play your cards right while looting then you will pick up all kinds of amazing chems to load up on. Those chems in combination with your skills will see you mowing down even the toughest of Deathclaws! Yes, you will go face-to-face with Deathclaws, wielding the relative-equivalent of a sharpened stick, and you'll come out on top each and every time.
Just remember this while you're out there in the Mojave Wastes: "War, war never changes."
© 2021 Kyler J Falk