In: op ed by Justin Knowles (Special to GameHounds)23 Aug 2010
I have attempted to avoided any major spoilers, however there is one and I have clearly labeled it at the end of this article. This guide is based on my experiences while playing the game. and I hope it will be of some help.
Don’t start with anything above an eight, and decide on one or two stats you can live without so you can remove a few points from them. There is a stat-related bobblehead for each stat that will increase the stat by one, as well as several items, mission rewards, perks, and pieces of apparel that will increase your stats throughout the game.
Put the majority of your skill points into a handful of skills until they are at 80 percent or higher. Put the remaining few points into skills you think will be fun or useful.
Essential skills are repair and small guns. Most weapons you find are in the small-gun category, and they are available from the start and useful throughout the game. Repair has three benefits: Firstly. it allows you to keep your weapons and armor in good condition, making you deadlier and more protected. Secondly, it allows you to repair spare weapons and armor that you find in your travels. A good condition weapon sells for more then a poor condition weapon, so there is little sale difference if you pick up six hunting rifles and sell them separately or use five of them to bring the sixth into great condition. This then frees up inventory space for other items to sell. And thirdly, it helps with building custom weapons.
Useful skills are lockpicking, speech, and science. All of these skills you should select at least one (or even all three) of these skills and develop them quickly
Big guns, energy weapons, explosives, melee, small guns, and unarmed. Small guns is essential. It covers the majority of weapons you find and can be used from the BB-gun you get at the start and continues to be useful throughout the game.
It is worth getting either melee or unarmed but not both. I would recommend melee over unarmed due to some of the high-powered melee weapons later on. Useful early on due to lack of ammo, but I would stop putting points into it once your ammo is stocked up.
I would rate the remaining three skills (big guns, energy weapons, explosives) equally. Pick one you like or that matches a stat you have high and start building it up.
Lockpick, medicine, repair, science, sneak. Repair is the most useful non-combat skill you can have. Get it up to 80 as fast as you can. Lockpick and science open up options. Lockpick gets you into areas normally denied to you. Science allows you to hack terminals. Put a lot of points into one, but make sure the other is built up to at least 25 (including bonuses from clothing and other items).
Medicine is useful, as it assists with healing but you can compensate for this by stocking up on stimpacks.
I personally never had much luck with sneak so I would not even bother.
Barter and speech. Both useful but non-critical. Barter will let you get better value when trading, and speech will open up dialogue options.
There are a lot of options available with perks. Take a few moments to have a look at the perks available at higher levels and make sure you will meet the minimum requirements. For example, if you want the cyborg perk at level 14, you need to put points into medicine and science beforehand. A lot of perks raise skills, so their usefulness will depend on what skills you are building up. I would recommend the Gun Nut perk, as I consider small guns and repair essential skills. I would also recommend swift learner if you want to level up more quickly. Black Widow/Lady Killer is more useful for female characters as there are more male enemies in the game. If you get educated at level four, you will gain 48 extra skill points by the time you hit the level 20 skillcap (78 points if you get to level 30 with the Broken Steel DLC). If you use VATS a lot, then Gunslinger, Commando, and Sniper are all essential along with Action Boy/Girl. Fortune Finder, Scrounger, and Strong Back let you find and carry more stuff which is a nice combination.
In general have fun with your perks and use them to complement your style of play. If you have a concept you want to play out there will be a set of perks that will help.
Dress for Succes
Many pieces of clothing provide stat or skill boosts. It can be worth keeping a few of these pieces in your inventory and equiping them before using a skill. About to hack a terminal? Put on a lab coat to boost your science skill.
Keep your equipment in good condition. If you repair it to the best of your ability, it will provide more protection or do more damage. But be careful you don’t destroy good equipment. Some unique items are repaired by normal items and visa-versa. Got the ultra SMG? Don’t accidentally use it to repair a normal SMG!
Repair for space and money. If you are picking up multiple pieces of the same weapon or armor, use them to repair each other. The value of a repaired weapon is higher then a poor quality weapon and will free up space for other loot.
Pick up everything you can carry. If you fill your inventory, use your repair skill on any weapons or armor, and if you need to drop items try to drop the items with the worst value-to -eight ratio first. If you want to streamline this process use a 10-to-1 ratio as a rule of thumb. Exception is try to take everything you can from Vault 101, as you don’t really get much of a chance to go back once you complete the starting section of the game.
There are a reasonable number of items that have nil weight. These include all ammo, pre-war money, metro tickets and small items such as pencils and cigarettes. ALWAYS take these as they can be traded and do not reduce your carying capacity.
Easy ways to spot enemies
As I mentioned previously I am not a fan of the sneak skill. However you should use the sneak ability periodicly when traveling through the wasteland. Why? If you are detected while sneaking, you will get a warning at the top of the screen this will alert you to enemies you may not have noticed yet. You should also hit the button to activate VATS every now and again, as if you have an enemy in VATS range it will zoom straight to them.
VATS can be used to assist with manual aiming. If you target an opponent in VATS (Even if you don’t have enough action points to attack them in VATS) your crosshair will be centred on that opponent when you exit V.A.T.S.
Early on, it is worth using cover and hit-and-run tactics. Shoot your enemy, then quickly move around the corner (or crouch behind cover) for a few seconds to recharge your action points for VATS, then quickly move out, shoot, and move back again.
If you are loosing a fight or getting overwhelmed, pause the fight by bringing up your Pipboy or using VATS so you can take a breath. If you have brought up your Pipboy, you can heal, change weapons or armour, or take an aid item like Buffout — all of which instantly apply so that you are ready to go when you resume the fight.
Lockpicking, security, and speech
Save before you attempt, and reload if you fail. Be aware that terminals and locks have difficulty ratings and you need to meet the minimum skill level to attempt them.
There are several achievements linked to being Good/Evil/Neutral at certain levels. Rather then replaying the entire game three times, you can use the “Here and Now Perk” to get some of these achievements. For example, save the game about halfway between level 18 and 19. Then start playing in the opposite way to normal (act evil if you have a good character). When you level up to level 19, take the “Here and Now Perk” to jump forward a full level and unlock the achievement. Then reload from the prior save and continue as normal. When you get level 20 you will unlock the achievement for your natural alignment. You will need to restart from the save twice, as there are three achievements linked to your alignment at level 20.
Custom weapons can be made from schematics. Many common items can be used to make custom weapons. and it is worth collecting them for future use if you have your own home to store them in. I will attempt to put together a comprehensive list at a later stage. Meanwhile if you get weapon schematics make a note of the components and start collecting them. Remember your repair skill determines the starting condition of the weapon, and if you have enough parts, you can make multiples you can use repair to improve the weapon’s condition.
Get safe. Get a house.
Once you leave Vault 101, you need to head straight to Megaton. You will encounter a couple of animals (dogs or bloatflies) on the way, but you should otherwise be safe. Megaton is a walled city with no enemies and a chance to trade and rest.
In the center of Megaton is an undetonated nuke. You will get a quest to disarm it. Do it as soon as you can. One of the quest completion rewards is your own home in Megaton. This has many benefits including fresh (radiation-free) water from your robot, Wadsworth, and being able to set up your own workbench and first-aid station. But the best one is that you can safely store things in your own cupboards. It is great for keeping components for custom weapons and spare weapons and armor.