Fallout New Vegas Stealth Guide

Fallout New Vegas Stealth Guide

The Fallout: New Vegas Not-So-Ultimate Stealth Character Guide by Stanley E. Dunigan.

Choose a section: (You can also use Ctrl + F to find something specific quickly.)

It's not possible to make an ultimate stealth character in Fallout NV like you
could in Fallout 3, but this FAQ is dedicated to helping stealth fanatics make
the best stealth character possible. The stealth build given even works pretty
well on the "very hard" difficulty setting, though you have to be really careful
to take tough enemies down at range. As in Fallout 3, "very hard" difficulty
will have you doing half damage and enemies doing you double damage. And
you don't even get extra combat XP for that in this game. What a rip-off!

Everything in this FAQ is based on playthrus of the PC version of Fallout: New
Vegas with the latest patches (forcibly applied by Steam) as of the date given
in the top version note below. Any differences you experience will probably be
due to playing on a different gaming platform or not letting Steam update the
game by playing it in offline mode.

If you have tips for improving my stealth build or the V.A.T.S. reference
section, or have a different stealth build that you want to share, send me an
email at the address given in the copyright section.



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Bad news, stealth fans. The Chinese Stealth Armor that you know and love from
Fallout 3 does exist in Fallout: New Vegas, but it no longer has a stealth field
on it. It's identical to recon armor except that it's light armor with a max DT
of 12, whereas recon armor is medium armor with a max DT of 17. If you want a
light armor suit that increases your Sneak skill by 5 points, you may want to go
get the stealth armor despite its lack of a stealth field.

The only two Chinese Stealth Armor suits in the game are both at Hoover Dam,
which is over on the east side of the world map, connecting Lake Mead to the
Colorado River. Enter the visitor center, then take the elevator to the Power
Plant 01 area. Turn right and go through a doorway, then go through the guarded
door that leads to the offices area. Go down to the end of the hall and turn
right, then go to the end of the next hall and turn right. Repeat that one more
time to reach a dead end next to a door. Go through the door and turn left to
find a pile of wooden crates. They're all empty except for the one that contains
the stealth armor. Take it sneakily, since it's technically owned by the NCR.

There is a user-created module available that adds several dragoon-brand suits
of armor to the game, some of which have stealth fields on them that work
similarly to the one on Fallout 3's Chinese Stealth Armor. However, a bit of
playtesting showed that the dragoon armor doesn't work nearly as well in close
proximity, so melee and unarmed stealth characters won't be much better off.
However, ranged stealth characters will find the dragoon armor to be far
superior to the sabotaged Chinese Stealth Armor. To get the RCSS module, go to, register for a free account if you don't already have
one, then do a file search on the name "reinforced chinese stealth suit."



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So now your only standard source for stealth fields are the stealth boy items.
And there's bad news on that front, too. Whereas Fallout 3 had 60 non-random
stealth boys scattered about the wasteland, Fallout NV only has 10. Their
locations are given below.

* Goodsprings: in the safe that's near the SW corner in the schoolhouse & in the
inventory of Joe Cobb, who appears near the end of the "By a Campfire on the
Trail" Goodsprings faction quest

* Lucky 38 Casino (New Vegas Strip): in a floor safe in the cocktail lounge,
which is only accessible after you talk to Mr. House

* Jack Rabbit Springs (SE of Primm): next to a skeleton and some ammo boxes on a
hill in the center of the area

* REPCONN Test Site (west of Novac): on the floor next to a dead nightkin that's
near the southern exit doors & in the safe in the locked room that's near the
center of the middle floor (2) & in the wall safe in the administrator's office
on the top floor (2) & on a table in the small dining area that's near the SW
corner of the northern section of the basement

If you ever get your rep with the Caesar's Legion faction up to "liked" or
higher, talk to Lucius in the back of Caesar's tent at the Fort to get a key to
the Caesar's Legion Safehouse (SE of Nipton). You can ask the Legion guy who's
occasionally in the safehouse for stealth boys to get two of them.

You can randomly get stealth boys from various containers like ammo boxes,
safes, and gun cabinets (10% chance) and from dead nightkin (25% chance). When
you're about to enter an area for the first time that has such a container or
nightkin in it, you could quicksave, enter and check the container or nightkin,
and quickrestore if you don't get a stealth boy. However, that can get *really*
tedious really fast, so you'd better hoard the non-random stealth boys and only
use them when you need to for quests and other very important things. Also, get
Lily as a follower to double their duration, and get the Day Tripper challenge
perk (by using 25 addictive chems) to add another 33% onto that.

As long as you're using a stealth boy and are crouched, you'll have a stealth
field around you that's very hard for anyone to penetrate. The main ways to get
yourself detected are crouch-running without the Silent Running perk, firing off
noisy weapons like shotguns, and brushing up against people, so be careful to
avoid doing any of that.

NOTE: While you're sneaking around with a stealth boy on, having the Pip-Boy's
light on doesn't seem to increase your chances of being detected, so leave it on
in dark areas to help you see better.

Due to the rarity of stealth boys and the inferiority of the Chinese Stealth
Armor, it just isn't practical to build a melee- or unarmed-oriented stealth
character in Fallout NV. If there was a constant-effect stealth field item, you
could (theoretically) always sneak up on enemies and whack them around without
being detected and coming under attack. Since there isn't, all stealth builds
should be focused on using silenced guns for ranged sneak attacks.



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* Friend of the Night (Level 2, Perception 6, Sneak 30): This perk lets you see
a tiny bit better in dark areas. However, so does the Pip-Boy light, the chem
called cateye, and upping the game's brightness setting. In fact, all of those
work better than this perk does.

* The Professional (Level 6, Sneak 70): This perk increases the sneak-attack
critical damage you do with one-handed guns by 20%. That sounds really good
since most of the best silence-able guns are one-handed, including the 12.7mm
submachine gun. If you plan to use it and/or 12.7mm pistols a lot for sneak
attacks, this is a good perk to get. If you prefer to use sniper rifles most of
the time, skip this perk since it won't apply.

* Piercing Strike (Level 12, Unarmed 70): While not directly stealth-related,
this perk would be of great value to any stealth character who uses melee,
unarmed, or thrown weapons for sneak attacks a lot. However, non-unarmed
specialists will have a very hard time qualifying for the perk.

* Robotics Expert (Level 12, Science 50): This perk is stealth-related because
it allows you to deactivate any robot that you can sneak up to without being
detected. However, it's not really a good choice, since sneak-shooting robots
from a distance (or using pulse grenades or mines on them) is usually an easier
and safer way to deal with them.

* Silent Running (Level 12, Agility 6, Sneak 50): This perk allows you to sneak-
run without being any more detectable than when you're slowly sneak-walking.
This eliminates a vast amount of tedium when it comes to sneaking up on or
sneaking past enemies. In fact, if you're using a stealth boy, you can sneak-run
right up to enemies and whack them with a melee or unarmed weapon for tremendous
damage. Even if they aren't killed, they probably won't see you, and you can
wait until your stealth indicator reads "[HIDDEN]" again to get in another
powerful sneak attack. If an enemy does detect you, you can stand up and run for
a spot out of his sight, then crouch and wait for your stealth indicator to
return to "[CAUTION]" before going after him again.

* Chemist (Level 14, Medicine 60): This perk can be tempting to stealth-focused
characters because it'll double the duration of every stealth boy you use. That
won't be useful all that often since the main problem with stealth boys is that
you'll want to use them much more often rather than have them last a bit longer.
Besides, you can double their duration by having Lily as a follower, and add
another 33% to that by getting the Day Tripper challenge perk.

* Purifier (Level 14): This perk gives you a 50% damage bonus when you're
attacking abominations like deathclaws and ghouls, but only if you're using a
melee or unarmed weapon. That's not directly stealth-related, but only super-
sneaky characters are going to want to get close enough to a deathclaw to whack
it with a melee or unarmed weapon. Even then, it's really too dangerous without
a stealth field, and that's hard to come by since using a rare stealth boy is
the only way to get it. (Besides, deathclaws can detect you at close range even
with a stealth field, thereby ruining your sneak attack.)

* Better Criticals (Level 16, Perception 6, Luck 6): This is another perk that's
not exactly stealth-related, but all stealth characters will want to get it as
soon as possible since it'll increase the damage done by all critical hits
(including sneak-attack critical hits) by 50%.

* Paralyzing Palm (Level 18, Unarmed 70): This is yet another non-stealth-
specific perk, but any stealth character that's focused on up-close sneak
attacks instead of ranged ones should get this perk as soon as they can so they
can paralyze enemies in V.A.T.S. Unfortunately, the huge Unarmed skill
requirement will be a problem for melee-focused characters.

* Ninja (Level 20, Melee Weapons 80, Sneak 80): This perk is ideal for stealthy
melee weapon users, since it increases your sneak-attack critical damage with
melee and unarmed weapons by 25%. It also increases your critical chance with
such weapons by 15%, which can be handy when you're discovered. Unfortunately,
characters who focus on unarmed combat may be unable to qualify for this perk.



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Silent ranged weapons can be used on an enemy from a distance without him
detecting you right away. Your stealth indicator will change to "[CAUTION]," but
it shouldn't go to "[DANGER]" even if you keep shooting your target. However, he
will probably come running toward the position you shot him from, so you'd
better stay on the move to avoid him seeing you. That's easy to do if you have a
stealth boy active, but you'll need to keep your distance otherwise.

There are only a few guns in the game that either come silenced or have silencer
mods that you can attach to them. Of those, the four that are the most useful
are silenced .22 pistols, 12.7mm pistols, 12.7mm submachine guns, and sniper

* Silenced .22 pistols: These weapons come with a silencer attached and are very
common, but are also very weak. They're useful against weaker unarmored targets
early in the game, and they're easy to sneak into the casinos in New Vegas.
Other than that, they're not of much use.

* 12.7mm pistols: These pistols are much more powerful than silenced .22 pistols
or 10mm pistols with silencers attached, though they and their silencers are a
bit harder to come by. The only two places you can get the silencers are in the
store inventories of the vendortron at Gun Runners (near Freeside's east gate)
and the arms merchant at the 188 Trading Post (SW of Lake Mead). Note that you
have to be level 12 or higher to get a silencer from the arms merchant, but you
can get one from the vendortron at any level. They both get new stuff at
midnight every Sunday and Wednesday, so keep checking back with them.

You could quicksave next to the vendortron or arms merchant after 11 pm on a
Saturday or Tuesday, then wait an hour and see if they have what you want. If
not, quickrestore and try again. I know this used to work, but as of this
writing, there's a new glitch that doesn't set the day of the week right when
you restore a save. If you quicksave on a Tuesday and quickrestore after it
becomes Wednesday, it'll still be Wednesday. If this happens to you, then
quicksave next to a merchant on a Sunday or Wednesday, load an old save from
awhile back, then quickrestore. That'll probably get the merchant's inventory to
respawn. If you find something you want, buy it and quicksave, then repeat the
process if there's something else you want. (This can also be used to buy lots
of non-random respawning items.)

As for getting a 12.7mm pistol, you can find them in the vendortron's inventory
if you're level 11+. If you'd rather get one for free, look for one among some
other items on the floor of the central cave room in the Bloodborne Cave (a long
way directly east of Gun Runners), or go to the offices area at Hoover Dam (see
the "Chinese Stealth Armor" section) and get one from Colonel Cassandra Moore.
To do that, pickpocket her 12.7mm ammo, leave the offices area, quicksave and
quickrestore, then go pickpocket the pistol from her. (Remember that your
stealth indicator doesn't have to read "[HIDDEN]" for you to successfully
pickpocket things.) If that's too much trouble, you can go to the visitor center
and sneakily kill a few generic NCR troopers with a powerful melee weapon. Some
of them have 12.7mm pistols.

* Sniper rifles: Even though 12.7mm pistols can do more sneak-attack critical
damage if you have the Professional perk (and almost as much if you don't),
sniper rifles are still superior due to having long-range scopes and a wider
variety of ammo types. If you have the Hand Loader perk, you can make ammo that
does 50% more damage without increasing the target's effective damage threshold.
Even without that, it's nice to have both hollow point and armor-piercing ammo
available. 12.7mm pistols only have regular and hollow point ammo.

Your only sources for sniper rifle suppressor mods (what their silencers are
called) are the Gun Runners vendortron and the 188 Trading Post's arms merchant,
just like with the 12.7mm pistol silencers. The best way to get a sniper rifle
is to go to Camp McCarran (a bit south of New Vegas) and find one on a top bunk
in a large tent that's along the west side of the array of tents. You don't even
have to sneakily steal it since it's not owned by anyone. (Note that you can
also get sniper rifles by sneakily killing NCR troopers in the Hoover Dam's
visitor center.)

* 12.7mm submachine guns: I didn't think to try automatic weapons for sneak-
attack criticals at first, but I'm glad I thought of it later. They work great
as long as you get right up close to your target and use V.A.T.S. to make sure
that none of the bullets miss. The 12.7mm submachine gun is almost the best
automatic weapon for sneak attacks if you don't have the Professional perk, and
the very best if you do. You can only get its silencers from the Gun Runners
vendortron, but at least it doesn't matter what level you are.

As for getting the submachine guns, you can buy them from Knight Torres at
Hidden Valley at any level (start on the "Still in the Dark" Brotherhood of
Steel faction quest to gain access to her merchant services), and from the
Gun Runners vendortron if you're level 16+. There's also one lying around loose
in the Bloodborne Cave, but it's behind a locked gate, and the gate's key is
next to a campfire near a bunch of night stalkers. It's much easier to save up
the money to buy one. Or if you've finished enough main quests to gain access to
the Fort, you can pickpocket them from some of the decanus guys using the
technique given above for getting Colonel Moore's 12.7mm pistol.

There are also two unique silent weapons that are worth mentioning, although
they aren't notably superior to the non-unique ones listed above.

* Abilene Kid LE BB Gun: Like all BB guns, this one's regular damage is totally
pathetic, but its critical damage is really huge. That makes it a respectable
sneak-attack weapon, but it's still not all that great. If you want it, go get
it from Fields' Shack, which is a bit NE of New Vegas. (You can also supposedly
get one from Jimmy's well if you have the Wild Wasteland trait.)

* Ratslayer: This is a unique varmint rifle that comes with a silencer and a
night scope attached to it. Its sneak-attack critical damage isn't so great, but
it does have a 5x critical chance multiplier on it. That's irrelevant to sneak-
attack criticals, but once you get your critical chance up to 20% or higher,
you'll be scoring critical hits with every non-sneaky shot of this weapon.
That's way cool, but it's still not as powerful as the brush gun (see the
"Useful Noisy Weapons" section). If you want to get it, it's in the Broc Flower
Cave, which is a ways directly south of Novac. You'll find it on the floor next
to a desk in the cave room on the east side that's been set up as a camp.

NOTE: Throwing hatchets, throwing knives, and throwing spears are technically
silent ranged weapons, even though they're tied in to the Melee Weapons skill.
However, they're pretty weak compared to most silenced guns, and would only be
useful to melee-focused stealth characters when they need to inflict some ranged
damage. (Note that the Cowboy perk will increase the knives' and hatchets'
damage by 25%, but they're still not all that great.)



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Due to the lack of a constant-effect stealth field item in this game, stealth
characters who are focused on melee and/or unarmed sneak attacks instead of
ranged ones are a bad idea. However, even ranged sneak-attack specialists can
benefit occasionally from a good up-close silent weapon, especially since melee
and unarmed sneak attacks get a big damage bonus over ranged sneak attacks.

* Ballistic Fist: This is not only the most powerful unarmed weapon, it's also
*the* number one most powerful sneak-attack weapon in the game by far, even if
your Strength and Unarmed skill are low. Its only real drawback is that it can't
be used at range, which means you'll have to sneak up very close to your target
without being detected. You can get one from various merchants, including Blake
at the Crimson Caravan Company (just east of Freeside), after you reach level
21. Or you can go to Knight Torres and get one no matter what level you are.

* Knock Knock: When it comes to melee weapons, most one-handed ones are too weak
and most two-handed ones are too heavy. This unique fire axe is a nice
compromise between the two, doing way more damage than any one-handed melee
weapon and only weighing 8 pounds (compared to 20 pounds for chainsaws, super
sledges, and thermic lances). It is a bit of trouble to get, though. You have to
go to the highly irradiated Camp Searchlight (near a road intersection a long
way east of Nipton) and do the "Wheel of Fortune" misc. quest.

* Chainsaw: This is one of the two best melee sneak-attack weapons, assuming you
don't mind lugging a 20-pound item around. Always use it in V.A.T.S., especially
if you're trying to score a sneaky one-hit kill. There's one inside the Legion
safehouse (see the stealth boy section), and the fiend named Motor-Runner in
Vault 3 (just SW of New Vegas) has one. Some merchants, including Blake at the
Crimson Caravan Company, will sell them if you're level 16 to 20, and you can
get them randomly from Legion veterans.

* Thermic Lance: This is the other best melee sneak-attack weapon. It also
weighs 20 pounds and should always be used in V.A.T.S. It does the very same
amount of damage as the chainsaw, though it's inferior to the chainsaw as a
general-purpose weapon. Thermic lances can be found in Blake's and other
merchants' inventories if you're level 21+ (or go to Knight Torres to get them
at any level). You can also get them randomly from Legion centurions.

NOTE: For those of you who (like me) built your Fallout 3 stealth characters to
be focused on melee sneak attacks with the mighty shishkebab, forget about it in
this game. You can actually find shishkebabs in some merchants' inventories
(including Blake's) if you're between levels 16 and 20, but they're not nearly
powerful enough to compete with the ballistic fist and other great sneak attack
weapons, even if you get the Pyromaniac and Ninja perks. If you really want to
build a close-range stealth character, make him an unarmed specialist and get
him a ballistic fist (and the Ninja perk).



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Non-silent weapons can often be useful, especially when you're wanting to
quickly kill a powerful enemy who's alone. There are several noisy weapons that
can give you much more powerful ranged sneak-attack criticals than most silenced
guns can, and the best ones are listed below. Remember to always shoot enemies
in the head whenever possible, to use special ammo that'll do bonus damage, and
to run for cover (or quickrestore and try again) whenever you're detected.

* CZ57 Avenger: This unique minigun, when used up close in V.A.T.S. mode, will
deliver the most powerful sneak-attack damage of any ranged weapon in the game.
If you shoot your target in the head, it'll do even more damage than the
ballistic fist. Also, it's good for V.A.T.S. combat when enemies discover you
due to its high damage and relatively low V.A.T.S. cost, though note that it'll
only score critical hits half as often as most weapons. Also note that it weighs
18 pounds and isn't really all that much more powerful than a silenced 12.7mm
submachine gun (and is actually a tiny bit inferior to that weapon if you have
the Professional perk). If you want it, look in the back of the container
trailer at The Devil's Throat, which a ways east of Bloodborne Cave.

* Multiplas Rifle: This is the most powerful sneak-attack energy weapon in the
game, though not by much. Since it fires multiple projectiles, you'll need to
get fairly close to your target and not use V.A.T.S. in order to maximize the
damage it does. Note that it loses some of its punch against armored targets
like deathclaws, in which case the YCS/186 works a bit better. The easiest way
to get a multiplas rifle is to go to the Silver Rush building in Freeside and
use Grab mode to drag the one on the weapon counter into the bathroom area for
easy stealing.

* YCS/186: This unique gauss rifle does almost as much sneak-attack damage as
the multiplas rifle, and it has a scope to help with long-range shooting. Its
damage is lousy in V.A.T.S., and you'll want to use it mostly on distant
targets, anyway. If you didn't take the Wild Wasteland trait, you can get this
weapon by killing the mercenaries at a camp that's a short way directly east of
the Brooks Tumbleweed Ranch, which is a ways NW of New Vegas' NW corner. (If you
did take the Wild Wasteland trait, you'll have to fight aliens to get the Alien
Blaster instead. I don't recommend this due to the blaster's lack of ammo and

* Brush Gun: If you have a high Guns skill and don't want to put a bunch of
skill points into Energy Weapons, this is a good choice for noisy sneak-attack
weapon, especially if you don't want to tote the CZ57 Avenger around. Like the
avenger, it's great for non-sneaky V.A.T.S. combat due to its high damage and
low action point cost. If you get the Cowboy perk, it'll be almost as powerful
as the above two energy weapons. You can buy one from the vendortron at Gun
Runners once you're level 16+, or you can get one from Knight Torres at any

* Anti-Materiel Rifle: This gun does almost the same sneak-attack critical
damage that the brush gun will do with the Cowboy perk, plus it comes with a
sniper scope. However, it weighs as much as all three of the above weapons put
together, and it has a very low health value. Also, it's one of the worst
weapons for fighting enemies who have seen you due to its terrible DPS and high
action point cost. If you really want one, you can buy one from the Gun Runners
vendortron once you're level 16+, or from Knight Torres at any level.

Explosives are also good for a stealthy character to use. Even though they're
very noisy, the noise doesn't come from your position, so it won't give you
away. You can toss grenades at enemies to damage them, or you can set mines for
them to stumble onto. With enemies that are too powerful to take down with a
single sneak attack, you can lay a line of mines, then go to the opposite end of
the line and shoot your target once with a silenced gun. That should get him to
run over to your position, setting off mines as he goes. Or instead of a line of
mines, you could create one or two tight clusters of mines to lead your target
across. That works really well even if your Explosives skill is low.



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Having one or two followers with you at all times will be very helpful if not
essential during the early part of the game, when you're still building your
stealth character up to what you want him to be. This is especially true if
you're masochistic enough to play on the "very hard" difficulty setting despite
the total lack of tangible rewards for doing so. Thankfully, ED-E, Boone, and
Veronica are all pretty easy to pick up on your way from Goodsprings to New
Vegas while doing the early main quests. You should get ED-E and either Boone or
Veronica and keep them with you until you're ready to go out on your own.

Even once you're capable of some serious sneaking and sneak-attacking, having
followers with you can be very useful. Not only can they carry a lot of the loot
you'll be picking up, but you can have them wait at strategic spots so you can
lead any enemies you can't handle yourself back to them. That'll provide you
with extra firepower when you need it without having your stealthy endeavors
compromised. And don't forget that each follower gives you a useful perk as long
as they're with you, even if they're waiting way off somewhere instead of
following you around.

The most useful follower perk for stealth characters is Lily's Stealth Girl
perk. It doubles the duration of stealth boys (two game hours instead of one)
and adds 10% to all sneak-attack critical damage. Remember that you can have her
wait somewhere out of the way so she doesn't ruin your stealthy activities. Just
don't leave her behind completely, since she'll frequently come in handy in
combat-support and loot-carrying roles.



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So what's the best way to build your stealth character? As in Fallout 3, my
favorite way is to combine it with a V.A.T.S. fighter build where increasing
action points is emphasized over increasing aiming percentages. The idea is that
all V.A.T.S. combat will be done at close range, and medium- to long-range
combat will be done with scoped weapons and follower support.

For Fallout NV, I had the idea of also making this into a "super crit" build,
meaning that it aims to maximize your critical chance whenever you're delivering
non-sneak attacks to enemies. This required a few trade-offs and disadvantages
which will make your character physically weaker and force him to repair his
weapons more frequently. If you don't like that, you can modify the build by
changing the starting attributes and traits to something you think will work
better for you. For example, move some points from Luck and Agility into
Strength and Endurance, and take the Good Natured trait instead of Built to
Destroy. You may also want to modify the level-up perk list a bit.

Strength: 6
Perception: 5
Endurance: 6
Charisma: 1
Intelligence: 6
Agility: 9
Luck: 7

Tag skills: Guns, Sneak, Repair
Traits: Built to Destroy, Kamikaze

When you level up, remember that your most important skills are Sneak, Guns,
Repair, and Lockpick. Consider those your major skills. Your minor skills
include Medicine, Science, and Energy Weapons. On your first few level-ups, put
most or all of your skill points into your major skills. Once they get to 50 or
so, you can start putting more points into your minor skills. As for perks, I
recommend the following:

Level 2: Confirmed Bachelor or Black Widow
Level 4: Educated
Level 6: Intense Training (Luck)
Level 8: Hand Loader [Repair 70]
Level 10: Finesse
Level 12: Silent Running [Sneak 50]
Level 14: Jury Rigging [Repair 90]
Level 16: Better Criticals [Perception 6]
Level 18: The Professional [Sneak 70]
Level 20: Action Boy/Action Girl
Level 22: Action Boy/Action Girl
Level 24: Grim Reaper's Sprint
Level 26: Nerves of Steel
Level 28: Math Wrath [Science 70]
Level 30: Bloody Mess

Notice the attribute and skill requirements listed in brackets after some of the
perks. Those are things that won't be high enough already when you start the
game, and you'll have to make sure they get high enough by the time you reach
the level they're listed for. The hardest one will be getting your Repair skill
up to 70 by the time you reach level 8. You probably won't be able to get more
than one or two of the Repair skill books before then, so most of the points
will have to come from level-up skill points. If you just can't do it, take
Bloody Mess at level 8 and put off Hand Loader until level 30. (Or juggle it
around with something else if you want to get it earlier.)

The only attribute requirement that you won't start out meeting is a Perception
of 6 for the level 16 perk Better Criticals. You've gotta have that perk without
delay, so be sure to go to the New Vegas Medical Clinic (a bit east of Freeside)
and buy the Perception implant before you reach level 16. It costs 4000 caps,
but you should easily be able to save up that much by then. In fact, if you're a
thorough looter, you can get enough to buy that and five other implants long
before you're level 16. For the other implants, I recommend the ones that raise
Strength, Endurance, Agility, Luck, and damage threshold. (Note that the Agility
and Luck implants are essential to this build, but the others are negotiable.)

One piece of essential equipment that you should get ASAP is a 1st recon beret.
The best way to get one is to go to Novac while on your way to New Vegas and do
Boone's quest "One For My Baby." Wear it from then on to get a +1 to Perception
and +5% to your critical chance. (And no, wearing it won't take the place of
getting the Perception implant mentioned above.)

Another piece of essential equipment is the Lucky Shades. Unfortunately, they're
locked up in the Caesar's Legion Safehouse (see the "Stealth Boys" section).
After you finish the "Ring-a-Ding-Ding!" main quest, go to Cottonwood Cove and
turn in enough NCR dogtags to Arelius of Phoenix to get your Legion rep up to
"liked." If you need more dogtags, go to places like Camp McCarran and the
Hoover Dam and pickpocket dogtags from the NCR troopers. (Note that it's best to
give Arelius a bunch at once rather than a few at a time.) Sail to the Fort and
meet with Caesar, then talk to Lucius to get the safehouse key. Go there to find
the Lucky Shades setting on one of the beds along with some other stuff.

If you go to the trouble and sacrifice necessary to get the Hand Loader perk at
level 8, be sure to start taking advantage of it right away by using reloading
benches to break down regular ammo and make hand load ammo out of its
components. This is particularly important with .308 ammo for your sniper rifle,
since its hand load version does 50% extra damage. Note that .308 hand load ammo
takes a bit more lead and rifle powder than you can get by breaking down regular
.308 ammo, so save up scrap metal to break down into lead and buy jars of rifle
powder from merchants who sell it.

Another very important crafting project will be to use workbenches to make
weapon repair kits. Since you took the Built to Destroy trait, your weapons will
degrade faster, and will need repairing more often. Having the ghoul follower
Raul with you would help a lot with that, though note that you can't have both
him and Lily at the same time. Getting the Jury Rigging perk at level 14 will
also help by giving you a wider variety of repair options, such as being able to
use service rifles to repair your sniper rifle. Still, you'll need plenty of
weapon repair kits, so start saving up duct tape, scrap electronics, scrap
metal, wonderglue, and wrenches at the start of the game so you can make lots of
repair kits once your Repair skill reaches 50.

I put the Nerves of Steel perk in for level 26 since it is (in theory) a really
good V.A.T.S./action point perk. However, it's broken again, just like it was in
Fallout 3 (at least on the PC version), so you may not want to take it. If not,
move the next two perks up and then decide on something else when you reach
level 30. The Cowboy perk is one I hated to leave off since it helps power up
brush guns and ranger sequoia pistols, so you might want to get that one (but
note that it requires a Melee Weapons skill of 45+).



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After you finish the character creation process and do Sunny Smiles' two
Goodsprings faction quests, loot Goodsprings thoroughly. When you're done with
that, head south to Primm, bringing along three scrap metal, two sensor modules,
and one scrap electronics if you have them. If not, look around Primm for them
while working on the "They Went That-A-Way" main quest. Once you have all of
those items, enter the Nash Residence building and repair ED-E to make him a
follower. Finish the main quest activities in Primm, then head through Nipton
and on to Novac.

In Novac, do Boone's "One For My Baby" quest to get a 1st recon beret, then use
Manny Vargas' terminal to get the main quest info you need quickly and easily.
Move on to Boulder City and optionally do the "Boulder City Showdown" NCR/Great
Khans faction quest, then head NW to the 188 Trading Post, where you can talk to
Veronica to get her to become a follower. Return to Goodsprings and explore to
the east of it until you find Hidden Valley.

Start working on the "Still in the Dark" Brotherhood of Steel faction quest to
gain access to Knight Torres' store, then buy a ballistic fist from her. Better
yet, get two ballistic fists and repair them up with weapon repair kits, then
give one to Veronica. Start using your ballistic fist to sneakily kill generic
people who don't have unique names in the various towns and other settlements
for XP and loot. Remember to only attack them when your stealth indicator reads
"[HIDDEN]" in order to avoid gaining faction infamy and turning others hostile.
Also note that this is impossible to get away with in some areas, such as the
Brotherhood of Steel's bunker.

Return to Boulder City, then go SE to Ranger Station Delta. From there, go down
the road that leads north to reach the Hoover Dam. Get a 12.7mm pistol and a
sniper rifle (see the "Silent Ranged Weapons" section) and the Chinese Stealth
Armor (see its section), then return to the 188 Trading Post and make your way
along the road to Freeside's East Gate. Go to the nearby Gun Runners kiosk and
buy a 12.7mm pistol silencer, a sniper rifle suppressor, and sniper rifle carbon
fiber parts from the vendortron. You'll then have a ballistic fist to use when
ambushing generic people plus two powerful, light-weight silent weapons for
ranged combat with hostiles.

After that, visit Camp McCarran to get a sniper rifle (if you don't already have
one) plus lots of generic NCR troopers to ambush with your ballistic fist. If
you haven't reached level 8 yet, you'll probably want to go looking for some of
the Repair skill books so you can get the Hand Loader perk at level 8 without
having to put quite so many skill points into Repair. Other near-future goals
will be to get the Lucky Shades and a silenced 12.7mm submachine gun, plus a
brush gun and/or the YCS/186 if you want them. Also, go to Jacobstown and
replace Veronica with Lily to get her nice Stealth Girl perk, and pop 25
addictive chems to get the Day Tripper challenge perk.



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* Increased critical chance: Every time you make an attack with any type of
weapon, using V.A.T.S. will increase your chance of making a critical hit by
5%. Even if your Luck stat is high and you have the Finesse perk, this can be a
big help in finishing off tough foes.

* Aim assistance: At long range, your chance to hit in V.A.T.S. will be so low
that you might as well just take your best aim and shoot without it. However,
V.A.T.S. is very useful for close-up shooting, especially with enemies who are
moving around quickly. Hit the V.A.T.S. key to "freeze" them in place, then take
your time choosing where to shoot them. Remember that head shots will do more
damage, though it'll usually be a bit harder to hit the head than the other
parts. Thankfully, being close to an enemy means that every part of him will be
fairly easy to hit.

Another good thing to target in V.A.T.S. is an enemy's weapon, especially if
it's a big one like a missile launcher or minigun. It's pretty easy to shoot a
big weapon out of an enemy's hands, especially if you're using an automatic
weapon like a submachinegun. You'll have a chance to grab the dropped weapon
after the V.A.T.S. session is over, though you'll have to be quick to get it
before its owner reclaims it. You can also disarm an enemy by targeting his
arms, but shooting the weapon directly usually works better, and has the added
effect of rapidly lowering the weapon's condition. You may end up breaking it so
that it can't be used at all, which means you won't have to run to pick it up to
keep your opponent from using it again.

NOTE: If you're using unarmed or melee attacks (or grenades), you won't be able
to target a specific body part, and therefore can't take advantage of the head-
shot damage bonus or specifically target an enemy's weapon.

* Free Damage Reduction: While you're in V.A.T.S. mode, you only take 75% of
normal damage from any attack. Unfortunately, V.A.T.S. doesn't always start up
the instant you hit the V.A.T.S. key, so it's risky to try to time things so
that you go into V.A.T.S. right before an attack hits you. Also, to get the
attack to hit you while you're still in V.A.T.S., you'll need to have enough
action points to do an attack or two of your own. This is one of the main
reasons you should maximize your action points as much as you can. See the
sections for perks, apparel, and chems.

* Total LOS targeting: V.A.T.S. can always see any enemy that's within your line
of sight (LOS), even if you can't due to factors such as distance or darkness.
You can use that in conjunction with the red blips shown on your compass to
pinpoint nearby hard-to-see enemies, and thereby make attacking them or sneaking
past them much easier. Just remember that V.A.T.S. usually won't be able to
target a nearby enemy if he's mostly or completely obscured from your LOS by an

* Gap-closing: To hit an enemy with a melee or unarmed attack without V.A.T.S.,
you'll have to get very close to him. With V.A.T.S., you don't have to be nearly
so close. Experiment with it to see how far away V.A.T.S. will let you be while
still doing melee and unarmed attacks. Also note that V.A.T.S. doesn't care if
there are partial obstructions between you and your target as long as you've
still got LOS.


* Gunslinger, Commando, Sniper, Concentrated Fire: These four perks all have to
do with improving your aim in V.A.T.S. As stated above, V.A.T.S. is really only
useful for close-up combat, where you'll always get good chance-to-hit
percentages, so none of these perks are really all that useful.

* Math Wrath: This very useful perk reduces the action point cost for any weapon
by 10%. That's especially great if you're just a few action points short of
being able to use your favorite weapon another time in V.A.T.S. With the 10%
reduction in AP cost, you'll get that extra attack!

* Plasma Spaz: This perk is the same as Math Wrath except that it only applies
to energy weapons. Also, it requires an Energy Weapons skill of 70 instead of a
Science skill of 70. It's good for V.A.T.S. fighters who are energy weapon
specialists with a low Science score, but that's about it. Everyone else should
get Math Wrath instead.

* Mysterious Stranger: This is a very quirky perk, and isn't really recommended,
though it does have some useful features. If your target's health is less than
150 when a V.A.T.S. session ends, there's a 10% chance that a "mysterious
stranger" guy will show up and use his super-powerful magnum to finish your
target off. One problem is that the stranger is manifested as a physical person,
which means he needs to be placed somewhere specific. Sometimes his placement
prohibits his shooting the target because he won't have LOS with it. On the
other hand, he can sometimes kill multiple targets for you, though don't count
on this always happening. Other disadvantages include not always getting the XP
for an enemy that he finishes off, and your action points not getting restored
if you have Grim Reaper's Sprint.

NOTE: If you want to maximize the chances that the stranger will show up and
finish off a particular target, repeatedly V.A.T.S.-attack that target one time
with a weak weapon -- preferably a ranged one, like a BB gun or silenced .22
pistol. This can be a good way to finish off a distant foe before he can get
close to you, especially if you're sneaky enough to avoid his notice. Also,
after you have 15 mysterious stranger visits, you'll get a challenge perk that
raises his probably of appearing from 10% to 20%.

* Miss Fortune: This perk is very similar to the Mysterious Stranger one. The
difference is that Miss Fortune doesn't require a target's hit points to be less
than 150, and she won't deliver a fatal attack to the target. Instead, she does
something non-fatal like crippling one of his limbs or knocking him down. That
can be funny and somewhat helpful, but not really worth a perk slot.

* Center of Mass: This perk will add 15% to the damage you do if you target an
enemy's torso in V.A.T.S. Not very useful, especially since head shots will do
extra damage without you having to take a perk, and the head isn't much harder
to hit than the torso when you're close to your target.

* Action Boy / Action Girl: This perk permanently adds 15 to your action points
each time you take it (up to two times), and is therefore highly recommended.
Remember that it's not your aiming percentages in V.A.T.S. that you need to
increase as much as possible -- it's your action points. It's just too bad that
you have to use two of your 15 level-up perk slots to get 30 more action points,
whereas you only had to use one of 30 perk slots to get +25 action points in
Fallout 3. Blasted #@&^ "play-balancing" bullcrap!

* Paralyzing Palm: This perk has nothing directly to do with action points, but
is still very useful if you can meet its high Unarmed skill requirement. Having
a powerful enemy lying helpless on the ground for a full 30 seconds is *hugely*
helpful, especially if you have a follower or two with you to help pound on him.

* Grim Reaper's Sprint: This perk is useful because it will instantly restore 20
of your action points when a V.A.T.S. session is over if you killed your target.
That's not nearly as good as restoring *all* of your action points like the
Fallout 3 version of this perk did (more "play-balancing," I suppose), but it is
still a good choice for V.A.T.S. fighter builds.

* Nuka Chemist: This perk doesn't affect your action points directly, but it
does allow you to use workbenches to transform regular nuka-colas into the new
victory variety, which increases your action points by 10 to 30 (depending on
your Survival skill) temporarily. Even with the perk, your Science skill has to
be 90 to make the victory colas, which will be prohibitive for many players.

* Nerves of Steel: This perk doesn't add to your action points, but it makes
them regenerate 20% faster. That will help you get back into V.A.T.S. sooner in
the all-too-frequent situations where you can't kill your target in one V.A.T.S.
session, and therefore won't get the reaper to restore any of your action

NOTE: On the PC version of the game, this perk only increases action point
regeneration by a super-tiny amount. To fix this, use the G.E.C.K. construction
set program to load up the FalloutNV.esm file, then edit the script named
DLC03APRegenScript. On the line that starts with "Set MicroRegen," change the
number after the slash from 10 to something smaller. A 2 will cause your action
points to regenerate about 20% faster than normal, like it was intended. An 0.75
will cause them to regenerate about 50% faster than normal, and 0.25 will make
them regen at double the normal rate. After that's set, go to the Perk section
under the "Actor Data" tab and edit the DLC03NervesofSteel entry. In its "Perk
Entries" section, right-click on "Action Point Regen" and choose "Edit," then
check the "Ability" field and set it to "DLC03PerkNervesOfSteel."

The Finesse perk is also recommended to increase your critical chance even more,
and the Better Criticals perk will make each critical hit you score count for
more. The Chemist and Chem Resistant perks can also be useful to characters who
use chems to increase action points a lot (see the section on chems), but aren't
recommended since chems should only be used in emergencies, and their regular
durations are usually long enough.


* General Oliver's Uniform: This outfit adds 20 to your action points when worn,
but can't be gotten until the very end of the game (if even then).

And that's it except for all the generic, cheap outfits that add 1 to your
Agility, thereby giving you 3 extra action points. Phooey! They really stiffed
us on V.A.T.S. apparel this time!


* Jet: This is the most common action-point-increasing chem, and can be found
and bought in many different places. Since it's weightless, you should keep all
the ones you find so that you'll be sure to always have some on hand. Due to the
risk of addiction each time you use one, you should save them for special combat
situations where having 15 more action points for awhile will be a big help. In
most combat situations, it's better to use a few stimpaks and run for cover
while your action points regenerate.

* Dixon's Jet: This is a special (and inferior) form of jet that you can buy and
pickpocket from Dixon, who hangs out near Mick & Ralph's store in Freeside's
first section. It only adds 10 temporary action points instead of 15, but it's a
lot cheaper than regular jet, and its effect will stack with jet's for a total
of 25 temporary action points.

* Ultrajet: This is a powerful variant of jet that gives you 40 temporary action
points. If you take one of these and a jet, you'll get a total of 55 temporary
action points (or 65 if you throw in a Dixon's jet). The problem with ultrajet
is that it's not widely available. You'll have to do the "Dealing with
Contreras" undocumented quest without killing or reporting Contreras. He'll then
have a small supply of ultrajet in his store inventory. (Note that it doesn't
ever seem to replenish.)

* Rocket: This is another powerful variant of jet. It gives you 30 temporary
action points, but the only way you can get it is to craft it at campfires,
which requires a Survival skill of 50+.

* Rebound: This new chem will make your action points regenerate a little bit
faster for one minute. Look for it in loot and merchants' inventories that
normally include chems.

* Nuka-Cola Victory: This special new variety of nuka-cola will add 10 to 30
temporary action points (depending on your Survival skill). You can find them in
a few places, but the main way to get them is to craft them at a workbench,
which requires the Nuka Chemist perk and a Science skill of 90+.

* Fire Ant Nectar: These special chems can only be gotten from the fire ants
that are at the Ant Mound (just south of Camp McCarran) and the El Dorado Dry
Lake (south of the 188 Trading Post). Fire ant nectar doesn't directly affect
action points, but instead adds 4 to Agility. If your Agility is 6 or under, the
nectar will add 12 to your action points, otherwise it'll only add (10 -
Agility) X 3 to your action points. You'll probably prefer to either save the
nectar for its temporary +25 fire resistance or sell it.

* Sugar Bombs & Irr. Sugar Bombs: These items add 5 to 15 to your action points
(depending on your Survival skill) for a brief time. Regular sugar bombs are
very common and can be found in many places. The irradiated version can only be
found in one place in Camp Searchlight, but don't bother going after it -- it
has no advantages over regular sugar bombs, and has the disadvantage of giving
you more rads when you use it.

* Mushroom Cloud: Instead of using sugar bombs directly, you can use them plus a
few other items at a campfire to make mushroom clouds (Survival skill 35+
required), which give you 3 to 9 temporary action points. You clearly wouldn't
want to do that for the action points, so only make mushroom clouds if you want
an item that restores a lot more health than sugar bombs do.

* Trail Mix: This is another campfire-craftable item, requiring a Survival skill
of 25+ to make. It'll add anywhere from 5 to 15 action points, depending on your
Survival skill.

* Coyote Tobacco Chew: These nearly-weightless items will increase your Agility
by 1, which adds 3 to your action points if your Agility is less than 10 to
begin with. You can find them in some container and merchant inventories, and
can harvest them from coyote tobacco plants. Also, you can get 10 of them from
Trent Bascom at the NCR Sharecropper Farms if you finish the "The White Wash"
Followers of the Apocalypse faction quest in such a way that the water stealing
is stopped.


This FAQ is copyright 2011 by Stanley E. Dunigan (

This FAQ may be posted and used anywhere by anyone as long as it's unaltered,
but always check one of the official host websites listed below for the latest

GameFAQs ( -- always the first site updated
Neoseeker (
Game Guide World (
SuperCheats (

Check the Universal Hint System ( for my complete Fallout: New
Vegas hint file. It's not a FAQ-style walkthru, but instead organizes the hints
into a hypertext-like Q&A document, making it easier to find the hints you need
without accidentally seeing other hints you don't want yet. It's a great
resource for detailed quest and reference information that I didn't include in
this FAQ.


This version adds quite a few things, including:

* info on the best sneak-attack automatic weapons, both silent and noisy
* info on two silenced unique weapons
* the fact that you can get sniper rifles and 12.7mm pistols by ambushing NCR
troopers at Hoover Dam's visitor center
* a way to deal with the pesky "day of the week doesn't update after loading a
save" glitch when trying to get random stuff from merchants
* note about getting the Day Tripper perk to increase stealth boy duration
* integration of the Lucky Shades into the suggested character build
* a slight reorg of the suggested character build's perk list to move the
Professional perk up to an earlier level
* a quest-related source for 10 coyote tobacco chews (V.A.T.S. chems section)

VERSION 1.1 (1/6/2011): info about the Reinforced Chinese Stealth Suit (RCSS)
add-on module that Tim Narvaez told me about.

VERSION 1.0 (1/2/2011): original version.