Continue to apply points to your primary combat method, Repair, Lockpick and/or Science. If you’re a fan of a slower, more ninja-like progression, bump your Sneak skill up. I can't stress enough how important Repair is - it'll save you a ton of caps later on, and it'll keep your weapons dealing as much damage as possible. It also helps to declutter your inventory - to repair an item, you need another of the same item, and it will be consumed in the process.
Above: Big Guns can be fun, but they lack accuracy, and you won't come across many of them in the Wasteland
I have a hard time recommending Big Guns or Speech. Big guns by definition are heavy - they're also hard-to-find (though you can build them), ammo is scarce, and for the most part, if you shoot a mini nuke near someone, they'll die regardless of your skill. If you're serious about wielding rocket launchers and flamers, however, make sure you have a high Strength and Endurance, and are willing to make sacrifices elsewhere to manage your fascination with firepower.
Speech, as I've mentioned before, is useful, but the fact that you can save directly before an encounter and retry it as many times as you need to makes the skill obsolete (I know, I know, it's totally cheap).
Now that your skill points are distributed, choose a perk. If you really don't feel like taking Intense Training again, you might consider choosing Black Widow/Lady Killer, but remember what I said about choosing those lame +5 skill perks. They'll still be around later if you really want them.
Ok, time to level!
The world is open to you, go out and explore it. If you want to level quickly, your best options are to take quests from the civilians around you, or to tackle the main quest. Other ways to gain experience are:
- Pick random locks, you might loose some Karma now and then, but you'll be surprised at how much experience you can gain just by unlocking everyone's door.
- Explore! You gain experience by discovering new locations, and by killing any animals and raiders you might find along the way.
- Hack terminals. They aren't as plentiful as locks, but you gain experience for each terminal you break into.
Above: If you're feeling brave and have been working on your Sneak skill, you can steal a caravan owner's key and loot his brahmin. Watch out, the salespeople are just as deadly as their guards.
At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of where your character is going. Your primary combat skill should be at or around 50 or more, and Repair should be growing along with it. Either Lockpick, Science or both should be on the rise, with Medicine following.
You don't have a choice about the next perk. No, seriously, I'm not letting you choose. At Level 4, the Educated perk opens up, and I insist you take it. With it, you'll gain three extra Skill Points every time you level up, and they are invaluable. Take it now, because it will affect every subsequent level.
Also note the Comprehension perk. This will increase the number of skill points you receive when reading books. You don't have to take it right away, but definitely take it before you read any books you pick up. There are a lot of books in the game, so while two skill points might seem trivial, this is actually very useful.
Continue questing about, or just take a while to explore the Wasteland. You'll find all kinds of great stuff.
On the next page: Level 5 and beyond...