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Fallout 3: Basic Leveling Guide

Level 3


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.

Level 4


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...

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98 comments

  • DWall - March 13, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    i did exactly what he was talkin bout and it works great. i dont use energy weapons at all. i love the game though. just wish it was longer lol.
  • lostabyss - December 7, 2010 6:54 a.m.

    i made an account just to say this. if you want to play the game just to have some fun, i would highly reccomend unarmed and bloody mess. I made my first character unarmed, lockpick, and medicine, focusing on str, and end of course. It just never gets old to make somebody explode after a few punches. With the right spec, you basically need to make a badass tank that does some nice damage. The companion often makes a nice distraction, but when i had clover she died too often. So unarmed is just as viable an option as any other weapon class. And if i remember correctly, i think muties took me 2 punches, and brutes took roughly 5 at level 12ish.
  • rockduda - November 20, 2010 10:16 p.m.

    opps not put but but
  • rockduda - November 20, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    im level 10 it was not easy put it is more more harder to level up i am thinking of using gliches to level up but i dont wont to what should i do p.s i am not in it to play just to have fun :)
  • dav1337 - June 11, 2010 6:52 a.m.

    obviously you people have never tried playing a melee or unarmed character, you dont just run up with your fists like lordkemo makes it sound. unarmed is extremely powerful if you are a sneaky character (same goes for melee). if you do it right its absolutely deadly. paralyzing palm is a good perk when sneaking and then you can put on your deathclaw gauntlet which increases your crit chance and cuts through ALL armor, so it hits a giant super mutant as hard as it would hit a molerat.. with the right perks, skills, and SPECIAL melee characters are on par with ranged if used right
  • pipboy658 - April 28, 2010 5:19 p.m.

    oh n i had 50,000, heres how u do it. any enclave people u kill, take their gun n sell it. if u have mothership zeta then get all alien atomizers coz they only weigh 2 n all drone cannons (drone cannons sell around 1,000 caps each)! other than thatt just look 4 valuaable guns.
  • pipboy658 - April 28, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    i might use this way, ive started this game again so many times but i stuck with one guy n he was AMAZING! he was lvl 30, i had around 15,000 bullets for my xaulong assault rifle, the special power armor from anchorige, the almost perfect perk n all bobble heads except the energy one from raven rock cause i missed it :(. i completed all side quests and main quest line. 1 of every gun (and special guns. i killed all behemoths. bought everything for my house n pre war theme lolz! i found every location on map (not explorer perk) coz i like wandering around, i use my alien disintergrator! oh n my biggest ever achievement i ever did was carry the dead alien from the crash site all the way to tenpenny tower to keep the homeless guy company! (it took me 4 hours) now thats dedication.
  • MyGameName - March 28, 2010 4:58 a.m.

    With the Broken Steel expansion, you can get 100% SPECIAL. Just hold off getting the SPECIAL bobble heads (except for INT) until Level 30 and take Nearly Perfect. It will pop you up to 9 on all of the SPECIAL stats except for any 10's. Thus only get Bobble heads when you have 9 in a stat. Also, drop the Luckey 8 ball before taking the perk/getting the bobble head. You'll lose the 1 point Luck Bonus.
  • lonelyassassin996 - February 19, 2010 2:41 p.m.

    good guide, found it very useful on my 2nd character, but u really do need high speech, mine's 100 and it just makes the game easier.
  • Dem776 - January 4, 2010 6:42 p.m.

    for anyone who has the game of the year edition doing the add-on quests is a good way to go up levels especially the mother-ship zeta mission, plus you get some really good guns, the operation anchorage is also good.
  • Slayer423 - December 22, 2009 6:21 p.m.

    i was on Google and their said if you beat the game with good karma you'll be able to keep playing like in the oblivion games?
  • WickedghosT - October 20, 2009 11:12 p.m.

    your guide is alright I just checked it out too see if caught anything I didn't but you did a good job. Everyone should really listen too putting int. up too 9 in special's and grab the rivit city bobble. I have 2 lvl 30's and a 28 im just messing with I wanted too make a ninja for fun. But nice tip on the speech tip and using your followers as pack mules,dogmeat can carry too. I use the save and restart too keep them alive sometimes,can't have them dying on me. But I love this game.. get the bobbles as soon as u can..
  • MrKwantos - December 10, 2008 4:29 p.m.

    My special setup at the beginning is this: S 6 P 6 E 6 C 1 I 9 A 6 L 6 First thing i did was running to Rivet city, claiming my Intelligence Bobblehead, so i got 10 Intelligence. Now you 'll recieve (up to level 20) a total number of 427 skill points. (19 + 20 + 20 + 16 x 23 = 427, 19 because your intel is 9 and there is no way you can get the Bobblehead before going to level 2) Now you got about 33 points for eacht stat. This will allow you to take every skill to level 50. Now you also have different tag skills and perks to boost it, so you can easily say, you could get 65 of each skill. besides, you also got the "Skill Bobbleheads", improving your stats to 75. Now you also have a huge amount of books (25 for every skill, except barter which has 24), so that would make your skill 100, without using Comprehension. I would would personally always pick Comprehension as a perk. It still gives you a nice boost at reading books. Finding 13 books is always better then 25. **Note** If you really want to max out your stats, just make sure you take the Educated perk at level 4 and the Comprehension perk at level 5.
  • Mr_Monkey - December 10, 2008 2:12 p.m.

    http://www.rpgbanana.com/games/files/download/1940 type this as the adress and download
  • Mr_Monkey - December 7, 2008 1:11 p.m.

    Level 20 is the maximum level. Unless you find the mod which lets you level up to level 30-40
  • gabe.caso - December 6, 2008 5:17 p.m.

    I seem to be stuck at level 20 and cant level up anymore . What am I doing wrong ?
  • grimknight75 - November 28, 2008 2:15 a.m.

    liberty prime VS fawkes prime wins one shot :(
  • jick6 - November 23, 2008 5:17 a.m.

    Umm one thing I might add (I'm on the 4th page right now) is that, well... The Caravans actually aren't that hard to rob. I robbed Lucky Harith AND that WolfGang guy at Level 2. (On Normal mode) The trick is to get a good melee weapon or explosive and hit their Caravan Guard with it right away, while their not suspicious of you. The caravan salesman is weaker than their guard anyway. Crow is particularly easy to rob. In my data, (maybe it was a glitch?), he didn't fight back. I don't think he has a weapon, but he tried to run. By that time I had Dogmeat and Clover though, so I didn't really have to chase him down.
  • Jackyboo - November 21, 2008 4:01 p.m.

    My first character was a goody goody with amazing gun skills but little else, as I failed to make him good at lockpicking or repairing. My second character is a proper bad-boy now, and can use 1 stimpak to heal what 3 stimpaks would heal on my previous character. Thanks for the guide, it's a shame you didnt put in how important medicine is though (a medicine skill of 75 and 10 stimpaks makes you practically invincible) but thanks for telling me the importance of repair and small guns. Thanks.
  • tikan - November 14, 2008 5:48 a.m.

    now thats just not true! unarmed is a VERY useful way of fighting! true, you have to be right next to something but alot of the game is close quarters combat anyway. max out unarmed, use the shocker and enemies die in 1-2 hits.

Showing 1-20 of 98 comments

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