Fallout: New Vegas character build guide

Hardcore Survivalist

This is a build meant to ease the burden of playing on Hardcore mode. There is an achievement / trophy wrapped up in completing it so this should help out. Note that you don’t need a build particularly suited to playing on Hardcore difficulty, you just need to play a bit smarter, but this will make it a whole lot less painful.

The main point of this build is to make you mostly dependant on yourself. With a high Survival you can hunt animals and turn them into better food at campsites which removes your need to carry quite as much food. Pick between Guns and Energy Weapons as your primary source of offense as melee combat is a bit too dangerous. Lastly you’ll want Barter so that when you bring all those animal skins and looted equipment back to town you can buy enough stuff to resupply for another trip into the Wasteland.

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

Tagged Skills

Guns / Energy Weapons


Good Natured
Trigger Discipline


Hand Loader
Lead Belly
Gunslinger or Commando (as your weapon choice)
Pack Rat
Rad Resistance 
Strong Back
Animal Friend (Should take 2 Ranks)
Adamantium Skeleton
Jury Rigging
Tag! (Repair)
Solar Powered
Spray and Pray

This is probably one of the most fun character types to play as you really feel like you’re living the life of a Mojave Wastelander. Each Perk fills a particular niche: Hunter makes it easier to get food by killing enemies, Educated gives extra skill points and so on. The most important ones are probably Pack Rat and Strong Back as these let you carry extra weight. Also having Adamantium Skeleton makes it so that you need less limb recovery. Lastly once you have Solar Powered you will need less healing items during the day.

Since ammunition has weight in Hardcore mode you’ll want to approach this in a more intelligent manner. Break down as much of your ammunition as you like into its components and sell everything else. Only ever keep one or two types of ammunition on you for very particular weapons. Carrying .308 and .357 rounds for a Hunting / Sniper Rifle and a Cowboy Repeater isn’t a bad idea.

For this reason going with Energy Weapons is almost suggested more than regular guns. Since there are only three or so types of ammunition for energy weapons you can carry two or three different guns but only need to worry about a few different types of ammo.

Regardless of how you do it, it’s suggested that you keep each weapon stocked with a different type of ammo. So keep your rapid fire weapons stocked with basic ammo, your sniper weapon stocked with Hollow Points if going for head shots or armor penetrators / Max Charge if going for body shots and keep your close range weapons stocked with armor penetrators / Overcharge. This allows you to change guns to suit each situation you end up in while also automatically equipping the ammo that best helps in said situation. 


Ultimate Starting Build

This one is called the “ultimate” starting build because it gives you a whole hell of a lot of benefits early on in the game. Very few of the other builds are going to be as well rounded as this one due to how the game works. If you’re not exactly excited about playing with these stats / tagged skills then all you have to do is re-spec your character when you go to leave Goodsprings as these three skills are basically designed to let you fully complete all of the missions in Goodsprings before moving on.

The main point of this build is that with the super high Intelligence. This will give you a lot of skill points to distribute for the first few levels you can gain during the prologue part of the game. If you level up twice you can gain 30 skill points before leaving the first town so you can raise up three skills rather significantly or just boost a whole bunch of others. Taking Swift Learner speeds this up immensely and allows you to more or less max out your character in rather short order.

There is only one thing to be aware of – many perks ask for 6’s or 7’s in particular SPECIAL traits. You can use the Intense Training perk to meet these requirements but this should be done sparingly. Instead it’s heavily suggested you find all of the snow globes, trade them in to Mr. House and use that money to purchase Implants at the New Vegas Medical Center for about 4,000 caps a piece. If you still don’t meet the requirements to take a perk then you can consider taking Intense Training.

*NOTE: Wild Wasteland isn’t a necessity here but with it you get a few events, one of which can net you a very, very powerful gun.

Strength: 5
Perception: 5
Endurance: 5
Charisma: 5
Intelligence: 10
Agility: 5
Luck: 5

Tagged Skills



Good Natured
Wild Wasteland


See comments.

Partners: See comments.

There are no real set perks for this build. Instead you should look at the perks for the type of character you want to play and use those as a suggested list. So if you wanted to play a sniper you would take from that list or if you wanted to play a more talkative type you would take from the Wasteland Negotiator build. As your SPECIAL stats aren’t as important as your skill levels you can basically play whatever character you want with this starting build with no difficulty. This goes double for your partners – take the ones that compliment your skill build.

The only real suggestions are Retention, Comprehension and Educated. By taking these two perks you will be able to make very good use of the skill books in the game, allowing them to last for a good, long time and making them incredibly powerful. Using these will allow you to fill in any gaps in your skills as well as making you very powerful in and out of combat.

*NOTE: This is the build that this writer used to complete the game in Hardcore mode. By starting off with this build it placed the character in a really good starting position. Then before leaving town we changed our Tagged skills to Survival, Guns and Barter and focused on the Hardcore Survivalist perks.

Also you might want to consider taking Nerd Rage if you’re planning on making a melee character as that skill is ridiculously powerful. This and a few other changes can make for some very powerful melee character. Take Nerd Rage, Chemist and Chem Resistant and then go into melee with some Buffout, Med-X and Psycho when your health is below 50% and just watch as you tear through enemies with your nerd monster.

Nov 2, 2010


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  • The1nherit - May 18, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    Very proud of my Melee Character. After my character drinks rushing water, injects GRX, and conducts attacks with Gehenna, my character deals out over 700 damage a second while sustaining minimal damage due to all the DT perks. After injecting a full days worth of GRX I raided Caesar's tent and made short work of the situation. My Character's Special Stats Strength 10 Perception 6+ Endurance 10 Charisma 4 Intelligence 10 Agility 10 Luck 3 All perks related to melee attacks, DT and piromania. Piromania makes Gehenna a more powerful weapon compared to blade of the west. Knockdown perk allows you to go toe to toe with deathclaws, even the Alpha Male and Alpha Female. However, I play on veryhard hardcore and I admittedly die if they get the first hit in. Oh and Ulysses is much easier to beat.
  • GanjaFallout - February 28, 2013 7:30 a.m.

    Hope nobody minds but i'd like to put my thoughts out there so here's a good all round starter for fallout. My current build started off 5 strength, 4 Perception, 6 Endurance, 3 Charisma, 9 Intelligence, 4 Agility, 9 Luck. It's a good base from my experience and i can pretty much work it any way i wanted with the perk intense training, i may want to work on my endurance to fit implants and further the weapon style of choice. usually i think with skills you got 2 main ones to choose from either science or lockpicking they both help in their own ways but pretty much resolve the same situations sometimes there are places you can only lockpick ( if you want the gobi sniper for example you need it on 100! ) or you got science which i'm sure gets you places too i just can't think of any at the moment anyway i personally prefer both tho some might consider this a waste of skill points but it comes in handy and you can get extra EXP by hacking computers corresponding to a door you can also pick lock, double EXP it's just that easy and it adds up if you explore the wasteland, explore it real good now. Now deciding your other tags is crucial because you only get 1 chance to repick and you want to be sure you got the right one done one might choose to further 1 skill set that relates to weapons this would be wise. Now 1 left you can splurge this wherever you want it, I recommend medicine, sneak, speach or survival you can choose whatever path you wish to follow but these skills each have their merit for tagging and usually later in the game you can tag an extra skill i choose repair as its of most use then tho it can be useful early in the game its not going to contribute too much that early on. Now for Traits at the moment i favor Wild Wasteland i just love it tho its good to play without it first time round i guess tho i didn't and skilled seems to be alright you can always get a perk to cancel out that -10% EXP and that +5 to every skill is quite a lot at that small stage of that game thats like 2 extra levels worth of skill for a little EXP which is bountiful in the wasteland so hope this ain't too long and you enjoy my thoughts on a good all round start to fallout
  • JReezyBeezy - October 1, 2012 12:31 p.m.

    I tried to fallow the heavy weapons build since I've never played through the game using them. But when i got to lvl 2 I realized I couldnt get Rapid Reload for the First perk Choice. It requires an Agility of 5, but in the special section its only at 4. I just wana let anyone thats planing on fallowing this build and planing on getting the rapid reload perk at lvl 2 that they should take a point from Perception and add it to Agility.
  • giggitygil - November 22, 2011 2:21 p.m.

    Suicide Nuker S 4 P 5 E 5 C 5 I 5 A 9 L 9 Traits Kamikaze Wild Wasteland Tag skills Guns Sneak Explosices
  • Jude71681 - July 1, 2011 4:46 p.m.

    Great guide & all, but should be updated as the DLC comes down the line.
  • rjazzy - May 13, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    Pretty good guide. Just one question does anyone know what the character is wearing in the good thief guide second picture? The one where he is shooting a super-mutant.
  • chupamedias - March 9, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    hey, and that golden cowboy repeater? where do you get that weapon from?
  • rory-patrick-mcguinness - September 17, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    how you get the golden cowboy repeater is with weapon mods they can cost a fair bit of caps but it makes the gun much better there are 3 weapon mods in total for the cowboy repeater. i hope i helped
  • Hoccus - January 15, 2011 11:44 a.m.

    Perks: Confirmed Bachelor/Black Widow Educated Bloody mess Commando Hand Loader Cowboy (Switch for Weapon Handling if pure sniper) Finesse Jury Rig Sniper Better Criticals Action Boy 1 & 2 Grim Reaper Sprint Math Wrath Nerves of Steel (not needed imo)
  • Hoccus - January 15, 2011 8:41 a.m.

    If you're looking for specialized builds i dont see why you wouldn't specialize your SPECIAL skills too. For my gun "dont touch me" build I went: Str: 5 (6) Per: 5 (6) End: 5 Cha: 1 Int: 9 (10) Agi: 8 (10) Luc: 7 (8) Str: 6 with implant which allows me to weild all the lever action guns i want. I use cowboy perk that gives me +25% dmg with lever action weapons. You can replace that perk with the one that gives you -2 to str requirements if you're doing strick sniper build instead for the AMR. Per: 6 with Implant gives me enough to get the perks I want for build. End: 5 gives me enough to get 5 implants that I need for my build. Cha: 1 worthless stat in my opinion. Boost your speech/barter etc, but not necessary. Int: 10 with implant. eek out as many skill points as I can. Agi: 10 with implant and small frame perk. It's a great stat as it boost gun skill, speed, action point regen, etc. VATS isn't needed in the open terrain, but it's great for indoors where you are confined in space. So the more action points and the faster they regen, the better off you are when you're running with low HP and light armor. Luck: 8 with implant. bumps all skills a lil and increase crit%. I put all left over points here. Perks mostly deal with increasing %dmg and VATS accuracy and AP. Also hand loaded bullets are totally worth the trouble of making :)
  • DeimonWinters - January 13, 2011 8:28 p.m.

    I found my best build was Strength: 6 Perception: 5 Endurance: 7 Charisma: 3 Intelligence: 9 Agility: 5 (+1 from Small Frame) Luck: 5 I set it up like this so i could get 7 upgrades from the doc later on in the game. You get 1 upgrade to any stat plus 2 special upgrades if you have the caps but you only get 1 upgrade per endurance you have. So i think its worth it to up your end for that purpose and up your intel for more stat points. Plus if you want the strong back perk you need 6 str. Regardless of what kind of char i'm playing i usually set up my char that way since i know i'll be able to play a good game
  • misfit119 - December 23, 2010 2:19 a.m.

    Oh and that unarmed build is slightly off. It is more designed for battling humans in something of an unarmed, low armor monk type build not for fighting the animals in the Wasteland so in that regard it somewhat fails. I managed to clear out the NCR Correctional Facility by myself, right from the start of the game, with that build. The perception helps with seeing enemies coming before they can hear you so you can re-enter sneak mode and then you go in and take them down. Using just that and some looted Buffout I managed to wipe out that place. It's not meant for a toe-to-toe bruiser and if that's how you're going to fight, then yes it wouldn't work. At all.
  • misfit119 - December 23, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    The reason all of these kits place average stats is because stats don't matter. At all. Or let me correct that, positive stats don't matter. When you go into negatives you start to dramatically hamper your character while going into the positives gives you almost no benefit beyond a one or two point increase to the associated stats. As a matter of fact the single best build in the game is probably 9 INT, 9 Luck and then put the rest wherever you like. Then simply tag whatever skills you're going to use for that build. This isn't like Fallout 1 & 2 where stats could have a huge impact on the variety of skills so going to extremes is, to put it bluntly, incredibly worthless. This is doubly true for new players who this guide is mostly aimed at. Also gimping Luck is, to put it mildly, beyond silly. Sneak attacking won't help you when an all out fight occurs where you can't sneak unless you're going to find and use Stealth Boys every time a face to face fight breaks out. The only build that should deemphasize luck is one that's going to use heavy handed as you can then use weapons that don't critical in the first place (a build I just recently discovered) Otherwise it's just really silly.
  • BrokenJoe - December 18, 2010 11:57 a.m.

    Or: Fallout: New Vegas Character: Wasteland Gunslinger STR: 7 PER: 8(+) Four Eyes END: 7 CHR: 2 (He’s going to be blasting his way through, not talking) INT: 8 AGL: 7 LCK: 2 (Gonna get all my criticals sneaking) This character will be able to pick up any type of gun and do work with it, though I won’t tag Energy Weapons, I will put points into them. He will be designed not to talk his way through missions, but to shoot his way through. Forget the NCR and the Legion, this guy will spread fear on his own. TAG Skills: Guns (Obviously, as I am called The GUNslinger) Repair (I do like to keep my guns in good condition) Sneak (Allows me to get a critical when crouched) Traits: Trigger Discipline (I’m not bothered about how fast I shoot; I want to be so accurate that I’m popping heads all the time!) Four Eyes (Obviously, I need high perception if I’m going to know where enemies are and have less bullet spread. Plus, it effects energy weapons; and I do like me some energy weapons.) Again, I hope to see people giving me advice as I will show my gratitude :)
  • BrokenJoe - December 15, 2010 6:07 p.m.

    I haven't got this game yet, but I know a lot about it. Once I get New Vegas, this is going to be my character build: STR: 6 PRE: 7(+) Four Eyes END: 7 CHR: 5 INT: 7 AGL: 7 LCK: 2 Traits: Four Eyes Wild Wasteland TAG skills: Guns Sneak Repair I will also be putting points into lockpick and speech. If you can, please offer tips to me on how I could change the build to my advantage.
  • Fluffynuts - November 21, 2010 1:22 a.m.

    This guide's slightly innacurate. Firstly, you need about 8 stremgth and no more than 3 perception. This little perception lets you know they're there if you can see them, which, in a melee build is all you need, seeing as you will not always be trying to shoot them from a distance when using melee weapons. Another reccomended build is not to use sneak. Sneak's fine for smuggling, and a few little options. But i have played fallout NV and 3 for a long time, and the best way to build a character is always to have science, repair and speech. Repair is better than barter, because if you use melee weapons you maintain ranged weapons and sell them off easily, aswell as bumper swords being pretty rare it severely helps to use decent repair skills in order to give one max damage which, once you get it, will last until hoover dam. Also, the original poster reccomends light armour? You will always be under fire, but heavy armour is ALWAYS superior because it will atleast keep you safe as you move towards shooting targets, but it is also beter for melee weapons protection once you get close, and it also protects from light armours huge flaws, like explosives and fire. There's plenty of reasons to choose science and speech. but personally i think almost every other skill isn't worth it save barter only, which serves to nothing seeing as it's possible to have 4k+ caps by Nipton. I hope this is helping any of you, but for a heads up, this optimises my gameplay with a melee character and i can't garuntee it does the same for you, but follow whatever you think i've said that fits your play. Thanks for reading
  • Fro4show - November 18, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    [My Unarmed Build] Str-8 -Partners:ED-e, Boone per-1 -Tag:Unarmed, Sneak, Speech end-8 -Traits: Heavy Handed, Wild wasteland(4 kicks) chr-4 -Perks: Im not level 30 yet so Im not going to deal with int-8 those agi-7 -Implants:Sub-dermal, Monocyte Breeder luk-4
  • ImanSain - November 14, 2010 6:02 p.m.

    Not the Bots, the Turrets, I would use the Turrents, and the Consoles to activate security bots. Nothing says "Daddy's Home!" like sneaking into a room of Talon Company, and taking them all out with their own turrets, or better yet Enclave Troopers. Or you can sneak up on one with "The Dismemberer" Axe and have some fun.
  • ImanSain - November 14, 2010 5:54 p.m.

    Hey Dragon, I was a Stealth/Sniper (High Vats/Critical) build in FO3, I would slap Albino RadScorpions around like WHOA! I could walk into a building and take out everything and everyone and not even take take damage because they didnt see me coming. Shut down bots, turn them against Raiders & Super Mutants, so as they were fighting eachother I was looting. Why would you think Unarmed is horrible? So Paralyzing Palm + Ninja + Slayer = a Horrible Unarmed Sneaking Ability?? I don't know... to me that sounds pretty win.

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