In a little over a week fans of the Fallout series can begin exploring the post-apocalyptic world of New Vegas. As with all Fallout titles, character creation is extremely important, so it’s never too early to start thinking about how to mold your character for the journey ahead. At this point in the game’s development there is a fair amount of information available on character customization to at least begin to think about some key factors.
Perks are no longer attained every level as they were in Fallout 3, they are now acquired every other level. The change to perks is especially important as it means you’ll need to carefully consider each perk, since you’ll end up with half as many from your level alone as you did in Fallout 3. This will mean you’ll need to have a much more focused character since maxing everything will most likely be impossible. It’s worth mentioning that the SPECIAL system is identical as it has been in previous games.
Gender and… Sexuality?
In Fallout 3 selecting your gender was more important than most people knew. This was due in part to the Lady Killer/Black Widow perks which increased the damage a character dealt on the opposite sex by 10% and opened a number of unique conversation opportunities. This may not sound like a huge benefit, but with Fallout New Vegas being slightly more balanced than Fallout 3 in terms of maxing your stats, this 10% may prove pivotal.
The developers of Fallout New Vegas took these perks a step further and now allow the player to “be on the other team” so to speak. Two new perks called Cherchez La Femme and Confirmed Bachelor both increase damage on enemies of the same sex for women and men respectively. They also increase dialog options for NPCs who swing that way.
Since most enemies in the game are male, having a perk that deals additional damage to men is generally more desirable, but really either would prove helpful. I wonder if it’s possible to have both gender specific perks like Black Widow and Cherchez La Femme on a female character? That would be great for someone wanting to focus on conversation skills over combative skills.
Selecting the company you keep is very important in Fallout: New Vegas as each companion will imbue the player with a unique perk. Here is a complete description of the different companions and their perks. Combining companion perks with your own perks and traits can result in a highly focused character.
The first two Fallout titles featured an addition to the traditional SPECIAL system which allowed a player to select up to two traits. A trait is a constant modifier on either your character or the world around them. All traits both improve something, while simultaneously impeding something else. If you would like, you can choose to ignore traits entirely. Here are a few known traits in Fallout: New Vegas at this time:
- Four Eyes: Increases perception while wearing glasses, decreases perception while not wearing glasses.
- Good Natured: Increases speech and barter skills, but lowers your weapon based abilities.
- Kamikaze: +10 Action points, -2 damage threshold
- Small Frame: Higher agility but your limbs are more fragile
- Wild Wasteland: Encounters are wackier and there are more easter eggs in the game.
The best practice when selecting traits is to have them accent your desired character type. When it comes to the downfall of a trait, these can in some cases be covered up by another trait or perk.
I am personally intrigued by the four eyes trait. I generally go for a stealthy sniper character so it’s nice to see enemies coming before they see me. Perception also boosts your skill with energy weapons, explosives, and lockpicking. The fact that the trait works adversely when not wearing glasses is tough since there are some helmets which cannot be worn with glasses. I am definitely considering this trait for the time being but look forward to seeing them all before deciding.
Hardcore or softcore
It goes without saying that playing the game on hardcore mode will increase the game’s difficulty. Here are the ways your gaming mettle will be tested:
- Ammunition has weight
- The player must drink water to prevent dehydration
- The player must eat to prevent starvation
- The player must sleep to prevent sleep deprivation
- Recovery of hit points is gradual rather than immediate
- Crippled limbs require medical expertise and equipment (a doctor’s bag) to mend
If you are set on playing the game on hardcore mode (as I am) that will greatly influence the importance of certain stats, skills, and perks.
The stat that comes to mind immediately is strength, which (among other benefits) allows you to carry more. You’ll have to lug around food now, where it could very easily have been ignored entirely in favor of stimpacks in Fallout 3. Also the added weight of ammo and doctor’s bags may not be substantial, but weight management was enough of a struggle in the last game for me to be concerned.
The skill that will become the most important to the hardcore player is survival. This skill has a direct effect on your thirst and hunger. It also decides the amount of HP replenished from eating. Lastly it allows the player to cook over an open fire as well as skin geckos for extra money. The stat which effects your survival skill is endurance, making it a close competitor with strength in terms of importance. If you plan on fixing those darn broken appendages on the go, intelligence will also be vital as it increases both medicine and science.
No More Bobbleheads!?
It’s true — they are gone. Instead you have the pleasure of tracking down snowglobes. They do not provide a stat or skill boost of any kind, but are instead sold for a pretty penny to Mr.House. So how can you get some bonus stat points tacked on to your special? The answer is implants. Near the New Vegas strip is the New Vegas Medical center where Dr. Usanagi can install implants in you. There is one for each SPECIAL stat and two others:
- Sub-Dermal Armor: grants +4 to your DT
- Phoenix Monocyte Breeder: regain 1 HP every 10 seconds
Implants require Endurance: 1 point per implant to be precise. They are also a bit costly — 4,000 caps per SPECIAL stat. This means making a dash for the intelligence implant before leveling to maximize skill points will be tough since you need the caps to purchase the implant. My recommendation would be to just focus on a solid character without worrying about max intelligence as early as possible. Also, a strong endurance skill is looking important to boost your stats later on which is definitely worth keeping in mind when setting up your SPECIAL.
Don’t be intimidated
I know many people feel anxious about messing their character up in Fallout which leads to fear when it comes time to select perks and allocate SPECIAL points. As long as you have a vague idea of how you want to approach an enemy you can build up the framework of a strategy. As you play the game, hone in on what seems important to your strategy and build upon it. It’s really that simple — I am just anxious to play so I daydream about creating my character. Hopefully my thoughts will help some people feel more confident taking their first steps into New Vegas.
All Kotowari articles on Fallout: New Vegas can be found here