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Big Guns is a skill in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout Tactics.


Big Guns

Big Guns icon.png

Determines combat effectiveness with any weapon categorized as a "Big Gun".


In Fallout: New Vegas, the skill was merged with Small Guns into the more general Guns skill, similar to how it was planned for the canceled Van Buren, which would have merged the skills into the Firearms skill.

Behind the scenes

[...] At a certain point in F:NV's development, I was trying to create Big Guns to span the early game, mid game, and late game. It was an enormous pain in the ass, because trying to think up early game Big Guns that felt balanced with, say, a 9mm Pistol, strained the imagination. In documents, there were weapons that filled those slots, but they seemed forced and odd -- especially since so many of the "canonical" Big Guns were generally high-end weapons. Players liked using the Big Guns, and in a manner similar to EWs, many people wanted those Big Guns to be powerful. The way to make Big Guns feel appropriately powerful and not have a gaping low end was to abolish the Big Guns skill and migrate the weapons to other skills. You still used your Miniguns and Gatling Lasers, but you didn't have to tag a skill and then wander the wasteland for 6 hours before you found a weapon that utilized it.

It seemed to work pretty well for F:NV, though a remaining contention and expectation is that EWs should be more powerful than conventional firearms. If that expectation is widespread enough, maybe it makes sense to re-organize the skills again for future games. My first focus is always to ensure that when a player starts the game and decides what kind of character he or she wants to play, the options we give to the player are valid from the beginning of the game to the end. Each style of play should have its own rewards and challenges, but character types should not be intentionally neglected, they should not be secretly designed to be inherently superior to each other, and they shouldn't assume that the player has knowledge that they won't reasonably have.

Really, I think you could organize weapon skills in a bunch of different ways. For me, the bottom line is that if a player focuses on a skill, they should get pretty consistent gameplay out of it throughout the game. This includes access to items that make use of it, places where it can and can't be used to provide appropriate challenges/triumphs, and a rough semblance of overall balance between it and other skills.
Joshua Sawyer on removing Big Guns general weapon balance in Fallout: New Vegas[1]