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The operation and maintenance of really big guns - miniguns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and such.— In-game description

Big Guns is a skill in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and Fallout Tactics. In Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, Big Guns is not a skill but there are big guns in the game. It was going to appear as a weapon skill in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2, the equivalent of skills in other Fallout games. Big Guns determines combat effectiveness with any weapon categorized as a "Big Gun," such as flamers, miniguns, missile launchers, Fat Man, etc.

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


Example: A starting Agility of 5.

The Strength requirements of most big guns, combined with the weight of the guns themselves and the large amounts of ammunition they require make investing into Strength points at character creation a prudent choice for players planning to use these weapons as their mainstays. Most, if not all, big guns in Fallout are burst weapons exclusively, meaning that players cannot make targeted attacks with them. This makes taking the Fast Shot trait a much more viable option for big gun enthusiasts, as they enjoy the benefits of the trait without the drawback.

Affected weapons

Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics

Example: A starting Agility of 5.

As with Fallout, Big Guns operates in much the same way in Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics.

Affected weapons

Fallout 2
Fallout Tactics

Fallout 3

"The best way to win an argument is to be the loudest."

Example: A starting Endurance of 5 and Luck of 5.

As this skill increases, so does the accuracy and damage with all of these weapons, both in and out of V.A.T.S. mode.

Ways to increase Big Guns skill


Affected weapons

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

While the game does not have the ability to increase the effectiveness of big guns, there are some weapons that are listed as such.

Affected weapons

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2

Big Guns was going to appear as a weapon skill. It increases the base damage inflicted by big guns.[1] Assuming Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 would have used a points based system like its predecessor, it is able to be increased.

Big Guns is available to all but one player character, Lilith is incapable of using big guns thus has no use for this weapon skill.[2]


According to the Fallout 2 manual, they used a big gun to destroy the vats of FEV and kill the Master in the original Fallout. In their own words, "None could stand in my way. I had a mission. I had a goal. I had a really large gun."

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[3]