Damage Threshold is a combat statistic in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout Tactics. It was removed in Fallout 3, leaving Damage Resistance as the only armor statistic. However, it was restored in Fallout: New Vegas, before being removed yet again in Fallout 4.
Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics
In the original Fallout games, DT (Damage Threshold) is one of three stats by which a character can reduce or avoid damage. The other stats are AC (Armor Class) and DR (Damage Resistance). DT occupies the "middle step" for combat and simulates the effect of how tough armor can immediately stop a bullet cold, no matter how many successful shots are fired.
More specifically, after AC is checked for a successful hit and before DR is checked to further reduce the damage, any incoming damage is immediately reduced by DT:
Unlike in Fallout: New Vegas, damage can be completely negated by DT. In such a case, the player gets a message that an attack dealt "no damage," which can be frustratingly common when using weaker weapons against power armor or Wanamingos.
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas mostly moves away from the exclusive use of Damage Resistance (DR) in Fallout 3, towards Damage Threshold (DT). Like in previous games, DT can function as an outright subtraction: if a shot is fired with a damage value of 40 against a DT of 10, then 10 damage will be ignored.
However, the sequence of calculations differs compared to previous games. DR is applied first. The value after this adjustment depends on any DR a player character has, which is capped to a DR of 85 (85%); however, DR above 80 does nothing, so the theoretical cap is 80.
DT applies after that, with a limit: the final damage taken cannot be lower than 20% of the base attack; if lower, it is overwritten to 20% instead. For example, with 80 DR, DT will not do anything; however, with 70 DR against an attack of 10 damage, a DT of 1 will reduce the damage taken from 3 to 2, and DT above that will not help. Provided that a character's DR is 79 or less, any amount of DT is theoretically useful. Applying the previous example to an incoming attack of 100 damage, 70 DR and 1 DT would reduce damage instead from 30 to 29 - a much less significant reduction than 3 to 2.
So, to evaluate the earlier example, if an attack of 40 damage hits a character with 85 DR and 10 DT, the damage is first reduced to 6 (40 × 0.15 = 6), and then reduced by 10. The final result (-4) is less than 20% of the base attack (40 × 0.20 = 8), so the damage taken is raised to 8 instead.
Damage which is reduced to below the 20% minimum value is indicated with a shield icon next to the health bar (either the player character's, or the non-player character's). When all of an enemy's DT (if it is not 0 to begin with) is overcome with armor piercing attacks, then a broken shield icon will appear in its place instead. The shield icon is shown during V.A.T.S. and on the health bars once damage has been inflicted upon a target and will remain for 3 seconds afterwards.
The default value for DT is set at 0; this is then modified mainly by the DT value of armor and clothing worn. Other attributes can affect the DT value of a character, both permanently or temporarily. Perks and consumables can increase the player character's DT, while the Kamikaze trait reduces it. When attacking, the use of ammunition can modify the target's DT either way, with hollow point generally increasing their DT, and armor piercing decreasing it.
Difficulty and critical damage impact
As with the player character's damage, the difficulty multiplier of incoming damage is applied after the damage resistance and damage threshold calculations. For example, a regular deathclaw does 125 damage and Very Hard difficulty's inbound damage multiplier is ×2. If the player character has no DT and DR, the damage dealt is 250. If the player character has 40 DT and no DR, the damage becomes (125 – 40) × 2 = 170.
Unlike the difficulty multiplier, the critical damage is applied before the damage threshold calculations as it counts as the base damage. The deathclaw mentioned above deals an additional 125 damage when it crits, leading to an attack power of 250 on Normal difficulty. With 40 DT, the player character suffers from 210 damage instead, leading to 420 damage on Very Hard difficulty.
While unimportant in such a case, it becomes vital when the enemy has a low attack power, which is reset to 20% of the base damage due to the cap mentioned in the previous section. For example, a young deathclaw does 40 damage and if the Courier's DT is 40, the attack will deal 8 (40 × 0.2) damage on Normal difficulty. However, when a young deathclaw crits, it deals an additional 40 damage resulting in 80 total damage. With the player character's DT applied, the final damage becomes 40, surpassing the 20% cap and dealing the raw damage. On Very Hard difficulty, it leads to 16 (non-crit) and 80 (crit) damage, respectively.
Comparison between Damage Threshold and Damage Resistance. Implications
DR factor becomes much more important in extreme cases. Vanilla deathclaw (like any other enemy) will completely ignore the DT factor if the Courier has 80%+ DR (Med-X + Slasher + Battle Brew combo gives 85%) and deal 50 damage on very hard difficulty in any case, against any DT index, as the damage cannot be lower than 20% of its basic attack ((125 × 0.2 = 25) × 2 (very hard difficulty multiplier) = 50); its critical damage will be capped at 100 instead (compare to 500 raw crit damage against the Courier with no protection and 420 damage against the courier with 40 DT). The armor indicator will appear upon the hit as well, confirming the deathclaw is dealing it's minimum possible damage.
It means that when the Courier has to deal with high damaging opponents (like said deathclaws), the most reliable method is to increase DR to its maximum wearing no armor at all for faster movement – or the armor with the best possible buffs. If the player has no Battle Brew (→ 50% DR), then, against the said deathclaw, 37.5 DT is needed to cap creature's damage to its minimum (125 × 0.5 = 62.5; 62.5 – 37.5 = 25).
As a more extreme example, take Legendary bloatfly from Old World Blues add-on. Its plasma damage is set to 300 (equal to that of deathclaw alpha male), becoming plain 600 on very hard difficulty. However, with 80%+ DR it's attack power is capped at 60 at normal and 120 at very hard difficulty, making it possible to survive several blasts for a high-level Courier. With 50 DT and no DR, surviving its attacks dealing 500 damage on very hard difficulty ((300 – 50) × 2) is possible only on a very high level. With 50% DR and 50 DT, the damage becomes 200 ((300 × 0,5 – 50) × 2) on very hard difficulty.
Interestingly, although no DT and DR of 50% makes very hard difficulty experience equal to no armor experience on normal difficulty, the DT factor alters the picture. If the normal difficulty deathclaw hits the player with no DR and DT of 40, it deals 85 (125 – 40) damage; however, the very high difficulty deathclaw hitting the Courier with 50% DR and 40 DT results in 50 damage instead (125 × 0,5 – 40 = 22,5; → override to 125 × 0,2 = 25; 25 × 2 = 50 (very hard multiplier applied)).
To sum up, high DT is enough against low- but fast-damaging opponents (e. g., any fast-firing humanoids) unless they don't get critical hits; however, enemies with powerful attacks (mainly deathclaws and humanoids with explosives or single-action high-end weapon) should be countered with maximum DR instead.
Maximum Damage Threshold
The most general damage threshold attainable in the base game is 46, with Remnants power armor (+28), Remnants power helmet (+8), Sub-Dermal Armor (+4), and both ranks of Toughness (+6). With Old World Blues installed, this can be raised to 53 with Reinforced Spine (+2) and Big Brained (+10%). The most specific damage threshold that could be achieved in a single instance is 101, when being damaged by an explosives weapon from an NPC in faction armor while being irritated and at under 20% base health (achieved when the previously mentioned additions are combined with Atomic!, Fight the Power!, Hit the Deck and Nerd Rage!).
- Despite DT being the determining factor for armor in Fallout: New Vegas, when repairing armor, merchants will list DR instead. All armors when viewed from the repair screen have a DR of 0. This is fixed in patch 1.1.1.
- In the initial release of Fallout: New Vegas, all creatures such as super mutants, robots, or deathclaws had twice as much DT as intended (in other words, twice the amount of DT as was entered in their G.E.C.K. page). This was corrected in the 1.2 patch. A similar bug affects the DR of creatures in Fallout 3, which has not been corrected.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, the only articles of clothing that provide DR are the rebreather, which is acquired during the quest Volare!, the Vault 11 jumpsuit and the Scientist outfit.
- While wearing one of the said items above or after having taken Med-X, Slasher, or Battle Brew, your Pip-Boy 3000 will crossfade between showing your DR and DT. Taking the DR items off or having your DR chems expire while your Pip-Boy has DT partially faded out or completely replaced with DR will keep your DT partially faded out or render it completely invisible. Removing the DR item or putting away your Pip-Boy only when the armor display is fully on DT is highly recommended.
- It is important to note that, due to a bug, any armor worn with high DR will receive immense amount of damage when hit and degrade extremely quick. This makes no-armor choice much more preferable.