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The purpose of this page is to collect quick tips for Fallout 3 from players in the field. Perhaps one might see this as a more practical version of Moira's Wasteland guide.

Stats (S.P.E.C.I.A.L., Skills, and Perks)



You should only raise your SPECIAL attributes to 9 max, because each stat has a related bobblehead which can be found throughout the wasteland, worth one point to the related stat. If a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is set to 10, you are WASTING one point which you could have spent on a different stat and made up using the bobblehead.

Another Possible outcome that I find very worth the effort is to use the quest SPECIAL to an advantage, for e.g, If you want maximum Strength, raise it to 7, (or 8 if you want this to be permanent) then complete The quest Those!, choose Ant Might and then it will be raised to 8 or 9, then simply use the The Strength bobblehead in Lucas Simms' house in Megaton to raise it to 10, if you raised it to 7, you can then use apparel items for further increases.

The perk Almost Perfect makes it possible to have each S.P.E.C.I.A.L. reach level 10, as it raises all stats to level nine. Because the perk is only available upon reaching level 30, you must wait to collect the majority of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bobbleheads to achieve true perfection.

-User:Manic_dude12:28, October 14, 2011 (UTC)

To see a technical breakdown of the effects of each S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute, see each attribute's page. Below are player comments on the relative use (or uselessness) of each attribute.

  • Strength affects carrying capacity, which affects how often you'll have to head back to town to sell stuff. Strength is also more useful to melee players than shooters since it increases damage done with Melee Weapons but does nothing for any of the ranged weapon skills.
  • Perception is very useful for getting the jump on enemies, and as such, is more useful for stealthy players. It determines when enemies appear on your compass.
  • Endurance is of most use to unarmed players. It grants a bonus to Hit points, radiation resistance and poison resistance.
  • Charisma affects Barter and Speech and is perhaps most useful to relatively non-violent players. If you enjoy combat and scavenging, Charisma may be of little use to you.
  • Intelligence is most useful to players who want to boost many different skills because every point in Intelligence will give you an additional skill point to spend when you level up (worth 19 skill points per point of Intelligence by lvl 20). It is also relatively more useful to non-stealthy fighters since every 1 point in Int. increases Repair and Medicine by 2 (it also boosts Science).
  • Agility is very important to stealth players, but also important to most shooters and VATS users. Agility boosts your Action Points, Sneak, and Small Guns (which offer more flexibility, competitive damage, and a lower cost compared to Energy Weapons).
  • Luck is most important to players who like to rely on critical hits, as every 1 point grants 1% to your crit chance. Luck also makes a relatively minor impact on all of your skills (Luck / 2, rounded up). Luck of 5 is a prerequisite for the economic perks of Fortune Finder and Scrounger. Luck of 6 is needed for combat perks like Mysterious Stranger and Better Criticals.


  • You should only put a max of 80-90 points in a skill when you level because
    • The respective bobblehead will increase it by 10
    • Many perks increase 1-2 skills by 5-15 points
    • Several pieces of clothing increase 1-2 skills by 1-10 points.
    • Extreme players may also want to only increase their skills to 50-60 with skill points, as it's possible to gain 40-50 skill points per skill with skill books (and the Comprehension perk, which doubles the bonus).
  • Fallout 3 is primarily a shooter. As such, the Small Guns and (for maintaining weapon condition in large areas with many enemies later in the game) Repair skills are two of the most important skills. Both boost the damage you deal with conventional weapons. Earlier on in the game, Big Guns or Energy Weapons are not practical alternatives to pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, and long range guns (Hunting Rifle, Sniper rifle, etc.) due to their rarity and/or the fact that their damage is not significantly better than their Small Guns equivalents. However bear in mind that later on in the game, advanced Energy Weapons are some of the most powerful in the game.
  • Melee weapons and unarmed are generally niche skills at best. You save on ammo but the cost is that you will take considerable damage before you get in range of your target. (This is less of a problem inside buildings however, or when you have very high Sneak.) Unless you plan on making a close combat specialist, these skills are best left untouched.
  • Repair is primarily used to keep your weapons and armor functional, but only works out in the field if you can find or purchase an adequate supply of similar armor/weapons to use for parts (which is a problem for some items more than others). Remember that you can always use caravan merchants to repair equipment without the need for parts (similar equipment).
    • Keep in mind that some advanced versions of a weapon can be repaired with parts from their baser cousins. For example, the Silenced 10mm pistol can be repaired with parts from the standard 10mm Pistol. Lincoln's repeater can be repaired with Hunting Rifles. Beware: Chinese assault rifles cannot be repaired using standard assault rifles (because they are not advanced version of each other) but the Xuanlong assault rifle is an advanced version of the Chinese Assault Rifle and can be repaired with them.
    • Your Repair skill partially determines the initial condition of schematics weapons.
    • Repair is also needed to disarm the triggers for a wide variety of Traps like bear traps, tripwires, and pressure plates.
    • Make it a priority to visit Canterbury Commons and invest in Crazy Wolfgang to boost his repair to 80 (88% condition, reverse pickpocket any +5 repair suit). He can do so without any spare parts. Note that higher Condition linearly means more damage and DR from equipment which is critical for survival early in the game.
  • You may wish to start out with a minimum of 25 points in Lockpick and Science (either naturally or through gear). Locks and computers have 5 levels of difficulty, and you can deal with each if you have the correct skill at 0 (accessible at any level), 25, 50, 75, or 100. Having Lockpick or Science with points between those is not entirely useless, however - higher Science reduces the number of possible password options, increasing your chances of guessing it correctly, and higher Lockpick widens the "sweet spot" where a lock will open.
  • As mentioned above it can be very useful to get Lockpick and Science to 25 early on, making them excellent choices for tag skills, and if you got the right outfits during your escape you really only need to raise them to 20 anyway, (or 18 for Lockpick if you have the 1 Perception cap and your Perception isn't already 10... which it should NOT be yet).
  • In addition to increasing your grenade damage, mine damage, and granting access to certain Perks, specific levels of Explosives are required to disarm certain explosive-based traps.
    • 25 is required to disarm (or arm) Megaton's bomb
    • 30 is required to disarm hanging Frag grenade clusters (known as "Grenade Bouquets").
    • 35 is required to disarm the Microfusion Cell traps in some toilets.
    • 45 is required to disarm Rigged Computer Terminals
    • 60 is required to disarm exploding baby carriages
    • Your Explosives skill also determines how close you can get to mines before they detect you, as well as how long the mine will beep a warning before it goes off. If you can run up to a mine and click on it fast enough, you will be able to disarm a mine with a zero Explosives skill, but if you're slow it may blow up before you reach it.
  • Since you level up just as you exit Vault 101, you should raise your explosive skill up to 25 at this time because that is what is required to either disarm or rig the bomb to explode in Megaton for The Power of the Atom quest. That way you will have access to housing for sleeping and storage right away. (Or just use mentats to increase the explosives skill whitch is easily acquired all over the wasteland).
  • Tag the skills you will use most early in the game rather than worrying about what you will use the whole game. Tagging a skill is a one time boost of 15 points and thereafter has no effect. So if you tag a combat skill and don't fire a shot until level 4 because you did Megaton quests then those points were essentially wasted and would have been better spent on Lockpick or even Speech, if you don't have the patience for TONS of reloads for speech challenges. Think about what you will be doing from levels 2 to 5 or so and tag skills for those levels, then spend your points on level ups building up your other skills. There's no reason not to get an early jump on a skill you'll use at the beginning even if you don't intend to raise it to high levels. As long as you have even 5 Intelligence a tag is only equal to 1 level's worth of skill points.
  • If you plan on having a well rounded character and want all your skills to reach 100, then make sure you add points evenly to ALL of them as you level up. Neglecting skills like Unarmed and Melee as some have said could mean you may never get them to 100. If you can't keep track, make a list of what skills you have the Bobblehead for. Also, it would be a good idea to keep a list of all the skills and mark down when you read a skill book. This will help you plan where to add points when you level up. There are about 25 skill books for each skill and with the Comprehension perk that can add up to 50 points each. Also avoid perks that only add points to skills because if you plan carefully you can easily get them all to 100 with just what’s mentioned above and there are far more useful perks to be had.
    • Remember, you can always go back to that hard locked safe, ammo box or computer later in the game. (With very few exceptions there’s never really anything tremendously valuable or unique in them anyway.) Rushing to add points to one skill before you have the Bobblehead or have read at least 15-20 of the available skill books will only result in a tremendous waste of skill points in the end.
  • (This exploit was fixed with the 1.6 patch:) The Big Guns skill can be increased all the way to 100 without spending any skill points or using the Size Matters perk. In Bethesda Offices east building there is a raider with a Flamer who has U.S. Army: 30 Handy Flamethrower Recipes in their inventory. This raider respawns every 73 game hours with a new copy of the book; you can go back every time and kill the raider for the book, increasing the skill all the way to 100. The least time consuming way to do this is with Chinese stealth armor and a silent or melee weapon: Sneak, then fast travel into the middle of the raider base. You will pop into the area already invisible: go right into the east building where all 5 raiders can be stealth killed, the last one on the top floor has the book. Average starting characters (End 5, Lck 5) start with 15% Big Guns skill, and can save 85 skill points by using this method. If you have the Comprehension perk, you can cut in half the time it takes to use this method.
  • The Science skill can be increased all the way to 100 without spending any points. In Shalebridge there is a Big Book of Science on a dead ant researcher in the egg room. The researcher respawns every 73 hours.


  • Black Widow (female characters only) is much more useful than its male counterpart Lady Killer (male characters only) because most of the human enemies you'll face during the game will be male, making the 10% damage bonus really worth the perk point.
  • You may find Swift Learner and Here and Now (and also Deep Sleep) to be of very little use, at least with the current level cap set at 20 (30 with Broken Steel add-on). Appropriate use of your bed to grant the Well Rested bonus and even occasional execution of side quests should grant you more than enough EXP to hit level 20 before the end of the main quest. Since there is a level cap (and thus a Perk cap), you may find other perks more useful.
  • Perks that add to your radiation resistance are generally a waste, since you can buy an infirmary for your house (whether it be in Megaton or Tenpenny Tower) that rids you of your radiation for free, as many times as you want. However, if you intend to discover the entrance to Vault 87, Rad Resistance may become much more valuable, or you could just use Rad-X till you have 85% radiation resistance. Also there are perks that are granted for completing some missions.
  • Don’t waste perks by choosing ones that only raise skill points. Unless you’re in a hurry to get a particular skill to a certain level right then and there you will eventually get them all the way to 100, especially if you have the Broken Steel add-on. Remember each skill has a Bobblehead that raise them 10 points and about 25 skill books that can raise them as much as 2 points each as well. Two perks to help you with this are Comprehension, which gives you 2 points whenever a skill book is read and Educated which gives you 3 extra skill points every time you level up. Both of these should be taken early on in the game to maximize their benefit. (Avoid reading any skill book until you have the Comprehension perk.)

Weapons, Armor, & Chems

  • Assault rifles, Chinese assault rifle, etc.) can be pretty inaccurate beyond 10 yards or so until your Small Guns skill improves, even in VATS. You can raise your Small Guns skill (which includes rifles) by taking the Gun Nut perk (level 2; 3 ranks) and increase rifle accuracy in VATS with the Commando (level 8; 1 rank) and Sniper (level 12; 1 rank) perks, though if you're planning on using Assault rifles and other conventional arms, you should be dumping skill points into Small Guns. An early 50 or 75 in Small Guns makes short work of just about everything. Bloody Mess (level 6; 1 rank) adds 5% to all damage, which doesn't hurt either.
  • Invest in Repair early on. The higher your repair score the more you can repair on the move. Doing this makes weapons more valuable, harder hitting, and removes them from inventory which reduces weight against your weight limit. For example: Kill two raiders with assault rifles. Repair the best one with the worst one. You then are carrying only one which will hit harder and or sell for more caps.
  • It can sometimes be quite difficult to keep certain weapons or armor in top shape, even if you have 100 Repair, because you can't find or buy enough of the same item to use for repair parts. In those cases, use caravan merchants. They don't need duplicates to repair your stuff.
  • You will want to carry an assortment of weapons with you, as ammo of one type can be scarce early on. Ammo has the added benefit of having zero weight, so you can carry it all - all the time. There is really no need to sell it (unless you're strapped for cash) because you will eventually pick up a weapon that uses it. One load out could include a 10mm Pistol (for soft targets like animals or Ghouls or for exploding mines you cannot disarm), a shotgun (perfect for when you lead an attacker to follow you around a blind corner and VATS them in the FACE!), an assault rifle (for mid-range engagements), and a long-barreled rifle (for long range fighting). The Assault Rifle family seems to be the most flexible, with a good combination of accuracy, range, damage, and magazine capacity. The Scoped .44 magnum is also an excellent long-range weapon if you aim by eye. And remember, crouching increases accuracy.
  • As you run across various pieces of armor and clothing that boost certain skills by as much as +5 or even +10, you might want to carry some of them with you as you adventure--they do come in handy. Obviously you have to balance the usefulness of the skill/stat boosts with the extra weight, but most clothing is light. An alternative to carrying the extra clothing around would be to leave it at your house and just grab it when--for example--you need to make repairs or you need to trade.
  • If you've invested some skill points in Repair and obtained a house, a good way to ensure that your weapons and armor are kept in top condition is to collect and store multiple copies of your items in your home. When you return home from an outing, patch up your gear and store the excess "spare parts" equipment you collected in a desk or a locker. As long as you scavenge diligently and go home to repair on a regular basis, you'll keep your equipment in good shape without having to lug around tons of non-loot stuff everywhere. An alternative is to just go to Canterbury Commons and invest in Crazy Wolfgang. He doesn't need parts and can repair your stuff to at least 88% with some investment and reverse pickpocketing.
  • Though it might look cool, power armor isn’t always the best route to go. If all you're after is the highest damage resistance then use the power armor, however you will most likely be better off to consider alternatives like the Ranger battle armor which can be obtained during the Reilly’s Ranger quest. Standard Power Armor has a damage resistance of 40, at a weight of 45. It does raise your strength by +2, which makes the weight effectively 25 lbs, ONLY if your strength is 8 or lower however. It also lowers your agility -2, which significantly cuts into your action points available in VATS. Compare that to the Ranger Armor with a damage resistance of 39 (1 point less) and a weight of 27 (2 pounds more if your Strength is 8 or less, 18 pounds LESS at 10 strength) Combine that with its effects of +5 action points, +10 to small guns and +1 to luck and the Ranger battle armor quickly wins out over Power Armor. Also it is much cheaper to repair at merchants and if you have good Karma Talon combat armor is plentiful to repair it yourself.
  • If you’re low on stimpaks or food items, or if you would simply rather not use them unnecessarily, remember that sleeping in any bed will give you full health and heal any crippled limbs. There is almost always a bed available somewhere in the area you’re in. Keep in mind, those cardboard sheets laying on the ground in Super Mutant camps can be slept on. You won't get the well rested benefit, but it will hold you over until you can get back to your own house.
  • If you find yourself constantly running low on ammo, here are some ways of increasing your supply:
    • Protector Casdin of the Outcasts, who is found at Fort Independence (nearly due south of Vault 101), is friendly and with a little chat will allow you to turn in laser and plasma weapons, sensor modules, scrap metal, and most pieces of power armor for 5.56mm rounds and Frag grenades (along with RadAway and Stimpaks). See The Outcast Collection Agent for a complete list of what he'll take and how much he'll give you for it.
      • Be mindful of the value of the item you’re trading him though, giving him a piece of Enclave Power Armor valued at 500 caps in exchange for 240 rounds of ammo just makes no sense seeing as most projectile ammo sells for 1 cap each.
    • Once you've visited Canterbury Commons, you can invest in the weapons merchant Lucky Harith, who will increase his supply and offer much more ammo.
    • As a "good" Karma player, you may have little need to visit Tenpenny Tower. It is worth the trip though because two of the NPCs there (Chief Gustavo and one of the store vendors) usually carry a plentiful supply of ammo.
    • You can also help your ammo problem by taking perks that improve accuracy in VATS and using VATS more. The more accurate you are, the less ammo you waste. Also keep in mind that headshots do double-damage, (or quadruple-damage on a critical strike).
    • You can also take a shopping tour, visiting Moira in Megaton, Flak or Shrapnel in Rivet City, Chief Gustavo and Le Chic Boutique in Tenpenny Tower, Quartermaster Durga in the Citadel, and Lucky Harith's caravan. You can easily buy thousands of rounds per trip this way.
    • If you own The Pitt and have finished the quests, you have access to an ammo press that changes any ammo type into another. For instance, lets say you have about 300 10mm rounds, but you badly need 5.56mm rounds, just put the 10mm rounds in and go to the nearby terminal and select 5.56mm. All of the ammo put in will come out as what you selected. Remember that you can only change conventional ammo in another type, scrap metal can also be converted into ammo as well.
  • For lower level players different kinds of meat are an ideal solution to restore health. The best meat kinds are Mole rat wonder meat and Yao guai meat. The latter type can be purchased from hunters.
  • Assigning stimpaks to a hotkey allows healing while reloading, when accessing the Pip-Boy is not allowed and enemies may still damage the player.
  • When using a gun that has bullet spread, such as the hunting rifle, you may want your first shot to always hit where you aim it (especially if you sneak). This trick can be done with any weapon (not the scoped ones). When aiming in, if you look at the gun, you may notice that it is swaying back and forth, making three stops along the way. When the gun sways left, the shot will go left of the reticle, when it sways right, it will go right of the reticle. However, there is a point where is stops for a split second in the middle, shooting at that time will make that shot fired hit where the reticle is. NOTE: When using automatic weapons, holding down the button will cause the shots to go back to the regular spread.


  • Sneaking keeps you safe. Beyond all its other benefits, it's the one way a player has of getting an early-warning before being attacked, even with a single digit sneak skill. Sneaking, at the very least, helps keep a player from being blind-sided.
  • Sneaking will only grant automatic critical strikes (sneak attacks) if your condition is [HIDDEN]. Even if enemies haven't found you ([DANGER]) but are merely searching for you ([CAUTION]), you will not get an automatic critical strike.
    • Note: the Silent Running perk is the only way to decrease the time it takes for the [CAUTION] warning signs to stop flashing red.
  • Sound does not seem to be a major factor in gameplay. In close quarters with enemies nearby, you can bump into shopping carts, which make a loud noise, yet your enemies will not be disturbed by it. The sound of gunfire also does not alert enemies (unless your shot fails to kill or discharges close by). Kill shots are nearly inaudible, but misses and non-kill shot hits are heard and will alert other enemies. In this case, a kill shot can be either:
    • A single shot outside of VATS that kills the target (like a [HIDDEN] sniper rifle head shot) or...
    • A V.A.T.S. attack (regardless of the number of attacks or bullets fired), so long as all targets engaged are killed before VATS ends and you're returned to normal time/perspective.
    • This also brings up the advantages of using the Silenced 10mm pistol and the Dart gun, whose shots are silent and are rarely noticed by enemies.
    • Running still makes noise, which can attract and scatter enemies in adjacent areas, which eliminates the element of surprise (i.e. using explosives to take all of them out at once or scoring a sneak attack critical).
  • V.A.T.S. seems most useful when you have multiple (weak) opponents in front of you, or when dealing with enemies in close quarters. Due to its accuracy (specifically with near-by targets), V.A.T.S. can be especially deadly with fast-moving targets. For example, if you wait for a hostile opponent to round a corner and have a powerful weapon (such as the Combat Shotgun) ready, as soon as he pops his head around, you can go into VATS and queue several headshots, each with a very high (most likely 95%) hit probability.
  • If you have the Grim Reaper's Sprint perk, when facing multiple enemies, target a weaker one first in VATS then use your remaining Action Points to target the stronger one in the same round of VATS. As long as you killed your first target, you will regain all of your action points when you exit VATS and you will have softened up the stronger opponent and be more likely to finish them off in the next VATS round. This is especially useful against Super Mutant Overlords and Ghoul Reavers as one round of VATS will usually not kill them and they are often encountered with at least one of their more weaker counterparts.
    • Once you get used to the game you will quickly learn how many shots in VATS each enemy takes to kill with what weapons. This will depend on skill levels, perks and difficulty settings of course, but lets say a basic Super Mutant takes 2 shots to the head to kill and the weapon you’re using gives you 4 total shots in VATS. If you’re confronted by 2 super Mutants and 1 Super Mutant Overlord, put two shots in the first Super Mutant then put the remaining two into the Super Mutant Overlord. When that round of VATS is finished, assuming you killed the first Super Mutant, you can then repeat this on the second Super Mutant. Once they’re both down the Overlord should be softened up enough that your next full round in VATS should kill him or at least wear him down considerably.
  • As you progress through the game and obtain better more powerful weapons, don’t underestimate some of the lesser ones. A good example would be the simple hunting rifle. In good repair and combined with a high small guns skill and all related perks these cheap and simple rifles can be extremely effective and are actually quite accurate at long range. Given the rarity of .308 sniper ammo, the hunting rifle can be a good alternative for distant shots, often times rivaling the sniper rifle. Pick up Ol' Painless from the Republic of Dave and it’s a perfect cheap weapon for taking out raiders long before they even notice you’re there.
  • Having a crippled limb/head will significantly decrease your accuracy in VATS. In the heat of battle make sure you go into your PipBoy and heal any crippled limbs immediately! Remember, you have to use Stimpaks directly on the affected limb in the PipBoy3000 Stats screen. Using the hot keys or using them from the Aid menu will only heal crippled limbs slightly, and the part will be crippled again in no time.
    • To save on Stimpaks, remember sleeping in any bed will restore your health and heal any crippled limbs so once the battle is over use a nearby bed instead. Keep in mind, those cardboard sheets lying on the ground at super mutant camps can be slept on!
  • Using vehicles as cover is a BAD idea. Vehicles in Fallout 3 catch fire and explode extremely quick and easily and can kill or severely damage/cripple you. If you’re near a vehicle that catches fire, run away immediately, even if it means taking enemy fire. The damage in the long run will be less than the resulting explosion.
  • Don’t underestimate luck. Luck affects everything you do in the game but most importantly in combat it increases your chance of scoring a critical hit in VATS. 4 easy ways to boost your luck would be to get the Lucky shades from Lucky's located in the southwestern part of the map. (This can be done immediately after leaving Vault 101.) Heal Timebomb in Big Town after the Big Trouble in Big Town quest and he will give you his Lucky 8-ball. Wear the Ranger battle armor that you can receive in the Reilly's Rangers (quest). Reverse-pickpocket Three Dog's head wrap. All these items add 1 point of luck to your SPECIAL stats and can be worn together giving you a whopping 4 points of additional luck!
  • If you don't want to sneak around, acquiring a good NPC companion is an excellent idea. There are 4 pretty tough fighters you can get, (Charon, Star Paladin Cross, Fawkes, and Jericho) but only Charon and Jericho are available early on and also Charon does not require a specific Karma (SPC and Fawkes both require good Karma and Jericho requires bad Karma). See the Fallout 3 companions page for more details.
  • You can tactically reload by mapping your weapon of choice to one of the hot key slots. Once the weapon is assigned if you tap then re tap that option your weapon will be reloaded faster and have no chance of jamming. Works even faster if weapon is holstered.
  • It is best to keep lots of ammo for all of your guns. This is because different guns are suitable for different situations.

Another thing to keep in mind is never go head on into battle always think it through, thinking things through can mean the difference in battle and help you be better prepared.--Daniel222 (talk) 18:43, June 21, 2013 (UTC)Daniel222


  • Sleeping in a bed you own (like the one in your Megaton home, or beds you rent from inns) grant you the Well Rested effect, which increases experience gains by 10% while the effect lasts.
    • The Well Rested effect lasts 12 hours from the time that you wake up. So if you wake up at 10am, you'll stop gaining the extra 10% EXP at 10pm.
    • Waiting or sleeping in a bed you do not own will not grant you the effect unless you have Deep Sleep, and if you have it activated, sleeping anywhere else will remove the Well Rested effect. It is therefore useful to finish the main quest in Megaton quickly and gain your own house.
    • Note how faster XP makes the game harder, while faster skill books and bobbleheads make the game easier.
  • Players should keep in mind that there is a level cap. Once you reach level 20/30 you can no longer gain experience, so perks like Swift Learner and Here and Now (also Deep Sleep) are completely useless at that point and have taken up the place of a perk you could be using.
  • Perks like Comprehension and Gun Nut may seems like a waste at level 30, but they let you achieve higher skills at lower levels than Educated or Swift Learner will, which depend on leveling. To make the game easier you want high skills at a low level.
  • Often times, you'll come across a computer terminal located next to a locked safe, which usually means that the computer will allow you to unlock the safe. If you have the adequate skill levels to both pick the lock and hack the computer, pick the safe's lock first. Even with the safe unlocked, you can hack the computer terminal, giving you experience points for both the lockpicking and hacking successes, instead of just the hack. Also, you can hack the terminal first, just don't activate the command that unlocks the safe.
  • It is possible to fly through the main quest line and finish the game before you reach the level 20 cap and before experiencing the vast majority of content in the game. If you wish to ensure you reach level 20 before you finish the game, you may wish to stop progressing the main quest line during The Waters of Life and instead do as many side quests as possible. As long as you do not enter the Rotunda in Jefferson Memorial, you will not trigger the event which causes the respawning of enemies at previously visited locations. Avoiding this trigger makes this an ideal place to halt your progress along the main quest line and instead pursue side quests till your heart's content.
    • A good alternative for combat oriented players is to finish the The Waters of Life by leading Doctor Li and the scientists to the citadel. This will allow you to receive Power Armor Training and will spawn lots of walking XP in the wilderness. You will level quicker by finishing this quest, however it will make the wilderness a far more hostile/dangerous environment thanks to Enclave spawns.


  • Similar to The Elder Scrolls game series and previous Fallout games, the amount of weight you can carry is limited by your Strength, which determines your carrying capacity. In addition to the weapons, armor, and medical supplies you carry to survive, you can collect other objects to sell to merchants to make money. This "other" category of stuff can be seen in your inventory under Misc. (though you can certainly collect and sell weapons, armor, and medical supplies!) and can be broken up into two types: stuff for crafting and stuff for selling. Most of the stuff you can use to make weapons (from schematics either purchased or obtained by other means) has a bad weight-to-value ratio, while stuff you can't craft with have much better ratios.
  • A valuable tool when scavenging the wasteland is the Weight-Value Ratio, or WVR. This is the value of an item divided by its weight. For example, the value of a Bottlecap mine is 75 caps and its weight is 0.5 lbs, which equates to a WVR of 150 caps/lb, which is excellent. However, other items, such as the Conductor (30 caps/5 lbs) have a much lower WVR (6 caps/lb). By evaluating each found item based on its WVR, the player is able to weed out inefficient items in favor of those that will bring in more caps-per-pound.
    • Weightless items, such as stimpaks, chems, Pre-War money, and Pencils do not have a weight-value ratio, as they have no weight. They are still a valuable source of income, however.
  • An alternative to calculating the “Weight-Value Ratio” on every single item before you decide to pick it up is to fast travel back to your house when you reach your weight limit. When dealing with a larger multi-section buildings heavy in loot, find a receptacle close to the entrance (or just outside the entrance) to unload all of your goodies into while you finish scavenging the rest of the structure. You can even use a dead body temporarily if nothing else is available. Once you’re done exploring and looting, fast travel back and forth to your house until you have it all home.
    • When making multiple trips to the same location to transport items, consider wearing lighter armor and using a smaller weapon to lighten your load. Once cleared, most areas will not respawn new enemies in the short time it takes to ferry items back and forth. You can always sleep in any available bed or use stimpaks (which are weightless) to heal if you run into trouble.
    • Before you set out to explore a building, consider looking on its Vault page to see what kind of enemy (or enemies) you will be facing. Assuming you don’t mind the spoiler, this can help you lessen the weight you’re carrying by only bringing what you need to deal with what you will be facing, rather than being geared up for anything. No need to pack 100 lbs worth of gear if the building only has a few radroaches and mole rats.
  • Early in the game -- including just before leaving Vault 101 -- a player should pick up everything not nailed down and loot every dead body because you start with zero caps. You can adjust once you have accumulated more caps, such as not bothering with 1:1 WVR items like dishes, and later not bothering with 4:1 and 5:1 items. If you are taking your time playing the game, you should eventually have so much that you don't need to pick up anything but special (i.e. "named") items like Eugene, skill books, etc. This propensity toward vast wealth later in the game leads some players to opt out of voluntarily spending skill points in Barter, as you quickly amass a much greater stock of caps and items than any of the in-game merchants.
  • The best source of caps is to turn in items to specific characters who are looking for them, like Scrap metal or Pre-War books. Taking into consideration the compensation you receive, the WVR is considerably higher for all these items. Because they are not being "sold" to a merchant, characters will give you a flat rate no matter how low (or high) your skill is. This gives an even higher value than their modified quest weight-value ratio would indicate. The downside to this is that these items are rarer, but the benefit of hanging onto them outweighs similar items. It is also worth noting that these characters never seem to run out of caps, so you don't have to worry about the well running dry.
    • Pre-War books can be given to Scribe Yearling in Arlington Library for 100 caps and 10 EXP.
    • Scrap metal can be sold to Walter in Megaton for 10 caps and 5 EXP.
      • See the Scrap Metal page for more info on other characters interested in purchasing it.
    • Sensor modules can be turned into Brotherhood Outcast Protector Casdin at Fort Independence.
      • He'll also take your high-tech equipment. Their state of repair does not concern him. Thus, after investing in the trade caravans, you can buy extremely cheap (and broken) lasers and power armor and trade them with Casdin for other items (like Stimpaks, ammo, etc.) worth far more, thus enabling you to turn a profit.
    • Sugar Bombs can be sold to Murphy in Northwest Seneca Station for 15 caps a box.
      • A successful Speech check when you first talk to him will net you 30 caps per box
      • You'll probably meet Murphy during the Blood Ties quest.
    • Strange meat (worth 2 caps) can be traded to Eclair in Little Lamplight for Cave fungus (worth 50 caps).
    • Buffout (worth 20 caps) can be traded to Lucy (the Medic) in Little Lamplight for Cave Fungus (worth 50 caps).
      • Note that Buffout, as a drug, has no weight, but Cave Fungus has a weight of 1. Thus, unless you need a large amount of cash, it is unnecessary (and annoying, as you cannot simply "give all") to trade your entire stockpile at once.
    • Blood packs can be turned in to Vance in Meresti Trainyard for 15 caps after completion of the Blood Ties quest (although you can also acquire the ability to gain 20 HP instead of 1 HP from blood packs as well).
    • Nuka-Cola Quantum can be turned in to Sierra Petrovita or Ronald Laren during the course of the The Nuka-Cola Challenge quest for 40 caps each (or 80 to Ronald if you pass a speech test). Unless you want to use them to craft Nuka grenades.
    • Nuka-Cola can be converted into Ice cold Nuka-Cola if you buy the My First Nuka-Cola Machine for your house. This doubles its healing power, with no effect on value or radiation. As Nuka-Cola is plentiful in the Capital Wastes, and the other healing items are worth more (Stimpaks value 25, Blood Pack flat 15, Cave Fungus value 50), this makes Ice Cold Nuka-Cola one of the better choices for healing items (with weight) to carry. Note the Quantum Chemist perk at level 22 allows you to convert 10 Nuka-Colas for one Quantum Cola.
  • Every item in the game has a fixed value that is honored by every merchant in the game (altered by your Barter skill, see below). For example, Moira in Megaton will give you exactly the same amount of money for a Toy car as the merchants in Rivet City will. Some quests will lead to improved prices available from certain merchants, but for the most part one merchant is as good as another in terms of selling your stuff to.
    • The value of the item is altered by your Barter skill. With 13 Barter, you will only gain 50% of the items stated Value. So that 100 cap Sheet Music Book of yours will only gain you 90 caps if you have 100 Barter.
  • Weapons that are in good repair have a high Weight-Value Ratio. Weapons that are nearly broken don't. Especially if you're consistently finding the same type of weapon during a single trip, you should repair your "loot" weapons as much as your Repair skill will allow to increase their value and decrease the weight that you're carrying.
    • Keep in mind higher value items when fully repaired can have values that exceed what most, if not any, merchants have in caps. For example a fully repaired plasma rifle sells for 1619 caps with 100 barter skill, which is more than any merchant will have. If you plan on selling these type of items it’s a good idea to only repair them to 50% or so condition.
    • If your Barter and Repair skills are high enough (72 and 100 are high enough (modify this down via testing)) you can make a good deal of caps by buying smashed high-value gear from merchants, repairing them, and selling it right back to them. For example, buying three mostly-broken laser rifles for about 100 caps each (300 total), merging them and selling the one laser rifle back for around 600 caps can boost your wealth quickly.
      • Although this does work, in most cases by the time you get your repair skill to that level, you most likely have collected more loot than you could ever sell, seeing as the merchants have a set amount of caps and once gone it takes 73 game hours for them to resupply with more caps and merchandise, during which time you’re most likely out collecting even more loot so this method is basically a moot point.
  • Pick up any ammunition you find. It can be sold if you don't plan to use it, and since it's weightless, there is no reason to leave it where you find it. Also, if your Barter skill is high enough you can supplement a trader's lack of caps on hand with the random ammo they're selling.
    • The same can be said about weightless misc items such as Pre-War money and pencils.
    • The same is true of many medical supplies, which are also often weightless. Mentats, for example, are useless if your Perception and/or Intelligence are already maxed since they don't raise them above 10.
  • One of the best places to get good loot is the Capitol building. Super mutants and Talon Company mercenaries are fighting each other for control of the building there. That means there will be lots of weakened enemies to kill and lots of bodies to loot. Hunting rifles and Assault rifles are everywhere. There is even a Super Mutant Behemoth. Be prepared to make multiple trips as you will not be able to carry everything out in one trip.
  • If you are going to a place where you are sure to get a lot of loot, take a companion with you. When you talk to them and select "Trade equipment" you can give them some of your items. Remember that they have a weight limit too. Unlike you, at the follower's weight limit, he cannot carry more at a slower pace, he simply cannot carry more. Have them carry around as much as possible until you go to sell your stuff. See the Fallout 3 companions page for details about how much weight each follower can carry. A glitch that might help would be to go to dogmeat, tell him to leave, and then sneak up behind him and pickpocket him and put your stuff in his "pockets" just as if you were reverse pick-pocketing someone and tell him to follow you again, he has no weight limit so he could be like your own caravan, be warned you will lose Karma for this (confimed on Xbox 360 my GT is Homeboy10pa if you have a question).
  • Some users report game problems when attempting to carry substantially more than your weight limit. Among the reported problems are general sluggishness, crashing, and difficulty transferring from one location to another (e.g. from Megaton to Craterside Supply).
  • There are four caravan merchants (Crow, Lucky Harith, Doc Hoff, and Crazy Wolfgang) who follow a trading circuit through the Capital Wasteland and stop at certain points (Megaton, the Temple of the Union, Rivet City, Canterbury Commons, etc.). They can be excellent sources of rare equipment. You can also upgrade their inventories and repair skills by investing in them through Uncle Roe in Canterbury Commons. Once you've fully invested in him, Crazy Wolfgang has the highest NPC repair rate in the game. Some caravan stop points come dangerously close to Super Mutant camps and Enclave Outposts. Reverse-pick pocketing merchants and their guards better weapons, armor and stimpaks will increase their survivability. See Caravan merchant - increasing merchant survivabilty for strategies and tips.
    • They can be hard to find. One of the easiest ways to force their appearance is to stand outside one of the main cities (they never come inside), and if the merchant you want is not there, use the Wait feature to wait 1-3 hours. Waiting for a few hours (3 hours seems most reliable) will make a merchant appear, and you can continue to wait in 1-3 hour increments to cycle which merchant is outside.
    • Waiting in real(game)-time for 1-2 hours will not have this effect. You have to use the Wait feature.
  • Spoiler warning
    • Consider the consequences of completing the Tenpenny Tower (quest) in favor of the ghouls. There are a total of 6 merchants in Tenpenny Tower: the 4 shops on the first floor, Chief Gustavo, and the Doctor. If the ghouls move in, you lose three merchants.
  • Beat the Power of the Atom as soon as you can. Consider not blowing up the bomb, because the house in Megaton you get is very close to your fast-travel spawn area, meaning it's very easy to quickly enter it to deposit your gear.

General Tips

When you first start the game, take a left and enter the only house still intact in Springvale, kill the girl inside to get an easy 400 caps within the first 5 minutes of the game, the house also contains various medical supplies, chems, bobbypins, and other items to sell. Then head North and raid the Springvale Elementary School for tons more medical supplies, chems, ammo, and various guns and armor. Go into Megaton which is east of Springvale and talk to the Sheriff about disarming the bomb, you'll need 25 in explosives, and disarming the bomb will give you the Megaton house, and for completing "The Power of the Atom" side quest you'll get a lot of XP. Kill Mr. Burke inside the saloon for positive Karma and a silenced 10mm, and nobody in town cares that you killed him. On the way out, kill the sheriff, Lucas Simms, for a unique Duster and Hat, and a chinese assault rifle. Run out of Megaton, wait 3 days ingame, and enter Megaton again, head to the right as soon as you enter and go into Lucas Simms house, check both upstairs rooms for the Strength bobblehead and a hunting rifle.

  • Doing all of this takes about an hour or two and will net you with 1000+ caps, a house, and you should be around level 4. You will also still have neutral Karma. This will set you very well for the beginning of the game.
  • An easier way of getting Lucas Simms Duster and Chinese Assault rifle is to accept the quest from Mr Burke, then find Simms and tell him what Mr Burke wants you to do. Doing so will make Simms confront Mr Burke which ends in Simms death. Kill Mr Burke afterwards and loot both bodies without gaining any bad Karma.

Another way to start out well-off: Play through your childhood up until you have to take the G.O.A.T.. Ask the teacher to take the test for you, and select Explosives as one of your tag skills (This will enable you to finish The Power of the Atom without using chems or other-skill-boosting items). Once you're waken up by Amata, gather up all of the valuable items in the Vault, such as Vault 101 security armor and various weapons (skip any items that are worth 5 caps or less, they aren't worth the weight). Help Butch save his mother or kill him to get his unique Tunnel Snake outfit, and be sure to grab the Bobblehead - Medicine in the Vault 101 clinic. Exit the Vault, and go to Springvale. Enter Silver's house and kill her, taking her 400 caps and the other supplies in her house, and journey to Megaton. Talk with Lucas Simms as soon as you enter the town and start The Power of the Atom. Instead of disarming the bomb, head to Moriarty's Saloon and speak with Mister Burke. Receive the fusion pulse charge and arm the bomb to explode. After arming the bomb, go to the side of Lucas Simm's House and drag a barrel to the low part of the roof. Use the barrel to jump onto the roof and enter the hatch. Snag the Bobblehead - Strength and exit. Before you leave Megaton to detonate the bomb, simply murder everyone in Megaton excluding Moira Brown (you'll need her for The Wasteland Survival Guide Quest), and gather up all the weapons, ammunition, caps, etc. that the denizens drop. Rob all the stores' trunks (excluding Craterside Supply) for caps, chems, and other items. Notable loot in Megaton includes:

  • There is a locked safe in The Brass Lantern with hundreds of caps.
  • The Clinic's supply locker has plenty of Stimpaks, chems, and other medical supplies.
  • Billy Creel's house has a safe with caps and a .44 Magnum. Maggie will tell you the combination to the safe as well as it's location with the Child at Heart perk. There is also a few Pre-War books in there as well.
  • A locked desk in the Water Treatment Plant houses a huge stash of chems. The key to the desk can be obtained by passing a Speech check when talking to Leo Stahl or just simply stealing off of his dead body.
  • Jericho's house has a Grognak the Barbarian and a Chinese Officer's sword.

Once all the residents are dead (excluding Moira, Maggie, and Harden Simms), take the armory key from Lucas Simms and clean it out of all it's weapons. Wait 72 in-game hours and go to Craterside Supply. Obtain the Armored Vault 101 jumpsuit and sell her all the items you do not need, such as the item you previously obtained from Vault 101. If she runs out of caps, wait four days (96 hours of in-game time) and her caps supply will have respawned. Rinse and repeat until you have sold all the item that you do not need.

Journey to Tenpenny Tower and go to the the balcony at the top. Detonate the bomb, and you will receive the Tenpenny Tower suite. If you have any excess items, store them in the container in your new suite.

Begin Aiding the Outcasts. Once you exit out of Bailey's Crossroads Metro, a battle should be taking place. Let the Outcasts take care of the Super Mutants. Once they are dead, take all the weapons and ammunition from their corpses. If any of the Outcasts have died, take their items as well. Enter the derelict building. This is where most of the Outcasts will be killed by the Super Mutants. Take all of their weapons, Power Armor items, etc. and eliminate the rest of the Super Mutants, taking their weapons and ammunition as well.

  • If you are overencumbered, store your loot in a nearby container for later pickup.

Exit the derelict building and enter the Outcast outpost. After being introduced to McGraw by Sibley, don the Neural Interface Suit given to you by Specialist Olin, and enter the simulation. Complete the simulation, and exit the pod. Unlock the armory and take all the equipment.

  • By completing the simulation, you will be automatically given Power Armor training.

After a few minutes, some of the Outcasts will disagree with the others and a bloody battle will ensue. Let the friendly Outcasts deal with the hostile ones. Most likely, the friendly ones will be defeated. Use the equipment in the armory to defeat the remaining Outcasts. Take all the dead Outcast's weapons and Power Armor, and all the valuable item in the outpost. Store them in your suites' containers.

  • It may take more than a few trips to get all the items to your suite, as Outcast Power Armor alone weighs more than 40 pounds per suit.

Once the outpost has been cleaned out of all of its useful items, head back to Tenpenny Tower and store all the items from the Outpost, taking multiple trips if necessary. Once the items are stored, head to the National Guard depot with supplies. Once inside, grab a barrel and place it on the shelf next to the stairs that go down to the room from the top floor. Use the barrel to jump onto a ledge that leads to the office with power switch to the door of the Armory, eliminating any robots that attack you. Enter the armory and ransack it for all the equipment inside.

Once you have taken all the equipment, store it all in your suite, taking multiple trips if necessary.

  • By this point, you should have a major cache of items inside your suite, and thousands of caps.

Sell all the items you don't want that you have gathered up until this point. Tenpenny Tower has multiple Merchants, so it should be easy to sell the items. If the merchants run out of caps, wait 4 days (96 in-game hours) and all the merchant's caps will have respawned.

  • Depending on the amount of items you sold, you will have over 6000 caps by this time.
  • If you wish to regain your Karma, visit Rivet City and donate to Saint Monica's Church repeatedly until the desired level is reached.

Optional: Buy all the house upgrades for your suite, and a theme too. By following this strategy, you will have a huge stash of equipment and chems, thousands of caps, a fully decked-out Tenpenny Tower suite, and will be a mid level character.

Sniper is your best friend. Even if you dont like to use them its always good to keep one on you to scout ahead, they are strong and they have more then one use so before you go out be sure to keep your sniper on you. Note: I dont use the sniper playthrough but I always have a sniper --MrDot01 19:22, October 11, 2010 (UTC)

  • Alternatively, with .308 sniper ammo being scarce in the game, a simple hunting rifle is actually quite accurate at distance shots, especially once you get your small guns skill up and have all VATS related perks. Don’t underestimate these cheap yet effective weapons.

Its good to save often and not just let autosave do all the work. The reason being that there WILL be many, many times in which you make a mistake that ruins the rest of the game. But if you have a save prior to the mistake then you can load it up and try again. Places that would want to save would be before starting quests, before talking to people that have to do with a quest, after accomplishing something difficult, before trying to fight powerful enemies (i.e. Super Mutants, Enclave ect...)and before entering a building that may contain these powerful enemies.

When starting the wasteland survival guide, the quickest way to irradiate yourself is simply walk to the bomb in the centre of megaton and drink from the pool around it. Completing the quest in only a few minutes.

Display settings

  • It is VERY helpful to have LOD and Fade display settings over at least a half or you'll be walking around in the fog and be able to see enemies only in VATS. If not else, put actor Fade as high as you can.


Yo guys, I was thinking of starting an anthology of interest for Fallout 3 and New Vegas, for the unnecessary, unique, quirky and overall interesting tips for the games, such as ghoul and deathclaw hunting, fighting off raiders, foraging for food and getting supplies. This could be like the Wasteland Survival Guide for the Fallout gamers. Who's in?

SergeantDornan: THAT sounds effin awesome! I'll help. I'm particularly interested in deathclaw and cazadore hunting tips, LOL.

PanzerChaff: sounds like a great idea.

Omega-Ginger: I have very interesting and possibly unorthodox ways of getting trophies, achievements, and hunting which would be very beneficial to the Vault environment, ergo I'm in.

Fallout_Original: yeah man, I'm a hardcore rpg player so I'm real good with stats and stuff

Okay, it has begun. Wasteland Survival Guide at fallouting.fandom.com. Help would be appreciated. Sombar1 14:02, April 30, 2011 (UTC)

Very well thought out information, however your stat and ability reference as well as reference to the level 20 cap, tells me your references are just plain old FO3 and not GOTY reference. It is extremely easy to max a character out in the GOTY edition as opposed to the standard edition, but if you want all 10 stats in goty, wait till level 30 get almost perfect and collect the rest of the bobbleheads for all 10's. And if you want to maximize you skills you put intell to 9 right off the bat and head for Rivet city first chance to get the bobblehead and goto 10. Strength should be at 8, and after visiting megaton can be raised to 9 with the bobblehead and then to 10 after completing those. This maximizes point allowances early on and maximizes weight allowance early on too. Take from charisma, it helps but can be raised later (level 25 No Weakness - all stats to 5 that are under), you should only need to use 1 point from S.P.E.C.I.A.L training, otherwise wait for the almost perfect. As well use your various apparel and hats for bonuses. Lastly, don't forget the game has bugs that can be exploited for cash and repairs, don't strap yourself down with unneeded worries ingame. Find out which books are most common and put less into the point distribution for those as books will make up the rest, like big guns, book respawns every 72 hours ingame in bethesda ruins on a raider so you need only put a small # of your own points into that stat. I did post the various exploits and such in my write-ups also posted in the help section here.


Starting a character with Intelligence 9 will maximise skill points attained at each level-up until you can get the Intelligence Bobblehead. To maximise level up skill-points you must find the bobblehead before you reach Level 3.

Starting a character with Endurance 9 will maximise Hit Points your character is allowed at level-up time. Getting the Endurance Bobblehead before you reach Level 3 (since you most probably reach level 2 when exiting Vault 101) will allow level-up calculations to use END=10 instead of END=9 until maximum level of 20 (30 if using DLCs) is reached. Obviously to maximise level up hit-points you must find the bobblehead before you reach Level 3. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs). Please sign your posts with ~~~~!

I'm interested.--Vault-Tec Staff (talk) 21:08, August 21, 2017 (UTC)