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You swing harder, not better. Your attacks are very brutal, but lack finesse. You rarely cause a good critical hit, but you always do more melee damage.Fallout 2 in-game description

Heavy Handed is a trait in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout Tactics.

Fallout and Fallout 2

One receives +4 points to Melee Damage, but critical hits have a -30% modifier to the critical hit tables.

Fallout: New Vegas

Melee and Unarmed attacks do more damage, but less critical hit damage. Melee and Unarmed damage is increased by 20%, but Critical Hit damage is reduced by 60%, but only for those two weapon types. However, since one inflicts more damage consistently with Heavy Handed, Critical Hits are less of an issue, unless one relies on sneak attack criticals as a major source of damage or if the character criticals often due to perks, Luck, and high weapon modifier.

Weapons most useful with Heavy Handed

Heavy Handed with Criticals

Assuming a Critical Hit chance of 7.5% (base 5%, multiplied by a machete's x1.5 Critical Hit chance), a player character will be able to utilize a Critical Hit once out of 13 to 14 swings on average. A machete's damage with and without Heavy Handed works out to the following:

  • Without Heavy Handed: 13 swings * 11 damage + 1 crit (+11 damage) = 154 damage
  • With Heavy Handed: 13 swings * 13.2 damage + 1 crit (+4.5 damage) = 175 damage

Example: Using a cattle prod.

As with most percentages in Fallout: New Vegas, the penalty functions as a multiplier instead of subtracting from the base. Therefore, when combined with perks such as Better Criticals, Elijah's Ramblings or Just Lucky I'm Alive, the final critical damage dealt will be 40% * 150% = 60 rather than 90% or 72%. Since critical hits are considered before Damage Threshold as opposed to damage buffs such as this perk are considered afterward, the benefit will be lower in practice.

Fallout Tactics

One receives +4 points to Melee Damage, but critical hits have a -20% modifier to the critical hit tables.

See also