Tips For Making A Great Character From Someone Who Formerly Had No Idea

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Gameplay & Tech' started by DwayneGAnd, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. DwayneGAnd

    DwayneGAnd Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Oct 12, 2016
    I finally feel like I know how to make a great character in Fallout 3. So this thread will be used to give advice to other newbies, similar to another thread I made for making characters in Fallout 1 and 2. Right now I have yet to get the hang of Fallout Tactics, so I'll be skipping that game for now.

    There are several changes in this game from previous Fallout games. For starters, there are no traits. Weapons have no strength requirement. They also have durability, meaning you can only fire them a certain number of times before they need to be repaired. Third, ammo has no weight. You can also max your SPECIAL stats and skills by level 30. And you get a perk on every level. In fact, you can get more perks for your character than you really actually need.

    Like previous games, there really aren't all that many perks that benefit different combat styles and weapon skills. In previous Fallout games, you could focus on being a long-range gunfighter or a melee warrior, choosing to specialize only in one due to level caps and certain perks. In Fallout 3, since you can max all skills, it is possible to specialize in both melee and ranged combat. In fact, it is recommended and more powerful and effective than focusing on one style. Due to the fact that you can easily max all skills and your SPECIAL stats thanks to the increased level cap in Broken Steel and the Almost Perfect perk, as well as the near lack of specialization perks, there is no reason to specialize around one specific style. Why specialize when you can do everything?

    There are four main builds you can make. Two of these focus on critical hits and the other two are tank builds focused on pure damage and defense. One of the critical builds focuses primarily on attacking in stealth and remaining hidden. One of the two tanks uses the Pyromaniac perk to maximize the effectiveness of fire weapons.

    The builds are:

    Critical Sharpshooter
    Low Critical Sharpshooter

    It is also recommended that you use the VATS system in this game. VATS helps your accuracy but it can also reduce the damage you suffer from enemies. VATS also increases the damage you deal in melee combat and gives you a bonus to your critical chance. VATS also makes it easier to hit certain enemies with single-shot weapons. All characters can get some use out of VATS for one or more of these reasons, but it's mostly useful for increasing your critical chance, melee attack damage, accurately throwing grenades, or applying Paralyzing Palm. Certain weapons, such as automatics whether they be ranged or melee, due not perform well in VATS. Automatics can only deal critical damage once per burst in VATS and can cost a lot of APS to use. Weapons that fire off multiple projectiles, such as Shotguns, Tri-beam Laser Rifles, Metal Blaster, actually do less damage in VATS for this reason. Together with automatics, they are best used out of VATS. Tank builds focus primarily on attacking out of VATS with automatics, using VATS for throwing grenades or applying Paralyzing Palm.

    Due to some of the more powerful weapons having low durability, it is not a good idea to focus on having one all-purpose weapon. Also, unlike in Fallout New Vegas where ammo can be crafted and recycled, ammo can only be bought or found in this game, (conventional bullets can be crafted in the Pitt), so it is not a good idea to carry only one ammo type. Some of the more powerful weapons are not practical enough for all situations due to the rarity of ammo, low durability, uncommon spare weapons for maintainability, or carry weight concerns. Due to ammo having no weight and that tougher enemies appear at higher levels replacing weaker enemies, it is recommended that you carry a wide arsenal of weapons to deal with any opposition and situation. Carry a Gatling Laser for dealing with the toughest opposition such as Super Mutant Overlords, Ghoul Reavers, and Albino Radscorpions. Other methods of dealing with these enemies more easily involve using a weapon with a knockdown effect or applying Paralyzing Palm and then using a powerful automatic melee weapon such as Jack or the Mauler, though using Gatling Lasers is your best option. Another good weapon to carry is a scoped weapon for dealing with distant targets so you can snipe enemies from afar.

    No matter what, you should get the following perks:

    Bloody Mess (increased damage)
    Toughness (increased damage resistance)
    Cyborg (increased damage resistance. The other bonuses just add an extra layer of frosting on the cake)
    Iron Fist (increase unarmed damage, get all three ranks)
    Strong Back (increased carry weight)
    Silent Running (improved sneaking ability, which helps reduce the damage you may suffer)
    Demolition Expert (increase damage of grenades, get all three ranks. The unofficial patch applies this to Nuka Grenades)
    Quantum Chemist (convert 10 Nuka-cola to Nuka quantum. Good for creating Nuka grenades)

    These perks increase your critical chance and damage:

    Finesse (increased critical chance)
    Better Criticals (increased critical damage)
    Ninja (increased critical chance and sneak attack damage with melee and unarmed weapons)

    Pyromaniac increases the damage of all fire weapons by 50%, making the Shishkebab the most powerful melee weapon in the game. In the Unofficial patch, the perk also affects the Nuka Grenade. It's mainly for the Pyromaniac build.

    Get the following VATS perks as well.

    Action Boy/Girl (increased AP for VATS usage)
    Grim Reaper's Sprint (fully replenish AP when making a kill in VATS)
    Nerves of Steel (increase AP regeneration rate)
    Paralyzing Palm (uses a special unarmed technique to stun your enemies for 30 seconds, making it easier to deal with them. Great for the toughest enemies.)

    Gunslinger, Commando, Sniper, and Concentrated Fire can also be useful, but depending on your accuracy and how close you are, you might not even need them, though they can be useful for longer ranges. Big Guns are not affected by Gunslinger or Commando.

    If you want, at level 30 you can take Almost Perfect (which raises all stats to 9). To achieve a perfect 10 in all stats, wait until you take the perk before you collect the stat bobbleheads. There is a mod that can allow the perk to set a stat to 10 if you already picked up the bobblehead.

    Due to getting a perk at every level, there are far more perks than you need for your build. This is why it is so easy to make a character that effectively uses both melee and ranged combat attacks. There also aren't that many good perks past level 20. Other than the perks listed above, perks worth considering to fill up the empty perk slots for your build are Lady Killer/Black Widow, Swift Learner, Solar Powered, Lawbringer/Contract Killer, Robotics Expert, Lead Belly, Cannibal, Entomologist, Chemist, Chem Resistant, Adamantium Skeleton, Life Giver, Mysterious Stranger, Mister Sandman, Rad Absorption, and Fast Metabolism. Educated and Comprehension can be useful for more skill points from leveling up and reading books. Lawbringer is good for Good Karma characters, and Contract Killer and Cannibal can be good for Evil Karma characters. Cannibal can also be good for maintaining Neutral karma. Perks that increase skills such as Tag, Gun Nut, Little Leaguer, etc are worthless. So are perks that change your karma. Intense Training is helpful for further increasing your stats to qualify for all the perks you need and it becomes redundant when you take Almost Perfect. If you follow this guide, you won't need Intense Training. Solar Powered still has the healing effect even with Almost Perfect. Rad Absorption is good for reducing rads and synergizes well with Lead Belly. Make a list of all the perks you want so you won't run out of perk slots for the important perks you need for your build if you pick the other perks you want.

    The best skills to raise at the start of the game are Small Guns, Lockpick, Sneak, Repair, and Science. Focus on raising a couple of skills per level, don't spread out your points too thinly over many skills. Big Guns and Energy Weapons are rare at the beginning of the game and become more available after the appearance of the Enclave at the Purifier. Melee Weapons and Unarmed are nowhere near as powerful as the strongest guns and thus are mainly used for ammo conservation purposes against weaker enemies, applying Paralyzing Palm (with Unarmed only), and attacking foes when they are under the effect of Paralyzing Palm. Skill books can raise your skills by 2 points if you have Comprehension, so save any books you find until you get the perk. Also, I've read on the Fallout wikia that there are two skill books that can respawn every three days due to a bug. One for Big Guns on the Raider Leader in the Bethesda ruins, and one for Science on the Ant Researched in Shalebridge, so you can take advantage of this bug to get an unlimited supply of books to limit the skill points you invest in Big Guns and Science (though you should still invest in Science because it is a more useful skill) unless, of course, you are using a mod that fixes this bug. Get important skills such as Repair, Lockpick, Science, Sneak, and Medicine at 50 as quickly as possible, and raise your primary combat skill to 75, all without the use of books. Don't forget about Explosives for perks and disarming traps. Bobbleheads increase your skills by 10 each, you can get one per skill. Certain perks can also increase skills, but the only ones worth getting are Cyborg and Silent Running. Also, you can get a charm in Oasis that permanently increases Speech by 10 points if you pass a speech check with Sapling Yew and then complete the quest without burning Harold.

    Try to complete all optional objectives in the Wasteland Survival Guide quest to get the Survival Guru perk. The critical chance bonus is the best because critical chance is the hardest to raise. If you're making a tank build, go with the tough responses to increase your damage resistance. Even if you're going to follow the path of evil karma, these bonuses are far more useful than Dream Crusher.

    When choosing weapons for your arsenal, choose those that deal high damage, are easy to repair and maintain and have good durability.

    For most builds taking Almost Perfect, the best endgame armor in the game is T-51b Power Armor (normal or winterized). The best endgame helmet is Ledoux's Hockey Mask which increases your AP count. These choices were made because of the availability of repair materials, damage resistance, and other bonuses. The Assassin's best armor is the Chinese Stealth Armor due to the stealth field which makes you practically impossible to detect when sneaking, making it very easy to get sneak attack criticals in melee range. For critical characters not taking Almost Perfect, the best armor choice is Ranger Battle Armor.

    As in the previous games, Energy Weapons and Big Guns deal more damage than Small Guns endgame. Unarmed and Melee, despite their strength, are not as effective when up against enemies carrying long-range weapons. Explosives are good for dealing damage to mobs of enemies and Big Guns such as Gatling Lasers deal the most damage to the toughest foes. If you are focused on melee combat, automatic melee weapons such as Rippers and Autoaxes can be good for taking down the toughest opposition, especially when combined with certain perks and chems.

    The dlcs are easier to beat if you have high skills in Small Guns, or Energy weapons for Mothership Zeta. This is due to the fact that those are the weapon types most available in those dlcs. Melee weapons are also useful in the Pitt. Since you'll meet aliens with Inertia Fields that increase their resistance to physical damage in Mothership Zeta, bring at least one weapon that deals either fire damage or electrical damage, a flamethrower being the best choice, or weapons with very high damage outputs such as the Man Opener or Vengeance. Still, you might want to tackle Mothership Zeta first to limit the number of aliens using those fields, otherwise, there will be too many and that will make the challenge very difficult. Save Point Lookout for last as it has the toughest challenge. But wait until your Science skill is at 75 before tackling Mothership Zeta. I find it a good idea to wait until you are past level 15 and found most of the skill bobbleheads before you tackle the dlcs as around this time you should be quite skilled enough to tackle most challenges. The best weapons to use throughout Mothership Zeta are the pistols and rifles used by the aliens due to the availability of ammo and repair materials. The best weapon to use throughout Point Lookout is the Lever Action Rifle and the unique variant Backwater Rifle due to availability or repair materials, critical chance, and damage. Outside of dlcs, you'll need to rely on merchants, especially the caravans to repair DLC-exclusive weapons.

    Invest in the four caravans to upgrade them and you'll get gifts. Their repair abilities are also upgraded to among the highest in the game. Crazy Wolfgang, when invested in, has the highest repair skill of all npcs. Mothership Zeta has an item that can repair your weapon and you can stock up on it during the dlc. At the end, there is a random chance you can get more of them from talking to Sally every twenty-four hours, you can return to and from the ship to get them.

    Don't pick up any of the stat bobbleheads until after you get Almost Perfect. If you plan to detonate the bomb in Megaton, get the Strength bobblehead and then wait until you get the perk to get Ant Might. You'll mainly be setting your stats to qualify for the recommended perks and/or to make certain responses during the Wasteland Survival Guide, no more, the only bonuses you'll be getting until the perk are the Lesko injection and from equipment. On the other hand, if you've installed a mod that allows you to have 10 in a stat after getting Almost Perfect if you found the bobblehead, you can collect the bobbleheads as soon as you find them.

    Unlike previous games, you can no longer use chems to qualify for perks.

    According to my notes, here is how to set your SPECIAL stats, assuming you don't have non-canon mods installed:

    Strength - 5 is needed for Strong Back. If planning to detonate the Megaton Bomb and get Almost Perfect, wait until you get the perk before you take Ant Might. Set to 4 if planning to get Ant Might and/or planning to detonate the bomb in Megaton. If making a tank build, you should start with at least 7 to make the tough replies on the Wasteland Survival Guide quest. Characters not taking Almost Perfect will want to set it to 8 or 9 because they'll need all the carry weight they can get. 8 is for those getting Ant Might, otherwise 9.

    Perception - You need 6 for Better Criticals together with an equal amount of Luck. 5 is for those getting Ant Sight. Tanks don't need as much Perception because they aren't using criticals to supplement their damage and thus have no use for Better Criticals. 4 is for those not taking Almost Perfect and getting Ant Sight, otherwise 5.

    Endurance - 5 is needed together with the Strength requirement above for Strong Back. A minimum of 5 is good for most people. Most of the perks requiring more than 5 aren't very useful, though Life Giver which requires 6 can increase your survivability and is useful for any build, especially with all the extra levels in Broken Steel. 7 is a good maximum value. 7 is needed for tanky characters to make the tough responses on the Wasteland Survival Guide quest. If not taking Almost Perfect, tank characters will want to set it to 9 for maximum health after getting the bobblehead.

    Charisma - The least important stat. All it does is improve your Barter and Speech skills together with NPC reactions, making speech checks easier. It's better to use chems such as mentats to increase your Charisma if you need to pass a speech check and spend those stat points elsewhere. You'll have this maxed anyway with Almost Perfect and the bobblehead.

    Intelligence - The most important stat. You'll want this as high as you can afford to for more skill points. It's easy to max your skills by level 30 if you play right regardless of how much you have here, thanks to all those skill books. Set it to 9 and then you can pick up the bobblehead in Rivet city much earlier during the game for maximum skill points.

    Agility - 6 is needed for action boy, 7 for Nerves of Steel which you can get after getting the bobblehead, so set to 7. Maxing this stat early for VATS isn't worth it due to marginal increases to Action Points, and those points are better spent elsewhere. There are chems, perks, equipment, and consumables that do a better job of increasing your AP total. Almost Perfect will max this with the bobblehead by the end anyway. 6 if not taking Almost Perfect.

    Luck - 6 is required for Better Criticals. Tanks don't need as much for the same reason they don't need as much Perception. 7 for critical characters not getting Almost Perfect as they can max it with Ranger Battle Armor, the Lucky 8 ball, and the bobblehead.

    Be sure to install the unofficial Fallout 3 patch to fix a lot of bugs still in the game. It allows Demolition Expert and Pyromaniac to affect the Nuka Grenades. I also recommend you install the following mods for better game performance and enjoyability:

    No Lock: People no longer react negatively if you so much as glance at owned or locked property, even for a split second while turning away, which was very annoying!

    No Knock: Prevents people from scolding you if you knock over items even by accident, also very annoying!

    No Theft: People no longer react negatively if you sneak up too close and they detect you. Another annoying aspect of the game!

    All Companions Essential: Prevents your companions from dying in your company. Since one glitch fixed by the Unofficial Patch was the ridiculous amount of health given to Fawkes, Dogmeat, and Sergeant RL-3, this mod is very important if you want to keep them around.

    Essential Caravans: Makes the four caravans essential.

    Dogmeat Leather Armor: This makes Dogmeat essential in your company and allows him to wear armor to increase his damage resistance and packs that allow him to carry your excess weight. Comes with a whistle that can summon him instantly. Can also give him sneak mode.

    Better Performance: Removes some unnecessary items for smoother game performance.

    Pitt Reforged: This fixes some bugs in the Pitt DLC.

    Your karma can affect which companions you can recruit. For Good Karma characters, Fawkes is a no-brainer, unless you didn't free him from Vault 87 or if he died for some reason, in which case you'll need to use Star Paladin Cross. Cross can be a good alternative for Low-critical characters as she can use Energy Weapons. For Neutral characters, use Sergeant RL-3 instead of Butch. For Evil characters, you're down to either Jericho or Clover. Jericho has Big Guns tagged and can have it maxed, so if your character doesn't use primarily Big Guns, use him. Otherwise, use Clover. Dogmeat and Charon are available for all karmas, though Charon does follow a moral path, so avoid killing good karma characters or becoming too evil, because he will turn hostile if you dismiss him (look what happened to his previous employer!). Cross and Fawkes are the only companions who can use Energy Weapons, however, Fawke's Gatling Laser is more powerful than any Energy Weapon. You can give Energy Weapons such as A3-21's Plasma Rifle to Cross if you're using her full-time. All other companions can also use Small Guns as they are tagged and can grow to 100, with the exception of Fawkes, Dogmeat, and Sergeant RL-3. Be sure to upgrade your companion's melee weapon and armor as well.

    When scavenging for items to sell, check their value. Don't pick up too many items that are several pounds, otherwise, you will quickly become over-encumbered. Be on the lookout for items that do not have weight. Stock up on ammo and sell the excess equipment that you don't need or use anymore. Use your house or apartment at Tenpenny Tower to store your excess gear and spare weapons.

    Lastly, as in all RPGs, the farther you go from home, the tougher the enemies get. So stay in the area around Megaton and Vault 101, doing quests and leveling up. Stick to the roads and don't venture far away from them. You'll need to sneak around to avoid combat when necessary and rely on sneak attack criticals until you become more powerful and have better armor unless you are planning to make an assassin, in which case you'll be doing it after getting your armor. Don't rush through the main quest. Do sidequests as they become available and gain experience to level up your character to prepare for the tougher challenges. Don't do main quests immediately as they become available. Postpone continuing the main quest until you have better weapons and armor. This way you can take on tougher enemies much more easily such as the super mutants. But don't gain too many levels before continuing the main quest. This is due to the fact that eventually, tougher enemies will replace some of the weaker enemies and that even at lower levels, some of those weaker enemies such as super mutants can be too much for you. So explore the wasteland, pick up those skill bobbleheads (and the stat ones if not planning to get Almost Perfect), and collect and read as many skill books as you can.

    Be careful as to how you play. Depending on your style, you can get locked out of certain quests, merchants, items, etc. For example, if planning to detonate the bomb in Megaton, make sure you complete all the quests the residents offer (with the exception of the Wasteland Survival Guide) as Moira survives the blast (but becomes ghoulified), and moves to Underworld, and get the strength bobblehead from Lucas Simms' house.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2024