While Fallout is pretty hardcore, it allows a wide range of character customization, not restricting you to any certain playstyle. Still, there are some no-nos that should be avoided in a no-death challenge.
In regards to stats, many guides set the goal to get the total max by using every possible in-game way (operations, memory modules, etc) - powergaming. This is not what PIH is about. It is about:
- getting through the game without reloads (and/or cheats and exploits)
- enjoying that
It's more important what stats do you have throughout the game, than at the end of it. So don't be surprised that Power Armor strength bonus is not mentioned here.
Strength affects starting HP, carry weight, melee damage. In Fallout 2, also affects the special Unarmed maneuvers. Any character will want to eschew this as much as possible; gunmen might want at least 5 to be able to utilize rifles or the Magnum .44 properly. Meleers do not want to raise this stat much at all, either; Melee and Unarmed weapons generally have low ST requirements, the most efficient Unarmed maneuver in Fallout 2 (Haymaker) requires only 5 Strength, and Strength's impact on melee performance is actually extremely minuscule.
Strength caps at 10, but receives +3 to +4 from wearing a power armour, which is rather mandatory anyway for lategame fallout 2.
Affects sequence, shooting range and has some use in quests/dialogues. At least 5 is required, or else most enemies will have a double turn at the beginning of the fight against you. Any gunfighter type will require at least 6, for Bonus Rate of Fire perk.
Increases starting HP and HP per level, radiation/poison resistance and offsets some critical hits made to you and misses made by you. Having a good HP pool is paramount, because at times enemies score tremendous critical hits. Truth be told, many of those crits will overwhelm even the highest HP pool, so you shouldn't rely on HP solely, but the extra defense is always nice to have. For maximum safety, though, you should rely as much as possible on not getting hit at all. Minimum is 6, 8 is safer, but really, you ought to make it 10 from the beginning.
The traditional dump stat in many RPG games, it's even worse here, as the game uses Speech skill instead of Charisma attribute for almost everything. Each INT point is +2 skill point per level (+4% increment of a tagged skill per level) whereas CHA translates to +5% starting level.
Fallout 2 only : you are limited to 1 active companion per 2 CHA. However, companions are hardly a reliable help, and even minimized CHA is enough to recruit them long enough for questing purposes (Gifted doesn't let you lower below 2, and not-Gifted characters can used Mentats for a temporary boost).
Anything below 3 is considered "stoopid" by the game, and most dialogue will have unique options (to the exclusion of normal ones), providing for a very unique and challenging playthrough. However, this precludes you from accessing or finishing most quests, so only do this for challenge purposes.
4-6 inclusive is the "normal" range, and 7-10 provides "smart" options on top when relevant.
As each point of INT also provides more skill points per level, the general consensus is that this is the second-most important skill to max.
By far and away the #1 priority. Each point translates to 1 action point per turn, and action economy is ever critical whenever fights happen, whether trying to win them or run away.
Luck affects your default critical chance (Luck%), is a prerequisite for one of the best combat perks in the game (Better Critical, requiring Luck 6), and has strong interactions with another of the best perks (Sniper).
On top of this, it helps get better results on crit tables, indirectly interacting with Jinxed, yet another excellent Trait (by lowering the severity of your own crit failures).
Recommended values sum-up
- Strength : anything between 4-7 unless playing a melee (or thrown weapons) character, in which case higher=better.
- Perception : typically 5-7. More can be useful for sniping enemies, but points are simply better spent elsewhere.
- Endurance : 4-10 divergent opinions, although every point is beneficial.
- Charisma : 1, absolute dump stat for every build except "many companions", which isn't really a thing in fallout 1/2
- Intelligence : 7-10
- Agility : 10
- Luck : 2-10 divergent opinions, although every point is beneficial.
You can choose up to two traits. The best trait is Gifted, usefulness of others depend on your chosen character build. Green is good, red is bad, and Jinxed is special.
Each trait is rated 1-5:
- 1 : Hurtful. Selecting will trait will effectively weaken your character or make for a harder playthrough.
- 2 : Irrelevant. You're unlikely to notice any consequence of chosing this.
- 3 : Neutral. The trait has properly balanced benefits, and may be a good idea is some cornercases. What you'd use "for a change".
- 4 : Good. Overall beneficial, but simply don't mesure up to the very best traits.
- 5 : Best. Overwhelmingly superior to alternatives, to the point of being selected for just about every character and playthrough.
|Power rating (1-5)||Perk||Benefit||Penalty||Evaluation|
|1||Bloody Mess||More violent death animations||None||Actively hurtful. Purely cosmetic except that some of the more violent animations (disintegrations) won't leave a body behind, making looting extremely annoying (each item will need picking up, instead of being in a "body" container).
Fallout 1 only : impacts the ending
|1||Bruiser||+2 Strength||-2 Action Points||You'll seriously gimp yourself with -2 AP. And for what? Strength is cheap.|
|2||Drug Reliant / Chem Reliant||Faster recovery from addictions||Twice the chance to become addicted||In virtually no situation this will be useful.|
|2||Drug Resistant / Chem resistant||Half the chance to get addicted||Drug effects last half as long||Same as Drug Reliant, never useful|
|2||Fast Metabolism||+2 Healing Rate||Poison Resistance and Radiation Resistance start at 0%||Faster healing rate means less opportunity to First Aid or Doctor yourself, meaning less opportunities for early XP gains
The resistances are marginally useful in Fallout 1 but neglectible in Fallout 2.
As you can "Rest until healed" anyway, the only benefit of this is to shorten in-game playtime.
|4||Fast Shot||All throwing and firearm attacks cost 1 less AP||Cannot do targeted shots||Fairly bad early on as a good shot to the head is commonly better than two in the torso.
Amazing lategame, stacking with similar reduction and/or using weapons that can't aim (Big Guns).
|3||Finesse||+10% Critical chance||-30% total damage||Good early/mid game, or for low Luck characters.
Sniper perk enables (10*Luck %) critical chance, making this largely irrelevant lategame.
|5||Gifted||+1 to all SPECIAL stats||-10% to all skills, 5 less skill points per level||The absolute uber trait, to the point that it might be considered a cheat. You lose some skill points, but get an extra 1 to each stat.|
|5||Good Natured||+15% to First Aid, Doctor, Speech, and Barter||-10% to Big Guns, Small Guns, Energy Weapons, Throwing, Melee Weapons, and Unarmed||When you don't know what to pick (and you already have Gifted), pick this. It will boost healing and talking skills at the cost of all combat skills. You certainly won't need all 6 of those, and you certainly will use all 4 of healing/talking at some point.|
|3||Heavy Handed||+4 Melee Damage||-30% modifier to the critical hit tables||Good for a low to mid level meleer with low Luck, but when you get to Slayer, it will bite you in the rear. Note that the Melee Damage stat isn't a flat increase to your damage on every hit, but to the maximum damage potential on a damage roll. This makes it, in effect, an average damage increase of +2 per hit, which makes it even worse than it already is.|
|5||Jinxed||50% chance for any miss to upgrade to a criticall miss||That affects you and your companions, too||Depending on your build and playstyle, this can range from suicidal to godlike. Best avoid unless you fully understand how to leverage it properly.|
|3||Kamikaze||+5 Sequence||0 natural Armor Class||Decent Perception will provide you with good sequence anyway.|
|2||Night Person||+1 Intelligence and +1 Perception at night (6pm to 6am)||-1 Intelligence and -1 Perception at daytime||Managing time would get annoying real quick.
Stats can't go above 10, and you probably want a native 10 INT, foregoing half the benefits of this trait.
|4||One Hander||+20% chance to hit with one-handed weapons||-40% chance to hit with two-handed weapons||Pros : Also works with all one handed Unarmed and Melee Weapons (but not bare fists). The 20% is a flat value on top of your skill points, which saves you a bunch of skill points and may make the early game less tedious.
Cons: Forces you to use melee weapons (Bad Idea for hardcore) or pistols belonging to Small Guns (can be raised with skill books) or Energy Weapon categories (which you won't find until mid-late game).
|3||Sex Appeal||Better reaction from opposite sex characters||Worse reaction from same sex characters||Situational for a few quests or NPCs, where (usually female) characters will be offered an alternative form of payment.|
|1||Skilled||+5 skill points per level||Get perks every 4 levels instead of every 3||Worst trait. Perks are vastly preferrable to skill points.|
|3||Small Frame||+1 Agility||Reduced Carry weight||The most balanced trait : a small but significant benefit for a significant but manageable drawback.
As many other traits are more skewed towards "beneficial", this is unlikely to be what you want.
While a mere oddity for regular gameplay, and very bad for first playthroughs, this trait is S+ tier for no-reload F2 playthroughs. Up until mid-to-late game, combat encounters will be overwhelmingly stacked against you while yielding very little of use (mediocre xp & loot, not related to any quest, etc). As such, the safescome is achieved by just running away. This is especially true for random encounters, as you'll often spawn facing 5+ gun-wielding psychopaths while having a sharp stick yourself.
Such fights are an RNG-offered death sentence if taken. Running away fullspeed, if you even get a turn, is still likely to get you shot in the back and killed. Early/mid game opponents aren't very skilled with guns, but all they need to do is spray in your general direction and get lucky a couple of times.
Instead of "simply" missing some of their shots, enemies will cripple themselves (losing all ammunition, dropping their weapons, losing their next turn, knocking themselves out, etc) at a steady rate. The effect is also very noticeable on swarms (rats, molerats, ...), up to and including killing themselves. As a rough "felt" estimate, this translate to about 20-25% less damage to outlive.
Meanwhile, how does this affect you ? Outside of combat, Jinxed has no discernible effect. Once you have a decent weapon, you should almost always have 95% chance to hit, so only 2.5% chance of jinxed negatively affecting you. If you don't, or can't survive the worst-case scenario of these 2.5%, you shouldn't be fighting at all, as you're just one lucky hit away from dead.
Lastly, Jinxed synergizes superbly with Mutate! perk, which allows you to swap a Trait for another. Once the benefits of Jinxed fall out (enemies consistently hitting you, too many fights to neglect the effect on yourself), you can just swap it for a better lategame experience. Fast Shot, in particular, is okayish early game but Godlike once combined with Bonus Rate of Fire perk (level 15+).
Skills are what most checks are run against in Fallout games. F1 features a straight scale, with a maximum of 200. F2 ups the max to 300, but introduces negative feedback scale, whereas increasing a skill by 1 at 100+ costs 2 skill points, at 125+ 3 skill points, etc. Tagged skills cost two times cheaper.
The general idea is that you tag some weapon skill, speech, and have one more tag left, which can be used to fit your chosen playstyle: Lockpick, Science, Gambling, or Big guns/Energy weapons.
Your basic guns. Unless you go melee from the beginning, you'll want to up it to at least 100. To be a proper gunman, 130-150 is recommended. Good candidate for tagging.
Heavy weaponry is only available in late game, so keep in mind that you will need another combat skill to couple with this.
Same as Big Guns.
Generally not very convenient in hardcore runs, as it involves lots of running and taking damage. Furthermore, the ultimate weapon (Power Fist/Mega Power Fist) is available considerably late, and until that time you're running with Spiked Knuckles against machine guns.
For Fallout 2, this is a good choice for early game up until level 15, where the choice between Bonus Rate of Fire and Bonus HtH Attacks opens up and forces you to commit to one weapon style. Due to sheer amount of free training available (up to 55% with Lucas in Arroyo, another 10% from Cameron in Arroyo (difficult to obtain), and John Sullivan in Klamath, as well as a few other sources) you can raise this skill by a lot of points for free, even if untagged. The Unarmed training from Lucas will always bump your Unarmed to 55% if your AG is at least 6, so even a character with something like Good Natured and no early game weapon tags can have a reliable fighting skill in a few free skill ups and level ups. It also has use in quests, such as New Reno boxing and San Francisco karate fights.
Although it is very similar to Unarmed, its base is 10% fewer points and the training from Jordan (the spearman in Arroyo) is a flat +10% boost to the skill and not an increase to a certain level. It's a solid midgame option thanks to the Cattle Prod, Louisville Slugger and Ripper being available earlier than the ultimate Unarmed weapons.
Pretty useless skill, as grenade damage is low, and there aren't many of them anyway.
Not worthy spending any skill points. There are plenty off books, anyway. In F1, this can see some use, but in F2, it's easier to just rest.
The only use is in F2, for a quest. You'll want to bump it to 75, that's enough. In F1, the only reason to increase it is if you play Jinxed and break limbs often.
Sneak is a powerful tool for skipping dangerous encounters or resetting combat turns (most importantly to abuse stronger Sequence or to deliver multiple sneak attacks in a round). However, it doesn't leave very good feedback as to whether it works or not; if you are expecting your character to become transparent or ghostly if your Sneak skill is successful, it won't.
Potential cheese alert: A strong way to use this skill in an Ironman playthrough is to move out of sight of the enemies, press Sneak, and attempt to End Combat. You can retry it as often as you want by mashing the "1" button and the CMBT (End Combat) button; with enough resets you can brute force the success of the Sneak skill. This can save your life or trivialize a fight.
Locks are common enough, so you'll want to up it to about 80. With Lockpicks, that should be enough for any lock.
Although a good candidate for tagging in a normal playthrough, it's pretty useless on hardcore, because steal success chance is capped at about 95%, and a failed steal attempt usually means that everyone in the area will start attacking you. So unless you fancy slaughtering whole cities over a can of soda, you can't use steal at all.
There's only a handful of traps, and none are lethal. Skip.
In F1, skip. In F2, about 100 is enough, unless you want to get the best version of Skynet in party. In that case, go for 120, and may spend a tag. Be mindful that although this skill has its uses, there is also nothing stopping you from levelling it up with books, especially in Fallout 1, where the Hub's library restocks infinitely.
Not many things require repair, there are plenty of books, and in F2 Vic handles it anyway. Skip.
There are many speech checks, so this is the most obvious candidate for a tag. Get it to some 120.
If you want to do a fully Pacifist F2 playthrough, this must be tagged (not just raised) to avoid an otherwise mandatory fight.
Money is plentiful. Skip. The skill actually has overtuned scaling in Fallout 1, allowing you to buy out merchant stock for pennies with just a few skillups, but the problem is that even if you somehow go broke, lavish riches are available with just a random encounter away.
No reason to really ever use it, but you might fancy running around with full pockets of money, although that is a cheap tactic.
In F1, encounters aren't really dangerous. In F2, Sulik's skill is high from the beginning, and it also can be boosted with Motion Scanner. And don't forget the books. Skip.
Driving the car in Fallout 2 bolsters this skill. Trappers Slim and Smitty will bolster this skill in Klamath, and its effectiveness is hard capped, making it all the more dubious to tag.
Back to Fallout.
Back to Fallout 2.