Sneaky, Sneaky Ninja Boy:
The best way to counteract taking damage in the first place is to never been seen by your target. A high Sneak skill with a good Perception (to pop those red “enemy” lines up on your compass sooner) and a nice long barrel rifle is the best way to clear out a camp of baddies before they even know you’re there. While getting into a melee with a SuperSledge may sound like a blast, you’re going to get beat up as well, meaning you may have to use one of those precious Doctor Bags. Also, make sure you run while crouched and put away your rifle while you’re moving to move more quickly; it’s not impossible or a bad way to travel while staying out of trouble. But remember! You could have a StealthBoy active and be totally invisible, but your companion may stand out like a sore thumb. If you’re absolutely afraid of being spotted, make sure you tell your companion to stay put!
Packrats R Us:
In this game, you’re forced to become a professional scavenger, taking every bullet, pencil and stick of Wonderglue that isn’t nailed down. While extra strength might add a few pounds to your carrying ability, it just becomes like a credit card when they increase your limit: you immediately fill it up and are then stuck with more than you had. The best way to counteract this is to find a follower as soon as possible, as they quickly become your pack mule. Of course, it’s not like you can just find people to follow you around easily, so this may come later. A good tactic is to find a place to call home and start fast travelling there to drop off all your questionable “Hey-I’d-better-keep-this-for-later-because-I-may-need-it” junk. Good suggestions are either a house in Goodsprings near the fresh water source (for a quick non-irradiated drink on your way back out) or setting up shop in a rented room at the Dino Dee-Lite Inn. Not only do you have a handy safe there you can stash all your junk, but you can sleep in the bed that you’ve rented and get the “well rested” perk, which increases your experience gain for a short period of time!
Drinks for All My Men!
I am currently sitting at a 17 Survival skill and I’m still not having problem keeping hydrated or well-fed. Food is also not much of an issue. Irradiated water is everywhere, and a quick dose of Rad-away will clean that up for you in a jiffy. Those damn Sarsaparilla Springs cola drinks are a double edged sword. Not only do they give you a chance to get one of those rare Sarsaparilla bottle caps and double as cheap stimpacks, but dehydrate you quickly and each weigh a pound. It gets easy to want to stockpile these, but resist the urge or you’ll find yourself lugging around two cases of cola and wonder why you can’t carry anything.
A Man of Science…and Lockpicking…
While getting your Science, Repair, Explosives, and Speech skills are important to be able to get the most of your interactions with people and be able to complete skill challenges, it’s nearly critical to get your lockpicking to 75 as fast as you can. For every one terminal you have to hack using Science or time you have to fast talk your way out of a situation using your Speech skill, you’ll have three locks you have to pick. Also, you can hold off putting points into one of these skills unless you plan on taking it to the next “tier”. Locks are graded at skill 25, 50 and 75, so putting a few points in here or there is nice, but once you get over 50, there’s no real added benefit to having a 55 skill for a level 50 lock. You either can pick the lock, or you can’t.
Every time you see a vendor selling special rounds (hollow point, armor piercing, etc) or skill magazines, you buy them. Magazines weigh nothing and help you get over that hump in a lot of situations where your skill just can’t cut it, while special rounds can swing the tide of a battle quickly. Stuck in a fight? Break out the good china and cut your enemies down by breaking their armor with armor piercing rounds, then switching to hollow point rounds.
Guns Early, Energy Weapons Later
As in every single Fallout game I’ve ever played, it’s always been this way. Your early levels are full of pistols and submachine guns, while towards the end, you’re marching around with flamethrowers and plasma rifles. I haven’t had a problem clearing out baddies with my hunting rifle and 100 guns skill, but I can see the writing on the wall with all the special energy ammo I’m getting and can tell that eventually, I’m going to have to start putting points into Energy Weapons to make life easier. For now, I’ve been stashing all my energy weapons and ammo in my room, waiting for the day when I need to start really killing fools.
All right, that’s good enough for now. I’m sure that other folks from the Praetorian Guard here at FTG have some suggestions; please feel free to add them here. I’m always curious to see how others are playing through.