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Gameplay Tips
Character

Tagging a skill won't reduce the learning cost of the skill. It will only give you a 15-point boost to the skill rating.

The level cap is 20, the attribute cap is 10, and the skill cap is 100. However, we've heard that the attribute and skill caps are only display caps, where the game might show you at the cap, but it's possible (through skill books and bobbleheads and other means) to go over.

You'll receive a perk every time you gain a level.

Most skill perks only give you 10 skill points, so you might want to consider adding intelligence (which gives you 1 extra skill point per level) or selecting the educated perk (which gives you 3 extra skill points per level) instead, especially early in the game.

You'll lose karma when you steal things, whether you're caught or not.

Sleeping for 1 hour will completely heal your character, including fixing crippled limbs.


Lock Picking

Picking a lock involves moving a screwdriver head (to turn the lock) and a bobby pin (to open the tumblers). Your goal is to turn the lock 90 degrees from a vertical position to a horizontal position.

You should always start out by turning the lock to see what your limits are, and then adjust the bobby pin slightly to see which direction the "sweet spot" is in. Then just keep adjusting the bobby pin to allow the lock to turn further and further. As long as you let up on the lock when you feel some resistance you shouldn't break too many bobby pins.

The lock pick skill only determines which locks you can try to pick. It doesn't do anything to make the lock picking easier.

If you just can't pick locks with the mini-game, then you can always try to force the lock, but you'll jam a lot of locks that way. You'll also miss out on the experience you'd gain from picking the lock.


Hacking Computers

Hacking a computer is sort of like playing a game of Mastermind. When you click on the computer, you'll be shown a hex dump of the computer's memory, with a list of words available to choose from when guessing the password. You'll get to guess four times before the computer locks up.

When you make a guess, you'll learn how many of the word's letters are correct. If a word has X letters correct, that means only the other words in the list that have X letters in common with it can possibly be the password.

For example, if you guess "Meeting" and learn that it has 2 characters correct, then "Booming" (3 characters in common) and "Abdomen" (no characters in common) can't be the password, but "Mercury" (2 characters in common) could be.

So to figure out the password, just guess the first word in the list. Then work your way down the list of words until you find one that shares the right number of letters with the first guess, and guess it as well. Then repeat this, only considering words each time that match the right number of letters in all of your guesses. Since you won't start out with a lot of words, you should be able to narrow down the correct password quickly, usually (but not always) by the fourth guess.

To help you in your hacking, you can sometimes find "bonus codes" in the hex dump. These are balanced sequences that begin and end with some sort of bracket, such as "[" and "]," "{" and "}," or "<" and ">." The sequence must appear entirely on the same line, but when you move your cursor over the first character, all of the characters will appear in the selection field, letting you know you've found a bonus code. When you click on a bonus code, either a bad password will be removed from the list, or your number of available guesses will reset back to 4.

You can exit the hacking mini-game at any time and start over. So if you get to your fourth guess and you're not confident about it, you can just begin again.


Miscellaneous

To repair an item yourself, you'll need a sufficient repair skill plus a duplicate copy of the item to be repaired. For example, to repair a hunting rifle you'll need a second hunting rifle, and the second hunting rifle will get destroyed in the process. To repair an item at a shopkeeper, you'll just need enough caps to cover the cost. But note: the repairers that you meet will be expensive and not very skilled.

Hats and helmets usually have a low durability, which means that they can break easily. So when you select a hat or a helmet, you should concentrate on its bonus effects rather than its damage reduction since the damage reduction will deteriorate along with the condition of the item.

Your Pip-Boy comes with a light. To turn it on, just press and hold down the key or button that you use to activate it.

There isn't a time limit in the game, so feel free to (fast) travel to any town any time you need to sell some items, or to wait for a caravan to show up, or to sleep to regain health.

If you purchase or find multiple copies of the same recipe, then you'll learn an improved version of the recipe. This will improve the damage of the weapons you create or increase the number of grenades you create. You'll need to be at a workbench to create items.

To see the health of your companions, just enter VATS mode and target them.