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Suggested Builds
Overview

Your skills are very important in Fallout 3. They affect how well you use your weapons, how much you spend when shopping, and how healthy you keep your equipment -- and yourself. There are also numerous locked doors and containers that can be picked, working computers that can be hacked, and NPCs that can be convinced to do things, and if your skills aren't up to snuff, then you'll miss out on some content. So our character builds focus just as much on developing skills as they do in making your character as deadly as possible.

Note: There are numerous ways to increase your attributes while playing the game (the Intense Training perk is the easiest example), but we want to keep this section as spoiler-free as possible. So, without giving anything away, we wouldn't recommend starting any attribute out at 10, which is the attribute cap. Chances are you'll be able to increases any attribute that you care about by at least 1-2 points by the end of the campaign.


Ranged Attacker

You'll probably have a tough time finding enough ammunition to go exclusively with big guns, and energy weapons don't include automatic fire (the gatling laser is considered a big gun rather than an energy weapon), which is important for bringing down the tougher enemies, and so you'll need to be proficient in lots of weapons if you plan to use ranged attacks. That means you'll need some carrying capacity to keep lots of weapons in your inventory, and you'll also need to learn the Big Guns, Energy Weapons, and Small Guns skills (with an emphasis on the latter).

So we'd recommend starting out with ST 5, PE 6, EN 5, CH 4, IN 8, AG 6, and LU 6. Charisma is the least important attribute in the game because it barely affects anything, and so it's the easiest one to ignore, even if you're planning to play a diplomat. Intelligence is important right from the start since it gives you more skill points. The other attributes you can build up as necessary through the Intense Training perk (and other means).

For tagged skills, we'd recommend going with Small Guns, Lockpick, and Science. Other skills are important as well, but any time you can't pick a door or hack a computer, that means you're probably going to miss some content (conceivably you could keep track of missed opportunities and return to them later, but there are just so many places to visit in the game we don't envision many people doing this). Meanwhile, if you miss a Speech dialogue option, for example, that just means one avenue will be lost to you, but you'll have other ways to complete the quest.

Finally, listed below are the perks we'd recommend. For more information about perks, please browse our Perks Section.
  1. Black Widow / Lady Killer
  2. Intense Training (Perception)
  3. Educated
  4. Comprehension
  5. Gunslinger
  6. Bloody Mess
  7. Commando
  8. Strong Back
  9. Finesse
  10. Toughness
  11. Sniper
  12. Robotics Expert
  13. Cyborg
  14. Intense Training (Agility)
  15. Action Boy
  16. Better Criticals
  17. Concentrated Fire
  18. Intense Training (Luck)
  19. Grim Reaper's Sprint

Melee Fighter

The good thing about melee weapons is that they don't require any ammunition, they're easy to use, and they almost always hit what they're aimed at. The bad thing about melee weapons is that you have to get right next to your enemy to use them, which isn't always fun if they're peppering you with a minigun the entire time. So melee fighters are going to need to concentrate on their defense (including keeping their armor repaired), and they're going to need to buff up their strength (for extra weapon damage) and endurance (for extra hit points and better resistances). It's also a good idea to concentrate on the Sneak skill so you avoid being damaged while approaching your target.

For attributes, we'd recommend starting with ST 6, PE 5, EN 7, CH 3, IN 7, AG 6, and LU 6. Strength is the easiest attribute to advance while playing the campaign, so you don't need to start it very high. Intelligence is important right from the start, since it controls how many skill points you receive. Charisma barely affects anything, and so it's the attribute to dump, unless you really want your character to be pretty.

For skills, Melee Weapons would appear to be an obvious choice to tag, but we've never really noticed a difference between high levels and low levels of the skill. So while we still think that you should put points into Melee Weapons, we'd only recommend that you tag Lockpick, Repair, and Science, and then tag Sneak at a later time. You should also pick out a ranged weapon skill (such as Small Guns) for the times when melee combat just isn't an option.

Unfortunately, the game just does not contain a lot of useful perks for melee characters. So while we're providing a list of possible perks below, this is a place where you're welcome to mix and match and pick whatever you think makes sense for your character. For more information about perks, please browse our Perks Section.
  1. Black Widow / Lady Killer
  2. Intense Training (Intelligence)
  3. Educated
  4. Comprehension
  5. Toughness
  6. Bloody Mess
  7. Intense Training (Strength)
  8. Intense Training (Endurance)
  9. Finesse
  10. Intense Training (Agility)
  11. Silent Running
  12. Life Giver
  13. Cyborg
  14. Robotics Expert
  15. Action Boy
  16. Better Criticals
  17. Tag! (Sneak)
  18. Intense Training (Luck)
  19. Grim Reaper's Sprint
If you'd rather play an unarmed fighter, then the build would be about the same, except that you'd need to swap in the four unarmed perks -- Iron Fist (x3) and Paralyzing Palm -- and swap out some of the weaker melee fighter perks (such as Tag! and later Intense Trainings).