Character Build: Sniper
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Your goal with a sniper is to sneak up on enemies and shoot them in the head -- and hopefully kill them with one shot. If you have an actual Sniper Rifle (or the equivalent), then you won't need to get too close to enemies, and so your Sneak skill doesn't need to be very high (you'll just need to be sneaking to get the guaranteed critical hit from a sneak attack). Since many battles won't allow you to sneak through them, you'll also need to have a high critical hit chance so your attacks will reliably beat your enemies' Damage Threshold (DT), which can be very high. Snipers can use Guns or Energy Weapons (or both).

  • Strength 5 (6). Because of the new crafting component of the game (not to mention hardcore mode), you'll need to carry around a lot of stuff, and so at least a moderate strength is a good idea. Sniper Rifles have a minimum strength requirement of 6.

  • Perception 6 (7). Perception seems like it should be an important attribute for snipers, but it doesn't actually control much in the game. The Better Criticals perk requires a perception of 6.

  • Endurance 7 (8). Endurance improves your health and resistances, and so the more you have, the better. Endurance also controls how many implants you can add to your character, and so again, the more, the better. The Toughness perk requires an endurance of 5.

  • Charisma 3 (3). Charisma helps to make your companions more powerful (by increasing their damage and DT), so if you're planning to use companions a lot, then you might want to increase this attribute, but if you're not planning to use them at all, then you can safely drop it to 1.

  • Intelligence 6 (7). Intelligence controls how many skill points you receive each level, and so the more you have, the better. However, each point of intelligence will only add 14-15 skill points by level 30, and so you don't need to go wild with the stat. An intelligence of 7 is enough for most of the intelligence speech checks. An intelligence of 4 is required for the Comprehension and Educated perks.

  • Agility 5 (7). Agility controls the number of Action Points you receive in VATS, plus how quickly you do things like walk and draw your weapon. The Better Criticals perk requires an agility of 6.

  • Luck 8 (9). Luck determines your critical hit chance, plus does some nice things like improve all of your skills and help you win at casino games, and so it's another attribute where the more you have, the better.


The two traits we'd recommend are:
  • Built to Destroy (+3% critical chance, +15% weapon decay rate). The increased decay rate is troubling, but with Weapon Repair Kits and the Jury Rigging perk, you should be able to keep your gear in good shape regardless.

  • Small Frame (+1 agility, +25% limb damage). This trait isn't a good idea if you're planning to play in hardcore mode, because then your limbs will get crippled all the time. But in a regular difficulty, this is a fine trade-off, and you might not even notice the difference.
Other possibilities include Wild Wasteland (to see several tongue-in-cheek pop culture references) and Good Natured (since you'll need all of the utility skills, but probably only two or three of the weapon skills).

  1. Confirmed Bachelor. Dealing extra damage against human males is helpful (especially at the end of the game), and extra dialogue options are always fun.

  2. Educated (Intelligence 4). This perk will give you 52 more skill points over the remainder of the game.

  3. Comprehension (Intelligence 4). This perk will give you up to 53 more skill points, depending on how many skill books you find. The bonus to skill magazines is also useful, because it means that you won't need to take most of the utility skills past 80.

  4. Toughness (Endurance 5). A higher DT is a good thing.

  5. Finesse. This perk will add +5% to your critical hit chance.

  6. Sniper (Perception 6, Agility 6). We don't use VATS very often, but when we do we always aim for the head, and so this perk is useful for all weapons, unlike Commando / Gunslinger.

  7. Toughness, Rank 2 (Endurance 5). An even higher DT is an even better good thing.

  8. Better Criticals (Perception 6, Agility 6). This perk will increase your critical damage by 50%.

  9. Strong Back (Strength 5, Endurance 5). 50 extra pounds of carrying capacity is certainly useful, but it's not absolutely necessary, and so this is a perk you can switch to something else.

  10. Bloody Mess. This perk will increase your damage by 5%.

  11. Jury Rigging (Repair 90). This perk will make it much easier to keep your equipment repaired, and Repair is a useful skill to take to 90 or higher anyway.

  12. Tag. Use this perk to add 15 points to some skill that needs help (like Guns or Energy Weapons, if you haven't maxed them out yet).

  13. Meltdown (Energy Weapons 90) / Shotgun Surgeon (Guns 45). Meltdown will turn all of your enemies into living bombs, which can be fun -- but also scary. If you decide to skip the perk, or if you don't plan to use Energy Weapons, then Shotgun Surgeon is a good choice, as it will allow you to use shotguns effectively when things get too close to snipe at.

  14. Laser Commander (Energy Weapons 90) / Weapon Handling (Strength < 10). Laser Commander will give you a damage bonus and a better critical hit chance when you're using laser weapons -- which is great if you're using laser weapons. If not, then you might want to consider Weapon Handling, which will help you meet the Strength requirements of the heavier weapons.

  15. Living Anatomy (Medicine 70). For most of the game you'll probably find humans to be your easiest enemy, but then at the end they'll become much tougher, and the damage bonus from Living Anatomy will come in handy. Plus, it's fun to see the DT's of your enemies.


If you follow this build, then you should end up with over 800 points to spend on your skills. We'd recommend tagging Lockpick, Science, and Speech, since those are the skills you'll want to build up as quickly as possible, and then by-the-by build up Guns or Energy Weapons (or both), plus Medicine, Repair, and Sneak. You shouldn't need to put many points into Barter (since caps are plentiful) or Survival (since Stimpaks and Sunset Sarsaparilla can keep you healed up by themselves), and Explosives, Melee Weapons, and Unarmed should be completely optional to your playing style.