Monthly Archives: January 2011

Nine-Inch Nails (strategy)

Eh... good luck with that.

Perhaps no other abominations in the game can be as difficult and as maddening as Deathclaws. Only a couple other creatures can boast having more hit points, and Deathclaws hang about in groups to make things even better. So if you’re not packing the firepower (and the XP to use it), your best bet is to avoid them altogether. But if you have to rock n’ roll, here a few pointers that I’ve learned the hard way:

1) Sneak-attack from above. Scoring criticals against these beasts is the best way to take them down without draining your ammo supplies, and the easiest way to do that is to catch them off-guard. Problem is, only the most powerful weapons in the game can actually kill a Deathclaw in one shot, so you better be ready for a counterattack. But if you engage them from an unreachable perch, you can turn an otherwise very dangerous situation into a shooting gallery. Depending on your perks, plasma rifles, sniper rifles, and any kind of explosive always work best against them.

2) Use your companions. I never travel anywhere now without ED-E and Lily, and sometimes I even call on an NCR trooper to better my odds in a battle. If ever you need companions in a Fallout skirmish, it will be against a pack of Deathclaws. ED-E provides my ranged cover fire (hardly ever missing with the upgraded laser), while Lily goes in as my tank, smashing shit with extreme prejudice using the Super-Sledge, Oh, Baby! (AND she also happens to add +10% damage to crits I score while sneaking). Unless you’re in Hardcore mode, your companions never die but merely get knocked-out during a fight. That could still spell your doom when things get harry, so you should still do your own fighting from a perch when it comes to Deathclaws (as it will only take a few moments for them to slash you to bits while your companions are incapacitated).

3) Blow them up! Characters with a high Explosives skill shouldn’t have too much trouble. Frag grenades and missiles will make easy clean-up. However, if your Explosives is low (which is usually the case with my characters), now would be the perfect time to use a skill magazine (or two). The Comprehension perk will allow you to add 20, and anything putting your skill above 50 will greatly increase your accuracy and effectiveness with everything that goes BOOM.

Another very deadly creature (new to New Vegas) is the Cazador. If these giant hornet-like pests swarm you, chances are you WILL die. I was going to save this tip for another post, but what the hell. Unless you’re packing a flamer, your best bet here is to AIM FOR THE ANTENNAE. This will cause the Cazador to frenzy and take on some of its fellow swarm. Times that by three or four, and your chances of taking these things out will have increased ten fold. And if all else fails, aim to cripple their wings and RUN. Otherwise, these vicious bastards will make a poison-seeping pin cushion out of you.


Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Fallout 3, New Vegas, Strategy


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Speak Easy (strategy)

We really need to stop meeting like this...

I’ve noticed while playing New Vegas that the Speech and Barter skills come much more into play than they did in Fallout 3. In fact, it seems as though one or the other (or both) grant potential dialogue choices in damn near every conversation, especially in regards to the Main Quest. With Barter, it just comes down to squeezing out more caps from a deal. A good Speech skill, however, can usually mean completing a quest in half the time it would take otherwise. One of the best examples of this would be when you first go to meet Benny at the Tops Casino. A Speech of 60 or higher can make this quest short and sweet, whereby you convince Benny to accompany you back to the Presidential Suite without his goons. Then you can take him out with minimum fuss and it’s done. Any other path you take with this meeting will either cause you a lot of trouble, or draw out the quest a hell of a lot longer. Thus, I highly recommend making Speech your fourth tag skill (either figuratively or literally), and pump at least five points of every level-up into Speech (or every other level, alternating between Speech and Lockpick).

Happy persuading!

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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in New Vegas, Strategy


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A Big Iron on His Hip (strategy)

The good, the bad and the ugly are now ONE.

We all know there are several character archetypes you can go with when starting your campaign. But for some reason, I’m always tempted back to the good ‘ol gunslinger. I guess it’s just too ingrained in my nostalgic American psyche. Oh well, fuck it. Here are some tips on how to creat a kick-ass cowboy (or girl) with the big iron on his (her) hip.
Agility and Perception – These have to be big out the starting gate. Agility should be set at a solid 7 or 8. Perception also needs to be high; however, tons of head gear items around the Mojave Wasteland will lend you Perception bonuses. Additionally, if you choose the Four Eyes trait (granting a +2 to perception while wearing any pair of glasses), your gunslinger should always be walking around with a +3 to Perception. So when choosing your stats at the outset, you can afford a Perception of 6 instead of 7 at creation. (Note: In order to have access to all the Perception perks, you will still have to train later in the game for +1 to your base Perception.)
Strength – And that extra point or two saved from Perception should go to Strength. For light armor and light weapons characters, this stat is often overlooked. But not only does it contribute greatly to how much weight you can carry, it also contributes to the effective use of certain weapons. For example, in order to get the most accuracy from the powerful pistol That Gun, you need a Strength of 6 or higher (and 7 or higher for the 12.7mm pistol).
Endurance – Since you’re not going to be wearing power armor, you’re going to need some additional hit points for those close encounters. Setting this stat at 5 or 6 should suffice, but definitely do not fall below 5.
Intelligence – Having those additional skill points and dialogue options are nice, but not essential to your gunslinger role. I’d keep this one at 5, bearing in mind that you can always make strategic use of those new skill magazines to satisfy any important science challenges.
Charisma – Five. You sure as hell aren’t going to be known for your eloquence.
Luck – Stay at 5. We make our own luck.
Here were my intial stats:
S – 6
P – 6
E – 5
C – 5
I  – 5
A – 8
L – 5
Skills are another matter entirely. As a small guns aficionado, it will be tempting to tag both Guns AND Energy Weapons for your primary combat skills. However, one of the best new perks available to gunslinger-type characters is Cowboy, which requires a 45 skill for Guns and MELEE WEAPONS. Yes, folks, the wiser decision is to have that Plan B if your enemy gets past your gun’s Plan A. So having a good melee weapon at your dispense is, well, indespensible. This is another reason to give yourself a little more base strength at the outset. As your third tag skill, you may automatically think Repair is the best way to go (and such was the case in Fallout 3). But New Vegas offers additional options for repairing and maintaining items, such as Weapon Repair Kits (both to find and to make) and the fact that you can now repair weapons and clothing on a cumulative rather than a threshold basis. So an extremely high Repair skill is not near as vital as previous. I’d recommend either Medical or Lockpick as your third tag skill. Neither of these have changed much, especially for the latter, and both are still crucial for serious adventuring.

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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in New Vegas, Strategy


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Bitchez and Bottlecapz (strategy)

Ladies and gentlemen... the Kneecapper.

My first destination out of the vault: Megaton. But not on account of my search for Daddy. No… my movitivation was even baser than that. I just wanted my first key piece of free shit which would come in the form of a custom Armored Vault 101 Jumpsuit, compliments of crazy-ass Moira at Craterside Supply. Of course, I tipped my hat to the Sheriff on the way in, and just as soon as my Explosives skill was high enough, I told him that I’d be happy to disarm that bomb free-of-charge. (By the way, the Amored Vault 101 Jumpsuit not only looks awesome, it has a decent damage resistance for early in the game and offers +5 to both Small Guns and Energy Weapons.)

So at this point, Scarlett was looking good. Now I just needed to get her hands on a weapon better than a 10mm pistol. That’s why my next stop would be Girdershade. Nothing screams Mad Maxine like a double-barrel sawed-off shotgun hanging at the hip. But first I had to cover some ground, and into the south western desert I went. Ran into a few mole rats and a pack of wild dogs. Easily dispatched. The real action came with three raiders. And guess what? The bitch with the Mohawk whose skull I crushed with my baseball bat carried a sawed-off shotgun. Perfect, because it could be used to repair the sawed-off I was really after, the Kneecapper, which would be in the possession of a perverted prick named Ronald Laren. Girdershade—population 2—was about to get a new census. And I was about to get some ill-earned bad karma.

Oh, well. By the end of day one, I walked out of the late Mr. Laren’s shack holding one of the best one-handed weapons in the game. Then I visited the other half of the town, Laren’s bat shit crazy neighbor, Sierra Petrovita. The first crazy bitch back in Megaton, Moira, started my swag machine for helping her write a bad book. This crazy bitch, Sierra, would start my money machine to the chime of 40 caps per Nuka Quantum. Seemed like the least she could offer considering I saved her sweet ass repeated rapes from Ronny boy.

That night, I sought out a nearby hidden dwelling in the rock walls. Rockopolis was no longer of use to its tenant, who laid dead in the corner. Helped myself to an extra 10mm pistol and the Unarmed Bobblehead. Also learned a little something about some slave traders up north. Not my style, but interesting.

The next day saw more traversing the goddamn desert. Headed north to find another Bobblehead (Explosives) in a sewage tunnel behind the WKML Station building. Some other shit in there as well… a good little cache. I took on about six more raiders, but this time I had a special surprise for each of them in the form of shotgun slugs to their greasy faces.

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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Fallout 3, Strategy


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The Best Laid Plans of Bobbleheads and Men (strategy)

Yours today from Vault-Tec... collect all 20!

So now that you’re ensconced in the scorched wastelands of Fallout 3 (and already growing a third nipple), mayhap is you need a little direction. But before I get started, it would behoove you to get the Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition if you’re still looking to purchase a copy. It has all the expansions, and you will end up saving about $20 if you were thinking about purchasing them separately via Xbox Live down the road. Plus, they’re all great (except maybe  “The Pitt”).

One thing I thought was interesting when I spoke with a couple of my friends who have been playing Fallout 3 for the last couple years, was that neither of them (in any of their campaigns) had collected even half of the elusive Bobbleheads. My dear reader, that is simply a TRAGEDY for anyone who is serious about playing this game. As soon as you get past your childhood prologue, and that Vault 101 alarm goes off, it’s time to start your Bobblehead Collection! There are 20 of these little lovelies spread all over the map, and if you’re smart you’ll make sure none of them end up on Antique Road Show. Remember the Oghma Infinium skill book from Oblivian? Well, each bobblehead is like a mini-Oghma Infinium, adding either one point to a particular S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat or ten points to a particular skill (remember that one point added to the former also adds multiple points to that stat’s derived skills). Multiply that by 20, and you have a Thunderdome full of free experience. Collecting these bobbleheads has another huge benefit as well: you’ll get a grand tour of the Capital Wasteland, traversing just about every sector of every zone. This will obviously come in handy later when you need to fast travel to otherwise out-of-the-way spots. It’s important to note here that only two of the 20 bobbleheads have to be procured as part of the Main Quest (well, three if you count the very first bobblehead you snatch from your Father’s lab during the prologue). The other 17 are out there and ready for you to find as soon as you exit the vault. Some of them are incredibly easy to get your grubby hands on, while others offer much more the challenge. Below, I’ve listed the 18 bobbleheads I procured (BEFORE completing the Main Quest) along with their locations in order of easiest to hardest in terms of getting to them. Refer to your Prima Guide (you do have one, right?) map for the exact locations.

Medicine (Vault 101) – Just head back into your Dad’s lab after all hell breaking loose.

Unarmed (Rockopolis) – Once you find the hidden passage, it’s right next to the dead body inside.

Big Guns (Fort Constantine) – Explore the shack on the premises. There’s an open safe…

Explosives (WKML Station) – Find the hidden sewage grate on the south side of complex. Check the cistern next to the radio.

Perception (The Republic of Dave) – Venture into the Museum of Dave. It’s on a bookcase shelf.

Repair (Arefu) – Make your way to Evan King’s house. It’s on a table.

Intelligence (Rivet City) – In the Science Lab on a table.

Science (Vault 106) – Deep into the complex in the Medical Bay. You’ll have to take on about ten vault survivors who have lost their sanity. Otherwise, this place is spooky but not too dangerous.

Strength (Megaton) – Find it on a bedroom table in the Sheriff’s house. Unfortunately, you’ll need a Lockpick skill of 50 or higher to even attempt the front door. You should be consistently building this skill, anyway; however, you may have to make this bobblehead procurement one of your last stops in order to give yourself time to do so. Note: If you already have the Lockpick Bobblehead from the Bethesda Ruins (see below), combine that with your Vault 101 Jumpsuit and that gives you a total boost of 15 to the skill. So with a Lockpick base of 35, you’ll be good to go.

Those are the easy ones that entail little to no combat. This next batch gets a little stickier…

Agility (Greener Pastures Waste Dump) – Put on your Radiation Suit or use some Rad-X because you’ll have to sustain a lot of RADs in order to get to the main building on the site. The bobblehead is inside the offices on a desk. There were ghouls running around but they didn’t seem to be hostile.

Endurance (Deathclaw Sanctuary) – Make sure you have some good weapons or explosives because you’ll have to take out a Deathclaw that guards the entrance (a VERY tough enemy). After that it’s a cakewalk (albeit you might want to make it a hidden cakewalk as you make your way inside to the first chamber). The bobblehead is next to a pile of corpses. You should be able to grab it and to get out without being detected.

Lockpick (Bethesda Ruins) – There are raiders everywhere around the streets. Make your way fast to the Bethesda Offices East and be prepared for several skirmishes as you ascend. The little guy is on a desk in the main office of the top floor.

Sneak (Yao Guai Tunnels) – This one can be tough or relatively easy, depending on your weaponry. Regardless, you’ll have to face about six Yao Guais before finally collecting your prize on the eastern side of the main den.

Charisma (Vault 108) – Once again, you’ll have to make your way deep into the facility in order to get to the Cloning Lab. And if you haven’t surmised already, you’ll be fighting about ten deranged clones of a man named Gary (which made me laugh out loud about five times!)

Luck (Arlington House) – Arlington Cemetery is in the D.C. Interior and only accessible via the subway network. The best way to start working your way in would be at the Anacostia Crossing near the Rivet City entrance. You’ll have to do quite a bit of tunneling before reaching the Arlington Station, and thus, you’re in for quite a few fights along the way (mainly raiders, feral ghouls, and Mirelurks). Once you find the house atop a drumlin overlooking the cemetery, the bobblehead is in the basement.

These last bobbleheads are downright tough to get to as you’ll be taking on scores of average to hard enemies. Save your game often and bring plenty of Stimpaks…

Barter (Evergreen Mills) – If you take on this place like I did, then you’re in for one hell of a battle. But unless you have a very high stealth and try to infiltrate at night, I don’t see any way around it. This old mill (the name couldn’t be more ironic) is a large raider base and slave camp with about ten guards just on the perimeter alone. And not making things any better is a Super Mutant Behemoth running around. If you haven’t tackled one of these monsters yet, then be prepared to die a few times. Yet as strong as these mutants are (four times the health of a Deathclaw), they’re not too bright. Lay plenty of mines and keep retreating into any alcove as the behemoths are usually too big to follow (but do not try to outrun them as each of their strides equal about three of your own). Then just be patient because even a few critical hits with a powerful weapon will not take these guys out quickly. Once he’s down and you’ve cleared a path, head for the entrance and be ready for lots of rifling around in the dark. The bobblehead is underground in the Bazaar, on a shelf behind Smiling Jack’s workbench.

Melee Weapons (Dunwich Building) – This one really isn’t as tough as Evergreen Mills, but it’s still a bitch not to mention really creepy. If you haven’t run into a feral ghoul yet, then get ready for about 30 of them to run into you! These enemies are fast and dangerous, but not very strong and can be taken down easily with almost any energy weapon. You’ll have to delve pretty far into the pitch black, radioactive darkness before finding some metal stairs that lead to a lone chamber. Mr. Bobblehead is on the floor grate.

Small Guns (National Guard Depot) – Whelp, this one is the “Rumble in the Concrete Jungle.” Just try not to confuse the National Guard Depot for Fort Knox, because that’s the kind of security you’re in for. Security meaning every robotic terror in the game! Have plenty of pulse grenades as you will be using ALL of them. If you’re good at hacking, that will also come in handy here in order to disarm some particularly nasty turrets. Your goal is to find your way to the top floor of the offices and flip an electrical switch (the red one on the wall next to the downed Nuka Cola machine) in order to gain access to the Armory on the basement level. Head in there and find the well-earned bobblehead on an equipment storage shelf.

So there you have it. Behold the power of the Bobblehead, my friend. Now you can hit that irradiated dirt at a dead run.

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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Fallout 3, Strategy


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