Fallout: The Wasteland Survival Guide: Combat

Combat

(Also covered: weapons, enemies)

  • When moving through areas, especially ones that are indoors, make sure to have your pip-boy light off. If it’s on you’ll be spotted by enemies and attacked.
  • Using a stealth boy gives you some extra sneaking ability to get by enemies if you are extremely outnumbered and outgunned.
  • Some armours or pieces of clothing might give you sneak bonuses.
  • Always approach enemies in uncharted territory by using sneak. You’ll get a critical hit bonus if you attack someone. This can be amplified if you use a weapon which grants critical hit bonuses. These weapons are either melee like the combat knife, or suppressed like the .22 silenced pistol. You can often take down enemies with one shot this way.
  • To avoid falling in to an ambush, such as that encountered in Vault 11 in FNV (the scene resembling that from Soylent Green), you can use a stealth boy. Then when enemies come in to try to take you out en mass, you are hidden and you can sneak out or engage them. Note that once you have attacked somebody, they will then be able to tell where you are even if cloaked.
  • It may be a good idea when outnumbered to equip a weapon with a suppressor on it. Preferably go for the .22 silenced pistol, the .22 silenced submachine gun, .45 auto pistol with the suppressor mod, or Ratslayer (which is essentially a Varmint rifle with extended mags, nightvision scope and suppressor mods) if you have it. Otherwise, a sniper rifle or anti-material rifle with a suppressor can do as well. You can also attack with a melee weapon, but make sure you are the first to attack and they don’t get a shot off, otherwise you risk attracting too much attention.
  • If you have companions with you, you might want to tell them to remain in passive mode and not attack, or use suppressed weapons or melee weapons if they have them. If they still give the game away, then tell them to wait somewhere until you've cleared the area.
  • Always try and take the high ground in combat. This can be at the top of a staircase indoors, or a balcony or natural plateau or cliff outdoors. This, particularly against enemies who rely on melee attacks, like animals, creates more distance between you and your attackers, and puts you out of reach.
  • You can, if you take the time, possibly create barriers or barricades that will also prevent enemies from getting right on top of you, by picking up and moving items. This could be a whole bunch of junk objects stacked in front of a door, for example.
  • Don’t rely on binoculars to spot enemies. Rather use a rifle with a scope. It achieves the same result, and you aren't left caught with your pants down if an enemy appears out of nowhere.
  • If you can, try and take out targets from afar with a rifle of some sort. A sniper rifle, or hunting rifle with a scope will do nicely for better magnification, rather than just aiming down the sights with the variety of lever-action rifles in the game.
  • Make sure to have a high perception special ability (the “p” stands for perception). This will put red blips on your compass earlier than it usually would, telling you that there are enemies nearby.
  • You should periodically press your “v” key for V.A.T.S. to see exactly where they enemies are. You don’t necessarily have to use V.A.T.S. for combat (because it’s not always that great, particularly at long distance). You’ve a better chance of sniping an enemy from afar in real time rather than using V.A.T.S. In this situation it becomes more of a scouting tool.
  • You should note that V.A.T.S. should be used with care. Don’t always rely on it. V.A.T.S. restricts mobility, so you can’t run or move to take cover behind objects while in V.A.T.S. mode like you can in real-time combat. You’re also restricted to having to use up action points which run dry long before you’ve emptied out a whole magazine of bullets, so you’ll only get a few shots or bursts of gunfire out of it. You’re also more vulnerable in V.A.T.S. because you can’t block with melee weapons, and you also take more damage (especially in FNV) than you normally would. In short, use V.A.T.S. in close quarters combat and only when your back is against the wall against multiple enemies.
  • Consider not taking a shot if your chance to hit in V.A.T.S. is too low. Anything below 50% certainly isn't worth wasting your ammunition, or the risk of giving away your position. If the chance to hit is that low, you are likely outside the effective range of your weapon or the target is too concealed. Switching to a more appropriate weapon may improve you chances.
  • Don’t go for the limbs. That’s pointless most of the time. Spend ammo and action points on the torso or the head. A high powered gun ought to take an enemy down fairly quickly. Even if an enemy doesn't die when hit in the head, they may well be stunned temporarily. Only go for the limbs if you want to stop them from fleeing and possibly calling for reinforcements.
  • There are certain parts on robots, turrets, and mutated insects like antennae and targeting devices that if damaged can make these enemies become frenzied or go berserk and attack anything around them, even their allies.
  • You can also hack robots if you sneak up behind them with the appropriate perk, and shut them down.
  • Turrets can be disabled through nearby terminals that might require hacking to get to first.
  • Prioritise when in combat. Focus on the enemy that presents the biggest threat. Take down an enemy who is closest to you and is in attack mode and fully aware of your presence. Enemies in the distance who are not as alert and don’t pose much of a threat, or who have been damaged almost to the point of death are not as high a priority. Your companions, if you have any, will finish them off, while you focus on the fully charged enemy right in front of you.
  • Make sure to give your companions nice equipment like good armour and guns. You shouldn’t have all the fun! Also slip them some stimpaks so they can reclaim lost health quicker than they normally would, and it saves you having to always check on their health and administer stimpaks yourself.
  • Always carry around more than one firearm and have more than one ammo type too. If you are up against a heavily armoured foe, it would pay to switch to armour piercing rounds instead of using normal or hollow point rounds. Hollow point rounds are good for most animals and unarmoured enemies. Not all weapons use either of these ammunition types, so you will have to closely read the descriptions accompanying that ammo type given to you.
  • The reason you should have more than one weapons type is because no one weapon is best for all situations. Shotguns are good against unarmoured foes, close to medium distance. Rifles, particularly with AP bullets, are best against armoured enemies, and even up to a mile away (not literally).
  • Always keep your weapons in good condition. If the condition is too low, they can be blocked by an enemies damage threshold or DT, if the DT is greater than the weapon’s DAM or damage.
  • Weapons can also jam if the condition is very low, and this is the last thing you want to happen when in a firefight!
  • Weapons with a high DPS or damage per second, and a low DAM, should be used only against unarmoured foes.
  • Don’t waste valuable ammunition on small, easy to kill enemies. For most insects for example, you can use something common like 9 mm, 10 mm or 5.56 mm bullets. Rarer ammo like .308, 50. and especially .45-70 Govt. should be kept for larger game.
  • You can make ammo if you have the correct items, like leads, primers, hulls or cases, powder, etc, as well as a high repair skill. Also, having the appropriate perks will unlock all reloading recipes at the reloading bench.
  • Surplus ammo can be bought in bulk and is cheaper than regular ammunition. But just note that ammunition manufactured in this way is not as good as regular ammo found and bought in the game, and will do less damage against enemies as a result.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
You can tell how much health an enemy has by looking at the red bars at the bottom of the screen.Companions can either be a saving grace in a combat, or a liability when trying to be stealthy.Put a leash on that gung-ho companion of yours.Keep your weapons in tip top condition so they don't jam in the middle of firefights, and do maximum damage.V.A.T.S. can be handy for taking down small, agile enemies which are hard to get a bead on otherwise. This will stop you from wasting ammo trying to hit them.Using the iron sights on a weapon is far more accurate than firing from the hip.Some weapons have splash damage that will injure enemies in the vicinity of the blast.Use V.A.T.S. with caution! It can mean the death of you.Energy weapons use less varieties of ammo. Alien technology can be harder to come across though.
Source
You can tell how much health an enemy has by looking at the red bars at the bottom of the screen.
You can tell how much health an enemy has by looking at the red bars at the bottom of the screen. | Source
Companions can either be a saving grace in a combat, or a liability when trying to be stealthy.
Companions can either be a saving grace in a combat, or a liability when trying to be stealthy. | Source
Put a leash on that gung-ho companion of yours.
Put a leash on that gung-ho companion of yours. | Source
Keep your weapons in tip top condition so they don't jam in the middle of firefights, and do maximum damage.
Keep your weapons in tip top condition so they don't jam in the middle of firefights, and do maximum damage. | Source
Source
V.A.T.S. can be handy for taking down small, agile enemies which are hard to get a bead on otherwise. This will stop you from wasting ammo trying to hit them.
V.A.T.S. can be handy for taking down small, agile enemies which are hard to get a bead on otherwise. This will stop you from wasting ammo trying to hit them. | Source
Using the iron sights on a weapon is far more accurate than firing from the hip.
Using the iron sights on a weapon is far more accurate than firing from the hip. | Source
Some weapons have splash damage that will injure enemies in the vicinity of the blast.
Some weapons have splash damage that will injure enemies in the vicinity of the blast. | Source
Use V.A.T.S. with caution! It can mean the death of you.
Use V.A.T.S. with caution! It can mean the death of you. | Source
Energy weapons use less varieties of ammo. Alien technology can be harder to come across though.
Energy weapons use less varieties of ammo. Alien technology can be harder to come across though. | Source
  • It might be a good idea to switch off kill cam in options menu. You’ll always get the kill cam in V.A.T.S. mode where everything is in slow-mo. But in real-time combat you have the option to switch it off. Kill cams are only supposed to play when the last of a group of enemies is killed, but this isn’t always the case. Kill cam can get you killed because while you’re watching an enemy flopping about after having been taken down, another enemy can take you down. This is also why V.A.T.S is so dangerous and should be used with caution.
  • Grenades and dynamite can work for you when there’s a tight group of enemies. Don’t waste it on one enemy at a time. If you have the opportunity to take out a whole bunch, that’s when you use it.
  • Another opportune moment is to lob grenades in to rooms that have multiple enemies in. Enemies might try and flee grenades and you can take them down easily when they break cover.
  • Make sure to use the right type of grenade. Use pulse grenades for robots, and incendiary grenades are particularly good against human or animal foes, especially if unarmoured, because they are burned with napalm even after the initial explosion.
  • Make sure to go in to battle without any negative effects, like sleep, food or water deprivation. These may make you less effective in battle. It’s like Napoleon once said: “An army marches on its stomach.”
  • Save stimpaks and doctors bags for critical situations. You can eat to regain health, or rest – the latter can improve health and heal limbs. Hydra can also be used to restore limb condition. Doctors bags should only be used for crippled limbs that no longer function normally. Healing powder and food can also be be made at campfires found around the wasteland.
  • Autostimpaks and autosuperstimpaks are great things to craft at a bench if you have the right materials and the right amount of skill. Then in combat, they sense when your health is too low, and you are automatically healed without having to pause and bring up your Pip-Boy and do it manually.
  • Always reload and tend to health and wounds after a firefight before getting involved in another. One reason why you should do this is because in V.A.T.S., reloading your weapon, although sped up somewhat, uses up valuable action points.
  • Set a secondary weapon as one of your hotkeys so if you run out of ammo for your primary, don’t waste time reloading, switch to your secondary which is already fully loaded and resume fire. You have 7 hotkey slots (1 - 8 minus 2 on your keyboard, which is reserved for switching ammo types). Use them all! Make sure to have them loaded with the right type of ammo before you assign them to a hotkey slot.
  • The best position for firing a firearm is to stop, crouch, and aim down the sights before firing. Standing, especially while running, and firing from the hip – you will be less accurate, unless you have a perk that allows you to run while firing (but only with one handed weapons like pistols and submachine guns) without sacrificing accuracy.
  • Laser weapons and plasma weapons are a good alternative to regular firearms because there are many less ammo types out there, and no such thing as armor piercing or hollow points either. They’re also relatively inexpensive to buy. The drawback is that they aren’t much good against armoured enemies in general, and don’t really do as much damage as most firearms. They’re also less common to find, but for this reason are generally worth more when sold.
  • The good thing about using melee weapons is that you don’t have to worry about ammunition, usually, unless you’re using something like a Shishkebob. The downside is you have to get up close and personal, and can often be taken down before you reach your enemy.
  • Unarmed combat doesn’t rely on ammunition or weapon condition, as long as you use your fists. If you rely on power fists then you must maintain them.
  • Once you’ve taken down enemies, you should hide them. You can use the “z” key on your keyboard to drag them out of the way. Enemies who see corpses lying around are much more likely to become alert.
  • It’s worth investing in buying mods for weapons, as they can do one of several things, like increase damage, reduce spread, reduce weight, increase rate of fire, increase magazine capacity or add suppressors, making the weapon quieter. Some mods can also increase the weapon’s condition, which gives it a more time before it needs repairing.
  • Some enemies are so tough that you can’t just rely on guns to get the job done. You might need to set some traps. Try putting mines in a bottleneck so that when they pass through it, they are damaged or even eliminated.
  • You might need to prepare for a fight beforehand by using MedX, Jet and Psycho, and Slasher if you have it, to give you better odds.
  • When using guns, there is no perfect gun. Guns that do very high damage often have a slower rate of fire and have smaller magazines, like the Anti-material rifle. Guns that have a high rate of fire and have larger magazines do less damage, like the minigun.
  • Generally, lever action rifles are better than bolt action ones when it comes to both magazine capacity and rate of fire, and sometimes even damage.
  • Semi-automatic or fully automatic rifles, submachine guns, and light machine guns have better rate of fire and ammunition capacity than both bolt action and lever action, but do less damage most of the time.
  • As for shotguns, semi-auto is the way to go, with a higher rate of fire and ammunition capacity, than pump action, lever action, and breach loaders. Pump actions do slightly more damage however.
  • Revolvers have lower ammunition capacity than semi-auto magazine fed pistols, but do far more damage in general.
  • Another thing to take in to account is range. We know that sniper rifles are better for great distances, and that assault rifles and lever action rifles are good enough for medium to long range. Pistols, submachine guns and shotguns, at least in their unmodified states, are less accurate at longer ranges in the game, and are mainly meant for close quarters combat. You can however modify say a hunting shotgun with a choke which reduces spread, which would increase its range. You can also load it with different ammo. Try slugs or magnum rounds rather than buckshot. This will increase range but will also increase the wear the weapon sustains. Thanks go to kschang in the comments below for this. I just elaborated on it a bit.
  • Whenever you see an enemy, try and utilise whatever cover you can find, and stay behind it until the enemy firing at you with a firearm has to reload. You might have to count the shots, and this is easier to do with revolvers, pistols, and some rifles – or at least they have less shots before they have to reload. Listen out for when they reload and then you can pop out from behind cover and take them out.
  • Enemies have different combat behaviour. Some will fire at you from a distance with rifles or other similar weapons. Others will charge your position or flank you and take you by surprise. This is often dependent on their preferred weapon or method of combat. Some prefer guns, others like to get up close and personal with melee weapons or hand to hand combat. Beware those who use explosives like grenades or missile-based weapons, because you often can’t stand in one place for too long!

© 2012 ANDR01D

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

kschang profile image

kschang 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

Just one additional note: different weapons have different ranges. Don't expect to kill anything with a pistol or SMG or shotgun except point-blank range or under 10 meters. Rifles are goo out to 50 at least, and sniper files are out to 150m (roughly speaking, in game terms).

In general, go for the head in VATS. Even if you don't kill the guy you have a decent chance of stunning him. I generally don't shoot unless I have at least 70% chance to hit.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working