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Fallout: The Wasteland Survival Guide: Prospecting

Updated on April 17, 2015
ANDR01D profile image

ANDR01D writes PC game reviews, comments on the video game industry, and sells video games for commission through Amazon.


Having played through Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas several times each, I figured I would take a stab at compiling my own Wasteland Survival Guide, which was actually the title of a book that appeared in both Fallout 3 (compiled by the player and Moira Brown), and Fallout New Vegas.

Some of this information is available in game loading screens while other times it’s from personal experience.

Throughout the series I'll delve in to areas such as prospecting, combat, food, environments, traps to watch out for, as well as information on questing, leveling up, skill and experience points. This hub focuses on prospecting.

Watch out for spoilers ahead! You've been warned!

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Lockers can often hold interesting items.Safes usually have big rewards when cracked.It pays to have a high lockpick skill to get to areas you might otherwise have missed.Ditto on the hacking skill.Old pre-war buildings might hold vast amounts of loot.If you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty...
Lockers can often hold interesting items.
Lockers can often hold interesting items. | Source
Safes usually have big rewards when cracked.
Safes usually have big rewards when cracked. | Source
It pays to have a high lockpick skill to get to areas you might otherwise have missed.
It pays to have a high lockpick skill to get to areas you might otherwise have missed. | Source
Ditto on the hacking skill.
Ditto on the hacking skill. | Source
Old pre-war buildings might hold vast amounts of loot.
Old pre-war buildings might hold vast amounts of loot. | Source
If you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty...
If you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty... | Source


(Also covered: Hacking, lockpicking)

  • Always search corpses, even if you didn’t take down the person or animal – in fact especially if you didn’t. If you’re fortunate enough to run across other prospectors in caves or vaults strewn across the wasteland, they can have a lot of stuff on them. They may even have a duffel bag with them (why doesn't the player have one of these?) with loads of goods like guns and ammo in them.
  • Even if you all ready have a weapon of a particular type, you should take it, because not only can it be used to repair the weapon you have and keep it in good condition, but it can also be sold for caps.
  • Search rooms thoroughly. Use your Pip-Boy light if you have to. You’ll be surprised what you missed the first time you combed over a room.
  • Assume that everything you come across has some sort of value. Sensor modules and fission batteries can be worth quite a bit of money even if they do add weight to your inventory. Even if you don’t sell items, they can be used in quests to accomplish objectives, or used at benches to combine and make new items.
  • A lot of the best stuff in the game can be stolen. This will of course result in your karma being lowered. You can of course raise it later by doing a lot of good things to make up for the bad. In FNV, a lot of good stuff is to be had at Camp McCarran and Nellis AFB, and you can make tons of money selling it. Just note that you can’t sell items you have stolen from a faction to that faction – only other factions or traders. Make sure you aren’t caught stealing either, because not only will your reputation with that group take a hit, but everything you have ever stolen from that faction will be taken back. Only steal when in sneak mode, and “hidden” appears at the top of your screen. A good sneak skill and stealth boys can help.
  • If you don’t use items, weapons or ammo, sell them to make extra caps.
  • It’s no use having two or more weapons that use the same ammo type. It takes up too much weight. Just pick the one that performs best or does the most damage, and sell the others, or give them to a companion to use.
  • You only need so much ammo, so spare ammo can be given to your companions to hold for you or use themselves, or sold.
  • Having a high barter skill can result in you getting more caps for your goods when selling, and paying less when buying.
  • Hacking a terminal can often open nearby doors or safes. So instead of trying to lockpick a door or safe, you can hack a terminal and kill two birds with one stone. However, that said, you’d get more experience points for doing both which will lead to a quicker levelling up of your character. Picking locks is also generally easier than hacking terminals.
  • To avoid getting locked out of a terminal, exit the terminal after three password attempts. The fourth one if wrong will lock the terminal, and you can only ever open it again with a perk, "Computer Whiz", that needs to be selected when you level up. You can also quicksave before hacking a terminal, and that way if you do get locked out, quickload and try again – but the password won’t be the same. It’s randomised most of the time.
  • To avoid breaking bobby pins, you have to count the number of times you apply pressure with the screwdriver and not succeed. You can exit the lockpicking mini-game and start again before the bobby pin breaks, thus saving bobby pins.
  • Don’t bother with the force lock option when picking doors or safes. Most of the time the lock will break. Rather have a good lockpick skill and persevere. Read skill magazines as needed to improve your chances.
  • Always go in to sneak mode before picking a lock, so you know nobody’s watching you. Because if caught sneaking in to a prohibited area, you will more than likely be reprimanded or even attacked.
  • When you come across safes, doors, terminals or other items that you can’t pick or hack or interact with using some or other skill, or you’ve broken the lock or you’ve been locked out of a terminal, take a screenshot of that item or area and then write in the location name in the filename so you know where it is more or less, so you can go back when you are proficient enough in the required skill or have the right perk to interact with it.

  • You can make some easy caps just by finding bottles of Nuka Cola and Sunset Sarsaparilla and drinking them. Not only will you get a health boost, but other benefits as well. And you’ll get a free bottle cap which you can use to buy things or make weapons with – maybe even a blue star bottle cap!
  • You can use several tricks if you become weighted down by too many items in your inventory. One is to store them in a storage container (but not one that has red writing that comes up on the screen, as the items won’t stay there for long). You can then mark the location on the world map, or take a screenshot and name it, or write it down, so you know where the stash is.
  • The other trick is to store them on a corpse and then use the “z” key on your keyboard to drag it with you. It’s recommended you only do this for short distances as you can’t run while doing this.

  • It might be a bit unethical, but if you have a shovel on you, you can dig up graves, and find some items that have been buried with people. Often you get ammunition.
  • Collectible items like dog tags and snow globes should be kept. They can bring in some much needed money.

© 2012 ANDR01D


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