xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx FAQ TITLE: The Fallout: New Vegas Not-So-Ultimate Stealth Character Guide COPYRIGHT INFO: This FAQ is copyright 2011 by Stanley E. Dunigan ([email protected]). This FAQ may be posted and used anywhere by anyone as long as it's unaltered, but always check one of the official host websites listed below for the latest version. GameFAQs (www.gamefaqs.com) -- always the first site updated Neoseeker (www.neoseeker.com) Game Guide World (gameguideworld.net) SuperCheats (www.supercheats.com) Cheat Happens (www.cheathappens.com) Check the Universal Hint System (www.uhs-hints.com) for my complete Fallout: New Vegas hint file. It's not a FAQ-style walkthru, but instead organizes the hints into a hypertext-like Q&A document, making it easier to find the hints you need without accidentally seeing other hints you don't want yet. It's a great resource for detailed quest and reference information that I didn't include in this FAQ. FAQ DESCRIPTION: It's not possible to make an ultimate stealth character in Fallout NV like you could in Fallout 3, but this FAQ is dedicated to helping stealth fanatics make the best stealth character possible. The stealth build given even works pretty well on the "very hard" difficulty setting, though you have to be really careful to take tough enemies down at range. As in Fallout 3, "very hard" difficulty will have you doing half damage and enemies doing you double damage. And you don't even get extra combat XP for that in this game. What a rip-off! Everything in this FAQ is based on playthrus of the PC version of Fallout: New Vegas with the latest patches (forcibly applied by Steam) as of the date given in the top version note below. Any differences you experience will probably be due to playing on a different gaming platform or not letting Steam update the game by playing it in offline mode. If you have tips for improving my stealth build or the V.A.T.S. reference section, or have a different stealth build that you want to share, send me an email at the address given in the copyright section. VERSION 2.0 (12/6/2011) NOTES AND CREDITS: This release just adds in some info on the Light Touch perk that Daniel Franc sent me. It seems that the perk actually does work, just not like I thought it should. VERSION 1.9 (9/29/2011): info on the new Lonesome Road add-on, including Blood- Nap, H&H Tools nail guns, Old Glory, riot gear helmets, the Tunnel Runner perk, the Broad Daylight perk, the Just Lucky I'm Alive perk, Elite Riot Gear, Ulysses' Duster, Armor of the 87th Tribe, Marked Beast Face Helmet, Certified Tech perk, Voracious Reader perk, Courier Duster, Nuka-Cola Quantums, Ain't Like That Now perk, Camarader-E perk, and Lonesome Road perk & info on the Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on, including 12.7mm submachine gun (GRA), anti-materiel rifle (GRA), chainsaw (GRA), Li'l Devil, Medicine Stick, Nuka-Breaker, Paciencia, Sleepytyme, the Smitty Special, Sprtel-Wood 9700, and the 12.7mm round (hand load), 5mm JSP (hand load), and .50 MG explosive ammo types VERSION 1.8 (8/6/2011): info on the Old World Blues add-on, including the Stealth Suit Mk II, Christine's COS Silencer Rifle, the sonic emitter, protonic inversal axes, Dr. Mobius' Glove, super-heated Saturnite fists, an unlimited stealth boy resource, and the Implant M-5 and Mile in Their Shoes perks & two new V.A.T.S.-related perks (Atomic! and Implant Y-7) and a V.A.T.S.-related chem (battle brew) & game version 1.4 patch updates to the Plasma Spaz perk, getting random items from merchants, and Lily using her special stealth boy VERSION 1.7 (5/30/2011): info on the Honest Hearts add-on, including the Fight the Power! perk, .45 auto pistols, .45 auto submachine guns, the Grunt perk, the Compliance Regulator laser pistol, and Joshua Graham's armor & update to method for getting random items from merchants & ranger sequoia pistol info VERSION 1.6 (5/12/2011): info on changes made to the following weapons in the version 1.3 game update: silenced .22 pistols, sniper rifles, 12.7mm submachine guns, chainsaws, thermic lances, anti-materiel rifles, and brush guns. VERSION 1.5 (4/19/2011): shishkebab source for level 21+ & alternative to loading old save for merchant-respawning glitch & getting fallen followers to revive during combats & Alexander has rifle powder & using jet along with rocket & correction to requirements for Beautiful Beatdown perk & when the stealth-boy- giving Legion guy is at the safehouse & best places to get armor-piercing 5mm ammo & info on C-4 Plastic Explosives & Hunter perk info added & four more perks metioned in the V.A.T.S. reference section & specific number of NCR dog tags needed to give Aurelius VERSION 1.4 (3/8/2011): info on the Dead Money add-on, including the Assassin Suit, the holorifle, the reinforced Sierra Madre armor, and a couple of useful new perks. VERSION 1.3 (2/24/2011): info on ranger hats and the best light armor & Silent Running stealth perk's description updated & Beautiful Beatdown perk added to V.A.T.S. perk list & updated info on ultrajet availability & corrected skill requirement for making rocket chems. VERSION 1.2 (1/18/2011): best sneak-attack automatic weapons & two silenced unique weapons & getting sniper rifles and 12.7mm pistols by ambushing NCR troopers at Hoover Dam's visitor center & way to deal with the pesky "day of the week doesn't update after loading a save" glitch when trying to get random stuff from merchants & Day Tripper perk increases stealth boy duration & Lucky Shades added to the suggested character build & moved the Professional perk up in the build's perk list & quest-related source for 10 coyote tobacco chews. VERSION 1.1 (1/6/2011): info about the Reinforced Chinese Stealth Suit (RCSS) add-on module that Tim Narvaez told me about. VERSION 1.0 (1/2/2011): original version. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ********************* *** STEALTH ARMOR *** ********************* Bad news, stealth fans. The Chinese Stealth Armor that you know and love from Fallout 3 does exist in Fallout: New Vegas, but it no longer has a stealth field on it. It's identical to recon armor except that it's light armor with a max DT of 12, whereas recon armor is medium armor with a max DT of 17. If you want a light armor suit that increases your Sneak skill by 5 points, you may want to go get the stealth armor despite its lack of a stealth field. The only two Chinese Stealth Armor suits in the game are both at Hoover Dam, which is over on the east side of the world map, connecting Lake Mead to the Colorado River. Enter the visitor center, then take the elevator to the Power Plant 01 area. Turn right and go through a doorway, then go through the guarded door that leads to the offices area. Go down to the end of the hall and turn right, then go to the end of the next hall and turn right. Repeat that one more time to reach a dead end next to a door. Go through the door and turn left to find a pile of wooden crates. They're all empty except for the one that contains the stealth armor. Take it sneakily, since it's technically owned by the NCR. There is a user-created module available that adds two dragoon-brand suits of armor to the game, one of which has a stealth field on it that works similarly to the one on Fallout 3's Chinese Stealth Armor. However, a bit of playtesting showed that the dragoon armor doesn't work nearly as well in close proximity, so melee and unarmed stealth characters won't be much better off. However, ranged stealth characters will find the dragoon armor to be far superior to Fallout NV's sabotaged Chinese Stealth Armor. To get the RCSS module, go to www.newvegasnexus.com, register for a free account if you don't already have one, then do a file search on the name "reinforced chinese stealth suit." If you want to use the Chinese Stealth Armor instead of getting the RCSS module, there are a couple of things you should note. First, you can use the weightless ranger hat items to repair it after you get the Jury Rigging perk. They're handy since you can carry any number of them around all the time without adding to your inventory weight at all. You can get them by ambush-killing rangers at areas like Camp Golf (just west of Lake Mead). Also note that there are better suits of light armor that you'll probably want to switch to after getting your Sneak skill up to where a +5 bonus doesn't help much. The unique All-Purpose Science Suit has a max DT of 13 and only weighs 2 pounds, but you can't wear any headgear with it. You'll probably prefer the Vault 34 security armor, which weighs 15 pounds, but has a max DT of 16 and allows you to wear headgear. You can get several suits of Vault 34 security armor in the ghoul-infested Vault 34 (just east of the center of New Vegas), especially in the Armory area. (Note that security armor can also be repaired with ranger hats.) If you get the Dead Money add-on game and play through it, you'll be able to get a stealth suit that's a bit better than the Chinese Stealth Armor. It's called the Assassin Suit, and it's easy to get in the Medical District's clinic building. It weighs the same as the stealth armor, but it has a max DT of 14 and a Sneak bonus of +10. Still no stealth field, however. It's really not worth going after if you don't feel like playing all the way through the Sierra Madre areas anyway, and characters whose Sneak skill is at or near 100 will still find the Vault 34 security armor preferable due to its higher max DT. Or if you play through Dead Money, you could use its new Sierra Madre armor instead, since it has identical stats. Better yet, get a suit of reinforced Sierra Madre armor. It weighs two pounds more, but also has two more max DT points, for a total of 18. That makes it the most protective light armor in the game. The Honest Hearts add-on doesn't have any new light armor with a DT higher than 18, and its new Dead Horses Stalker Armor is inferior even to the Chinese Stealth Armor (though it is a lot lighter). The main thing of note is a new unique light armor suit called Joshua Graham's Armor. Its DT is 15, but it only weighs 8 pounds, and it adds 3% to your critical chance multiplier. That's a very good DT for that weight, and the critical chance increase is great for stealth characters who also want to maximize their critical chance for non- stealthy attacks. With this armor, the max possible critical chance without bonuses from weapons, magazines, V.A.T.S., or condition-specific perks becomes 26%. You'll get Joshua Graham's Armor from a footlocker after finishing most of the Zion Canyon area's main quests. (And yes, the weightless ranger hat items can be used to repair it, too.) The Old World Blues add-on gives us a powerful new stealth outfit called the Stealth Suit Mk II. You'll get it in the X-13 Research Facility on a main quest, and once it's fully upgraded, wearing it will add 25 to your Sneak skill, 1 to your Perception and Agility attributes, and 20% to your sneak-running speed. That makes it *way* better than the Chinese Stealth Armor and Assassin Suit put together! However, there is a big downside. Some nitwit decided to make it medium armor instead of light armor. As you know, medium (and heavier) armor interfere with stealth movement. Also, the thing has an onboard computer much like the Prototype Medic Power Armor did in Fallout 3. It'll automatically apply med-x and stimpaks (if you have any) whenever it believes necessary. That sounds good, but I've found that it often applies med-x when I don't want it to, thereby uselessly depleting my reserves. There's also the fact that Old World Blues is a *very* difficult add-on, and doesn't scale itself back properly for low-level characters. By the time a stealth character is ready to take it on, his Sneak skill will be 100, making the suit's Sneak +25 useless. The fact that it's medium armor partially negates its +20% to sneak-running speed, and its DT is a pitiful +14. So as far as I'm concerned, it's just another reject, and some of the good light armor mentioned above (and below) would be better. The Lonesome Road add-on doesn't really have any new stealth armor, though the Marked Scout Armor has Sneak +2 on it. Interestingly, the largest Sneak-bonus item is a unique bowie knife called Blood-Nap that gives you Sneak +10 when equipped. You'll find it stuck into a lamp post near the beginning of the Courier's Mile area, which is enterable after you launch the Ashton silo's missile. All riot gear helmets have a special Sneak Sight effect on them that brightens things up a bit when you're sneaking indoors or outdoors at night. As for critical chance gear, there are several new entries. The Elite Riot Gear (on a dead sniper on the top floor of the Third Street Municipal Building) gives +5% critical chance, but it's medium armor. Ulysses' Duster gives the same critical chance boost, and it's light armor that only weighs 3 pounds. Its max DT is 13, though, which is a bit lower than other good light armor suits. Also, you can't get it until the end of the add-on's quests. There's a suit of heavy armor named Armor of the 87th Tribe that gives +3% critical chance, and a light armor helmet named Marked Beast Face Helmet that gives +2% critical chance. Neither is worth getting, since stealth characters would never want to wear heavy armor, and the 1st Recon Beret gives a higher critical chance boost than the helmet. Ulysses' Duster is the best item in the lot, and wearing it instead of Joshua Graham's Armor will raise the highest possible base critical chance from 26% to 28%. ******************** *** STEALTH BOYS *** ******************** So now your only standard source for stealth fields are the stealth boy items. And there's bad news on that front, too. Whereas Fallout 3 had 60 non-random stealth boys scattered about the wasteland, Fallout NV only has 10. Their locations are given below. * Goodsprings: in the safe that's near the SW corner in the schoolhouse & in the inventory of Joe Cobb, who appears near the end of the "By a Campfire on the Trail" Goodsprings faction quest * Lucky 38 Casino (New Vegas Strip): in a floor safe in the cocktail lounge, which is only accessible after you talk to Mr. House * Jack Rabbit Springs (SE of Primm): next to a skeleton and some ammo boxes on a hill in the center of the area * REPCONN Test Site (west of Novac): on the floor next to a dead nightkin that's near the southern exit doors & in the safe in the locked room that's near the center of the middle floor (2) & in the wall safe in the administrator's office on the top floor (2) & on a table in the small dining area that's near the SW corner of the northern section of the basement If you ever get your rep with the Caesar's Legion faction up to "liked" or higher, talk to Lucius in the back of Caesar's tent at the Fort to get a key to the Caesar's Legion Safehouse (SE of Nipton). You can ask the veteran atticus guy who's occasionally in the safehouse for stealth boys to get two of them each time he visits. (Note that he's usually in on Tuesdays and Fridays.) You can randomly get stealth boys from various containers like ammo boxes, safes, and gun cabinets (10% chance) and from dead nightkin (25% chance). When you're about to enter an area for the first time that has such a container or nightkin in it, you could quicksave, enter and check the container or nightkin, and quickrestore if you don't get a stealth boy. However, that can get *really* tedious really fast, so you'd better hoard the non-random stealth boys and only use them when you need to for quests and other very important things. Also, get Lily as a follower to double their duration, and get the Day Tripper challenge perk (by using 25 addictive chems) to add another 33% onto that. If you play the Old World Blues add-on, you'll have another unlimited stealth boy resource -- and it doesn't even make you wait half a week to get more! After finishing the "Project X-13" optional quest, you can replay the robot compliance test over and over, getting a stealth boy in the reward safe every time you successfully complete it. Once you get used to how the test works, you can easily zoom through it in just a couple of minutes. As long as you're using a stealth boy and are crouched, you'll have a stealth field around you that's very hard for anyone to penetrate. The main ways to get yourself detected are crouch-running without the Silent Running perk, firing off noisy weapons like shotguns, and brushing up against people, so be careful to avoid doing any of that. NOTE: While you're sneaking around with a stealth boy on, having the Pip-Boy's light on doesn't seem to increase your chances of being detected, so leave it on in dark areas to help you see better. (Or use a cateye chem. Or get the Hazmat Darklight Cowl from the Hazmat Testing Ground in the Old World Blues add-on.) Due to the rarity of stealth boys and the fact that no stealth suit has a stealth field on it, it just isn't practical to build a melee- or unarmed- oriented stealth character in Fallout NV. If there was a constant-effect stealth field item, you could (theoretically) always sneak up on enemies and whack them around without being detected and coming under attack. Since there isn't, all stealth builds should be focused on using silenced guns for ranged sneak attacks. ***************************** *** STEALTH-RELATED PERKS *** ***************************** * Friend of the Night (Level 2, Perception 6, Sneak 30): This perk lets you see a tiny bit better in dark areas. However, so does the Pip-Boy light, the chem called cateye, and upping the game's brightness setting. In fact, all of those work better than this perk does. * Hunter (Level 2, Survival 30): This perk isn't exactly stealth-related, but it increases the critical damage (including sneak-attack critical damage) that you do to animals by 75%. That's a great increase, but note that it doesn't apply to several major wasteland threats such as cazadors, giant radscorpions, night stalkers, and deathclaws. * The Professional (Level 6, Sneak 70): This perk increases the sneak-attack critical damage you do with one-handed guns by 20%. That's really good since most of the best silence-able guns are one-handed, including the 12.7mm pistol and submachine gun. If you plan to use them a lot for sneak attacks, this is a good perk to get. If you prefer to use sniper rifles most of the time, skip this perk since it won't apply. * Piercing Strike (Level 12, Unarmed 70): While not directly stealth-related, this perk would be of great value to any stealth character who uses melee, unarmed, or thrown weapons for sneak attacks a lot. However, non-unarmed specialists will have a very hard time qualifying for the perk. * Robotics Expert (Level 12, Science 50): This perk is stealth-related because it allows you to deactivate any robot that you can sneak up to without being detected. You can then hit the robot with repeated sneak attacks to get XP and loot from it. It's not really a good choice, since sneak-shooting robots from a distance (or using pulse grenades or mines on them) is usually an easier and safer way to deal with them. (Note that there's a glitch that allows you to sometimes deactivate a robot even if your stealth indicator doesn't read "[HIDDEN].") * Silent Running (Level 12, Agility 6, Sneak 50): This perk allows you to sneak- run without being any more detectable than when you're slowly sneak-walking. This eliminates a vast amount of tedium when it comes to sneaking up on or sneaking past enemies. In fact, if you're using a stealth boy, you can sneak-run around fairly close to enemies without your stealth indicator going to "[CAUTION]", which would ruin your sneak-attack criticals. Note, though, that creatures seem to be a bit more alert in this game than in Fallout 3, so sneaking right up next to them for melee or unarmed sneak attacks can be a bit trickier than it was in that game. * Chemist (Level 14, Medicine 60): This perk can be tempting to stealth-focused characters because it'll double the duration of every stealth boy you use. That won't be useful all that often since the main problem with stealth boys is that you'll want to use them much more often rather than have them last much longer. Besides, you can double their duration by having Lily as a follower, and add another 33% to that by getting the Day Tripper challenge perk. * Purifier (Level 14): This perk gives you a 50% damage bonus when you're attacking abominations like deathclaws and ghouls, but only if you're using a melee or unarmed weapon. That's not directly stealth-related, but only super- sneaky characters are going to want to get close enough to a deathclaw to whack it with a melee or unarmed weapon. Even then, it's really too dangerous without a stealth field, and that's hard to come by since using a rare stealth boy is the only way to get it. (Besides, deathclaws can detect you at close range even with a stealth field, thereby ruining your sneak attack.) * Better Criticals (Level 16, Perception 6, Luck 6): This is another perk that's not exactly stealth-related, but all stealth characters will want to get it as soon as possible since it'll increase the damage done by all critical hits (including sneak-attack critical hits) by 50%. * Paralyzing Palm (Level 18, Unarmed 70): This is yet another non-stealth- specific perk, but any stealth character that's focused on up-close sneak attacks instead of ranged ones should get this perk as soon as they can so they can paralyze enemies in V.A.T.S. Unfortunately, the huge Unarmed skill requirement will be a problem for melee-focused characters. * Ninja (Level 20, Melee Weapons 80, Sneak 80): This perk is ideal for stealthy melee weapon users, since it increases your sneak-attack critical damage with melee and unarmed weapons by 25%. It also increases your critical chance with such weapons by 15%, which can be handy when you're discovered. Unfortunately, characters who focus on unarmed combat may be unable to qualify for this perk. * Mile in Their Shoes (Level 20, Survival 25): This perk is only available if you have the Old World Blues add-on. With it, you can get a temporary +5 to Sneak (among other effects) whenever you use a nightstalker squeezin's item. Needless to say, that's not worth taking up a level-up perk slot with. * Implant M-5: This is an implant perk that you can get if you have the Old World Blues add-on. It'll add 20% to your sneak-running speed, which lets you get around faster while sneaking. It's quite a pain to get, though. You'll need to get the personality holotape for the Sink's auto-doc from the Y-17 Medical Facility, the Implant M-5's holotape from the Z-14 Pepsinae DNA Splicing Lab (home of the cazadors), and then pay the auto-doc 10,000 caps. It is worth all the trouble and expense, especially since the new stealth suit that also gives +20% sneak-running speed has so many disadvantages. * Tunnel Runner (Level 26, Agility 8): This perk is only available if you have the Lonesome Road add-on. It increases your sneak-running speed by 25% as long as you're wearing light (or no) armor. This is very useful for all stealth characters. * Broad Daylight (Level 36): This is also a Lonesome Road perk. With it, having the Pip-Boy light on while sneaking around will get you a +15 bonus to your Sneak skill. That would be nice early in the game, but any stealth character will have his Sneak skill up to 100 long before he reaches level 36. * Just Lucky I'm Alive (Level 50, karma between -250 and 250): This Lonesome Road perk will make you immune to critical hits, increase your critical damage by 50%, and increase your Luck by 4 for 3 minutes every time you finish a combat with less than 25% of your max health. The Luck +4 thing is kind of dumb, but the other two things are of tremendous use, especially the increase in critical damage. Make sure that your karma is in the neutral range when you reach level 50 so you can take this wondrous perk. ***************************** *** SILENT RANGED WEAPONS *** ***************************** Silent ranged weapons can be used on an enemy from a distance without him detecting you right away. Your stealth indicator will change to "[CAUTION]," but it shouldn't go to "[DANGER]" even if you keep shooting your target. However, he will probably come running toward the position you shot him from, so you'd better stay on the move to avoid him seeing you. That's easy to do if you have a stealth boy active, but you'll need to keep your distance and make good use of cover otherwise. There are only a few guns in the game that either come silenced or have silencer mods that you can attach to them. Of those, the four that are the most useful are silenced .22 pistols, 12.7mm pistols, 12.7mm submachine guns, and sniper rifles. * Silenced .22 pistols: These weapons come with a silencer attached and are very common, but are also very weak. They're useful against weaker unarmored targets early in the game, and they're easy to sneak into the casinos in New Vegas. Other than that, they're not of much use. (Note that the version 1.3 game update increases their critical damage considerably, which makes them a bit better.) * 12.7mm pistols: These pistols are much more powerful than silenced .22 pistols or 10mm pistols with silencers attached, though they and their silencers are a bit harder to come by. The only two places you can get the silencers are in the store inventories of the vendortron at Gun Runners (near Freeside's east gate) and the arms merchant at the 188 Trading Post (SW of Lake Mead). Note that you have to be level 12 or higher to get a silencer from the arms merchant, but you can get one from the vendortron at any level. As with most merchants, they both get new stuff at midnight every Sunday and Wednesday, so keep checking back with them. A trick that's often useful is to quicksave next to a merchant after 11 pm on a Saturday or Tuesday, then wait an hour and see if he has what you want. If not, quickrestore and try again. Or better yet, quicksave next to a merchant at any time on a Sunday or Wednesday, then exit to the main menu and load the quicksave to get the merchant's inventory to respawn. If he has something you want, buy it and quicksave, then repeat the process if there's something else you want that he can randomly have. You can also get lots of non-random respawning items this way. (Note that the second trick only seems to work reliably right after using the first trick.) As for getting a 12.7mm pistol, you can find them in the vendortron's inventory if you're level 11+. If you'd rather get one for free, look for one among some other items on the floor of the central cave room in the Bloodborne Cave (a long way directly east of Gun Runners) if you can handle all the night stalkers. Or go to the offices area at Hoover Dam (see the "Stealth Armor" section) and get one from Colonel Cassandra Moore. To do that, pickpocket her 12.7mm ammo, leave the offices area, quicksave and quickrestore, then go pickpocket the pistol from her. (Remember that your stealth indicator doesn't have to read "[HIDDEN]" for you to successfully pickpocket things.) If that's too much trouble, you can go to the visitor center and sneakily kill a few generic NCR troopers with a powerful melee weapon. Some of them will probably have 12.7mm pistols if you're not above level 20 yet. * Sniper rifles: Even though 12.7mm pistols can do more sneak-attack critical damage if you have the Professional perk (and almost as much if you don't), sniper rifles are still superior due to having long-range scopes and a wider variety of ammo types. If you have the Hand Loader perk, you can make ammo that does 30% more damage without increasing the target's effective damage threshold (though note that it increases the wear and tear on your rifle by 50%). Even without that, it's nice to have both hollow point and armor-piercing ammo available. 12.7mm pistols only have regular and hollow point ammo. Your only sources for sniper rifle suppressor mods (what their silencers are called) are the Gun Runners vendortron and the 188 Trading Post's arms merchant, just like with the 12.7mm pistol silencers. The best way to get a sniper rifle is to go to Camp McCarran (a bit south of New Vegas) and find one on a top bunk in a large tent that's along the west side of the array of tents. You don't even have to sneakily steal it since it's not owned by anyone. (Note that you can also probably get sniper rifles by sneakily killing NCR troopers in the Hoover Dam's visitor center if you're not above level 20 yet.) * 12.7mm submachine guns: I didn't think to try automatic weapons for sneak- attack criticals at first, but I'm glad I thought of it later. They work great as long as you get right up close to your target and use V.A.T.S. to make sure that none of the bullets miss. The 12.7mm submachine gun is almost the best automatic weapon for sneak attacks, with only a couple of noisy weapons (like the mighty CZ57 Avenger) being better. It's also one of the best guns for taking down enemies who have detected you. You can only get its silencers from the Gun Runners vendortron, but at least it doesn't matter what level you are. As for getting 12.7mm submachine guns, you can buy them from Knight Torres at Hidden Valley at any level (start on the "Still in the Dark" Brotherhood of Steel faction quest to gain access to her merchant services), and from the Gun Runners vendortron if you're level 16+. There's also one lying around loose in the Bloodborne Cave, but it's behind a locked gate, and the gate's key is next to a campfire near a bunch of night stalkers. It's much easier to save up the money to buy one. Or if you've finished enough main quests to gain access to the Fort, you can pickpocket them from some of the decanus guys using the technique given above for getting Colonel Moore's 12.7mm pistol. There are also two unique silent weapons that are worth mentioning, although they aren't notably superior to the non-unique ones listed above. * Abilene Kid LE BB Gun: Like all BB guns, this one's regular damage is totally pathetic, but its critical damage is really huge. That makes it a respectable sneak-attack weapon, but it's still not all that great. If you want it, go get it from Fields' Shack, which is a bit NE of New Vegas. (You can also supposedly get one from Jimmy's well if you have the Wild Wasteland trait.) * Ratslayer: This is a unique varmint rifle that comes with a silencer and a night scope attached to it. Its sneak-attack critical damage isn't so great, but it does have a 5x critical chance multiplier on it. That's irrelevant to sneak- attack criticals, but once you get your critical chance up to 20% or higher, you'll be scoring critical hits with every non-sneaky shot of this weapon. That's way cool, but it's still not as powerful as other guns, like the 12.7mm submachine gun. If you want to get it, it's in the Broc Flower Cave, which is a ways directly south of Novac. You'll find it on the floor next to a desk in the east-side cave room that's been set up as a camp. The Honest Hearts add-on gives us .45 auto pistols, which have silencer mods. However, even with the new Grunt perk to increase their damage, .45 auto pistols aren't as powerful as 12.7mm pistols. The unique one called "A Light Shining in Darkness" is a tiny bit more powerful with the Grunt perk, but it can't be silenced. (And you wouldn't want to take the Grunt perk just for it, anyway.) The Old World Blues add-on gives us a superior unique sniper rifle called Christine's COS Silencer Rifle. It comes with a silencer attached, and it does considerably more damage than regular sniper rifles. It is a bit heavier than a regular sniper rifle with the carbon fiber parts mod, and it does require quite a few more action points in V.A.T.S., but those are totally negligible defects. If you're in the habit of carrying a silenced sniper rifle with you everywhere for long-range sneak-shooting, you'll definitely want to replace it with this beauty. You'll find it on the second floor of the small wrecked building that's just north of Little Yangtze. The Lonesome Road add-on gives us H&H Tools nail guns, which are silent, but not so deadly. They are very rapid-firing, but that doesn't seem to help much. Use them for "woodshop class rage" novelty value only. The Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on gives us a unique 10mm submachine gun named Sleepytyme that comes with a silencer. It's fairly powerful, but not as much as 12.7mm submachine guns. If you want it, you can buy it from the vendortron. You can also go to the vendortron to get a GRA-brand 12.7mm submachine gun. It's identical to regular 12.7mm submachine guns except that there are three new mods that you can put on it. They decrease its spread, increase its clip size by 6, and silence it. There's also new 12.7mm hand load ammo that you can make at reloading benches if you have the Hand Loader perk. It's similar to hollow point rounds, but doesn't increase the weapon's damage or the target's effective DT quite as much. NOTE: Throwing hatchets, throwing knives, and throwing spears are technically silent ranged weapons, even though they're tied in to the Melee Weapons skill. However, they're pretty weak compared to most silenced guns, and would only be useful to melee-focused stealth characters when they need to inflict some ranged damage. (Note that the Cowboy perk will increase the knives' and hatchets' damage by 25%, but they're still not all that great.) The only thrown weapons worth mentioning are the two types of proton throwing axes that you can get in the Old World Blues add-on. Unfortunately, the best ones (protonic inversal) are very rare. ********************************* *** MELEE AND UNARMED WEAPONS *** ********************************* Due to the lack of a constant-effect stealth field item in this game, as well as increased creature alertness, stealth characters who are focused on melee and/or unarmed sneak attacks instead of ranged ones are a bad idea. However, even ranged sneak-attack specialists can benefit occasionally from a good up-close silent weapon, especially since melee and unarmed sneak attacks get a big damage bonus over ranged sneak attacks. * Ballistic Fist: This is not only the most powerful unarmed weapon, it's also *the* number one most powerful sneak-attack weapon in the game, even if your Strength and Unarmed skill are low. Its only real drawback is that it can't be used at range, which means you'll have to sneak up very close to your target without being detected. You can get one from various merchants, including Blake at the Crimson Caravan Company (just east of Freeside), after you reach level 21. Or you can go to Knight Torres and get one no matter what level you are. * Knock Knock: When it comes to melee weapons, most one-handed ones are too weak and most two-handed ones are too heavy. This unique fire axe is a nice compromise between the two, doing way more damage than any one-handed melee weapon and only weighing 8 pounds (compared to 20 pounds for chainsaws, super sledges, and thermic lances). It is a bit of trouble to get, though. You have to go to the highly irradiated Camp Searchlight (near a road intersection a long way east of Nipton) and do the "Wheel of Fortune" misc. quest. * Chainsaw: This is one of the two best melee sneak-attack weapons, assuming you don't mind lugging a 20-pound item around. Always use it in V.A.T.S., especially if you're trying to score a sneaky one-hit kill. There's one inside the Legion safehouse (see the stealth boy section), and the fiend named Motor-Runner in Vault 3 (just SW of New Vegas) has one. Some merchants, including Blake at the Crimson Caravan Company, will sell them if you're level 16 to 20, and you can get them randomly from Legion veterans. (Note that the version 1.3 game update lowers the chainsaw's damage considerably, but also allows it to ignore targets' DR and DT values.) NOTE: The Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on makes a special GRA-brand chainsaw available from some weapon merchants that can have three new mods put on it. They decrease its weight by 8 pounds, increase its damage by 15, and increase its health by 50%. * Thermic Lance: This is the other best melee sneak-attack weapon. It also weighs 20 pounds, should always be used in V.A.T.S., and now ignores targets' DR and DT. It does quite a bit more damage than the chainsaw, though it's still inferior to the chainsaw as a general-purpose weapon. Thermic lances can be found in Blake's and other merchants' inventories if you're level 21+ (or go to Knight Torres to get them at any level). You can also get them randomly from Legion centurions. * Protonic Inversal Axe: If you have the Old World Blues add-on, this weapon will become the new best melee weapon. It weighs much less than the above two (only 8 pounds), and does quite a bit more sneak-attack damage, especially if you use its special "inversal scarifier" move in V.A.T.S. (Melee Weapons 50+). You can get them from Test Subject 1 (in the Cuckoo's Nest cave), from the refugees named Number 27 and Number 34 (on the hill just south of Little Yangtze), and in the X-13 Research Facility (behind a hard-lock door in the X-13 Testing Facility area). * Dr. Mobius' Glove: This unique unarmed weapon is also an Old World Blues item. Its sneak-attack damage isn't so good, but it does frenzy enemies on critical strikes, much like the mesmetron did in Fallout 3. Unfortunately, it isn't a ranged weapon, so you'll have to be close to your target to hit him. You can use the glove to make a group of enemies fight among themselves, which will take some of the heat off you. If you use a stealth boy and sneak up to an enemy group, you can whack one or two of them unseen and get them to fighting each other without coming under attack yourself. Unfortunately, this glove is on a table inside the Forbidden Zone Dome, which you won't be able to reach until near the end of the "Old World Blues" main quest. * Saturnite Fist Super-Heated: These unarmed weapons, also available in Old World Blues, will do a bit more damage (including sneak-attack damage) than even the mighty ballistic fists if you have the Pyromaniac perk. However, it's not a lot more damage, and you may not want to take up a perk slot with Pyromaniac. If you want super-heated fists, get some regular Saturnite fists (many lobotomites randomly have them), then get the personality holotape for the Sink's toaster (in the Cuckoo's Nest cave). The toaster will be able to upgrade Saturnite fists into super-heated fists. * Old Glory: This unique Lonesome Road melee weapon is even better at sneak attacks than Old World Blues' protonic inversal axes. Unfortunately, it's considerably inferior to those axes for non-sneaky attacks, so a melee weapons specialist will need to lug both of them around. * Nuka-Breaker (GRA): This unique Gun Runners' Arsenal melee weapon is a bit better at sneak attacks than the protonic inversal axes, but like Old Glory, it isn't quite as good at non-sneak attacks. Old Glory is still the number one melee sneak-attack weapon, anyway. If you want Nuka-Breaker, you can buy it from Mick in Mick & Ralph's store in Freeside. NOTE: For those of you who (like me) built your Fallout 3 stealth characters to be focused on melee sneak attacks with the mighty shishkebab, forget about it in this game. You can find shishkebabs in some merchants' inventories (including Blake's) if you're between levels 16 and 20. If you're level 21+, you may get lucky and find one in Quartermaster Bardon's inventory in the Hoover Dam offices area, or you can get them from White Legs guys in the Honest Hearts add-on or marked men ghouls in the Lonesome Road add-on. Or if you have the Gun Runners' Arsenal expansion, you can buy the unique one called Gehenna from the Gun Runners vendortron. However, they're not nearly powerful enough to compete with the ballistic fist and other great sneak-attack weapons, even if you get the Pyromaniac and Ninja perks. If you really want to build a close-range stealth character, make him an unarmed specialist and get him a ballistic fist. **************************** *** USEFUL NOISY WEAPONS *** **************************** Non-silent weapons can often be useful, especially when you're wanting to quickly kill a powerful enemy who's alone. There are several noisy weapons that can give you much more powerful ranged sneak-attack criticals than most silenced guns can, and the best ones are listed below. Remember to always shoot enemies in the head whenever possible, to use special ammo that'll do bonus damage, and to run for cover (or quickrestore and try again) whenever you're detected. * CZ57 Avenger: This unique minigun, when used up close in V.A.T.S. mode, will deliver the most powerful sneak-attack damage of any ranged weapon in the game. If you shoot your target in the head, it'll do even more damage than the ballistic fist. Also, it's great for V.A.T.S. combat when enemies discover you due to its extremely high DPS and relatively low action point cost, though note that it'll only score critical hits half as often as most weapons. Also note that it weighs 18 pounds. If you want it, look in the back of the container trailer at The Devil's Throat, which is a ways east of Bloodborne Cave. NOTE: If you want armor-piercing ammo for the Avenger so you can easily shred deathclaws and such, check with the Gun Runners vendortron and Alexander at the 188 Trading Post frequently, since they'll get some of it every Sunday and Wednesday. If you want larger quantities, check with Quartermaster Bardon in the Hoover Dam's offices area and the Great Khans armorer in the cellar of the ruined house at the south end of Red Rock Canyon. (Note that you'll need to have a good rep with their factions to get them to barter with you.) NOTE: The Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on defines a new JSP hand load version of 5mm ammo, which you can make at reloading benches if you have the Hand Loader perk. It's the same as regular 5mm ammo except it does 30% more damage and degrades your minigun's condition 50% faster. * Multiplas Rifle: This is the most powerful sneak-attack energy weapon in the game, though not by much. Since it fires multiple projectiles, you'll need to get fairly close to your target and not use V.A.T.S. in order to maximize the damage it does. Note that it loses some of its punch against armored targets like deathclaws, in which case the YCS/186 works a bit better. The easiest way to get a multiplas rifle is to go to the Silver Rush building in Freeside and use Grab mode to drag the one on the weapon counter into the bathroom area for easy stealing. * YCS/186: This unique gauss rifle does almost as much sneak-attack damage as the multiplas rifle, and it has a scope to help with long-range shooting. Its damage is lousy in V.A.T.S., but that's okay since you'll want to use it mostly on distant targets, anyway. If you didn't take the Wild Wasteland trait, you can get this weapon by killing the mercenaries at a camp that's a short way directly east of the Brooks Tumbleweed Ranch, which is a ways NW of New Vegas' NW corner. (If you did take the Wild Wasteland trait, you'll have to fight aliens to get the Alien Blaster instead. I don't recommend this due to the blaster's lack of ammo and scope.) * Brush Gun: If you have a high Guns skill and don't want to put a bunch of skill points into Energy Weapons, this is a fairly good choice for noisy sneak- attack weapon if you don't want to tote the CZ57 Avenger around. Like the Avenger, it's great for non-sneaky V.A.T.S. combat due to its high damage and low action point cost. If you get the Cowboy perk, it'll be almost as powerful as the above two energy weapons. You can buy one from the vendortron at Gun Runners once you're level 16+, or you can get one from Knight Torres at any level. (Note that with the version 1.3 game update, the brush gun's action point cost is increased, its rate of fire is slightly reduced, and its spread is slightly increased. That's all bad!) * Ranger Sequoia: This often-overlooked gun is the most powerful pistol in the game, especially if you get the Cowboy and The Professional perks. Its sneak- attack critical damage is way beyond even the 12.7mm pistol's, though it's nowhere near the 12.7mm submachine gun's, or even the brush gun's. You can get a sequoia pistol from Chief Hanlon in Camp Golf's House Resort building by either pickpocketing it (the same way you can pickpocket Colonel Moore's 12.7mm pistol) or doing the "Return to Sender" NCR faction quest and refusing to keep Hanlon's secret. The only other way to get sequoia pistols is to sneakily kill NCR ranger veterans once you're level 20+. * Anti-Materiel Rifle: With the version 1.3 game update, this gun does quite a bit more sneak-attack critical damage than the YCS/186, making it the new number one scoped sneak attack weapon. However, it still has the disadvantages of being very heavy (20 pounds), having a low health value, and being a lousy general purpose weapon due to a very low DPS and high action point cost. If you want one, you can buy one from the Gun Runners vendortron once you're level 16+, or from Knight Torres at any level. NOTE: If you have the Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on, you can buy a special GRA- brand anti-materiel rifle that can be modded to lower its weight by 7 pounds, increase its rate of fire, and reduce its noise a bit (though note that it still won't be a silent weapon). There's also a new .50 MG explosive ammo type that causes a powerful explosion with splash damage where it hits, whether it hits an enemy or not. Be careful not to let it hit close to you, or you'll be damaged. * Holorifle: This unique energy weapon can only be obtained by playing through the Dead Money add-on game. You get it automatically when you wake up in the Sierra Madre region, and it'll be your one and only long-range sniping weapon until you make it back to the Mojave Wasteland. Once you fix it up with weapon repair kits and three custom mods, it'll be comparable to the YCS/186. It'll even do a bit more sneak-attack damage if you're close to your target, though not as much as the multiplas rifle. Its main problem is long-distance accuracy. So many times, I was sure I had a shot lined up, but it missed entirely or only did a little bit of damage. That fact alone ensures that energy weapon users will still prefer the YCS/186 for long-distance sniping. * Compliance Regulator: This unique laser pistol can be found in Fallen Rock Cave in the Honest Hearts add-on's Zion Canyon region. It's worthy of note not because of the sneak-attack damage it does, but because it paralyzes targets for 10 seconds on every critical hit, including sneak-attack criticals. Too bad it can't be silenced, or it'd *really* be an awesome sneak-attack weapon! It also has a 1.5x critical chance multiplier, which can come in handy for non-sneak attacks. * .45 Auto Submachine Gun: This powerful new type of submachine gun is available in the Honest Hearts add-on. It can't be silenced, but it can do a huge amount of sneak-attack damage. If you have the new Grunt perk to increase its damage, it can do even more sneak-attack damage than 12.7mm submachine guns. However, light machine guns will do a bit more damage than it will, and the CZ57 Avenger will do a lot more without you having to take the Grunt perk. * Sonic Emitter: This energy pistol is gotten by playing the Old World Blues add-on. It's not very powerful at first, though it can paralyze enemies for about 8 seconds on critical strikes. Later on, after you get the disabled jukebox's personality holotape from Higgs Village, you can use it to change the sonic emitter's calibration based on four different sound samples you can find. The tarantula calibration (also found in Higgs Village) is the ultimate one. It supposedly only sets an enemy on fire briefly on critical hits, but it will sometimes blow him up instead. That kills him instantly no matter how much health he has left. Do you see what that means for stealth fanatics? If you can sneak up on a powerful foe, you can quicksave, shoot him with a tarantula-style sonic emitter, and then quickrestore and try again (if necessary) until he blows up. Finally, a one-shot-kill weapon that favors stealth! (Hopefully, this isn't a glitch that'll get fixed in a game update.) * Li'l Devil (GRA): This unique 12.7mm pistol can be bought from Mick in Mick & Ralph's store in Freeside if you have the Gun Runners' Arsenal add-on. It can't be silenced, but it does a little bit more sneak-attack critical damage than regular 12.7mm pistols, plus it has a faster firing rate and double the critical chance multiplier, which is handy for non-sneak attacks. * Medicine Stick (GRA): This Gun Runners' Arsenal weapon is a more powerful version of the brush gun. It doesn't do all that much more sneak-attack damage than regular brush guns, but it is worth upgrading to for all brush gun users. You can buy it from the Gun Runners vendortron. * Paciencia (GRA): This unique hunting rifle is also a Gun Runners' Arsenal weapon. It's even a bit better than the Medicine Stick for sneak-attack criticals. It can be bought from Cliff Briscoe in Novac. * Sprtel-Wood 9700 (GRA): This unique gatling laser is a Gun Runners' Arsenal item, and it's the new best sneak-attack energy weapon, at least for close-up sneak attacks where you can use V.A.T.S. to shoot an enemy in the head without any of the laser beams missing. It's also pretty much the most damaging energy weapon for non-sneak attacks, but watch that ammo consumption. You can buy it from Gloria Van Graff in Freeside's Silver Rush building (or the vendortron if Gloria was killed for some reason before you got this add-on). * The Smitty Special (GRA): Gloria also sells this unique plasma caster. It can deliver some powerful sneak-attack criticals, plus it's fully automatic, which allows you to really pour out the damage during non-sneak attacks. Mines and grenades are also good for a stealthy character to use. Even though they're very noisy, the noise doesn't come from your position, so it won't give you away. You can toss grenades at enemies to damage them, or you can set mines for them to stumble onto. With enemies that are too powerful to take down with a single sneak attack, you can lay a line of mines, then go to the opposite end of the line and shoot your target once with a silenced gun. That should get him to run toward your position, setting off mines as he goes. Or instead of a line of mines, you could create one or two tight clusters of mines to lead your target across. That works really well even if your Explosives skill is low. Fallout NV has a special type of explosive called C-4 Plastic Explosive. Its main advantage is that it doesn't use any sort of timer or proximity sensor, but can only be blown up by using a detonator. If you find pickpocketing a mine or grenade into someone's inventory to sneakily blow them up to be too hard, pickpocket in a C-4 pack instead, then take your time finding a spot where you can crouch down and be hidden before using a detonator to blow your victim up. Or if you want to skip the whole "keep trying until pickpocketing is successful" routine, you can toss a C-4 pack so that it lands next to your target (make sure it doesn't hit him), then retreat and detonate it while hidden. For some reason, this way won't do as much damage, and it's likely to send the body flying a lot farther. However you do it, be warned that anyone who's injured by the explosion without being killed will turn hostile. If you stay crouched and unmoving, your stealth indicator should return to "[HIDDEN]," and the injured person(s) should stop being hostile. ***************** *** FOLLOWERS *** ***************** Having one or two followers with you at all times will be very helpful if not essential during the early part of the game, when you're still building your stealth character up to what you want him to be. This is especially true if you're masochistic enough to play on the "very hard" difficulty setting despite the total lack of tangible rewards for doing so. Thankfully, ED-E, Boone, and Veronica are all pretty easy to pick up on your way from Goodsprings to New Vegas while doing the early main quests. You should get ED-E and either Boone or Veronica and keep them with you until you're ready to go out on your own. Even once you're capable of some serious sneaking and sneak-attacking, having followers with you can be very useful. Not only can they carry a lot of the loot you'll be picking up, but you can have them wait at strategic spots so you can lead any enemies you can't handle yourself back to them. That'll provide you with extra firepower when you need it without having your stealthy endeavors compromised. If you're not playing on hardcore mode, followers can't be killed, but only knocked unconscious until all nearby hostiles are killed, you go through an area transition doorway, or your stealth indicator returns to "[HIDDEN]" and stays there for several seconds. If you get into a tough combat that you doubt you can win, run and hide somewhere so that your stealth indicator goes back to "[HIDDEN]." That'll allow your followers to get back up a few seconds after they go down and resume pounding on the hostiles. (Note that they sometimes may just stand there and not do anything after reviving, in which case you'll need to get your stealth indicator to go back to "[CAUTION]" by firing off a shot.) And don't forget that each follower gives you a useful perk as long as they're with you, even if they're waiting way off somewhere instead of following you around. The most useful follower perk for stealth characters is Lily's Stealth Girl perk. It doubles the duration of stealth boys (two game hours instead of one) and adds 10% to all sneak-attack critical damage. Remember that you can have her wait somewhere out of the way so she doesn't ruin your stealthy activities. Just don't leave her behind completely, since she'll frequently come in handy in combat-support and loot-carrying roles. NOTE: The v1.4 game update lets Lily use her special reusable stealth boy to become invisible every time you enter Sneak mode. (If you let her keep it at the end of the "Guess Who I Saw Today" quest, that is.) That'll make it much easier for you and her to sneak up on enemies, especially if you use a stealth boy. If Lily gets too aggressive while you're sneaking, tell her to be passive. ********************************** *** ONE POSSIBLE STEALTH BUILD *** ********************************** So what's the best way to build your stealth character? As in Fallout 3, my favorite way is to combine it with a V.A.T.S. fighter build where increasing action points is emphasized over increasing aiming percentages. The idea is that all V.A.T.S. combat will be done at close range, and medium- to long-range combat will be done with scoped weapons and follower support. For Fallout NV, I had the idea of also making this into a "super crit" build, meaning that it aims to maximize your critical chance whenever you're delivering non-sneak attacks to enemies. This required a few trade-offs and disadvantages which will make your character physically weaker and force him to repair his weapons more frequently. If you don't like that, you can modify the build by changing the starting attributes and traits to something you think will work better for you. For example, move some points from Luck and Agility into Strength and Endurance, and take the Good Natured trait instead of Built to Destroy. You may also want to modify the level-up perk list a bit. Strength: 6 Perception: 5 Endurance: 6 Charisma: 1 Intelligence: 6 Agility: 9 Luck: 7 Tag skills: Guns, Sneak, Repair Traits: Built to Destroy, Kamikaze When you level up, remember that your most important skills are Sneak, Guns, Repair, and Lockpick. Consider those your major skills. Your minor skills include Medicine, Science, and either Energy Weapons or Explosives. On your first few level-ups, put most or all of your skill points into your major skills. Once they get to 50 or so, you can start putting more points into your minor skills. As for perks, I recommend the following: Level 2: Confirmed Bachelor or Black Widow Level 4: Educated Level 6: Intense Training (Luck) Level 8: Hand Loader [Repair 70] Level 10: Finesse Level 12: Silent Running [Sneak 50] Level 14: Jury Rigging [Repair 90] Level 16: Better Criticals [Perception 6] Level 18: The Professional [Sneak 70] Level 20: Action Boy/Action Girl Level 22: Action Boy/Action Girl Level 24: Grim Reaper's Sprint Level 26: Nerves of Steel Level 28: Math Wrath [Science 70] Level 30: Bloody Mess Notice the attribute and skill requirements listed in brackets after some of the perks. Those are things that won't be high enough already when you start the game, and you'll have to make sure they get high enough by the time you reach the level they're listed for. The hardest one will be getting your Repair skill up to 70 by the time you reach level 8. You probably won't be able to get more than one or two of the Repair skill books before then, so most of the points will have to come from level-up skill points. If you just can't do it, take Bloody Mess at level 8 and put off Hand Loader until level 30. (Or juggle it around with something else if you want to get it earlier.) The only attribute requirement that you won't start out meeting is a Perception of 6 for the level 16 perk Better Criticals. You've gotta have that perk without delay, so be sure to go to the New Vegas Medical Clinic (a bit east of Freeside) and buy the Perception implant before you reach level 16. It costs 4000 caps, but you should easily be able to save up that much by then. In fact, if you're a thorough looter and/or bigtime casino gambler, you can get enough to buy that and five other implants long before you're level 16. For the other implants, I recommend the ones that raise Strength, Endurance, Agility, Luck, and damage threshold. (Note that the Agility and Luck implants are essential to this build, but the others are negotiable.) One piece of essential equipment that you should get ASAP is a 1st Recon Beret. The best way to get one is to go to Novac while on your way to New Vegas and do Boone's quest "One For My Baby." Wear it from then on to get a +1 to Perception and +5% to your critical chance. (And no, wearing it won't take the place of getting the Perception implant mentioned above.) Another piece of essential equipment is the Lucky Shades. Unfortunately, they're locked up in the Caesar's Legion Safehouse (see the stealth boy section). After you finish the "Ring-a-Ding-Ding!" main quest, go to Cottonwood Cove and turn in enough NCR dog tags to Aurelius of Phoenix to get your Legion rep up to "liked." That'll take 30 dog tags if you have no rep at all with the Legion yet. If you need more dog tags, go to places like Camp McCarran and the Hoover Dam and pickpocket dog tags from the NCR troopers. (Note that it's best to give all 30 to Aurelius at once rather than a few at a time.) Sail to the Fort and meet with Caesar, then talk to Lucius to get the safehouse key. Go there to find the Lucky Shades setting on one of the beds along with some other stuff. If you go to the trouble and sacrifice necessary to get the Hand Loader perk at level 8, be sure to start taking advantage of it right away by using reloading benches to break down regular ammo and make hand load ammo out of its components. This is particularly important with .308 ammo for your sniper rifle, since its hand load version does 30% extra damage. Note that .308 hand load ammo takes a bit more lead and rifle powder than you can get by breaking down regular .308 ammo, so save up scrap metal to break down into lead and buy jars of rifle powder from merchants who sell them (like the vendortron and Alexander at the 188 Trading Post). Another very important crafting project will be to use workbenches to make weapon repair kits. Since you took the Built to Destroy trait, your weapons will degrade faster, and will need repairing more often. Having the ghoul follower Raul with you would help a lot with that, though note that you can't have both him and Lily at the same time. Getting the Jury Rigging perk at level 14 will also help by giving you a wider variety of repair options, such as being able to use service rifles to repair your sniper rifle and 12.7mm submachine gun. Still, you'll need plenty of weapon repair kits, so start saving up duct tape, scrap electronics, scrap metal, wonderglue, and wrenches at the start of the game so you can make lots of repair kits once your Repair skill reaches 50. I put the Nerves of Steel perk in for level 26 since it is (in theory) a really good V.A.T.S./action point perk. However, it's broken again, just like it was in Fallout 3 (at least on the PC version), so you may not want to take it. If not, move the next two perks up and then decide on something else when you reach level 30. Some good candidates are Living Anatomy, Robotics Expert, Strong Back, and Life Giver. If you install the Dead Money add-on, the level cap is raised to 35, which means you can get two more level-up perks before hitting the new max level. Of Dead Money's new level-up perks, Light Touch would be great for the "super crit" aspect of this build. (See the perk list in the V.A.T.S. reference section for more details.) The rest of the new perks aren't useful to this build, so just choose from the alternative perks listed in the previous paragraph. The Honest Hearts add-on also raises the level cap by 5, which lets you take three more perks as you rise to the new max level of 40. Of the new level-up perks, Fight the Power! is the only one that's really relevent to this build. It increases your critical chance by 5% (and your DT by 2) vs. people wearing NCR, Caesar's Legion, and Brotherhood of Steel faction outfits. It would be somewhat beneficial at certain times, like during the combats in the final main quests, but it's not very useful generally. You'd be better off with some of the alternative perks listed two paragraphs up. You might also consider the new Grunt perk, which increases the damage done by several powerful weapons that make good noisy sneak-attack weapons. The Old World Blues add-on raises the level cap by another 5, which lets you take two more perks before you reach the new max level of 45. The only new level-up perk that's relevant to this build is Atomic!. It'll make your action points regenerate faster when you're not being irradiated. However, you have to have quite a few rads on you to get a significant increase to action point regen, so you may not find it useful. Since you've probably already taken all of the additional perks suggested three paragraphs ago, consider using Intense Training to raise an attribute, or get something fun and quirky like Mysterious Stranger or Miss Fortune. Also, the Toughness perk can help a bit by raising your DT for those combats when you can't finish everything off stealthily. The Lonesome Road add-on raises the level cap by another 5, for a combined total of 50. You'll get three more level-up perks while going from level 45 to level 50, and there are two new ones that are definitely worth getting. Tunnel Runner will increase your sneak-running speed by 25%, and Just Lucky I'm Alive will increase your critical damage by 50%. As for what other perk to get, Certified Tech promises a huge +25% critical chance against robots, but as with other perks that give conditional critical chance increases, it doesn't seem to work. If there's nothing else you particularly want, get the new Burden to Bear perk to increase your carrying capacity by 50 pounds. ******************** *** STARTING OFF *** ******************** After you finish the character creation process and do Sunny Smiles' two Goodsprings faction quests, loot Goodsprings thoroughly. When you're done with that, head south to Primm, bringing along three scrap metal, two sensor modules, and one scrap electronics if you have them. If not, look around Primm for them while working on the "They Went That-A-Way" main quest. Once you have all of those items, enter the Nash Residence building and repair ED-E to make him a follower. Finish the main quest activities in Primm, then head through Nipton and on to Novac. In Novac, do Boone's "One For My Baby" quest to get a 1st Recon Beret, then use Manny Vargas' terminal to get the main quest info you need quickly and easily. Move on to Boulder City and optionally do the "Boulder City Showdown" NCR/Great Khans faction quest, then head NW to the 188 Trading Post, where you can talk to Veronica to get her to become a follower. Return to Goodsprings and explore to the east of it until you find Hidden Valley. Start working on the "Still in the Dark" Brotherhood of Steel faction quest to gain access to Knight Torres' store, then buy a ballistic fist from her. Better yet, get two ballistic fists and repair them up with weapon repair kits, then give one to Veronica. Start using your ballistic fist to sneakily kill generic people who don't have unique names in the various towns and other settlements for XP and loot. Remember to only attack them when your stealth indicator reads "[HIDDEN]" in order to avoid gaining faction infamy and turning others hostile. Also note that this is impossible to get away with in some areas, such as the Brotherhood of Steel's bunker and the New Vegas Strip. Return to Boulder City, then go SE to Ranger Station Delta. From there, go down the road that leads north to reach the Hoover Dam. Get a 12.7mm pistol and a sniper rifle (see the "Silent Ranged Weapons" section) and the Chinese Stealth Armor (see its section), then return to the 188 Trading Post and make your way along the road to Freeside's East Gate. Go to the nearby Gun Runners kiosk and buy a 12.7mm pistol silencer, a sniper rifle suppressor, and sniper rifle carbon fiber parts from the vendortron. You'll then have a ballistic fist to use when ambushing generic people plus two powerful, light-weight silent weapons for ranged combat with hostiles. If you haven't reached level 8 yet, you'll probably want to go looking for some of the Repair skill books so you can get the Hand Loader perk at level 8 without having to put quite so many level-up skill points into Repair. Other near-future goals will be to get the Lucky Shades and a silenced 12.7mm submachine gun, plus an anti-materiel rifle, the CZ57 Avenger, and/or the YCS/186 if you want them. Also, go to Jacobstown and replace Veronica with Lily to get her nice Stealth Girl perk, and pop 25 addictive chems to get the Day Tripper challenge perk. Note that med-x and slasher (which can be made at campfires with a Science skill of 50+) are good ones to use frequently, since they'll reduce the damage you take in combat. ************************** *** V.A.T.S. REFERENCE *** ************************** --- THE FIVE V.A.T.S. ADVANTAGES --- * Increased critical chance: Every time you make an attack with any type of weapon, using V.A.T.S. will increase your chance of making a critical hit by 5%. Even if your Luck stat is high and you have the Finesse perk, this can be a big help in finishing off tough foes. * Aim assistance: At long range, your chance to hit in V.A.T.S. will be so low that you might as well just take your best aim and shoot without it. However, V.A.T.S. is very useful for close-up shooting, especially with enemies who are moving around quickly. Hit the V.A.T.S. key to "freeze" them in place, then take your time choosing where to shoot them. Remember that head shots will do more damage, though it'll usually be a bit harder to hit the head than the other parts. Thankfully, being close to an enemy means that every part of him will be fairly easy to hit. Another good thing to target in V.A.T.S. is an enemy's weapon, especially if it's a big one like a missile launcher or minigun. It's pretty easy to shoot a big weapon out of an enemy's hands, especially if you're using an automatic weapon like a submachine gun. You'll have a chance to grab the dropped weapon after the V.A.T.S. session is over, though you'll have to be quick to get it before its owner reclaims it. You can also disarm an enemy by targeting his arms, but shooting the weapon directly usually works better, and has the added effect of rapidly lowering the weapon's condition. You may end up breaking it so that it can't be used at all, which means you won't have to run to pick it up to keep your opponent from using it again. NOTE: If you're using unarmed or melee attacks (or grenades), you won't be able to target a specific body part, and therefore can't take advantage of the head- shot damage bonus or specifically target an enemy's weapon. * Free Damage Reduction: While you're in V.A.T.S. mode, you only take 75% of normal damage from any attack. Unfortunately, V.A.T.S. doesn't always start up the instant you hit the V.A.T.S. key, so it's risky to try to time things so that you go into V.A.T.S. right before an attack hits you. Also, to get the attack to hit you while you're still in V.A.T.S., you'll need to have enough action points to do an attack or two of your own. This is one of the main reasons you should maximize your action points as much as you can. See the sections for perks, apparel, and chems. * Total LOS targeting: V.A.T.S. can always see any enemy that's within your line of sight (LOS), even if you can't due to factors such as distance or darkness. You can use that in conjunction with the red blips shown on your compass to pinpoint nearby hard-to-see enemies, and thereby make attacking them or sneaking past them much easier. Just remember that V.A.T.S. usually won't be able to target a nearby enemy if he's mostly or completely obscured from your LOS by an obstruction. * Gap-closing: To hit an enemy with a melee or unarmed attack without V.A.T.S., you'll have to get very close to him. With V.A.T.S., you don't have to be nearly so close. Experiment with it to see how far away V.A.T.S. will let you be while still doing melee and unarmed attacks. Also note that V.A.T.S. doesn't care if there are partial obstructions between you and your target as long as you've still got LOS. --- V.A.T.S.-RELATED PERKS --- * Gunslinger, Commando, Sniper, Concentrated Fire: These four perks all have to do with improving your aim in V.A.T.S. As stated above, V.A.T.S. is really only useful for close-up combat, where you'll always get good chance-to-hit percentages, so none of these perks are really all that useful. (Note that the Hobbler perk that comes with the Dead Money add-on is the same way.) * Math Wrath: This very useful perk reduces the action point cost for any weapon by 10%. That's especially great if you're just a few action points short of being able to use your favorite weapon another time in V.A.T.S. With the 10% reduction in AP cost, you'll get that extra attack! * Plasma Spaz: This perk is the same as Math Wrath except that it only applies to plasma weapons. Also, it requires an Energy Weapons skill of 70 instead of a Science skill of 70. It's good for V.A.T.S. fighters who are plasma weapon specialists with a low Science score, but that's about it. Everyone else should get Math Wrath instead. Note that with the version 1.4 game update, this perk reduces AP costs for plasma weapons by 20% instead of 10%, making it more useful for plasma specialists. * Mysterious Stranger: This is a very quirky perk, and isn't really recommended, though it does have some useful features. If your target's health is less than 150 when a V.A.T.S. session ends, there's a 10% chance that a "mysterious stranger" guy will show up and use his super-powerful magnum to finish your target off. One problem is that the stranger is manifested as a physical person, which means he needs to be placed somewhere specific. Sometimes his placement prohibits his shooting the target because he won't have LOS with it. On the other hand, he can sometimes kill multiple targets for you, though don't count on this always happening. Other disadvantages include not always getting the XP for an enemy that he finishes off, and your action points not getting restored if you have Grim Reaper's Sprint. NOTE: If you want to maximize the chances that the stranger will show up and finish off a particular target, repeatedly V.A.T.S.-attack that target one time with a weak weapon -- preferably a ranged one, like a BB gun or silenced .22 pistol. This can be a good way to finish off a distant foe before he can get close to you, especially if you're sneaky enough to avoid his notice. Also, after you have 15 mysterious stranger visits, you'll get a challenge perk that raises his probability of appearing from 10% to 20%. * Miss Fortune: This perk is very similar to the Mysterious Stranger one. The difference is that Miss Fortune doesn't require a target's health to be less than 150, and she won't deliver a fatal attack to the target. Instead, she does something non-fatal like crippling one of his limbs or knocking him down. That can be funny and somewhat helpful, but not really worth a perk slot. * Center of Mass: This perk will add 15% to the damage you do if you target an enemy's torso in V.A.T.S. Not very useful, especially since head shots will do extra damage without you having to take a perk, and the head isn't much harder to hit than the torso when you're close to your target. * Action Boy / Action Girl: This perk permanently adds 15 to your action points each time you take it (up to two times), and is therefore highly recommended. Remember that it's not your aiming percentages in V.A.T.S. that you need to increase as much as possible -- it's your action points. It's just too bad that you have to use two of your 15 level-up perk slots to get 30 more action points, whereas you only had to use one of 30 perk slots to get +25 action points in Fallout 3. Blasted #@&^ "play-balancing" bullcrap! * Paralyzing Palm: This perk has nothing directly to do with action points, but is still very useful if you can meet its high Unarmed skill requirement. Having a powerful enemy lying helpless on the ground for a full 30 seconds is *hugely* helpful, especially if you have a follower or two with you to help pound on him. * Grim Reaper's Sprint: This perk is useful because it will instantly restore 20 of your action points when a V.A.T.S. session is over if you killed your target. That's not nearly as good as restoring *all* of your action points like the Fallout 3 version of this perk did (more "play-balancing," I suppose), but it is still a good choice for V.A.T.S. fighter builds. * Nuka Chemist: This perk doesn't affect your action points directly, but it does allow you to use workbenches to transform regular Nuka-Colas into the new victory variety, which increases your action points by 10 to 30 (depending on your Survival skill) temporarily. Even with the perk, your Science skill has to be 90+ to make the victory colas, which will be prohibitive for many players. * Nerves of Steel: This perk doesn't add to your action points, but it makes them regenerate 20% faster. That will help you get back into V.A.T.S. sooner in the all-too-frequent situations where you can't kill your target in one V.A.T.S. session, and therefore won't get the reaper to restore any of your action points. NOTE: On the PC version of the game, this perk only increases action point regeneration by a super-tiny amount. To fix this, use the G.E.C.K. construction set program to load up the FalloutNV.esm file, then edit the script named DLC03APRegenScript. On the line that starts with "Set MicroRegen," change the number after the slash from 10 to something smaller. A 2 will cause your action points to regenerate about 20% faster than normal, like it was intended. An 0.75 will cause them to regenerate about 50% faster than normal, and 0.25 will make them regen at double the normal rate. After that's set, go to the Perk section under the "Actor Data" tab and edit the DLC03NervesofSteel entry. In its "Perk Entries" section, right-click on "Action Point Regen" and choose "Edit," then check the "Ability" field and set it to "DLC03PerkNervesOfSteel." * Enhanced Sensors: This is a follower perk that you'll have whenever the eyebot named ED-E is with you. It'll allow you to use V.A.T.S. to fire on enemies who are invisible, such as nightkin who've used a stealth boy. (Note that you can use V.A.T.S. to find stealthed enemies without ED-E, but you won't be able to fire on them while in V.A.T.S. mode.) * Beautiful Beatdown: This is a challenge perk that you automatically get after killing 42 entities with unarmed weapons and then doing a total of 10,000 points of damage with unarmed weapons. It'll reduce the action point cost of all unarmed attacks by 10%, so get yourself a ballistic fist ASAP and go pound a bunch of enemies (or ambush a bunch of generic people) with it. The Finesse perk is also recommended to increase your critical chance even more, and the Better Criticals perk will make each critical hit you score count for more. Other critical-chance-related perks include Retention (triples the duration of critical chance magazines), Comprehension (doubles the effect of critical chance magazines), and Laser Commander (increases critical chance by 10% when using laser weapons). There's also a two-rank challenge perk called Set Lasers for Fun that'll increase your critical chance with energy weapons by 2% and then 4%. To get it, kill 64 entities with energy weapons, then do 16,000 and then 32,000 damage with energy pistols or 25,000 and then 50,000 damage with energy rifles. The Chemist and Chem Resistant perks can also be useful to characters who use chems to increase action points a lot (see the section on chems), but aren't recommended since chems should only be used in emergencies, and their regular durations are usually long enough. The Dead Money add-on game adds two perks that have to do with critical chance and damage. The Elijah's Ramblings perk that you can get after the quests are finished will increase your critical damage with all melee weapons by 50%. You get it by downloading the holomessage from the terminal in the Abandoned BoS Bunker and then talking to Veronica about Father Elijah. After you tell her you found him and have a message from him, ask her to unlock it, then refuse to give it to her. The other perk, Light Touch, is a level-up perk. It'll add 5% to your critical chance if you're wearing light armor, but note that it only adds that 5% on after weapon multipliers are factored in, rather than adding 5% to your base critical chance. For instance, if your base critical chance was 20% and you were using Figaro, a weapon with a 4x critical multiplier, that would give you an 80% chance of a critical hit with each attack. If you then got the Light Touch perk and wore light armor, your critical chance would be 85% ((20% X 4) + 5%) rather than 100% ((20% + 5%) X 4). The good news is that the Light Touch perk's crit bonus can really help if you're using automatic weapons, especially if you also have the Laser Commander perk and are using laser weapons like laser RCWs or gatling lasers. The Honest Hearts add-on game adds a level-up perk called Fight the Power! that increases your critical chance by 5% (and your DT by 2) when you're fighting anyone who's wearing NCR, Caesar's Legion, or Brotherhood of Steel faction outfits. The Old World Blues add-on adds a level-up perk called Atomic! that will cause your action points to regenerate faster if you're not currently taking any rads. How much faster they regenerate depends on how many rads you have on you: 10% faster for 200 to 399 rads, 20% faster for 400 to 599 rads, 33% faster for 600 to 799 rads, and 50% faster for 800+ rads. Unfortunately, you'll still suffer the usual penalties for radiation sickness. Old World Blues also adds an implant perk called Implant Y-7 that restores a few of your action points every time you eat a food item. With it, you can use up your action points in a V.A.T.S. attack, then immediately bring up the Pip-Boy and eat some food items to restore action points while the game is paused. The bad news is that each food item will restore very few action points, so you'd have to constantly burden yourself with lots of food items if you wanted to use them frequently as an action-point-restoring gimmick. The Lonesome Road add-on adds three noteworthy level-up perks. The Certified Tech perk supposedly gives you a huge +25% critical chance against robots, but didn't seem to actually do it in the tests I ran. The Voracious Reader perk transforms damaged books you pick up into blank magazines, which you can use at workbenches to make copies of any skill magazines you have, including critical chance magazines. The Ain't Like That Now perk reduces the action point cost of all weapons by 20% and makes your action points regenerate 25% faster. (The action point regen increase really does work, unlike the Nerves of Steel perk.) If you want it, be sure that your karma is in the "evil" or "very evil" range when you reach level 50. Lonesome Road also adds two new V.A.T.S.-related follower perks. Camarader-E will give you +5% to your V.A.T.S. aiming percentages whenever ED-E is with you (either the add-on's ED-E or the wasteland's) after you collect all five eyebot upgrade circuit boards from destroyed eyebots. The other one, called Lonesome Road, will give you +10% to your V.A.T.S. aiming percentages if you don't have any followers with you. You get it by not rescuing ED-E before facing Ulysses in his "temple." --- V.A.T.S.-RELATED APPAREL --- * General Oliver's Uniform: This outfit adds 20 to your action points when worn, but can't be gotten until the very end of the game (if even then). * Armor of the 87th Tribe: This heavy armor adds 10 to your action points when worn, and is only available if you have the Lonesome Road add-on. To get it, you'll need to nuke the Legion near the end of the add-on's quests, then kill the powerful unique ghoul named Gaius Magnus in the highly radioactive Dry Wells area. That's all immensely hard to do, so only really high-level characters will be able to get this armor. * Courier Duster: This light armor will add 15 to your action points when worn, and is also a Lonesome Road item. You'll get it from the reward footlocker after you finish all of that add-on's quests, but note that it'll only have the AP +15 effect on it if your rep with Caesar's Legion is higher than your rep with the NCR and the Strip at that time. And that's it except for all the generic, cheap outfits (and a few unique Old World Blues and Lonesome Road outfits) that add 1 to your Agility, thereby giving you 3 extra action points. Phooey! They really stiffed us on V.A.T.S. apparel in this game! --- V.A.T.S.-RELATED CHEMS --- * Jet: This is the most common action-point-increasing chem, and can be found and bought in many different places. Since it's weightless, you should keep all the ones you find so that you'll be sure to always have some on hand. Due to the risk of addiction each time you use one, you should save them for special combat situations where having 15 more action points for awhile will be a big help. In most combat situations, it's better to use a few stimpaks and run for cover while your action points regenerate. * Dixon's Jet: This is a special (and inferior) form of jet that you can buy and pickpocket from Dixon, who hangs out near Mick & Ralph's store in Freeside's first section. It only adds 10 temporary action points instead of 15, but it's a lot cheaper than regular jet, and its effect will stack with jet's for a total of 25 temporary action points. * Ultrajet: This is a powerful variant of jet that gives you 40 temporary action points. If you take one of these and a jet, you'll get a total of 55 temporary action points (or 65 if you throw in a Dixon's jet). The problem with ultrajet is that it's not widely available. The only way you can get it is to buy it from Sgt. Daniel Contreras in Camp McCarran's Supply Shack. He'll only have three of them at once, and they seem to take a long time to replenish. Keep checking back with him every week or so. * Rocket: This is another powerful variant of jet. It gives you 30 temporary action points, but the only way you can get it is to craft it at campfires, which requires a Science skill of 50+. If you get your Science skill that high, you should never use jet again, but should instead save up boxes of detergent and Nuka-Colas so you can turn all of your jet into rocket. (Or save a few jets to use along with rockets to get a temporary +45 action points.) * Rebound: This new chem will make your action points regenerate a little bit faster for one minute. Look for it in loot and merchants' inventories that normally include chems. * Nuka-Cola Victory: This special new variety of Nuka-Cola will add 10 to 30 temporary action points (depending on your Survival skill). You can find them in a few places, but the main way to get them is to craft them at a workbench, which requires the Nuka Chemist perk and a Science skill of 90+. * Fire Ant Nectar: These special chems can only be gotten from the fire ants that are at the Ant Mound (just south of Camp McCarran) and the El Dorado Dry Lake (south of the 188 Trading Post). Fire ant nectar doesn't directly affect action points, but instead adds 4 to Agility. If your Agility is 6 or under, the nectar will add 12 to your action points, otherwise it'll only add (10 - Agility) X 3 to your action points. You'll probably prefer to either save the nectar for its temporary +25 fire resistance or sell it. * Sugar Bombs & Irr. Sugar Bombs: These items add 5 to 15 to your action points (depending on your Survival skill) for a brief time. Regular sugar bombs are very common and can be found in many places. The irradiated version can only be found in one place in Camp Searchlight, but don't bother going after it -- it has no advantages over regular sugar bombs, and has the disadvantage of giving you more rads when you use it. * Mushroom Cloud: Instead of using sugar bombs directly, you can use them plus a few other items at a campfire to make mushroom clouds (Survival skill 35+ required), which give you 3 to 9 temporary action points. You clearly wouldn't want to do that for the action points, so only make mushroom clouds if you want an item that restores a lot more health than sugar bombs do. * Trail Mix: This is another campfire-craftable item, requiring a Survival skill of 25+ to make. It'll add anywhere from 5 to 15 action points, depending on your Survival skill. * Coyote Tobacco Chew: These nearly-weightless items will increase your Agility by 1, which adds 3 to your action points if your Agility is less than 10 to begin with. You can find them in some container and merchant inventories, and can harvest them from coyote tobacco plants. Also, you can get 10 of them from Trent Bascom at the NCR Sharecropper Farms if you finish the "The White Wash" Followers of the Apocalypse faction quest in such a way that the water stealing is stopped. * Battle Brew: This alcohol item is added to the campfire-craftable list by the Old World Blues add-on. Drinking a battle brew will have several effects, including +40 action points for 20 seconds. You need a Survival skill of 45+ to craft battle brews at campfires and hot plates, but there is a strange still down in the underground part of the X-13 Research Facility that you can use to make battle brew no matter what your Survival skill is. Just watch out for the invisible nightstalkers that appear throughout the area when you first visit the still's room. * Nuka-Cola Quantum: The Lonesome Road add-on brings back this favorite action- point-boosting drink from Fallout 3, but only in the absolute smallest way possible. There's a shipping crate behind the gas station in Hopeville that has a 10% chance of having one quantum in it, and that's it. What the fuh? They *surely* could've done better than that!