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Advanced Tips and Tricks
for Fallout: New Vegas

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright June 2013


OK... I've been playing this game a while now, and here are some advanced tips and tricks.

Keep in mind that I still love energy weapons, so these advanced tips apply best to energy weapon users who like sneaking. There is no particular order to these tips, but the early ones are useful at the beginning of the game.

Building Character

Note: This is a change from the beginner advice. The important SPECIAL attributes now are:

o Endurance -- So you can buy all the bumps from Doc Usanagi. I go with 9 (because I'll buy one from her) but you can get by with less because you can also get bumps using the Intensive Training perk when you level up.

o Intelligence -- Max intelligence means max skill points. Once again, I go with nine, and this is my first buy from Doc.

o Perception -- It's real nice to see things. And it helps on some skills, and it gives a few nice speech options when talking to NPC's.

These are top priority. Bottom priority are:

o Luck -- I take it down to one, and I may add one or two bumps late in the game with Intensive Training.

o Charisma -- Nice but not necessary. I take it down to one as well, and I may add Intensive Training bumps late in the game.

And in between are:

o Agility -- It gives you running speed and lots of action points in VAT mode. And with high speed another tactic becomes viable: Shooting while backing up. Backing up gives you many extra shots on enemies such as scorpions and geckos who will chase you and try to close.

o Strength -- It's nice to carry lots of stuff, and it is needed for full weapon potential. Recharger and Q-35 need 2 or 3 and the YCS/186 needs 5. I start with 3, or so, and put the rest of the optionals into agility.

I select Science, Speech and Energy Weapons as my tagged skills. I take the Good Natured trait -- it cuts into energy weapon skill but it adds to speech, medicine, repair, science and barter which I use a lot -- and the Trigger Discipline trait which trades better accuracy for speed in weapon use -- I like hitting.

When I walk out of Doc's door, I'm ready for the Fast Start Tour.

The Fast Start Tour

There are two goals to this Fast Start Tour:

o acquiring the really good energy weapons

o getting your intelligence bumped at Doc Usanagi's as a first or second level so you're on the road to max skill points.

Secondary goals are to establish a home base at the Novac motel, establish your merchant network so you can sell lots of stuff, discover landmarks that will make later exploring easier, collecting ammo for your Q-35, and wealth to spend on Usanagi's implants.

Best weapons

There are four weapons worth collecting to use:

o the recharger pistol

o the Q-35 matter modulator, a named plasma rifle

o the plasma defender

o the YCS/186, a named gauss rifle

There are many others worth collecting to sell, but these four will be your stock and trade. The recharger pistol will do the 80% grunt work and the others will handle the 20% of stuff that is too high armor class for the recharger to deal with efficiently. Of these, the recharger and the Q-35 are the most important to get. And, fortunately, neither are too hard for a first level, if you know what you're doing. Which brings us back to the Fast Start.

Rather than going south towards Primm, start by heading northeast to Sloan. You should be able to dodge your way there with little shooting. Discover it, then move across the highway and discover Neil's Shack at the base of Black Mountain. Talking to Neil is optional at this point, and hard to avoid.

Now comes the tricky part. Work your way up along the left side of the switchback road to a pass over the hills north of Black Mountain proper. You'll know it when you get there. It's full of bear traps, an NCR corpse, and rumbling/tumbling rocks! Dodge and disarm all of that and head north for REPCONN HQ. When you discover that you've gone through the trickiest part of the fast start. Once again, if you're doing it right there's no shooting required on this section.

Go in the HQ and grab the Q-35. How to do so was covered in the basic tips, but here it is again. Take the guided tour to get the planet exhibit door unlocked for you, get the ID on a desk in the room above the exhibit, come back to the lobby and head to third floor, get a room key card in a metal briefcase laying in the hallway on the third floor, open a door on the second floor, jump through the hole in the floor to get to the Q-35 on the first floor. Yeah baby! Oh, and loot the two Brotherhood of Steel corpses nearby the briefcase while you're up there.

Q-35 now in hand, take the bridge north of REPCONN HQ to the railroad station and pick up fistfuls of pre-war money there. Keep going north to discover Cassidy Caravan Wreckage, south of the McCarren walls. This is a place you will return to often. It is the starting point for the Fiends vs NCR Tour which produces lots of loot and energy weapon ammo. It is also a good place to spawn pesky Legion Assassins if they are bothering you. You can lead them into the first fray point on the tour. (If you're loaded down, fast travel back to Goodsprings and sell/store stuff before you continue. You'll be picking up a lot of loot at the two fray points.)

Head west to get to the first fray point. Fiends and NCR troopers will duke it out next to the wall. Here you get into shooting for the first time. You fight Fiends with NCR help, then loot all the corpses when the battle ends.

Continue east and circle around the McCarren wall. There will be a second fray point at the southwest corner of the wall. These two fight spots respawn regularly, come back any time you need more loot and energy weapon ammo.

The Fast Start Tour now heads north. Discover McCarren and keep heading north, the way should be barren and quiet. Discover the South Cistern, then head east and discover the Freeside's North Gate and Crimson Caravan. If you're loaded down with stuff, see Blake, the merchant in Crimson Caravan. Sadly, he reloads money very slowly so he's pretty much a one-shot merchant. The two critical places you want to discover in this area are New Vegas Medical Clinic, home of Doctor Usanagi, and Gun Runners, home of Vendortron, your merchant with the mostest... money. Both Doc and Vendortron reload money often, plus, the wandering merchants walk by the south and west Crimson Caravan walls regularly as well. Plan on selling a lot of loot around here.

From here you head south along 95. Stop at Durable Dunn's Sacked Caravan, south of the medical clinic, if you want to pick up combat armor from some Van Graff Thug corpses. And continue along 95 until you get to Novac, home of the big dinosaur statue. Take a small detour to discover Gibson Junkyard just north of Novac.

Once in Novac, make a quick stop at the Mc Bride house and solve their Nightkin problem, then talk to Jeannie May Crawford and get the key to your room at the motel. Head to the room, and get some well-earned rest and recovery in your bed -- sleeping here heals all wounds and limbs, and being well rested gives you an experience bonus. Use the safe and the suitcase to store stuff.

Your Fast Tour is complete.

Getting a Recharger Pistol

The Q-35 always comes from REPCONN HQ. The recharger pistol can come from many places. Once you are over 8/10th level they will be part of the loot on many of the Bright Follower corpses scattered around the land. You can search them. If you want to search a whole lot of corpses in a hurry, head up to REPCONN Test Site, just west of Novac.

If you want to get a recharger as a 1st level, plan on some excitement and working up some good timing.

Gloria Van Graff at the Silver Rush in Freeside has one on display on her wares table. When you first come into the Silver Rush you have to watch her do some "puppy kicking" (showing that she's a ruthless person). When she does that she walks away from the table. When you hear "Show's over." move to behind the table before she gets back in place, sneak, steal the gun, then jump over the table so you don't get close to her or anyone else and sneak out. Voila! You're a first level with a recharger pistol! Note that it takes an energy weapon skill of 50 to get full effectiveness, but it's quite useful from Day One.

Getting a Plasma Defender

Like the recharger pistol, these will spawn on Bright Follower corpses once you've reached 8/10th level. If you're collecting at REPCONN Test Site collect a few and repair them to make one in top condition.

Getting the YCS/186

This is found on a combat-armored mercenary at an unnamed campsite north of Horowitz Farmstead in the northwest. He's got company and they are a tough group to tangle with.

The sneaky way is to approach them from the east and post on a rocky outcrop next to the cliff that marks the north border of the map. Start shooting into their group. You're far enough away that they can't spot you, so they mill around where the shots are landing. Bring plenty of ammo, you'll miss a lot, but they will go down, and you have a weapon and combat armor.

That's what I have on the Fast Tour and weapon acquiring. Next I will talk about stringing quests together.

Spawning traveling merchants

Traveling merchants must be spawned. You must travel near some specific geography for them to appear. One will show up as you do the Fast Tour. One will show up when you near the Boulder City memorial. Another shows up when you discover Mojave Outpost. A pair show up when you get near the bridge that is west of Legion Raider Camp and south of Ranger Station Charlie.

Spawning this pair must be done delicately. Immediately after they spawn they are walking into an ambush of four legion soldiers, and after that there are other hazards on their road to Novac. They will usually survive the ambush, but if you don't mind angering the legion you can give them help by attacking the soldiers. If you don't want to anger the legion, there are more subtle ways of helping.

One is to wait and watch for other Legion enemies to come nearby and attack the Legionaries before getting close to the bridge. The NCR and a nightstalker pack come through that area. (Working the nightstalkers is a wild and wooly art of its own!)

After the ambush attack is complete, loot the corpses, sell to the merchants, then fast walk out to somewhere else, a good choice is Novac. This will keep the merchants from encountering the other hazards. If you fast walk to Novac, they will show up there, too, and you can do a quick body count to make sure you've been successful. After they reach Novac they will move back and forth between Novac and the Crimson Caravan compound near Vegas. They don't go near the bridge again.

Quest Strings

These are quests that fit together. Doing them this way will save you a lot of unnecessary running back and forth.

Rescuing Raul and Tabitha on Black Mountain

Raul is a good repairman alternative to Major Knight at Mojave Outpost. He is also a potential companion with hot pistol skill. Tabitha is the villain leader of the super mutants on Black Mountain, but she can be reformed, and doing so completes a 1,000 point quest. Don't start this until you have 60 science skill (or 50 plus a Programmer's Digest), and be sure to bring the Q-35, you'll need its knockdown power.

Head to Neil's Shack again, but this time sneak up the center of the switchback roads to the fence just outside the compound at the mountain top. This is a tricky climb, much trickier than finding the north pass was. Take cover under the rocky outcrop just under the fence, save your game, hold your breath, then run up to the fence briefly to provoke the nightkin and back to cover so you only have to deal with one at a time. There are two nightkin on the ground and a sniper in the radio tower to deal with.

Once they are dead, head for the Storage Building. Inside you will find Rhonda, a damaged Mr. Handy robot. Fix Rhonda with Science skill, lead it outside, and Tabitha will meet you and be Oh So Grateful! Quest completed, 1,000 points gained, and the Black Mountain super mutants are no longer a threat.

Head into the Prison Building next to the Storage Building and free Raul for even more points. There's a lot of good loot up here, including Anabell, an expensive named missile launcher, on the sniper corpse.

Helios One and the Boomers at Nellis

One of the quests at Nellis is fixing solar panels. You can either fix these with high repair skill, or you can salvage parts from the solar arrays at Helios One. So, go to Helios One first, solve that quest and pick up five scrap solar arrays while you are doing so, then head for Nellis to solve their problems. If you're going to do Brotherhood of Steel quests, start with them before you go to Nellis, one of the early quests takes you there.

"Mary Worthing" around Freeside

There are a bunch of quests in the Freeside area. Most involve running around talking to people and solving their personal problems. (the Mary Worthing, from the comic strip of that name) Learn the quests and you can learn the ways to solve them which cut down the running around dramatically. Example: Santiago is both a deadbeat and a suave talker. Pick up quests from both James and Francine Garrett before talking to Santiago and you can solve parts of two quests with one short conversation.

Getting Primm a new sheriff

Get Primm their new sheriff before you piss off the Powder Gangers. The best candidate is Meyers, who's in the NCR Correctional Facility. Talk to him, get him on his way, then mess with the Powder Gangers. Part of finishing the Meyer's sheriff quest is talking to Major Knight at the Mojave Outpost. This is a good excuse to add Mojave Outpost to your merchant network.

Vault 3 and Motor Runner

Diane of the Great Kahns at Red Rock Drug Lab wants a drug delivery made to Motor Runner. Col. Hsu at McCarren wants his head on a platter. There's an air filtration component in a locker in Motor Runner's room that the Brotherhood of Steel wants. Kill three birds with one stone. Run a couple of quick Diane quests to get to the Vault 3 delivery quest. Get a speech skill of 65 so you're invited, not shot at, when you go inside. Deliver drugs, collect the filtration component, then kill Motor Runner and the other Fiends inside at your leisure.

Tactics for various locations

Next are tactics for dealing with various locations on the map.

Approach Scorpion Gulch from the Helios One side

Scorpion Gulch sits between Hidden Valley and Helios One, and it's appropriately named. It is filled with Bark and Radscorpions -- good experience and loot if you can handle it. There are two ambush caves in the gulch. If you come from the Hidden Valley side and move through to the Helios side they will spawn behind you... a pain in the butt, literally. Come in from the Helios One side and they will spawn in front of you.

Sneaky Genocider

One interesting informal quest is how many of a tribe can you kill before they become aware of your skullduggery and shun or vilify you? This is taking your skill at sneak killing to a new level. Basically, you kill people without letting others see you do it.

At one time or another I've exterminated many tribes -- Khans, Brotherhood, Legion -- without getting a mar on my tribal status with them. In the case of the NCR I've completely wiped out McCarren, the embassy, and various ranger outposts, but I was never able to wipe out the command tent at Camp Forlorn Hope, and I didn't want to wipe out Mojave Outpost... there's a valuable merchant there!

Game-to-game this skill is useful for dealing with The Legion. I routinely kill stragglers wandering the hills south of Novac and wipe out whole bases.

Want Recon Armor?

Speaking of being genocidal sneaky... If you want recon armor you can buy it or...

Take the Brotherhood of Steel quest where you go out and talk to three scouts stationed in the wilderness. Hmm... all alone you say... out in the lonely wilderness? And, yes, dressed in recon armor (sneak +5). Approach them, get their reports, cap them and loot, and bring their reports back to Hidden Valley with the BOS none the wiser. Repair the three sets together and you have a set of your own in respectable condition. With the Forlorn Hope scout you have to be more careful of your positioning than with the others, there are NCR and Legion who can see him, and they will blab if they see you doing the dirty deed.

Gecko Buffet

You can hunt gecko many places, but one of the most satisfying is Cliffside Prospector Camp on the cliffs above the Colorado River. You start on an unclimbable bluff and below you are a half dozen fire geckos waiting to be harvested. Kill them, jump down to loot, then fast travel back to the campfire, and cook away.

Across the river from Cliffside is one of two primo deathclaw challenge spots, covered next.

Deathclaw Challenges

Deathclaws are an issue for the sneaky, it's real hard to be sneaky around them and real hard to survive their swatting when they close. But if you're feeling brave (and have enough beer in you to spit in Darwin's face) two places that will test your Deathclaw Mettle are an unnamed canyon across the river from Cliffside Prospector Camp and Dead Wind Cavern, near Ranger Station Charlie.

The unnamed canyon is thick with deathclaws. At the far end to the south is substantial loot in the form of good guns and Remnant power armor on two corpses. (Although some times these corpses do not spawn. If they don't show up the first time, go away and come back later and they will be there.) This place will test your outdoor deathclaw dealing skills.

My tactic for the ones near the canyon entrance is to annoy them, have them give chase, then run back into the river. They will get discouraged when I hit the water. I come out and shoot them up as they head home. Those too far away for the lake tactic I deal with in classic fashion: I stand on a cliff far away and shoot into a mob that can't find me. It takes a long time and a lot of ammo, but they will go down.

Dead Wind Cavern can't be treated this way. Most of the deathclaws are in the cave. You do have to sneak! Bring high sneak skill, recon armor, and stealth boys, lots of stealth boys! And bring the YCS/189 or the Q3 with max charge ammo, you need lots of punch.

There are a couple of nooks to hide in inside the caves. Use those to bring down the majority of 'claws, then pick off the rest one-by-one. The hardest to deal with is Deathclaw Momma. Rrraar! And Ouch! About the only way you'll take her out is with a surprise critical hit as the first shot.

Notable loot inside is Mercy, another named weapon.


These are some tips and tactics that have made my advanced play more enjoyable. Have fun with them.


--The End--

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