Skills determine how good you are at various activities, anything from picking locks, hacking computers, attacking with various weapons, sneaking, interacting with NPCs and so forth. Your skills are every bit as important as your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and your perks.
You start out with two points in each skill, and get an additional two points per S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute in related skills with the exception of Luck, which gives .5 point for each point of Luck (rounded up).
You select three skills to tag after being tested early in the game. Unlike the first two Fallout games, this doesn’t double your rate of skill point increase, it merely adds a 15 point bonus to those skills.
You gain 10 skill points per level plus half your Intelligence score. The sooner you get to the New Vegas Medical Center and buy yourself a shiny new Intelligence Implant, the more skill points you’ll have in the long run.
In addition to perks, leveling, and intelligence, you can get skill bonuses from books throughout the game. Unlike in Fallout 3, you no longer gain one point for each book, you now get three (or four, with the Comprehension perk). Of course, with bonuses like this you can’t expect to find quite as many of them… but even if you find three or four, that’s a significant number of skill points.
Magazines, like books, exist only to boost your skill points, albeit temporarily. Magazines normally boost your skill points by +10, but with the Comprehension perk this bonus increases to +20. For most skill this is not a huge deal, although the benefits of popping a Milsurp Review to boost your Guns before a big fight is obvious enough. For some 'checked' skills, however, a temporary boost can be just as good as a permanent one. For example, the Speech skill is really only used in conversation. If you reach certain benchmarks you can succeed at Speech checks, which greatly helps with questing, improves rewards, etc. However, you don’t always need a 100 Speech. In fact, most of the time you’re not even using that skill. This is where magazines shine, as with Comprehension you can leave Speech at 80 and just read a magazine before you need to make a check. The Barter, Lockpick, and Science skills all fall into this category as well.
Breakdown of Skill Points
There are 13 skills in the game, each of which can be raised to a score of 100, for a grand total of 1300 possible points in the game. With the inclusion of a whopping 20 more levels to the game, maxing out all your skills at 100 is now pretty easy to do-so much so that the Comprehension Perks and the Intelligence Attribute are now less interesting to power- gamers. On the other hand, Educated now gives 46 levels worth of skill points-or a total of 92 points over the game, and the increased number of books means Comprehension will go further, too.
The breakdown of skill points below shows how your skill points should be allocated at level one, with their projected totals once you have the implants purchased. If your SPECIAL Attributes don’t match this build’s suggested SPECIAL Attributes, you’ll have different numbers. Remember, you start out with a base of two points in each skill, plus two for every point in the governing SPECIAL Attribute for that skill. Also, Luck adds one point to each skill for every odd point of Luck (1 = +1, 3 = +2, etc, up to +5 with a Luck score of 9). When you get your Implants, naturally every SPECIAL Attribute (save Charisma) will increase by one, making the related skills increase by +2… and - if you’re following this guide’s build - raising Luck from 8 to 9 will give you another one point bonus to every skill. Hence, all skills will receive a +3 bonus - save Barter and Speech, which get a +1 bonus - after obtaining the Implants . What follows, then, are the base skills after the New Vegas run. In the "Perks/Traits" section three things will be accounted for; the bonus to Agility from having the Small Frame Trait, the whopping +5 bonus to each skill that Skilled gives you (it’s an absolute must-have Trait) and the bonus Strength you’ll receive much later from completing the "Old World Blues" expansion and getting the Reinforced Spine perk.
|Skills||Base||SPECIAL Bonus||Implant Bonuses||Perks & Traits||Total|
Now that you’ve got that down, let’s figure out how many points you can expect to get from leveling and Tag! skills, and see where that leaves us.
|Skill Points||Skill Point Allocation|
|326||Base Skill Points|
|+661||13.5 Skill Points per level/49 levels (with 7 Intelligence)|
|1032||Skill Points to distribute by level 50|
With 1032 skill points you can get an average of 79~ in each skill… Which honestly, is pretty damn good already. But why settle for good when perfect is within reach? The previously mentioned books weigh in at three skill points per copy (or four, with the Comprehension perk). There are on average about six skill books per skill in the game that can be found (not including the extra skill book per skill that can be made via recipe holotapes found in "Old World Blues", and not counting the random Workbench Crate books in "Honest Hearts".) In total, that’s at least seven skill books per skill that can be found, or 21 bonus skill points per skill (28 with Comprehension). Still, you’re not expected to work that hard, so some simplified maxing tips are as follows:
- Pick Skilled as one of your traits at the beginning of the game. You can survive the experience hit and the 65 Skill Points you'll get in return are well worth it. You can pick this perk again after you leave Goodsprings for the first time (at the beginning of the game) and re-select this trait to gain another +5 bonus (65 skill points) to all your skills. Lastly, if you reset your traits at the Auto-Doc in The Sink (Old World Blues) and pick Skilled again, you can score another 65 points!
- Get either Comprehension or Educated perks at level four. This will allow you to be lazier with hunting down skill books.
- Get all your skills up to a base of 80 (Sneak and Science need fewer points).
- Find as many skill books as possible-you'll need about seven per skill to raise your scores to 100. Educated will allow you to add more points to skills, while, Comprehension will allow you to max your skills with fewer skill books.
- In the meantime, use skill magazines to boost your skills to succeed at skill checks, when necessary.
Suggested Tag! Skills
It’s recommended that you Tag! Science, Lockpick, and Speech to start out, which will allow you to complete quests and explore places right from the get-go. If you’re playing in Hardcore Mode substitute Speech for Survival, which has the added bonus of allowing you to pick the Light Touch perk at level two if you wanted.