Fallout 3 Tips: A Real Wasteland Survival Guide

The following is a list of things you need to learn to do right in order to survive in Fallout 3.  I’ve gone into as much detail as possible to make it clear and helpful, instead of a just a quick rundown of the obvious.


1. Learn to Barter

Whenever you level up, you should always put points into Barter because this skill is crucial for getting ammo and Stimpaks for as few caps as possible.  And you will not survive out there without ammo and Stimpaks!  As for the actual transactions you do with sellers, the first thing you always want to check is how many caps the person has.  This number is in the upper right-hand corner.  Now you want to sell them everything you can, without going over their cap  limit.  Then, check and see if they have any armor, ammo or Stimpaks you may want (and you should always want ammo & aid).  This will decrease the number of caps that the person owes you.  From here you can sell more items that you may have but if you don’t have anything else to sell, you can complete the transaction.

The key to bartering effectively is to remember what the word “barter” itself actually means.  It’s an exchange of goods rather than involving money.

2.  Learn to Repair

While you’re out there in the Wasteland scavenging, you’ll come across a few different items of the same type.  Whether it’s weapons or armor, repairing them the right way will reduce your encumbrance by a larger amount, and make the item itself in better condition therefore fetching you more caps for it.

As for the actual repairing process, choose one of the items and the repair option.  From here you’ll see the item and beneath it the other items that you have that can be used to repair the one chosen.  Start from the bottom of the list and work your way up.  As you go up, you’re using the items in the worst condition first.  Using three poor items versus a single good one helps your encumbrance and will leave the items that are worth more caps.

3.  Learn to Level Up

Oh, how I love to hear those drums.

At the beginning of the game, you are asked to put points into your fallout3special21S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats.  From here you need to figure out what kind of character you want to have.  However, no matter what kind of character you want to have, it is extremely necessary to have points in Luck, Perception, Agility and Intelligence. These will unlock the best perks and Intelligence will grant you more skill points as you level up.  If you want your character to focus on Speech, you do not even need to waste any points on Charisma so keep that at one.  You should have your Strength at about six, Luck and Intelligence near 10, and Endurance, Agility and Perception ranging between five and seven. It should look something like this:

Strength: 6

Perception: 6

Endurance: 5

Charisma: 1

Intelligence: 8

Agility: 6


Of course you won’t be able to max out each of these S.P.E.C.I.A.L attributes right away.  Focus first on Intelligence and Luck.  Along your journey, grab the Agility bobblehead and complete the Those! quest (and choose Ant Sight).

And as you level up and raise your skills, remember that there are books, Bobbleheads, quests and especially perks that are very effective at raising your skills and attributes.  The first perk you want to use first is Intense Training, and you’ll use this to max out your Luck and Intelligence.  Also use it to raise your Agility, Endurance and Perception to seven each.

Other really useful perks include Action Boy/Girl, Gun Nut, Better Criticals, Commando, Educated, Grim Reaper’s Sprint, Size Matters, Strong Back and Tag!

4. Learn to Fight

Fallout 3 is an FPS, but don’t play it entirely like an FPS.  You really need to use the V.A.T.S system in order to conserve ammo and take advantage of perks you have.

vatsIf you can’t hit the broadside of a barn, don’t aim on your own.  If you can shoot, you can shoot freely but be sure to hit them dead on and in critical areas like the head.  Remember, certain enemies are only vulnerable in one area.

Now, Fallout 3’s got several weapons that are worth the time and trouble obtaining.  My personal favorites, being that I major in Small Guns, are the Xuanlong Assault Rifle, Lincoln’s Repeater and The Terrible Shotgun.

And while this may be obvious, use rifles for enemies that are at a long distance, shotguns for enemies wielding melee weapons or who are at a short distance, and assault rifles for when you are running toward an enemy.

5. Learn to Save and Reload

It’s a cheap move, but you’ve got to save your resources!  Before you attempt to hack a computer, pick a lock, or win a speech challenge, save your game.  That way if you fail the first time you can just reload your save.  Doing so will help you conserve bobby pins, earn XP and avoid getting locked out of terminals.


Fallout 3 is an extremely fun game, but it’s easy to get discouraged by its massiveness.  Taking one step at a time and having the patience to learn everything will ensure a fun experience.


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