Fallout: New Vegas Guide

Fallout Build: Hardcore Survival Expert [Hardcore Mode] for Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout Build: Hardcore Survival Expert [Hardcore Mode]


This guide is is a build meant to ease the burden of playing on Hardcore mode. There is even an achievement in completing it!Small Updates [01/07/2018]

Explanation/Description of Build

If you come across anything that needs fixing or is wrong, please comment and tell me so I can fix it! Also comment some tips if you wish!

Once I got into hardcore mode, it ruined normal Fallout for me. The mode adds just enough layers of depth to be challenging, while still feeling completely fair at the same time. It requires a lot of game knowledge, however. It turns items that were useless in the normal game, into lifesaving treasures. It makes combat, and every decision you make more interesting. Hardcore actually isn’t that hard once you understand how it works. It forces the player to adapt, and adds long-term challenges into the game play. You can still adjust combat difficulty if it is too much of a challenge on normal or hard.

First things first, this build/guide isn’t for completely new players. It’s for people who understand the mechanics well enough to grasp everything they’re doing. Hopefully you’ve had a playthrough of the regular difficulty before checking out hardcore. The main point of this build is to make you mostly self-dependent. For example, with a high Survival stat you can hunt animals and turn them into cooked food at campsites, which removes your need to carry other, uncooked food (unless you want to). This ‘survival expert’ is the style the guide is focused on.

Choose between Guns or Energy Weapons as your primary source of offense, as melee combat is too dangerous (if you would like to go for a melee build, you can. It’s difficult, but not impossible). Lastly, you’ll want Barter so that when you bring all those animal skins and looted equipment back to town, you can buy enough stuff to resupply for another trip into the Wasteland. Stimpacks, Doctors Kits, and Purified Water will be important to buy, at least for the early levels. That is what the majority of this build is focused on; getting you through the early levels with a solid build that will make the rest of the game less of a problem.

Each Perk fills a certain niche: Hunter makes it easier to get food by killing enemies, Educated gives extra skill points and so on. The most important ones are probably Pack Rat and Strong Back since these let you carry more weight. Also having Adamantium Skeleton makes it so that you need less limb recovery items like Doctors Kits. Lastly, once you have Solar Powered you will need less healing items during the day.

Since ammunition has weight in Hardcore mode, you’ll want to approach this in a careful manner. Break down as much of your ammunition as you like into its components, and sell everything else. Only ever keep one or two types of ammunition on you for very particular weapons. Carrying .308 and .357 rounds for a Hunting or Sniper Rifle and a Cowboy Repeater is not a bad idea. If you choose to skill into Explosives, then you’ll need even more room for those; which is why ammo management can be so important later on.

For this reason, going with Energy Weapons is sometimes suggested more than regular guns. Since there are only three or so types of ammunition for energy weapons, you can carry two or three different guns but only need to worry about a few different types of ammo since they all share the same few ammo types.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, it’s suggested that you keep each weapon stocked with a different type of ammo. So keep your rapid fire weapons stocked with basic ammo, your sniper weapon stocked with Hollow Points if going for head shots or armor penetrators, or Max Charge if going for body shots, and keep your close range weapons stocked with armor penetrators or Overcharge. This allows you to change guns to suit each situation you end up in, while also automatically equipping the ammo that best helps in said situation.


Be sure to also read the comments to see suggestions and tips!

This is how I have set up my points, but this isn’t a major defining part of this build. You can skill these mostly how you want; however it would be wise to focus on some Endurance and Strength/Intelligence.

  • Strength: 6
  • Perception: 4
  • Endurance: 7
  • Charisma: 4
  • Intelligence: 7
  • Agility: 6
  • Luck: 6

Skills & Traits

Be sure to also read the comments to see suggestions and tips!

Tagged Skills

  • Survival
  • Guns / Energy Weapons (It’s best to pick one to specialize in)
  • Barter


  • Skilled
  • Trigger Discipline

Recommended Perks

Be sure to also read the comments to see suggestions and tips!


  • Hunter
  • Educated (earlier the better)
  • Hand Loader
  • Lead Belly
  • Gunslinger or Commando (per your weapon choice)
  • Pack Rat
  • Rad Resistance
  • Scrounger
  • Strong Back
  • Animal Friend
  • Adamantium Skeleton
  • Them’s Good Eatin’
  • Jury Rigging
  • Solar Powered
  • Spray and Pray

Playing With Mods (is lots of fun)

This part of the guide was was written in 2016, so these are most likely out of date. Mods are updated all the time, so its best to do your own searching for updated versions, or alternate versions. If you’re new, it really isn’t that difficult, just don’t forget to actually read the readmes!

If you’re like me, and want the most realistic experience from New Vegas (without it being totally punishing) then you’ll want to use mods. Here’s a rundown of some popular at the original time of writing.

Sometimes these are required to run your mods:
Nexus Mod Manager (NMM)[skyrim.nexusmods.com]
The New Vegas Script Extender (NVSE)[nvse.silverlock.org]

Bottle That Water[newvegas.nexusmods.com] This mod allows you to bottle water from all water sources without an annoying menu. It also adds a buyable canteen that will also keep you automatically hydrated. This doesn’t really add to realism, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.

More Perks[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
Again, this doesn’t make it anymore realistic, but it does add some more perks to the game. It’s suggested that if you use this mod, you also use the following one.

Perk Every Level[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
This one does deviate a bit from a vanilla playthrough, so if this is your first time playing it might be a good idea to save this one for a later playthrough. Does what the name implies. However, it does not give perks retroactively, so it’s best to start fresh with a new character. It’s a fun mod to use alongside the ‘More Perks’ mod.

Tag Skills Improved[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
Simply makes tagged skills get 25 extra points instead of a measly 15. Now a tagged skill is something you are competent at, rather than ‘less useless at’. I think that it adds to realism a bit, since you begin as a courier, I feel like you should have a bit more experience in certain areas starting out than you do.

Realistic Headshots[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
This mod makes all headshots (at least to certain mobs) deadly, like real life. One of my favorite mods, it makes headshots much more satisfying!

Sprint Mod[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
This mod does as the name implies, it adds a much needed sprint mechanic to New Vegas. It requires the NVSE (New Vegas Script Extender) to work, but if you use the Nexus Mod Manager to load mods then it won’t be an issue to set up.

New Vegas Stutter Remover[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
If you have NVSE, then this mod is simply a must. It fixes most in-game stutter problems, and makes the game run better. (apparently it has issues with some Windows 10 users, myself included. It makes my game crash around every 30 minutes)

Weapon Mods Expanded – WMX[newvegas.nexusmods.com]
This mod adds new weapon mods, changes old ones, and just generally makes them better.