Fallout: New Vegas Guide

The “Cookie Cutter” of Unarmed Character Guides - By Chris Hart for Fallout: New Vegas

The “Cookie Cutter” of Unarmed Character Guides – By Chris Hart


This is an optimized build aimed at making the best out of the unarmed, focusing on crits play style. It will also max ALL skills.


Hi and welcome to my guide. Name is Chris, alias is Nexiros. I’m from the UK and just wanted to share what I believe to be the “cookie cutter” of the unarmed builds. It will be my first guide that I’ve created so constructive criticism is more than welcome. The reason why I made one is that I haven’t seen as of yet any guide that is really that well thought out. This is an optimized build aimed at making the best out of the unarmed, focusing on crits play style. It will also max ALL skills.

I’d like to point out though that as much as I think people should follow this build, it is really up to you as to what you choose. This is merely a guide and will attempt to highlight some of the thinking behind the choices I have made. It is up to you whether you want to follow them or not.

I always play on Very Hard Hardcore but it can just be as viable on all other difficulties.

If you have any concerns about the build, feel it needs some changes or just want to give me some feedback, you can find my email at the top and bottom of this guide.


  • You will be required to have installed all available DLCs.
  • The Ninja Perk Fix mod is essential for this build.
  • To obtain MAX skills. You will need to obtain most if not all of the skill books.


First of all, lets talk about the mods I use as some of the one or two bugs fix some of of the perks that I will be using and as such are relevant to this build.

All mods are installed by Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) which can be found here: [link]

List of .esm and .esp files in order of load (load order is important):

Vanilla File – Essential due to it being the actual game.

Gun Runners Arsenal DLC File – Non essential as it only adds items (which aren’t necessary for this build), a perk (which is also unnecessary) and some challenges/achievements.

Pre-Order File – Non essential as it only adds items.

Pre-Order File – Non essential as it only adds items.

Pre-Order File – Non essential as it only adds items.

Pre-Order File – Non essential as it only adds items.

Dead Money DLC File – Essential due to the raised level cap and extra skill/special boosting properties.

Honest Hearts DLC File – Essential due to the raised level cap and extra skill/special boosting properties.

Old World Blues DLC File – Essential due to the raised level cap and extra skill/special boosting properties.
Lonesome Road DLC File – Essential due to the raised level cap and extra skill/special boosting properties.

Esm file for the Invisible Wall Remover mod listed below.

Mission Mojave – Ultimate Edition.esp: [link]
Mission Mojave – Ultimate Edition File – Essential due to fixing a lot of the in-game bugs and issues that arise so I highly recommend it. Total of 20245 fixes in this version!

IWR rebuilt.esp: [link]
Invisible Wall Remover File – Non essential but is very handy for navigating through the world.

R.A.C.E Station.esp: [link]
Radio Active Channel Extender File – Non essential but just adds a new radio station that will allow users to create their own play-list. I personally have the music files that came with it and the music files from Fallout 3.

Sorter – Combined.esp: [link]
Inventory Sorters File – Non essential but I feel is greatly needed due to the lack of an organised way of sorting items in the original game.

NinjaPerkFix.esp: [link]
Ninja Perk Fix File – Essential due to the fact that I will be taking the Ninja Perk. As it stands, instead of increasing your critical chance by 15% which is what the text states, it only multiplies the existing critical chance by 1.15. This is a huge difference as it means if you had say a critical chance of 10%. Then instead of only getting it boosted to 11.50%, it would boost it to 25%!


Right, now onto the S.P.E.C.I.A.L assignment. With 40 points to spend, we have plenty to go around.
Also bear in mind that I am factoring in the implants (x) that you can obtain from Doctor Usangai at the New Vegas Medical Clinic.

Strength – 6 (7)
Having 6 Strength to start will get you a carrying capacity of 210 which is workable and net you some added skill in Melee Weapons (some of the perks will require high skill in this field). Once you boost this with an implant to get 7, you’ll be able to get all of the perks I mention later. However, to be able to use the Ballistic Fist (best (whilst hidden) unarmed weapon in game). You will either need to get the Weapon Handling perk which I don’t advise as you can just gain the extra strength points by completing Old World Blues and getting the Reinforced Spine perk.

Perception – 5 (6)
This will boost your ability to detect other creatures as well as factoring into to speech checks. Vital for a “crit based” unarmed build such as this due to you needing 6 to get the Better Criticals perk at level 16. So I’d go with 5 and get it up to 6 with an implant before you hit 16.
Endurance – 8 (9)
Great, great, great stat. Not only does this add to your survival/unarmed skills but it increases your resistances to poison/radiation, starting HP and will factor into how many implants you will be able to receive (in this case 8).

Charisma – 2 (3)
Not as worthless now as it was in Fallout 3. It raises your skills in barter/speech but most importantly, it will affect the damage and armour of all companions in the party. At +5% per level, they’ll be doing 15% more damage and have 15% more armour with a Charisma of 3.

Intelligence – 4 (5)
You may be wondering why this is so low but it may surprise you that if it wasn’t for the Comprehension, Educated and Pack Rat perks, I would have this set to 1. Right first thing you have to understand is that this build is going to net you MAX stats across the board, yes that’s right. How? Well, you will NEED to put some effort into possessing a few if not all of the skill books. It may be tedious but it means you will have an optimised character and build. Also, you need to be have all DLC packs installed. Trust me, you’ll have enough points. If needed, send me and email and I shall link you a spreadsheet which documents how you will end up with 100 or so points to spare. All in all, don’t worry too much about the stats too much, just have fun. Let me work out the boring stuff.

Agility – 6 (7)
Aids small guns/sneak skills and AP, this is a good stat to invest points into. You need to aim for 8 though in order to obtain the Tunnel Runner perk which can be done by choosing the Small Frame trait. Note, contrary to what is written in its description, your run speed does NOT increase.

Luck – 9 (10)
MAX THIS STAT! First of all, having it at 9 to start with will net you the max obtainable +All Skills modifier giving you 5 across the board. When you rank it up to 10 with the implant, you get the max obtainable critical chance at +10%. This is really important to get as this build relies on a good amount of crits and the damage they deal. Also you gain some added luck in casinos which is handy, ESPECIALLY for the early bit of the game where you will need to be going to the Atomic Wrangler in order to obtain enough money to get the Intelligence implant.

As you can see, you will be able to have an implant for all stats and still have one to spare, use it to get the NEMEAN Sub-Dermal Armor to give you +4 to DT.


Doesn’t really matter as to what you take, you will max all skills by the end so its up to you, here’s what I chose though.

  • Barter
  • Speech
  • Unarmed


Small Frame
Don’t worry about the limb damage, its not that big a deal. The bonus to AG is worth it giving you extra V.A.T.S points/regen and faster weapon draw speed.

The added 10 AP is worth losing only 2 DT. The DT implant will net you +4 anyway so it you’ll only get +2 to DT instead of +4 to DT. This build benefits greatly from using V.A.T.S., you get +5% to your critical chance and having a reduction in damage taken is very nice too. Also, V.A.T.S. is going to be very useful for your unarmed sneak attacks, as it will move the character to melee range, whereas outside of V.A.T.S., you need to get right up close before your attack.


Below lists what I believe to be the perks to choose, the order is negotiable with some:

LVL 2 – Black Widow/Confirmed Bachelor
10% extra damage to all male characters and unique dialogue options. Nothing better, take it.

LVL 4 – Educated (IN 4)
2 more skill points every level gained is great, getting this at LVL 4 is a MUST.

LVL 6 – Comprehension (IN 4)
Extra point while reading the skill books and double the skill points for reading skill mags which is great for early game skill checks in conversations.

LVL 8 – Superslam (ST 6, Melee Weapons 45)
All of your unarmed attacks will have a chance of knocking the target down. The chance seems to be quite high.

LVL 10 – Finesse
+5% critical chance. Enough said.

LVL 12 – Piercing Strike (Unarmed 70)
A MUST HAVE for any unarmed build. This negates a massive 15 DT while using your unarmed attacks.

LVL 14 – Stone Wall (ST 6, EN 6)
Bit bugged this perk and no fix as of yet to my knowledge. But the bug does work in our favour so for now, we’ll just have to put up with it. As it stands, this perk pretty much just gives you +5 to DT whereas its meant to be only applied against unarmed and melee attacks. It also prevents you from being knocked down which is very handy.
LVL 16 – Better Criticals (PE 6, LK 6)
+50% damage with critical hits! Feel the power!

LVL 18 – Paralysing Palm (Unarmed 70)
EASILY the best perk for unarmed characters. This has a 30% chance of paralysing enemies for 30 seconds with a V.A.T.S. Attack. This is beyond overpowered.
LVL 20 – Ninja (Melee Weapons 80, Sneak 80)
It does requirements are quite dear so finding the skill books for these would be very worth while. Anyway, this is another great perk, it gives you +15% critical chance with your unarmed weapon and +25% damage with all unarmed sneak attack criticals.

LVL 22 – Grim Reaper’s Sprint
Any kill whilst in V.A.D.S. will instantly restore 20 AP. It will get to the stage where you’ll never need to wait for your AP to recover so you can keep going back into V.A.D.S.

LVL 24 – Slayer (AG 7, Unarmed 90)
Attack speed of all unarmed attacks is increased by 30%? Yes please. It doesn’t affect AP so won’t grant you any more attacks however, it does cause attacks made within V.A.T.S to go faster reducing the amount of time where the player is left in position of vulnerability.

LVL 26 – Jury Rigging (Repair 90)
At last! We can get Jury Rigging. This is the first chance to get it as all the other perks from 14 up until now have sort of been a must have. Anyway, this will grant the ability to fix your equipment way easier by just finding a similar item and using that. Its convenient and cheap.

LVL 28 – Light Touch (AG 6 Repair 45)
While in light armor, you gain +5% to your critical chance and all enemies get -25% to their critical chance. Great for buffing your chances and nerfing theirs.
LVL 30 – Travel Light
10% is recognisable after a while and its great for chasing fleeing enemies and fleeing from tough situations. Remember, keep agile and keep striking hoping for PP (Paralysing Palm) to proc.

LVL 32 – Silent Running (AG 6, Sneak 50)
Great for getting those cheeky sneak criticals. Great for getting close quickly without being heard, you can then get into V.A.T.S. range sooner.

LVL 34 – Toughness Rank 1 (EN 5)
+3 to DT. Great.

LVL 36 – Toughness Rank 2 (EN 5)
+3 to DT. Great again.

LVL38 – Action Boy/Girl Rank 1 (AG 6)
+15 AP. Yay!

LVL40 – Action Boy/Girl Rank 2 (AG 6)
+15 AP. Double yay!

LVL 42 – Purifier
A whopping 50% extra damage whilst using unarmed weapons against some of the toughest creatures in the game.

LVL 44 – Pack Rat (IN 5, Barter 70)
If you want to get this perk earlier, by all means do. There as too many items in the game, whether it be food, ammo, little parts which have a weight of two pounds or less. This half’s all of their weight which can be HUGE.

LVL 46 – Math Wrath (Science 70)
Due to the amount of AP you will have from this build (roughly 130), 10% reduction in those costs will net you a 5th hit with your ballistic fist.

LVL 48 – Tunnel Runner (AG 8)
25% extra speed while sneaking when wearing light/no armor? Yes please. Before you get this perk, you will have needed to have completed the Lonesome Road DLC to gain that extra S.P.E.C.I.A.L point.

LVL 50 – Just Lucky I’m Alive (Karma between -250 and 250)
The +4 to Luck is irrelevant as we already have max however, this perk nets you another 50% bonus to your critical damage, its like having a second Better Criticals!


Spiked knuckles
Can find early on in Primm. These were my weapon of choice up until I found a Mantis Gauntlet, I then used that up until the Ballistic fist/FoR (Fist of Rawr).

Lightweight leather armor
Can only get if you have the pre-order DLC – Courier’s Stash. Great for starting off with, 8 to DR and only weighs 10, which is 5 less than it’s variants. Upgrade when you see fit.

1st Recon beret
You find this cap in Novac which is very early in the game.


Ballistic fist
For sneak attacks, this is the best unarmed weapon in game. However, you won’t be able to sneak all of the time, when detected, switch to the following:

  • Saturnite fist super-heated

    An amazing weapon but if you plan on taking this, I’d recommend replacing on of the less useful perks with Pyromaniac to take full advantage of that heat DoT (Damage over Time).

  • Industrial Hand

    I personally don’t like this weapon as I feel its overpowered, just try it out and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Fist of Rarw

    My personal favourite switch, the FoR will not only look amazing, but the stats speak for themselves, fast attack speed, fast animations, bonus crit damage, bonus limb damage, low AP cost, 2 attacks per second, and a 2x crit multiplier! This weapon destroys the competition when not hidden.

Ulysses’ duster
I prefer being more agile and quick at the cost of being slightly more vulnerable, it also means I get to take advantage of the Light Touch perk to give a further 5% crit chance. This piece of armor not only looks amazing, but has a good DT of 13 along with high HP, little to no weight, a bonus to crit chance of 5% and a +1 to CH (adding further damage to your companions).

1st Recon beret
The cap is awesome netting you an amazing +5% critical chance and a bonus to your PE of 1.


Luck – 10%
Light Touch – 5%
Finesse – 5%
Ninja – 15%
Ulysses’ duster – 5%
1st Recon beret – 5%
When in V.A.T.S – 5%

So it totals 50% while in V.A.T.S and 45% outside of it.
When you’re using the FoR or any other weapon which has a x2 critical chance modifier, you will get 100% critical chance inside V.A.T.S and 90% outside of it.
Not bad eh?


Before you level. Run to the Atomic Wrangler casino making sure not to do anything too much that will net you experience. Then, exchange all your caps for chips, your luck is high so winning at Blackjack will be very easy. Just make sure to save before hand just in case. When you win around 4000 chips or so, stop. It has a limit of 5000 after which you will be banned so you want to make your last win BIG! Now, cash in and leave for the New Vegas Medical Centre. Buy the Intelligence implant for 4000. So, now head back over to the casino and exchange your caps again. Go to the roulette table and save your game again. Now, keep placing max bet all on one number. This will net you a very nice 35:1 payout when you win! Then you could use the money to buy more implants now or just have it as spending money. I chose the Agility and Perception implants.


Version 1.00, 05/09/12

  • Vanilla release.

Version 1.01, Yet to be released

  • Will include any updates and will discuss companions.


I hope this guide has helped you. My email is [email protected].
If you need the spreadsheet I mentioned which will aid you in planning out your skill points, let me know. I will happily send it over with an explanation of how to use it.
This guide will be posted on a few websites but if you want to copy and paste it on any others, feel free to. Just make sure to note that it is not your guide, list me as the author and to send me an email just to let me know you have and where you have.