There are a total of thirteen skills in the game and each one can be raised to 100. That means there's 1300 skill points to spend. Now as we discussed in the derived attributes section, you can only get around 888 skill points and that means you can max out about 9 skills or have all skills at 68. Now neither of those two options seem too appealing to me because I want to have a versatile character and I don't want to be a Jack of All Trades: Master of None. It's just not the way the game was meant to be played. So how are we going to go about this? Well first off, you have to realize that some skills only need to go to 80 to be good. After 80 you're just wasting skill points. It's also important to note that you can raise every skill except Repair(which you can only raise by 12) and Science(which you can raise by 20) can be raised with skill points by 16 points. It is also important to note that whenever you get an implant that improves an attribute(with the exception of Luck, which raises all skills half a point, rounded up) you improve the skills the attribute influences by 2, meaning that if you had a Melee skill of 16 and got the Strength Implant your Melee skill would be 18. Keep this in mind, because on many occasions have I screwed up because I didn't take that into account. Every skill point counts with an awesome character. Anyway, if you're going to raise a skill to 80, only put points into it until you reach either 62(if you haven't gotten its attribute implant) or 64(if you have.) The rest you'll raise by way of books and implants. The exceptions to this case are Repair, which you'll want to raise to 66 or 68, and Science, which you'll want to raise to 58 or 60. With that out of the way, here's my guide to Skills, and which ones to tag:
Skills Skills you Should Tag
In Fallout: New Vegas, as in Fallout 3, Tagged skills don't raise at double the rate. For this reason, you're not going to want to Tag your major skills, but instead the ones you'll higher from the very beginning. With this in mind, you should never ever ever Tag a weapons skill simply because there are almost no skill checks for them, and besides that you'll be getting Boone very early in the game(you're going to have to pass through Novac to make it to the New Vegas Medical Clinic) so he'll be able to hold your slack in combat(XP is given to the player, even if he does all the damage, so let him have it with all your enemies for awhile if you want.) Anyway, I don't like to back track in games because I'll often forget about it later on so with that out of the way let me show you the skills I always Tag, even in Hardcore Mode:
Lockpick Attribute that increases it:Perception What it does: It lets you pick locks(Wow, didn't see that one coming.)Locks are very, very common in Fallout games. In fact, Lockpick is such a good skill that you should Tag it in every major Fallout game. If you didn't know, locks are divided into these groups: Very Easy, Easy, Average, Hard, and Very Hard. Very Easy requires no skill at all, Easy requires 25 points in Lockpick, Average requires 50 points, Hard requires 75 skill points, and Very Hard requires 100. My guess is the most common lock is average, although I've never checked it, and nobody's recorded the number because there are that many locked containers. Finally, ever lock you pick gives you XP. Reason why you should Tag it: You'll find many locks early on that require some skill in lock pick to pick them. I don't like to back tract so I like this skill to the 62/64 mark very early on. You'll probably have to wait awhile to get those skill books since some of them are in places infested with Cazadors, but you can just wear a hat and read a magazine to open Hard locks. How high to raise it without books/implants: You'll want to raise this skill to 62 without the implant and 64 with it. Then use books to bump it up to eighty. You don't want to raise this skill to 100 because there aren't that many Very Hard locks, and for the few around you can just read a skill magazine to temporarily bump your skill to 100. There's technically a limitless supply of magazines, albeit random, so you should have some laying around that you can use. Perks related to it: Infiltrator(Requires 70 points)
Science Attribute that increases it:Intelligence What it does: It lets you hack computers, and there are quite a few skill checks for it in conversations. The difficulty of hacking computers is divided the same way as the Lockpick skill. Science also has many decent to good perks related to it. To off set these advantages over Lockpick, there are many, many fewer terminals you can hack. In fact, in my first play through I couldn't even find enough terminals to hack for the Trophy(although there is a challenge after that one to hack 50 terminals so I guess there's at least that many.)Oh, I should also note that a high Science skill lets you recycle Energy Weapons ammunition and, more importantly, Stimpacks. Reason why should tag it:See Reason to Tag Lockpick. Science isn't nearly as useful early on to have high(unless you want to get to the Strip as quickly as possible) so when determining priorities, Lockpick is more important to raise. How high to raise it without books/implants:Same as Lockpick. Perks related to it: Good Natured(Trait,+5 Science skill), Vigilant Recycler(Requires 70 points), Math Wrath(Requires 70 points), Nerd Rage!(Requires 50 points), Robotics Expert(Requires 50 points), Computer Whiz(Requires 70 points), and Nuka Chemist (Requires 90 points).
Speech Attribute that increases it:Charisma What it does: It lets you persuade people in conversations, and some quests even require you to have points in Speech to complete quests. In conversations sometimes you'll see these things that say: Speech 67/80, meaning that you need 80 points in Speech to pass the skill check and you currently have 67. Speech checks aren't random, unlike Fallout 3, so you really do need 80 points in Speech to pass that skill check. Usually passing a Speech check does: A. Give you extra items or money B. Give you extra information(sometimes useful, sometimes irrelevant)C.Let you finish a quest a different way, usually peacefully. If you're going for a pacifist play through you need a high Speech. In Fallout:New Vegas almost all skills have some conversation checks, notably Science and Barter, but none have as many as Speech, and some quests require it, so don't underestimate the power of a silver-tongued devil. It should also note that if you pass a Speech check you gain XP. On a more humorous note, if your character doesn't have the appropriate Speech skill they will say something quite amusing, or at least pathetic. Reason why you should tag it: If you want to do quests optimally, or heck, even have the option to do some quests, you need a high Speech skill. It's simply not out of the question. If you plan to do questing early on, you're going to want to raise your Speech skill quickly. Its importance over Lockpick mostly depends on how early you'd like to quest. Finally, since our Charisma is so low, we're going to need all the help we can get to raise that skill quickly. How high you should raise it without books/implants: Same as Science and Lockpick. There's only like 3 instances in the entire game where you're going to need a Speech skill higher than 80, and for those, just read magazine. However, I should note that having a high Speech skill makes the Battle for Hoover Dam much easier(that's all I'll say for now.) Perks related to it: Good Natured(Trait, +5 Speech), Terrifying Presence(70)
Secondary Skills Once you raise your Tagged skills to their appropriate levels, you should now raise your Secondary Skills. At this point the game, you're probably going to want to raise a combat skill because you're getting to the point where Boone's help might not be enough, especially on Hardcore Mode. However, if you think you can hold out a little longer there are still some skills that have a decent amount of conversation checks, namely Barter. Finally, if you're playing Hardcore Mode, there's one more skill to consider: Survival. Some people even recommend it as a Tag skill, although I disagree simply because there aren't that many checks for it early on. If you're not playing in Hardcore Mode, Survival is almost worthless: almost. It does have the highest amount of recipes in the game, if that's your thing, and if you have a high enough Survival skill some food items heal you much more than Stimpacks, namely a Death Claw Omelet. The downside is food has weight, so take this into consideration when choosing Medicine or Survival. They both have pretty much the same amount of conversation checks, although a high Survival skill is required to get a unique weapon. With that in mind here are my secondary skills:
Guns(You can replace this with your weapon skill of choice, although Guns is the most useful and versatile) Attribute that raises it: Agility What it does: Let's you use weapons that fire standard ammunition with more skill. Basically, it raises your damage with weapons, and weapons require you to have a minimum skill in Guns to use them properly. There are many, many guns in the game, and the guns weapons are pretty much the weapons you'd find in today's world. Since there is no longer a Big Guns skill, Guns now also includes the Minigun, although it takes 10 points in Strength to properly utilize it. There are a few conversation checks, but Guns is pretty much used for combat, which it excels in. Finally, if you're wondering if a weapon falls under Guns just look for a little icon with bullets near the stats of the gun. If you're wondering the skill it takes, the number right next to it is the skill you need in Guns to utilize it properly. Reason to raise it now: Guns is arguably the most useful skill in the game, although it didn't receive a Tag from me because you don't really need it early on, we're trying to everything in the game, and I don't like to back track. Anyway, Guns is one of only weapons skill that doesn't need perks to make it good. Unarmed and Melee can become quite deadly with the right perks, but that's just: They take so many perks to get good that you're going to have to be tight and careful with your perks. Now on to Guns vs. Explosives: While there are many more checks for explosives and you can craft some items with a decent skill, it just doesn't work well as a primary weapons skill because the ammo is rare and expensive, and if you're playing in Hardcore Mode it's heavy! It you miss with explosives, you're going to regret it because of the rarity of ammo. If you miss with a gun you just shrug it off. Plus, in close quarters you can damage yourself more than your enemies! Finally, Guns vs. Energy Weapons: Okay, so Energy weapons has basically the best weapons in the entire game, in my opinion, so why wouldn't I choose it as a primary weapons skill? The reason is that the ammunition of Energy Weapons is quite expensive, and also heavy in Hardcore mode. Then add the fact that all the decent energy weapons come later in the game and the ammunition is hard to come by early on and you've found the reason I like Guns a little more than Energy Weapons. How high you should raise it without books/implants: Whatever your primary weapons skill is, you should raise it to 82/84 and let books do the rest. The reason you want your primary weapons skill at 100 is so you can utilize the best weapons in that skill to the fullest, and usually the best weapons require 100 in that skill to use properly. For Guns I'm talking about the Anti-materiel rifle, although that's extremely debatable. I just like the gun because it's powerful and it's a sniper rifle. There's something satisfying in using the weapon and hearing the bang. Ahh...what, now where was I? Perks related to it: Fast shot(Trait, +20% firing speed, -20% accuracy), Good Natured(Trait,-5 Guns Skill), Trigger Discipline(-20% firing speed, +20% accuracy), Rapid Reload(30), Run 'n Gun(45), Shotgun Surgeon(45), Cowboy(45), Center of Mass(70), Concentrated Fire(60)
Barter Attribute that raise it: Charisma What it does: The Barter skill lets you buy items at a cheaper price and sell your items at a higher price. It is also used in almost as many conversation checks as Speech. Usually, passing a Barter check either gives you a better reward(especially in the quest Bleed Me Dry) or lets you finish a quest peacefully/a different way. Most Barter checks also have a Speech check, but not all of them and vice versa. More importantly having a high Barter lets you get the Mysterious Magnum, one of the best Guns pistols in the game, and plus, it makes a cool sound when you pull it out. A high Barter also makes the Battle for Hoover Dam easier, same way as Speech. Barter doesn't have too many perks related to it, but at least they're decent. Reason to raise it now: Conversation checks my friend, conversation checks. Actually, in your usual game Barter is in worth putting in the Secondary Skills category, but we're trying to do everything the game has to offer, right? Make sure you don't do Bleed Me Dry or Talent Pool before you've gotten Barter to the 80 mark. How high you should raise it without books/implants: Same as Speech/Science/Lockpick Perks related to it: Good Natured(Trait, +5 Barter), Pack Rat(70), Long Haul(70)
Now the next secondary skill depends if you're playing Hardcore Mode or not:
If you are, Survival Attribute that raises it: Endurance What it does: The Survival Skill is a new skill made primarily for the also new Hardcore Mode. It lets you create items at a camp fire, usually some sort of food. It also increases the healing power of food/drink, and, if you're playing Hardcore Mode, it increases the amount food fills you up and water quenches your thirst, meaning with a high Survival skill you only need to drink one Purified Water to get rid of Minor Dehydration where as with a low Survival skill it will take several to put your Dehydration back to 0. Survival is also used in some conversation checks, namely to receive a unique schematics for an ammo recipe, but this also requires a decent Guns skill. Finally, if you like melee, Survival is useful at high levels because it is required to make poisons, which you can then put on your melee weapon of choice to give you an edge. Anyway, if you're just a completeness and want to be able to craft every item in the game you need 90 points in Survival. Reason to raise it now: I'm assuming you're playing Hardcore Mode, which means you have to take care of the basic needs of eating, drinking, and sleeping. Survival lets you be better at the first two, which means less food/drink you have to carry which in turn means less weight you have to carry in a mode where weight is everything, or you could use that more potent food/drink to go on longer expeditions, something that was difficult before in Hardcore Mode. Finally, the perk Rad Child has its uses in Hardcore Mode. How high you should raise it without books/implants: Seeing as how we're completeness and the last recipe, Tremble, requires 90 Survival, I think 72/74 is a good number. If you don't care about having Tremble all the time then I suggest the usual 62/64. Perks related to it: Hunter(30), Entomologist(45), Rad Child(70), Travel Light(45), Lead Belly(40), Rad Resistance(40), Animal Friend(45)
If you're not playing Hardcore Mode, Sneak Attribute that raises it: Agility What it does: Sneak lets you sneak by friendlies and enemies alike(what a shocker.) Sneak is also useful for pickpocketing, although even with a high sneak skill it's still quite difficult. If the item you want to steal isn't on someone, however, it's laughable easy to steal it, if you know what to do. If you don't, here's what you do: If the item's not in a container just use the grab button to pick it up. Technically you haven't stolen it so now just move to a room where you're hidden and voila: Just steal the item. If the item is in a container than it's a little more tricky, but not that much. If you talk to a person they usually turn to face you, if not sitting down. Just make them face you in the opposite direction and wait a bit and then go over to your container and open it once you are hidden(if you don't wait a little bit the NPCs usually turn to face you while you move.) Another option is just to wait until they leave or go to bed, although this is not always an option. Reason to raise it now: I actually thought about picking Repair instead of Sneak for the spot, but I chose Sneak instead simply because the perk we want from it comes at an earlier level. The perk I'm talking about is Silent Running, which means 32/34 is how high most people will want to raise it without books, although if you truly want to be an expert at Sneaking you're going to need put at least 52/54 points in it without books, better yet 62/64 without books for Ninja. Anyway, if you go with the smallest raise in it then you'll probably be done with it in one raise and can work on Repair anyway, which again doesn't take that long to raise to its appropriate level. How high you should raise it without books/implants: Most people will only want to raise it to 32/34 if they use range weapons. However, if you want to be truly good at the art of Sneaking you will need to invest into it up to 52/54. Better yet, raise it to 62/64 for the Ninja perk, if you're playing melee.
Final Skills to Raise This is the point in the game where, if you've played correctly, your character is truly bad ass, a force to be reckoned with. You're known through out the Mojave and now all that's left is finishing up those last few skills. There are a few things you should think about when picking your final skills. First off, do you want a secondary weapons skill, and how important is it to you. You're probably getting tight on the points, especially if you're playing melee, so a secondary weapons skill is purely optional. If your main weapons skill is Guns I'd pick Energy Weapons and vise versa. If your main weapons skill is Melee or Unarmed then you should've been raising them together any way for the perks. If you managed to play through the game this far with Explosives as your main weapon, first off, hats off to you, and second off, I'd pick Guns or Energy Weapons, depending on personal preference. Anyway, now on to the skill that I know people are going to rave me for putting it off for so long: Repair. Actually, we're not going to be raising repair higher than 36/38 without books so I suppose you could fit that skill in any time, because all we want out of it is the Repair Kit. Finally, Medicine is a skill were are going to want to raise to at least 32/34 so we can craft Doctor Bags. This is especially important in Hardcore Mode where Stimpacks don't heal crippled limbs. With that out of the way here are my Final Skills:
Repair Attribute that increases it: Intelligence What it does: Lets you repair items more efficiently. However, unlike Fallout 3, you do not need 100 Repair to repair an item to 100%. Items degrade overtime with use. The rate of degradation is different with each weapon and armor, and a weapon/armor in better condition is more effective:to a point. There's a point when repairing an item no longer improves it. For weapons that point is 75%, for armor it's 50%. You can tell if a weapon/armor is repaired by this point by looking at the condition bar in the stats area for the item. There should be a little indent where the bar is thinner than the rest. That's the point where items start to degrade/not improve. It's still worth repairing past this point to keep weapons at top condition longer, but it's something worth noting. Anyway, to repair an item you need the same item, meaning to repair Combat Armor you need a second suite of Combat Armor. The higher your repair skill and the better condition the second item is in, the higher you repair your item. Anyway, the secondary uses of repair are for making ammunition at the Reloading Bench and, more importantly, making Repair Kits. Repair is also used in some skill checks. Finally, the most difficult ammunition to make requires 90 points in repair. This is also number required for the useful Jury Rigging perk. Reason to raise it now: Your items are going to degrade and you're going to want to repair them efficiently or at least be able to make Repair Kits so you can sell those items with your high Barter skill and don't waste so much potential money. Besides that, NPCs charge an arm and a leg when repairing stuff, especially the rare items such as T-51b Power Armor. While you will probably have a lot of money from gambling, you're supposed to be using that money to buy the expensive implants and maybe buying some of the better guns you can't find at the Gun Runner's. How high you should raise it without books: 36/38 is a good number for most since all we really want to raise it to is 50 for those repair kits, although if you're playing with Wild Wasteland on and want to keep that Alien Blaster in top shape or then maybe it's worth investing 76/78 points for Jury Rigging. It all really depends more so if you want a secondary weapons skill or not. Perks related to it:: Good Natured(Trait, +5 Repair), Hand Loader(70), Jury Rigging (90)
Medicine Attribute that increases it: Intelligence What it does: Lets you use Stimpacks, Radaway, and Rad-X more efficiently and effectively. It's also used for several conversation checks and is the backbone skill for a few quests. Finally, the Medicine skill is used a bit in crafting, namely to make Doctor Bags. It should be noted that Stimpacks and Radaway heal over time so it gains a little more value in those modes, although looses it once you consider that your Survival skill will be so high you won't really need Stimpacks now that they both heal over time. Finally, the hardest item to craft with Medicine takes 70 points in it. Reason to raise it now: The main reason to raise medicine outside of Hardcore Mode is to save you money on Stimpacks, and, if you're playing on harder difficulties, your life. Plus there are a few quests related to it and it's tied to crafting some items. Besides all that, you probably haven't spent points in Survival and have all the points in the world to spend so why not put some here? If you're playing in Hardcore Mode you definitely should raise this skill to at least 32/34 without books so you can make Doctor Bags, which are quite useful in Hardcore Mode where Stimpacks don't heal your limbs. How high you should raise it without books/implants: You'll want to raise it to at least 32/34 for Doctor Bags if you're playing in Hardcore Mode. For normal mode the range is probably from there to 82/84. I know it's a wide range, but it really depends on the difficulty, your skill, if you have the money to afford many Stimpacks, and is there a better skill to put the points in. Honestly, I'd prefer to get Sneak or Repair to the high values, but if you're getting your ass handed to you than Medicine is a good investment. Perks related to it: Good Natured(Trait, +5), Living Anatomy(70), Fast Metabolism(None, Stimpacks 20% more effective), Chemist(60), Chem Resistant(60)