Unarmed Fist Build

Unarmed Fist Build - Fallout: New Vegas (FNV)

By zanuffas
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This post will cover the best Pistol build for Fallout: New Vegas. I will be going in-depth on the main attributes, skills, and gear. This should help you make decisions on how to progress through the game in the optimal matter

Unarmed Fist Build

With this build, it is the goal to create an unarmed monster that would shred through the enemies in close combat. Gladly, Fallout New Vegas allows for this. The main idea is to take any perk that positively impacts your fists and their damage. After that, get relevant gear to further empower yourself.

Even though the early game may be challenging as you progress it becomes easier. Moreover, it is also easier to accumulate bottle caps as you do not use any ammo and all of it can be sold. This allows buying better gear, chems and stimpaks

unarmed build combat fallout new vegas

The game offers a wide variety of "fist" weapons that each give unique effects: fast attacks, explosive hits, electrocution, etc. Feel free to test them out to find your preferred playstyle. Generally, from about level 24+ you should be overpowering any game encounter the game throws at you.

So let's get into the build

Starting the Game

In this section, I would like to go through some recommendations for the Unarmed build. This covers only the start of the game, so read the next section on how you should progress and how the end game build should look like.

SPECIAL

Attribute Value Description
fallout new vegas strength attribute specialStrength 6 Although the game description says that strength increases unarmed damage, it does not. We need it enough to wear Power Fists.
fallout new vegas preception attribute specialPerception 5 Although this build does not utilize Perception much, we need it for the Better Criticals perk
fallout new vegas endurance attribute specialEndurance 8 Gives bonus HP and resistance, making it easier to survive combat encounters. Moreover, it will allow us to get plenty of implants
fallout new vegas charisma attribute specialCharisma 1 Not very important as it only gives bonus stats for companions
fallout new vegas intelligence attribute specialIntelligence 6 Intelligence increases skill points earned each level up. This should be enough to get most of the needed skills for the build.
fallout new vegas agility attribute specialAgility 6 We need agility for some perks and it gives a bonus to Action points. We will increase it with perks later on
fallout new vegas luck attribute specialLuck 8 This attribute is very important for our build as we will utilize critical hits to maximize unarmed damage. Moreover, this will be beneficial at the Casino to get additional bottle caps

Tag Skills

These are the ones that you choose at the beginning of the game. Here is what I recommend:

Skill Description
unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed Even if your shots would not succeed, close combat was also where you were trained well. It did not scare you and allowed you to hit the enemy in the weak spot, leaving them paralyzed
medicine fallout new vegasMedicine I think this is important for Unarmed build. You will constantly take damage (unless using a sneak approach) and using chems like Stimpak, Turbo, Med-X, etc. is almost essential
lockpick fallout new vegasLockpick Generally, many skills work here. I like looting so Lockpick is my preferred option. Sneak is another choice, but may not be as useful early in the game, due to large open areas. If you like persuading people, take Speech, etc. So there are many options, moreover, stealth may not be as useful in the first few levels.

Traits

The traits are definitely optional and just recommendations. Pick up to two of them:

  • Skilled - fairly low intelligence can be counteracted with this trait. it gives +5 to all skills making it a bit easier, getting everything you need. Of course, this reduces XP gain by 10%, but you can counteract this with Well Rested.
  • Built to Destroy - increases weapon damage at the cost of faster weapon decay. Later you can take the Jury Rigging perk, which makes repairing items very easy.
  • Wild Wasteland - see new and unique encounters in the wasteland

Early game tips

Here I would like to offer some early game tips for the build to make it easier when starting out

Sell ammo

Because the build does not use ammo, you can sell most of it. This will allow you to accumulate a decent war chest that you can use on chems - stimpaks, med-x, etc. When starting the game, Courier's Stash addon gives some, that you can sell.

Of course, if you feel the need to use ranged weapons in the early game (as it may be difficult without good armor), keep weapons/ammo and use them

Doing the main quest

Unless you are cheesing some of the game mechanics, and want to experience the game as intended, I recommend doing the main story quest up until you reach Novac. The journey will provide you with two companions:

  • ED-E - in Primm City, it is a robot that you can revive using some scrap parts. The parts can be found on Lone Wolf Radio.
  • Boone - you will find him in Novac. To join you, you have to do his quest and help him

These companions will help you a lot and make the game more fun and easier. Another thing is that Novac will give you your own room, where you can store loot. This makes scavenging easier throughout the game.

After this, it's your choice what to do

Progression and Final Unarmed Build

Now I would like to go through the progression for the build and how it should look once "it is done". I will also share some tips and directions to get the most out of it.

SPECIAL

Here is how your attributes should look like when they are maximized and you obtain most of the stuff in the game.

Attribute Value Description
fallout new vegas strength attribute specialStrength 9
  • +2 - Get Reinforced Spine in Old World Blues DLC
  • +1 - Purchase the implant from New Vegas Clinic
fallout new vegas preception attribute specialPerception 6
fallout new vegas endurance attribute specialEndurance 9
fallout new vegas charisma attribute specialCharisma 2
fallout new vegas intelligence attribute specialIntelligence 7
fallout new vegas agility attribute specialAgility 8
  • +1 - Purchase the implant from New Vegas Clinic
  • +1 - Divide Survivor, obtained after finishing Loansome Road DLC
fallout new vegas luck attribute specialLuck 10

Skills

In this section, I will go through the skills for the Fist Build. I want to recommend the progression below. This will ensure that you get all the skills that you need for the build. Of course, you can still spend 3-5 points at every level on other choices and this will not create any problems.

I recommend leaving skills at 90 (except science and lockpicks as you may miss some loot) and getting the rest 10 points from skill books in Mojave Wasteland

Order Skill Description
1 unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed 50 Improve the skill to get the bonus damage and make early-game combat a bit easier
2 lockpick fallout new vegasLockpick 50 Allows unlocking Average locks, that contain some sweet loot and ammo
3 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 45 Will be needed to unlock perks
4 lockpick fallout new vegasLockpick 75 Allows unlock Hard locks.
5 unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed 70 Improve the effectiveness of your fists and unlock new perks
6 medicine fallout new vegasMedicine 60 Improve stimpak healing and get new perks related to chems usage
7 sneak fallout new vegasSneak 50 This should be a good point in the game to start introducing stealth. You will also get some good perks later on
8 lockpick fallout new vegasLockpick 100 Allows unlocking Very Hard locks
9 unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed 90 Maximum for Unarmed and getting the best perks
10 sneak fallout new vegasSneak 80 Better Sneaking ability and more perks
11 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 80 Needed to unlock the Ninja perk
12 medicine fallout new vegasMedicine 70 Improves stimpak effectiveness
13 survival skill fallout new vegasSurvival 70 Allows unlocking Rad Child perk that greatly improves health regeneration
14 repair skill fallout new vegasRepair 90 No need to hurry with this one. however, it gives a Jury Rigging perk, which is very good for saving money when repairing items.
15 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 90 (optional) This is totally optional, it is needed for Unstoppable Force perk, which gives bonus damage against blocking opponents. By this time, enemies should be dying very fast, so the perk loses its importance.

After this you are free to put the points however, you want and prioritize the things that you think are needed based on your playstyle.

Perks

Although I list the perk in level order of when you should get them, I recommend assuming that this is a list. Different players will prefer getting different skills first, so some of the perks might be available later/earlier.

Generally, there are a lot of perks that are useful for the fist build. I mostly concentrate on those that improve damage

Level Perk Details
2 confirmed bachelor fallout new vegasConfirmed Bachelor/Black Widow As many of the game enemies are male, getting this perk will give 10% more damage and unlock unique dialogue options (if you wish to use them)
4 educated fallout new vegasEducated This skill should be taken as early as possible (level 4), it will give 2 skill points each level up which accumulate a lot during the game
6 Intense Training fallout new vegasIntense Training Get agility. We will need it later for some perks
8 super slam fallout new vegasSuper Slam! This is a very powerful ability, that allows knocking out enemies. This works on any of them. The problem is that after some time you lose any strategic thinking - go into fight, knockdown, finish off. There is no need to hide, run away, plan, etc. I recommend taking Stonewall as an alternative and pick this one later, or don't take it at all.
10 stonewall fallout new vegasStonewall This perk gives bonus protection against melee and unarmed attacks. However, the most important part is that you cannot be knocked down.
12 finesse fallout new vegasFinesse +5% Critical chance, for even more precise shots.
14 piercing strike fallout new vegasPiercing Strike A very powerful perk for the unarmed build. Ignores 15 DT (which is all protection of Deathclaw) for more damage.
16 silent running fallout new vegasSilent Running Makes it harder to detect you while sneaking. Use this to get a better position and take out enemies by surprise. I think this is also a good start to use this game mechanic with your high sneak level.
18 better criticals fallout new vegasBetter Criticals Increases critical damage with your attacks by 50%. One of the most impactful damage perks for the Fist build
20 purifier fallout new vegasPurifier Gives a huge 50% boost with unarmed attacks against the most vicious enemies of the wasteland - deathclaws, super mutants, night stalkers, etc.
22 chemist fallout new vegasChemist This is a perfect time to start using chems to improve your combat capabilities.
24 ninja fallout new vegasNinja Improves stealth critical hit damage by 25%.
26 paralyzing palm fallout new vegasParalyzing Palm (Optional) If you use VATS, this perk allows paralyzing enemies with normal hits. I recommend saving and trying it out. Otherwise, go for Intense Training and bonus Endurance or Agility
28 slayer fallout new vegasSlayer Improves the attack speed of unarmed attacks by 30%
30 eye for eye fallout new vegasEye for Eye Gives 10% damage for each broken limb. You may be confused about why this perk should be used. However, getting your arms broken has no negative effect on you as you do not use weapons. Moreover, this will give you a bonus of 20% damage
32 tunnel runner fallout new vegasTunnel Runner It increases the speed at which you move while sneaking
34 travel light fallout new vegasTravel Light Increases your moving speed, allowing you to close the distance to enemies faster
36 jury rigging fallout new vegasJury Rigging Having wide knowledge of weapons, allows you to fix them with roughly similar ones.
38 light touch fallout new vegasLight Touch If you wear light armor, definitely pick this one. It gives a bonus of 5% critical chance and decreases the enemy's critical chance by 25%
40 rad child fallout new vegasRad Child A very valuable perk that gives bonus health regeneration while under Radiation effects. The bonus is quite large compared to other sources (food and implants)
42 living anatomy fallout new vegasLiving Anatomy With vast combat experience, you know the weak spots of humans. This allows you to deal 5% more damage.
44 bloody mess fallout new vegasBloody Mess Increases damage by 5%. Moreover, killed enemies splash around, which can be too gory for some
46 unstoppable force fallout new vegasUnstoppable Force (optional) I list this perk as optional. It gives bonus damage against blocking enemies, but by this time you will probably steamroll through everything so it is not as important
48 Any perk Feel free to take any perk here
50 thought you died fallout new vegasThought you Died This skill would be the best option. However, if you cannot take it then go for Just Lucky I'm Alive or Ain't Like That Now

General Tips

At level 15 start Old World Blues DLC

I really recommend starting this DLC. It will give +2 Strength after you finish it.

To start the DLC you can go to the Mojave Drive-in and at night initiate the quest. This way you can avoid the Weapon Handling perk and use perk points elsewhere

Sell all ammo

As mentioned before, once in a while clean your ammo inventory at vendors. This will give some good caps that you can use to buy stimpaks and chems or repair your gear.

Use Chems

This is a crucial mechanic if you want to maximize any build effectiveness. Of course, it comes with its downsides like chem addiction, but in the late game, when you have lots of caps this can be easily healed at any doctor

The main ones to always have on hand are:

  • Stimpaks - heals your HP and the effect scales with Medicine skill. You will probably use it the most throughout the game.
  • Med-X - gives 25 damage resistance, greatly reducing the damage you take
  • Turbo - slows time, allowing you to get the upper hand in combat. Makes enemies like Deathclaws a piece of cake.
  • Slasher - gives 25% damage and 25 damage resistance buff for 1 minute
  • Battle Brew - technically it is alcohol. However, it gives a lot of various boosts, but the most interesting is 35 damage reduction. Requires Old World Blues DLC to craft
  • Psycho - 25% damage increase
  • Rushing Water - gives a 50% attack speed boost which is crazy. Crafted with 50 Survival and by using Jet and Purified Water at Campfire or Electric Hot plate. Does not work on automatic weapons' rate of fire.

If you use Med-X, Slasher, and Battle Brew together this results in 85 Damage Reduction. This is the maximum that you can get and makes any armor you wear redundant in terms of protection.

Unlock all the unarmed moves

The unarmed combat introduces some unique moves. You get some in VATS when you increase the level of your Unarmed skill. However, there are a few that you can get through various quests and conversations.

  • Ranger Takedown - the attack is activated by moving backward and using a power attack. This executes a sweeping kick, that may knock down enemies. You can obtain it in Novac you can meet Ranger Andy. He has a speech check of 30. The other way is to help him and check on Ranger Station Charlie.
  • Scribe Counter - after blocking an attack, use the attack to instantly activate a counter. It is taught by companion Veronica. You should gift her formal wear, like a dress. As a "thank you" she offers to teach you the move
  • Khan Trick - when strafing (left or right) use a power attack, to throw dust and stun enemies. I personally did not use this much. To unlock the move you need to finish the side quest Aba Daba Honeymoon given by Diane in Red Rock Drug Lab.
  • Legion Assault - a charge attack, that allows closing distance when rushing forward. Taught by Lucius at The Fort in Caesar's Tent. You will reach this place as you progress through the main story. You need unarmed skill 50 and friendly relations with Legion.

Equipment

This section will cover some gear recommendations for the Unarmed Build

Weapons

For the unarmed build, there are a ton of fist weapon choices. All of them fit a particular niche - armored enemies, crit hits, pure damage, etc. The ones I list are all good choices and you cannot go wrong.

unarmed build combat fist of rawr fallout new vegas

Weapon Description
industrial hand fallout new vegasIndustrial Hand This is the most powerful unarmed weapon in the game. It deals continuous damage and with a high crit chance, this results in large damage spikes. moreover, it ignores the enemy's protection which makes it crazily overpowered.
Saturnite Fist Super-Heated fallout new vegasSaturnite Fist Super-Heated This is a very powerful unarmed weapon. However, for maximum effectiveness, you should get the Pyromaniac perk. This makes it the second strongest fist weapon after Industrial Hand.
Fist of Rawr fallout new vegasFist of Rawr or Fist of the North Rawr (Wild Wasteland edition) Has a high critical chance and damage multiplier. I definitely recommend trying it out. The two versions are the same, one of them is just with the Wild Wasteland
pushy fallout new vegasPushy A Ballistic Fist variant. It is the most powerful in terms of DPS and can be obtained fairly easily if you are careful
Two-Step Goodbye fallout new vegasTwo-Step Goodbye Although it is very powerful, the gimmicky mechanics and low critical damage made me not use this weapon. It is also quite expensive, so I do not recommend prioritizing it. However, the explosions are fun, especially when you are raiding something like a Legion camp
Greased Lightning fallout new vegasGreased Lightning Has extremely high attack speed, you just smash through enemies without worrying if you hit or miss.
Spiked Knuckles fallout new vegasSpiked Knuckles Seems silly as a recommendation compared to others? However, it is a perfect early weapon, has decent DPS, and is readily available throughout the game.

Armor

Although armor is important, due to how New Vegas works, they can be made redundant. Generally, when dealing damage the minimum amount that will be dealt is 20%. This means that you can reach 85% damage reduction with Med-X, Battle Brew, and Slasher. After this, any Damage Threshold (DT) from your armor is redundant
Armor Description
ulysses duster fallout new vegasUlysse's Duster This is hands down one of the best armors. Gives a 5% Crit Chance and also activates Light Touch.
joshua graham's armor fallout new vegasJoshua Graham's Armor Has a good Damage Threshold and increases Crit Chance by 3%. Moreover, this will activate Light Touch
elite riot gear fallout new vegasElite Riot Gear Gives a 5% Crit chance boost, however, you lose the effect of Light Touch. On the other side, you gain a very cool-looking armor with minor DPS loss.

Helmets

Helmet Description
1st recon berret fallout new vegas1st Recon Beret This is hands down the best helmet to use for maximum DPS. It is one of three headwear that gives this bonus (and the highest). I recommend wearing it while exploring during the day or outside
salt upon wounds helmet fallout new vegasSalt-Upon-Wounds' Helmet Gives +2 Crit Chance and provides a 4 Damage Threshold.
Elite Riot Gear Helmet fallout new vegasElite Riot Gear Helmet This is a perfect helmet for night operations as it provides sneak sight. This makes it easier to spot enemies. You can use it together with 1st Recon Beret

Other

Armor Description
lucky shades fallout new vegasLucky Shades These are a perfect option if you do not use a helmet that covers the eye. It gives +1 Luck, which ensures the maximum amount for the Crit Chance. It's perfect with 1st Recon Beret
Atomic-valence tri-radii-oscillator fallout new vegasAtomic-Valence Tri-Radii-Oscillator Can be worn together with any helmet. Gives health regeneration and Endurance +1. Moreover, it provides an additional Damage Threshold. Requires Old World Blues DLC
Valence radii-accentuator fallout new vegasValence Radii-Accentuator Can be worn together with any helmet. Gives health regeneration and Endurance +1. Moreover, it provides an additional Damage Threshold. The weaker version of the Atomic-valence Tri-Radii-Oscillator. Requires Old World Blues DLC

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this post on the Unarmed Fist build in Fallout New Vegas. I covered the most important aspects like the start of the game and how to progress with your perks. This should give you a guiding hand not get lost in this huge game

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments

Discussion

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Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!