Disclaimer: The guide I will be providing is but one way to effectively build up a Sniper. Given the nature of New Vegas, and the playstyles of different people, I’m sure there are additional ways at creating one of these. Also, note that this guide is using the stats and attributes of a potential Max Level character. How you get to this point is up to your own discretion, as this is merely the guide for a final product. I will also do my best in this guide to bring you an effective sniper build while also allowing as much freedom as possible.
So, for all you aspiring Snipers out there, click "Read More" to proceed!
- Some people are just better than others by nature - Perks -
Ah, perks… the little things that come naturally for a character which can either make up for a lack of a skill, or add a bonus that those normal creatures out there cannot even fathom. This is also where it can really vary depending on playstyle, skill in the game, and simple character design. As a Sniper, your character will primarily be using Guns (particularly rifles), with the characteristics of someone who wants to bring down their opponents as fast as possible, while trying to stay as far away from the center of combat as possible. Therefore, the primary focus would be Perks that increase not only weapon damage, but also weapon accuracy and the ability to avoid detection until after they fire the first shot. Your character wants to have the target drop before they even hear that first shot being fired. So, here is a quick list of perks and their requirements to select them. With 30 levels in the game, and a new perk every two levels, a character can have up to 15 Perks total, plus up to 2 Starting Perks. Beware, this is a long one.
-- Starting Perks --
- Four-Eyes – Starting Perk - +1 PER while wearing glasses, -1 PER without them.
Recommendation: Allows you to put a PER point elsewhere with a small requirement to wear glasses.
- Trigger Discipline – Starting Perk - +20% Accuracy at range, -20% Firing Speed.
Recommendation: All a matter of personal playstyle really.
-- Recommended Damage/Crit Perks –
- Commando – Req: Level 8 – When using a rifle or similar two-handed weapon, VATS accuracy is increased by around a 25% increase the chance to hit.
Recommendation: If you use VATS, this is a must while using Rifles.
- Finesse – Req: Level 10 – This perk increases critical hit chance by the equivalent to 5 points of Luck.
Recommendation: Very useful for Snipers, as they want their target to drop ASAP.
- Sniper - Req: Level 12, AGL 6, PER 6 – This perk increases VATS accuracy when aiming at a target’s head by around 25%.
Recommendation: As a Sniper, you want to aim at the head for maximum damage. This is very useful if you use VATS.
- Center of Mass – Req: Level 14, Guns: 70 – This perk provides an extra 15% damage when firing at a torso using VATS.
Recommendation: While Snipers tend to aim for a head, sometimes it is usually much easier to hit the torso of the target. So, it’s a matter of playstyle, though very useful.
- Better Criticals – Req: Level 16, PER 6, LCK 6 – Critical hits deliver 50% more damage when they occur.
Recommendation: Extremely useful, as a Sniper is built for delivering the critical hits as often as possible. So, the extra damage, especially such a high magnitude, is a very welcome perk.
-- Recommended Supplementary Perks –
- Educated – Req: Level 4, INT 4 – Earn 2 additional skill points with every level.
Recommendation: Supplementary if you have the stat requirement. Definitely obtain this as early as possible, since the points do add up in the end.
- Math Wrath – Req: Level 10, Science: 70 – Reduces all AP costs by 10% in VATS.
Recommendation: If you use VATS a lot, this is very useful as it allows you to fire of more shots within one series. If you miss that first shot, it is nice to get that extra one in before the AP recharge.
- Jury Rigging – Req: Level 14, Repair: 90 – Allows you to repair items with a roughly similar item, rather than only with very similar items.
Recommendation: With the limited number of Sniper Rifles in the game, this is very useful as it allows you to repair the rifle with a pistol, rather than another rifle. This helps save caps by not having to go to someone to repair the rifles.
- Action Boy/Girl – Req: Level 16, AGL 8 – You are given an additional 15 AP to use in VATS.
Recommendation: Extra AP is always useful, and with the large AP cost of firing Sniper Rifles, the additional shots are always nice to have.
- Tag! – Req: Level 16 – You can select a 4th Tag Skill, which immediately increases that Skill by 15.
Recommendation: As with most supplementary Perks, this just makes the progress in the game a tad easier. If you are short in a minimum requirement, the 15 Skill Points definitely help.
- Grim Reaper’s Spirit – Req: Level 20 – When you kill a target in VATS, 20 action points are immediately restored to your character.
Recommendation: In larger fights, this is extremely useful as it allows you to auto-aim with VATS more often due to the lower amount of downtime.
- Nerves of Steel – Req: Level 26, AGL 7 – You regenerate AP at a much faster rate.
Recommendation: In longer fights, this perk is definitely helpful if you use VATS as it cuts downtime significantly.
-- Optional Additional Perks –
- Intense Training – Req: Level 2 – Increase any SPECIAL stat by 1.
Recommendation: Supplementary, though very useful as it gives you another baseline stat point.
- Confirmed Bachelor/Cherchez la Femme – Req: Level 2 – Deal 10% more damage to the same sex.
Recommendation: All a matter of playstyle, though the 10% damage boost is always nice.
- Lady Killer/Black Widow – Req: Level 2 – Deal 10% more damage to the opposite sex.
Recommendation: All a matter of playstyle, though the 10% damage boost is always nice.
- Gunslinger – Req: Level 6 – This increases VATS Accuracy significantly when using one-handed guns.
Recommendation: For a Sniper, this is supplementary as it allows you to better function in VATS when an enemy closes the distance, requiring a switch to a pistol.
- The Professional – Req: Level 6, Sneak: 70 – Sneak Attack critical hits with Pistols, Revolvers, & Energy Weapons all hit for 20% more damage.
Recommendation: Useful when forced to sneak around.
- Bloody Mess – Req: Level 6 – This perk makes an enemy explode into a fragmented pile of blood and guts upon death, while also giving a flat 5% damage boost to all weapon damage.
Recommendation: Damage boost is always useful, though frustrating when you need to search a body.
- Living Anatomy – Req: Level 8, Medicine: 70 – Allows the player to see the health and damage threshold of the target’s body parts. Also gives the player a 5% damage boost against Humans and Non-Feral Ghouls.
Recommendation: This allows you to better pinpoint shots and attacks against a target if you would rather cripple them. All a matter of playstyle though.
- Miss Fortune / Mysterious Stranger – Req: Level 10, LCK 6 – Occasionally in VATS, Miss Fortune or the Mysterious stranger show up for varying effects. Miss Fortune does a random attack that hurts the enemy in a variety of ways, and the Stranger has a 10% chance of appearing to finish off an enemy with less than 150 HP of health.
- Night Person – Req: Level 10 – You gain 2 points of Perception and Intelligence at night.
Recommendation: If you find yourself playing primarily at night in the game, definitely take this one.
- Concentrated Fire – Req: Level 18, Energy Weapons: 60, Guns: 60 – When firing on a specific body part in VATS, each successive shot to that part has an increased accuracy %. First shot: Normal %, 2nd shot: +5%, 3rd shot: +10%, and so on.
Recommendation: Very useful if you have the Skill Points in both categories mainly because you will be firing multiple shots in VATS anyway.
Phew. So, overall, we have a character with Four Eyes to give the Perception boost, and the optional Trigger Discipline to increase accuracy as a starting option. The character also has a number of perks to make dropping enemies at long range a breeze when using a Sniper Rifle through the various accuracy boosting Perks, as well as the additional Critical Hit damage to add stopping power. The character is also built primarily for extended fights in VATS with the selection of numerous AP pool and recharge speed increases. Of course, if you manually shoot down enemies with little problem, most of the VATS perks are not needed. With all the recommended Perks, there is still room for a couple more perks for the character, so add some of the optional ones to help fill out any playstyle desires. I would recommend Intense Training for the stat boost, Gunslinger for the pistol accuracy boost in VATS as a backup weapon for close range fights, and the Mysterious Stranger Perk to get a nice finishing shot when you just missed finishing an enemy off yourself.
- One is only as good as the quality of friends they have – Followers -
In New Vegas, the player will come across a number of additional followers throughout the game. As expected, the choice of the specific followers can have a big effect on the gameplay itself as each follower comes with their own set of skills, bonuses, and Perks. So, for your everyday Sniper, it is always good to choose your followers wisely.
There are a couple categories for followers, and in New Vegas, you can have multiple Followers as long as they are in different categories. The different categories are Robot, Humanoid, Summons, and Hired. Being that the Summons and Hired only really have 1 option in each, they will not be covered here. Only one Follower per type is allowed.
-- Robot Followers --
- Rex -
Primary use: Melee and knockdown.
Perk: Search and Mark – Chems, containers, bodies, and small items are highlighted when the player zooms in.
Recommendation: Useful as this is a melee follower, and can attack enemies and draw their attention while you pick them off.
- ED-E -
Primary Use: Ranged attacks & a Perception Stat boost.
Perk: Enhanced Sensors – Player can detect creatures and people at an extended range.
Recommendation: Extremely useful and highly recommended as they can pepper enemies at a distance with you with their lasers, but the extended detection range can help find targets well out of their own detection range. Oh, the detection also applies to stealth targets. Overall, perfect for a Sniper.
-- Humanoid Followers --
- Arcade Gannon –
Primary Use: Physically weak, but high intellect and can use high-tech weapons and gives better healing boosts.
Perk: Better Healing – All healing items are 20% more effective. Also, he is a personal doctor for the player.
Recommendation: Very useful when you use healing items, though not too effective as a fighter until he is equipped properly.
- Craig Boone -
Primary Use: Former NCR Sniper, he is most effective at a long range and can pick enemies off very quickly. However, he hates the Legion and will attack them on sight.
Perk: Spotter – When zoomed in, all hostile enemies and Legion appear with a red glow. This makes finding targets very easy.
Recommendation: With the rifle in his hands, he is ridiculously effective at eliminating targets at a range before they can even come close to attacking you. Snipers tend to work in pairs, and Boone this setup works wonders at eliminating hordes of enemies before even being spotted. He also gives the player a fantastic hat for a Sniper (+1 Perception, +5% Critical Chance).
- Rose of Sharon Cassidy (Cass) -
Primary Use: All-around stats, as she can be used for both ranged and melee combat.
Perk: Whiskey Rose – gives the player damage threshold when drinking liquor, and drunkenness doesn’t diminish INT.
Recommendation: Given her all-around nature, she can be used in a variety of different situations, and thus she brings a lot of versatility to the table.
- Lily -
Primary Use: A melee powerhouse built for drawing attention and taking damage.
Perk: Stealthgirl – Stealth Boy duration is increased by 200%, and all Sneak Attack critical hits do 10% more damage.
Recommendation: Being a Sniper, having someone drawing the fire and attention away from you is a very useful trait. With the additional Stealth Boy time and Critical damage, Lily can be very useful… if you can handle a mentally unstable Super Mutant Grandmother.
- Raul Tejada -
Primary Use: Weapon repairs and ranged fighting.
Perk: Regular Maintenance – All weapons and armor degrade at a much slower rate.
Recommendation: Useful in keeping your weapons and equipment in good shape for a longer period of time. Being that he can also repair items in his shack, it gives you a good place to keep things in full functioning order. However, he does not wear heavy armor.
- Veronica -
Primary Use: Mainly Melee combat using a Power Fist, and she is a mobile workbench. She also has Power Armor proficiency.
Perk: Scribe Assistant – Veronica is a portable workbench, and she can create repair kits for the player.
Recommendation: As a melee combatant, she can be very useful in drawing attention away from the player. With the added Power Armor proficiency, she can also take a lot of pain when suited up. The workbench is also useful for those who like to create items.
Overall recommendation: ED-E combined with Boone allows the player to completely wipe out massive crowds of enemies before they even know what is going on. The bonuses and perks also tend to suit a Sniper quite well, as the extended detection from ED-E lets you see creatures at a distance, and the Spotter Perk from Boone allows you to see which creatures are not friendly.
2nd Opinion: ED-E & Lily or Veronica. Either one of these combinations are very useful for a Sniper. You get ED-E’s extended detection and carrying capacity, along with an effective Melee fighter to keep enemies away from you. It really all comes down to preference though. Lily allows you to remain quite hidden for a long time with the improved Stealth Boy duration, while Veronica can use Power Armor with dealing very powerful blows with the Power Fist weapons and can create repair kits. So, it is all just a matter of playstyle.
- Say hello to my little friend – Weapons -
As a Sniper, your weapon choices tend to be rather limited to whatever gets you the longest range and the most accuracy. A Sniper also has a high Guns stat, so you would mainly look for something along the lines of Conventional Weapons over Energy Weapons or Explosives. Ideally, a Sniper would go for, of course, a Sniper Rifle. However, they tend to be somewhat rare and rather expensive. So, alternatives must be found.
Given a Sniper would have Perks increasing proficiency with Rifles, the Service Rifle, Cowboy Repeater, or the Hunting Rifle make very suitable alternatives in the absence of a Sniper Rifle. The Hunting Rifle is especially useful, as it not uses the same ammo as a Sniper Rifle, but it also can be fitted with a Scope attachment (similar to the weapon Boone uses), thus allowing you to pick targets off at a nice range.
A Sniper normally would not want to be found at close range, but sometimes it is inevitable, and as such, a backup weapon or two is required. In terms of a backup weapon for a Sniper, it really all depends on which Skills you have built up. Being that the Guns Skill should be pretty high, a Pistol or Submachine Gun would probably suit your needs best, especially one that fires quickly to pepper enemies down fast. Otherwise, pick a weapon that suits your Skill choices.
As in other Fallout games, there exists a Unique version of the Sniper Rifle called the Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle. This weapon weighs less than your normal Sniper Rifle, but it also keeps it’s durability for much longer than your normal Sniper Rifle. However, it’s max damage and critical damage comes in at just slightly less than your normal Sniper Rifle. But, with the lower weight and stronger durability, this damage loss doesn’t hurt its effectiveness. This weapon can be found in a Very Hard (Lockpick: 100) crate on the “Sniper’s Post” on the western cliffs overlooking Cottonwood Cove.
- All good things must come to an end -
So, there you have it. Tips to create an effective Sniper in Fallout New Vegas! As stated, there are a number of other potentially effective ways to create a Sniper in the game, but I hope that this helps set you all on the right path. Follow the suggestions in this guide, and I am sure that you will be able to take down enemies from a mile away with little trouble.