Probably the most exciting thing about this new game is the same thing that drew us into the older games for hours on end: building your character. It is even more interesting than constructing new houses, fighting new enemies, and finding new companions. From spending much more time than I’d like to admit choosing my starting perks to finding that last weapon to perfect your setup, character builds have always been what the Fallout series has been about.
From what I gather, the most popular build would have to be the Stealth build. Creeping around corners, popping heads from a distance, and smothering sleeping enemies was the way to go. Who needs fancy firearms when you’re a post-apocalyptic ninja?
Stealth has always been successful in the past because at its core, Fallout’s combat system has always been “hit, be hit, hit, repeat” until one person had low enough health that their body ragdolled down the street. When you can avoid fights, the game begins to open up and you reduce the risk of fights feeling like a grind. Plus, it gives you those beautiful Sneak Attack Criticals that can cripple or outright annihilate any enemy stupid enough to be standing where you wanted to stand. Stealth is a unique dimension to the game, as it changes the way the player must view the terrain. Straight paths become suicide, unless you lure enemies through them and use them as a choke point. Obstacles can get you stuck, unless you plan out the route and use them for quick cover as you fall to a sniper point or duck through a door and disappear again.
Stealth in Fallout 3
In Fallout 3, stealth was almost too easy. You pop a few points into Agility right off the start for that sweet, sweet skill increase to Stealth. Next up, you escape the vault and cruise right for Operation: Anchorage. This DLC questline allowed the player to enter a simulation wherein they would attempt to defeat the Chinese army during the battle for Anchorage from hundreds of years ago. The player, once they had completed the quests, would open a locked room and receive a massive amount of unique loot. All of it is incredibly effective at what it does, but the real treasure is the Chinese Stealth Armor. This unique outfit would render the player completely invisible whenever they were crouched. It completely eliminated all risk involved with sneaking around, provided the player could avoid bumping into any enemies. Fallout 3 was my favorite game to sneak through, despite how it felt…wrong and unfair.
The recommended stats back then was:
In the previous series, the player would start with 40 S.P.E.C.I.A.L points to distribute as they wished. The obvious answer was to pour 10 of those into Agility, but this would result in a very unbalanced character. The most effective Stealth build was actually a bit less one-sided.
Through far too much gameplay experience, I landed on this: Agility to 9 for that deliciously high Sneak, Perception to 9 so I can see them before they see me, Intelligence to 7 so that you can get past security systems without much of a fight, toss 6 into Charisma to talk your way out of a fight so that you can come back after nightfall, then Luck to 5 for crits and a 2 in Strength and Endurance. You’ll be squishy and unable to carry much, but you likely will not need to be in a prolonged fight or be laden with loot (since you’ll just pickpocket your way to riches), so Endurance is unnecessary. Strength is for hitting things. Who needs that?
Fallout 4: How Perks Will Work in Stealth
In Fallout 4, we have no idea what to expect when it comes to sneaking around. However, we can infer quite a bit based on previous games and the perks they have revealed to us so far.
The perks are a good starting point to see how the game will treat its stealth/sneak system. Like all other perks in Fallout 4, these ones will come from your levels in a specific part of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats; in this case, Agility. From what we can see, at 3 points in Agility, there is a perk available called “Stealth”. As the name implies—and directly states—this perk will increase the player’s ability to stay hidden by 20% per rank (up to 5). At 4 points, we see the return of the ever-amusing Mister Sandman, which gives the player the ability to secretly neutralize sleeping enemies. The Ninja perk is attainable at 7 Agility points and probably occupies the same niche as Silent Running; no noise while you move and another bonus to stealth.
While Agility is the score dominantly associated with sneaking around and being generally mischievous, I’ve always found that it pairs quite nicely with Perception, allowing for those oh-so-satisfying sniper kills. From what Bethesda has been showing us, this is likely still the case. Who needs to learn to fight close-quarters if you can pop a raider’s head from 300m? Who needs to learn to negotiate when you can put a bullet through a Centaur’s mutated heart before it even knows you’re around?
The Roles of Outfit & Weapons
This one is tricky. There is really no way to know what the options will be until the game’s release, but there are always a few baseline pieces of equipment that will carry you to successful sneaking.
First, get something to keep that blistering Wasteland sun out of your eyes. Most wide-brimmed Fallout hats carry a bonus to Perception, which will be a nice companion to Agility. Being able to see the enemies long before they see you allows for you to adjust your course and plot a new, quieter plan of attack.
Next up, clothes. It’s a well-known fact that every thief, scavenger, assassin, and spy needs a classy set of threads. You’ll want something that enhances your Agility, naturally, but maybe more than that. Look for something that gives you a bonus directly to Stealth if you can find it, but most importantly, get something that looks snazzy.
Finally, you’re gonna need a gun. Let’s face it: this is the Wasteland. You’re going to be killing people and you’re going to want to be well suited for it. Contrary to popular fiction, a knife is not the way to go. If melee in Fallout 4 will be anything like its predecessors, then melee will be little more than flailing wildly in the general direction of your target. Not exactly the style for an assassin. Get something silenced and short-ranged, with a sniper for back-up. I’ve always been partial to a silenced 5mm pistol with a gauss rifle backup for the heavy hitters.
Making the Stealth Build
This is it, everyone. The moment you’ve all been waiting for: an entirely speculative look into how one might optimize their Fallout 4 Stealth build .
Let’s begin with S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Unlike in the older games, Fallout 4 starts the player with 28 points in these oh-so-important stats. While we do not know the higher-level Agility perks, it stands to reason that putting at least 8 points will be necessary, and probably another 6 into Perception, for my reasons stated above. This will give you a leg up on every enemy you face starting out and make you nearly undetectable in the early-game.
While it might make you unbalanced when it comes to Endurance, Intelligence, which I recommend to put it to 5 perhaps, if you want to enjoy building settlement. Meanwhile for Charisma, Luck, and especially Strength, you don’t need to care much. Those can all be increased as the game scales up. There is no way to know the actual logistics of this without knowing more of the future perks, but as of now, this seems like a solid setup.
For equipment, I’d recommend light armor with Perception-enhancing traits and weapons that are either silenced or long-range. The sorts of weapons we will see remain mostly a mystery, but they will likely follow the same archetypes as before (Energy, Ranged, Close-Combat, Melee) and the same strategy should still apply.
Finally, companion-up, dear readers. You’ll be soft and easily killed, but having a mobile meat-shield to help you out will be invaluable, especially early on. Find the first companion you can and stick to them like glue until you can hold your own. It might sound cowardly—because it is—but it will save your life again and again.