When I first got the game, I wish future me could have sat down with past me and gave me a few pointers to get started on the best way to play through Fallout: New Vegas on Hardcore mode. This article is that opportunity for you if you’re just starting out.
For the sake of full disclosure, I’m only level 20 right now and have not stepped foot on the Vegas strip. I’ve been busy doing side quests and rummaging through every decrepit vault and burned out building for loot. However, I think I’ve picked up on a lot of keys that have kept me alive this long and I’m here to share them with you.
What is Hardcore?:
An added layer of difficulty and realism to an already difficult game, Hardcore forces the player to eat, sleep and drink water regularly. Starving, sleep deprivation and dehydration all come with gradually more painful stat penalties over time. While this may sound daunting, it’s really not that bad…unless you let it get that bad. Food and drink is plentiful across the wasteland, and you can generally sleep in anyone’s bed or sleeping bag. It is a minor annoyance at best.
Healing is a whole different ball game as well; you cannot heal injured limbs with stimpacks, and stimpacks/food does not heal you instantly as they do in the regular game. This can be a pain in the middle of a fight, as you’re watching your health slowly come back as the bullets are whipping past your head. Super stimpacks are your combat remedy to this, as they are a quick blast of health in a short amount of time.
Ammo actually has weight, which for a packrat like me, is a pain in the ass. Sure, that bullet may be one-tenth of a pound, but once you’ve got a hundred of them rattling around in your pack of each and every caliber, it can add up quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if over a quarter of your encumbrance weight is taken up with ammo alone! Finally, get ready to reload often, because if your companion falls in combat, they don’t get knocked out, but they are killed.
Difficulty vs. Hardcore:
Difficulty does not affect your Hardcore trophy. So guess what? You can play the game on the “very easy” difficulty setting, where your weapons all do 200% damage, and still get that gold trophy to pop at the end! Although that’s obviously not recommended, the other way of going to “very hard” is equally not recommended. Weapons don’t do nearly the same damage, while enemies regenerate their health at a remarkable speed without the bonus of extra experience points. I ended up taking it back down to “normal” and still find myself having to reload frequently from getting killed or having my follower die.
I Think I Broke My Arm!
I strongly recommend against getting the “small frame” trait at the beginning of the game (which I did, whoops). While it gives you a +1 agility stat, your limbs take 25% more damage and you become more susceptible to being crippled. This is obviously that much more annoying not being able to heal limbs without a doctor’s bag or visit to the doctor. You can later on in game counteract this by getting the “adamantium skeleton” trait, which only causes limbs to take half damage. I also wouldn’t sweat getting high Medicine skill; outside of the occasional skill test to heal an NPC or do some random challenge, I’ve got a stockpile of stimpacks and super stimpacks that I’ll never be able to polish off.
More tips on the next page!