Adventuring across the sandstorms of the Ivanpah Dry Lake, or the rocky terrain around Bitter Springs can be arduous. Partly due to the vicious critters — ranging from packs of Coyotes to lolloping Alpha Deathclaws – but mainly because you need to keep a constant check on your health, especially in Hardcore Mode. Although it’s certainly possible to live off Stimpaks on the easier difficulty modes, real wasteland explorers expend their tag skill points on Survival, a brand-new Skill that enables you to enjoy the natural (and mutated) wonders of the stark, rugged Mojave and then exploit those resources for fun and profit. Welcome to the world of Crafting.
Geckos are highly prized; not only is their meat delicious when cooked as a steak, but their hides can be tanned and sold to merchants for considerable Caps. That is, if you’ve focused on Survival and Crafting.
Crafting doesn’t involve making papier-mâché Vault Boy heads; this is all about hunting and scavenging, and then combining items to create much more potent food, drink and equipment. Indeed, the official strategy guide goes to extended lengths to provide you with the most helpful information to get you tracking down the tastiest morsels and most delicious beverages. Or the most potent poisons with which to coat your melee weapon, and charge head-long into that Fiend encampment you’ve been wanting to ransack. There’s a mind-snappingly large number of items you can craft over a Campfire after collecting various wild plants, pieces of meat you’ve sliced off a dead animal, and other accoutrements. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Rose’s Deathclaw Omelet; a special recipe only given out to those who’ve returned triumphantly with a “special” egg or two. And of course, you don’t want to run across the monstrosity that laid those eggs.
Of course, there’s a more violent, anarchic point to Crafting too. With the introduction of Reloading Benches, you (and your associated Skill) can spend time searching for any type of ammunition – including bullets you normally would never use – and break them down into their component parts. Then, with a modicum of talent, you can craft variations of your standard bullets, shells, and clips to suit a variety of (usually blood-soaked) situations. Naturally, the official guide details all the bullet types, how to create them, and their strengths (and weaknesses), so let’s focus on one example of a common bullet type: the 9mm.
Pistols (such as the unique offering on show here called “Maria”) can manage to deliver devastating blows – even to armor-clad entities – as long as you’ve loaded up the correct bullets for the job.
You should have shot at Raiders and Centaurs throughout the Capital Wasteland armed with a weapon that fires these bullets. But as battle-scarred Mojave wanderers will tell you, they tend to be pretty feeble against anything more than a lightly-armored target. With low damage, but common availability, this ammo type used to be a stop-gap measure until something better was found. Not anymore! With some Reloading Bench hijinks, a Hollow Point variable can be created. This increases the damage you inflict by 75 percent, which makes combat 75 percent more satisfying. However, it also triples a target’s DT (Damage Threshold, which is the amount of absorption a foe’s armor can take before the strike hits soft, squishy flesh). So this is much more of a lethal strike, but only if your foe isn’t armor-plated. Time then for the “+P” variant; this increases your damage by 10 percent, but it also reduces a target’s DT by 2, effectively letting more damage pass through armor — until your weapon disintegrates, as there’s 20 percent more wear on the firearm with these bullets, too. Naturally, you can counter-act that with Weapon Repair Kits, or a Ghoul with some exceptional tinkering abilities…
Now factor in the dozens of ammunition types, balanced out by Weapon Upgrades, Unique Weapons, and Followers – all of which can negate certain shortfalls of Crafted ammo variants and play up to the ammo’s strengths — and you’ll start to understand how much additional depth Fallout: New Vegas has to offer the veteran explorer. But which set of ammunition is the best? And what are the top ten Craftable Items? And how do I stop dying in Hardcore Mode? And is there one place where I can check the statistics of every weapon in the Mojave Wasteland against every other one? And who is this Mr. House guy anyway? Well, those answers (and several thousand more) are all revealed in the Official Game Guide.