Fallout New Vegas Traits Guide

Fallout New Vegas Traits Guide

When we boot up a new RPG, every veteran of the genre will expect a character creation menu within the first couple of minutes, especially if you are playing a Fallout or Elder Scrolls title. Of course, Fallout New Vegas, even though it is made by a third-party developer and not Bethesda, sticks with this trend, allowing the player to build their own character in a matter of seconds after waking up in Doc Mitchell’s house. 

One of the best things about this character creation setup is that it throws the player right into the game, losing the hour preamble that came with Fallout 3, replacing it with a sharp and concise piece of dialogue. In the end, the character creation portion of Fallout New Vegas asks the player to pick two traits from a list of options, most of which come with their own positive and negative effects, which the player will be forced to deal with during their playthrough

What I like about this setup is that the game basically tells the player to play through this title multiple times, using these traits to differentiate your character each time and giving yourself new challenges along the way that may completely change how you play the game. 

So, with all this being said, why don’t we take a look at the trait system in Fallout New Vegas, detailing how it works, the traits themselves, and how the absence of such a system in Fallout 3 fundamentally changes how we should look at both games? Let’s go!

Showing Bethesda How It’s Done

If you have read any of my Fallout New Vegas or Fallout 3 content before, you will probably already know that while I love Fallout 3, I do believe that FNV is simply the much better game from start to finish, smashing it out of the park in almost all areas.

Some of you may call this biased. However, this Fallout New Vegas Traits guide gives me the perfect opportunity to show you just one aspect of how the developers over at Obsidian at the time truly knew what they were doing by adding this system. 

In Fallout 3, where no trait system exists, and the perk system allows the player to choose one per level, there are no real hard choices to be made. A perk is just that, a perk. Therefore, they have no downsides in Fallout 3; this, combined with the fact that you get one with every level-up compared to FNVs one every two levels, results in the player never actually reading through their options and carefully considering which option they are going to pick. This ultimately leads to lesser engagement and love for your created character. 

By adding this traits system, the FNV developers have managed to allow players to create characters who are flawed and sometimes annoying to deal with. As anyone who owns a troublesome car will tell you, this is where the love comes from; only by understanding and working around your character’s shortcomings can you truly identify and grow to love them. Sorry, that was a tangent that needed to be expressed.

Like a Hole in the Head

When the player first starts Fallout New Vegas, they will wake up as a brand new person, requiring their entire personality to be regenerated by the player with the help of Doc Mitchell. The final aspect of this personality rebuild is the trait selection portion. 

This menu will give the player ten possible traits to choose from, each with its own positives and negatives, forcing the player to consider greatly what their intended playstyle will be for this playthrough, as well as a myriad of other factors. Once these two traits have been selected, they will remain the same for the entire game until you enter the Old World Blues DLC. This DLC will allow the player to reselect their traits and give you six more options to choose from. 

So, with this in mind, let’s look at each possible trait you can pick from in Fallout New Vegas and how they will affect your game. 

Base Game Traits

Built to Destroy

Fallout New Vegas Traits Built To Destroy

The first trait on our list deals with combat in the game. The player’s benefit from this trait is a plus 3% critical hit chance. However, you will have to deal with the fact that your weapon condition will decay at a much faster rate of 15%. 

As you can see, these positives and negatives are quite well-balanced, leaving the player to consider whether they will need the extra critical hit percentage down the road against tougher enemies or whether they will be able to afford the constant repairs on their favorite weapons. 

Another thing to consider is where you plan to spend your skill points throughout the game. This trait may be less useful if you plan to build a character with good weapon skills. However, if you have a high repair stat, the negative aspect of this trait will eventually become marginal. 

Fast Shot

Fallout New Vegas Traits Fast Shot

This next trait also deals with weapon-based combat, giving you a 20% increase in fire rate with both guns and energy weapons. Simultaneously, the AP cost in VATS for firing these weapons will also be 20% lower. Sadly, however, you will also have to deal with a degradation to your accuracy with this perk, losing 20%. 

This trait is perfect for those who love to scavenge for and find a good deal of ammo and those who love to shoot first and ask questions later – the spray-and-pray type players. Therefore, I would recommend only picking this perk if you enjoy using close to medium-range weapons with high fire rates. However, prepare to spend a good deal of caps on ammo going forward. For me, as someone who loves to snipe from a distance, this trait would be worthless. 

Four Eyes

Fallout New Vegas Traits Four Eyes

This next trait is a weird one and is one that I have never picked before in one of my many playthroughs. To me, it is one of the few that isn’t as well balanced. 

The benefit to picking this trait is that while the courier is wearing glasses of some kind, their perception is boosted by 2 points in the SPECIAL menu. However, these two bonus points are not considered when determining perk requirements. Then, regardless of whether you are wearing glasses or not, your character will always carry a reduction of 1 point to the perception that does carry over to perk requirements. 

Therefore, if your character’s base perception stat before selecting this trait is 5, selecting it will drop the player to 4, only rising to 6 when wearing glasses. However, your perception level will always be considered as 4, and this effectively means that the trait gives you a plus 1 in perception when you wear glasses. To me, that isn’t worth sacrificing all of the cool helmets you get throughout the game. 

Good Natured

Fallout New Vegas Traits Good Natured

This is a trait for someone who wishes to breeze through the Mojave wasteland with as little combat or damage as possible, the player who likes to talk their way out of problems instead of shooting their way out. The Good Natured trait gives the player a bonus of 5 points to speech, medicine, repair, science, and barter. However, it decreases your base stats in energy weapons, explosives, guns, melee weapons, and unarmed skills by 5 points. 

While it is clear to me and everyone else who can count that this trait will take away more points than it ever gives you, I still think that for a very particular player or playthrough, this can be a very entertaining trait. 

This trait encourages the player to use the dialogue trees throughout the game to come to amicable solutions, increasing your likelihood of finding another way of playing the game than simply holding down your trigger button. While this isn’t for everybody, I do think it is worth a go at least once. 

Heavy Handed

Fallout New Vegas Traits Heavy Handed

This is another trait that I have not used very much, mostly because I don’t really agree with the downside of the trait. The good part of this trait is that it gives you a 20% bonus for your melee and unarmed damage. However, the downside to this is that your melee and unarmed strikes do 60% less critical hit damage. 

What I don’t like about this is that the trait does not actually encourage anyone to do a melee or unarmed build/playthrough, as the negative counteracts the positive, removing a player’s incentive to try this build. I would have preferred a boost to melee and unarmed with a negative effect on guns and energy weapons, and this would have then been perfect for such a playthrough or character roleplay. 


Fallout New Vegas Traits Kamikaze

I find this trait more funny than helpful. Essentially, this trait makes your character more likely to burst into a room and try and take out everyone in a single round of fire, increasing your AP by 10 points. However, this same playstyle will get you killed because of this perk, as it takes 2 points away from your damage threshold and 15% away from your damage resilience. 

If you are going to pick this perk, I recommend having a slow and stealthy build with a heavy focus on long-ranged attacks. Otherwise, you are going to need some pretty good armor when trapped in tight spaces such as vaults or caves. 

Loose Cannon

Fallout New Vegas Traits Loose Cannon

Once again, this trait tries to encourage players to change their playstyle a little by incentivizing them to try out the grenades and satchel charges littered through the game by giving them a 30% speed increase to throwable weapons. However, you will have to deal with a 25% reduction in range. 

This trait would have been an easy pick for me if FNV had added a throwable hotkey button instead of requiring the player to choose between throwables and the main weapon when in combat. Without this, I don’t think the increase in throwing speed makes throwables useful enough in the game to warrant wasting one of your picks on this trait. This is especially true for players on a console who cannot bind their favorite weapons along the number bar and have to settle for the horrid d-pad favorite section. 

Small Frame

Fallout New Vegas Traits Small Frame

This trait is a lot more straightforward than some of the others on this list. If you pick this trait, you will receive an extra point in agility. However, you will also gain the fragile limbs perk, so you take an extra 25% damage to limbs. This will result in requiring a lot more doctors’ bags and Stimpaks over your playthrough. 

Essentially, you should choose this trait if you value all the things that come with an increased agility stat, including higher AP rates and better overall movement. However, you should look to bolster this by throwing a lot of points in medicine to improve Stimpak and doctor’s bags’ effectiveness. 

Trigger Discipline

Fallout New Vvegas Traits Trigger Discipline

This trait is essentially the inverse of the Built to Destroy trait, giving the player an accuracy increase of 20% on all guns and energy weapons with a 20% increase in AP costs with these weapons. You will also receive a 20% decrease in fire rate. 

While you may think choosing both this perk and the Buil to Destroy one will cancel each other out, you would be wrong as the game uses situational percentage calculations to determine effects such as these. 

As you might expect, choose this perk if you are the exact opposite of the player who would choose Built to Destroy. 

Wild Wasteland

Fallout New Vegas Traits Wild Wasteland

Out of all the traits on this list, the Wild Wasteland trait is the only one with no real downsides. Instead of acting like a typical trait, this addition to the game adds in some extra wacky content that helps to break up the action of FNV. The changes that this trait makes are typical of Fallout, adding a little bit of fun to the bleak and baron wasteland. 

This trait adds a lot of different situations to the game, which can either be sought out or stumbled upon organically. Once the player finds one of these Wild Wasteland events, a unique sound plays, indicating that what you are witnessing isn’t exactly part of the base game. Some of these events are more notable than others, but each is pretty cool; therefore, let’s take a look at some of the best ones. 

  • Indiana Jones Fridge: If the player travels just outside of the starting town of Goodsprings, to the southwest, they will find a refrigerator lying on the ground; inside will be a skeleton and a Suave gambler hat. This is just a simple gag-style homage to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, wherein Jones survives a nuclear blast via the fridge method. 
  • UFO Spotting: Keeping up with the trend, aliens are also in FNV. This time, when the player travels north of Horowitz Farmstead, they will see the spacecraft and three aliens standing, almost waiting for the player. Once the player kills these extraterrestrials, they will recover the alien blaster and some ammo for it.
  • Typical Lassie Reference: With Rex as your active companion, he will eventually woof at the player to tell them that ‘little Jimmy’ is stuck down a well somewhere east of New Vegas, under the overpass. This is also a reference to Fallout 2, when the same thing occurs, thanks to Jimmy’s dog Laddie. In Fallout 2, however, Jimmy is actually saved.
  • Maud’s Muggers: In what is probably the most random event in FNV, the player can be attacked by a group of elderly women named Irate Ida, Rancorous Ruth, and Malefic Maud, who are otherwise known as Maud’s Muggers. Each lady will wear an identical pre-war spring dress and carry rolling pins as weapons. This will trigger when the player leaves Cerulean Robotics and is a reference to the Monty Python sketch ‘Hell’s Grannies.’

While most of the Wild Wasteland incidents occur in the base game, the developers have also ensured that there are at least two events that the player can stumble across per DLC. 

Old World Blues Traits

During my first Fallout New Vegas playthrough, I decided that I was kind of done with the traits I had selected at the beginning of my campaign and wanted a little change. Therefore, when I installed the Old World Blues DLC and powered up the Auto-Doc, I was happy to undergo another psychological evaluation and re-pick them.

This boredom with my current traits and the addition of six new ones with the OWB DLC was enough to make me reconsider. Let’s take a look at these new traits.


Fallout New Vegas Traits Claustrophobia

I like this one as it adds a little extra spice to your whole adventure. When you select this trait, you will gain one extra point for all SPECIAL attributes while outside. However, once you make it inside, this trait turns into a curse, subtracting a point from your SPECIAL attributes. 

This trait is for players who love to explore the great outdoors and find every location on the map. However, you will need to build up your close-range weapon supplies before going inside for any prolonged period of time, as it will definitely be tougher. 

Early Bird

Fallout New Vegas Traits Early Bird

This trait works in a similar manner to Claustrophobia, except this trait affects your SPECIAL points depending on the time of day. During the early morning hours, between 6 am and 12 pm, the player will gain the Early Bird bonus of +2 points for all SPECIAL attributes. However, this early rising makes the courier quite tired, resulting in their SPECIAL stats dropping by one between 6 pm and 6 am. 

This trait is interesting, as it incentivizes the player to plan their activities along with the game’s day and night cycle. However, you should keep in mind that the trait has no effects on the player between 12 pm and 6 pm, resulting in the trait being pretty much useless for a major part of your day.


Fallout New Vegas Traits Hoarder

This trait is by far one of the best in the game, as it has no downsides for most of your playthrough. The Hoarder trait allows players to carry 25 lbs with them as they traverse the Mojave wasteland. The only drawback is that if your carry weight falls below 160 lbs, you will suffer a -1 for all SPECIAL skills.

This trait is basically perfect for the entire game as there are hardly any times during the base game, after leaving the starter area, that your carry weight will be below 160 lbs. Especially if the player is surviving on hardcore mode wherein ammo and medicine add to your burden. 

The only thing you should keep in mind with this trait is that several times throughout the game, the player is stripped of all their possessions. For example, the start of the Dead Money DLC will see the player spawn in such a state. However, this can be quickly remedied by some quick looting.

Hot Blooded

Fallout New Vegas Traits Hot Blooded

I honestly don’t know about this trait; on the surface, it might seem like a good idea, but I could also see it coming back around to harm the player right when you need it most. This trait only activates when the player’s health drops below 50%. At this point, you will gain an extra 15% of all damage you inflict on your enemies. However, you will also lose 2 points in perception and agility at this time.

For me, this trait has never really been so appealing for one simple reason. When I play Fallout and have spent a lot of time with a character, I get to know them pretty well – how they move, how well they can soak up damage, and when enough is enough, and it’s time to get out of dodge. However, this perk means that just when you need to depend on your character knowledge, the game shifts, changing your character’s abilities right when you need certainty the most. To me, this is the video game equivalent of pulling away the brake pedal when your car is about to crash. 

Logan’s Loophole

Fallout New Vegas Taits Logan's Loophole

As Fallout New Vegas continued to be a massive hit years after its launch, the developers decided to continue raising the level cap by five each time they released a DLC. In the end, this allowed dedicated couriers to increase their max level from 30 all the way to 50. 

However, with these new levels came an interesting offer in the form of a trait. When the player boots up New Vegas for the first time and is faced with partially deciding the fate and playstyle of their character, you will be asked whether or not they see themselves going the distance with this character, progressing past level 30. 

The trait Logan’s Loophole asks the player this question by giving them an interesting choice. If you agree to be capped at level 30 forever, you will benefit from longer-lasting chems with no worry of becoming addicted.

I have never selected this trait as I always endeavor to max out each of my characters, hitting level 50. However, some people are never going to stick with one character for that long; therefore, they aren’t going to miss out on the extra perks those 20 levels would garner them. Therefore, this choice is entirely individual. 


Fallout New Vegas Traits Skilled 

This is another one of the FNV traits that I am not sure what to think about. Similar to Logan’s Loophole, selecting this trait allows the player to gain instant gratification rather than playing the long game. Selecting this trait will give the player an immediate boost of 5 points for every skill. However, from this point on, you will gain 10% less experience as you play. 

In my opinion, this trait is not ideal for players just starting out in Doc Mitchell’s house, as the 10% experience you lose quickly accumulates into missed leveling opportunities that would garner far more than 5 points per skill. However, you could select this trait as you enter the OWB DLC and get a cheeky 5-point bonus to your skills at a stage in the game where leveling doesn’t mean that much anymore, as you are already near the cap. 

Alternatively, you could also team this trait with Logan’s Loophole trait to build the strongest early-game character possible if you just want to steamroll your way through the main campaign. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How many traits can you have in Fallout New Vegas?

Answer: At launch, the player had ten traits to choose from; however, with the Old World Blues DLC, this number was increased to 16. Regardless of the player’s version, they will only be allowed to hold two traits at any one time. 

Question: Can you change your traits in Fallout New Vegas?

Answer: During the base game, you cannot change your traits once you have confirmed and left Doc Mitchell’s house. However, once you arrive in the BigMT, you can change your traits with the help of the Auto-Doc after you have found the required module for it.

Question: Is Wild Wasteland a good trait?

Answer: Every Fallout New Vegas player should choose the Wild Wasteland trait at least once so that they can experience Fallout as it truly should be, wild and wacky. This trait may not be for the serious or realism-focused players, but it definitely is fun and helps add a little bit of surprise to the whole affair.

To Wrap it Up

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the Fallout New Vegas trait system, a system that was designed and implemented by Obsidian entertainment in order to fix some of the mistakes made by Bethesda when they made Fallout 3. 

In my opinion, I think changing the leveling system to give the player a perk every two levels instead of one and adding in this trait system is truly genius. These changes make the player consider their early game choices with their entire playthrough in mind, allowing them to determine their playstyle right from the jump. This also encourages extra playthroughs, something that dedicated FNV like me is particularly happy about. 

With that being said, I really do hope you enjoyed this guide and learned something new from it. I wish you good luck in your journey through the Mojave and beyond. 

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