Monday, March 19, 2012

Fallout 3 - Combat - General Combat Tactics and Tips

Fallout 3 - Combat - General Combat Tactics and Tips

This is one of our posts on tips to optimize your Fallout 3 experience -- giving you the best gameplay experience through a careful mix of cheats and mods. For the full index, click here.

In this post, we present general combat tips. (For specific monsters, see this post.) Because the AI combatants tend to react, move, and aim very quickly, we recommend you level the playing field with a Fallout 3 Bullet Time mod.

In general, enemies have three styles of combat: Long Range, Medium Range, and Short Range. We'll also talk about Cover, Grenades, and Mines.

Long Range
  • In long range, where they stand off and take shots at you. Only a few (mostly robots) do not move about to dodge your shots and go for cover. Sometimes, if you are behind cover for too long, they will come and find you because they can no longer shoot at you. Snipers (typically humans with hunting rifles or sniping rifles) often do not close the distance even if you stay behind cover, and eventually lose interest (your hidden status can change back to [CAUTION], then [HIDDEN])..
  • When they have to reload, they often stop and crouch if human instead of going for cover first. This is a great opportunity to get in free shots.
  • If you try to shoot it out, you will notice they can track your aim very well, and just walking slowly left and right they can keep just ahead of your aim, all while shooting back and tracking your movement much better. Use VATS or Bullet Time to even things out.
  • You can typically stay behind cover once they start shooting. There is usually a slight delay between sighting you once you have come out from cover and actually shooting, and that is your window to exchange fire.
    • Gatling weapons (except Gatling Lasers) have a startup time, so your firing window is even greater and you can watch for the barrels turning to know when you need to duck again.
  • Some "wide" monsters, such as Super Mutants, may carry their weapon in such a way that you can peek out of cover just enough to get them to shoot at you, but because their weapon is not visible, they will just hit your cover harmlessly (or they might not fire at all). Meanwhile, you can shoot at whatever exposed body parts are in your line of fire (your cursor will change to red). Typically they start to step sideways to get line of sight to you and shoot, and depending on your cover, you can step the other way to keep the gun out of line of sight.
  • Creatures using Big Guns such as miniguns hold them low. This means that they will sometimes have trouble firing if you are behind a low wall or other similar cover because they might not be able to angle their gun enough. This is best when you have cover and they are below you (such as in the Museum of Technology West Wing, in the auditorium, when you take cover behind the control panel and the Super Mutants are near the talking device below you in the centre of that room).
  • Big Guns also have a hard time firing downward and past low walls. For example, in the Museum of Technology room with the staircases and balconies, you can position yourself to shoot upward at a Super Mutant while they have to shoot downward at you. If you are quite close, their gun will be pointed too low to shoot past the railings or will just shoot into the floor at their feet.
  • If they are using rockets or missiles against you, if you are behind cover, you are typically completely safe even if the warhead detonates against the wall on the other side and your screen goes white from the blast.
  • Depending on their weapon, you may or may not want to shoot it out of their hands. There is a risk that they will then be without a gun and charge you in melee, which can be harder to handle especially if there are still other shooters. On the other hand, if their weapon is quite close, they will go and get it, giving you time to shoot again; and once they get it, you can shoot it out of their hands again.
    Medium Range
    • Not many creatures have this range. Typically this is used by humans with shotguns or small handguns. They are more haphazard in their shots because they are moving around (except when reloading). They will seek cover and typically strafe left and right while shooting at you. If you go for cover or around a wall, they will come after you, so you can then engage them in VATS melee or shotgun their head off as soon as they turn the corner.
      • Be careful doing this (especially outdoors) as they will sometimes go wide around your cover to shoot from a distance.
      • Also be careful of being too close because they can suddenly be too close and your shots will have no effect (generally it means they are behind your gun barrel and you are shooting past or behind them).
    Short Range
    • A shooter with a shotgun may run to close the distance and maximize their damage potential. Otherwise, typically creatures close to short range only to melee.
    • Most (human) shooters will maintain their distance. If you want to melee them, you will probably have to cripple their legs (e.g., with a Dart Gun). Otherwise, they will just keep backing off and shooting. And since they can run as fast a you can, you will not generally be able to close the gap.
    • Super Mutants generally are all-offence with heavy weapons that have a slow swing, so you can try strafing to keep to their flanks and avoid the hits.
    • Melee against weapon-wielding humans is actually very hard:
      • They can time a good block, which will briefly unbalance you. As the AI, they can make this decision much faster and better than you can. I again recommend Bullet Time to even things out.
      • They can also judge distance very well and just step back from your attack.
      • They can also judge the distance to possible obstacles, whereas if you strike a wall, you may be briefly unbalanced from the recoil.
      • They strafe very quickly, and outside of third-person view, can be very hard to track.
      All gun-using creatures usually have a minimum distance from which they can shoot. If they are using a long-barrelled weapon, you can sometimes go right up close, chest-to-chest, and be behind this distance but still be able to melee them. Shooters rarely switch to melee in such a case, but rather try to back up and shoot. Some weapons (especially Gatling Lasers) can actually have their shot angle backward, but the AI will still fire only infrequently if you are mostly to the flank.

      Fallout 3 Tactics - gatling laser shoots backward 1

      • Very good cover is actually quite hard to find. It generally involves not just easy cover to duck behind, but a setup where your enemy isn't likely to want to change their position too much or come looking for you. If you can set up a situation where you can shoot back quite safely AND keep it for the duration of the firefight, you can take your time and use even a weak weapon to kill a Super Mutant Overlord.
      • The best cover involves being able to shoot back without being in the line of fire, even if you have to shoot at shoulders, arms, or legs. We have some examples below:
      Example 1: Very close range, but it allows me to keep the Super Mutant Overlord's Big Gun completely concealed. Also notice it is complete top to bottom cover -- The AI can also shoot at extremities, so just because you can't see their gun or see them doesn't mean they can't shoot at a piece of you. In this situation, the enemy did not reposition too much, so I just took my time with a small handgun.
      Fallout 3 Tactics - good cover 1

      Example 2: The enemy is high and on a ledge. The AI cannot jump and does not consider jumping even a safe distance down to be a movement option. Therefore, in this situation the AI probably couldn't find their way to me. Also, being on a ledge makes it easier for me to shoot its gun out of its hand if I wanted to. It would generally fall off the ledge, becoming either completely inaccessible or too far to be quickly retrieved. I might even be able to grab it first.
      Fallout 3 Tactics - good cover 2

      Example 3: Somewhat tricky cover. The amount of exposure to the enemy is very small, but if I remain behind cover too long, they could charge up the stairs. In this case, however, the building was ruined and I could quickly retreat out of line of sight, and drop down from the second floor to the ground floor outside the building. The enemy is shooting upward at me with a Tri-Beam Laser, so it was also a bit more dangerous each time I stepped out to shoot.
      Fallout 3 tactics - shoot exposed body parts


      • Typically a useless way to kill anything. They generally cripple the legs, so if you can get in a Sneak Attack (typically possible only while [HIDDEN] and the enemy isn't looking in your direction) you might be able to both hurt them and cripple their movement.
      • Often, enemies can see grenades flying through the air, so if you want a Sneak Attack with a Grenade, try throwing it from behind them.
      • Even if you are [HIDDEN] when you throw a Grenade, once it explodes you generally go into at least [CAUTION].
      • If you know an enemy is around the corner, in good lighting, and looking your way (so you can't even pop out quickly to Sneak Attack without immediately going into [CAUTION] or [DANGER], then a grenade is a good way to force them to move. You lose your [HIDDEN] status, but the AI will calculate a flee path to get cover, during which time it will not abort to attack you. It may even run right past you.
      • Dropping a mine creates a bit of noise which can expose you. A mine detonating, even if you are far away, identifies you as the attacker.
      • If a mine detonates on a creature that is unaware of you and not in combat, you can get a Sneak Attack against them with the mine detonation. Otherwise, the best you can hope for is a Critical Hit.
      • Mines are good for crippling legs, so against powerful and fast creatures such as Feral Ghoul Ravagers, you can slow them to a walk and then shoot them without them rushing you.
      • Against very tough monsters you can't just shoot to death without being mauled yourself, you can try setting up mines (a VERY slow way to kill anything, typically). Space them out in the most likely search path they monster will take when they. Make sure the mines are spaced out: A clump of mines will not necessarily all inflict their damage in a single big explosion.
      • Then, get the attention of the monster with a shot (don't bother hitting anything -- if you start from cover such as around a corner, you have a better chance of staying in [CAUTION] and the enemy not spotting you). Once they are alerted, go for cover and try to lead them along the path of your mines. If you start with [CAUTION], they will walk to your location looking for you. At a searching-walking speed, they should not be able to walk out of the blast radius of mines before they detonate -- the AI does not react to the mine warning beep. If they can walk past several mines in this way, you can soften up or kill them.
      • Unless you are very far away when your mine detonates, even if you are outside an enemy's line of sight, they somehow know where you are and can start searching for you.

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