Critical hit builds are one of the strongest types of build in the game, having the ability to decimate even the strongest of enemies within a couple of shots. This is mostly thanks to several key perks that stack well with features of specific pieces of equipment that, when combined, allow you to critically hit with nearly every attack.
Quick tips on playing with a critical hit build:
- All DLCs required. While you can make a critical hit build without DLCs, non-DLC builds are much weaker than their DLC counterparts as the DLCs are where you will find some of the strongest weapons, perks and armors.
- Sneak Attack Criticals. Sneak attack criticals deal 2x the regular critical hit damage. Try to start every encounter by attacking the most dangerous foe from stealth to guarantee a sneak attack critical.
- Critical hit multiplier. Every weapon has a critical hit multiplier which is a flat value that your critical hit chance gets multiplied by. The highest possible multiplier is 3x, which is present on weapons such as the Silenced .22 Pistol. Those weapons, however, tend to be too weak to make sense in a regular build. It’s recommended that you look for weapons with either a 2x or 2.5x critical hit multiplier. The best choices are listed further on in the guide.
Several of the perks that you are required to take to make the most out of a critical hit build require you to have certain scores in your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. The best starting combination is as follows:
Note: These special stats are not final. To get Min/Max this build, you will have to buy 3 implants from Doctor Usanagi at the New Vegas Medical Clinic: Perception, Luck and Strength. Together, they will cost you 6000 caps in total.
For your tagged skills, it is recommended that you go with the following three:
Guns – The Guns skill allows you to make effective use of the best critical hit weapons in the entire game.
Repair – A high repair skill allows you to get the fantastic Jury Rigging and Hand Loader perks, both of which are incredibly useful in the late game.
Survival – A Survival skill of 45 is necessary for the Travel Light perk, which pairs incredibly well with our armor of choice.
Although the disadvantages of the following traits may sound off-putting, the weapon choices for the build will render most of the downsides negligible.
Built to Destroy – Gives +3% critical hit chance and makes your weapon degrade 15% faster. This is mostly counteracted by the fact that our chosen weapons have high durability and having the Jury Rigging perk.
Fast Shot – Increases Fire Rate and Weapon Spread by 20%. Due to the innately high accuracy of the build’s best weapon options, the weapons spread increase has virtually not effect on the build..
These are all of the necessary perks, listed in the order in which you should acquire them as you level up.
All perks, other than Educated, can be acquired whenever you wish as only the Educated perk has certain advantages when taken earlier. With every level you don’t have Educated, you miss out on 2 skill points. If you can’t take a different perk because you lack the necessary skills, just take it another time.
|Level 2, Agility 6, Repair 45
|+5% Critical Hit chance while wearing light armor
|Level 2, Agility 5, Guns 30
|+25% Reload Speed
|Level 4, Intelligence 4
|+2 Skill Points per level
|Level 4, Survival 45
|+10% Movement speed while wearing light armor
|Level 6, Repair 70
|Allows the player to craft new, powerful ammo types
|+5% Critical hit chance
|Fight the Power
|+2 DT and +5% Critical hit chance against Legion, NCR and Brotherhood of Steel members
|Level 14, Repair 90
|Allows the player to repair their items with a wider range of other items
|Level 16, Perception 6, Luck 6
|+50% Critical hit damage
|Just Lucky I’m Alive*
|Level 50, Neutral Karma
|+50% Critical hit damage, immunity to critical hits. Stacks multiplicatively with Better Criticals, resulting in a total of +125% critical hit damage.
* Note: Just Lucky I’m Alive requires you to have neutral karma at level 50 to acquire it. If you have high Karma as you are about to hit level 50, go steal as many items as you can without being spotted. Do this until your karma reaches neutral and you’ll be able to take this perk.
These perks, while not completely necessary, are either universally useful for nearly any build and additionally useful for this one.
|Confirmed Bachelor / Black Widow
|+10% Damage against male human characters. Additional dialogue options with male human characters.
|Lady Killer / Cherchez La Femme
|+10% Damage against female human characters. Additional dialogue options with female human characters.
|+5% Base damage increase
|Level 2, Survival 30
|+75% Critical hit damage against all animals. This comes out to 393.75% increase in critical hit damage against animals if you have the Better Criticals and Just Lucky I’m Alive perks
|Level 4, Intelligence 4, Survival 45
|+50% Damage against mutated insects. This includes Cazadores.
|Level 8. Guns 45, Explosives 20
|25% more damage with 9mm and .45 Auto pistols and SMGs, service rifles, Assault and Marksman carbines, light machine guns, frag grenades, grenade rifles and launchers, and combat knives
|Level 8, Guns 45, Melee Weapons 45
|25 % more damage when using any revolver, lever-action firearm, dynamite, knife, or hatchet.
* These serve to upgrade your secondary and melee weapon. Your Secondary weapon is likely to be a revolver, which gets a 25% damage boost from the Cowboy perk, and your melee weapon is likely to be the Chance’s Knife, which gets a total of either 50% or 125% damage boost. It is currently unknown if the bonus stacks additively or multiplicatively.
As far as weapons go, every build needs at least 1 primary weapon, one backup weapon and one melee weapon (mostly to save ammo, especially in the early game).
There are three great choices for primary weapons, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Your play style will largely determine which one is best for you.
Those weapons are: The Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle, Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle and Paciencia.
Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle
This is by far the most popular weapon to use for critical hit builds. The weapon’s main advantage comes from the higher base critical hit damage when compared to both the base Sniper Rifle and Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle.
However, it does come with certain disadvantages when compared to the Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle in particular. This being the lack of a suppressor. This means that you are far less likely to remain hidden after firing your first shot.
However, this weapon makes up for that disadvantage with other advantages such as the highest magazine size of all of our featured weapons and the second highest critical hit damage. This makes it a great weapon for most basic engagements as you are more likely to kill your targets before needing to reload.
Guide to acquire here.
Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle
This is the only weapon on this list with a suppressor. Suppressed weapons are, by their nature, excellent at getting multiple sneak attack criticals before the player is discovered. Due to their doubled damage when compared to regular critical hits, this weapon can easily end encounters before the player is ever discovered. The weapon also has the highest critical hit multiplier of 2.5x making your critical hits far more common than the other featured weapons.
However, it isn’t without its disadvantages. Mainly, it has an incredibly slow attack speed of just 1.6 attacks/second (which is almost as low as Paciencia, which has 1.2 attacks per second) and also has a lower magazine size than the Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle at only 5. Although it is still higher than Paciencia’s 3.
Guide to acquire here.
Paciencia is the most interesting of the three featured rifles. It is the slowest-firing weapon, with the lowest magazine size but also has the highest critical hit damage of 110 (Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle: 80, Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle: 62), which is equal to the Anti-Material Rifle. This makes it the go-to weapon for situations in which you need the highest amount of damage in a single shot such as when fighting the X-42 Giant Robo Scorpion or the Rawr mini-boss.
This is likely not going to be your best option for basic enemy encounters because of the downsides, however keeping it around in your inventory is definitely recommended as it can easily solve encounters that the other two weapons can’t.
Keep in mind that the sights are somewhat off. Read the guide on Paciencia for more details, including how to acquire it here.
While it is ultimately up to you which weapon you decide to use, I would personally recommend that you go with the Christine’s CoS Silencer Rifle. Its high base damage and inclusion of a suppressor make it, in my opinion, the best general-purpose sniper rifle in the entire game.
Secondary weapons are much more straightforward as there is only really one best option, that being the unique That Gun revolver. This is largely due to its ability to use 5.56 mm ammunition which has a Hollow-Point version. If it is used against enemies with low DT, the Hollow-Point projectiles can shred the enemy with overwhelming effectiveness.
Guide to acquire here.
For your melee weapon, you’re likely best off with the Chance’s Knife. Not only can it be acquired quite literally as soon as you start the game, it also boasts an incredible critical hit chance multiplier of 2x. It also has one of the fastest attack speeds in the entire game, being 4.2 attacks/second.
Guide to acquire here.
Unlike many other builds, the armor that you use is important as you need the critical hit chance increases that certain pieces of armor provide. There are a total of 7 different armors that grant increased critical hit chance. However, only 3 of them grant the maximum bonus of +5% Critical Hit Chance.
For your main suit of armor, the two options depend on whether you prefer the faster movement speed of Light armor or the higher DT of medium armor.
Elite Riot Gear
This is your heavier option. While you do lose out on 5% of your critical hit chance and some movement speed as you won’t be able to make use of either the Light Touch or the Travel Light perks, you do gain a substantial increase to your DT (22 vs 13). If this trade-off is worth it for you, then the Elite Riot Gear is your one and only option.
Guide to acquire here.
The Ulysses’ Duster is the superior option for everyone who doesn’t mind losing out on 9 DT as it allows you to make use of all of the light armor perks and makes you harder to detect.
It also had the benefit of being easy to acquire as it is a reward for finishing the Lonesome Road DLC. It can be found in the rewards chest that you can find directly in front of you after the ending slides of the Lonesome Road DLC.
As for headgear, there is really only one viable option: The combination of the Elite Riot Gear Helmet and the First Recon Beret. Due to a bug, the Elite Riot Gear Helmet can be equipped at the same time as the First Recon Beret.
The First Recon Beret gives you a +5% critical hit chance bonus.
The Elite Riot Gear Helmet has the highest DT of any helmet in the game, being 6. Additionally, despite being considered a “heavy” piece of apparel, it isn’t on any of the lists that prevent the light armor perks from functioning thus allowing you to enjoy the benefits of both light armor perks and having a high DT helmet.
Guide to acquire the First Recon Beret here.
Guide to acquire the Elite Riot Gear Helmet here.
As with all builds, there are certain ways in which you should act during gameplay to make the most out of critical hit builds.
- Make JFP rounds. After you take the Handloader perk, you can disassemble all of your .308 rounds and turn them into JFP rounds which deal substantially more damage.
- Start every encounter from stealth. Due to the power of Sneak Attack Criticals, it is always recommended that you try to perform as many as you can before your position is revealed.