Complete Hacking Guide for Fallout: New Vegas
A comprehensive guide to hacking in Fallout: New Vegas

Hacking is a minigame within Fallout: New Vegas. It’s used to access terminals, which often contain useful information, or have the ability to unlock containers or doors.

The guide is separated into 2 parts- Basic and Advanced. The “Basic” section details the basics of how the minigame is to be completed, while the “Advanced” section details more advanced strategies for beating the minigame.

Hacking

Basic Hacking

To attempt to hack a terminal, you must first find a locked terminal somewhere within the Mojave wasteland. To start hacking, you must first have a specific Science skill level. 

Hacking skill requirement table

DifficultyScience skill required
Very Easy0
Easy25
Average50
Hard75
Very Hard100
Password RequiredCannot be hacked

*Note that increasing the skill does very little for hacking unless you break one of the above-listed thresholds.

Once you find a locked terminal, you don’t need any items to begin hacking. Simply interact with the terminal to start the minigame.

Inside the minigame, you’ll see 2 columns of random special characters, sparsely interrupted by words. Every single word has the same number of letters, which depends on the difficulty of the terminal.

Password length table.

DifficultyNumber of letters
Very Easy4-5
Easy6-8
Average9-10
Hard11-12
Very Hard13-15

Guessing the Password

Each word has the potential to be a password. Clicking on a word will either unlock the terminal (if it is the correct word) or show that the word was incorrect and tell you the number of correct letters.

The correct letters are not just the correct  “specific” letters (such as “i”, “b” or “s”), but it also means that they are in the correct place. 

For example, if the password were to be “Bulb”, and the player were to select the word “Pulp”, the terminal would show that 2/4 of the letters were correct.

The player has 4 attempts to guess the password. Failing the 4th one will lock the terminal out, requiring the use of a password if the player wants to open the terminal.

A terminal where 1 incorrect password was guessed. The guess was “Feeling”, while the correct password was “Pouring”. | Fallout: New Vegas
A terminal where 1 incorrect password was guessed. The guess was “Feeling”, while the correct password was “Pouring”.

NOTE: Exiting out of the terminal by clicking the power button while the player has one or more attempts left will cause the number of attempts to reset, alongside the password itself. This removes any chance of the player being locked out, and should always be utilized.

Brackets

As stated before, the columns are mostly filled with special characters. If any one of the lines happens to have a combination of an opening and closing bracket (either [], {}, (), or <>), not interrupted by a word, the player may click on either of the brackets. This has the potential to do one of two things:

  • Remove one of the duds (incorrect passwords)
  • Reset the number of attempts to 4

Note that password attempts can be reset more than once, but this is extremely unlikely and shouldn’t be relied upon at all.

Examples of brackets within a terminal line:

  • <?&@:!>
  • (!!”::,_,)
  • {:?:_!”!!(/}
  • [“:_:_?(/!”&#]
Example of brackets in the terminal | Fallout: New Vegas
Example of brackets in the terminal

Advanced Hacking Strategies

  • Thanks to the brackets resetting the number of attempts, it’s a good idea to make 3 guesses, then scan the entire terminal to find every single bracket combination, then continue with guessing, provided that one of the brackets reset the password attempts.
  • As your Science skill increases, terminals will have fewer and fewer words to guess from, to the point where Very Easy locked terminals will sometimes only contain 5 or 6 words. There is no information available on when these decreases happen.
  • The Computer Whiz perk allows the player to hack into a terminal they’ve been locked out of. Do NOT pick this perk. It is completely meaningless, as you should never get locked out of a terminal in the first place.