Fallout 4 has a lot of boomsticks, but you don't need any of them.
Fallout 4 build guide: One-Punch Man
No matter how many Fallout 4 runs you've done, there's always something new to try. Today's build of choice is a little something I like to call One-Punch Man (or Woman or Unspecified; it's an equal opportunity murder machine). It's named both for the popular anime and for the way just one punch makes enemies' heads explode in bloody chunks. It's pretty great.
You don't have to restrict yourself to fisticuffs, either; although punch weapons use less AP, which is something I favour, there are dozens of terrific melee weapons on offer in the game, which we'll discuss later. This build also works tremendously well for heavy Power Armor users, especially if they invest in crafting skills and trick out their gear.
This is an ideal build for a fun, action-packed run through the main story and quests (especially if you take the Brotherhood of Steel route), but if you're after a "main" build with lots of support for crafting and settlements, I'd look elsewhere. You can adopt this for the full game experience, and I'll even tell you how, but it's going to take tens of hours to reach high levels so you can invest heavily in S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points.
Warning: this is a slow burn build that will be tough for beginners; it's not a good first run set up. In either case, you'll want to carry some back up weapons and keep a good stock of healing item and chems as you start out, but trust me; things are going to be super rad by the time you have a couple of dozen levels under your belt.
Alright, let's do this.
Getting started: SPECIAL stats
Let’s start with the basics: selecting your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats and planning for perks. This provides the skeleton on which you’ll construct your mighty vault dweller.
Note that as soon as you leave Vault 111 you can obtain an extra attribute point just by picking up the You’re S.P.E.C.I.A.L. book in Shaun’s room in your old house in Sanctuary, so we’re working with the assumption that you have 29 points to distribute (21 in the character set up screen, seven minimum starting stats and one from the book).
There are two absolutely mandatory stats:
- Strength: 9
- Agility: 9
The rest is up to you, although I'll suggest two full builds below.
- Expert tip: never set any of your SPECIAL stats to ten right off the bat; there’s a Bobblehead out there with a bonus point for each SPECIAL stat. You’ll also be able to increase your SPECIAL points whenever you have a spare perk point, and there’s no level cap, so there’s plenty of time to get those level ten perks.
Normally this is the bit where I'd insist you bring Perception up to 4 for the Locksmith perk, or alternately distribute your remaining points across Intelligence and Charisma so you can get started with crafting and settlement stuff right off the bat. But this is a really difficult build at low levels, so you may just want to pour all five remaining points into Endurance and hammer the Toughness perk to grant you more survivability.
I personally don't do this. I play a glass version of this build with very low health, relying on armour, aggression or stealth to keep me safe, and frequently reloading my save when I die. The below is my preferred (glass) setup, but I honestly don't recommend it for everyone:
- Strength: 9
- Perception: 4
- Endurance: 1
- Charisma: 1
- Intelligence: 3
- Agility: 9
- Luck: 2
For an easier time of it initially, but a lot more work to do later to evolve your character, go for:
- Strength: 9
- Perception: 1
- Endurance: 7
- Charisma: 1
- Intelligence: 1
- Agility: 9
- Luck: 1
Or some sort of balanced approach between the two. In any case, make a backup save before you leave Vault 111, in case you get an hour into this and regret everything; it's a distinct possibility.
First, two notes:
- I usually consider Locksmith the most essential first perk for any build, but in this case you may have decided to give up a bunch of treasure in favour of extra survivability or long-term investment in crafting and settlements, and that's super okay.
- If you're not going the masochistic glass route, ignore some of the below to stack Endurance and perks like Toughness and Life Giver instead. Just be aware that doing so means you'll be delaying increasing your damage output.
With those caveats out of the way, the primary One-Punch Man build perks are Rooted (Strength) and Blitz (Agility). These are absolutely mandatory, and should be backed up with Action Boy/Girl as soon as possible.
You'll want a weapon perk, and it's up to you whether to take Iron Fist (Strength, punching weapons only) or Big Leagues (Strength, every other melee weapon, but not bashing with firearms). In end-game, you might want to take both, but for now it's best to pick one basket and pile all your precious eggs in it. (Note that you can't use Iron Fist weapons while using Power Armor, so if you're planning on that being part of your style but still want the benefits of legendary effects, go for Big Leagues. Iron Fist still works on unarmed melee attacks in Power Armor, though.)
A few levels in, when you have enough materials (or caps) to make use of them, you'll want Blacksmith (Strength) and Armorer (Strength) so you can mod up your gear.
Finally, Moving Target (Agility) is an optional but very cool investment; it allows you to close on targets quickly and safely, which is hugely helpful when facing enemies with powerful firearms, and also saves your butt when you are hauling it over the horizon to escape a scene of carnage and disaster.
Whenever you find yourself at a level cap where upgrading the above perks isn't possible, check out the Growing and Changing section below for how to invest for the future.
Growing and Changing
This is where things get complicated, because One-Punch favours two distinct upgrade routes: Subtle and Overt.
- The Subtle One-Punch Man invests in Sneak and Ninja.
- The Overt One-Punch Man grabs an extra point of Strength and takes Pain Train, focusing on Power Armor use.
You can also play an Overt One-Punch Man in regular armour, allowing you to use Power Fist and other punching weapons, and skip both upgrade paths above. Whatever path you choose, after that it's all optional extras:
- Grab Local Leader, Caps Collector and one rank of Medic to build and expand settlements fully.
- Scrapper and more importantly Science will help you build better mods for weapons and armour – if you’re willing to collect loot and drag it back to a Workshop.
- Better Criticals, Bloody Mess and Grim Reaper's Sprint will power up your damage output considerably.
To get all of the optional perks above you'll eventually need a fairly robust S.P.E.C.I.A.L. build, so you'll probably want to pick and choose. Remember there's a Bobblehead out there for each attribute, so don't spend a point you could get for free.
- Strength: 10 (9 for non-Power Armor players)
- Perception: 4
- Endurance: 1 (glass builds only!)
- Charisma: 6
- Intelligence: 6
- Agility: 9
- Luck: 8
Expert Tip: When you're in end-game and super overpowered you may choose to spend a few points on Strong Back for extra carrying capacity. Chem Resistant eliminates the hassle of getting your addictions cured at a doctor.
How to play a One-Punch Man
Obviously, you want to use melee attacks. The trick is to approach enemies using cover so they can't murder you from a distance. Learn to use blocking (left trigger) to counter their bash and melee attacks, and practice with your weapon of choice so you master the timing of standard attacks (right trigger) and power attacks (right bumper).
Usually, a human enemy will be shooting you as you approach, and you can get in one or two hits depending on weapon speed before they try to bash you. If you successfully block the bash you get a few more free hits, at which point they should be dead.
This is not easy, I won't lie; in group situations, you'll be peppered with bullets from all sides. Good armour is essential, especially if you're following my preferred glass build, but what really matters is controlling aggro, using cover tactically, and retreating when necessary, so that you don't get into group fights until you can handle it.
The real fun comes with VATS once you've invested in Blitz. This perk increases melee range considerably when using VATS; learn your reach and enter VATS as soon as you've closed the gap. Target multiple enemies in a single VATS action and execute; your character will zip untouched around the room, bashing everyone to death in a single hit each (hopefully).
Chems can be really useful in this build. Med-X will keep you alive when things get tough, Buffout obviously makes you hit harder, and Jet will get you in the enemy's face and hitting before they can react. Carry some Addictol or visit a doctor to clear your addictions.
There's no single weapon that's best for One-Punch Man, although thematically knuckle duster type weapons and Power Fists are super cool. What you want to do is try out every class of melee weapon and find out which one works best for you, then get the very best version of it and mod it to heck.
If you find it easy to anticipate enemy attacks and time your blocks and swings, then a heavier, slower weapon will be fine. If you struggle a bit, a faster weapon, while less damaging to enemies, is more forgiving of mistakes. A weapon that consumes less AP in VATS is more useful in group situations, but they tend to have lower damage than heavier weapons - so it's difficult to call. I recommend carrying two weapons - one fast with low AP use, and one heavier and more powerful, so that if you die you can try again with the other.
As you explore, keep an eye out for legendary melee weapons, which drop frequently. Anything like Wounding and Powerful that adds to damage output is obviously handy (poison and radiation not so much, except at very high difficulty levels when you're having extended duels, because the idea is to kill with one punch). Staggering is absolutely fantastic at low levels, and the Bloodied effect is a life-saver. Instigating is terrific for really living up to the One-Punch name, whereas Relentless can help in fights you can't win with one punch - bosses and legendaries, especially on high difficulty levels.
But what you're really looking for are legendary effects that synergise with Blitz - look for effects related to AP and VATS, like VATS-enhanced, Relentless and Quickdraw. Bear in mind that you can put two legendary effects on some melee weapons with a bit of clever tinkering.
There are some decent unique weapons to consider, too. Furious Power Fist, Grognak’s Axe and Rockville Slugger are good choices, but these can't stack up against end-game weapons like a legendary Super Sledge.
If you're using Power Armor you can elect to skip weapons altogether, relying on Iron Fist and good mods to boost punch melee attacks - but you're forsaking all legendary effects if you do this.
Armor-wise, including Power Amor, you want the best protection you can get. Any and all mods that increase your resistance and melee capabilities should be applied. As for legendary effects, Cavalier, Sentinel and VATS-enhanced are incredibly helpful.
There are two other bits of equipment (sort of) that you'll want. First, every single issue of Grognak the Barbarian; collecting these will increase your melee output hugely. Second, a companion to soak up bullets as you approach a fracas; Strong is an excellent choice since his detection radius is quite low and he will almost always charge in for melee attacks, making it easy to use him to control aggro.
Finally: weapons and clothes for specific situations:
- At lower levels, when your melee attack is weak, carry a powerful shotgun to quickly end a fight in an absolute emergency - but you'll soon find you hit harder than you shoot and can discard it.
- A stack of grenades and molotovs will help you soften enemies up before you go in punching, but be careful not to Blitz into the blast zone.
- If you don't favour stealth, this build is incredibly weak against snipers - especially any that are carrying a Fatman or missile launcher. Carry a sniper rifle for those times when you just can't sneak up or approach under sufficient cover.
- If you're playing on PC, you can download a One-Punch Man clothing mod right here.
Conquer the Wasteland
That's it. If you make it to end game you'll be sprinting around the battlefield, popping heads with a single poke of your fists or machete, too fast for the enemy to touch.
Not for you? Try the sneaky glass rogue Infiltrator.
Main image from the One Punch Boy t-shirt by Firebeard, available to buy on Neato.