Disc One Nuke / Fallout

  • A determined player can gain very powerful armor and weapons early on via the Brotherhood of Steel, after which the game becomes ridiculously easy.
  • You can simply go back to Vault 13 after leaving the map-square with it and re-enter. Double-barreled shotgun, additional stim-packs and medkit don't sound that powerful, but they will allow you to waltz through everything till Hub, providing enough fire-power to drop dead any rider or mutated scum on your way there.
  • On a lesser scale, you can skip Shady Sands, go to Junktown, provoke the doctor into attacking you, and get his bodyguards' shotgun and leather armor - all nice starting bonuses.

Fallout 2
  • There was a much-publicized, non-cheating method of obtaining one of the game's most powerful suits of armor before even reaching the second town of the game. It involved running nigh-naked towards what amounted to the last town, and praying an Enclave patrol didn't show up as a random encounter and slaughter you messily.
  • The first town you visit after you leave the starter village has two traders who could can both be easily murdered with basic weapons and skills and drop lots of loot, neither giving a Karma hit or even turning the townspeople against you. The second is the Enclave base which, if you know where to look for it, can be found at any stage of the game. The mission there gives the player power armor and some of the best weapons in the game. After collecting the equipment the player can complete the mission or return to the California wasteland via the secret entrance and come back to finish it off later. This does however require the player have above average speech skill.
  • Then you go to the NCR, where the first merchant you encounter is very easy to steal from. This allows you to get several pretty good weapons along with the Bozar, one of the game's most powerful weapons, and tons of ammo for everything.

Fallout 3
  • The first two games have a steady armor hierarchy: Leather Armor -> Metal Armor -> Combat Armor -> Power Armor. The exception being the Power Armor, which you can get much earlier than you would expect. Not only will you only be using the Combat Armor for a short period of time prior to getting the Power Armor, but you might even find it beforehand—perhaps even before the Metal Armor.

    Fallout 3 is a different story. The first shop you'll come across (Craterside Supply) offers a steady stream of Leather Armor, however at random intervals they'll have a set of Combat Armor available. The massive Damage Resistance spike makes the early game quests a cakewalk, and you'll be able to repair it by waiting for it to reappear, or by going to Rivet City which sells it in bulk. Expect to use it for pretty much the majority of the game, even when you gain the ability to use Power Armor since it has nearly the same DR but weighs significantly less.
    • And for a Good Karma player, it can appear even earlier. A player that has made the right decisions can have Talon Company attack you not long after you leave the Vault. Said Talon Company members carry their own variant of the Combat Armor that can be taken from their bodies (should you defeat them). Even better, if you prefer the standard Combat Armor, you can use the Talon Company variant to repair it. And, as Talon Company mercs are a recurring encounter, they'll just keep coming.
  • For the melee player in Fallout 3, there's a readily available equivalent to the Disc One Nuke which will see you through the entire game. The Shishkebab, the game's second most powerful melee weapon after the Awesome, but Impractical Jack the Ripper, is crafted from items laying in close proximity of each other in your warm up dungeon (Springvale School), and a schematic obtained from a merchant in easy reach of your first base town or as a quest reward for an early sidequest. The price may be high, but far from unobtainable at that level of the game. Although it doesn't reach its full potential until you get the third, well-hidden schematic and invest in the Pyromaniac perk to boost its damage by 50%, even at suboptimal power it beats the pants off its contemporaries.
  • You can get Powered Armor at any time — but to use it, you need training, which is only available after a story event. However, if you have Operation Anchorage installed, you can complete it straight out of the Vault and are awarded Power Armor Training, as well as a suit of T-51b Power Armor that never degrades (and avoids the Agility penalty of T45-d and Enclave power armors). Alternatively, if you don't like power armor, there is also Chinese Stealth Armor in there, and among the stashed weapons is a Gauss Rifle and Jingwei's Shocksword. Oh, and please put the armor on immediately as Defender Sibley and his mooks will turn on you shortly after.
  • You can complete a quest in Rivet City early on and get a unique Plasma Rifle, with a higher ammo capacity and damage output.
  • The Xuanlong Assault Rifle is a unique Chinese Assault Rifle with boosted damage and an increased magazine size. It can destroy most low-level enemies and remains useful throughout the game. All it takes is completing a somewhat Guide Dang It! unmarked quest to spawn it, which is performed at an early location in the main quest line.
  • With the DLC Broken Steel installed the companion Dogmeat which without the DLC has health around 500, levels with you and starts at 2,500 hp at level 1. Later hits around 15,000 when you hit level 30. Since he's coded to be a higher priority target than the player's character, Dogmeat will draw attackers' attention away from the player character, meaning that enemies will attack a near invincible companion leaving you to attack freely without having them attack you. Dogmeat can be found as soon as the vault is left for the first time.
  • The Alien Blaster is found lying around a location open to the Capital Wasteland. Although the gun is very powerful, its ammo is very limited and it's impossible to obtain more (since it's of extra-terrestrial origin). There are more alien weapons if you download the "Mothership Zeta" expansion. And more power cells, too.
  • It is possible in the game's early stages to make one's way to Evergreen Mills, home of a fairly large band of raiders. There they can pickpocket (or kill) the merchant Smiling Jack to retrieve The Terrible Shotgun. Far from being terrible, it's a unique variant of the Combat Shotgun that deals a whopping 80 damage at full condition and crits surprisingly often, making it ideal for gibbing almost any foe in close quarters. Ammo for it is plentiful, and provided you have good Karma, frequent attacks from Talon Company will give you plenty of regular Combat Shotguns to scrap for repairs.

Fallout: New Vegas
  • At the start of the game, if you go slightly east from Goodsprings to the Yangtze Memorial (you can see it from the Goodsprings cemetery), you can use a shovel to dig up a grave. It has a good chance to randomly spawn some form of mid-level weapon in it, ranging from Plasma Rifles to Incinerators.
  • A short ways north from Goodsprings, (there are Cazadores about, so you'll have to find a way around,) you'll find Chance's grave. Bring a shovel, and you can loot it for Chance's Knife, which is the best melee weapon you can get for a long time.
  • If you successfully pick the lock of the safe found in the Goodsprings Schoolhouse (which is easy if you put enough points into Science or Lockpicking early on) you'll get a free Stealth Boy, which can be used to acquire many of the items on this list with far less difficultly.
  • The Ratslayer, a unique Varmint Rifle with all the mods attached to it, deals more damage than the standard version, and uses the same extremely plentiful ammo. It can be obtained extremely early if you know where to look. The catch? It's in a cave filled with very dangerous Rodents of Unusual Size. (Literally if you have the Wild Wasteland perk.) Getting the Animal Friend perk (requires being at Level 10) will make them non-hostile, allowing you to easily grab the rifle at a relavively low level. Alternatively, you can recruit Boone (see below) nearby who will make short work of the Giant Rats for you. Finally, if all else fails, a careful application of stealth combined with some Save Scumming will also work.
  • Lucky is a unique and particularly powerful .357 revolver with a 2.5x crit multiplier (in Layman's Terms, it critically hits a lot). You can find it in Primm, likely the 2nd settlement the player will visit if following the main quest, if you can manage a buffed 75 lockpicking skill. (Not hard if you put a few points into the skill and collect a few +10 Lockpicking magazines, which have a chance to randomly spawn in the Goodsprings and Primm mailboxes.)
  • There are two companions available very early in the game who will absolutely nuke the first half of the game, especially if used together. To note:
    • Boone - He can be recruited as a companion after his relatively easy quest and will make the trip to New Vegas absurdly easy if picked up during the player's first trip to Novac. His default Hunting Rifle is a nuke in itself early in the game and his Guns stat is maxed out, meaning that he'll kill many enemies with a headshot before you even realize you're under attack.
    • ED-E - Normally, you need a Repair skill or Science skill much higher than you'll reasonably have during your first trip to Primm to acquire ED-E as a companion. However, you can also gather a few common junk items (sensor module, scrap electronics, and scrap metal) to repair him regardless of your skills. (You can find everything but the scrap metal at the Lone Wolf Radio trailer if you go off-road to the west between Goodsprings and Primm.)note  Since ED-E does not count as a human companion, you can pair him with Boone and proceed to trash the rest of the first half of the game. In particular, ED-E's maxed out Perception will allow you to notice faraway enemies, who Boone will then blow away.
  • The Space Suit and Helmet you find at the REPCONN Test Facility is Disc One Nuke Armor. It has decent defense, is a Light-type armor (which means no stat penalty for wearing it,) and has the added bonus of having as much Rad Resistance on it as an Advanced Radiation Suit. YMMV on whether it looks ridiculous or awesome, but either way, it's effective.
  • "This Machine", an M1 Garand Rifle that deals incredible damage, has a semi automatic firing rate, has a larger clip size than any other rifle (save the Marksman's Carbine), and reloads very quickly. With a decent Science skill, you can get it right before making it to Outer Vegas.
  • Bonnie Springs is host to a small group of Viper gang members, one of which has the unique spiked knuckles "Love and Hate." Pushy and the Ballistic Fist are the only vanilla unarmed weapons with a higher DPS.
  • The Q-35 Matter Modulator, one of the best energy weapons in the game, can be found at the REPCONN Headquarters not too far from Boulder City on your way through the first main quest. It's also found alongside a lot of ammo for it, there are no skill requirements to find it, and the building is so small you can be in and out in five minutes with weapon in hand.
  • North of Nipton, you can find a dead Bright Brotherhood ghoul. If you're lucky, you can get a Plasma Defender, a small, light energy pistol that's faster and almost as powerful as a plasma rifle while using ammo that costs half as much. There are also Bright Brotherhood follower corpses found in several places accessible early in the game, such as in Goodsprings Cave and under the bridge near Sloan. Besides Plasma Defenders, they can also be carrying the Laser RCW, which is basically an energy tommy gun with good damage and low spread for a machine gun. Its ammo type (Electron Charge Packs) are someone scarce at early levels, unfortunately.
  • In Camp Searchlight, you can pick up Knock-Knock, a unique Fire Axe which, when used in Vats, has a 50% chance of knocking foes down. If you know where to look, have Stealth Boys, and have anti-radiation meds, you can pick it up as early as level 2.
  • Obtaining 50 bottles of Sunset Sarsaparilla, Save Scumming after drinking one until you get a Blue Star Cap, and repeating until they are all star caps gets you Pew Pew, a laser pistol that hits like a shotgun and does about four times the regular laser pistol's damage. If you have high Energy Weapons, this gun will carry you until the end of the game. The save scumming isn't even all that necessary. There are one hundred star caps out in locations scattered throughout the wastes, sometimes they have three or more star caps in the same location. You can kill three NPCs early in the game to get an additional fifteen of the fifty required caps. Add that to the sarsaparilla you normally drink to regain health and you have thirty or forty caps by the time you can actually claim the weapon without trying.
  • You can steal the various weapons in the Van Graff store by dragging it to the toilet and then pocket them there. Among them is a Plasma Caster, a Gatling Laser, and a Plasma Defender.
  • With judicious tailoring of your character, use of stuff given or found in Goodsprings, and the right perks to max out your Lockpick, you can obtain the Gobi Campaign Rifle at level 4. Of course, you'll be at least level 7 before you can fire it without penalty, but it is an end-game level weapon.
  • The Reinforced Combat Armor can be found in Walking Box Cavern, just off the road to Novac. The only trouble is that the cavern is inhabited by a pack of Nightstalkers, which can quickly do in a low-level player.
  • For Survival/Hardcore Mode players, the most powerful healing item in the game, Desert Salad, is amazingly easy to craft; even the relatively rare Pinyon Nuts (as compared to the absurdly easy to find Barrel Cactus Fruit and Brahmin Steak) are sold by most vendors, and there are a couple of places where they're guaranteed to be found very early in the game. At a minimum of 14 HP restored per second by the time you have the 55 Survival required to craft it, it makes the more difficult enemies cited in other examples of this trope much easier to weather.
  • The Cowboy perk, available at level 8, gives a large bonus when using any weapon traditionally associated with the old west, but most notably, lever-action weapons and revolvers. These weapon types are everywhere early the game making this a very worthwhile perk, but two examples reach full-blown Nuke status:
    • The Lever-Action Shotgun. Easily found early in the game, plentiful ammo, and has a relatively quick reload speed for a shotgun. The first enemies you come across in normal game play that this gun cannot handle are Cazadores and large groups of Legionaries. (If you invest in the Shotgun Surgeon perk, it can continue to dominate even into the mid-game.)
    • "That Gun," a unique 5.56mm revolver can be found in the shop in Novac, one of the earliest settlements visited during the main quest. When the owner goes to sleep at night, pick the (Very Easy) lock on the backroom and take it. It's a nice enough gun even on it's own, with everybody and their mother selling 5.56mm ammo that early, but it gets an additional boost with the Cowboy perk and is also one of the only pistols that can use armor-piercing ammo. It will dominate early and can last deep into the game as your sidearm.
  • With the Gun Runner's Arsenal DLC, the 5.56mm Pistol, a slightly diminished version of That Gun, can be purchased at the Mojave Outpost.
  • While it requires you to go out of your way a bit, it can be done immediately at the start of the game if you don't mind a bit of a hike. North of New Vegas, on the Horowitz Farmstead, a hunting shotgun can be found in the bed of a pickup truck outside the barn with 3-4 Vipers in it. It is badly damaged, but it's one of the most powerful shotguns in the game, and normally won't start appearing in shops or as loot for quite a while.
  • Although in poor condition, and you have to fight a number of Fire Geckos to reach it, a Fat Man can be found in a crater to the southeast of Searchlight, and (unless you have the Wild Wasteland trait) three Mini-Nukes are present in the eastern church basement in Searchlight itself.
  • For all your chainsaw knife needs, just make your way to the Monte Carlo Suites and take out the weak Scorpion gang members there. One will always carry a Ripper, which ignores armor and quickly makes a mess of most enemies that want to get into melee range—it can actually provide some protection against Cazadores especially, since it mangles their fragile wings very easily. Alternatively, you can kill Vulpes Inculta in Nipton to get one really early on.
  • Couriers with focus on unarmed combat should try sneaking around in Boulder City or its ruins—you'll quickly come across a set of spiked knuckles, an improved version of the basic brass knuckles, as well as a Power Fist. Both of these can be quickly acquired without needing much in the way of skills and can be repaired at the Mojave Outpost if necessary.
  • Each Expansion Pack offers the opportunity to acquire a "nuke" (or ten,) largely because they can be accessed as soon as the Courier leaves Goodsprings. To note:
    • Dead Money. It's extremely difficult to complete on any level below 25, but not impossible if you're patient/lucky enough. It's possible to haul out over 100,000 caps, tons of experience, several new and powerful perks, quality armor, and some great weapons with ammo for each. Old World Blues offers similar but still-difficult opportunities.
    • Honest Hearts might be the easiest of the expansions to complete for a low level player, but has no shortage of "nuke" class equipment to pick up. In particular are the .45 Auto handguns which are plentiful in the region. There is a (dirt cheap) Silencer mod for them which will be extremely useful to a sneaky player. It doesn't come with the bonus critical chance of the .22 Silenced pistol, but it packs a much bigger punch on it's own.
    • Lonesome Road:
      • Obviously you won't be getting very far into it at a low level, but unlike the other DLCs you can enter The Divide and return to the Mojave any time you like. The first area you explore in it actually doesn't have any enemies in it until you get a fair ways in, and in the meantime you can find rather impressive equipment lying around, including the Arc Welder, H&H Nail Gun, the Industrial Hand, the first upgrade for ED-E. And if you can scrounge up 6000 caps worth of goods to trade (easily done if you don't want to keep those weapons), you can also pick up the Riot Gear, which has stats equivalent to Mark II Combat Armor.
      • It also adds Satchel charges, a placed explosive as damaging as the extremely rare and expensive C-4 charges; strong enough to take off the majority of even a max-level Courier's health. Though only moderately useful in the DLC itself, just having Lonesome Road installed allows craft them in the main game immediately. It requires no schematic or perk, just 25 Explosives skill and a few parts you can find lying around everywhere (lead and pistol powder you can find from the most common ammo, scrap electronics, and a sensor module) and you have something that can kill most things up to mid-game, often several times over.

Fallout Tactics

  • It is possible to get some weapons early. You just need some poisons or drugs. You can try to get the brotherhood bunker encounter and kill the 2 guards using poison or drug overdose and get their miniguns, or poison the merchant and his guards to get Pancor Jackhammers and the Browning machine gun (though good chance you are not strong enough to use it yet, and ammo is rather scarce early game). If you get one of the merchant encounter, you can get EMP shotgun shells as well which let you easily bust the turrets in Preoria mission, along with a FN FAL rifle. If you get the Radscorpions fighting civilians encounter early enough and let the civilians die (which is easy, because they're fighting the Radscorpions with their bare hands) and loot the corpses, you'll find out that at least one of the civilians was carrying a Combat Shotgun.
  • You can also use the gambling bug: Bet nothing for the merchant's entire inventory, click on gamble repeatedly, and after 1-2 minutes, you'll suddenly have his entire inventory...

Fallout 4
  • Numerous examples can be found within the first few hours of game play if the player knows where to look or, thanks to addition of Legendary enemies dropping Legendary weapons and armor, gets very lucky. And thanks to the removal of skills, the player can use any weapon they have without any penalties as long as they have the right ammo (though the right perks do help).
  • Power Armor. You acquire a suit for free during the very first story mission, and there are very few early-game enemies which will be serious threats to you even in basic, non-upgraded power armor. Unfortunately, its use is limited as the Power Armor runs on fusion cores, which are fairly rare in the early going. However, companions don't use up fusion cores while wearing Power Armor. (One is required for them to get into the Power Armor, but it will not drain while they use it.) By putting one of your humanoid companions into Power Armor and letting them handle most of the fighting, you can easily nuke your way through the first several hours of gameplay.
  • A Fat Man can be found at the Robotics Disposal Ground, and a mini nuke can be found at the USAF Station Olivia, both only a very short jog northeast of Sanctuary. (You can even program the Sentry Bot at the disposal ground to clear the Raiders outdoors at Olivia, making it easier.) These can be found in several other early-game locations as well, and have a chance to spawn on Raiders if the player is very lucky.
  • The Laser Musket that you get at Concord, the second town you'll visit if following the main quest, is lying on the ground by a fallen Minuteman. This weapon can be charged with extra ammunition, allowing it to deal incredible amounts of damage at the start of the game. It can also be upgraded with better mods at lower levels of the Gun Nut and Science! perks than more standard laser weapons. It will eventually become outclassed, even with upgrades, but will get you through the early parts of the game quite easily.
  • Justice, a unique variant of the Combat Shotgun that causes staggering, can be purchased in Covenant, which requires only a short side-trip to reach after Concord. Normally, legendary items available for purchase are too cost prohibitive for low level players, but for quest related reasons, the merchants in Covenant are selling at an incredible loss, meaning you only need to scrape up about 1000-1500 caps to purchase it (depending on Charisma and perks.) As a bonus, it comes with several mods already in place that a low-level character will be unable to craft for some time, adding to its usefulness.
  • The Shishkebab, a Flaming Sword melee weapon, can be obtained at low level by a settlement quest, though it requires you to fight through The Forged and their boss who is in power armor.
  • It requires a good amount of bottlecaps (a little over 2,000) to buy it, but the "Spray & Pray" .45 submachine gun that Cricket sells is an absolute beast, featuring the devastating exploding bullets perk long before you're meant to have access to it. The result? A ridiculously powerful and relatively cheap-to-feed weapon that has all but the strongest enemies going down within half a magazine's worth of ammo... And even those usually won't survive getting the full mag. Add on a few of the stackable Commando perks, and the only challenge you'll face from baddies is from the ones who are too far away to easily pick off.
  • A quest you can obtain relatively early on sends you to investigate Pickman's Gallery near the southern outskirts of Boston. It is only guarded by a few low-level raiders, and if you can fight through the raiders in the gallery itself and rescue Pickman, he rewards you with a key to his safe, which contains Pickman's Blade, a fully upgraded combat knife with the Stealth Blade mod and the Wounding effect, which allows it to deal an absurd amount of damage as well as an extra 25% bleeding damage per strike.
  • You can get an almost full set of Heavy Combat Armor (which normally does not start to appear until you are around level 30) anytime by killing the Gunner boss Captain Bridget in Hub City Auto Wreckers. Because of the enemies with Missile Launchers and Fat Men occupying the highway overpass, including the boss, as well as multiple mines and traps, this is very difficult to pull off at a low level but quite rewarding.
  • If you can survive the quest that you can easily come across while exploring Cambridge and introduces you to the Brotherhood of Steel and the Institute, Paladin Danse rewards you with the Righteous Authority, an incendiary scoped laser rifle that uses cheap and very common ammo. As its big trick is doing double critical damage, and your crit meter is filled with every successful VATS attack, modifying it for the lightest weight possible (a relatively cheap and easy proposition) will maximize its utility such that for an Energy Weapons user, it might well be the only weapon you ever need.
  • Downplayed with the Cryolator in Vault 111, as you cannot obtain the lockpick skills required to open it's case until you're at a fairly high level. Although you can ask Cait to do the job for you instead. Or you return to the vault once you have a dog companion and ask him to fetch the weapon. Being a good dog, he will.
  • Really though, if you are lucky enough any Legendary weapon or armor that just so happens to suit your playstyle has the potential to be this, as Legendary enemies spawn randomly and it is possible to encounter one right after exiting Vault 111.
  • The Overseer's Guardian, a unique two-shot combat rifle with a night vision scope, can be purchased early on in Vault 81 for the relatively low price of 1230 caps.
  • A short trip east of Diamond City is Hubris Comics, where you find Grognak's Axe, which causes bleed damage and increased stagger, and has an unusually low AP cost for a two-handed melee weapon.
  • The Ashmaker is a Legendary Minigun which does extra incendiary damage and can be acquired fairly early, simply attach the Shredder and Accelerated Barrel modifications and you can now grind everything fruitless with it. The only things stopping it from becoming a flat out Game-Breaker is the absurd need for sheer amount of 5mm ammo as well as its weight.
  • The first Railroad quest, "Tradecraft", earns you the Deliverer, a unique James Bond-inspired suppressed 10mm pistol that outperforms all other comparably modded 10mm pistols, along with increased VATS hit chance and low AP cost.
    • Finishing "Tradecraft" and agreeing to run missions for Dr. Carrington will net you a Combat Rifle modded with a .308 Receiver, suppressor, and night-vision scope, all of which require Level 39 and Gun Nut 4 to build.
  • If you can afford it, buying General Chao's Revenge (a unique serrated Chinese Officer's Sword) from Trudy can be one of the best early weapons you ever got, in addition to letting you cut most foes to ribbons in just a few swings, it can inflict 50% more damage on robot foes, which allows you to make short work of even some of the toughest robotic foes (like Sentry Bots) with just a few well-timed swings. Just remember to run like hell before they explode in your face.