Carl's Fallout 4 Guide
for PC, Xbox One, and PS4

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Fallout 4 Critical Hits

How they Work, Damage Formula, and Crit Meter Fill by Luck

A Critical Hit in Fallout 4. This time, the player is in control of when to use them and it becomes a part of the gameplay strategy. Killing blows with them tend to lead to violent deaths, maybe even a 10mm round throwing a poor Raider into the ceiling.

Critical Hits in Fallout 4 are player-controlled, tactical opportunities that come from using V.A.T.S.. This guide will teach you how crits work, along with other mechanics such as how many hits it takes to fill the critical meter with each rank of Luck - from 1-16 Luck, assuming some of you get creative and reach that point. This may help you to decide when to stop taking extra luck, as there are other means of influencing the stat, while you can also get a base of 11 by waiting until 10 to get the Luck Bobblehead, among other means to go toward 20 which are mentioned below.

How Criticals Work & Using Them

Crippling a deathclaw's head with a critical hit in Fallout 4 Critical Hits are good to cripple opponents' limbs, giving you a minor advantage in combat. Of course, taking out this Deathclaw's leg might have been a better idea. They can smell you.

Filling the Meter
While using VATS - melee or ranged - there is a meter at the bottom of the screen. As you fire or swing on an opponent, the meter will fill. Once full, press the jump button just before the next attack and you'll execute a critical hit, which will land no matter what chance was displayed (ranged). So long as it's 1%, you can use the Critical Hit for full damage, even at extreme distances. The rate that crits fill up is independent of the speed or type of the weapon, or whether it's a standard pistol, automatic shotgun, sniper rifle, or super sledge. These more powerful and slower weapons cost more to fire in VATS, but deliver more powerful critical hits assuming the base damage is higher.

How many Hits to Fill the Meter with X Luck

Raising luck lets your character use critical hits more often. Want to use Critical Hits more often? Raise Luck. Here's how many hits it takes to Crit per rank of Luck:
LuckHits to Fill MeterLuckHits to Fill Meter

... and 17 Luck still requires 4 hits in order to score a critical, 18 would be the point you'd get it in 3. Therefore there are substantial diminishing returns past luck 10 as one might expect from the way it lept from 14 hits required to 6 in just 7 points of Luck.

How to Use this Information
If you're thinking going past certain ranks is pointless, realize there is a perk called Critical Banker, which will let you continue to fill the meter and stock up to 3 crits - overflow counts, so that means you're able to fill 2 crit meters with rank 15 luck and 7 shots - not 8.

Critical Banker is great for a high-luck build that relies heavily on crits in Fallout 4, just don't forget Better Criticals Note the stars? When all 3 are full, plus the critical meter, you can execute 4 crits in a row with Critical Banker, a Luck Perk. Don't take this Perk without also taking Better Criticals!!

Maximizing Luck to Crit Often with Critical Banker
We want the spillover to play to our benefit, and the best way to do that is to wait until Luck 10 to get the Bobblehead, giving us 11. You can then take Party Boy (a Charisma Perk) to get +3 Luck while under the effects of alcohol, while simultaneously never being addicted to it. So we have 14 there. One magazine named Live and Love from Revere Beach Station will give you +1 when drinking with a Companion (Dogmeat doesn't count as a drinking buddy). So there's 15. (Thanks Henry!) Additionally, you can find legendary armor with mods to give you luck and go beyond this!. With 'Lucky' gear it's theoretically doable to get past 20 Luck, possibly even 23 total.

Criticals are guaranteed hits, so long as you have 1% chance and can target them. Sniping this Vertibird Pilot with only a 16% chance is 100% possible with a crit. They don't fly themselves, so that's a win for the.. well, no one really.

Using Criticals Well
For average play, you can target 'sure hits' - close or easy targets - at 95%, and fire one less than you need to crit based on the table above, then target the last shot at a weak point such as the head of a human or belly of a deathclaw (requires minimum 1% chance to target). You can then fire your salvo and use the crit on the last shot. You can use this crit on an entirely different target, or switch weapons after you've built the meter to fire at a distant target and eliminate a threat. Remember - a 1% chance is a guaranteed critical if you use the meter. The Penetrator Perk makes this exceptionally easy to accomplish. Enemies' own body parts will not block those you are targeting, nor will the cover that they cower behind.

Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits: Do they Stack?
In my testing, I found sneak attacks and critical hits are not multiplied together. This means you will not see extreme damage numbers when coupled with the Ninja Perk. However, so long as you are hidden, you can use other mechanics to your favor. You may miss with a sneak attack, but make it a critical and you're able to guarantee the sneak attack works, allowing you 2x more damage being added to your critical. Click here to learn more about stealth and sneak attacks.

Another Critical Source - Making Overdrive

Overdrive is a drug that lets you critical hit 25% of the time and do extra damage for 8 minutes in Fallout 4 Overdrive is one of the best drugs in Fallout 4, and only takes one rank in Chemist. This wonderful chem gives you +25% Crit chance in and out of VATS!

There is a drug that requires Rank 1 of the Chemist Perk to create, and I've never actually found it in-game. This is the only way that I know of to score critical hits outside VATS. It requires Nuka Cola, Acid, and Psycho to make Overdrive. It's an unique drug with its own mild addiction that gives you a 25% chance to crit and +25% extra damage for 8 minutes, enough to clear a building. Sick! In my testing of this wonderful 'product', I found that it tells you when you crit, and the crits deal every bit as much damage - it just relies on you aiming at a weak point manually in order to be as effective as a VATS crit.

Crit Damage Formula

A critical hit plus sneak attack combo in Fallout 4 Critical hits are not multiplied by sneak attacks; they are added together. This means you don't get insane damage numbers by doing both at once, but you CAN guarantee a sneak attack will hit and do the additional critical hit damage.

Please note all info below is before taking damage resistance into consideration, which in some cases will greatly reduce the damage taken and make it look like you've done far less than stated here. The higher the damage, the more is taken off by DR. Additionally, playing on Survival Difficulty will result in this new damage being cut in half. Additionally, when saying 'base' damage below, it is without Perks. Someone with Gunslinger at Rank 5 would do 12.5x the damage they see in Pip boy with certain mods, while a person with 0 ranks would reach the high numbers stated here - but the person with Gunslinger would be doing more damage as they're multiplying a higher number.

Critical hit damage is typically the base damage (with mods included) plus the weapon's damage you see in the Pip Boy (with perks included). What follows is an equation of (base damage (with mods) + weapon with mods AND Perks) x multiplier. Multipliers are additive - the base is 1x, so you'd only hit double damage without any perks. If you have Commando or Gunslinger at 100% damage bonus, this means you can go from hitting double damage to triple damage with a crit (the modded factor is doubled hence 3x.). Where it gets more complex are the weapon type bobbleheads that add 25% damage. With them, you'll do almost 4x normal damage (3.75).

Maximizing Critical Damage (Warning: Math!)

If you take the weapon mods that say they add to critical hit damage (improved crit damage), you get a 2x multiplier added on top of the base of 1. So you could get 2 x 3.25 without gunslinger and deal 7.75x the weapon's base damage, or 10.25x damage with gunslinger/commando factored into the equation. A high luck build could therefore make a very powerful sniper rifle focused on crits (with Rifleman) and deal insane damage even at great distances with low hit chances. This modification is available on most types of rifles/pistols, including energy weapons.

Complete some quests for the Brotherhood early on and you'll get this great weapon - Righteous Authority. When upgraded for more damage and stronger criticals, it can last you to Fallout 4's end game and play a pivotal role in your build.

The Photon Agitator addon for regular and institute laser rifles/pistols gives a 4x modifier, while also increasing the weapon's base damage. This can lead to some crazy crits that deal up to 3 x 5.25 damage for over 15x the weapon's base damage. So it may be even better than a normal sniper rifle for crits, though it would take a lot of AP to fill the meter. Use Righteous Authority - a unique weapon from working with the Brotherhood early on, which is basically a laser pistol with Lucky Weapon mod - and upgrade it later into a supercharged killing machine with 15% faster crit meter fill and another 2x on the damage multiplier - should get you at least 21x damage.

Another idea is the Two Shot Rifle of any kind. You can use this to deliver big criticals, although there's nothing on par with the Photon Agitator. I assume the Better Criticals there will give you 2x multiplier like the laser weapon variety.

Better Criticals & Bloody Mess
Finally, I'll mention these two. Bloody Mess can add to the weapon's perk damage in the formula, while Better Criticals adds 0.5 per rank. Remember, the multiplier is additive. So, with our photon agitator delivering an extra 4x to the base of 1x (5x), better criticals adding 1.5x, (6.5x) and Rifleman doubling our damage with all types of rifles we would see 3x 6.5 or 19.5x damage - 25x damage with a weapon like Righteous Authority - it comes out to 12.75x the damage you see in pip boy. With Bloody Mess it would be 3.15 x 8.5 for 27x damage with Righteous Authority or any weapon with the Lucky Weapon Modifier. However, many players don't care for Bloody Mess, and I'm one of them.

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Share Tips and FAQs (6)

Great guide! Im curious how automatic weapons work with crits. The gatling laser should be amazing with crits, but critting seems to very frequently break vats, maybe because the shot becomes blocked, or the enemy moves. It seems like the game tries to "save" you crits by avoiding blocked shots, but in practice the gatling laser seems to do more damage without crits, and mostly wastes crits halfway through firing!
23rd May 2016 6:31pm
honey crisis
your shots are probably getting blocked.

get the penetrator perk. it will make crits go through barriers and even other enemies. i routinely kill two enemies with one bullet with this perk. just make sure to crit the one behind the extra baddy you want to kill. also penetrator as i understand it, doesn't necessarily work with energy weapons, but my experience has told me it does, at least with the gamma gun. i don't use lasers or plasma because they aren't effective for my builds so i haven't checked for myself how they work with penetrator.

a nice benefit is sentries become very easy to kill with this perk - just aim for the fusion cores - you can shoot them right through a sentry's torso without waiting for their cool down, making them vulnerable even to deliverer.
3rd May 2018 10:42am
I think this article is bad written, sorry :) (especially last part).

I can't understand exact formula for best crit setup.
You should give us example equation with better criticals, photo Agitator and most important head shot multiplayer.
but thanks for it anyways... :)
29th June 2017 8:00am
So critical hits are useless if you don't use VATS? I never use it, prefer to just play the game like a shooter. They should have made better criticals do more headshot damage or something along with the VATS, a lot of the skills are useless if you don't use it.
10th August 2017 6:43pm
honey crisis
aaron, criticals still work outside of VATs but not as reliably.

if you want crits without VATs and banker, you'll have to play like the old games did.

a lot of perks are VATs only. This was also true of FO3.

if you want more crits while not using VATs, keep overdrive chems around.
3rd May 2018 10:38am
honey crisis
crit guide is fairly correct but there are other ways to stack damage multipliers and increase damage output that give you more.

Junkie weapons + Inquisitor of atom perk + rads for example.

when paired with the robes of atom's devoted you can have full health, full rads, and do double damage with all weapons.

a junkie weapon + several addictions can boost damage too.

with all the right perks, including using Far Harbor and Nuka World, i can get even the junkie's tire iron to do 810 base damage per swing non-critical on Very Hard, and the build is viable despite being armorless because nothing lives long enough to do serious damage to you. it does however, mean avoiding drugs, and instead using sludgepacks for AP, DR or strength boosts.
3rd May 2018 10:35am
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Far Harbor DLC Guides

See my Far Harbor Guide for new features in the DLC. There, you can also watch the trailer and view new weapons that can be found. The area is massive, so we can expect plenty of quests and exploration in a foggy, rugged area with new and challenging creatures to battle.

Pleae note there are different endings for this DLC, something we all wanted! It's like the actual end-game of FO4 in that you can choose the outcome.

Islander's Almanac Magazine Locations
Far From Home: Quest 1
Walk in the Park: Quest 2
Where you Belong: Quest 3
Best Left Forgotten: Quest 4
Ware's Brew Quest New
The Striker New

Automatron Guides & Walkthrough

The final quest Restoring Order (Mechanist Fight/Options) is now available. I've also released a page that describes Getting Started in Automatron to accompany the main page about the DLC. This covers how to make the Robot Workbench to begin making your own Automatrons, and walks you through the first two quests while providing some tips for fighting the Mechanist's creations. Quest 3 Walkthrough: Headhunting is also live on the site.

Robots in Automatron New
Mechanist's Lair, Eyebots, and Rogue Robots covers what happens after the Mechanist story is complete.

Perks & Bobbleheads

Now that I've written about all Perks in Fallout 4, I've put them all in a list, with how they work, what you can expect, and my own opinions on them. Hope this is handy! I've also compiled map shots of all Bobblehead Locations in the game. You can choose to explore the locations on your own or read descriptions for those I've taken notes about.

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