Ready to get down to the nitty-gritty of life after nuclear war? Learn more about what awaits you in the Capital Wasteland.
Combat: The VATS System
Any time there's any enemy nearby that you'd have a chance to hit, you can hit a button to bring up the Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System. Here you'll spend Action Points (see the AP meter on the lower right of the screen) to queue up attacks on different parts of the enemy's body. The percentages show the chances of hitting and doing damage, while the meter above that number indicates how close you are to crippling that body part.
Most of the time you'll get to choose between left and right arm, left and right leg, torso, and head. Some enemies, like ants and eyebots, have other parts. You'll want to experiment with crippling parts of enemies to discover unexpected effects. Take out an ant's antennae, for instance, and it'll turn on any of its friends that happen to be nearby.
Keep in mind that the crippling system cuts both ways: if an enemy missile cripples both your legs, you'll have a hell of a time making a run for it. Keep plenty of stimpaks and other healing goodies handy so you can clean up your wounds in a hurry.
Also, though VATS is the cornerstone of effective combat, remember that you can continue to fire in real-time while you wait for your Action Points to recharge. If you're stuck facing a particularly nasty opponent, and are near a door that triggers a load screen, you can always take the cheesy way out and hop on through while you recharge, since enemies won't follow you through those doors. When you're ready, charge back in and finish the wet-work.
Day and Night
Though your Sneak skill affects the general level of stealth of which you are capable, ambient light levels also drastically affect how likely you are to be detected by any nearby hostiles. It's tempting to leave your Pip-Boy 3000 light on at all times when it gets dark, but nothing screams "shoot me" like the glow from an aging wristwatch gadget.