No VATS power armor heavy gunner

A Fallout 76 Build by Yorm.


Author: Yorm
Votes: +10 (100% positiv)
Created: May 12, 2020 at 7:08 pm
Updated: September 19, 2020 at 8:41 am
Planner: ⚙ Open in Build Planner

Screenshot by LunarZer0

1. Introduction

The build was designed to endure a lot and heal back quickly, while fully utilizing heavy weaponry.

Permanent power armor. You need it for the key heavy gun perk, and extra passive damage reduction helps.

No VATS. I’ve managed to drain a full fusion core in under 5 minutes while using VATS in power armor, and some people just don’t like it to begin with, so why not ignore VATS completely.

No stealth.

If you want a different approach, I highly recommend looking at Lady Death build, which is the exact opposite (permanent stealth, permanent VATS, no power armor), and works with rifles/full-auto rifles/bows by simply swapping the relevant damage and penetration perks.

2. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and perks

Strength. Blocker is here to mitigate heavy damage spikes that may come from melee; replace with Bear Arms / Bandolier / Travelling Pharmacy as needed.

Perception. Dump stat, serves no benefit outside VATS. 3 points are here for lockpicking, but I never found anything particularly useful in safes, and swapping in lockpicking all the time gets on your nerves quickly, so feel free to reduce it unless this is your only/primary character. Get Green Thumb if you want a garden in your camp. If using explosives, swap Glow Sight for Grenadier + one rank of Fire In The Hole.

Endurance. Fireproof serves the same role as Blocker, mitigating rare yet potentially very nasty damage spikes, while high hp in general synergizes with our healing perks, boosting stimpak heal rates.

Charisma when solo. Lone Wanderer is a no-brainer for damage reduction, while Field Surgeon is a 67% boost to stim heal rate. Slot in Suppressor and Tenderizer (full ranks or rank 1s) when you want more offense/teamplay, and Hard Bargain for trading.

Charisma when always grouped. Reduce to 3, move those points to strength for weight reduction. Take Legendary Charisma (+2 at cheap rank 2, +5 when maxed). Field Surgeon and Suppressor by default, Inspirational when grinding for the season. As you get more charisma from the legendary, consider Strange in Numbers, then replace it with Tenderizer. Generally look at what your team shares and adjust.

Intelligence. Your primary stat. Gunsmith should stay slotted, as guns break fast, but feel free to swap it for Demolition Expert once in a while if explosives are called for. Power User generally makes the difference between having surplus cores and having to sometimes farm/buy them; you may swap it out to free out those points, or change to Batteries Included if using the Gauss minigun. Remember to have Chemist, Power Smith, Contractor, Fix It Good, Weapon Artisan, etc, and slot them in for crafting and repairs.

Agility. Another dump stat, 2 points is a must for Ammosmith, while 3 are nice to have for Home Defense rank 3 (missile turrets). Adrenaline is very front-loaded, and hard to keep up in fights that matter, so extra points provide little benefit.

Luck. If you know what you’re doing, you can drop Class Freak and move those points. Slot in Super Duper when crafting.

3. Alternative S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

You could reduce Endurance, or drop 2 points in Perception and 1 point in Agility as described above, drop Class Freak or Power User. Options:

a) 3 points into Strength, for melee (suboptimal without mutation, but more than adequate, especially for the daily routine if you struggle with ammo), or to slot more weight-reduction perks;

b) 3 more points in Perception for Skeet Shooter. Makes you pretty good with shotguns, and allows some VATS usage. Could be helpful if you go around your daily routine without PA, or if you like the gauss shotgun;

c) 3 points into Charisma, because you actually have friends to play with. Lots of options here.

4. Mutations

Marsupial (for jump height), Speed demon and Scaly skin are must-haves.

Adrenal, Grounded and Healing factor are highly recommended, yet depend on your preferences and whether you kept Class Freak.

Herbivore (if you like your CAMP) or Carnivore (if you eat what you loot) generally make life easier. They only affect hunger, you can still get buffs and water from “blocked” food.

5. Legendary perks

This is not tested, leaving thoughts here as suggestions.

I. Taking One For The Team – must have unless you’re solo. You will be taking damage, whole point of the build.

II. What Rads? – major quality of life improvement, even at 1 point, although not strictly necessary.

III. Master Infiltrator – this one’s a love or hate card. Bad design, you can get the benefit by perk swapping with an addon, and there’s no combat benefit – but hey, you no longer need to worry about lockpicking or hacking perks even at base rank…

It’s trickier with the other 3 slots.

Legendary Charisma – strongly recommend if perma-grouped, see above.

Far-Flung Fireworks – not recommended despite being a damage perk, low and unreliable damage.

Power Armor Reboot – not recommended, as it is unreliable, with a low chance, and if you went down you usually just did smth wrong in the first place.

Ammo Factory – well, if it tips the scales enough so that you no longer run out of gauss ammo for encounters that matter, it may be considered a significant damage boost and may be worth taking.

Funky Duds – poison damage is rare, and this build can outheal it easily, but could be useful, especially if poison damage becomes more common.

Legendary STR/END/INT/LCK – reduce the stat by the amount of points you get, move 2 to Agility for 5-point Adrenaline, and 3 to Charisma. You’ll eventually be able to share 3-point perks, and there’s a lot of choice in Charisma (Bodyguards is always ok, Team Medic works wonders with this build, plus all the abovementioned).

Legendary Endurance – some more health, Chem Fiend + Chem Resistant.

6. Equipment

Armor-wise, you really want to stick to permanent power armor. Strangely, it is actually cheaper to repair than normal armor, as it does not require ballistic fiber (the only material in the game that cannot really be farmed). Remember to grab a collectron station with those challenge atoms and set it to scrap, as the collectron will grab ultracite and black titanium scrap occasionally.

T-60 is easy to repair and has BoS paints available, T-65 (secret service one) has best stats. You get full ultracite set after Belly of the beast quest (you will see a “frame”, it’s actually a full armor set), full blueprints for ultracite on Taggerdy’s terminal after the quest, full blueprints for X-01 on an archival terminal in the command wing of Whitespring bunker. Do with it what you will.


Weapon-wise, start with melee and shotguns, then try to grab a gatling gun blueprint as soon as you hit 20 (sold in Watoga, any high-level friend can bring you there or craft one for you easily) – it does make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still want to use shotguns/melee/whatever the game throws at you while levelling, as heavy weapon perks come late.

Gatling gun is your everyday go-to, as it offers relatively high accuracy and per-shot damage on a cheap round. The 50 cal you get at the end of Beckett’s questline is also pretty good. Forget about the minigun. As for the rest, try them and decide for yourself.

If using explosives, get dynamite and dynamite bundle plans (raider gold vendor), those are noticeably cheaper to craft than alternatives, and the bundle has pretty impressive radius.


Remember, proper 1-star > random 3-star.

Anti-armor, given how the armor curve works, is in theory a flat 20% damage bonus as compared to not having it. This is your go-to for everyday use.

Furious, given how the armor curve works, can actually more than double your effective damage once it ramps up. If it doesn’t glitch out, which still happens. This is your pick against bosses.

Bloodied and Junkie’s can be used if you know what you’re doing.

Quad on a harpoon gun with flechette mod makes for an awesome shotgun.

10% more damage when aiming, 25% faster fire rate and explosive are all solid secondary options. Explosive is the better pick for everyday use, as it gives you extra aoe rolls for One Gun Army.


Psychobuff is your chem of choice, boosting both damage and hp.

7. Q&A

Q1: Which perks do I choose at which level?

A1: See suggestion below in comments. If this is your 2nd character, move Power Smith and the like to the end of the line, as you can do the necessary crafting on the primary character.

Q2: I can’t stand the gatling gun, it blocks vision and dps is lower than I’d like.

A2: Try firing it in 3rd person view. If you don’t like it, no problem – 50 cal (especially Final Word) is the 2nd choice for an everyday weapon. It’s an all-rounder, that doesn’t excel at anything, but also doesn’t have any pronounced flaws, and is easy to use: clear vision, no recoil pull, no spin-up, reasonably cheap ammo.

Q3: I keep running out of ammo, help!

A3: Multiple options here.

1. Try quad flechette harpoon (you recover more ammo from corpses than you use, but it breaks fast) and gatling plasma (cores need nuclear material and copper, but little conventional mats). This should be enough.

2. Max raider reputation for the ammo machine.

3. Run daily ops with a team, stay when it’s finished and loot every corpse. Just remember to use the weapon you need and not spray and pray too much.

4. Equip Excavator power armor and farm out Lucky Hole mine every now and then.

5. Use the workshop at Converted Munitions Factory.

6. A second character using a build like Lady Death, or stealth melee, will need next to no ammo and can sponsor this one.

7. If all else fails, you can buy ammo from other players’ vending machines for caps.

Q4: Now that Wastelanders introduced craftable legendary weapons (Gauss Minigun and Plasma Caster), shouldn’t we just rush for those?

A4: Plasma caster is a semi-auto rifle with slow projectiles flagged as a heavy weapon perk-wise. While it does hit hard, you really want VATS to use it, which means points into perception and fast fusion core drain. Not compatible with this build, and imo not worth it at all, as you’ll have to make a build specifically for a single weapon.

Gauss Minigun is a different deal. On paper it looks bad: roughly on the power level of a Gatling Plasma (since swapping barrels to get more dps out of it cuts your range dramatically, which also increases range damage falloff), except that it also uses superheavy and somewhat rare ammo, and the larger projectile size (gauss rounds often get stuck in grate fences and such).

What the game fails to tell you, is that it has built-in explosive and furious modifiers. Remember how you can charge other gauss weapons? Well, this one charges up as you keep firing, which makes it absolutely ridiculous if you can handle your ammo needs.

Q5: What’s this talk of “legacy” weapons?

A5: Energy weapons, flamers, and, since recently, harpoon guns, can no longer spawn with explosive modifiers. That said, existing versions were not removed or re-rolled, and, on PC, were duped into oblivion, so you can still bump into them.

Now, with flamer and harpoon, it’s pretty simple: explosive procced off tooltip damage, rather than projectile damage, and on every target hit by the aoe, multiplying the aoe effect. Quad flechette harpoon is good, but quad explosive flechette is very good.

Energy weapons, most notably the Gatling Plasma, are a different deal:

  • they count as ballistic (not that it matters now that penetration on energy weapons was fixed);
  • the explosive effect counts as energy, and is not reduced by explosion resistances before being applied to armor (can’t confirm if it’s still true);
  • the explosive effect does 100% damage, rather than 20%, at least when bounced off terrain (can’t confirm if it’s still true);
  • when combined with beam splitter on a Gatling Plasma, the explosive effect would proc for full damage off every beam, resulting in asinine amounts of damage with no effort.

I did manage to get my hands on an explosive Gatling Plasma (and yes, it was almost certainly duped before ending up in that vending machine), and right now with the beam focuser it performs just as expected: slightly superior to the 50 cal at the cost of lower durability and recoil pull; no weird numbers from explosive, no nothing.

To clarify: if you want to – look out for these, but don’t spend a lot, don’t expect them to be (or to remain) OP, and be aware that, if you’re on PC, what you can get is almost certainly a dupe.

Q6: But what if I want a Bloodied build?

A6: Bit tricky now that Serendipity cannot be used with power armor.

Adrenal mutation becomes a must. Remove Field Surgeon and First Aid, those are useless now, so you have 5 free points.

Rest is up to you, I’d say drop Power User a rank (or entirely), get rank 3 Suppressor, drop Adrenaline and get Action Boy and Dodgy in agility.

May 12, 2020 at 7:08 pm

9 +11 2B+12

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11 Replies


Isn’t Adamantium Skeleton redundant in Power Armor?


Huh, talk about clear in-game information.

True, thank you, updated accordingly.


Would you be so kind as to provide a list of which perks to get at which level like Lady Death did?


It’s more tricky, as most of the perks are high-level (although to be fair, Lady Death doesn’t shine either till you finally get Sneak and Escape Artist), but here you go. Economic stability > damage > defense. If you want lockpicking, you can grab a card whenever you get a lucky roll in the pack, or just take them as they appear. I’ll assume you’re rushing a purifier farm, and delay maxing perks a bit so that maybe you get lucky with packs:
2. Gladiator
3. First Aid
4. Lone Wanderer
5. Lone Wanderer
6. Lone Wanderer
7. First Aid
8. Hard Bargain
9. Hard Bargain
10. Shotgunner
11. Gunsmith
12. Gunsmith
13. Gunsmith
14. Gunsmith
15. Gunsmith
16. Field Surgeon
17. Hard Bargain
18. Green Thumb
19. Contractor
20. Contractor
21. Blocker
22. Blocker
23. Home Defense
24. Home Defense
25. Home Defense
26. Blocker
27. Fireproof
28. Fireproof
29. First Aid
30. Heavy Gunner
31. Starched Genes
32. Starched Genes (you may start grabbing mutations at this point)
33. Heavy Gunner
34. Ammosmith
35. Heavy Gunner
36. Stabilized
37. Stabilized
38. Ammosmith
39. One Gun Army
40. Expert Heavy Gunner
41. Stabilized
42. Weapon Artisan
43. Bloody Mess
44. Weapon Artisan
45. Weapon Artisan
46. Expert Heavy Gunner
47. Power Smith
48. Class Freak
49. Class Freak
50. Class Freak (get all mutations)
51. Master Heavy Gunner
52. Power Smith (get mods for your PA suit of choice)
53. Power User
54. Power User
55. Power User
56. Power Patcher
57. Power Patcher
58. Bloody Mess
59. Bloody Mess
60. Master Heavy Gunner
61. Master Heavy Gunner
62. Expert Heavy Gunner
63. Adrenaline
64. One Gun Army
65. One Gun Army
66. Lifegiver
67. Lifegiver
68. Lifegiver
69. Chemist
70. Fireproof
71. Adrenaline
72+ rest and alternative perks


I’m rather new to the game, so there might be something I’m missing, but doesn’t this leveling path give you other stats? By choosing all those Lone Wanderer, First Aid and Hard Bargain make you end up with Charisma 9 and not just the 6 that you first said?


You can swap perks at will. Hard Bargain , for instance, is only needed when you want to trade with an NPC. In combat, go with Lone Wanderer + Field Surgeon by default, which is 6 charisma.


Oh yes, I know that you can switch the perks, but when I level up and choose a new perk I also increase that SPECIAL stat. I am currently level 11, and have maxed out Lone Wanderer and taken the first two stars of Hard Bargain, for a total of Agility 6. When I at level 16 and 17 choose Field Surgeon and the third star of Hard Bargain, doesn’t that end me up with a total of Agility 8?


You can cycle through each SPECIAL stat’s different cards. For instance, you can choose to increase your Strength and then pick an Agility based card. L1 and R1 on controller or C and Z on keyboard when choosing a perk card to cycle through. I didn’t know this either until I googled it myself, lol.


Would be nice to have this build optimized for teamplay only.


Basically, you mix up charisma perks based on what your team has.

When grouping with randoms, suggested changes to default loadout:
1. Drop charisma to 3.
2. Increase strength to 15, get whatever QoL perks you like more (probably Bear Arms).
3. Take Legendary Charisma, that gives 5 with cheap rank 2, or 8 at max rank. Field Surgeon + Suppressor by default (after all, the build’s focus is on survivability, and with heavy weapons you can keep Suppressor up at all times for your team to benefit), or Inspirational if you’re doing the season.
4. Add more Charisma perks as you keep levelling the Legendary, swap them if they’re shared already. Strange in Numbers and Tenderizer are useful.


Another recommendation for ammo is the new daily ops. you can go in with less than an extended gatling clip and come out with two and since it is repeatable it helps a ton.

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