Article #2 in a 3-part series.

In the first part I went over my goals in overhauling combat, and here I review the mods that build the foundation. In Part 3, I’ll cover my changes including adjustments to several weapon and armor mods to complete the overhaul.

combat overhaul mods




Difficulty and Realism Overhaul” is a work in progress by Cruor32. As of December 2017 for v1.4, the description (dated 18 December 2016) mentions the author has been fixing missed changes and balancing armor. I’ve spent the last several months building off of this including tweaking and balancing which I’ll go over in Part 3. The mod is good enough as is, but you may want to open the plugins up in FO4Edit and take a look. The mod includes several modular plugins, and I recommend all four unless you plan on replacing one. In particular the NPC plugin is pointless without weapon-and-armor plugin. In the posts, the author has stated interest in moving to a single plugin in a future update.

Note that the author recommends using at least the combat AI module of “Arbitration” as the changes are designed with it in mind.

Primary changes:

  • health limits for player and NPCs - player starts at 225 HP with no gain from leveling to maximum of 420 with perks and endurance (no max in base game)
  • weapon base damage increased, and perks (except Heavy Gunner and melee) increase accuracy instead of damage
  • enemies more dangerous, especially robots

The reasons for removing ballistic perk damage bonus is that it’s unrealistic and unfair to NPCs potentially making combat one-sided. A skilled shooter has an increased chance to hit the target and will do no more damage, ignoring critical shots, than a novice using the same gun on successful hit. The critical shot covers improved aim on vital body parts. The Heavy Gunner damage bonus is halved, and that seems fair for handling a heavy weapon. Health point maximum is limited, because real creatures don’t ignore bullet wounds, and we want to ensure taking damage hurts!

To compensate for increased risk, Cruor32 adjusted the weapon level lists so decent weapons show up sooner. Other adjustment include more damage at longer range the head target made more vulnerable for those headshot kills. See the author’s “More Detail” section on the mod description about the design decisions.

Some issues that need addressing in v1.4:

  1. armor modifications not scaled such as light combat armor and heavy combat armor have little difference in resistance–reportedly to be addressed in next update
  2. some weapon modifications have incorrect weight adjustments (light barrel heavier than regular)
  3. energy and regular resistances difference reduced for balanced fights, but unrealistic and unexpected by game rules–player should choose best weapon
  4. does not carry over bug fixes from Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch such as a fix for Gatling Laser and Aeternus (bug report) and several spelling issues
  5. some perks made much less valuable
  6. some DLC enemy changes revert base DRO changes made to gunners and protectrons - patch overwrite to correct
  7. enemy melee too weak except perhaps for some mutants

(1) As I’ll cover in Part 3, I have reduced light combat armor and increased the modifications so Sturdy and Heavy offer much more protection than light.

(3) I find that increasing metal armor resistance relative to normal resistance takes away the player’s decision about best weapon choice. If the regular and energy resistances are too similar then the player can just ignore an entire weapon type. As I pointed out in Part 1, metal conducts energy.

(5) DRO AdjustedPerks reduces the perk damage bonus to Big Leagues (melee) and Iron Fists (hand-to-hand) from 20% down to 6% per rank which makes the perks nearly useless. When calculating sword damage against a Raider in average armor, each perk level only increases a couple points of damage. Even with maximum Big Leagues on a critical hit the player can’t kill human opponents outright. Real sword fights tend to end quickly, and a practiced master is much deadlier than a novice. Same for using a baseball bat.

The following shows DRO sword with strength 4 for 72 weapon damage calculations against Gunner in combat armor of resistance 157:

  • no Big Leagues: ((72 * 1 / 157))^0.366 * 0.5 * 72 = 27.06
  • DRO Big Leagues 1: ((76.32 * 1 / 157))^0.366 * 0.5 * 76.32 = 29.3
  • DRO Big Leagues 5: ((89.28 * 1 / 157))^0.366 * 0.5 * 89.28 = 36.3
  • default Big Leagues 1: ((86.4 * 1 / 157))^0.366 * 0.5 * 86.4 = 34.7
  • default Big Leagues 5: ((144 * 1 / 157))^0.366 * 0.5 * 144 = 69.8

Notice a DRO maxed Big Leagues only deals 9 points more damage compared to no perk. That’s only an additional 4% of total health points for five perk purchases! Using the default perks, the maximum Big Leagues more than doubles damage (against light armor) for an additional 20% of opponents health. A critical hit would hurt bad, but not kill outright without sneak or other bonuses. I suggest including in your patch override reverting Big Leagues and Iron Fist. You may also want to reduce DRO bashing weapons base damage slightly to compensate in consideration of armor and lack of differentiating bashing from piercing.

When using other modded armor and weapons, you’ll want to check them for damage or resistance increases and patch as necessary. For weapons, compare the ammunition type since damage per DRO ammunition types are fairly consistent. Some custom armors I’ve found need no or little adjustment especially ones designed for Survival in mind making them overpowered on normal difficulty. Compare with similar armors and consider amount of unprotected areas.

I’ll go over these changes and more in Part 3 including reviewing adjusting several custom weapons and armors.


“Arbitration” is modular allowing you to choose the types of adjustments you want. Get “Recommended Core” with “Sneak Detection Distance Increase” or the following:

  • Better Combat AI - NPCs will seek cover and flank opponent
  • Stealth Overhaul - 2x increase detection range and longer search detection times
  • Molotov - burn damage only; no explosive damage
  • No Condition Regeneration

Enemies flanking and taking cover makes a huge difference in gameplay. The only other thing that may need to be addressed is likelihood of characters fleeing. All NPCs seem stupidly brave. I’m working on some adjustments regarding bravery and panicking.

Create Your Own Difficulty Rebalance

Since we’re making weapons more deadly to friend and foe, we can adjust Survival to have closer relative damage coming in and out of player character. Companions fighting enemies always do 1-to-1 damage. Recall that Survival defaults to 0.75x damage done by player and 4x damage to player character. This is accomplished by using a hidden perk that multiplies Very Hard outgoing * 1.5 (0.5 x 1.5 = 0.75) and incomming by 2 (2 x 2 = 4). Let’s make in and out more even. You may choose double damage, 2-to-2, if you’d like to make the weapons even deadlier per hit. I aim for 1-to-1 for testing my armor and weapon adjustments. Remember that these difficulty damage multipliers affect resulting damage dealt, not weapon damage.

C”reate Your Own Difficulty Rebalance” by The Iron Rose offers several plugins to choose from to adjust the damage multipliers as you like for any difficulty level. Since the hidden perk for Survial always multiples whichever plugin you choose by 1.5-out and 2.0-in, choose the one that results in the desired total. There are no multiplier choices to achieve 1-to-1 on survival, so I edited the xPlayerDamage plugin. You can get close by choosing 0.75xPlayerDamage (1.5 x 0.75 = 1.125) and 0.5xEnemyDamage (0.5 x 2 = 1) for 1.125-to-1.0 or 9/8-to-1 Changing the xPlayerDamage to 0.6667 results in (1.5 x 0.66667 = 1) 1-to-1.

Try these damage-multiplier combinations for Survival:

  • 9/8-to-1: 0.75xPlayerDamage and 0.5xEnemyDamage
  • 1.9-to-2: 1.25xPlayerDamage and 1xEnemyDamage
  • 3-to-3: 2xPlayerDamage and 1.5xEnemyDamage

lowered weapons

Never aim a loaded gun at a friend! I like how the guns auto-lower when moving very close to an object, but without a control what a strange method to lower a gun. “Button Lowered Weapons” by JackArbiter allows the player to lower the gun by holding the reload/holster button and then holding the same button a second time holsters the weapon. It’s a small feature that makes a big difference to gameplay enjoyment.

example load order

This shows all the modular plugins from these mods placed in relation to each other for best result. If you like before playing you may rename the DRO plugins with a “DRO” prefix to make them easier to spot. Some of the DRO plugins override each other, so after inspection with FO4Edit I’ve ordered them accordingly.

  • Arbitration - Resources.esm
  • Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch.esp (order with Arbitration doesn’t matter)
  • (faction and NPC mods)
  • Arbitration - Recommended Core
  • Arbitration - Better Combat AI (if no core)
  • Arbitration - Stealth Overhaul
  • AdjustedEnemies (DRO)
  • WeaponArmorRebalance (DRO)
  • AdjustedPerks (DRO)
  • PlayerHealthNoScaleWithLevel (DRO)
  • AutomatronAdjustedNPCsWeaponsAndArmor (DRO)
  • FarHarborAdjustedNPCsWeaponsAndArmor (DRO)
  • NukaWorldAdjustedEnemiesWeaponsAndArmor (DRO)
  • Arbitration - Molotov (even with core, because DRO overwrites)
  • Arbitration - No Condition Regeneration (if no core)
  • Arbitration - Button Lowered Weapons
  • (other weapon and armor mods)
  • (companion mods)
  • DTWeaponArmorRebPatch (or your patch changes; include UFO4P carry-overs)
  • (other custom weapon, armor, and companion mod patches)
  • 0.75xPlayerDamage
  • 0.5xEnemyDamage

Article #2 in a 3-part series.

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