Fallout Character Building » Discussions

Character Build: The Shotgun Surgeon (FO4)

Tags: #Fallout 4 Build  #Character Build Chemist  #Character Build Daredevil  #Character Build Grenadier 
  • Member
    February 7, 2016

    The first thing I wanted to accomplish with Fallout 4 is to get out into the Wasteland with a blind adventure. The memorable play through showed me how much fun one can have in this game with some of the coolest new perks and game mechanics. This build is a product of me trying to have as much fun as possible and to keep my gameplay interesting, challenging, and diverse enough through my own weirdo role play. It was sad to realize there are no specific shotgun perks (yet..?) but I wanted to recapture some of my favorite play throughs with FO3 (Terrible Shotgun) and NV (Hunting Shotgun/Riot Shotgun). This has what I think is a great combo of epic slo-mo VATS explosions and real time excitement dealing justice with a powerful shotgun and a whole boat load of booze, explosives, and charisma.


    The Shotgun Surgeon is a tactical madman that isn’t too interested in using power armor or any super high tech weapons. Just a thirsty smooth talker who likes loud conflicts peppering enemies with tossed explosives, dropped mines when the situation arises, expelling shotgun shells from a smoke filled boomstick, and occasionally playing the agent of chaos by gaining temporary friends through intimidation and force. Any build in Fallout 4 seems to be a glazed over generalization without any specific weapon perks. Rifleman covers anything from a sawed off double barrel to a high tech gauss rifle or sniper rifle. The range of weapons many of the “specialized” perks brings is rather large so it boils down to personal preference.

    Shotguns offer HUGE burst damage from short to medium ranges that can decimate foes in few blasts rather than repeated shots. This allows for less queued up shots on the same target allowing for maximum damage in a shorter amount of time. Explosives, along with pistols, play a huge role with this build as a complimentary damage support and allows the Shotgun Surgeon reach out a little farther towards those hard to reach baddies and enemies behind cover. Luck allows for a tremendous amount of criticals to be dished out across the Boston area at an alarming rate. Your critical bar has a ton of chances to be refilled instantly and filled up much faster than other characters you will play. This also opens up opportunities to get ridiculously drunk in order to gain high boosts to Luck … And some humorous voice acting. Charisma gives the Shotgun Surgeon a final edge towards fighting in the irradiated landscape by putting fear into humans and creatures that are encountered. This extends the “reach” of a shotgun in such a cool way. It allows you to take out some of the competition and eventually turn them on their friends or even gain a temporary follower to use at your disposal and as a distraction!



    Strength 1  Perception 4  Endurance 3  Charisma 9  Intelligence 1  Agility 5  Luck 5


    Strength 2  Perception 5  Endurance 5  Charisma 11  Intelligence 2  Agility 6  Luck 10+



    Strength: We are not going for any of the strength perks. Heavy Gunner might be a great perk to have to boost our Missile Launcher and Fat Man. For those who don't know, those guns benefit from BOTH Demolitions Expert and Heavy Gunner ... So this build could potentially spend 4 points to get to 5 STR (or 3 with the Bobblehead) and then grab all the ranks in Heavy Gunner but other than that, nothing is needed. Basher might be another option as a shotgun focused character is up in people's faces but I thought ... Just pull the trigger?

    No Perks





    Perception: 3 major perks: getting into locked places, boosting our shotgun damage, and boosting our explosives. Pretty straightforward. Interestingly enough, the "knockback" rank in Sniper does in fact work with a scoped combat shotgun ... But I ain't wasting points if I don't need to. Accuracy issues are almost null and void due to the constant criticals flowing in and since they are guaranteed hits we don't need any VATS bonuses or awareness perks. Demolitions Expert also allows for the crafting of better explosives. However, I did not take any Science perks meaning the build sticks to the basics: Molotovs, Baseball Grenade, Frag Grenade/Mine, as well as the incredible Bottlecap Mine.

    Rifleman 5/5     Locksmith 3/4     Demolitions Expert 4/4





    Endurance: I have to say that some of the Endurance perks kind of disappointed me. I love Lifegiver of course for more life and Aqua Boy Rank 1 is just a nice perk to have all around but the others didn't seem worth it. Toughness would be nice since I am not using too much armor but 5 perks for only +50 DT? Nah. Adamantium Skeleton would be nice as well but after Medic starts to get perked stimpaks solve any crippled situations. I am planning on placing points here just to up my HP to bolster my survivability for some possible difficult DLC!

    Lifegiver 3/3     Aqua Boy 1/2






    Charisma: My absolute FAVORITE stat. I have always felt Charisma got the shaft in every game I have played. You could dump your Charisma to 1 and just put skill points into Speech ... Kind of lame. FO3 gave us percentages to succeed, eh. NV had some stat checks in dialogue, eh. But these new perks are just so awesome. The "reach" we achieve using the shotgun allows the Shotgun Surgeon to lessen the incoming threats, make enemies turn on their friends, and even gain another temporary companion. Having a high end raider in some heavier armor, a big bad creature like a deathclaw or mirelurk, or even a hound or yao guai is so cool to have. It adds even more distraction for enemies allowing the Surgeon to sprint in or flank to get the up close and personal shotgun blasts. Remember - you can only pacify enemies who are lower level than you. These perks generally become more and more useful as you play!

    This also houses the center perk: Party Boy. DO NOT take Rank 2 of Party Boy when you are already under the influence of alcohol. Basically, it has been reported that if you do, the game will then remove the boosting effects of the alcohol as if they were doubled. So if a beer gave +1 STR and you drank it, took Rank 2, and the beer wears off ... You would have a permanent -1 to STR because of the doubling effect. Yikes.

    Animal Whisperer 3/3     Local Leader 2/2     *Party Boy 3/3

    Inspirational 2/3     Wasteland Whisperer 3/3     Intimidation 3/3

    The use of the Local Leader perks allowed for some great settlements. High Charisma allows for more settlers at your chillaxin' bases of operations and is always fun to decompress by building. The lack of crafting perks does pose some problems when it comes to building up heavier defense weapons but I didn't care too much. I was not going for high tech military bases ... but just enough to get by and have multiple settlements to put shit that I find across the wasteland.

    Intelligence: Since this is an Idiot Savant type of build, we want to keep this as low as possible. 1 + Bobblehead will give us access to Medic. Medic is that perk that everyone needs and everyone loves. Injecting those stimpaks and taking radaways is so much more efficient. You could maybe argue this perk isn't need later on since you have 500+ stimpaks but what matters is how much they heal and how fast they heal in a pinch!

    Medic 4/4






    Agility: The Shotgun Surgeon does involve the use of VATS so AP is something to consider. After attaining these perks, plopping points into Agility might also be helpful just for added AP to continue the critical hit onslaught. This stat also allows us to boost the Gunslinger perk to bolster our revolver to become a potent hand cannon. Action Boy combined with Moving Target Rank 3 means a LOT of sprinting and a LOT of AP left over for those up close VATS encounters. This is really essential. Nothing sucks more than sprinting to get up close with your shotgun only to be left with no AP to hit that life saving VATS button.

    Gunslinger 5/5     Action Boy 2/2     Moving Target 3/3






    Luck: Probably the heaviest invested stat and crucial to our use of critical hits. Scrounger is our money maker. No need to take any bartering perks. With Scrounger and high Charisma you will have no trouble getting as much income as any other character. Fusion Cores count as "ammo" so you will be swimming in caps. Bloody Mess is a bonus along with Mysterious Stranger. Neither are what I would call "necessary" but certainly strong and fun perks! Exploding bodies may interrupt your immersion and some random mustachioed badass with a revolver showing up to destroy your target may be a bit out there but these perks are what Fallout is all about!

    Idiot Savant is pretty straight forward. Low Intelligence means a higher chance to proc the effect. I only took 2 ranks as it felt that is all I needed. Drinking alcohol will always lower your Intelligence which helps. I also was unsure if Rank 3 meant the hilarious sound would go off after every kill during the effect.

    Critical Banker and Better Criticals are just some of the coolest perks in the game. I tried to minimize the amount of VATS-perks this build needed and to be honest you could get away with just these two. Being able to deal massive crit damage and save crits for later is just what the doctor ordered. Pair this with a combat shotgun blast to your target's face or the low AP cost of your revolver and you dish out massive death.

    Ricochet ... 'Nuff said. Hilarious.

    Grim Reaper's Sprint and Four Leaf Clover are future perks but not ones I thought would be too necessary. These perks basically say "hey, use VATS all of the time" and I don't want to do that.

    Some quick notes: Shotgun Shells are not found under Scrounger, but the caps you gain from the other ammo found helps you pay for the devilish cost of your boom stick.

    Live & Love #5: Talk Yourself Sober can be found in the Revere Beach Station. Grants you +1 Luck when drinking as long as you are with a companion! Wooh!

    Scrounger 4/4     Bloody Mess 4/4     Mysterious Stranger 3/3

    Idiot Savant 2/3     Better Criticals 3/3     Critical Banker 3/3

    Ricochet 3/3

    *Gettin’ Crunk

    The wild card of this build is Party Boy Rank 3. This perk grants a +3 to your Luck stat when you under the influence of alcohol. The quirky thing about this perk, and what seems to be a convenient bug?, is that you will get +3 to Luck for all variants of alcohol! With close to 18 different alcohol types, plus some special ones, you can attain +50ish Luck in one fell swoop! With maxed Luck, that means you will have over 63 Luck … And if you have paid attention to stats and reported numbers, with 63 Luck and above it only takes 1 shot in VATS to fill your critical bar. CRITICAL HITS FOR DAYS. Combining getting really fucked up on booze, perks like Better Criticals and Critical Banker, you can become a one man legion of doom with any weapon but ESPECIALLY deadly with powerful shotgun blasts.

    On top of this, Luck can be expanded with the “Lucky” effect on found armors (+2 for each), +1 from the companion focused magazine when drinking, as well as the occasional Day Tripper +3.

    Party Brews

    Chems are fun and I do use them with the build but alcohol has some seriously fun effects that are surprisingly effective with Party Boy Rank 2 (doubles the effects of alcohol). Even with the doubled negative effects (yes, the negatives are doubled as well) you will see some great boosts and healing opportunities from getting drunk as well. The knock to Intelligence also helps with the Idiot Savant proc!

    I am going to list all alcohols below with the boosts from Party Boy Rank 2.


    Bourbon +2 END +2 STR

    Rum +2 AGI +2 STR

    Vodka +50 Max HP +2 STR

    Whiskey +4 STR

    Wine +30 AP +2 STR

    Bobrov’s Best Moonshine +50 HP +2 CHA +2 STR


    Gwinnett Brews:

    Ale, Brew, Lager, Pale, Pilsner, and Stout +2 STR +2 CHA

    Ice Cold Variants +70 AP +2 STR +2 CHA

    Don't forget generic Beer +2 STR +2 CHA

    Dirty Wastelander +6 STR +2 CHA (-4 INT!!!) - A favorite. Gets you to 7 STR for those "I need to pick up everything" moments.

    Pretty impressive boosts for such common items! It pays to get lit. Don't forget to look out all of the Gwinnett Recipes.


    Buddy - Your own personal fridge!

    Buddy is the badass, joke-telling, ice cold brew dispensing robot who will be your best friend with this character build. You can retain his services by starting the quest Trouble Brewin’ given by Rufus Rubins in the Hotel Rexford. All you have to do is head to the Shamrock Tapehouse, take out some filthy raiders, and head to the basement. Be sure to pick up the Gwinnett Lager recipe behind the bar!

    When down there, you can find the password to the terminal on one of the shelves near the stairs. After releasing Buddy, you can escort him to the quest giver (be careful - Buddy can be killed since he is not essential) to complete it ORRRRRRR…

    You can have Buddy sent to one of your settlements. I had him sent to Sanctuary because it just felt right to have access to booze in your old neighborhood. The only downside is you will not be able to turn in the quest unless you return him to Rufus. But I say SCREW THAT, I want my Drinkin’ Buddy!






    The lovely and extremely overpowered chems are not a focus for this build. Chem addiction is super easy to get rid of (Addictol and/or Refreshing Beverage) and you only really need chems to last for a short while. I stuck to Jet and Psycho for that added “fuck you” to everything I ran into that was giving me a bit of trouble.

    Now that we are completely messed up on booze and drugs, let’s get some weapons in your responsible hands! The customization is so immense that I love interchanging mods to keep things fresh. Most of these weapons usually take the higher end mods (drum mags for combat shotguns, sawed off for double, quad barrel for missile launcher, etc.). Customize these in any way you see fit because without any crafting perks there is not guarantee you will find the specific ones I would list anyway...


    I won't lie to you. I included combat shotguns because it wouldn't feel right if I did not. The Double Barrel Shotgun is probably my favorite weapon in the entire game. I was almost tempted to take the perks in Quick Hands just to help it a bit. I definitely found myself using the Double Barrel a bit more often. "Malpractice" was my long barreled hunting shotgun with the wounding effect ... I love it so much ...


    *The Red Cross - Wounding Combat Shotgun

    The Terrible Shotgun - Lucky Combat Shotgun

    End of Days - Exploding Combat Shotgun

    Justice and Le Fusil Terribles are also potent options

    Hot Knife - Lucky Sawed Off Double Barrel Shotgun

    With the high Luck in effect, the 2 shot of the Double Barrel is quite satisfying. Filling your critical meter immediately with the first chamber and then DECIMATING whatever is left with the second shell with a boosted double crit literally makes the namesake stick … you make the enemies a stick of butter.

    *Malpractice - Wounding Double Barrel Shotgun


    *Harry - Lucky .44 Magnum

    Kellog's Pistol is also a VERY powerful option

    Missile Launcher:

    *Noisy - Two Shot Missile Launcher

    The Partystarter also a viable option!

    Fat Man:

    *Big Boy - Two Shot Fat Man



    When it comes to what to wear, I sometimes tend to forgo armor and focus on looks. Playing on Survival, it is absolutely insane but a fun challenge. Lifegiver, Medic, and your companion boosted by Inspirational are going to be what keeps you alive.

    This also plays into some of the role play I decided to go with. Since we are teaming up with Nick Valentine for basically the entire drunken stoogery I wanted to adopt his detective look to solve crimes and do good for the betterment of the wasteland … in my own “special” way.

    Big ups for when the Mysterious Stranger shows up! Turns into a trifecta trench coat and fedora shit show!

    Dirty Trench Coat +1 CHA +1 END

    Dirty Fedora + LCK

    Sunglasses +1 PER

    Heavy Combat

    Stressful combat may need some extra protection. When you absolutely must, I usually strapped on combat armor to help with the close encounters of the Super Mutant kind. This added protection is mostly needed if you play on Survival and aren't looking to break your TV out of frustration. I was fortunate enough to find some pretty sweet legendary effects that I would stock pile in Sanctuary - Matryr's, Lucky, and Cavaliers' would be great finds for the build.


    The specific role I wanted this build to fill was one of a detective type. Experiencing the major loss of your wife (husband if you play a female character) you set out across the Boston ruins to track down your son but aren't hoping for a happy outcome. Along the way, you take it on yourself to become a useful agent for good.

    As soon as I met Nick Valentine in game for the first time I knew I had a favorite companion. My first run through I actually attained him later after most of the others but all in all Nick is definitely my favorite. My Locksmith skill complements his high ability to bypass any terminal which means no stone is left unturned. I had to document locations of some harder terminals (the few ones you run into) and come back with him if I was off doing another quest for another follower.

    I devised the look and overall outlook to be similar to Nick's but obviously the Shotgun Surgeon isn't as much of a goody goody. Nick helps keep me in check. Because I sometimes had a habit of doing really stupid shit for no apparent reason. But I digest...


    With the lack of Charisma centered builds so far, I thought this would be a fun one to kick things off. Charisma and Luck are such cool stats and it has been overwhelmingly satisfying to play a Fallout game where Charisma isn't just a dump stat anymore.

    I hope you try this build out and have fun with it. I remember having the difficulty set at Normal for the start of the play through but eventually ramped it up to Survival for the annoying fun that it is. Let me know if you have any questions. This may be my only "build" I make for Fallout since I never really diversified any of my play styles when it comes to this series. I will update the build with pics and to accommodate upcoming DLC and maybe add a RP Profile to go along with it. Hopefully we will see a pump action shotgun ... But one can only dream of such things ...

    As I wrote this up I realized Fudgemuppet posted a "Shotgun" build. Looks cool, but it's just another chem'd up douche in power armor. Not my style.

    Here is the fantastic build video courtesy of HeroicXCV!!

  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    First! Now to get reading... :D
  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    Wicked build! I've been loving my Party Girl playthrough, the sheers amount of insane shenanigans you can get up to with that perk, high luck, agility and a pistol is just insane. I had no idea about all the luck bonuses from alcohol stacking, I'll need to give that a try! The theme of this build is really nice as well, nothing like a drunk detective wandering the wasteland with his trusty Shotty!
  • Member
    February 7, 2016

    Thanks, Raid. It is probably gonna get the shit patched out of it but hey, it has been fun. And yeah, a pistol VATS build is insane. I was going to change this to be basically a pistol marksman with unlimited criticals but the shotguns are too good to pass up. Revolver sidearms are more fun.

  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    Love it! My only initial question is how did you handle any ranged combat? Missiles? I know it's possible to get up close and personal a lot, but there are occasions where a rifle or ranged attack seems almost necessary...especially playing that high of a level...without taking tons of damage. Or maybe another question is - how far can a shotgun shoot? I haven't played with them much... Either way love the alcohol, luck & charisma combo. Well done. I'd love some pics too- I hope you do update it as you go.
  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    My .44 was basically a sniper rifle. I love using the sights and can be pretty accurate and a VATS crit is dead on. Most of my long range capabilities came from lobbing grenades, shooting missiles/mini nukes, and picking off enemies with my pistol. Shotguns have a better ranger than people think. A long barreled double barrel can reach out there pretty far and is nothing to sneeze at. But of course they are best used for medium to close ranges.
  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    Right on. Thanks!
  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    Awesome job Henson! Just a note, are you sure that you can stack alcohol effects for 50 luck? I was pretty sure you can't and would like to hear about your experience with this.
  • Member
    February 7, 2016
    "Chem'd up douche in Power Armor"...awesome build and more awesome end.
  • Member
    February 7, 2016

    Fucking YES!

    Love that you're making builds here Henson and I love that you've explored a completely different set of skills/effects than I have so far (taking notes)! That pic of Nicky.....amazing, and I love the way your lockpicking compliments his hacking...

    Charisma definitely isn't a dump stat anymore! There's some cool effects available and I'm sure the longer people play the more it's going to rise as a primary stat. Alcohol is potentially very OP as you've displayed here!

    The game just seems to get more interesting mechanically the longer I play and I can't wait to run a detective type toon like you have here...

    "Turns into a trifecta trench coat and fedora shit show!" LMAO

    ...I also can't wait to run a hillbilly type mongo!