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In the 2024 Fallout TV series (Season 1, Episode 2: "The Target"), there’s a scene where The Ghoul (Walton Goggins) manages to incapacitate Maximus’ (Aaron Moten) T-60 power armor. He does this with a swift knife slash to a hose (or a similar-looking thing) near the helmet, which seems like a surprisingly simple method to take down such advanced gear.

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screenshot of scene described abovescreenshot of scene described above

This got me thinking about the power armor’s vulnerability in the Fallout universe. As a long-time fan of the Fallout games (though admittedly, it's been a while since I last played), I recall power armor being considerably more resilient, particularly against melee attacks by simple weapons such as a knife.

Is the ability to disable power armor by hitting at critical spots with a basic melee weapon, like a knife, a new concept introduced by the TV adaptation? Or has this vulnerability been established in the Fallout games or other lore sources? If it existed in the broader Fallout universe, which entry first introduced this particular power armor weakness?

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    I don't know, but it does fit with the basic idea of corporate and government incompetence, not to say insanity, leading to mind-bogglingly inefficient solutions, including the bizarre vault experiments and the nuclear apocalypse itself as a solution to war (kind of MAD turned on its head)
    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 15 at 14:40
  • I would say the armor itself is consistently shown to be almost more trouble than it is worth, along the same lines: it won't save you from a mutated bear (but will make you too slow to run away effectively), it has another weak spot, it requires a whole fusion core (the entire energy supply of a vault, in essence) to even move, and it can easily get stuck and prevent the user from leaving. Not to mention having no safeguards against theft and requiring frequent repairs.
    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 15 at 14:50
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    In the first two games at least, critical hits may bypass armor completely. There's no specific vulnerability, but a lucky knife or punch can still damage someone in armor as if it wasn't there. Outside of that power armor is extremely tough and would fully negate a basic knife attack. There's no downside to wearing power armor except for the heavy weight.
    – qazmlpok
    Commented Apr 15 at 14:55
  • It's not like any armor can be without weak spots, and The Ghoul knew them well.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 15 at 18:38
  • @Mithoron Especially with his line "Next time, read the manual"
    – Peter M
    Commented Apr 15 at 19:17

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I can only comment on the first two games. I don't think I ever found power armor in New Vegas, and haven't played the other mainline games. I also haven't watched the TV series.

Power armor in the games does not have a specific weakness like what is shown in the question. Mechanically, all armor is basically the same; incoming damage is reduced based on the stats, and power armor has the best stats. The only unique feature of power armor is that it also boosts the character's strength. It is otherwise treated the same as a leather jacket, just with better numbers. The only downside is its weight.

Critical hits exist in the game - presumably they are modeled after the idea of "rare, lucky hits to a vital organ or the weakpoint of armor", but I don't think this is explicitly mentioned. However, one of the possible outcomes of a critical hit is to bypass armor - this will deal damage as if the target was wearing no armor, allowing a basic knife to deal damage even to someone in hardened power armor. This is entirely abstracted away to chance, and not to targeting a specific weak spot - even a bare punch dead center in the torso can bypass armor.

This is likely what the TV clip is demonstrating - an armor bypassing critical hit. I'm assuming that the person in power armor was not aware of the Ghoul and this would therefore be a Sneak Attack Critical, which is a guaranteed critical hit.

Lore wise, there is no mention of any weaknesses to the armor. The Glow has a spec sheet, which mentions the capabilities of the armor, and doesn't mention any weaknesses. Searching through the dialog files for "power armor" just shows that it is considered extremely powerful and valuable.

... other people started following us. Guess they figured if they weren't safe with a mutie and a Steel Knight [wearing power armor], safe just wasn't going to happen.

    - Marcus's backstory in Broken Hills, Fallout 2

There's also a contemporary record in San Francisco stating that the Chinese PLA has no counter to the United States' T51-b power armor:

American military superiority now clear - T-51b power armor units deployed to mainland. The PLA has no appropriate counter and is losing ground daily.

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