I've seen people beat Fallout: New Vegas without killing anyone. I've seen people beat it without dying. And I've seen people beat it without firing a single gun. But I've never seen someone beat it on the highest difficulty setting, with both hardcore mode and permadeath enabled, without killing anyone, without dying, without the help of any companions, and without using any weapons apart from boxing gloves—until today, that is. Because Youtuber Rhetam did exactly that, not only finishing the main story via the NCR path but also clearing every sidequest in the game despite the harsh rules he set for himself.
Rhetam started his bonkers challenge run, which you can watch in full on his Youtube channel, back in March 2017. He posted the final episode, episode 17, yesterday, July 10. After more than a year of careful planning and even more careful execution, he finished Fallout: New Vegas at level 26 with his Sneak, Speech and Unarmed skills all at level 100.
His starting S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats are pretty interesting, too: 10 Strength, 1 Perception, 10 Endurance, 1 Charisma, 10 Intelligence, 7 Agility and 1 Luck. As Rhetam explained in the first episode of his series, he needed high Strength to buff up his boxing gloves, which deal KO damage capable of knocking characters unconscious without killing them. The gloves let him knock out enemies and bypass them entirely, or render them powerless for ally characters to finish off. That being said, Rhetam didn't recruit any companions in his run, but instead lured enemies near friendly characters who would naturally attack them.
Maxing Endurance made it more difficult to die, and having high Intelligence netted Rhetam more skill points in the long run. His low Charisma initially struck me as odd since no-kill runs are hugely dependent on successful negotiations and Charisma affects your Speech, but as Rhetam's run demonstrates, the Speech skill itself is actually more important.
"Fallout New Vegas is pretty flexible in allowing the player to not have to kill anyone," Rhetam said on Reddit, "though there were many times where I had to knock someone out and let a nearby NPC take shots at them until they died or simply act as bait and let an enemy follow me to an ally that would actually kill them."
It's a bit of a caveat, but to be fair it's impossible to clear New Vegas without some characters dying, and technically Rhetam never killed anyone. For example, in the Hard Luck Blues quest, he lured an Overseer Glowing One, which carries a key necessary to complete the quest, into a room filled with gas. From there, he tricked other Glowing Ones into igniting the gas via an explosive attack, thus killing the Overseer Glowing One and letting him loot the key from its corpse.
The question on everyone's mind, I imagine, is why? Well, Rhetam said on Reddit that "after doing a Fallout 4 challenge run on Survival mode with no weapons/armor, I decided I wanted to do a challenge run of Fallout New Vegas as well."
Mission accomplished, mate. Sounds like a challenge.