Backstabs are just melee attacks done while sneaking. However, sometimes I also get a different animation than ususal when murdering someone from behind, although I've only managed to do it once, on a raider I just forced out of a power armor. Is there any way to consistently get a backstab animation? Does it only work on certain enemies? Is getting behind not quite enough?

1 Answer 1


I'm more than a day into a playthrough with a stealth ninja melee character. I get these animations fairly often.

I'm primarily using General Chao's Revenge and Blitz to melee guys from far away, sometimes behind, sometimes not. Sometimes I sort of chop their heads off, sometimes I impale them through the chest, sometimes I jab the sword straight downward through the top of their ribcage near the collarbone. That last animation takes forever.

I can confirm that they happen in VATS when stealth attacking humans.

I believe I've also got such an animation at least once out of VATS, but I am using VATS almost exclusively. I recall getting these animations regardless of the angle at which I'm facing the enemy, but note that VATS places me behind them when it executes the attack. I don't recall ever getting such an animation on a non-humanoid enemy.

I find these animations annoying, and wish I could turn them off. They delay being able to act again for a while after leaving VATS, which has gotten me killed more than once when there was another person around I didn't see before attacking.

Assuming that you've met the criteria for a backstab animation to be possible, the animation actually occurring seems random. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.

It's possible the animations may only trigger with certain weapons. Try a combat knife or a Chinese officer's sword. I've gotten them with both of those for sure.

  • So you get them both in VATS and out, and from any angle of attack. What about enemy types? Ever disembowled a sentrybot? And did you ever have an animation outside of VATS without using a power attack? The only animation I ever got was while power attacking from behind (not that I have a melee character or anything). Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:19
  • 1
    @leinaD_natipaC Those are good questions. It could definitely use better testing, and I'll try and improve this answer as I play more, now that I'm paying attention. I definitely get them in VATS, I'm pretty sure I get them out, but I almost always use VATS. I'm pretty sure I've gotten them from the front and back in VATS, but VATS puts me behind them when it is executing the attack. I've only got these animations on humans, as far as I can recall. I can't say for sure about the power attack outside of VATS.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 18:22
  • They delay being able to act again for a while after leaving VATS - On the PC you can hit the tab key to bypass the animation once it starts.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 21:50
  • @Zoredache Is the tab key mapped to anything else by default? I'm playing on Xbox One, and if I can cancel these things that would be great.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 21:55
  • On the PC the tab key backs you out of menus, brings up the pip boy, a long press of the tab toggles your flashlight. The tab key is used for almost everything it seems. I will probably wear out my tab key from playing this game :p
    – Zoredache
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 22:17

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