This guide will give you an in-depth look at the perks in Fallout 4, explaining which ones you want to focus on early, and which ones you can avoid until later on. Setting this up properly can be the difference between life and death, as certain perks are required for tasks like weapon modification, armor crafting, and even picking locks and hacking computer terminals. Come with us if you want to live.
The perks in Fallout 4 are controlled by your stats. Your stats are what you chose when that friendly Vault-Tec salesman came to your door during the prologue, War Never Changes. For example, if you don’t put at least 3 points on your Strength, you won’t be able to choose the Armorer perk, which allows you to access base level and Rank 1 armor mods.
To access your perks, open your Pip-Boy and press the indicated button at the bottom of the monitor. That will take you to the Perk Chart.
Although we have an in-depth character creation guide already, we wanted to briefly go over the meaning of S.P.E.C.I.A.L., giving you an idea of what you’re working with when it comes to the Perks that are affected by your choices.
- S – Strength
- P – Perception
- E – Endurance
- C – Charisma
- I – Intelligence
- A – Agility
- L – Luck
You should also know that none of the above categories are perks themselves. These are your attributes, but the stronger you are in one category or another, the more perks that become available for you to choose and benefit from. For example, if you told the Vault-Tec dude you wanted to be Strength 5, you would have access to equipping the perks that come at Strength Level 05.
It’s also worth noting that each individual perk has different Ranks. Let’s use the Level 1 Strength perk as an example. It’s called Iron Fist, and at Rank 1 it will give you 20 percent more punching power. At Rank 5 you will get double damage from punches, as well as the ability to paralyze your opponents with critical hits using V.A.T.S. Each Rank of this perk will cost you one perk point, and you must meet the level. These requirements are listed under each perk.
The lists below will give you the general idea behind each Perk and what you can expect by choosing it. We should mention that we’re not going to explain each Perk and all of its Ranks. Console players can view the individual Perk Rank bonus by pressing L1/R1 or Right Bumper/Left Bumper while it’s selected.
- Level 01: Iron Fist – Increased punching power
- Level 02: Big Leagues – Increased melee damage
- Level 03: Armorer – Access Rank 1 armor mods
- Level 04: Blacksmith – Rank 1 melee weapon mods
- Level 05: Heavy Gunner – Increased heavy gun damage
- Level 06: Strong Back – Carry additional weight
- Level 07: Steady Aim – Improved hip-fire accuracy
- Level 08: Basher – Gun bashing does more damage
- Level 09: Rooted – Damage resistance while idle
- Level 10: Pain Train – Sprinting into enemies staggers
- Level 01: Pickpocket – Picking pockets is easier
- Level 02: Rifleman – Non-automatic rifles do more damage
- Level 03: Awareness – Damage resistance shown in V.A.T.S.
- Level 04: Locksmith – Pick advanced level locks
- Level 05: Demolition Expert – More damage from explosives
- Level 06: Night Person – More Intelligence and Perception at night
- Level 07: Refractor – Increased Energy Resistance
- Level 08: Sniper – Hold your breath longer while in scope view
- Level 09: Penetrator – Target enemies behind cover with V.A.T.S.
- Level 10: Concentrated Fire – V.A.T.S. attacks stack damage
- Level 01: Toughness – Gain additional Damage Resistance
- Level 02: Lead Belly – Less Radiation from eating and drinking
- Level 03: Life Giver – You gain additional max Health
- Level 04: Chem Resistant – Less likely to get addicted to chems
- Level 05: Aquagirl – You can breathe underwater
- Level 06: Rad Resistant – Gain additional Radiation Resistance
- Level 07: Adamantium Skeleton – Reduced limb damage
- Level 08: Cannibal – Eating humans restores your health now
- Level 09: Ghoulish – Radiation regenerates your lost health
- Level 10: Solar Powered – More Strength and Endurance during day
- Level 01: Cap Collector – Buying and selling at vendors is cheaper
- Level 02: Black Widow – Men suffer more damage in combat with you
- Level 03: Lone Wanderer – Less damage when you’re without a companion
- Level 04: Attack Dog – Your dog will hold enemies while you use V.A.T.S.
- Level 05: Animal Friend – Pacify animals by aiming your gun at them
- Level 06: Local Leader – Establish supply lines between your settlements
- Level 07: Party Girl – You cannot get addicted to alcohol whatsoever
- Level 08: Inspirational – Your companion does more damage in combat
- Level 09: Wasteland Whisperer – Pacify creatures by aiming a gun at them
- Level 10: Intimidation – Pacify humans by aiming your weapon at them
- Level 01: V.A.N.S. – Closest quest target is now displayed when using V.A.T.S.
- Level 02: Medic – Stimpaks and RadAway are more effective when used
- Level 03: Gun Nut – Access base level and Rank 1 gun mods while crafting
- Level 04: Hacker – You can now hack advanced level computer terminals
- Level 05: Scrapper – Salvage uncommon parts by scrapping weapons and armor
- Level 06: Science – Access to base level and Rank 1 high tech modifications
- Level 07: Chemist – All chems will last 50 percent longer when used
- Level 08: Robotics Expert – Gives you the ability to hack robots and control them
- Level 09: Nuclear Physicist – Radiation weapons cause more damage to foes
- Level 10: Nerd Rage! – When your health drops, you slow time in combat
- Level 01: Gunslinger – Non-automatic pistols do more damage with this perk
- Level 02: Commando – Automatic weapons will do 20 percent more damage
- Level 03: Sneak – You are harder to detect while you’re in the sneak mode
- Level 04: Mister Sandman – Your suppressed weapons do additional damage
- Level 05: Action Girl – Action Points regenerate faster than they did before
- Level 06: Moving Target – Damage and Energy Resistance while sprinting
- Level 07: Ninja – Sneak attacks do more damage, and so do your melee attacks
- Level 08: Quick Hands – You will reload your weapons faster in while in combat
- Level 09: Grim Reaper’s Sprint – Kills with V.A.T.S. can restore all Action Points
- Level 10: Four Leaf Clover – Hits in V.A.T.S. can refill your critical meter
- Level 01: Fortune Finder – Find more bottle caps when searching containers
- Level 02: Scrounger – You will find more ammunition when searching containers
- Level 03: Bloody Mess – Enemies will sometimes explode into a gory red paste
- Level 04: Mysterious Stranger – A stranger can appear to help when using V.A.T.S.
- Level 05: Idiot Savant – You can randomly receive additional XP from actions
- Level 06: Better Criticals – Critical hits on your enemies will do much more damage
- Level 07: Critical Banker – You can save critical hits to be used in V.A.T.S. instead
- Level 08: Grim Reaper’s Sprint – A kill in V.A.T.S. can restore all of your Action Points
- Level 09: Four Leaf Clover – Each hit in V.A.T.S. could restore your critical hit meter
- Level 10: Ricochet – An opponents ranged attack could ricochet back and kill them
Building the Best Character
That’s a lot of Perks, and the chances are you aren’t going to unlock them all. We didn’t really get what we were doing on our first play through, so we started a new game and focused on some Perks that will really help you early in the game. Keep in mind, if you want to copy our character, you’ll have to spend your attribute points on the right categories when you answer the door during the prologue.
For starters, we took the Armorer Perk from the Strength category, allowing us to make additional mods to our armor at the Armor Workbench. We did the same thing for weapons by taking the Gun Nut Perk that falls under the Intelligence category. You must have at least three points in Strength and Intelligence if you want these two perks.
Our next big Perk was Locksmith from Perception. You need at least Level 4 of Perception to get it, but you will now be able to pick advanced locks. This will come in handy almost immediately, as you can find several safes laying around Sanctuary, as well as hiding around the various environments that you’ll travel to in some of the early missions.
We highly suggest that you snag the Scrapper Perk from the Intelligence tree. You need Level 5 to get it, but this will allow you to break down weapons and armor that you find so that you can get some of the uncommon parts you need. Think of things like Screws, Aluminum, Copper, Circuitry, Nuclear Material and Fiberoptics. If you have done any base building or weapon crafting at all, you’ll know how valuable these parts are.
Lastly, consider picking up any Perks that are going to increase the amount of damage that you can take. You can wear and upgrade armor that helps with this, but we threw the Life Giver Perk from the Endurance category on for good measure. At its base level, this gave us an +20 to our maximum Health, but can go all the way up to +60.
This should give you a really good base character to get through the first few hours of Fallout 4. You’ll have more parts to craft and build with, and you’ll be able to access some of the mods that you need to increase the effectiveness of your weapons. You can build any character you’d like, but this is what we found useful to get us started in what is sure to be a very long journey.