Fallout 4 is, in many regards, a lot like Fallout 3. It’s got the fan-favourite V.A.T.S system, where you can take aim at specific enemy body parts for maximum efficiency. It’s got your trusty Pip-Boy, which allows you to see all sorts of information about your character. And it’s got loads of things and people to shoot, befriend or completely ignore – all in the pursuit of delicious experience points. Points which feed into Fallout 4’s most reworked part – Perks.
Perks are the life force of character customisation in Fallout 4, acting as the building blocks for the combatant, sneaky infiltrator or democrat you decide to create. Returning as a series staple is S.P.E.C.I.A.L (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck), making up seven branches of attributes you can choose from. In Fallout 3, this was somewhat separate to your actual perks, which granted you abilities, combat perks and more. In Fallout 4, they’re woven intricately together.
Lead Designer on Fallout 4, Todd Howard, explains this briefly in a new walkthrough – which scratches the surface of how your S.P.E.C.I.A.L choices directly influence your perk options.
Each point in each branch of S.P.E.C.I.A.L unlocks a perk pertaining to that particular style of play. For example, a perk such as Gunslinger (increasing pistol damage by 20%) fits suitably as the first perk unlock under the Agility tree. Each branch has 10 base perks, which tallies up to a total of 70 perks you can get the minute the game starts. You will, however, only be given 28 points to throw into S.P.E.C.I.A.L, limiting you options before you leave the Vault for good.
Going even deeper still, each individual perk also has ranks which increase the effectiveness of the given perk and unlocks new attributes. Combining this with the initial count of 70, Fallout 4 boosts its effective perk count up to 270 – complimenting the faster levelling up and infinite level cap nature of the sequel. Levelling up lets you attain a perk or skip one to throw more points into S.P.E.C.I.A.L, giving you a great deal to work with when making your ultimate wasteland survivor.
There’s a ton more information on the Bethesda blog post itself, which details more about alternative ways to attain S.P.E.C.I.A.L points and which perks will be returning from previous games (like Gun Nut!). Fallout 4 is out this November 10th, and will now come standard with a poster of the Perk map above for your wall hanging pleasure. Neat!
Last Updated: September 25, 2015