Who doesn’t love a good RPG? Skill trees and perks let you customize the way you play the game and put your personal spin on your character. But video games are growing in scope and gamers are demanding more stuff right now, or else they are trashing the game on their empty YouTube “review” channel. This scramble to cram more things into games gives us great ways to play the game, but it also forces developers to put in perks and skills as filler. That way they can say you’re getting a ton of new stuff, nevermind that a bunch of it is useless.
Enter Fallout 4. The new perk system streamlines skills and perks into one simple system which is either a fun gameplay improvement or a casual “normie” move that heralds the end of the Fallout franchise, depending on which nerd you ask. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the new system, but there’s also a lot of perks that will make you think, “but why though?”
In Fallout 4, you’re an American anachronism using retro-future science to tame the unforgiving wasteland. Some perks help you do this, and others are just point pits that waste your experience. Hundreds of raiders and bloatflies died for that level; you owe it to their memory to spend it wisely. With that in mind, let’s take a look at ten perks that will help you bring the light of civilization back to humanity and ten that only a post-apocalyptic putz would pick.
The Fallout series is all about accumulating stuff, using that stuff to purchase or create better stuff, using that better stuff to kill people to take their stuff, and so on ad infinitum. The best things that can be used to acquire killing power are often hidden away in chests, secret floor safes, and in private homes where you are technically not allowed. But come on, you need that adhesive way more than that family.
To get to all the sweet loot that somehow remains unmolested after hundreds of years, you are going to need to get past some barriers both physical and electronic. Hacker and Locksmith are must-haves. If you’re down with OPP, then grab these perks, but only the first three ranks, for reasons we’ll discuss.
Higher perk levels means getting into more secure stashes, right? Well yes, but only up to a point. Rank 4 Hacker and Locksmith allow you never to get locked out of a terminal and never break your lockpicks, respectively.
The problem is if you are about to run out of guesses on a terminal hack, just cancel out of the computer and go back into the matrix for a fresh set of chances. And for bobby pins, you find so many of those things in the wasteland you could start your own beauty supply company. I don’t need an adamantium bobby pin; I’m drowning in them.
So you got a bunch of sweet booty from that poor settler's house or, as you’ll tell the merchant, “a raider camp.” Now you just have to figure out how to carry it all. Leave some behind? That’s communist talk. You’re one of the only actual Americans left, so fire up that eminent domain and manifest destiny because you are entitled to all of that swag.
Grab the Strong Back perk so you can carry all that pilfered, uh, I mean, “liberated” loot. Higher perks even let you fast travel while over-encumbered. No more crawling to a merchant or getting hopped up on chess just to get a few more caps.
The Scrounger perk allows you to find more ammo in containers. Excuse me? Did you miss the part where I pull in everything that isn’t nailed down like a killer post-apocalyptic Katamari? I’ve got all the ammo I need already.
What’s that? Oh, I’m out of a particular caliber of bullets? Well, let me just pick from the 13 weapons I carry on me at all times “just in case.” I don’t leave town with anything less than a platoon’s worth of killing potential, so ammo is never a problem.
As the sole survivor, you are from the past, which was more technologically advanced, so it’s more like you are from the future even though you’re hundreds of years old. It’s confusing being a retro terminator, but luckily you are too busy disintegrating raiders to worry about it. The best way to that is with Science! The perk and the general concept.
Why build a gun, when you can build a plasma gun instead? Lasers are scientifically proven to be more fun than bullets, so use them. Humanity has been using its intellect to find new and exciting ways to slaughter each other for millennia, why stop now?
You can’t tame the wasteland if you’re stooping to the raider’s level. Those radiation addled apes somehow think that it’s still a good idea to charge an armed threat with a tire iron. Do they not see the backpack full of homemade death machines you brought with you?
The Big League perk allows you to hit harder with melee weapons, but why? You aren’t a peasant; you’re a time-traveling reverse future person claiming what is yours in the commonwealth. Melee build is neither viable nor fun. Since you can’t blow people up or liquefy them with a melee weapon (yet), stick with the cleansing power of science.
As one of the last remaining Americans, it is your duty as the sole survivor to tell everyone what to do despite your flaws and amorality. For maximum “diplomacy,” pick up the Intimidation and Wasteland Whisperer perks.
You’ll be forcing people and animals to advance your agenda and starting proxy wars in no time! Who says you can’t have fun in the wasteland? Make a deathclaw rip your enemies apart! Force someone to turn on their friends and family! Ignore the miracle that is communicating with insects through verbal speech by ordering a radroach to kill a raider. The possibilities are endless!
I'm not against dogs. I love them, and not because cats are aloof buttholes. However, dogmeat as a companion is just dumb. He’s a good boy, but there are so many better options available. Why would I spend a bunch of perk points in the Attack Dog perk just to better one of my many companions?
Let’s take a look at my options here. Violent ghoul mayor, robot detective, heavily armed British butler droid, hard-drinking Irish waifu, French robot waifu, moralistic waifu that forgives your transgressions because you pick locks well, and... a dog. Sorry Dogmeat, I’ve got a robot army to build.
As Lady Liberty’s last scion, you hold a position of superiority over the wretched masses. How else are you so much better at wastelanding than the wastelanders who have lived here their whole lives? Since you are so far above them, the only appropriate way to engage the denizens of the commonwealth in close quarters combat is to treat them like the substance-less, paper thin chaff that they are and run through them as though they were nothing.
The Pain Train perk lets you run even the most massive opponents down with enough ranks. Using your God and, I assume, Constitution-given right to power armor, you can careen through your enemies and send them flying. What fools they are to stand against you!
Guns are for shooting. The constitution is pretty clear on this. What it doesn't tell us is to use our advanced projectile killing implements like simple clubs. Leave that to the apes and raiders.
The brasher perk lets you hit people with your guns harder. Uh, what? If someone gets too close, use a shotgun or just run through them with that power armor that you’ve had since level one. This using of guns for things other than their intended purpose that is a slippery slope that leads to gun armor and eating guns for sustenance.
With your glorious power armor and arsenal of scientifically engineered life takers, you’re ready to go on a tear through the Commonwealth. There’s a lot of property out there yearning to be relieved from their rightful owners, and to get to it all, you can’t waste time on things like “tactics” or “taking cover.” You’re here to do two things, and all the bubblegum is irradiated so that just leaves the one.
The Moving Target perk makes you nearly unstoppable as long as you are moving. Since we’ve already established that you are conductor on the 6:30 freight train to Killtown, you’ll enjoy charging into the fray while taking nary a dent on your power armor. And it you have to advance in the other direction (that’s “retreat” for all of you commies out there), you’ll be protected as you flee from the townsfolk who don’t understand your claim to their property.
The Awareness perk lets you see an enemy’s resistances and weaknesses in V.A.T.S. Let me save you some time. Every enemy has the same weakness: weapons. Yeah, you know how to overcome a resistance to bullets? More bullets. Susceptible to energy? As with every other situation, an explosion will do just fine instead.
Less is not more in Fallout. More is more. Hand grenade not working? It looks like it’s mini nuke o’clock, then. Laser rifle not effective? My watch says “half past all of my energy cells to the face.” Don’t let anyone tell you the best way to kill something; this is America, you do what you want.
So, this is an open world Bethesda game. In the long-standing tradition of sandbox Elder Scrolls and Fallout titles, your first character is likely a stealth archer. No need to deny it, there’s no shame or judgment here. Sure there are many ways to tackle a threat, but by far one of the most satisfying is sneaking through an encounter and headshotting unaware goons one by one and getting out without a scratch.
The Sneak perk is mandatory for all Fallout playthroughs. Sometimes you can’t charge across a battlefield guns blazing. Sometimes you have to sneak through enclosed raider encampments and pop their heads like balloons one at a time, pausing long enough between kills for their comrades to just give up looking for you because it’s too much work finding the person that is slaughtering their friends from the shadows.
Despite your sneaky ways, the Mister Sandman perk is useless. Killing someone instantly as they sleep? Who has time for that? I want that guy’s stuff now, and I’m not waiting until he gets sleepy. He’ll have plenty of time to rest when he’s dead.
Oh but your silenced weapons do more sneak attack damage? Big whoop. Silencers are for the timid. I don’t want to be quiet when I’m gunning down raiders. “Shock and awe” is the name of this game. Even while sniping, the crack of the rifle should be a constant reminder that their time is coming.
Maybe the Pickpocket perk isn’t exactly necessary for survival in the wasteland, but it’s just too fun to ignore. Sure you could blow that guy up with an RPG to steal his stuff, but it’s much more fun to put a primed grenade into his pants without his knowledge then watch him get blown to bits. Plus, you get off scot-free! No one knows it was you! Blowing people up and not taking the blame? Now you’re teaching these wasters about the American Way.
Get high enough into this perk, and you can literally steal the shirt off of someone’s back. Oh no! You caught me stealing your stuff! You’re going to shoot me, eh? With what gun? You mean this gun? Also, where are your pants? You mean these pants?
The Solar Powered perk seems like a good choice at first glance. Stat boosts and slowly heal all the time? Great! Except you only get these bonuses during the day and recover in direct sunlight. Lame.
This power armor parade has no brakes. I’m not waiting around for some time-specific bonuses; I have corpses to loot and people I need to turn into corpses so I can loot them. Stop trying to get me to go outside, Bethesda, that’s not why I bought your game. I gave money to Todd so he could provide me with a good excuse to become a hermit.
There are a lot of tough baddies in the Commonwealth, and shooting them doesn’t always work. Sometimes you have to take a different approach and shoot them, a lot. The Concentrated Fire perk makes each subsequent shot in V.A.T.S. more accurate if it's on the same body part.
This perk will assure you that the six headshots you’ve lined up in V.A.T.S. will find their mark. Also, if you have to flee from a deathclaw or super mutant exploding guy, you can turn their leg into red mush by placing 14 accurate rounds right into their kneecap and laugh as they limp after you. So grab this perk and get shooting, those limbs aren’t going to cripple themselves.
Some people say that it’s what’s inside that counts, not what you have on the outside. Those people do not have power armor on the outside. You do. Your technologically advanced protective shell is the physical manifestation of your wealth and all of the death you caused to achieve it. It keeps you safe, and you sate the power armor's bloodlust that simmers just below its sub-processes.
You don’t need the Adamantium Skeleton perk to protect your limbs. You aren’t some fan-fic self-insert character that’s Wolverine’s nephew or something. You spend your hard earned caps on armor so that your body parts won’t get hit in the first place. Reduced limb damage is unnecessary when you can just avoid damage altogether.
Penetrator. Got the giggles out? Good. This perk lets you blast through cover when you shoot people. It’s the best. You don’t have time for flanking or maneuvering. It’s going to take you forever to comb this raider hideout for every bullet and scrap of duct tape.
There is no hiding from you. The sooner the Commonwealth learns that, the better for them it will be. No matter where they cower, they will feel your touch as you penetrate even the hardest barriers to assault their soft bodies and put bullets deep inside of them. What? What’s so funny? Oh, you.
The Partyboy perk allows you to stave off the addictive properties of beverages in the game and even increase the bonuses it provides to you. This is a dangerous message to kids and teens that they can solve all of their problems with these drinks and that there are no consequences. That’s not how we do it in America, post-apocalypse or not.
They need to be taught the correct way, which is to use other substances instead. They provide better bonuses and expand your abilities. What? It isn’t wrong, I have a prescription for these, so it isn’t illegal. I mean, well, actually I found them in an abandoned hospital. But that’s about as close to a prescription as you can get out here in the wasteland. That or pay unscrupulous doctors a lot of money for dangerous amounts of chems. Some things never change, I guess.