Fallout 76 has a huge variety of different perk cards, and the way in which you use these is going to have an incredible impact on the way the game plays. There are plenty of ways to customize your perk cards to alter the game to exactly how you want to play it, whether it be a master of melee, a power armor powerhouse, and so on. Having a plan when leveling up is pretty important since each level allows you to put another point in a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skill, giving you another slot in that section for a perk card. If you're unsure exactly where you want to take your character, here's a general guide on perk cards, and which ones are in each S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat:
Each time you upgrade your Strength stat, it increases your melee damage and the combined weight of the items that you can carry.
The perk cards in the strength stat include cards that further increase the damage your melee weapons do, cards that increase the damage and effectiveness of your shotguns and heavy weapons, and cards that increase your carry weight and decrease the weight of certain objects.
Each time you upgrade your Perception stat, it increases your awareness of nearby enemies, your ability to detect stealth, and your weapon accuracy in V.A.T.S.
The perk cards in the Perception stat include cards that increase the damage and effectiveness of pistols, automatic rifles, and non-automatic rifles. There are also cards that give you some greater quality of life options, like hearing nearby caps staches and magazines. Lastly, there are cards that increase your lockpicking ability.
Each time you upgrade your Endurance, it increases your total health, how many Action Points it takes to sprint, and your resistance to disease.
The perk cards in the Endurance stat include cards that enhance your ability to survive, like cards that reduce the limb damage you take, cards that enable you to last longer without food and water, cards that increase the benefit of eating and drinking, and cards that grant you extra health or health regeneration.
Each time you upgrade your Charisma stat, it allows you to share higher-point perk cards with your friends, gives you more/better rewards from group missions, and gives you better prices when bartering.
The perk cards in the Charisma stat include cards that give your teammates survivability, such as cards that restore your teammate's hunger and thirst when you eat or drink and allowing you to revive teammates with liquor as opposed to stimpacks. There are also cards that increase you and your teammate's damage and energy resistance, stacking with the more of you there are. There's also a card great for lone wolves, granting you damage resistance and greater AP regen when adventuring alone.
Each time you upgrade your Intelligence stat, it helps your ability to hack terminals, upgrades the condition of the items that you can craft, and grants you better returns on the materials you get from scrapping items.
The perk cards in the Intelligence stat include cards that allow you to craft higher level weapons/armor and mods, give you a higher quantity of items when you craft them, and allow you to be more efficient and effective when repairing items. There are also cards that decrease the rate at which your items will degrade, ensuring you don't have to repair them quite as often. Lastly, there are cards that improve your ability to hack terminals and allow you to hack higher-level terminals.
Each time you upgrade your Agility stat, it increases the Action Points available to you in V.A.T.S., and it upgrades your sneaking ability.
The perk cards in the Agility stat include cards that increase the rate at which your Action Points regenerate, cards that increase your stealth capabilities, increase the damage and effectiveness of your automatic and non-automatic pistols, increase your sneak attack damage, and allow you to dodge some damage at the cost of some Action Points.
Each time you upgrade your Luck stat, it increases the recharge rate of your critical hits and improves the condition and durability of the items that you loot.
The perk cards in the Luck stat include cards that increase the damage of your critical hits in V.A.T.S., decrease the negative effects of certain mechanics, increase the positive effects of other mechanics, and give you some quality of life upgrades, such as the chance a kill in V.A.T.S. refills your action points, the chance that a hit in V.A.T.S. will refill your critical meter, the chance that using a weapon will repair it, and so on.
It's important to know what stats are going to be important for the build you're looking to achieve in Fallout 76, but it's also a good idea to spread the wealth, a little bit.
Most builds in this game require a high value for a few different S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, so make sure you're keeping up on all of them to remain effective as you level up.
As mentioned above, it's a good idea to make some notes on what kind of a build you want to achieve, unless you want to end up a jack-of-all-trades kind of character that doesn't have any real focus. Over time, you can respec your character after you hit max level, but it's no quick thing. It's much better to have an idea where you want your character to end up from the get-go, so you have something in mind that you're working towards.
Experiment! Have fun! It's a game, after all. If you have the interest, make a couple of different characters and give them some truly wacky builds that you mess around with. There are a ton of different options, and creativity can help make your character one of the most enjoyable to play, while still being a powerful force of nature to be reckoned with.