If you're going to survive in the wasteland you'll need to focus on your upgrades and levelling. Lets break it down for you.
Fallout 4: How SPECIAL stats and Perks work
Everyone starts Fallout 4 with 28 points to spend on their SPECIAL attributes.
At the start of the game you can spend between 1 and 10 points on each stat. Don't worry if you're not too sure how you want to customise your character - you will get a chance to reassign these starting points once you leave the vault and venture into the wasteland. The attributes are:
Quite simply, the stronger you are, the more you can carry. You're going to be scavenging a lot during Fallout 4, so this is an essential attribute, especially in your first hours. Strength also determines the amount of damage you do in melee combat using knives, bats and the classic Power Fist.
Perception is crucial for VATS. The higher you Perception, the more accurate you will be using the assisted targeted system. It's also great for looting from other characters and planting bombs on them when they're not looking.
Endurance is your way of combating infection, radiation and damaged limbs - think of it as your shield. You also need to keep strong in the wasteland, and high endurance means you can eat questionable meats without poisoning yourself, including human flesh, should you need it.
Charisma in Fallout 4 is great for getting good prices on goods and supplies from vendors, as well as talking your way out of tricky situations, lying if need be and creating allies. It's also useful to negate addiction. Don't underestimate its usefulness.
High intelligence means you'll be good at weapon repairs, healing and using computers - as well as better options when crafting. It will also give you added, better, dialogue options when dealing with the people of the wasteland.
The higher the Agility, the more points you have in VATS to spend. Meaning you can cram in more actions than your enemies. It also helps you sneak silently, and eventually kill people in their sleep without being detected.
Luck will increase the chance of performing a critical hit on an enemy. It will also mean you discover more loot when opening chests, crates, drawers etc. High luck will have you filling you pockets in no time.
How Perks have changed
As you level each attribute you'll gain access to Perks - skills and abilities that you can choose as you level up. There are Perks for each SPECIAL, and then each rank within that SPECIAL, from 1, and in some cases up to 10. All together there are 70 base Perks, with multiple ranks totalling 275 Perks.
Levelling is faster than it was in Fallout 3, and unlike that game there is no level cap. The higher the Perk rank, the more exotic or focused the Perk is. So for example, a low rank in the Gunslinger Perk begins with increased range, but later ranks see you disarming enemies and crippling limbs with a single shot.
A lot of Perks from Fallout 3 return for Fallout 4 but they may be found in different SPECIAL abilities or have been folded into a new Perk, so look around for a favourite before committing. It's also possible to skip a Perk and raise a SPECIAL by 1, allowing you to access higher rated Perks. So remember not to rush into grabbing Perks just for the sake of it.
Fallout 4 has also folded the Skills from Fallout 3 into Perks in order to cut down on confusion and emphasise the SPECIAL attributes. For example the Sneak skill is now a Perk which you can choose.
Getting additional Perks
You can also gain additional Perks by finding comics and magazines in the Wilderness. Some give you a single Perk, while others raise the rank of a Perk. Collecting all 10 Grognak the Barbarian comics will raise the Barbarian Perk, which increases your critical strikes in melee combat.
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