Fallout 4's perk system has seen a rather drastic overhaul from what prior games have offered. In some ways, it's more streamlined, while in others, it allows you more freedom to build your character exactly as you want. As always, though, you'll be swamped in options – but which perks should you take? With any luck, this guide will help you decide which abilities are worth investing in.
Fallout 4 Guides
- Guide: Fallout 4 Hints and Tips for Beginners Fresh from the Vault
- Guide: Fallout 4 PS4 Character Builds That Will Keep You Alive and Kicking
- Guide: Where to Find All 20 Bobbleheads in Fallout 4 on PS4
- Guide: Where to Find All of Fallout 4's Magazines on PS4
- Strength Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Strength determines how much you can carry without becoming overencumbered. It also affects how much damage your melee attacks do. Each point in Strength Training increases these values.
Our thoughts: If you want to be deadly with melee weapons – or even your fists – consider pumping some points into Strength Training. Likewise, if you're finding yourself overencumbered on a regular basis, it may be worth investing a couple of points here and there.
- Iron Fist
Initial requirement: 1 Strength
Description: Your punches become more deadly with every point that you put into this perk.
Our thoughts: Punching is never going to be the best way of doing a massive amount of damage without the right equipment, but Iron Fist's later ranks offer some interesting bonuses. Ultimately, though, unless you specifically plan on building a character based on martial arts, you're better off putting your points to more practical use elsewhere.
- Big Leagues
Initial requirement: 2 Strength
Description: Increased melee weapon damage with every rank.
Our thoughts: A must if you're planning on primarily using melee weapons. The raw damage increase is obviously great in itself, but the later ranks provide bonuses that can be of huge benefit to close range brawlers.
Initial requirement: 3 Strength
Description: Each rank gives you access to better armour mods.
Our thoughts: Some of the more advanced armour modifications can make a big difference, so it may be worth putting some points into Armorer if you want the very best custom protection in the wasteland.
Initial requirement: 4 Strength
Description: Each rank grants access to better melee weapon mods.
Our thoughts: If you're a melee weapon madman, it might be worth putting a few points into Blacksmith, purely to make your equipment as deadly as possible.
- Heavy Gunner
Initial requirement: 5 Strength
Description: Each rank increases how effective you are with heavy guns.
Our thoughts: If you love mowing down your foes with miniguns or missile launchers, Heavy Gunner is the perk for you. Heavy gun ammo tends to be relatively rare, however, so it may be best to make sure that you're not solely relying on heavy guns as you main means of dealing damage.
- Strong Back
Initial requirement: 6 Strength
Description: Gain additional carry weight and nullify some of the negative effects that come with being overencumbered.
Our thoughts: Only useful if you often find yourself overencumbered, or if you want to carry a lot of gear around on your adventures. Otherwise, there are better perks to prioritise.
- Steady Aim
Initial requirement: 7 Strength
Description: Improve your hip-fire accuracy with any gun.
Our thoughts: Could be worth a couple of points if you like to shoot without holding down L2 to aim, or if you favour weapons like shotguns, automatic rifles, or even miniguns.
Initial requirement: 8 Strength
Description: Bashing with your gun at melee range does more damage with each rank.
Our thoughts: Bashing can be useful when melee attackers get too close to shoot, but requiring 8 points in Strength and 4 ranks is a tall order. Realistically, if you're already using a gun, you should be concentrating on perks that give you a better chance of killing your foes from a distance.
Initial requirement: 9 Strength
Description: When you stand still, you take less damage and you deal more damage with your melee attacks.
Our thoughts: The bonuses to both incoming damage and your own attack damage are not to be sniffed at. If you're a melee weapon user, Rooted can potentially make you incredibly deadly and very hard to kill – you just have to resist the urge to move when a deathclaw is rushing you.
- Pain Train
Initial requirement: 10 Strength
Description: You can now smash into enemies while sprinting. Wearing power armour makes the tackle more effective.
Our thoughts: For a melee based character, Pain Train can be the icing on the cake, especially if you use power armour often enough. Knocking down your foes can make for some very easy kills in fights that would otherwise be difficult.
- Perception Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Perception determines how accurate you are while using V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: If you're a big V.A.T.S. user, Perception can mean the difference between life and death. Be sure to pump some points into this if you find that your hit percentages aren't satisfactory in V.A.T.S.
Initial requirement: 1 Perception
Description: Each rank makes pickpocketing easier
Our thoughts: Pickpocket can be very useful if you're playing as a stealthy character. Picking pockets can lead to easy quest solutions, and later ranks allow you to severely weaken your opponents – if you can steal their equipment without being spotted.
Initial requirement: 2 Perception
Description: You do more damage with non-automatic rifles.
Our thoughts: A must if you favour rifles that aren't automatic. Later ranks allow you to bypass a significant chunk of armour protection too, making non-automatic rifles very useful when tackling bulky foes.
Initial requirement: 3 Perception
Description: In V.A.T.S., you'll be able to see your target's damage resistances.
Our thoughts: With only one rank, Awareness can be a decent perk if you want to know which type of weapon is best for the current fight. If you've got a free point and you're unsure what to use it on, it may be worth a shot.
Initial requirement: 4 Perception
Description: Each rank allows you to pick more advanced locks.
Our thoughts: You'll need Locksmith if you want to see everything that the wasteland has to offer. The trickiest locks often protect some very valuable items, and some optional areas can only be accessed with the final Locksmith rank.
- Demolition Expert
Initial requirement: 5 Perception
Description: Each rank increases the damage that you do with explosives.
Our thoughts: A must if you use a lot of grenades or mines. The first rank of Demolition Expert also allows you to craft explosives at chemistry stations, which can be very helpful if you're running low.
- Night Person
Initial requirement: 6 Perception
Description: At night, you get bonuses to your Perception and Intelligence.
Our thoughts: +2 to both Perception and Intelligence can make a nice difference, but Night Person is, of course, only truly useful if you're always exploring at night, and not finding a bed to rest in.
Initial requirement: 7 Perception
Description: Each rank increases your resistance to energy damage.
Our thoughts: Any kind of damage resistance will serve you well, so Refractor is a good choice if you want as much survivability as possible. That said, not a huge amount of enemies use energy weapons, so this may be a perk that's worth coming back to later rather than prioritising.
Initial requirement: 8 Perception
Description: Increases your effectiveness with scoped, non-automatic rifles.
Our thoughts: Perfect if you prefer sniper rifles or anything non-automatic with a scope. The third rank gives you a 25 per cent accuracy bonus in V.A.T.S. when aiming for the head, which is a pretty huge increase.
Initial requirement: 9 Perception
Description: Allows you to shoot through solid objects in V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: An interesting perk that can come in handy during shootouts. Penetrator is very situational, though, as many melee based enemies won't be hiding in cover to begin with.
- Concentrated Fire
Initial requirement: 10 Perception
Description: Each shot to the same body part gets bonus accuracy in V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: Concentrated Fire can be very useful when fighting bigger enemies that can take multiple shots to the head, as your accuracy will increase bit by bit. What's more, the third rank also grants bonus damage as well as accuracy, which can be an even better reason to nab this perk.
- Endurance Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Endurance determines how much health you have, and how quickly your action points decrease when sprinting.
Our thoughts: Endurance is a must for tanky characters. If you're always wading into the fray, you'll want high Endurance so that you can soak up as much damage as possible.
Initial requirement: 1 Endurance
Description: Each rank grants bonus damage resistance.
Our thoughts: Toughness can be useful for any type of character. With 5 ranks it can be quite demanding, but increased damage resistance is always going to come in handy. Well worth the odd point now and then.
- Lead Belly
Initial requirement: 2 Endurance
Description: You take less rads from eating and drinking.
Our thoughts: Lead Belly is a decent enough perk, but only if you drink water and eat scavenged food on a regular basis. The third rank grants you immunity to rads from consumables, however, so it can be reasonably useful if your only means of recovering health is to drink from a nearby irradiated puddle.
- Life Giver
Initial requirement: 3 Endurance
Description: Each rank grants additional maximum health.
Our thoughts: A perk that can be useful for any kind of character – more health is always a plus. Rank 3 is particularly useful, though, in that it allows you to regenerate lost health at a slow pace, which can potentially save you a lot of healing items when exploring.
- Chem Resistant
Initial requirement: 4 Endurance
Description: Makes you more resistant to chem addiction
Our thoughts: A must if you're always using chems to boost your abilities. The second and final rank gives you complete immunity to addiction, which makes chems very useful indeed.
Initial requirement: 5 Endurance
Description: Grants significant bonuses when in water.
Our thoughts: Aquaboy is obviously a very specialised perk, but if you like to dive into water and rummage around, it's well worth taking. The second and final rank gives the perk increased usefulness for stealthly characters, as it allows you to completely escape danger by going underwater.
- Rad Resistant
Initial requirement: 6 Endurance
Description: Each rank gives you bonus radiation resistance.
Our thoughts: Rad Resistant can be useful in the long run, when you're gradually becoming irradiated during your adventures. It's especially handy when exploring areas that have a lot of radiation – but overall, it's not a perk to get particularly excited over, as there are always ways to cure your radiation poisoning.
- Adamantium Skeleton
Initial requirement: 7 Endurance
Description: Each rank grants you increased resistance to limb damage.
Our thoughts: Adamantium Skeleton can be a solid choice if you're looking for more survivability. Crippled limbs can be a real menace during tough fights, and the third and final rank of this perk eliminates limb damage completely.
Initial requirement: 8 Endurance
Description: You can restore your health by eating human corpses.
Our thoughts: If you can live with the horror of being a flesh eating monster, the Cannibal perk is actually quite decent. If you're low on health after a fight, simply gobble up your fallen enemies and you'll be right as rain. Of course, the types of corpses that you can feed on are limited, so it won't be useful all the time.
Initial requirement: 9 Endurance
Description: Radiation regenerates your lost health.
Our thoughts: Ghoulish can come in handy if you're wounded, but its usefulness is obviously limited by radiation. The third rank can make feral ghouls become friendly at random, but you'd probably just be shooting them anyway.
- Solar Powered
Initial requirement: 10 Endurance
Description: During the day, you get bonuses to your Strength and Endurance.
Our thoughts: Like Night Person, only reversed. Solar Powered is more useful in the sense that it allows you to regenerate lost health while in sunlight, however. A good perk if you're always wandering the wastes during the day.
- Charisma Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Charisma makes it easier to persuade people in dialogue, and affects prices when it comes to trading.
Our thoughts: If you want to have an edge in conversations – whether it's demanding more pay for your work or getting the truth out of someone – be sure to put some points here.
- Cap Collector
Initial requirement: 1 Charisma
Description: Each rank grants you more favourable buying and selling prices when trading.
Our thoughts: Cap Collector isn't a bad perk if you want better deals, but keep in mind that you'll be finding a lot of good loot while you're out exploring. What's more, traders only ever have a limited amount of funds to barter with, so you may not be able to sell everything that you have at the inflated prices that it brings.
- Lady Killer/Black Widow
Initial requirement: 2 Charisma
Description: Enemies and non-playable characters of the opposite sex take more damage and can be persuaded more easily during dialogue.
Our thoughts: A worthwhile perk if you've got the points to spare. The damage bonuses aren't too bad, and the persuasion bonuses can be fun.
- Lone Wanderer
Initial requirement: 3 Charisma
Description: Gain bonuses when you adventure without companions.
Our thoughts: Companions can be incredibly helpful in Fallout 4, but the damage resistance bonuses that Lone Wanderer grants are decent, and at rank 3, you do extra damage to your foes. You'll need to decide for yourself if the tradeoffs are worth it.
- Attack Dog
Initial requirement: 4 Charisma
Description: Increases the combat effectiveness of Dogmeat.
Our thoughts: Dogmeat is a useful ally, and Attack Dog makes him even deadlier. If you're always travelling with Dogmeat by your side, it's worth putting points into this perk, but if not, then you should probably prioritise other areas.
- Animal Friend
Initial requirement: 5 Charisma
Description: You can manipulate animals under your level.
Our thoughts: Animal Friend can be useful, but only in certain situations. Against a pack of wild dogs, for example, you have a chance of pacifying one of them and unleashing it on its allies. Could be worth the investment if you're particularly interested, otherwise it's a little too specialised, and it's made somewhat redundant by Wasteland Whisperer.
- Local Leader
Initial requirement: 6 Charisma
Description: Allows you to establish supply lines and build stores at your settlements.
Our thoughts: A must if you want to get the most out of your settlements, otherwise you can ignore it entirely.
- Party Boy
Initial requirement: 7 Charisma
Description: Makes alcohol more effective.
Our thoughts: Party Boy can be surprisingly useful. The first rank nullifies any chance of addiction, while the third rank increases your luck by 3 points when you're under the influence. May be worth putting a few points into if you can find a steady supply of booze.
Initial requirement: 8 Charisma
Description: Makes your companions more effective.
Our thoughts: Great if you always have an ally by your side – more damage and more defence can't hurt.
- Wasteland Whisperer
Initial requirement: 9 Charisma
Description: You can manipulate any wasteland creature below your level.
Our thoughts: Like Animal Friend, Wasteland Whisperer has its uses, but it's still a little too specific to prioritise. It is more useful than the former, however.
Initial requirement: 10 Charisma
Description: You can manipulate human enemies that are of a lower level than you.
Our thoughts: Essentially Wasteland Whisperer, but for human enemies, Intimidation can come in handy during shootouts - especially against large groups. The added bonus here is that you can get non-playable characters to do your bidding in settlements or towns – which can give way to some delicious chaos.
- Intelligence Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Intelligence determines how much experience you acquire as you go about your business.
Our thoughts: It's worth putting at least a couple of points into Intelligence Training purely because it'll help you level up a little bit faster. Although you do level up quite quickly in Fallout 4, your journey will go a lot smoother if you're keeping pace with your enemies. Plus, Intelligence houses some rather good perks.
Initial requirement: 1 Intelligence
Description: Allows you to see quest targets while in V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: Being able to see quest markers in V.A.T.S. is, let's face it, pretty useless. Even at just one rank, you're better off spending your point elsewhere.
Initial requirement: 2 Intelligence
Description: Improves the effectiveness of stimpaks and RadAway.
Our thoughts: Medic can really come in handy when you're in need of treatment. Extra healing from stimpaks can make all the difference.
- Gun Nut
Initial requirement: 3 Intelligence
Description: Each rank allows you to craft better gun mods.
Our thoughts: If you're into crafting and want to make your guns as deadly as possible, it's worth putting a few points into Gun Nut. It's also needed for some more advanced settlement crafting options.
Initial requirement: 4 Intelligence
Description: Each rank allows you to hack more advanced terminals.
Our thoughts: Like Locksmith, you're going to need Hacker if you want to see everything that the wasteland has to offer. Terminals can have multiple uses, so Hacker gives you access to various options that would otherwise be unavailable.
Initial requirement: 5 Intelligence
Description: Allows you to gain extra materials when scrapping equipment.
Our thoughts: If you're not into looting little bits and pieces, Scrapper can be a good alternative. When you scrap weapons and armour, you'll have a chance of getting smaller components that are used for various modifications, which saves you going out looking for them. A handy perk if you're enthusiastic about your crafting.
Initial requirement: 6 Intelligence
Description: Each rank gives you access to better high-tech mods.
Our thoughts: If you want cutting edge modifications at your disposal, you'll need Science!. This perk's also a necessity if you want to craft high-tech items for use in settlements.
Initial requirement: 7 Intelligence
Description: Each rank increases how long the effects of chems last.
Our thoughts: A good perk if you're using a lot of chems, and becomes brilliant when used in conjunction with Chem Resistant. Get both and you'll almost always be able to be under the influence of chems without having to worry about the drawbacks.
- Robotics Expert
Initial requirement: 8 Intelligence
Description: Allows you to hack robots, manipulating their actions.
Our thoughts: Some of Fallout 4's most powerful opponents come in robotic form, so Robotics Expert definitely has its uses, but it's another perk that's limited to just one enemy type. One to come back to when you've got everything else covered, perhaps.
- Nuclear Physicist
Initial requirement: 9 Intelligence
Description: Increases the effectiveness of radiation weapons and the longevity of fusion cores.
Our thoughts: A pretty obvious choice if you enjoy using weapons that deal radiation damage, with the added bonus of improving your power armour capabilities. If you're making use of power armour at every opportunity, this is a perk that you'll want to invest in. The ability to eject your core for colossal damage is a nice extra, too.
- Nerd Rage!
Initial requirement: 10 Intelligence
Description: When your health drops below 20 per cent, you become more powerful.
Our thoughts: Nerd Rage can be a very valuable perk when used correctly. In tough fights it can be a life saver as it temporarily buffs your damage and your damage resistance, while also slowing time. Its third and final rank allows you to recover health with each kill, too, so it can actually be quite effective for characters that focus on survivability.
- Agility Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Agility affects how many action points you have in V.A.T.S., and how good you are at sneaking.
Our thoughts: If you want to play stealthy or love using V.A.T.S., you'll want to put points into Agility.
Initial requirement: 1 Agility
Description: Each rank increases your effectiveness with non-automatic pistols.
Our thoughts: A must if you prefer pistols. You get increased damage, better range, and even a chance to cripple or disarm your enemies.
Initial requirement: 2 Agility
Description: Each rank increases your effectiveness with automatic weapons.
Our thoughts: An obvious choice if you like using automatic weapons such as assault rifles, submachine guns, or even automatic pistols. The fourth and fifth ranks grant stagger chance, which can be especially helpful against tougher foes.
Initial requirement: 3 Agility
Description: Each rank increases your ability to sneak without being detected.
Our thoughts: An absolute must for any relatively stealthy character. Sneaking can be one of the most effective ways to survive in the wasteland, allowing you to get the jump on your enemies or avoid combat entirely. The fifth rank even allows you to disappear during combat, forcing your enemies to disengage and start looking for you.
- Mister Sandman
Initial requirement: 4 Agility
Description: Increases the damage you do with silenced weapons while sneaking. It also allows you to instantly kill sleeping non-playable characters.
Our thoughts: Mister Sandman is a great perk if you're all about stealth. You'll need to make sure that you have silenced weapons to make the most of it, though.
- Action Boy
Initial requirement: 5 Agility
Description: Increases the rate at which your action points regenerate.
Our thoughts: A must if you use V.A.T.S. a lot. Having your action points regenerate up to 50 per cent faster can make a massive difference during lengthy battles.
- Moving Target
Initial requirement: 6 Agility
Description: Decreases incoming damage when sprinting, and decreases how quickly your action points deplete when sprinting.
Our thoughts: If you play Fallout 4 like it's a shooter, dashing from cover to cover, Moving Target can be a pretty sound investment. Less damage is always good, and the final rank decreases your action point consumption so that you can sprint more often while reserving a larger amount of points for V.A.T.S.
Initial requirement: 7 Agility
Description: Each rank increases the amount of damage that your sneak attacks do.
Our thoughts: Perfect for stealthy characters, but may also be of use to those who like ambushing their enemies while sneaking at a distance. Ninja increases the damage of both ranged and melee sneak attacks, so it's quite flexible, too.
- Quick Hands
Initial requirement: 8 Agility
Description: Increases your reload speed with all guns.
Our thoughts: At just two ranks, Quick Hands is a simple and solid perk. Increased reload speed with all guns gives you more time to shoot and less time standing there defenceless. Its second and final rank nullifies the action point cost of reloading in V.A.T.S. too, which is a nice little bonus.
Initial requirement: 9 Agility
Description: Greatly increases the distance at which your melee attacks connect while using V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: A great perk for melee weapon users. Blitz lets you close some pretty big distances, which is perfect for avoiding as much damage as possible as you get within melee range. What's more, the second and final rank increases your damage depending on the distance that you travel, which can make already deadly melee weaponry even more destructive.
Initial requirement: 10 Agility
Description: Each rank increases the damage that you do against multiple enemies in V.A.T.S.
Our thoughts: Against groups of foes, Gun Fu can be used to thin the ranks very quickly. Increasing the damage that you do against your second target and beyond, it's a good perk to choose if you're advanced in the ways of V.A.T.S. - especially if you're using a gun with a decent rate of fire.
- Luck Training
Initial requirement: None
Description: Luck determines how quick your critical hit gauge fills. The higher it is, the more chance you have of finding better loot, too.
Our thoughts: Luck has an effect on several different aspects of combat, but by its very nature, it's not always reliable. Filling your critical hit bar faster is a nice bonus, though, and the chance to find better loot is always helpful, especially during the early hours of the game. Worth putting points into if you have some to spare.
- Fortune Finder
Initial requirements: 1 Luck
Description: Find more caps just about everywhere.
Our thoughts: Caps are initially difficult to come by, but later in the game you'll probably have ways of getting plenty. That said, if you want to hoard currency, Fortune Finder is the way to do it. The final rank is particularly enjoyable, too, but at four ranks, it's asking for a lot of investment.
Initial requirement: 2 Luck
Description: Find more ammunition just about everywhere.
Our thoughts: Ammunition for your favourite gun might be hard to come by, so Scrounger is a great way to stock up. However, if you switch between guns that use different ammo types quite regularly, you'll probably find that you rarely run out. Like Fortune Finder, Scrounger certainly isn't a necessity.
- Bloody Mess
Initial requirement: 3 Luck
Description: Do more damage with everything and, at times, watch your enemies explode into bloody chunks.
Our thoughts: You can't really go wrong with Bloody Mess. Extra damage with everything is never a bad idea, and the final rank of this perk can create some absolutely hilarious scenes.
- Mysterious Stranger
Initial requirement: 4 Luck
Description: The Mysterious Stranger has a chance of appearing in V.A.T.S. and lending you a hand.
Our thoughts: An undoubtedly fun perk that can prove to be quite useful if you're a fan of V.A.T.S. Of course, Mysterious Stranger isn't something that you can rely on, but the extra damage that your new friend brings to the fray can easily get you out of a bind. Grab if it you fancy your chances.
- Idiot Savant
Initial Requirement: 5 Luck
Description: Have a chance to gain small amounts of XP for doing just about anything.
Our thoughts: Idiot Savant's usefulness is called into question when you realise that you generally earn enough XP as it is, but if you want to level up even quicker, it may be worth experimenting with. Keep in mind, though, that in order to get the most out of this perk you need to keep your intelligence as low as possible.
- Better Criticals
Initial requirement: 6 Luck
Description: Your critical hits do more damage for every rank you invest in.
Our thoughts: Better Criticals can help you absolutely shred your enemies. Combined with a high Luck statistic and perhaps a weapon that also does increased critical damage, you can dish out ridiculous amounts of pain. Just make sure that you pay attention to your critical bar.
- Critical Banker
Initial requirement: 7 Luck
Description: You can 'bank' critical hits and save them for later.
Our thoughts: Together with Better Criticals, you can ensure that your character has access to some absolutely deadly damage. Critical Banker allows you to store up to three critical hits so that you can keep them for when you need them, and having more options in a combat is never a bad thing.
- Grim Reaper's Sprint
Initial requirement: 8 Luck
Description: Kills in V.A.T.S. have a chance to restore your action points.
Our thoughts: The icing on the cake for V.A.T.S. users. Potentially, Grim Reaper's Sprint allows you to butcher whole groups of enemies before they barely have a chance to move – but it's not completely reliable because of its chance factor. Still, if you've got plenty of action points and a good weapon, it's going to make you deadlier than ever.
- Four Leaf Clover
Initial requirement: 9 Luck
Description: Hits in V.A.T.S. have a chance of completely filling your critical meter.
Our thoughts: Combine this with Critical Banker and Better Criticals and you've got the basis for one of the most broken character builds in the game. At its maximum rank, Four Leaf Clover lets you dish out critical hits as if they're nothing, decimating your enemies with frequent, massive damage. You can't go wrong if you're a V.A.T.S. user.
Initial requirement: 10 Luck
Description: Incoming ranged attacks have a chance of ricocheting and instantly killing your aggressor.
Our thoughts: Ricochet has a better chance of triggering when you're on low health, so it's a risky perk to take. That said, it's undeniably fun to see your enemy get destroyed without you lifting a finger. Ricochet may also work quite well with Nerd Rage!, as both perks activate when on low health.
And there you have it, every perk in the game weighed up and judged for your amusement. Do you have a better idea of what you want from your character? Are there any details that you'd like to add? Prove that you're S.P.E.C.I.A.L. in the comments section below.