With any game release as big as Fallout 4, naturally there will be a spike in public interest. But what can Bethesda, the game’s publisher, add to the already searing flames of hype? How about a video series in the style of 50s animated PSAs where the iconic Vault Boy is lacerated and crushed in hilariously brutal ways? Yeah, why not?
That’s exactly what Bethesda Softworks, the game’s development team, did with their Fallout 4 S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Video Series. Over the past seven weeks or so, the team released a series of seven videos describing each of the seven primary statistics for character creation in the Fallout games, Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. While the videos explain how each of these primary statistics work for the most part, they also leave a lot to speculation. So with my brand of hard-hitting investigative journalism and the power of the internet (but mostly the internet), I’m going to dissect the ins and outs of each video.
Before We Begin
Before we begin, it’s important to explain just how the seven primary statistics are going to work in Fallout 4. In previous games, the seven primary statistics would dictate how high your character’s skills were after character creation. If you have high strength, for instance, then you would have more points in the melee weapons skill and would do more damage with such weapons. Primary statistics also dictate your access to stat-boosting and ability granting bonuses known as perks. If you have a Strength primary statistic of 5 in Fallout: New Vegas, then you are able to learn the Heave, Ho! Perk if you also meet the level and skill requirements.
The systems almost completely changes in Fallout 4, however. According to Bethesda’s extensive guide on the character creation system and the perk chart, the skill system has been completely removed in favor of keeping everything based on perks. Whenever you level up, you can either select a new perk or raise one of your seven primary statistics. The higher your primary statistics are, the more perks you have access to in each of the columns for the seven primary statistics. For instance, if you start your character with 10 Charisma, you can select the Intimidation perk, which allows you to “manipulate human enemies into doing your bidding,” right at the beginning of the game. Each perk also has multiple ranks that you can increase if you have the required character level requirement in order to get different effects for the same perk. For example, the Gunslinger perk, which you can get if your Agility is a 1, “has ranks that up the range of pistols, add a chance to disarm enemies, and even instant limb crippling shots,” according to the guide. There are 70 base perks with ranking systems increasing that number to over 270.
While it’ll be a while until we actually get to try it for ourselves, it sounds like this system will be a lot more streamlined. I remember always getting frustrated whenever I didn’t have enough points to get to 25, 50, 75 and 100 in my lockpick skill so that I can open increasingly harder locks.
Each of the videos in the video series focuses on the perks and other benefits that come with each of the seven primary statistics. So with the perk chart, character creation guide and the Fallout wiki page on Fallout 4 perks in mind, let’s jump right into the analysis.
The video shows that Strength will once again dictate how many pounds of stuff you can carry as the Vault Boy picks up teddy bears, weapons and mini nukes. As we see from the perk chart, you will have access to the Strong Back perk. According to Bethesda’s guide, “Strong Back doesn’t just up the amount you can carry; higher ranks of it allow you to fast-travel while encumbered or even run while encumbered at the cost of Action Points.”
The video also places a heavy emphasis on melee weapons, as it cycles through weapons like the ripper and the baseball bat. We can see from the chart that the Big Leagues perk is returning from previous games, whose first rank will allow you to do 20% more melee weapon damage. And according to this recently released video, the final rank of the perk grants “double damage with a melee weapon, and gain a chance to cripple your opponent, or grand slam their head clean off!”
The most interesting aspect of the video is that it shows Vault Boy wielding a power fist. In previous Fallout games, the power fist is an unarmed weapon (note: weapons in this category not only include bare fists but also weapons like gauntlets and brass knuckles). This is interesting because the unarmed skill was affected not by Strength but by Endurance. So it looks like Strength will not only affect melee weapons but also unarmed weapons in Fallout 4. And as we can see in the perk chart, one of the perks is the Iron Fist perk which, in previous Fallout Games, increases the strength of unarmed attacks. And according to Bethesda’s guide, the fifth rank of the Iron Fist perk gives you a chance to paralyze enemies with your attacks if you’re character is at level 46.
At the end of each video, there’s a sneak peek at some of the other perks that you may have access to. The first one, depicting Vault Boy swinging a bat, obviously represents the Big Leagues perk. But the other two perks, depicting Vault Boy welding a piece of armor and a gun, are completely new to the Fallout games as their art does not match any of the previous perks. This may tie into the crafting system, which allows you to craft your own settlement, weapons and power armor. But if you look closely at the E3 video detailing the crafting system (around the four minute mark), you’ll see that some weapon mods are only available if you have a certain rank in the Gun Nut perk and the Science! Perk. So while the perk with Vault Boy welding armor may open up more recipes for armor upgrades, the perk with Vault Boy welding a weapon may not necessarily give you access to weapon mods. It may improve the crafting system itself, such as using less resources. It is unclear if perks will affect the modding of melee weapons as nothing popped up when the baseball bat was being upgraded.
The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (VATS) allows you to target different parts of an enemy’s body or multiple enemies to shoot in succession. The video shows that in Fallout 4, Perception increases the probability of hitting a target’s limbs in VATS, which wasn’t the case in previous Fallout games according to the Fallout wiki’s page on Perception.
The video then goes on the put a great emphasis on stealth. This is interesting because the Sneak perk is associated with Agility, not Perception. However, perception may factor into avoiding enemies after being caught, as the video implies. This makes sense as Perception extended the range where enemies show up on your compass in previous Fallout games. In addition, the chart shows that there are at least two perks dedicated to lockpicking, which was previously affected by Perception and is a part of many people’s stealth playstyle.
One perk teased at the end of the video shows Vault Boy “keenly assessing the unfriendly locals and terrain,” which may tie into the player’s ability to spot enemies through the compass. We also see that the Demolition Expert and Sniper perks make a return, which increase the damage of explosives and the chance to hit a target’s head in VATS respectively. However, we don’t know how these two perks will work in Fallout 4 specifically.
The video reinforces that endurance will once again factor into how much damage you take. According to the very bottom of Bethesda’s character guide, the three primary damage types are Ballistic, Energy and Radiation. We can already identify the Lead Belly and Rad Resistance perks for countering radiation and Toughness perk for overall protection. There also appears to be a perk showing Vault Boy as a zombie walking away from a mushroom cloud, which may also tie into radiation resistance. As for energy, one perk in the Perception column shows Vault Boy getting zapped by some cosmic ray, so that perk may counter energy. Though that’s pure speculation on my part.
The video also emphasizes that your character also needs food and water to survive. Food and water have always been integral to maintaining your character in previous Fallout games. But the video suggests that Endurance “will also provide new options for food” as Vault Boy attempts to acquire the meat of a Mirelurk, a giant, mutated crab, and is given his own foot for dinner. In Fallout: New Vegas, Endurance affects the Survival skill, which gives you more access to food recipes as it increases. But no such skill exists in Fallout 4, and none of the perks in the chart depict Vault Boy cooking food or doing anything like that. What could this mean?
The video also more or less confirms that sprinting is coming to the game as it shows Vault Boy running away from some ghouls. Sprinting can be found in most modern first-person shooters, but it was absent in the Fallout series until now. Sprinting was first confirmed unofficially in Fallout 4’s E3 presentation. As we can see from the description of Endurance given around the eight minute mark of the presentation (or this image here), Endurance will affect how much your action points, regenerating points that your character spends as it targets enemies in VATS, will drain as you sprint just like in the video on Endurance. Sprinting was further confirmed by a leak of the default controls for the Xbox One version of the game as reported by Gamespot.
One of the perks teased at the end of the video shows Vault Boy holding his breath underwater, so it’s safe to assume that the perk in Fallout 4 will affect how long you can stay underwater without needing to surface for air. I recall only one instance that I needed to swim underwater in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. In fact, you get the Rebreather in Fallout: New Vegas with grants you unlimited breathing underwater. So this could mean that there are more opportunities to swim in Fallout 4. Why would Bethesda Softworks devote an entire perk to it if you’re only going to use it once or twice?
The video then ends by showing that the Adamantium Skeleton perk, which makes your limbs more resilient; and the Cannibal perk, which allows you to eat dead bodies to recover health at the cost of gaining bad karma, will return. We don’t know how they’ll function specifically in Fallout 4, however.
Most of the legwork for our research on Charisma was already done by Bethesda, as their video on Fallout 4’s character system already revealed all of the perks in the Charisma column.
The video on Charisma shows making several successful trades, alluding to the Cap Collector perk which makes prices lower and selling more profitable during bartering. It also shows Vault Boy making friends with a female companion, which can either allude to the Inspirational perk, which makes companions do more damage in combat and prevent them from damaging you with friendly fire; or even the Lady Killer perk, which makes the opposite sex of your character easier to persuade in dialogue and easier to damage in combat. And it also shows that you can pacify animals to do your bidding, as shown in the Animal Friend and Wasteland Whisperer perks which deals with regular animals and mutated ones respectively.
The end of the video shows the Attack Dog perk, which allows your dog companion to hold down an enemy and increase the chance to hit it with VATS; the Inspirational perk and the Intimidation perk.
The video shows Vault boy attempting to hack into a hidden bunker locked by a password. This may point to the Hacker perk, a brand new perk to the Fallout series. The Fallout wiki’s article on the perk says that the perk allows you to construct a terminal at your settlement to manage defense systems or change the properties of lights and other electronic systems. However, this description should be taken with a grain of salt as there is no citation in the article. I think the perk would work as it did in the video: assisting you with hacking terminals. It may in fact work similarly to the Computer Whiz perk in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, which gives you a second chance to hack a computer if you are locked out after failing the hacking minigame.
Another part of the video shows Vault Boy experimenting with weapon mods, confirming that both the Gun Nut and Science! perks seen in the video on crafting will indeed be tied to modifying weapons. And another part of the video shows Vault Boy donning glasses and growing Hulk-like muscles to smash up some robots. This points to the Nerd Rage! Perk which, in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, increases your Strength and damage resistance when you’re at low health.
The end of the video shows off the V.A.N.S. perk, which creates a guide to the closest quest target, and the Medic perk, which makes Stimpaks restore 40% of lost health and RadAways remove 40% of radiation (while also suggesting that the perk applies to healing companions as well). It also shows a brand new perk depicting Vault Boy mixing chemicals, which may imply that you can craft chemicals and even Nuka Cola variants like you could in previous games.
It’s also worth noting that, according to the E3 presentation, Intelligence will also affect the number of experience points earned by completing quests, killing enemies and more just like it did in previous Fallout games.
The video confirms that Agility will make you more effective while using VATS just like in previous games by increasing the amount of action points you can spend in VATS, which in turn increases the amount of enemies or limbs you can target.
The video shows Vault Boy dodging bullets, which is similar to the artwork for one of the perks in the Agility column of the chart. We can assume that this perk will make dodging attacks from enemies easier. The video also shows Vault Boy avoiding mines. According to the guide, higher ranks of the Sneak perk will allow you to evade mines just like you can do with the Light Step perk in previous Fallout games.
The video also shows that sneaking will once again be a viable option for dealing with enemies and that the Sneak perk makes players harder to detect while sneaking. We have yet to find out if attacking while sneaking will yield more powerful attacks, though. The guide also says that higher ranks will also allow you to sneak and run at the same time just like the Silent Running perk does in previous Fallout games. Vault Boy’s ninja garb in the video also alludes to the Ninja perk, which gives players a higher critical chance on all melee and unarmed attacks and increases the damage of sneak attack criticals in previous Fallout games. But, once again, we don’t know how it will work exactly in Fallout 4.
What’s interesting is that the video also suggests that enemies can take advantage of sneaking too. The only enemy to my knowledge that took advantage of sneaking were the Nightkin in Fallout: New Vegas. So it looks like more enemies will be staking the player this time around.
The last three perks shown off were the Mister Sandman perk, which allows you to silently kill any sleeping person in previous Fallout games; a perk that possibly makes you reload faster and a new perk known as Gun Fu. According to Bethesda’s guide, the Gun Fu perk makes your second target in VATS take more damage with higher ranks increasing damage the more targets you select and increasing said damage to instant critical shots.
Finally, the video on Luck shows that critical hits will be more frequent the higher your luck is. Critical hits are no longer random in Fallout 4 like they were in previous games. According to the E3 Presentation (or this image) and an article by Game Rant, critical hits are rechargeable just like action points and you can choose whether or not to use them while using VATS.
Luck also will affect the amount of treasure received, as evidenced by the existence of the Fortune Finder perk and the Scrounger perk which increases the amount of money and ammunition found respectively. The video also confirms the return of the Mysterious Stranger perk, which gives players the chance of a person known as the “Mysterious Stranger” to show up during combat and assist the player.
The video also shows off the Bloody Mess perk, which grants 5% bonus damage and leads to more dismemberment; the Grim Reaper’s Spirit perk, which restores action points on a kill in VATS in previous Fallout games; and a new perk whose artwork is a homage to the Notre Dame leprechaun of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame.
A lot is going on under the hood of Fallout 4, and that makes it all the more exciting. The game is coming out in a little under two weeks (on Nov. 10th), and there will be much more to see as we get closer and closer to launch. And I can’t wait to sink my teeth into more information about this truly special game.
What are your thoughts on my analysis? Do you have any of your own theories to share? Let us know in the comment section below.