- New - A guide to making a Pistol/Gunslinger Build
- New - A guide to making a Melee Build
- New - Scav Magazine - All locations and details
- For New Players - Read the walkthrough.
- New - Open Season
- New - Power Play Quest
- New - Raider Outposts
- New - Nuka World Endings Guide - Options and Benefits
- The Grand Tour
- Faction Perks and New SPECIAL Ranks in Nuka World
- Gage (Companion)
Fallout 4 Guide: Build Basics
Perk Selection & a Strong Foundation for High Difficulty
This build guide is not meant to direct you in what Perk to pick and when, but give you ideas. I cannot lay out a perfect plan for when you should take this or that Perk upon level up, but I can give you insight into what Perks will make your Character strong by the 50s and up, upon which time enemies grow increasingly powerful. I cannot do this because Fallout 4 is a vast game and we all take different paths. Here's a collection of beginner guides and detailed info on a good Perk-picking strategy for a Hard to Survival Difficlty game. This means it will work exceptionally for anything below that level.
First, know what Special Stats and Perks actually do for your character, beyond the game description. You'll need them. Perception is important for VATS usage, while Luck greatly increases the rate of Critical Hits at high levels. With Survival Difficulty doubling enemy damage, it's important to be able to use these on strong enemies at times, because you will hit so long as you have at least a 1% chance, and that hit can go at a weak point.
Other important newbie guides:
- Character - Stats Explained
- Leveling Up
- General Gameplay Tips
- Vats & AP Used by Weapon Mods
- Finding Crafting Materials
Carefully Study Perks
SPECIAL is important on a level, but you may plan to never get anything past Science! in Intelligence, or Local Leader in Charisma. This means you will not need either of these past 6 until you supermax your character. You can also gradually get them to 5 then get the Bobblehead to get the final point you need for these Perks! Perks almost always outclass 1 point of Special in terms of what they do.
Choose a Weapon Type
Every type of weapon, from pistols to automatic weapons, have different types of ammo. You need more ammo the higher your difficulty, because you won't do as much damage. You should bump into many of the game's weapon types by the mid-20s, so work with what you have until you get the type you desire. So you don't want to rely on just one ammo type, but may build weapons for close/medium/long range that have different ammo usage. Look at an example page I made Making a Sniper Rifle and Fast Hunting Rifle Out of One Weapon. This shows how you can use one weapon to make many different variations. Do also read the Vats Guide for AP Usage Guidelines on Weapon Mods.
The reason for this is all the hard choices you're going to have to make. Being able to put a point into a chosen weapon type is going to boost damage 20% and provide other effects. Later, you can specialize in multiple weapons but surving on high difficulty means - for some - being sneaky and getting an edge over your opponents, and outclassing the damage reduction you face from having the difficulty turned up. The main way to do this is to take your weapon damage upgrade Perk as soon as it's available.
This is not to say you should only ever invest in one type of weapon. Melee probably should, as the difference in fist/swing weapons is not nearly as different as the difference in an automatic weapon/pistol or a rifle. If you're mainly a pistol user, a couple of points in Rifleman may suit you well if you typically start fights sneaky and at range.
Once You've Chosen
Go after the Bobblehead for that weapon type. All of them increase critical damage by 25%. Here are quick links to help you find them: Unarmed, Melee, Big Guns, Small Guns, Energy Weapons. Note the only unrepresented type of weapon here is standard/automatic Rifles. Energy automatic and standard Rifles will get a boost, but ballistic will not - this isn't a big deal, as those weapons (shotguns/sniper rifles) tend to do more critical damage, anyway.
When Damage is Solid or The Perk is Inaccessible, Take Misc Perks or Raise SPECIAL
You won't get to hack anything if you can't kill the enemies guarding that terminal, nor lockpick a safe deep in an enemy base if you can't get to it. Sneak and Stealth Boys can only get you so far, or even get you into trouble sometimes, so it's best used on the fringe. Weapon Perks are available every 8-10 levels, which means that in between times you can get more optional things like crafting Perks, Hacker/Locksmith, Local Leader, Strong Back, and other things that will help you. Look at your Perk Tree to see when the next rank up in your chosen weapon is available, and you'll know you can take several Perks in between and advance your other abilities.
Carefully Consider When to Take Weapon Crafting Perks
It does you no good to get Science 1 if you cannot yet put a mod on a weapon that uses that Perk. Also, you may not get as much damage/accuracy or whatever out of the upgrade you may be able to perform. Since we can see the effect of upgrades on weapons before we install them, it's easy to do a little math and know if another 20% damage is going to outclass a simple +5% boost from a new upgrade.
Same with Armorer
Look to your Armor Workbench/Power Armor Crafting Station and see what's available with the next level of Armorer. If you can significantly increase your damage resistance, make that your next Perk. It probably will. Damage Resistance is more important the higher the difficulty. The more damage enemies do, the more Damage Resistance will remove. The Armorer Perk is far better than Toughness or Refractor because it gives BOTH kinds of Damage Resistance. Also, those 2 Perks are nearly useless if you use Power Armor.
At first, Lifegiver is Worth More than Endurance
20 points of health is actually 40 levels worth of 1 extra Endurance, and Lifegiver gives that to you instantly. The last rank will help you regenerate health slowly outside of combat, saving you some healing items, which grow more scarce when enemies deal double damage.
Whether you are using it heavily in a high Perception/Agility build, you should know you can tap this immediately when an opponent lobs a grenade and shoot it before it reaches you. You can also use it to scout - VATS may see enemies' location even when you can't tell where they are, and that might let you pull off a manual snipe or at least figure out where all visible enemies are located.
Don't Overlook Luck
When enemies are charging you, it's prime time to whip out a fast weapon and build up your critical meter. You can then use crits to hit a weak point on long-range enemies with your most powerful weapon. Building the Luck stat to at least 5-6 will help you find more loot - namely ammo, and build the meter much faster. Luck Perks like Critical Banker are some of the best Perks in Fallout 4.
On Survival, Medic 5 will help immensely
The slowed healing effect of Survival is the primary thing that sets it apart from Very Hard, and is what makes it extra-challenging. Getting the 5th rank in Medic later in your game will speed up the healing of Stimpaks, helping you to overcome this. They'll work a bit closer to a normal Stimpak in terms of healing rate while fully replenishing your life. The same is true for RadAway, as it slows down on Survival.
10 Perks to Avoid Early
These are some of the weakest Perks in the game and only worth a point much later. This is my opinion and you may disagree:
- #1 Basher - If you want to bash things, use a melee weapon. Plus this is severely limited in terms of damage.
- #2 VANS - A waste of a point. We already have a compass showing us the way out. If you have a poor sense of direction, you may take it. Even in that case, you may use the local map to help you out of a confusing building.
- #3 Pickpocket - Sorry, it's just not helping in combat and on high difficulty the chance to use its ultimate ability, planting a live grenade, is not going to present itself very often.
- #4 Awareness - This CAN be useful, but you should be able to tell in VATS if this or that weapon is going to do more or less damage. Also, you'll learn the three main armor types - leather (high energy res), metal (high ballistic res), and combat armor (balanced) and know what the enemy is wearing. When I get my guide to monster types out, you can use it as a reference to know the resistance and weak point of common wasteland creatures.
- #5 Night Person - +2 Int is going to get you a measly +6% experience, and +2 Perception gives +8% Accuracy over what you see in VATS. You might as well put a point in Perception and gain that 4% per point permanently and get yourself closer to a high Perception Perk that is good, like Penetrator.
- #6 Lead Belly - You should probably be selling foods like salisbury steak and dandy boy apples for profit. Use purified water from Settlements (make an abundance of pumps) and you have a near-unlimited supply.
- #7 Refractor - Take Armorer instead, or Life Giver to give yourself more effective life.
- #8 Toughness - same as above.
- #9 Aquaboy/Aqua Girl - There are times this comes in handy (the stealth portion), but they're few and far between. When you want to go after hidden things underwater, Rad-X and some specialized gear can help you. Don't use Power Armor for most of these journeys, as it can get stuck underwater because it sinks.
- #10 Solar Powered - the majority of your adventures will likely be inside buildings, and the sunlight regenerating health won't work there. +2 End at level 40 is +20 life. Lifegiver is permanent life. If you need some extra strength, you can drink a beer or use a chem (or both). My attitude on this is a little less harsh with regards to melee builfds, as they'd get +20% damage during day when outdoors - but it's very specific.
Send your feedback to [email protected] if you'd like to offer suggestions to improve this or other articles. I'll appreciate it, and other readers will, too!
More Fallout 4 Guides
Share Tips and Strategies Below
- Raider Outposts in Nuka World
- Nuka World - Play as a Raider in this DLC
- Far Harbor - Learn about the DLC, its secrets, and read walkthroughs
- Automatron - Guides to building bots and quest walkthroughs
- Settlements - An in-depth guide to Settlements and managing them
- Melee Build - the best perks for a melee character
- Sneaking - Learn to be stealthy
- Critical Hits - Shots to Crit and Crit damage mechanics
- Tips for Making a Build - General advice for creating your own build
- Action Points - AP and all the things that affect it
- VATS - all about the V.A.T.S. and AP usage on weapons
- Gameplay Tips - pointers that will help new players
- Making a Sniper Rifle Weapon mod examples. Heavy hitter and fast-firing Comparison - two guns from the same base.