Fallout 4 is a massive role-playing game. There's a ton of stuff you can do, both required and optional, but no matter how you choose to play, you will have to interact with the new Perks system. Bethesda has been releasing videos on the SPECIAL system and the Perks associated with it, but they don't offer a lot of detail on exactly how the system works. Even a recent post on Bethesda's official site may seem confusing at first, especially if you've never played a Fallout game before. Fear not, we're here to explain the new system so you have all the information you need when Fallout 4 arrives on November 10, 2015.
The SPECIAL System
The level up system in Fallout 4 is known as the SPECIAL system. That stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. Each category of the SPECIAL system has 10 ranks, a Perk associated with each rank. You can assign 28 points when you first start the game, then additional points every time you level up. Unlike Fallout 3, which had an initial level cap of 20, there is no level cap in Fallout 4, so how you build your character is completely open to fit however you wish to play the game.
When you first begin, you must select the starting value of each category in the SPECIAL system. This is where a lot of the customization comes in, as you can start with two categories at Rank 10 if you choose. This would give you a strong start in certain categories, but you'd be weak in others. If you're new to the series, it's best to evenly spread your 28 points, but keep in mind each time you level up (which will be much faster than it was in Fallout 3), you can select a new Perk from the SPECIAL system. By the end of the game you can unlock everything, so you don't need to be in a rush unless you know exactly what you want your character to excel in.
Different Perks will give you different abilities or enhance existing abilities. In addition, like the SPECIAL system, some Perks have ranks in and of their own. These additional abilities or enhancements are generally locked behind a level restriction. For example, the Iron Fist Perk gives you Paralyzing Palm at Rank 5. This ability paralyzes enemies through hand-to-hand combat. However, in order to unlock Paralyzing Palm you must be level 46 or above, and have already unlocked the Rank 1-4 Iron Fist abilities. It makes the Perk system almost a mini-tree within the SPECIAL system for creating a truly unique character.
Each SPECIAL category also includes a top-level Training perk. What this allows you to do is skip a normal Perk and instead increase the level of that SPECIAL category by one. We've all come across situations in which we don't want the next Perk, so this gives you the option of skipping that Perk in favor of increasing your SPECIAL level again. Once again, customization is key in Fallout 4, but you really need to map out how you want to level to ensure optimal use of your points.
The Perks in the SPECIALs system aren't the only ones available in Fallout 4. There are a plethora of in-game magazines that also contain Perks. At this point we're aware of over 100 magazines and comic books in the game, all of which grant special Perks you won't be able to get any other way. For example, there's a set of 10 issues of Grognak the Barbarian. Each one of these issues you find will give you an new rank for the Barbarian Perk. This is not a Perk you can find in the SPECIAL system, as it can only be found by collecting the Grognak the Barbarian comic book.
You'll definitely have to search around and work a bit to find and unlock all of the Perks in the game. Make sure to keep Prima Games bookmarked because we will have a healthy supply of Fallout 4 tips, tricks and walkthroughs as soon as the game becomes available on November 10. For now, be sure to check out a few tips on how to prepare for Fallout 4.