If you’ve been keeping up, you already know about the SPECIAL perks system in Fallout 4. SPECIAL stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Agility and Luck. Now it’s time to take a look at each one of those categories so you can get a better idea of how you want to level up your characters. Fallout 4 doesn’t have a level cap like the previous games, which means leveling is very open-ended. However, you still want to have a general idea of which categories to focus on first and which ones you can save for later. Let’s take a look at the first two categories, Strength and Perception.

Strength

Strength controls how much weight you can carry and also determines how much damage you inflict with melee attacks. The more weight you carry, the bigger and better the weapons and armor you can use. If you want to build an agile character who doesn’t rely on heavy armor for protection, then Strength may not be an important factor for you.

When it comes to melee damage, that isn’t just damage inflicted by your fists. Almost anything that isn’t a projectile or ranged weapon falls into the melee damage category. If you like using blunt objects as weapons, or almost anything that attaches to your arm that isn’t a ranged weapon, Strength will increase your damage output.

If you typically use companions a lot, Strength may not be as important to you. Your companion will help out in battle, and while they can be knocked out, they cannot be killed. Using your companion for close range attacks while you attack from a distance with guns or other ranged weaponry can be a very sound strategy. If this is your preference, increasing your Strength would only help you carry more armor and weapons, and won’t have much of an impact on your damage.

Some of the perks associated with Strength include (but are not limited to) Iron Fist, Big Leagues, Strong Back and Weapon Handling. Iron Fist is a damage bonus to unarmed attacks, while a Perk like Strong Back will further increase the amount of weight you can carry. For the most part, the Perks in this category essentially buff the foundations of the category instead of adding new abilities.

Perception

Perception is a little harder to define when compared to something as straightforward as Strength. The long definition is that it enhances your environmental awareness and sixth sense abilities. In short, it increases weapon accuracy when using the V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), lock picking ability and how successful you are when trying to steal things.

If you’re unfamiliar with the V.A.T.S., it basically slows down time in an effort to make targeting enemies that much easier. Once time is slowed you can determine which attacks will be critical hits. You’re basically pinpointing the weak areas on an enemy, allowing you to inflict significantly more damage. The higher your Perception ability, the more accurately you’ll be able to pinpoint these areas.

The crafting system is a big part of Fallout 4, and one way to obtain items to use for crafting is by stealing. The higher your Perception, the easier it will be to successfully steal items, and the safer it will be as well. This also goes for picking locks to get into previous inaccessible areas to secure even better items.

Finally, some of the Perks in the Perception category increase your damage as well. One example is the Rifleman Perk, which increases your non-automatic rifle weapon damage by 20 percent. Demolition Expert increases explosive weapon damage, while Sniper increases damage inflicted by head shots. Increasing the Perception stat can be a significant benefit early on in Fallout 4, depending on your play style.

Check out our next Perks feature on Endurance and Charisma, and stay tuned to Prima Games as we cover each one of the categories in the SPECIAL Perks system over the coming weeks. We’ll also have a complete walkthrough and guide for Fallout 4 when the game releases on November 10, 2015. For now, take a look at what makes the SPECIAL system so... special.