Friday, May 25, 2018

Fallout 4 Charisma Attribute

On my very first playthrough of Fallout 4, I maxed my Charisma as soon as possible. Truth is I believed Charisma was the best attribute in Fallout 4. Thousands on hours later it still is essential for all my play throughs. Without good Charisma you possibly leave a lot of experience points on the table. I recently earned 100 XP for a Charisma check with a sniper build. That’s a huge amount. But anyway enough of my gaming history and onto the breakdown of the perks in the Charisma attribute.

Tier 1 is Cap Collector. If you aren’t building settlements this perk isn’t all that necessary. Although the first two ranks give you a significant price discount over any other option it’s true value is in the settlement building as you must have the first two ranks to build stores at settlements. The third rank, which grants you the ability to invest caps in shops is a pass. You’ll have plenty of shops built at each settlement to sell all you loot. If you aren’t building settlements and still want the caps, you’re better off investing two perks in Fortune Finder under the Luck attribute.

Black Widow/Lady Killer perk is Tier 2. If you’ve built a female character this is a more useful perk as there are more male enemies than female and the bonus damage is nice. But it isn’t world beating, either. By the end game when this perk shows its most usefulness in combat, your weapons will be plenty powerful enough. The other benefit come from Charisma checks as it’s easier to convince the opposite sex and the Intimidation perk is more successful. Perk points best allocated elsewhere.

The Tier 3 Lone Wanderer Perk is the premier perk under Charisma and one of the best perks in the game. Let’s face it, companions are stealth killers and at best are poor shots and have little use in combat, except an overhauled Codsworth or Ada, both of whom can be devastating in combat and have a high carry weight. With the Lone Wanderer Perk you get a significant boost to carry weight +100 with rank 2, outdoing Stongback by 50. At rank 3 you also inflict 25% more damage while taking 30% less damage. And with rank 4, with the Far Harbor DLC, you get an addition 25 action points, a good bonus for V.A.T.S. users. And if you need to carry more loot bring Dogmeat along as he doesn’t count against the Lone Wanderer perk.

Speaking of Dogmeat, the Attack Dog perk can be had at Tier 4. The perks sound good but they really aren’t worth the investment unless Dogmeat is integral to your play through. Holding an enemy, maybe crippling a limb, and causing bleed damage isn’t likely worth the perk points as there are far better damage multipliers available. Give these a pass unless Dogmeat is with for the entire play through.

Tier 5 brings Animal Friend into the mix. You can pacify, incite to attack, or give specific commands to animals of the Wasteland. Other than provide to comic relief by bringing in a bloatfly to cause chaos, these aren’t worth the points. Easier to just kill the animals and the raiders. Maybe a Beastemaster-style play through is worth it or building arenas but honestly it’s more gimmick than useful.

Local Leader at Tier 6 is primarily for settlement building. You’ll need both ranks to combine with Cap Collector to buildshops, it only one rank to create supply lines and be able to build workstations in every settlement, which is beneficial as you can stop anywhere to improve armor or weapons, cookfood or make chems negating the need to always go to Sanctuary or Red Rocket or the Castle.

Like to drink? Well, the Partyboy/girl perk at Tier 7 is for you. This is actually a great perk for a variety of builds, especially and melee character as you can get even more strength by consuming alcohol. Plus your Luck goes up, and if you’re running a low Intelligence build with the Idiot Savant Perk, you can imbibe before turning in quests to 8mprove the chance of your XP multiplier. It’s a high investment into Charisma but probably a worthy set of perks.

The Inspirational perk at Tier 8 is mostly a pass. Yes it prevents you from harming your companions and them from harming you, but are companions worththis very high investment in Charisma to get? Since you’re far better off with the Lone Wanderer Perk, I would say no. Unless you already have high Charisma adding points to get here and then take these perks isn’t a great option.

Tier 9 and 10 are essentially identical to Animal Friend only they apply to wasteland creatures and people. Now maybe having a pet deathclaw is your thing or having arena fights with humans, creatures, and animals is also your thing. Either way these aren't worth getting until later in the game for any reason other than role-playing. Of course I'm going to be hypocritical under the Intelligence attribute in the next post as it has an option just like these only for robots.

Being able to manipulate others and have them do your bidding can be a fun and entertaining option, but the real strength in Charisma is the ability to dig out additional information and earn XP while doing it. I mean it is equally fun to squeeze more caps out of the tightwad residents of Diamond City. And, of course, the settlement system isn't fully optimized without the appropriate Charisma perks to make it happen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Fallout 4 Endurance Attribute

Endurance is the next S.P.E.C.A.L. attribute on the list and it's the most polarizing of all the attributes. Not because it's always argued as one of the worst or best attributes, it's clearly one of the best, but rather because all the perks associated with Endurance are unnecessary. I'll do my best to give a decent argument for some of the perks but none of the perks are absolutely worth early investment unless that's how you're building your character. No more delay...

Tier 1 you'll find the Toughness perk. This perk grants you +10 to your damage avoidance for a total of +50 if you get all the perks. Much like the Refractor perk from Perception, the additional damage resistance is attached permanently to the character in or out of armor. So you could run around in your skivvies and have 50 damage resistance. Good enough for the Corvega raiders but not for the Quincy gunners. All that being said, if you were to play using only the Silver Shroud costume, the plus 50 damage resistance will go along way toward beefing up your armor as the cap of the Silver Shroud costume is in the 80s. And unless you use a mod the Silver Shroud costume cannot be upgraded at a armor bench. So be sure to keep Kent alive and compete the Silver Shroud quest line before level 45 or you'll wait for level 100 to maximize your armor. (Note: The Refractor perk would also be of great benefit it only using Silver Shroud costume for your play through.)

The Lead Belly perk plumps down at Tier 2 Endurance. Aside from survival difficulty I can't see any reason to pick these perks unless you have nothing else to pick. Aside from the early stages of the game, radiation isn't a problem. You'll end up having so much RadAway in your inventory you can clear up a good 10-15 encumbrance by storing or selling RadAway. Besides, cooking foods removes the radiation anyway, and unless you're eating fruits (why bother?) just take cooked food along and use some of the over-abundance of RadAway.

Life Giver perk at Tier 3 is another you could easily pass on. Although the final perk carries an additional benefit of slowly regenerating your health when not in combat it's still probably worth a pass unless in survival mode. That's three perk points you could spend elsewhere and reap more benefits than +60 health and health regeneration. In fact, the final perk in Endurance gives additional boosts the Life Giver perk doesn't. Plus you'll already be getting maximum health by having 10 Endurance. Or maybe invest more into Smithing and negate more damage.

Chem Resistant is the first perk in Endurance that is worth a close look and it comes at Tier 4 and only has 2 levels, which can be achieved at level 22. You earn a 50% resistance to addiction to all chems, including Med-X, and then complete immunity to chem addiction. I will give one caveat to this perk, Refreshing Beverage. The Refreshing Beverage you can craft at a chem station will completely cure all addictions plus remove 1000 rads and restore your health. It's actually the best medical aid you can carry because you have nearly zero wait time for you rads and health to be restored, but it's heavy. Still, the weight of a couple of bottles of Refreshing Beverage might be worth it instead of using two perk points on Chem Resistant.

Tier 5 grants us the ability to use the waterways as a means of travel without drowning and taking radiation damage from water. This is the Aquaboy/girl perk. This is one of my must have perks. Not because you need it, as you certainly don't, but there are enough areas in the base game where water is available to explore or peaceful travel, and Far Harbor even more so, I find this perk invaluable. I don't have to carry extra radiation meds, I don't need the Rescue Diver Suit or a Hazmat suit. Although those options are more than acceptable, they all carry weight to them and for that reason I always pick up the first rank of this perk. To me it's worth one perk point.

Rad Resistant at Tier 6. Much like Toughness and Refractor this perk just gives the player character up to +40 radiation resistance if you have the Far Harbor DLC, and like those previously mentioned perks it offers little value for the high cost. Refreshing Beverage, RadAway, RadX, Baked Bloatfly only cost encumbrance. I would argue for it's value with ballistic weave armor if armor pieces can't be added or the Silver Shroud costume. Otherwise this perk is another skip. And a pro tip for reducing radiation in Far Harbor: stay off the main roads as that's where you'll encounter the most fog. Go cross country to avoid the clickety-clack of the giger counter.

A fairly legitimate perk comes in at Tier 7 with the Adamantium Skeleton perk. If you take all three perks your limb damage goes away permenantly except from fall damage from high elevation, but instead of dying (depending how high the fall is) you'll just break a limb. This also means explosives and explosive turrets do no limb damage as well. A decent investment under Endurance as it's the only way outside of power armor to negate limb damage.

Cannibal takes a bite out of the eighth spot in Endurance. This perk is a complete pass. As it suggests feeding on humans, ghouls, and Super Mutants will restore health. Just use a Stimpak and RadAway. One of the worst perks in the game.

The Ghoulish perk at Tier 9 is another pass unless you are building a radiation based character or plan on using the Assaultron head from Automatron. The early ranks allows radiation to restore lost health. Later feral ghouls may randomly become friendly. Not worth it as you can just kill the ghouls for XP and spend more perks points on better perks.

Finally, we get to Tier 10 and maybe the best perk in the Endurance attribute. Solar Powered is a situational perk like Night Person but instead of increasing Perception and Intelligence you get a boost to Strength and Endurance, plus 2 for each. So for a melee character this is wonderful as you inflict more damage and can take more from six in the morning to six in the evening. Maybe you're building a hybrid character who snipes at night and goes hand to hand during the day. Rank 2 will slowly heal radiation damage and rank 3 regenerates your health, maybe negating the need for Life Giver. Plus you get additional health during the daytime hours with the +2 to Endurance.

A few closing thoughts on Endurance. The higher your Endurance the less action point cost for sprinting, the more health you get each time you level up as well. Maybe a good character build would be a melee or unarmed character with 10 Strength and Endurance combined with the Chem Resistant perks and Solar Powered perks. With that combination and basic perk investment not including clothing you could have 12 Strength and Endurance during daylight hours and you could take all the Jet and Psychobuff you wanted and be able to knock down the Mass Fusion building with one swing of Grognak's Axe.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fallout 4 Perception Attribute

Next on the list for attributes is Perception. The Perception attribute is useful for a wide variety of play styles. And even more robust for role-playing or character creation than the previous Strength attribute. Perception grants the ability to shoot through cover, see at night, craft explosives, and increases your accuracy during a VATS firearm play style. Let's get started.

Tier 1 in Perception gets you the Pickpocket perk. For the most part, this set of perks aren't of any benefit. There isn't any real need to pickpocket anyone in Fallout 4. At the later ranks you have the ability to steal weapons but by the time you get that perk you can already plant explosives in your intended victims inventory which will instantly kill them if not detected, which negates the need to actually steal and equipped items. I will definitely give this perk a thumbs up for fun factor though as placing live explosives is definitely worth spending a few perk points in the late stages to spice up the play through. Plus, it give you a legitimate reason for keeping all those fragmentation mines you've collected over 30 or 40 levels. A fun perk but not all that useful.

One of the best perks in the game is next in the Rifleman perk. Non-automatic rifles and shotguns in Fallout 4 are incredibly powerful. In fact the most powerful rifle in the game is only usable with the Rifleman perks, and that weapon is the Gauss rifle. No other rifle even comes close to the overall power of the Gauss rifle. With proper perk investment and smithing you can have your Gauss rifle exceeding 440 damage per shot. And if you find a VATS enhanced or two-shot legendary variant...look out bad guys. Not only do you get super powerful one shot per trigger pull weapons but with the Rifleman perk rank 5 your non-automatic rifles and shotguns also ignore 30% of opponents armor with the chance to cripple a limb.

Perception tier 3 introduces the Awareness perk. This perk is a total pass. Knowing the resistances of particular enemies isn't all that necessary and it's a good idea to give this entire perk a miss. Even rank two isn't good enough to spend a perk point to get unless it's late game and you want that extra damage. And if you aren't using VATS this perk is worthless anyway. A non-VATS play through won't be taking the time to pull up VATS to target a certain spot. Besides head shots are always best.

Locksmith is Perception tier 4 and this perk fits in they convenience perks. Although, I find Locksmith a necessity as I don't like leaving any XP on the table. As you can imagine Locksmith grants you the ability to pick higher level locks in the game and can even grant you an unbreakable bobby-pin. Now bobby-pins are so common you'll never need to get the last rank of Locksmith but if you do you can always sell the extra bobby-pins. Locksmith also allows you to uncover more loot and ammo, especially rarer ammo types like missiles and 2mmEC ammo for your uber-powerful Gauss rifle.

If explosions really get your blood pumping then the tier 5 Perception perk Demolitions Expert is a must. This perk enhances the damage from grenades and mines, and allows you to craft your own (although I say pass on crafting grenades due to the high adhesive costs). With rank two you get a throwing arc which is incredibly helpful for tossing grenades through windows. Additionally, the Demolitions Expert perk also enhances weapons like missile launchers, Fat Mans, and the awesome Spray N Pray sub-machine gun.

The Night Person perk at Perception 6 is an absolute pass if you're running a low intelligence character who levels up with the Idiot Savant perk found under Luck. But if you aren't and want to get the maximum XP then this perk is for you. But also the ability to skip the awful night-vision scopes is a huge plus when you grab the second rank of Night Person as you get the ability to see at night while in sneak mode. Word of caution with the second rank, though, and that's to get out of sneak mode before reading any terminals as the text can become hard to read around the edges. The third rank of Night Person (if you have Nuka World) gives 30 extra HP. Give this rank a miss and add another perk to Endurance or something else.

At tier 7, the Refractor perk is certainly a perk that isn't worth the high investment to get to if you don't already have high Perception. And even if you do have high Perception you can eat foods that increase your energy resistance enough to get your through a fight. I would pass on this perk and add the points into Endurance for more HP overall. Much too high of a cost for any value.

Sniper, Perception level 8, is a good perk that goes to a niche perk as do the final two tiers in Perception. This is a high cost perk that gives you some overall value to scoped weapons with the first two ranks and its next bonus turns to VATS users. The second rank of this perk is where the real meat is as you have the ability to knock down your opponent. This frees you up to zero in on the next target while that other poor fool gets up again. Given all that, this perk could be passed on if you have the sneak attack multipliers from the Agility attribute. With those the ability to knock down an opponent is like a moot point as they will most likely be dead anyway. Some food for thought: A maxed Gauss rifle using the Sandman perks and the Ninja perks can sneak attack at over 2,000 damage (weapon damaged plus 30% for silenced weapons multiplied by 3.5 for Ninja sneak attack), enough to one-shot nearly every enemy.

Perception tier 9 and 10 are for VATS users only as the perks themselves require the use of VATS to be effective. The Penetrator perk is first at tier 9. The first rank grants the ability to shoot through cover with a reduction in accuracy. Now cover does include mirelurk shells and a piece of armor, but...If you decide to use a Critical Hit on your target, you will have the ability to penetrate everything. For example, targeting a fusion core from the front behind cover, which equates to multiple pieces of cover. This won't matter as Critical Hits always hit. At rank 2 you suffer no lose of accuracy when shooting through cover.

Finally, the Concentrated Fire perk. Perception tier 10. This perk offers some significant bonuses for VATS users. At rank 1 you earn a 10% accuracy for every attack on a specific body part. What this means is if you target the head of your enemy with VATS six times you get that 10% bonus for every shot not just the overall attack. At rank 2 your accuracy bonus goes to plus 15%, and the creme de la creme rank 3. With the final rank you get an amazing 20% accuracy bonus AND 20% more damage. For some perspective let's go back to the maximum damage from the Gauss rifle at 2,000. Now add an addition 20% to that amount for an unbelievable 2,400 damage.

Notable weapons in the non-automatic weapons category: The Last Minute (the Castle), and variant of the Gauss rifle that does an additional 50% limb damage. Righteous Authority (ArcJet systems) a reward for helping Paladin Danse, double damage for critical shots and critical meter fills 15% faster. The Railway Rifle, a powerful weapons that uses railway spikes. A reward from the RailRoad or can be found at Big John's Salvage, and Bedford Station after level 20. Old Reliable, a two-shot lever action .45-70 found in Acadia with Far Harbor DLC.

The Perception attribute, unlike Strength, offers many valuable perks. Some are quite specific but most are an overall benefit to playing Fallout 4 as an explosives expert, a shotgunner, a sniper. And of course, if you're into raw power with awesome damage output you'll want to trick out your Gauss rifle and snipe away.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fallout 4 Strength Attribute

Welcome to a new series on my blog where I dive into each SPECIAL attribute from Fallout 4. There are seven attributes from which to create and design your character. I’ll be dissecting and analyzing each perk related to a specific attribute. I’ll also be sharing my opinion on the best perk set and if they are needed, and what type of character would benefit most from each attribute.

Strength. This attribute is the character’s power. It’s related to carry weight, melee and unarmed damage output, heavy guns such as the missile launcher, and the Armorer and Blacksmith perks, Rooted and the power armor specific Pain Train perks. You can also find perks related to gun bashing and hip-fire accuracy for all guns, big or small.

Although, the Strength attribute looks sexy on the surface it is mired with bad perks and perks that aren’t necessarily essential. And I’m directly referring to the Armorer perk. The one and only time the Armorer perk is essential in Fallout 4 is the use of ballistic weave. Otherwise a player can pick up all variants of armor throughout the gameplay. And if a piece of armor comes with a specific modification like muffled for example, it can be return to an unmodded version thus storing the muffle mod in your inventory to be placed on a different piece within a same armor set. Metal to metal, combat to combat, synth to synth. And you can do all this without the Armorer perk. You aren’t able to transfer muffle for metal armor to synth armor. And you cannot transfer legendary modifications from one piece to another. Besides, you can get a fantastic suit of armor early in the game at Hubris Comics. Just take the Silver Shroud armor to Kent in Goodneighbor. Once you agree to be the Silver Shroud, turn off the radio. Start the Silver Shroud quest around level 23 and you’ll get armor upgrades in the mid-twenties -thirties -forties levels providing you save Kent. You’ll need 10 Charisma to do that so go prepared.

Before I get too far off track I’ll jump back to the first perk in Strength which is the Iron Fist perks. You automatically have access to this perk as each attribute requires the first level be the default. Iron Fist along with the second tier perks, Big Leagues, add to the damage output of either unarmed and punching weapons or melee weapons. Each perk point invested adding 20% more damage than before and maxing out at double damage. The Iron Fist perks have different specialties than Big Leagues. Most notably in Iron Fist is the last rank where a critical hit in V.A.T.S. will paralyze an opponent. And if you’re using a lot of V.A.T.S. for your melee character you would be better served with high Agility (Blitz and Ninja perks) and Luck (Critical Banker, Better Criticals, Grim Reaper's Sprint, and Four Leaf Clover perks). Whereas rank four in Big Leagues all enemies in front are struck. Important note concerning Big Leagues rank four: this perk is NOT settler friendly. If a settler is in the line of fire damage to the settler is a distinct possibility. In one of my playthroughs I killed both Connie and Lucy Abernathy with Grognak’s Axe when I attacked a raider they were engaging.

The next perk is Armorer which I’ve already discussed and then the Blacksmith perk. Much like the Armorer perk this isn’t an absolute need. Again you’ll often find the weapon mods during the gameplay. And to use some of the mods you’ll need the Science perks anyway. So, I would skip this perk altogether unless you’re building a power armor based melee/unarmed build, which is important to note you cannot use punching weapons in power armor.

At Strength level 5 you’ll find the Heavy Gunner perks. These perks increase the damage output of heavy guns the same way as Iron Fist and Big Leagues. The trouble with the Heavy Gunner perks are twofold. The high investment cost into Strength and the heavy guns themselves. Fundamentally, I find the heavy guns to be lacking. Unlike semi-automatics, snipers, and full auto weapons, heavy guns aren’t diverse. Sure there are some specialty weapons like the Cryolator and the Striker, but these weapons have extremely rare ammo types much like the Fat Man, which I would argue is one of the worst weapons in the game due to its high ammo price and rarity coupled with a poor area-of-effect damage compared to other explosive type weapons like grenades. You can easily launch a mini nuke at three enemies in close proximity to each other and only kill one. I think grenades are much, much better than mini nukes. And much like the Blacksmith perk you’ll need to invest in the Science (and Gun Nut and Demolition Expert) perks to maximize some of the Heavy Guns if you lack the patience for one to drop in the game.

Next is rank 6 in Strength and here you’ll find one of the more unnecessary perks in Fallout 4, the Strong Back perks. These perks are simply not that valuable. “But what if I’m a settlement builder and I’m a big hoarder?” you ask. Well, there’s a better solution for material management called Scrapper under Intelligence, and it costs fewer perk points overall. And with Scrapper you can collect one automatic assault rifle and you’ll get almost a shipment worth of aluminum and various other options. This frees up space for something else. Sure being able to fast travel while over encumbered is handy but there are better options to collect building materials. Skip these perks.

On to Steady Aim perks at 7 Strength. These perks aren’t worth the high investment to get. Some improved hip fire accuracy from all guns sounds great but is more a waste of perk points.

This also goes with level 8 perks Basher. Seriously? Melee weapons already do more melee damage than bashing does. And at level 8 Strength you’ll have plenty of power with a gun bash without these ridiculous perks. If you have your gun with you why do you need to pistol whip the enemy too? Just shoot them.

Rooted is a great situational perk and its rewards bear this out which is why it takes 9 Strength to get it. At the first rank you’ll get plus 25 damage resistance and you’ll also be inflicting 25% more melee or unarmed damage. The next rank gets 50 for each and the final rank may let you automatically disarm any enemy using melee attacks against you. Not sure if the final rank is worth the perk point though. Of course there’s a catch, you cannot be moving, and must be standing still, for this perk to work. But it will work with the fabulous Blitz perk from Agility. If you wanted to be a melee god combine Rooted with Blitz.

And finally Strength rank 10. This is another poor perk. I don’t want to say bad because it works well, but the exceedingly high cost and the situational nature of Pain Train just isn’t a good investment. Yes the perk offers some comic relief to the clunky power armor and it can get you out of sticky situations, but then again, you are in power armor. To make the most of this perk you’ll have a high investment in Intelligence as well to get the Nuclear Physicist perks so your fusion cores last longer because to use Pain Train you’ll need to sprint, which depletes the fusion core at a much accelerated rate.

Notable unarmed and melee weapons: Pickman's Blade (Pickman's Gallery), Furious Power Fist (Boston Common), Grognak's Axe (Hubris Comics), 2076 World Series Baseball Bat (Jamaica Plane), Deathclaw Gauntlet (Devil's Due quest), Rockville Slugger (Diamond City), and Kremvh's Tooth (Dunwich Borers).

Overall. I belief the Strength attribute the least useful in Fallout 4. You will almost always find better perks under other attributes. So unless you have a specific need (non-sneak, non-VATS characters) for Strength-related perks, save them for late game options.