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.