Fallout 4 Asks: What Makes You S.P.E.C.I.A.L.?

As a new series of Fallout 4 [official site] trailers begins, I realise that I’ve always played pretty much the same character in every Fallout game, every time. In the style of cutesy ’50s animations starring dear little Vault Boy, the videos will go over the seven primary attributes of Fallout – Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck – and how they affect the way you play and the things you can do. Naturally, it starts with S for Strength. I have never built a high-strength character.

I’ve always rolled strong on Perception, so I can snipe eyes out of faces, and Agility, for the action points in the original Fallout games then for the sneaking bonus in Bethesda’s, with leftover points going into Intelligence then Charisma so I don’t miss out on many clever bits or conversation options. I have never charged into battle waving a honking great hammer, hurled a spear, carried a minigun (always had a pal do it), or intimidated an NPC with my jacked abs. Huh! Maybe it’s about time I did.

And in the game.

Here’s Bethesda to explain why a buddy survivor of the nuclear apocalypse might want to invest in Strength:

Fallout 4 is due to launch on November 10th, with mod tools and DLC following in 2016.


  1. stonetoes says:

    Creating a high-strength, low intelligence brute in Fallout 1 and 2 is great because of the completely different conversation options you get for the whole game. Everyone should try it!

    Of course with voice-acting being practically mandatory these days we’ll never see the likes of that again. :(

    • chope says:

      I actually did try this recently (In FO2), and found the actual low intelligence dialogue to be pretty groansome and put it down as a sign of the times. But it’s impressive they committed to it, and I’d love to see something like it that isn’t a cheap, prolonged joke.

    • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

      At least until we see some massive improvements to speech synthesis.

    • tomimt says:

      Nothing beats Arcanum with a low intelligence character. That one turns into pure comedy gold. You even get to skip some quests, as people think you’re almost too damned stupid to breath, so you’re too stupid to do any missions.

      • Myrdinn says:

        I second this. Arcanum has the pinnacle of dumb dialogue. Never really liked the low-int runs in Fallout, also because of the gameplay consequences of taking very low int (no skillpoints!).

    • Turkey says:

      The only thing I remember from my short dumb run was that nobody would give you any quests.

    • XhomeB says:

      It was the same in Arcanum – bestest RPG EVAR if you ask me, despite the crappy combat system. I so miss Black Isle and Troika.

  2. Porkolt says:

    Oh man, I love these promotional video series. TF2’s Meet the Team series is of course the go-to example, but CK2’s Deadly Sins series was equally hilarious.

    The production quality on this stuff is just great. Here’s hoping they actually follow through and make all seven.

  3. zind says:

    “I’ve always rolled strong on Perception, so I can snipe eyes out of faces, and Agility, for the action points in the original Fallout games then for the sneaking bonus in Bethesda’s, with leftover points going into Intelligence then Charisma so I don’t miss out on many clever bits or conversation options.”

    Are you me? That’s been me ever since I first got sent out after that blasted water chip. It made the little starter temple in Fallout 2 very frustrating, having no melee or unarmed skill >:|

    The exception to this is the luck-based character I made in New Vegas, where I put a lot in strength since I was largely using unarmed in my combat. Still a lot of agility though, for the sneakiness.

    • Lamb Chop says:

      In Fallout 1 + 2, my white rabbit was 95% bullet or laser to the eyes for a melty pile of goo on every enemy, which meant exactly that cocktail of attributes, pumped up by taking both Skilled and Gifted. And obviously I’d put six in charisma to have 3 companions and dump everything else in intelligence so you could max out speech, lockpicking, and science things to do every possible quest branch and skill check. That game was the greatest.

    • Kiiyor says:

      One of my most greatest characters took advantage of the *magnificent* combination of melee, luck and jinxed.

      Jinxed meant that you had a much higher chance of critical failures, but your enemies did also. With a melee weapon, you’d either drop it, or in the case of a powerfist, lose your ammo. No biggie. Unarmed, you’d usually fall over, but you could cripple yourself if you were exceptionally unlucky.

      Your enemies guns however (ESPECIALLY big guns) tended to explode in their faces.

      One of my greatest gaming moments was charging through an enclave outpost, watching all those elite solders fumble their weapons, drop magazines, or suddenly explode.

      There was one soldier left. I charged him, aimed a kick at his face, and promptly broke my own leg. He tried to fire at me, but his Gatling laser exploded.


  4. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Luck and Intelligence for me.

    I’m still very worried about the changes to the skill system in Fallout 4, so I hope we get some in-depth looks at it soon.

    • Distec says:

      The previous Fallout games had too many attributes that didn’t offer meaningful complexity. So we’ve whittled them down to Strength, Stamina, and Mana Action Points.

      Skills were a mess in the older titles. We’re going to consolidate them into a handful of core skills. Sneak, Melee, and Lockpicking will all be covered by the generic “Security” skill. Repair, Science, and Medicine will fall under the “Intelligence” skill. The others will be… I dunno, “Weapons n Shit”.

      Radscorpions and Molerats will be voiced by that elf dude in Cyrodiil.

      Half-joking, but it’s hard to deny the trend.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:


      • SaintAn says:

        Yeah, casuals are a cancer to gaming. They’re so stupid that everything with a little complexity has to be dumbed down for them so they’ll buy the games.
        RIP Elder Scrolls, KotoR, WoW, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and the entire MMO genre.

        • aleander says:

          You’re being sarcastic, right? Casuals are the ones who actually play games right.

  5. Text_Fish says:

    That guy has sadder eyes than BJ Blazkowicz

  6. Phendron says:

    The relative value of attributes in the interplay fallout games was always way out of wack, agility and intelligence being a mandatory 9-10 for min-maxers (depending on whether you were going to get implant chips) and strength being a total dump stat thanks to inevitable power armor giving you a free 3-4 (can’t remember exactly) points of strength.

    As a kid the game was brutally hard enough for me to feel forced to make as gamey a character as possible, as well as savescum at every opportunity. Fond memories nonetheless.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    I used to be pretty even in all stats with about 6-7 in all but charisma, which I dropped to one, back in the first games. The Bethesda Fallouts though, I don’t quite see the value of perception, since we’re aiming with a crosshair and the appropriate skills. agility is somewhat ok since it helps attack speed / fire rate, but not as useful as it was in turn based with action points. Strength on the other hand lets me carry around all the things and luck is quite nice for perks and critical. Intelligence is probably the most important stat, due to the skill points it gives.

    • Distec says:

      You aimed with the reticle, but there was still calculations going on underneath. There were plenty of times I was aiming dead center at somebody’s head and would miss completely and repeatedly.

      So Perception was a useful stat, but it also explained why FO3’s straight gunplay felt so weak.

  8. Day0ne says:

    My inner cynic did not invest in Endurance on this one. Anyone lugging around a spare Hype-away? Will exchange ‘Wait for the Sale’ magazine issue 1873 (well thumbed).

  9. syllopsium says:

    Hope this doesn’t suck, the style on those trailers is stunning. SPECIAL is, indeed, special and I do like FO/FO2.

    However, combat just takes a fecking age, and it’s difficult to know if choosing the wrong perks will cause hours of wasted gameplay further down the line..

  10. Turkey says:

    I always play as a sneaky sniper. I’ve never really been a fan of stat based sneaking in rpgs, though. Feels so trial and error-ey.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Eh, I can still get a lot of satisfaction out of the stat-based sneaking in the likes of TES and the modern Fallouts, but mostly because I’m willing to do a little roleplaying and suspending of disbelief. I would be over the moon if we got some proper, thief-style sneaking in a Bethesda game, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

      Stealth in Skyrim in particular is just hillarious. It’s by far the easiest skill in the game to max out, and once it IS maxxed you can scurry up to anybody, anywhere, and with only a minimum of caution you’ll never be spotted, ever. And with a bit of investment in one-handed and the right poison you can literally one-hit dragons. Good times.

  11. Universal Quitter says:

    I tend to favor putting it all into Intelligence, and raising what else I can with items and the occasional perk or trait, but New Vegas makes Luck 10 so sexy, it’s hard to resist the urge to make gambling a consistent source of income.

  12. Kaeoschassis says:

    Tended to enjoy playing close-combat bruisers in FO1+2. In 3 and NV, I’ve switched to sneaky builds with energy weapons as my primary combat option (since they’re much less of a pain to come by than they used to be). And high Int, of course. Charisma’s my dump stat. The low Charisma’s proved particularly interesting in New Vegas. My character ended up being a total genius toting a hilarious arsenal of lasers and pocket nukes (they’re sneaky if you slip them in someone ELSE’s pocket…ish), but everywhere he bloody went all he ever did was ruin everybody’s lives forever, doomed to watch them die and never being able to persuade anybody not to be a complete suicidal idiot.

    I’ve never played a high charisma build in a Fallout game, mostly because I prefer solo RPGs to party-based ones. Someday I’ll have to give it a try, but something tells me FO4 will see me sticking to my NV build. Bethesda’s writing it anyway, so I’m not going to be missing that much.

  13. sharkh20 says:

    I guess unarmed is no longer an endurance stat. Or perhaps power fists and other fist weapons no longer fall under the unarmed group.

    • Tatourmi says:

      The damage dealt via unarmed is determined by your skill (Based on endurance) AND your strength, which adds a raw bonus to your swings.

  14. racccoon says:

    I’m really enjoying replaying fallout 3 after a long while of not playing it.

    I Wish they’d release FALLOUT SHELTER for the PC
    What the hell is with them not doing that?!?

  15. XhomeB says:

    Too bad this “SPECIAL” has NOTHING in common with THE “SPECIAL” from F1&2 apart from the same name. The number crunching and systems are completely different, Bethesda took Oblivion’s stats, renamed them and called it a day.

  16. Stellar Duck says:


    Bethesda continues to miss the tone of the original game.

    They don’t do subtle well but they also sure as shit don’t do dark humour very well. It’s all out with them, all the time.

    The weird twang of Americana gone all wrong in Fallout has turned to all out nonsensical ’50s ‘Har har, isn’t educational propaganda movies amusing!? Right guis!?’

    It’s like watching a gorilla build a house of cards. It may stack a few cards but in the end, it just isn’t working.

  17. ctkag says:

    Liked the extra feature in F3 that added a SPECIAL point for finding a pool ball – for ten extra points in total if you found them all. Missed it in New Vegas, hope they add something similar in the new game.