No Skills, All Perks: Fallout 4’s New Progression

If you’re hungry for solid info on the guts of Fallout 4 [official site], ravenous to dig in then settle back patting your infobelly and daydreaming about what type of character you’ll play, good news: Bethesda have cracked open a family-sized can of infoCram.

Here’s the big news: as many suspected, Skills are indeed gone, with their effects rolled into a bounteous system of perks with levels of their own. I’ll explain.

Right! So, traditionally Fallout characters have had two sets of stats. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system defines primary attributes like strength, agility, and charisma, while Skills governed proficiency in specific, er, skills like lockpicking, melee weapons, and repair. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points are set when you make a character, while Skills were boosted with points earned as you levelled up. On the side of these, it had a series of Perks, a choice very specific bonuses earned every two levels which either give boosts or unlock new abilities. Well, Skills are now gone, rolled into Perks.

Fallout 4’s new order has no level cap, slightly faster levelling than Fallout 3, no Skills, and a Perk point every level. It has a big chart of 70 perks – each level of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute unlocks another – each of which has five ranks. For example, Bethesda say, “Gunslinger has ranks that up the range of pistols, add a chance to disarm enemies, and even instant limb crippling shots.” Why ditch skills? Bethesda explain:

“The previous Skill system had some confusing parts and ended up spreading your choices too thin. Some of you had questions like: “What’s better, the Charisma SPECIAL, or the Speech Skill? Why are assault rifles in Small Guns?” Additionally many Perks simply raised associated Skills. The Gun Nut Perk in Fallout 3 increased two separate Skills. In Fallout 4, the ranks of Gun Nut act as gates for modifying and crafting weapons. Sneak was a skill in Fallout 3, and you simply increased its value. In Fallout 4 Sneak becomes a Perk that not only makes you harder to detect, but wraps in previous perks like Silent Running and Light Step into its ranks. By wrapping these systems together, it keeps the emphasis on your SPECIALs and the level-up choices more rewarding.”

This sounds more interesting to me than Fallout 3’s system. In Fallout 3, levelling up could mean simply getting an insignificant stat boost you’d never notice – especially if you were trying to raise a skill like Lockpicking, which would only meaningfully change with two levels’ worth of points. I dig the sound of every level bringing an actual change. Skill points were a leftover from Black Isle Studios’ original Fallouts, which Bethesda’s game was quite different to, and felt out of place.

Anywho, here’s a vid showing off the Perk progression and some nifty Vault Boy animations on your Pip Boy:

Fallout 4 is coming November 10th.


  1. Lakshmi says:

    Removing skill points sounded like it might be dumbing down, but that video looked pretty good. No more ‘wasted’ levels of trying to get points in a level or two.

    • Zanchito says:

      Just like you, when I read “removing skills” I was like “WAAGGHH PEASANTS!!1!”, but after reading the article I was like “By golly, that piques my interest and I would even go as far as saying I approve of this”. It removes the game from its GURPS roots, which saddens me a bit because I like my rulebooks, but as an independent system, it is interesting and adequate for the gameplay.

      • snowgim says:

        Yeah, I’m currently playing fallout 3, I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and I’ve already maxed out all the main skills I’m interested in. But there’s still plenty of perks I want to spend points on. Making skills into perks seems like the perfect soluiton to that.

      • MadMinstrel says:

        As a longtime Fallout veteran, I’m surprisingly OK with this.

        • ManApeGoneWrong says:

          Ditto. Skill points make sense in FO1/FO2, with it’s heavy Role Playing / Turn-based aspect. Not so much in FO3.

          Color me intrigued.

        • socrate says:

          as a big fan of old rpg im sorry to say that most of these thing don’t have their place in FPS/RPG they just don’t make any sense and didn’t add anything to the game at all im actually glad they removed it…that said i saw tons of +% stuff in there which are the most boring thing to ever put as “perk”..some that i read were ok but some also seems like stuff you would HAVE to get like mods stuff…that said they could make it work fantasticly…but in today’s world….the industry is just talentless and made for a youth that like to be rewarded and never punished,very few nowadays put in the effort in anything anymore.

          then again this is a bethesda game so dialogue will be horrible and made by a 12 year old and V.A.T.S problem was that i could snipe something in real time from a gazillion yard yet i couldn’t use V.A.T.S to do the same i would end up getting really crappy %…so unless you’re really bad at FPS i never saw the point in V.A.T.S at all and melee in the fallout FPS is the most boring thing ive ever seen now with a bit of physique maybe it will be better and people speculate that you can actually target part in melee now which would make this a bit less stupid,the perk for V.A.T.S didn’t even make it that much better..unless you were cornered and you needed to think there was no need to use V.A.T.S ever!even then like i said if you are good at FPS no reason to use it even in this situation.

          The assured crit gauge is also pretty silly…these game aren’t hard to begin with i know most gamer nowaday are beyond stupid but 1 shotting a dragon every 5 sec wasnt fun and this won’t be either.

          A big thing i hated also was the fact that shooting anything other then the head was useless,the arm shot were the worst since they got shot then instantly picked up their weapon and shot you back…was a waste of bullet.

          The faster leveling is a bit scary though since even in New vegas and fallout 3 you lvled soooo fast.

          The no level limit is totally fine and its been shown again and again that it will keep player playing compared to having to commit in these type of game nowaday and i dont like creating 10 character with a save system that is such a big dumb mess like the one that never change from bethesda…then again they have been using the same old engine for age now.

          another skill tree is never good though…ive never seen a skill tree that didint have HUGE imbalance in todays gaming and even then i can only think of 1 that was actually decent and fun in the old days of gaming.

          fallout is just a franchise being milked out for stupid people at this point so although some thing might look ok in this i really doubt it will be a big good thing…the old game made me 1 shot super mutant holding small arm….its just a really generic elder scroll with gun still…but the people who buy these just seem to be beyond stupid quite frankly…i wish i could have more hope but…ive 1 shotted dragon in the very beginning till the end of skyrim and there was never a single challenge on the HIGHEST DIFFICULTY…i just don’t see things that change the overall gameplay…even more so as long as they keep calling it an RPG even tho stuff did level with you still to some degree which btw remove the entire point of it having RPG element in it and thus why the game are always easy mode unless you mod it to have 6 dragon on you with 50 guys fighting you and each other.

          it does have a settlement(guessing a main base that you can upgrade) now so thats one less thing to add through modding but as usual with bethesda all the work was probably stolen from the settlement mod in NV and Fallout 3 and then put in their new game like they did with 70% of skyrim…and this is the company that want to make modding paid and then take their cut on it /rolleyes

          • ohminus says:

            The point in VATS and having skills is precisely that it’s an RPG and that CHARACTER skill should go before player skill. It shouldn’t be relevant how good you are at FPS style shooting for an RPG.

          • thunderlord says:

            i fully agree sadly enough skyrim gotten really boring because things gotten to easy to fast in the game. fallout i felt was lacking in a soul in most areas u gone into. (vaults, caves) what i mean by this i seen other games leave so much stuff to read or to watch. the vaults had very little to nothing but a few computers still magically on by the same person. bleave you me if i was in a vault i know i be making doodles and or a journal.. or letters to others…

            i do think games have been so dumbed down and lazily made nowadays.

    • Syra says:

      Yeah it definitely makes more sense now the fallout games are shooters and actual %s for each stat don’t come into play all that much…

      • JFS says:

        Yep. Also, press X to AWESOME. And learn everything about “How every level must bring significant reinforcement (… and how fast it has to happen!)”.

        Why do games have to become behaviorist-designed slot machines?

        • Veav says:

          Well, they are, y’know… games.

        • Beanbee says:

          Because most of playing games is qualitative. Knowledge/experience/understanding/investigating/exploiting.
          But we’re addicted to quantifying things. So there’s +1 power swords/levels/whatever.

        • Underwhelmed says:

          Fun is something for filthy casual baby gamers.

    • rgbarton says:

      I’d argue that this upgrade system will require even more brainpower simply because when you when to upgrade a specific skill like stealth instead of just pouring points into a category you have 3 options
      – Upgrade a stealth related skill you already have
      – Purchase a new one
      – Or level up one of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L.s to make a new one available

  2. LionsPhil says:

    That they bother to model a fancy 3D pipboy and show it off from a sweep of different angles, then animate a finger that’s stroking an area of it lacking any apparent control surface when it changes screen is just so fundamentally Bethesda.

    • Asurmen says:

      No, it clearly shows the wheel your character is using to scroll sideways.

      What is doesn’t show or animate is any method of moving up and down on the Pipboy.

      • snowgim says:

        I think the pipboy uses ‘leap motion’ style tongue tracking for scrolling up and down.

        • Max Planck says:

          You just made me lick my phone, I hope you are proud of yourself.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s a big ol’ Bakelite twist knob. The finger doesn’t actually twist it; it strokes it along its ridges, and it doesn’t move.

        • Asurmen says:

          It’s just a knob that rotates and you don’t see it rotate because you can’t from the angle of the camera.

    • Jambe says:

      Looks to me like the finger actuates the wheel indicated:

      link to

      The vertical scrolling is mysterious, though.

      • Asurmen says:

        That’s the wheel I meant in my comment.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Aha, that clears that up. Thanks.

          It doesn’t look to me like the index finger is in the right place for that, but maybe it’s the middle one doing it, or maybe the angle just makes it look weird.

          • Asurmen says:

            In those terms it does look slightly off but I’m pretty sure it is that wheel and it’s just camera making it look like it’s wrong finger/stroking the wrong place.

  3. GameCat says:

    I think this is a very good idea. Some people will say “lol, they make it dumber for console peasants”, but choosing new perk as you level up have more character than just increasing the numbers. Even when at code level there isn’t probably much difference.

  4. basilisk says:

    I know this is not a popular position in some parts of the internet, but I heartily welcome any RPG that attempts to replace stats and numbers with concepts and words. I find all the traditional attempts to quantify the unquantifiable very tedious.

    This sounds great on paper; let’s hope the implementation is at least half as good. Bethesda’s track record is a bit hit and miss.

    • Wulfram says:

      But the numbers are there anyway. The perks will mostly boil down to adding to numbers, or adding to numbers in certain circumstances, or allowing you to take away the other guys numbers in other circumstances. And some of them will likely primarily be simply skills but less finely grained.

      I mean, I approve of this if it means they’ll be doing more interesting things with the numbers, but its still all numbers.

      • basilisk says:

        Well, yeah. It’s a computer game, so ultimately it’s numbers all the way down.

        It’s more about the fact that the user-facing numbers are no longer on a meaningless 0–100 scale but a far more manageable 0–5 (or even less), wrapped around a description of what it actually means. Because really, what is “76 in lockpicking” in real-life terms?

        Of course it’s the implementation that makes or breaks the system, but I like the core idea a lot.

        • Rizlar says:

          Indeed, it always felt bad in FO3/NV where you would dump an arbitrary number of points into something like science then get told you need 3 more points to use a computer or whatever.

          • silentdan says:

            Oh, I know, that’s why I always hoarded all those temporary skill boost books. Oh, hey: no more temporary skill boost books! Woot!

        • ohminus says:

          “Far more manageable” to people who need their fingers to make even the most basic calculations.
          You ask what 76 in lockpicking is? It’s the equivalent of someone who has invested significant effort into being good at lockpicking, but still finds locks he cannot beat on a regular basis.

          Now you tell me what the real life equivalent of a light shining down from the heavens and you suddenly being massively better in something is?

          Perks in Fallout used to be a fun addition to your character, a tweak often done tongue in cheek. Not the main point of character development. As it stands, they should at least be honest, stop any pretense of producing a Fallout RPG and much like there was “Fallout Tactics” in ages past, they should call their games “Fallout FPS”. As it stands, they are mere quarters of an inch away from Bioshock.

          • basilisk says:

            That’s my point. This description you’ve just provided, “someone who has invested significant effort into being good at lockpicking, but still finds locks he cannot beat on a regular basis” can just as well (or better) be expressed by having the “I Like Picking” perk at two stars out of three. The additional granularity of having 75/76/77 points in lockpicking is utterly meaningless.

            Also, there are few tasks in gaming more pointless than trying to define “RPG”. And incidentally, I just spent some time looking at the F4 site, and they don’t actually call it an RPG at all. “Open-world gaming” is the closest you get to an actual genre description.

          • ohminus says:

            ” This description you’ve just provided, “someone who has invested significant effort into being good at lockpicking, but still finds locks he cannot beat on a regular basis” can just as well (or better) be expressed by having the “I Like Picking” perk at two stars out of three”

            Nope. Because that expresses that you’ve been interested in picking twice. Not that it’s something that has been with you for a significant amount of time.

            I know that some people accept nothing less than instant gratification. But that’s simply no credible process for learning.

            Bioshock was honest enough to declare itself an FPS with some RPG elements.

          • zacharai says:

            What’s the difference between a 76 in lockpicking or a 96? One is theoretically better, right? Better by a lot! But that was meaningless in Fallout 3. Both can pick the 75+ locks, neither can pick the 100-base locks.

            Instead, I was always planning ahead. Put my fifteen worthless points getting science from 50 – 65, so that next level I’d have enough for whatever plot option opens up at 75. I’m glad they’re getting rid of it – there’s really no benefit to the skills, unless you just like seeing numbers. I’m sure numbers can be modded in later, if it hurts that much.

          • silentdan says:

            I’ve always felt that stuff like lockpicking and pickpocketing should have short minigames whose difficulty is based on your skill level. If the difference between skill 77 and 80 were an extra 1.5 seconds to rummage in a man’s pocket before being noticed, that would work for me. If I’m near the dev’s recommended skill threshold, but not quite there, I can just grit my teeth, focus up, and let whatever skill I have in meatspace carry the day. And if I’m so far over the threshold that it’s trivial, then skip the minigame and give me an auto-win.

          • Y2Kafka says:

            How about this… what’s the difference between 74 lockpick and 75 lockpick? If you answered “a lot” you’re correct. In Fallout 3 it basically means the difference between being able to pick a hard difficulty lock or not. But then I can say “but there’s only one point of difference.”

            74 Lockpick = Average difficulty lockpicking ability
            75 Lockpick = Hard difficulty lockpicking ability

            There should NOT be this much of a difference in what amounts to 1% of a character’s maximum abilities in a skill.

          • socrate says:

            really its the execution by Bethesda that made these % really really dumb in old rpg that would mean 75% chance of opening anything but bethesda being really bad at making game and appealing to more stupid people went for the “require that amount of skill to actually open that specific lock” which destroy the entire purpose of how fallout game skill worked to begin with

          • Fenixp says:

            IIRC I got about 15 skill points per level in Fallout games. So if I tagged lockpicking, this would mean raise to 100 after about 3 levels or so depending on starting traits, if it’s not tagged, that makes it … 6? Yeah, the difference is massive, now I only have to click once instead of 20x :-P

          • ohminus says:

            Minigames are the usual putting player skill before character skill. It doesn’t matter that you adjust the difficulty level based on character skill as the final difficulty will still depend on the player – what’s hard for one is easy for the other.

            And the difference between 76 and 96 is that one put a lot more time into it. That this doesn’t bear fruit yet is a totally different issue from “let’s simply make it more granular and eliminate the time requirements”.

  5. Holysheep says:

    Uhhhh…. Yeaaaaah, so they used the old FO1/2 skills and it indeed didn’t fit their shitty, linear game, with linear level design and about one or two ways only to end a quest, with a lot of then useless skills, and then say skills don’t fit fallout…

    It’s your whole game system that sucks, bethesda.

    • Asurmen says:

      Yeah, none of that is why it’s been changed…

      • JFS says:

        Exactly, there was also the pressing concern of people not understanding “why big shootgun be small arms!?!”.

        • ohminus says:

          The big concern of people not getting the game theme. A big gun is a gun that wouldn’t look weirdly cute in the hands of a supermutant. A minigun. A rocket launcher. A Fat Man. A flame thrower. Big guy – big gun.

          But yeah, gotta cater to the most stupid potential customer out there. They are the ones still willing to pay even once they’ve reduced everything to a dungheap.

          • Underwhelmed says:

            You sound really angry. Maybe you need a, less stressful hobby?

    • gabrielonuris says:

      I was thinking exactly the same thing; although I think the perk -only system might work, the true meaning of this change is actually that Bethesda don’t know shit about implementing skill system into their games. They’ve simply translated the 1-100 skill system of the old Fallouts into a 1-10 system, where 55 lockpicking was actually “5.5”, so you wouldn’t see progression until you hit a full 6/60 lockpicking skill. What some people doesn’t seem to understand, is that in the old Fallouts you had “60%” of chance of lockpicking, instead of “60 points out of 65”. In other words, you could retry to open a lock, praying that your lockpick wouldn’t break inside the mechanism, turning it impossible to open afterwards.

      • Asurmen says:

        How is a mere % chance better than something actually based on player input? Neither is brilliant as numerous people have pointed out, but I’ll take some manual input over a dice roll anyday.

        • ohminus says:

          Because results in real life are randomly distributed?

          You only confirm you’d prefer instant gratification.

  6. marak830 says:

    Okay knee jerk was WTF?!? But after reading the rest im curious. Worse comes to worse, we can mod it!

  7. Harlander says:

    I can’t say I care about this either way. The mechanics of the skill system were never the reason I played any Fallout game.

  8. Sandepande says:

    Ooh, an evolution from Skyrim’s system.

    I like this approach.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      That’s exactly what I thought of. I think getting players to make more overtly interesting choices, directly asking them to choose how they want to play rather than looking for min/max stat builds is great.

      • ohminus says:

        Uh, yeah, sure. Because everyone who wants a realistic, immersive progression wants min/max builds. I’d say the opposite is true: People hooked on perks are those who want min/max builds, because it’s far easier to find out what these are.

        • Eightball says:

          “Realistic” is a funny way to describe tracking someone’s lockpicking ability with numbers.

          • ohminus says:

            Only for people who don’t understand statistics and stochastics.
            For those who do, it’s perfectly normal.

    • Sandepande says:

      And the munchkin in me likes that there’s no level cap, so I can potentially get every upgrade of every perk… Though it might not be possible to max every attribute.

      But that’s what console commands are for, when one feels playful…

  9. unitled says:

    I mean… Yeah, fine? I don’t think Fallout 3 really supported the depth of the skill system anyway, so glad to see they’ve moving to something easier to grasp.

    That said, while I still have a big soft spot for the original hastily cobbled together SPECIAL system, my problems with Fallout 3 were generally down to the writing and story quality rather than the mechanics.

  10. Didden says:

    To semi quote the video: “You do spend a lot of time in our games…” waiting for the community to fix the PC textures?

    • RedViv says:

      “…wishing we would actually come up with a good and accessible PC interface, ever since Oblivion.”

  11. Sui42 says:

    God, the Perk animations in that big grid thing look terrible. Very amateur.

    In fact, the whole thing looks pretty terrible. Kind of like you’ve zoomed in on an oversized wallpaper. It just looks messy and poorly designed.

    But, the new system does actually sound more involving / fun. It’s true that, while I loved the old system, it was based on pen-and-paper RPG basics, while the new Fallout games are just shooters.

    Crappy shooters that don’t understand the cruel ironic humour of the original games, but shooters nonetheless.

    • Dominitus says:

      You realise they’re not supposed to look polished… right?

      • Rizlar says:

        There is a difference between evoking a certain style and something just not scanning well. I would say ‘but they have time to refine it’, but perhaps they don’t…

      • Sui42 says:

        “But they’re SUPPOSED to look shit!”

        Also, if you’re referring to the fact that Fallout is evoking an early 20th century aesthetic – early 20th century animation was actually pretty damn good, because it was painstakingly animated frame-by-frame. Certainly much better than what they’ve done here.

        If you actually mean it’s not polished because the feature’s not ready yet, then why the hell are they showing off the feature?

        • Asurmen says:

          No, he’s simply saying it’s not supposed to look fancy smooth. That’s all.

        • sweenish says:

          But what about animation on 1950’s era wrist computers? Did you consider that very real scenario?

  12. Wizardry says:

    Little point in skills, perks or attributes when it’s a first person shooter. Might as well just make it purely player skill driven.

  13. Laurentius says:

    Bah, so I say it upfront here for, if this game won’t turn into trainwreck Fallout 3 was I will eat my VaultBoy Made Man style fedora. Well I don’t own fedora but I will buy it and eat it.

  14. pasports31 says:

    While it makes me kind of sad they’re getting rid of skills because it doesn’t really “feel like Fallout” without the traditional stats, at the same time I feel like this is a pretty good and interesting approach. Perks are blocked off based on SPECIAL stats which encourages different builds and role playing, so while skills are gone it still doesn’t seem like a huge divergence from “traditional” fallout. Anyway, can’t wait for this game. Only game all year I’ll probably buy on release date.

  15. Arehandoro says:

    I don’t know whether this change will be better or worse. I do know I don’t like it for the look of it, though.

    • skyturnedred says:

      It seems odd that the perk screen isn’t part of the Pipboy interface.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Same here. The art style is trying to cram the cute Vault Boy graphics into what would otherwise be a horizontal, text-based upgrade tree. It’s just too visually cluttered.

      It might work better if it was in black and white (or Pip Boy green), and if they got rid of that distracting brick wall background. Although it’s probably too late for any changes, if this is the official in-game Perks screen.

  16. Lars Westergren says:

    I’m fine with this change. I expect to get my complex stat/skill interactions lust sated with Age of Decadence.

    What I’m waiting for info on is the story and if this feels like a coherent world to explore like in Fallout:NV, or a post-apocalyptic theme park with evenly spread isolated “rides” like in F3.

    • Harlander says:

      I could really go for either (I quite enjoyed F3’s wandering around stumbling over stuff style), but I rather expect the latter in this case.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Yeah, F3 was ok, I’m not in the “hated it” group (anymore). In fact, one thing Bethesda does really well is the little vignettes. Stumbling over a scene, and you watch carefully you can piece together what has happened, for instance the nursery robot walking around in an endless loop tending to the baby skeletons. Or the ramps with the motorcycle wreck in the subway tunnels, and if you look up, the skeleton hanging with its head stuck in a crack in the ceiling.

        I just with the world building was as good on a macro level.

  17. Myrdinn says:

    Great! Now my small mind can understand I’m making meaningful strides when leveling up! Gosh this is great!

  18. Jekadu says:

    This seems like a good change. Having three (four with Traits) systems for character building was a bit overkill in terms of designing interesting interactions. How do you decide if Intelligence, Science or a particular Perk should be available as a solution to a problem? All three? Did you forget one? Was there really a point to maxing out your Electronics?

    Removing what is probably the least interesting layer makes the other two that much more compelling. From what I gather, Skills were intended to cover a wide range of interactions, but they never really succeeded at doing that. They were ultimately just numbers you increased each time you leveled up. SPECIAL and Perks are much more fun and interesting.

    • ohminus says:

      “Removing what is probably the least interesting layer makes the other two that much more compelling. ”

      For whom? People with a problem grasping double-digit numbers?

      “From what I gather, Skills were intended to cover a wide range of interactions, but they never really succeeded at doing that. ”

      So the fact that their quest design sucks is an argument to dumb down the game to the level of their quest writing skills?

      “SPECIAL and Perks are much more fun and interesting.”

      Inabout as much as a diet consisting solely of ice cream or a cake consisting solely of icing is “fun and interesting” – it’s missing what the main staple should be.

      SPECIAL is the natural ability, skill is your training and perks were the little quirks and shticks you developed over time. There’s little that’s incomprehensible about that. Perks were never the main thing, they were the icing.

      • Not Marvelous says:

        I (honestly) wish they would just drop the VATS, it’s a very patched-together mechanic that would never be there if these weren’t officially Fallout sequels. And if they had a proper engine for first person shooting.

        And I say that as a lover of tabletop RPGs, the first two Fallouts and as someone who hasn’t enjoyed an FPS since the first Half-Life.

        • Not Marvelous says:

          Mistakenly replying to a comment and not commenting on the article.

        • silentdan says:

          I really like VATS. It lets me pick whether I want to leverage my own skill, or my character’s. Like Max Payne’s bullet-time ability, it lets me “go superhero” for the tougher segments.

          Funny aside: I recommended Max Payne to a friend many years ago, and didn’t see him for a few months afterwards. When we ran into each other again, he told me he loved the game, but found it to be by far the hardest shooter he’d ever played. After hearing him explain why, I realized he’d never found out about bullet time. Dude finished the original Max Payne at full speed, the whole way. Damned impressive, if you ask me.

        • Zenicetus says:

          The best thing about VATS is that it’s optional. You have the choice of a helper, or can go hardcore iron sights with your leet FPS skills.

          The worst thing about VATS is that it’s inevitably tied to the skills/perks system, so in the early levels it will intentionally miss shots I can easily pull off without it. And once I’ve leveled up, it’s much more consistent in hitting than I am. Especially with fast moving targets at close range.

          But either way it’s still optional, so I can’t complain about a game system that offers choices like that.

          • Not Marvelous says:

            What? Of course you can complain even though it’s optional – you said why yourself. It influences the games’ design too much to be ignored and is unwieldy. Also, what kind of ridiculous game it is that says, pick if you wanna play a shooter or kind-of-an-rpg every single time I wanna shoot a gun? That is the type of choice I would like to be made by the developers.

            Also, the engine is just not good for shooting. But who knows, maybe they make it good now.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Well, I’ll agree that engine isn’t the best I’ve ever seen for shooting, but it’s not terrible.

            In manual non-VATS mode, it works fine for long-range sniping and for short range Rambo run-and-gun fights. What it lacks is a cover mechanic for mid-range fights, and an AI that uses cover. There are many ways to design cover mechanics poorly, so it’s probably just as well that Bethesda keeps it simple.

  19. ohminus says:

    I’ll guess I’ll postpone my purchase until someone introduces a mod to give the meat back to the game. But alas, that won’t rescue that they will have dumbed down their quest writing even more to cater to their feature-itis.

    This news pretty much confirms my impression that they are more and more substituting quantity for quality. Tons of different features, each and every one of them with the depth of a molecular monolayer.

    • Asurmen says:

      Beause the previous skills tree was oh so deep.

      • sweenish says:

        Exactly this.

        There was some room for variation, but for most people, it was just manually making the same numbers go up.

        The guy you’re replying to, though. They don’t have much else to do right now.

  20. Sandepande says:

    It might be just me, but I can’t seem to remember that FO1 or 2 had that much more “depth” in their use of skills – picking locks, repairing stuff, healing yourself until you needed to rest… Oh yeah. Explosives might detonate prematurely, that was dropped by Bethesda.

    And they want to make these games how they want to make them, and I’m fine with that.

  21. Crafter says:

    I have nothing against revamping the system but this makes me worried :

    – intimidation is a Charisma only perk ? so a character with 10 charisma, 1 strength, 1 agility can intimidate somebody ? whereas a 5 charisma, 10 strength, 10 agility can not ? does not make too much sense.
    -I am not sure I am a fan of having perfs gated behind your specials levels. This seems rather limiting.
    -The whole interface seems to imply that you can more easily upgrade your special levels. I really hope it is not the case. Having to distribute your special points and then only very rarely be able to change them was one of the strengths of Fallout for me. It also supported many interesting play styles : brute without charisma or intelligence, smart ass unable to wield a gun, …
    -unlimited level cap ? Considering Bethesda inability to balance their games so that they stay challenging even at high levels, I find that very frightening.

    My main gripe with Fallout 3 was the awful writing though, even though I doubt that Bethesda will really invest in that area.
    Is there any possibility of an Obsidian Fallout 4 standalone ? That would make even a truly awful Fallout 4 (vanilla) a very good news for me.

  22. Vermintide says:

    I wish more problems in life could be solved using the apprach Bethesda rakes with game design.

    Say, my car’s being making a strange noise lately and I’m not sure I’m getting the most efficiency out of it… FUCK IT, THROW IT AWAY, CARS ARE LAME ANYWAY

  23. malkav11 says:

    I hope they move in this direction with the Elder Scrolls games, because I strongly dislike their approach to character skills and felt Skyrim’s perks were a good first step in moving towards a system with actual character and personality to it. (Not that they were all that flavorful, but compared to earlier Elder Scrolls games, they’re an improvement.) But ditching skills in a Fallout game seems…unFallout-y. And they weren’t really the problem in Fallout 3’s character advancement. The problem was the perks were largely pretty dull and flavorless, both compared to the previous games in the series and in general. So I guess I better hope that they’ve gotten better at making perks.

  24. Horg says:

    This feels like a reduction without adding enough content of significant depth to compensate. The skill system had some problems, systems that rely solely on number check usually do, but I don’t agree with throwing it out. Iteration and improvement should be the goal, not reduction for the sake of simplicity.

    • GeorgeTheJournalist says:

      I completely agree with you, Horg, for saying they should have iterated on the content, and the other person that suggested that the skill number could perhaps influence a timer in a minigame or something else (it was silentdan, I scrolled and looked it up because it felt rude not to give credit). I only hope I clicked the right reply button. The comment system here at RPS always gets the better of me.

      I grant that the old skill system was weird. There shouldn’t have been hard cut-off points that precluded you from even trying the hacking or lockpicking minigame. That was ridiculous and immersion-breaking. I think they should have looked at that and thought “Right, this doesn’t really work, what can we do to make it better?”. Like changing it so that the skill adds to your hacking timer or makes you fumble the lockpicking from time to time so that you have to start picking the tumblers from scratch again (I know there were no tumblers in FO3 and FNV, but there could have been, they used them in Oblivion, right?).

      Instead they decided to just drop it. “Ah, this doesn’t work, screw this, we’re not fixing it.”

      Also, am I the only one frustrated at the logic of Howard’s opening statement in the video? “You spend a lot of time in our games, looking at stats, looking at items (…)”. How can he actually go on to announce that they took some of those stats out? When people apparently spend a lot of time looking at them? My mind is boggled.

      And my opinion of the gentleman remains low after seeing them choose the “bloody mess” as the perk to pick in the video again. (I had flashback to FO3’s trailer and his childish joy at mutilation. “It’s my favourite perk! Hahaha, look at the mutant’s head flying away, what great fun! Awesome!”)

  25. Poison_Berrie says:

    I’m really surprised that so many people are thinking this is going to be great? It’s a simplification of the system to one level progression thing (perk points). Sure there’s the promise that it will allow for some interesting choice based on your SPECIAL stats, but than they turn around and give you plenty of chances to still max it all.

    There were many things that could be better about the system employed by Fallout 3, but I don’t think it being too difficult to understand was one of them.

    You only get one perk point per level now and most perks will also be of the “adds x% damage” or “unlocks x crafting” type. So that means leveling up likely isn’t very rewarding you get only one choice and before you get to the interesting stuff you’ll probably want to enhance some basic (skills)perks first (and upgrade your SPECIAL).
    Consequently it seems you will likely blow through levels even faster than Fallout 3. Leveling seems likely to become an ubiquitous quick part of the game.

    They managed to remove the unique quality that perks had (excluding Fallout 3 where there were a lot of “add x points to skills”), the gradual progression from leveling skills and the relative finality of your SPECIAL stats.
    What we get in return is a simplified system so that people don’t get confused over an assault rifle belonging with the small guns and not with the big guns like a minigun. And limiting factor that could have made it interesting is than thrown out by fast leveling and non-fixed SPECIAL.
    Not to mention that a lot of the perks in previous Fallouts had various requirements that were slightly more complex.

    Seems like many of the unique perks from Fallout New Vegas that enhanced and played into certain playstyles have gone into more general perks. (Laser commander, cowboy, pyromaniac).

    All in all, it seems to fit into the Bethesda trend of making sure there’s nothing even slightly complex about it. My hype for the game has been official killed. Will wait for the GOTY edition at which point the mods necessary to make the gameplay interesting will hopefully be out.

  26. Sandepande says:

    Have people REALLY played Bethesda’s and Obsidian’s Fallouts for their mechanics? Seriously.

    • Disgruntled Goat says:

      Mechanics are an element of every RPG ever made.

      Revealing mechanics is also a smart way to build excitement for the game without having to spoil any important plot points.

  27. perilisk says:

    That’s weird. I was bored and thinking about how I would change Fallout 4’s character system a few months ago, and that’s basically what I came up with, except with perk trees like Skyrim. I think it’s going to be a much better fit for the type of game they tend to make. Hopefully they do something similar (bringing back the traditional eight stats, and rolling skills into the perk trees) for the next TES.

    • Sandepande says:

      I’m all for it. Though I must say that I’ve always liked the system they’ve had in TES for skill improvement. Hopefully they’ll figure out how to keep that in.

  28. Stevostin says:

    Intimidate seems interesting on the paper but also very hard to balance so that it is useful without the game turning to easy or looking stupid.

    All in all it doesn’t look like a significant change in the game. The most intriguing part is all that fuss about eating and drinking. Now that can change gameplay quite a lot.

    PS: I told someone here skills were in the game, I was wrong so I apologize.

  29. carewolf says:

    So, the perks are no longer perks, they are now skills in a skill-tree?

    God, I hate skill-trees. Let’s hope they can break the trend.

  30. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I’m less concerned about the character mechanics and more concerned about what sounds like a very fast-levelling experience.

    If Bethesda builds a world scaled entirely to that fast-moving level treadmill, it will totally kill the game for me and a lot of other players.

  31. Necrourgist says:

    That perk chart literally gives me nausea and eye pain >..<

    • Necrourgist says:

      I meant to say “That perk chart literally gives me nausea and eye pain q.q Too much at once, too many animations and too much colour q.q” ._.

  32. Distec says:

    Whereas I was hyped/forgiving of Fallout 3’s transgressions (and later mildly disappointed when playing it), I’m hoping this turns out to be the opposite scenario… Despite some initial excitement, the more I see and hear of FO4, the lower my expectations get.

    The visuals look off. The voiced main character is meh. And finally the removal of skills is jerking my knee real hard despite my wishes. I’ll do the boring, responsible thing and withhold judgment for now, but I’m not liking it so far.

  33. Moonracer says:

    I like the new system and I think it will make leveling up more enjoyable since perks tend to offer more tangible and immediate rewards. The only immediate concern is how the perk tree will limit mods that alter or add new perks. That visual tree creates certain restraints that FO3 and FONV didn’t have Look at how that limited Skyrim.

    Curious how much this will alter drug use for things like speech checks.

  34. Zenicetus says:

    “Fallout 4’s new order has no level cap, slightly faster levelling than Fallout 3, no Skills, and a Perk point every level.”

    The main thing that worries me in that sentence is “faster levelling.” It will be okay if they can balance the power curve, but both Fallout 3 and New Vegas allowed the player to turn into Death Incarnate by the halfway point in the game. There wasn’t much challenge after that. In both games I had to use house rules to keep the combat interesting, like avoiding the use of companions after a certain point.

    There is always Hardcore mode and the various mods that ramp up difficulty, but what they tend to do is just make the first half of the game a lot more frustrating, without really addressing the latter half when you’re a walking death machine. That’s a power curve that should be better balanced in the vanilla game, so the eventual mods work better.

  35. Spider Jerusalem says:

    It makes sense. The new FOs are mostly shooters, and the skills didn’t fit with/were woefully underutilized in the game that Bethesda built.

  36. sharkh20 says:

    “Here’s what makes you no longer SPECIAL.” This is just Bethesda dumbing things down again like they have been doing for years. Throw in the word streamlined so everyone gets on board.

    • Lionmaruu says:

      I am actually worried more about the break of immersion when my character starts to talk than I am with the already obsolete gurps ripoff of a system they used since fallout. the game is not turn based anymore, you know… You gotta be very smart to make a streamlined system that everyone can get and play man, that’s really not being “dumbed down”.

      Making pen and paper rules for a turn based game makes sense, for a action game like skyrim or fallout, is just useless.

      if the changes will make the game more palatable for newcomes, that’s great, I want to see the game grow more and more, I love the franshises and as long as bethesda dont put a “EA/blizzard/bioware” bullshit I will keep buying their games.

      • ohminus says:

        Right, let’s have everyone eat at McD. It’s smart to provide food in a fast and accessible manner, who needs fine dining anyway.

        This has nothing to do with turn-based at all.

  37. Xzi says:

    “Fallout 4’s new order has no level cap, slightly faster levelling than Fallout 3”

    So you’ll be able to beat Fallout 4 in like 20 minutes?

    • Lionmaruu says:

      fallout and elder scrolls aren’t about “levels” or “beating the game fast” they are games about exploration, roleplaying and free form character development, you can beat most games fast, and if that’s what you want to do, for your own enjoyment it’s great, all I know is that Bethesda games have by far, for me the most “hours of fun”/dollars ratio of any other game I own (probably exception minecraft).

    • YoYoFoSho says:

      I read that one reviewer beat the main story in 15 hours. Some other reviewer stretched out their game time to 40 hrs by doing a little more.

      Overall an abysmal RPG, but an ‘Average’ Wasteland-Funland Shooter game.

      I’m afraid to see how far Bethesda is willing to go to “stream-line” further with their next Elder Scrolls. Heck, they may just take out the questing and story altogether, since they have no idea how to do proper it anyways.

  38. ffordesoon says:

    As a fan of the old games and the new ones, I honestly think this could be – could be – a good change. Frankly, the skill list circa Black Isle was too long and full of trap options, and the skill list of the F3 was effectively four deterministic ranks anyway – 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%. NV did some interesting things with the system, but it was ultimately just a patch over a hole. The skill system is a holdover from games about rolling invisible dice, and that isn’t F3, NV, or F4.

    Because direct pure-numbers skill checks (as opposed to the minigames and the combat, which numbers only helped with) only happened in dialogue and were wholly deterministic, you either picked the line with the number next to it if you had the skill, or you fucked off until you raised the right skill to the right number to use the Win Button. In F3, the “right skill” was usually Speech or Science. You might occasionally be hit with something else, but nine times out of ten, those were the two. Raise your Speech and Science to 100, then, and it became a no-brainer choice in most situations. NV tried to circumvent this by using a bunch of different skills in dialogue checks, which kind of worked, but it didn’t solve the fundamental problem. If you were above the skill threshold, you hit the line of dialogue that said [Explosives 80] or whatever next to it. It was a no-brainer. And let’s not even discuss options opened up by perks in either game.

    And you might, at this point, believe I’m saying, “Yeah, the old games were so much better! Blah blah character skill blah stats blah!” No, no, a thousand times no. They were just as flawed, albeit in a way more palatable to RPG traditionalists. There were trap skills out the ass (Outdoorsman, anyone?), while other skills were godlike (Gambling let you brute-force your way to infinite money even at low levels, for example). And the checks were often no-brainers in the opposite way they are in the new games. There is nothing interesting or enjoyable about failing to pick a lock ten times before you succeed at picking the same lock because you rolled right on the eleventh Lockpick check, especially when there is literally no risk involved beyond that totally abstract failure. Hell, Bethesda’s lockpicking minigame is arguably more interesting, because you have limited lockpicks that can break if you use them incorrectly. And there are multiple skills that are precisely as binary and brute-forceable. If the new mechanic is too easy on the player, the old one is too punitive, and neither one requires actual thought. The old mechanic is a pointless test of the player’s willingness to repeatedly input the same sequence of keys. That’s no better than the other, and it’s arguably worse.

    I’m not saying any of this to condemn any of the Fallout games. I love the Fallout games, and I love games about rolling invisible dice, and I love big ol’ hypergranular skill lists. But I also recognize that systems like those are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The end is making the best possible version of the game you want to make. Let the PR people and the historians worry about “genre” and “tradition” and all that shit. I want to play the game the developers wanted to make.

    NOTE: tl;dr.

    There, I saved any of you smartmouthed netizens the trouble. :)

    • ffordesoon says:

      Oh, one reservation I do have about this system is that it looks like you can max out all stats. Which is okay for a mass-market RPG, I guess, but I think it would be more interesting to lock players into their stats, or at least make them have to do something noteworthy to raise the stats.

      I’m not going to go all “casual console babies” here, but I do think your choices should be more meaningful than they look to be here.

    • ohminus says:

      “There is nothing interesting or enjoyable about failing to pick a lock ten times before you succeed at picking the same lock because you rolled right on the eleventh Lockpick check, especially when there is literally no risk involved beyond that totally abstract failure.”

      So you’d rather fit the world to the system in a nonsensical way than in a sensical one such as introducing danger?

      “Hell, Bethesda’s lockpicking minigame is arguably more interesting, because you have limited lockpicks that can break if you use them incorrectly.”

      If what you’re interested in is player skill.

      “The old mechanic is a pointless test of the player’s willingness to repeatedly input the same sequence of keys. That’s no better than the other, and it’s arguably worse.”

      Worse for people dependent on getting instant gratification.

      “But I also recognize that systems like those are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The end is making the best possible version of the game you want to make.”

      That suggests there’s only one way to go there. Those systems had very specific subgoals in the past.

      “Let the PR people and the historians worry about “genre” and “tradition” and all that shit. I want to play the game the developers wanted to make”

      And I want to pay money for the game I want to play. If you’re willing to pay for anything a certain developer serves you, your relationship with money is not very mature.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        Your leading, hostile questioning is as obnoxious as it is tiresome.

        “What!? You’re not angry about the new system!? That’s cause you’re a min-/maxing asshole who sucks at math!”

        Seriously, what crawled up your butt today? You don’t even come across as very smart, which is clearly important to you. All I’m getting is angry bitterness about something Bethesda dared to change without your input.

    • YoYoFoSho says:

      No matter what they do with skills or any other mechanic, Bethesda totally dropped the ball on other areas in the game.

      Namely – let’s talk choice/consequence, interesting companions, tactics, side-quests that matter, and an engaging story. All of these things have teetered further into the red zone of sub-standard for their newest game.

      These games started with Fallout 1, Fallout 2, and Fallout: Tactics after-all; Not Fallout 3. And those games had those aspects I covered above that these ‘new’ FO’s continue to do very poorly at. While they had an underlayer of awesome tactical combat, the real meat of those games, especially for the first two, were the multitude of ways to complete things depending on your skills.

      Not only that, but from many of the more honest reviews I’ve read, they have completely stripped or abandoned handling quests via simply high INT or Charisma, with many quests not having multiple options for completion with literally no choice but to kill.

      Unfortunately this is has been the case for ALL Bethesda games since Oblivion and its getting worse.

  39. Lionmaruu says:

    yep there is no reason for using old school rpg mechanics like stats and skills when you actually dont have to test them to get better, I guess you still have to “roll” when using VATS but it now looks more like a “slow down + automatic-hit shot” so I guess it will be more like skyrim “arrow shooting with that perk” than the old VATS.
    I used to ad&d and love gurps and a lot of pen and paper rpgs, but I like the new system on skyrim and fallout, it gives you enough diferentiation of characters and freedom to grow. the combat is action based not turn based there is no reason to use a system that was made for turn based combat and I give kudos for bethesda for their boldness to change the “sacred rules” (of their own games!) since they usually get a lot of vitriol from reactionary fans.
    but I am afraid of the batte.n ops and the lack of mods on launch… I am thinking on waiting till next year to buy the game, and that would be the first time since morrowind that I dont buy a elder scrolls or fallout game on release date.

    • ohminus says:

      This has nothing to do with action-based vs. turn-based and any repetition of that argument underscores not understanding either how the real world works or how simulation works.

      But then, you are just the usual fanboy for whom “vitriol” is always what the other folks spew and any criticism of change is “reactionary” – the usual spooling off of a prefabricated argument list that saves people like you from actually having to address comments.

      The comforting lie that any criticism is against change per se, never mind how often people suggest alternative changes.

      But hey, having an actual discussion is hard work.

  40. namad says:

    the literal reality military calls assault rifles small arms too, because small arms are anything you carry around and use just with your hands and doesn’t require a tripod or tank or w/e….

    plus it was established even in fallout1 that rocket launchers were big and sniper rifles and hunting rifles and assault rifles and shotguns and combat shotguns were all small.

  41. NephilimNexus says:

    Skills were always just a vector for perks anyway. This just eliminates the middle man.

    • Culaio says:

      Originally it wasnt, its bethesda who made it so, originally skills were the main thing while perks were “icing”, people say that this new system works exactly like previous one but is just simpler since originally only 25, 50, 75 and 100 skill levels mattered but thats exactly the problem the new system is exactly as broken as previous but just looks simpler, system would be MUCH better if we kept skills but every point added to skill mattered, smother progression is much more realistic, why should we be forced to increase weapon stats by 20% thanks to perk instead of increasing medicine by 10% and weapons 10%(10% is an increase that actually matters)

      Also combat in RPG should never be completly based on players skills, our weapon “skills”, should affect our weapon sway, reload time and of course damage(since we know where to target to do maximum damage)

      • Fromage says:


        Step 1: Take all the elements of Fallout’s systems and keep them intact while greatly diminishing their effect on the game.

        Step 2: Cut out your poorly translated systems because they are poorly translated.

        Tada! Presto…no connection to the previous games…o.

  42. Fromage says:

    So…there -are- skills, they are just all called perks now, and you only get one per level.