From the very start of the game, The Outer Worlds gives you a variety of systems to play around with to customise and develop your character. Prime among them is the Perks system, which gives you the chance on every second level-up to give your character a new Perk to help give them (and you) a slightly easier or more enjoyable journey through the game.
With 42 Perks to choose from, there's quite a lot to take in here; so we've put together this The Outer Worlds Perks and Flaws guide, which will explain not only how Perks work and some great ones to start off with, but also the game's unique Flaws system and why you may want to take advantage of it.
The Outer Worlds Perks & Flaws guide
- The Outer Worlds Perks explained
- Best Perks in each tier
- The Outer Worlds Flaws system
- The Outer Worlds Flaws list
Guide by Ollie Toms, Flaws list by Dave Irwin
The Outer Worlds Perks explained
If you've read our The Outer Worlds Skills guide, you'll know already that you begin a new game by selecting your character's initial attributes and skills - and you also gain the chance to improve them each time you level up. However, what you may not realise is that Perks are every bit as important in fleshing out and developing your character's abilities. Here's the need-to-know info on Perks in The Outer Worlds:
- There are 42 Perks available to your character throughout the game, split across three tiers. Selecting five Perks from Tier 1 will unlock Tier 2, and selecting ten Perks total between Tiers 1 and 2 will unlock Tier 3.
- You can view your Perks at any time by going into the Character menu and selecting the Perks tab.
- You gain a new Perk point every other Level, and you'll receive a notification when you have a new Perk to assign. You can also accept Flaws in order to gain new Perk points, but we'll go over this in more detail below.
- Perks provide very powerful single bonuses or effects for your character, even within Tier 1. Read through each Perk's effect carefully before you choose which Perk to unlock, as you cannot take back your decision after confirming it.
Now, let's go over the very best Perks on offer in The Outer Worlds.
The Outer Worlds best Perks in each tier
The Outer Worlds Perks are all extremely powerful, providing substantial bonuses and effects for your character. Most of these Perks are designed to help you in combat, although certain of them are useful outside of combat as well. Bear in mind that the direction you want to take your character should, of course, influence your choice of Perks - but even so, there are a few Perks within each tier that are going to be tremendously useful no matter what:
Best Tier 1 Perks
- Deadly Demonstrations (+50% XP from Companion Kills): This is how I've started off each of my playthroughs in The Outer Worlds. More XP? That's a no-brainer. It's always a great idea to maximise your XP gain potential as early as possible.
- Cheetah (+20% Sprint Speed): Seeing as I always sprint everywhere, Cheetah seemed like an extremely useful time-saver for me. This is always my second pick.
- Toughness (+50% Base Health): Usefulness depends on your difficulty level, but certainly on the tougher levels against tougher opponents, that 50% HP increase is massive.
- Pack Mule (+50kg Carrying Capacity): I beeline towards anything that gives me increased carrying capacity. If you're anything like me you'll be spending much of the game exploring every nook and cranny and hoovering up every last bit of loot. You're gonna need that extra backpack space.
- Lone Wolf (+25% DMG when alone in party): Obviously this is only for players who like to leave their companions on the ship and venture off into danger alone. But for those who do, a flat 25% damage bonus is huge, and will help you make short work of most enemies.
Best Tier 2 Perks
- Pack of Pack Mules (+40kg Carrying Capacity Bonus from Companions): Again, Carrying Capacity is utterly essential unless you're extremely good at inventory management and like to travel back and forth to sell everything before you become encumbered.
- Soliloquy (+10 Dialog skills when not using companions): Dialog skills are Persuade, Lie, and Intimidate, and not only do they provide you with bonus effects in combat, but they each also provide you with numerous extra dialogue options for almost every conversation you can have in The Outer Worlds. It's great for "Lone Wolf playthroughs" and gives you a fantastic boost in this regard, though it's not compatible with perks that rely on having companions with you. (Thanks to the user "Dave Mongoose" for pointing this out).
- The Collector (+5m Interactable Highlight Range): This is again for those who, like me, spend time interacting with every last thing in an area. This Perk is just very useful for making sure nothing goes unnoticed.
- Harvester (+15% Health Restored per Kill): This siphon/lifesteal effect on each enemy killed makes for a fantastic Perk for upping your survivability. Most of the encounters you'll come across in The Outer Worlds feature multiple enemies instead of just one or two, which means you'll be constantly making use of this Perk.
Best Tier 3 Perks
- Super Pack Mule (+100kg Carrying Capacity): I mean, do I really need to explain this again?
- Tit for Tat (+15% Melee Damage returned as Health): If you're a melee-oriented character then you're reliant on Armor, well-timed Blocks, and high tanking power to stay alive. This Perk gives you that extra bit of survivability for situations that might otherwise have turned sour.
- Boom, Headshot! (Headshot kills explode, dealing 25% of their damage to enemies within 2.5m): This Perk is a natural extension of the Tier 2 Perk Scanner, and works wonders for any character who (like my first character) specialised in Long Guns and insane Weak Point damage.
- Penetrating Shots (Ranged Attacks inflict -1 Armor Rating for 10s, and can stack up to -10): Armor is an extremely important factor to bear in mind during fights. A very heavily armoured enemy can prove near-insurmountable unless you're well-equipped for such an encounter. This Perk makes you well-equipped indeed - as long as you're using a fast-firing weapon.
The Outer Worlds Flaws system
But we're forgetting about one very important and interconnected system in The Outer Worlds: the Flaws system. Every so often throughout the game, certain events may prompt a screen like the above to appear, asking you if you want to accept a character flaw in order to be rewarded with an extra Perk point to spend immediately.
What are these Flaws, then, and are they worth it? That depends on several things, from your character focus to the difficulty level you're playing at, and more. Flaws generally happen during or after particular encounters, and can be down to specific damage types or enemy types, often decreasing your effectiveness against those things. But that's not the only form that Flaws can take. I had a habit of breaking into Restricted Areas whenever I saw them, even if they belonged to a friendly faction. After one too many unfortunate encounters, I was offered the Paranoid Flaw, which give me a -1 modifier to all my Personality attributes and related skills - but of course I immediately got a Perk point to spend, making it all very worthwhile.
I've found the Perks are often just so powerful that it's generally worth taking a great many of the Flaws you come across during your travels. While some Flaws are far too potent to ever justify taking (Permanently Crippled springs to mind...), others are very easily ignored depending on your character focus and playstyle. And honestly - flawed characters are always more entertaining anyway, don't you think?
The Outer Worlds Flaws list
Before we go, here's the full list of The Outer Worlds Flaws, how to trigger them, what the penalties are, and if the reward is worth the risk:
- How to get it: Take fall damage too many times.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament
- Should you take it?: Unless you're focused on combat, this is not worth taking as each one of these is just too big a penalty.
- How to get it: Take corrosive damage too many times.
- Penalties: +25 corrosive damage taken.
- Should you take it?: Even though there are lots of enemies that deal corrosive damage and a fair number of areas with acid pits, the increased damage can be mitigated and isn't significant.
- How to get it: Too many encounters with Canids.
- Penalties: -1 Temperament, -2 Perception when you are near Canids.
- Should you take it?: These creatures are relatively common, but they're usually quite weak. You should be able to handle Canids easily late-game, this is worth taking the hit.
- How to get it: Take too many drugs.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament when suffering withdrawal effects of the drug.
- Should you take it?: This might sound very bad at first, but it's also easily managed. It's a free perk point if you can handle it. (Thanks to the user "monktwo" for the correction)
- How to get it: Repeated use of scoped weapons.
- Penalties: -10 Melee Weapon Skills
- Should you take it?: If you don't normally use melee weapons, then this is one flaw that's very safe to take.
Food Addiction Withdrawal
- How to get it: Eat too much and too often.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament
- Should you take it?: This one is very similar to the Drug Addiction flaw, though I'd argue that it's a little harder to manage than Drug Addiction. Exercise caution here.
- How to get it: Too many encounters with Mantisaurs and/or Mantipillars.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament when near Mantisaurs or Mantipillars.
- Should you take it?: Mantisaurs are a lot tougher than a lot of creatures in The Outer Worlds and the debuffs are a little excessive. Take at your own risk.
- How to get it: Get caught too often wandering around Restricted Areas.
- Penalties: -1 all Personality Attributes when around restricted areas.
- Should you take it?: They're not that common, so if you don't mind not having the right words for any given situation and you'd rather speak with gunfire/a club to the face, then this could be worth considering.
- How to get it: Receive too much damage to your head.
- Penalties: -1 to all mind attributes
- Should you take it?: I'd err on the side of caution when taking this one. It affects six different attributes that will badly affect how your character deals with non-combat situations.
- How to get it: Receive too much damage to your legs. Jumping off things counts.
- Penalties: -30% movement speed, disables dodging.
- Should you take it?: Absolutely not! This disables one of the most useful techniques for combat and dramatically reduces your movement speed. Even if you take the movement speed perks, you do not want this.
Physical Damage Weakness
- How to get it: Too much physical damage taken.
- Penalties: +25 physical damage received.
- Should you take it?: You should be able to mitigate this with careful management of armor ratings, see our The Outer Worlds Armor guide for more details. This is relatively safe to take if you're confident.
- How to get it: Too many encounters with Primals.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament when near Primals.
- Should you take it?: These enemies can pack a punch, burying themselves underground. Take this one at your own risk.
- How to get it: Hit too many times with plasma damage.
- Penalties: +25 plasma damage received.
- Should you take it?: Like corrosive damage, this can be mitigated and might be worth taking. It is more common towards the end of the game.
- How to get it: Too many encounters with Raptidons.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament when near Raptidons.
- Should you take it?: A little more savage than Canids and capable of spitting acid. It could be worth the risk, but ensure your corrosion resistances are up to snuff and don't take alongside Corrosion Weakness.
- How to get it: Too many encounters with Auto-mechanicals.
- Penalties: -1 Perception, Dexterity, and Temperament when near Auto-mechanicals.
- Should you take it?: Robots are everywhere and can be the most annoying enemies to fight. If you do take this, keep SAM on the ship as he counts towards this flaw's debuff. Fun if you want a challenge though!
Hopefully, now you've got a fuller understanding of the power of Perks in The Outer Worlds, and how accepting a character Flaw might not be the worst idea in the world. These Perks are an extremely powerful tool for further honing your character's skillset and focus, and giving you an easier time against the tougher enemies of The Outer Worlds.