E3 2015: Some Big Changes to Fallout 4’s Character Development

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I gotta give Bethesda credit for announcing Fallout 4 just five months before it will hit shelves on November 10th. That doesn’t leave yours truly much time to be consumed with the task of deciding my character’s SPECIAL stats! As you may recall, Fallout builds were my specialty back in the blog’s early days, and not much has changed–I still love thinking about how to get the most out of my character.

And so, after watching today’s Bethesda press event, here are some thoughts I had about character development and combat. Naturally I payed close attention when SPECIAL was shown. These seven attributes have always played a big role in your character’s development and what weapons they can use.

This image right here confirms that you can sprint in Fallout 4–something you couldn’t do in Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Running consumes AP, and Endurance determines how quickly it recovers. AP, you may recall, is the same resource used by the series’ trademark aim-assisted VATS mode. That’s a pretty huge way to distinguish how character builds will function. AP can either be used to target enemies at a distance with projectiles, or run up and hit them in the face. This will make Endurance even more important for melee and unarmed fighters since it boosts their HP and ability to close in on targets. Conversely, Endurance will be even less important for those seeking long-range stealth kills.

Next up is Intelligence. Once the obvious choice for the “max” in min-max approaches, Intelligence used to provide your character with additional skill points upon leveling up. This meant smarter characters could master more skills. Now…

intelIntelligence simply gives you more EXP. Which, uh… In a game very likely to have a level cap… Well, that means at a certain point having high Intelligence will do nothing for you! “Well then, it’s settled! My character will be dumber than a mole rat!”
Not so fast, intrepid wasteland wanderer! Remember that in today’s reveal it was made clear that crafting will play a huge role in Fallout 4. Your base, your weapons, your armor–they can all be crafted, enhanced, and maintained through crafting. I’d wager there are some excellent crafting-related perks with Intelligence requirements to make this stat worthwhile.


Luck is a stat that I kept low in Fallout 3 because why rely on RNG for critical hits when getting a sneak attack always results in a critical hit? I dumped a few more points in Luck for Blackjack games in New Vegas, but otherwise Luck is a stat I’ve never really cared much about. Now, it looks like the Fallout 4 team may have made another smart balancing decision by attaching some form of timer to critical hits. I’d wager this timer also applies to sneak attack criticals, meaning an even more patient, stealthy style of gameplay will be required if this is your M.O.

Some other things to note:

  • Perception now determines your accuracy in VATS
  • Agility governs your ability to sneak
  • The game will have a layered armor system

Have you noticed a trend? It seems many of the SPECIAL stats directly control a variety of aspects of gameplay once controlled by skills including sneaking and accuracy. It also seems there is no SPECIAL stat that affects how many skill points you receive upon leveling up. Could it be that the game has done away with skill points and the skill-based system in favor of just SPECIAL and perks? Examining the stat screen, I only see options for STATUS, SPECIAL, and PERKS, so that seems to back up my crazy theory.

Character builds in the last couple Fallout games were pretty similar, with maximizing skill points being the clear objective to end up with a character who was essentially good at everything. It looks like Fallout 4 may be taking a more balanced approach, making your abilities directly tied to your SPECIAL. I would definitely welcome this much needed change! Rest assured that I’ll be keeping my eyes out for any future evidence to back up or refute my crazy theories.

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