‘Fallout 4’: How To Level Up Fast And Pick The Best Perks

Fallout 4 is here, and being an RPG, arguments immediately broke out about how to build the right character. The good news is that you can not only level up quickly, you can create a snowball of leveling up and unlocking new perks. Here’s how to build a killer Wastelander quickly.

Leveling Up

Fallout 4 has an interesting level system that takes a little explaining. First off, there’s the SPECIAL system, defining seven attributes: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. You can put a total of ten points in each, which, of course, changes your base stats in various ways.

It also unlocks levels of perks; for each point you have in an attribute, you unlock another level, up to 10. The perks vary from the incredibly useful, like radiation resistance or higher maximum health, to the random like having a vigilante swoop in to attack foes. All of these perks have various levels themselves you can dump points into, ranging from two to four.

Up Your Intelligence

Intelligence dictates how many experience points you earn for each action; the more intelligent you are, the more you learn from murdering people with a rocket-powered sledgehammer, apparently. Intelligence also opens up avenues to earn even more experience points and thus level up more quickly.

Craft, Craft, Craft

Fallout 4‘s crafting system essentially boils down to “Every random scrap of trash you find has a use.” So, pick up everything; meat from the animals you kill, coffee cups, especially alarm clocks and desk fans. Then, when you’re full up, travel to a nearby workshop, dump your trash, and start crafting.

Seriously, it doesn’t matter what you craft or even if you use it: You get experience points for cooking meals, combining drugs into other drugs, building weapons mods, upgrading armor, you name it. That said there are a few benefits to making various types of foods, but mostly you just need to make stuff.

Also look for various perks, like Gun Nut and SCIENCE!, that unlock new mods for you to make. Not only will you be able to overhaul your weapons and armor, you’ll get more experience the more complex the mod.


The game does a terrible job of explaining this, but you can “plant” any vegetable you find. So, if you find a potato, you can plant that potato in some nearby dirt and that qualifies as “crafting.” So, if you find that, don’t eat it! Hang onto it and plant it.

Pick Every Lock And Hack Every Terminal

Relatively early on in the game, level 21, you can achieve “master” proficiency in both hacking and lockpicking, and you should get that right away. It’s useful for sneaking into areas and opens new options for solving puzzles, of course, but you also get a decent XP bump for every picked lock and hacked terminal. It adds up quickly; there are a lot of locks and terminals scattered around the Commonwealth.


You get experience points for finding new locations here… and there are hundreds. Even better, the game will helpfully place locations you haven’t been on the compass in a light green outline, and that outline will become brighter the closer you get. That said, popping a location can be a bit janky, and this game is not shy about putting Deathclaws in random places, so move carefully.

Join Factions And Take Their Busywork Quests

There are three main factions to join: The Brotherhood of Steel, the Minutemen, and the Railroad. All of them have specific, long quest chains for you that essentially boil down to finding a location, killing everybody in it, and taking all their stuff. It’s a good way to get a sense of the map and not only get the experience points for the quest, but rack up a few levels bumping off raiders, feral ghouls, and other suckers.

Oh, Yeah, Also, Shoot People

Admittedly, low level enemies aren’t worth much XP. But hey, you are here to clean up the Commonwealth.

So, once you have these points… what do you do with them?

Some Perks Are More Useful Than You Think

If you’ve ever played a video game before, you’re probably assuming that the really good stuff requires ten points in an attribute. Not so much! For example, under Endurance, you’ll find the Aquaboy perk; you need 5 Endurance, which you can easily reach in your opening character creation screen. And once you unlock it, you can swim without getting rads and breathe underwater. That’s useful in a lot of ways, especially when you’re escaping enemies, who usually can’t follow you into the river.

Each attribute has an “early” Perk like this and it’s worth looking over the chart and picking out the ones you most want to have in your pocket. It’ll come into play quickly, and open up new strategies.

Some Perks Are Worthless

Conversely, there are some you just shouldn’t waste your time on. For example, at 1 Strength, you can put points in a perk that gives you more damage when fighting barehanded. But the game issues you a melee weapon first thing, and you can quickly and steadily upgrade your melee game as you go through.

Focus On Your Strategy

When I play a game like this, I am a backshooting dirtbag. I love nothing more than parking my ass up on a ridge or behind a nice sturdy steel box, and then putting a bullet in the heads of some schmuck who made the mistake of being in my scope. As a result, I’ve got a lot of points in skills that let me pick locks and hack terminals, that improve the damage of rifles, and that up my sneaking ability.

Remember There Are Other Stat Boosts

As a rule, if you go on a major quest, somewhere in the building, you inevitably wind up shooting your way through is a bobblehead that ups your stats in some way, shape, or form. Similarly, you’ll find comic books and magazines, little stat boosters that generally make an action like lockpicking easier, sitting around on desks all across the Commonwealth. Make a point of finding these; they often reflect or enhance perks and will help you build a better character.

That’s a start. What level are you at, and what perks are you investing in?