Legendary Perks – a review

fallout 4 - Legendary Perks – a review

Before I jump in here, I know there are many existing reviews and posts related to the perks and what they do – as well as plenty of content on YouTube from our favorite vault dwellers. This guide is designed from the perspective of a player who has 5 characters – all high level (250-850) and has now spent plenty of time experimenting with the perks. This is all my opinion, and should be taken as such – but I’m hoping that some of you may find it useful when considering perks to spend your precious points on.

My first point is know what you want to achieve from your playstyle/build. The Legendary perks all contribute towards your experience, so have a think about what is most important to you – nobody can tell you how to play. I’m breaking these into groups, hopefully this will become clear why, and at the end I’m going to cover some example combinations that work well together with particular builds and playstyles.

The ‘Quality of Life’ Perks

Ammo Factory – This one is a must have for any ranged player, if you are using guns then making more ammo is great, meaning less time farming materials and more time having fun. Particularly good for Heavy Gunners who go through ammo at a higher rate, and makes priming your weapons more viable as the flux makes your ‘common’ materials (lead steel etc.) go much farther. If you have several characters I recommend taking all ranks of this on your ‘mule’ who can be your ammo crafter/storage and you and switch junk for ammo on demand.

Survival Shortcut – At first I overlooked this one but its actually very useful. If (like me) you have several characters, the alts get left without food/water and are often starving and thirsty at the Rusty Pick waiting for their turn with Mumbles. One rank of this card (requiring no perk point investment to level it up) is enough to negate the need to carry any food/drink and the chem also provides an excellent heal over time effect and gets rid of a disease too! I’ve been able to use its effect to offset pylon damage with Encrypted and I’ve not taken this card on all of my ‘Alt’ accounts. Not recommended if you like harvesting and cooking the best food and drink for buffs – this is for a more lazy playstyle where you’ll not need thru hiker or good with salt.

Master Infiltrator – Not much to cover here, does exactly what it says on the tin, negates the need to ever switch to slot the hacker/picklock perks. Nice but honestly there are very few situations where these are needed, especially once you’ve completed the main stories – so one I personally am not making use of. If you are roleplaying a sneaky theif – and/or like stealing resources from player’s camps – then this one is for you.

What Rads – This little gem is excellent for those of you not running bloodied characters, it’ll negate the need for any radaway/rad-X etc. Personally I’ve got this ranked up to level 2 for one of my Alts – they are my ‘flux farming’ character and I’ve found that using excavator (lowest radiation resist but highest carry weight PA) and rank 2 offsets any radiation taken from running around in a nuke zone. Pair with with the Ghoulish Perk (endurance tree) and you’ll also be healing yourself to full health as you wander the irradiated areas in search of flux to stabilize, or enemies to kill and harvest the previous high radiation fluids and glowing/hardened mass. In general I’ll nuke the Whitespring once a month on this account and use the time to top up stabilizing materials which feeds my (prime) ammo needs for the rest of the characters. It’s a very lazy way to play this and is a refreshing break from the rad management that comes with a bloodied build.

Power Sprinter – Marathoner but for Power Armor, really not much to say here, unless you really love to sprint and love playing in PA I personally think there are better perks to invest in

Brawling Chemist – Yes the chem obtained is better than its in game equivalents, but not by all that much – so while this is (in a roundabout way) a perk to increase your melee damage I consider this one a convenience perk as this is a quick and easy way to ensure you are stocked up. If you are a pure melee build it’s a handy damage boost, otherwise this is one to pass on.

The ‘Survival’ Perks

Funky Duds/Fire Lining – I’ve grouped these two together as they do the same thing for poison/fire damage respectively. Personally I’ve taken Funky duds (rank 2) on all of my characters and its my only ‘must have’ perk for play. There are so many poison sources and as I do like PA for several builds, getting killed by the stingwing you didn’t see while facing down the SBQ is so annoying. Rank 2 is all that is needed to offset the damage and ignore poison damage. At this time (pre Steel Dawn) there are so few sources of fire damage I do not recommend Fire Lining as a Perk – this may change with future content, we know the flamer will be changing from energy to fire damage which make make this one more useful in future (example flamer wielding blood eagles)

Electric Absorption – This one is both a survival and a quality of life perk, and I was trying to determine where to place it, but the healing effect is so potent I’ve added it here. While the card only indicates that it recharges your fusion core, the healing effect is excellent, even assaultron head laser can heal you to full health with this one! The recharge effect is also very potent and will quickly fully recharge a core. This one can completely replace the need for ‘Power User’ and the need to farm for fusion cores. If you are primarily running Power Armor then this Perk is well worth the investment, although to unlock its potential it needs to be fully upgraded.

Power Armor Reboot – Do you use Power Armor all the time? Are you also bloodied? If the answer to both of these questions is yes then this perk is worth investing in, you do not drop to a ‘downed’ state and then pop up again (like lifesaving armor), instead the card proc’s and the card flashes to indicate you avoided death as a result and you keep going as if nothing happened. Useful for the toughest content this one adds to the already tanky nature of Power Armor. Pairs well with ‘Taking one for the Team’ as a front line heavy gunner. If you are not front and center, or do not find yourself dying often in PA then you can skip it.

The ‘More Damage’ Perks

Cleave – A slightly odd one to get used to, as it requires the use of VATS to take advantage of, Cleave is excellent in crowded situations where a melee player can find themselves at a disadvantage, hitting each target in turn. This allows you to hit multiple targets at once (in VATS) massively increasing overall DPS. Good, however if you are a team player perhaps not the best as you can (and will) KO several enemies at once, denying other members of your team a hit/XP. If you are a Melee player and want the maximum potential from your damage however its one to invest in.

Follow Through – Stealth Commando – still probably the most popular and most potent build in terms of pure damage in the game, this Perk is made to compliment this build perfectly. Note that this does not only increase your damage against a target, but everyone else’s too. Only applies to subsequent hits after the first however so if you are ‘one hitting’ enemies its not gaining you any benefit, also due to lag time between client and server often it will take a second (or more) to register, so you will often find you’ve killed the enemy before this actually starts improving damage numbers, as such its only really effective on ‘boss’ enemies (Earl, SBQ etc.). Best in class for increasing damage from any stealth build and note to be overlooked.


Taking one for the team – The polar opposite of Follow Though, this one requires that you are being hit by the enemy, so ideal for ‘tanky’ players on the front line, with up to 40% additional damage at max rank this one not only improves your own damage against the target, but all other players damage too. Really only efficient against boss enemies but this Perk will be a benefit to all. Personally, playing in a regular group having one player in PA in the face of Earl of the SBQ taking the hits, and another sneaking back with follow though synergizes perfectly, maximizing the additional damage from both cards and significantly reducing the time/bullets needed to win the fight. Our quickest kills have been achieved this way. PA heavy gunners should consider this their ‘go to’ perk to increase damage output.

The ‘Make things explode’ Perks

Exploding Palm

Far Flung Fireworks

Detonation Contagion

Collateral Damage

Okay I’m going to cover all of these at once, as they all do basically the same thing, add a chance to add explosive damage. It’s a decent, but not spectacular amount. If fighting closely knotted groups of regular enemies these perks will add to your overall DPS, that said all but exploding palm only proc on the killing shot/blow to the enemy meaning its dead already so the only benefit is to add some splash damage to nearby enemies. This can also be to your determent, as it’ll often toss the corpse of that three star you just kill off in a random direction, making you then waste time hunting for it. Exploding palm however works on hit and if using an unarmed melee build is certainly worth the investment. As for the rest I personally find these underwhelming however if you a maximizing your damage potential yes you can invest you points.

The Legendary SPECIAL Perks

I’m not listing them out, one for each SPECIAL characteristic, these perks are excellent and open up otherwise unachievable builds by way of providing you access to more special points. If you are a generalist, and like to be able to switch between playstyles on a single character then these cards are a great investment. A few points of note:

  1. Max them out – get the most from the investment by upgrading to rank 4, while costly it’ll add 5 points to your attribute. Increases are 1,2,3 and then 5 at the four ranks.

  2. Don’t ‘overspec’ (unless you are Melee) if your base SPECIAL attribute is already above 10, adding another 5 points (at max rank) will take you over 15, which is the cap for slotting more (regular) perk cards. As such you’re better moving the excess points into another attribute to allow more cards to be equipped, adding more options to your build and playstyle. If you are a Melee player however more Strength means more damage so this is once situation where adding to an already maxxed attribute will provide a useful return.

  3. Charisma is the worst one to pick. Sharing of Perks between players on a team is calculated on your ‘base’ charisma, as such investing more into this card does not increase the level of card you can share, as such its more effective to invest into another SPECIAL and move excess points into Charisma, allowing you greater options for sharing higher cards (you team will appreciate it!)

The ‘Other’ Perks

Blood sacrifice – If you are the mad bastard constantly running in screaming at the enemies and dying then this may be the difference between your team mates actually reviving you, and leaving your corpse on the ground… Not really all that effective at all, the increase DR is pretty useless in most circumstances (representing only around 10% of most players overall DR) the heal over time is nice but not enough to make a big difference. Only really viable use I have found for this was a min/max bloodies DPS build with lifesaving armor/Mysterious Savior/A friend to revive you and the ‘revenant’ perk ranked up. Synergzing these allows you to die, revive, gain the 50% damage increase for 2 mins while also generating a heal over time for your team. This specific use case aside it’s a bit of a gimmick this one.

Retribution – Wait, what? There is a block button in this game? Since when? Always! Wow I never use it! Yeah, blocking is really not popular, it works yes, but so does just smashing your enemy in the face repeatedly until they are a pulp and you are picking the 3* loot from their corpse – unless you are that one play who actually does block, a definite pass.

Wow you made it this far? Well done you. As a reward here are some of my personal combinations of cards I use to great effect:

The Gun Turret (Bloodied PA and heavy guns only) – tanky as hell with emergency protocols and a Bloodied explosive .50Cal this guy means business. The most bang for your buck this build is seriously fun and can reduce the count of enemies in any space to zero quicker than you can say ‘Nuka Cola’.

Taking One for the Team

Electric Absorption

Power Armor Reboot

Funky Duds (note that all PA pieces need to be of the same model such as T51, T60 Ultracite etc. you cannot mix them)

Survival Shortcut

Any Legendary SPECIAL (I wanted those points for a few extra regular cards)

The Flux Capacitor (Full health heavy gunner) – A ‘support’ character this guy loves his excavator, long walks in lucky hole mine, and playing ‘ghoul golf’ in a nuked Whitespring with and AAE heavy weapon or (when really lazy) a quad tesla. Pairs well with Tesla coils on the torse to ensure that you get tagged for all enemy kills in a team and maximize the XP returns.

What Rads

Taking One for the Team

Funky Duds (note that all PA pieces need to be of the same model such as T51, T60 Ultracite etc. you cannot mix them)

Survival Shortcut

Ammo Factory

Any Legendary SPECIAL

The Boom – Headshot (Bloodied Stealth Commando) – Because yeah, its still the ‘daddy’ of damage although post ‘one wasteland’ I’m usually sporting a Quad automatic rifle over a bloodied one with Grim Reapers sprint to increase overall damage with fewer reloads. The true ‘glass cannon’ build right here.

Follow Through

Far Flung Fireworks

Funky Duds (note that all armor pieces need to be of the same type)

Survival Shortcut

Two legendary SPECIAL

The All in Wonder (Flexible build allows for switching playstyles on demand) – Main character level 855 and he actually has several other max rank legendary perk cards which can be switched around. I like being able to switch the playstyle on demand with this account, a generalist it is not as effective as the ‘dedicated’ builds, but is very viable.

Funky Duds

5 legendary SPECIAL (for a whopping 25 extra SPECIAL)

The ‘Beat Down’ (Bloodied Melee Build – no PA) – No longer as good as it was with the changes in damage calculations, Melee is not for the faint of heart – but nothing is as satisfying as clearing Westek with a rolling pin and then punching Earl to death…

Exploding Palm


Funky Duds

Survival Shortcut

Legendary Strength

Either Brawling Chemist or Blood Sacrifice (you will die with this build!)

Well that was a longer ramble than I’d planned but I hope you find it useful. I’ve certainly had fun trying out a wide variety of perk combinations. Looking forward to Steel Dawn and who knows, perhaps in future we’ll see some new additions to the perks….

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