Fallout 76 will feature a card-based perk system in which you can share perks with other players and swap out perks every time you level up, Bethesda announced at a QuakeCon panel today.
At every level until level 50, you’ll stick a point in one of your ‘S.P.E.C.I.A.L.’ stats—Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck—and pick a perk card, of which there are “hundreds” offering various buffs. The ‘Happy Go Lucky’ card, for example, increases your Luck stat by two when you’re drunk, ‘Gladiator’ boosts your one-handed weapon damage by 10%, and ‘Scrounger’ gives you a 50/50 chance of finding extra ammo in containers.
But unlike past games, each perk card will have an associated point cost, and will be linked to one S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat. You’ll only be able to equip cards up to the value of the corresponding S.P.E.C.I.A.L: with a strength stat of three, you’ll only be able to equip three one-point perk cards, for instance. You can also upgrade existing perks when you level up, ramping up their power, but also increasing their point cost.
Past Fallout games locked you into your perk choices, but Fallout 76 will let you re-tool your character when you want. As you pick new cards, you’ll be able to swap them out for existing cards, which you’ll store away for later. You’ll also be able to change your appearance and sex at any point.
Up to level 10, you’ll get a “perk pack” every two levels, which will contain four random cards, encouraging you to experiment with perks you wouldn’t normally pick. The packs might give you perks that are above your current level, which will let you plan ahead. After level 10, you’ll gain a pack every five levels.
You can watch a perk pack being opened in the clip below.
Putting points into Charisma will allow you to share perks with other players. If you’re in a squad of three, you might be able to boost everybody’s weapon damage, for example. There will be a “Lone Wanderer” Charisma perk that gives bonuses to solo players, too.
After level 50, you won’t be able to increase your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, but you’ll still get new perk cards, so you’ll have freedom to change your play style. Bethesda hinted that there would be no hard level cap.
Lastly, Bethesda talked about mutations for the first time. These will happen throughout the game, and will usually grant you both a buff and a debuff. The example given was a mutation that gives you the legs of a marsupial—letting you leap higher—in exchange for a “mild neurological impediment”. It’s not clear how exactly mutations work, or whether you can avoid them, but we do know that players with high a Charisma stat can enhance the effect of mutations on their fellow players.
Stay tuned to the homepage today for more Fallout 76 news, and watch the full Q&A panel, featuring game director Todd Howard, below (skip to 38:00).