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Name Requirements Rank Description Comments
Action Boy/Action Girl Level 16, Agility 6 1 With the Action Boy/Girl perk, you gain an additional 25 Action Points to use in V.A.T.S.. Acceptable, although varies depending on your favored weapon's AP cost.
Adamantium Skeleton Level 14 1 With the Adamantium Skeleton perk, your limbs only receive 50% of the damage they normally would. Not recommended; a quest perk regenerates limbs, as do resting areas.
Animal Friend Level 10, Charisma 6 2 At the first rank of this perk, animals simply won't attack. At the second rank, they will eventually come to your aid in combat, but never against another animal. This perk affects the Dog, Yao Guai, Mole Rat, and Brahmin. Only the Yao Guai is anywhere near dangerous, and by level 10 you should be able to defeat them. The second level is not recommended, since animals would attack your enemies anyway.
Better Criticals Level 16, Perception 6, Luck 6 1 With the Better Criticals perk, you gain a 50% damage bonus every time a critical hit is scored on an opponent. A good combination with Finesse, but works by itself. it's good regardless.
Bloody Mess Level 06 1 With the Bloody Mess perk, characters and creatures you kill will often explode into a red, gut-ridden, eyeball-strewn paste. Fun! Oh, and you'll do 5% extra damage with all weapons. Extra damage isn't bad, but if the killing blow hits the target's torso, the resulting mess is harder to loot than a body, which can be annoying.
Cannibal Level 12 1 With the Cannibal perk, when you're in Sneak mode, you gain the option to eat a corpse to regain Health. But every time you feed, you lose Karma, and if the act is witnessed, it is considered a crime against nature. Not recommended, since stimpacks provide better and faster healing. However, it does help with the Blood Ties quest.
Chem Resistant Level 16, Medicine 60 1 Having the Chem Resistant perk means you're 50% less likely to develop an addiction to chems, like Psycho or Jet. Not recommended, as you can quickload (or simply get cured from a doctor or My First Laboratory in your home).
Chemist Level 14, Medicine 60 1 With the Chemist perk, any chems you take last twice as long. Not recommened, since chems are easily available for a quite good supply.
Child at Heart Level 04, Charisma 4 1 The Child at Heart perk greatly improves your interactions with children, usually in the form of unique dialogue choices. Recommended for diplomatic solutions, especially when you want to skip Rescue from Paradise.
Commando Level 08 1 While using a rifle (or similar two-handed weapon), your accuracy in V.A.T.S. is significantly increased. Most powerful weapons are two-handed, giving a great accurracy bonus.
Comprehension Level 04, Intelligence 4 1 With the Comprehension perk, you gain one additional skill point whenever a skill book is read. There are at least 20 books available for each skill, thus making this a useful perk. However, unpatched versions may encounter a problem if you max out all skills.
Computer Whiz Level 18, Intelligence 7, Science 70 1 Fail a hack attempt and get locked out of a computer? Not if you're a Computer Whiz! With this perk, you can attempt to re-hack any computer you were previously locked out of. Not useful, since you can either quickload or cancel and retry after you misentered three times
Concentrated Fire Level 18, Small Guns 60%, Energy Weapons 60% 1 With Concentrated Fire, your accuracy to hit any body part in V.A.T.S. increase slightly with each subsequent hit on that body part. Marginal, as it's better to try killing the enemy in one hit.
Contract Killer Level 14 1 Once you have the Contract Killer perk, any good character you kill will have an ear on their corpse. This ear can then be sold to a certain person (whose identity is disclosed when you take the perk) for caps and negative Karma. Provides a small but steady source from income from Regulators or other "good" attackers.
Cyborg Level 14, Medicine 60, Science 60 1 You've made permanent enhancements to your body! The Cyborg perk instantly adds +10% to your Damage, Poison, and Radiation Resistances, and 10 points to the Energy Weapons skill. Acceptable, gives well-rounded resistances and a skill boost.
Daddy's Boy/Daddy's Girl Level 02, Intelligence 4 3 Just like dear ol' Dad, you've devoted your time to intellectual pursuits. You gain an additional 5 points to both the Science and Medicine skills. This gives a quick and small skill boost for scientist characters.
Demolition Expert Level 06, Explosives 50 3 With each rank of this perk, all of your explosive weapons do an additional 20% damage. Explosives, especially the heavier ones, already inflict enough damage.
Educated Level 04, Intelligence 4 1 With the Educated perk, you gain three more skill points every time you advance in level. This perk is best taken early on, to maximize its effectiveness. Get it as soon as you reach level 4.
Entomologist Level 04, Intelligence 4, Science 40 1 With the Entomologist perk, you do an additional +50% damage every time you attack a mutated insect, like the Radroach, Giant Ant, or Radscorpion. This may help against the Giant Radscorpions, but it's only for that one case (and you should be powerful enough to take them out.)
Explorer Level 20 1 When you choose the Explorer perk, every location in the world is revealed on your map. So get out there and explore! It identifies locations on the map, but you still have to visit them. If you can quicksave, copy the map to another location and reload.
Fast Metabolism Level 12 1 With the Fast Metabolism perk, you gain a 20% Health bonus when using Stimpaks. A small bonus, as Stimpaks are weightless, and there is free healing by resting in any unowned bed.
Finesse Level 10 1 With the Finesse perk, you have a higher chance to score a critical hit on an opponent in combat, equivalent to 5 extra points of Luck. Recommended, since you need criticals.
Fortune Finder Level 06, Luck 5 1 With the Fortune Finder perk, you'll find considerably more Nuka-Cola caps in containers than you normally would. Marginal, since caps are easily available from containers (and vending machines)
Grim Reaper's Sprint Level 20 1 If you kill a target in V.A.T.S., all your Action Points are restored upon exiting V.A.T.S. Recommended for combat assassins, and a winner of Bethesda's Fallout anniversary contest.
Gun Nut Level 02, Intelligence 4, Agility 4 3 You're obsessed with using and maintaining a wide variety of conventional firearms. With each rank of the Gun Nut perk, you gain an additional 5 points to the Small Guns and Repair skills. A good boost for starting combat players.
Gunslinger Level 06 1 While using a pistol (or similar one-handed weapon), your accuracy in V.A.T.S. is significantly increased. Commando is recommended instead, since pistols aren't generally accurate.
Here and Now Level 10 1 The Here and Now perk immediately grants an additional experience level, complete with all the advantages that brings. Not recommended, because respawning monsters can eventually bring you to maximum level, especially if you are scouring for new locations.
Impartial Mediation Level 08, Charisma 5 1 With the Impartial Mediation perk, you gain an extra 30 points to Speech... so long as you maintain a Neutral Karma level. Useful only for diplomats taking a "normal karma" path.
Infiltrator Level 18, Perception 7, Lockpick 70 1 With Infiltrator, if a lock is broken, and can't normally be picked again, you can attempt to pick it again one more time. This includes locks previously broken by a "Force Lock" attempt. Not recommended, as bobby pins are cheap.
Intense Training Level 02 10 With the Intense Training perk, you can put a single point into any of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. Recommended to boost a stat up to 9 (or 8 if you prefer using chems instead.) This is typically the catch-all choice if you can't find a better perk instead. However, you should avoid using this perk to boost a stat to 10, as Bobbleheads can raise stats as well.
Iron Fist Level 04, Strength 3 3 With the Iron Fist perk, you do an additional 5 points of Unarmed damage perk rank. Not recommended, except for pugilist specialists. There's generally more efficient weapons available.
Lady Killer/Black Widow Level 02 1 You do +10% damage against opponents of the opposite sex. You'll sometimes have access to unique dialogue options when dealing with the opposite sex. More useful for females when doing diplomatic approaches, as there are more men within the game.
Lead Belly Level 06, Endurance 5 1 With the Lead Belly perk, you take 50% less radiation every time you drink from an irradiated water source. Not required. You can cure radiation with RadAway or through a doctor or My First Infirmary. Alternatively, use an item that gives rad resistance.
Lawbringer Level 14 1 Once you have the Lawbringer perk, any evil character you kill will have a finger on their corpse. This finger can then be sold to a certain person (whose identity is disclosed when you take the perk) for caps and positive Karma. Good and steady source of income, especially form raiders and the Enclave.
Life Giver Level 12, Endurance 6 1 With the Life Giver perk, you gain an additional 30 hit points. This helps for combat-heavy characters.
Light Step Level 14, Perception 6, Agility 6 1 With the Light Step perk, you'll never set off an enemy's mines or floor-based traps. Not recommended, as traps are either weak or alert you before they are set off.
Little Leaguer Level 02, Strength 4 3 Years as the Vault little league MVP have honed your hitting and throwing. With every rank, you gain 5 points of Melee Weapons skill and 5 points of Explosives skill. An odd combination, which doesn't help form common character styles.
Master Trader Level 14, Charisma 6, Barter 60 1 When you take the Master Trader perk, the price of every item you buy from a vendor is reduced by 25%. It helps in some cases, but your barter skill should already give you enough room.
Mister Sandman Level 10, Sneak 60 1 With the Mister Sandman perk, when you're in Sneak mode, you gain the option to silently kill any human or ghoul while they're sleeping. Additionally, all Mister Sandman kills earn bonus Experience Points. Good for stealthy assassins.
Mysterious Stranger Level 10, Luck 6 1 You've gained your own personal guardian angel... armed with a fully loaded .44 Magnum. With this perk, the Mysterious Stranger will appear occasionally in V.A.T.S. mode to lend a hand, with deadly efficiency. A good way to improve attack power.
Nerd Rage! Level 10, Science 50, Intelligence 5 1 You've been pushed around long enough! With the Nerd Rage! perk, your Strength is raised to 10 and you gain 50% to damage resistance whenever your Health drops to 20% or below. This will help in some tough fights, although you shouldn't remain too long at low health.
Night Person Level 10 1 When the sun is down, a Night Person gains +2 to both Intelligence and Perception (up to a maximum of 10). This perk directly affects your "internal clock", and remains active both inside and outside. This may be good in combination with Solar Powered. However, there isn't much overall benefit from the skill.
Ninja Level 20, Melee Weapons 80, Sneak 80 1 The Ninja perk grants you the power of the fabled shadow warriors. When attacking with either Melee or Unarmed, you gain a +15% critical chance on every strike. Sneak attack criticals do 25% more damage than normal. A good skill for stealthy assassins, but the requirements are pretty steep.
Paralyzing Palm Level 18, Unarmed 70 1 With Paralyzing Palm, you will sometimes perform a special V.A.T.S. palm strike that paralyzes your opponent for 30 seconds. Note that in order to perform the Paralyzing Palm, you must be completely unarmed. Essential for Pugilists, as can give breather room you require. This perk works with any "Unarmed" class weapon, despite the official description.
Pyromaniac Level 12, Explosives 60 1 With the Pyromaniac perk, you do +50% damage with fire-based weapons, like the Flamer and Shishkebab. Recommended if you have access to it, as the Shishkebab is one of the better flaming weapons in the game.
Rad Resistance Level 08, Endurance 5 1 Rad Resistance allows you to – what else? – resist radiation. This perk grants an additional 25% to Radiation Resistance. Not required, as you can easily recover from radiation at either doctors or from My First Infirmary. It may be more efficient using Rad-X as required.
Robotics Expert Level 12, Science 50 1 With the Robotics Expert perk, you do an additional 25% damage to any robot. But, even better, sneaking up on a hostile robot undetected and activating it will put that robot into a permanent shutdown state. Slightly useful for stealth characters, but pulse grenades are just as effective.
Scoundrel Level 04, Charisma 4 3 Take the Scoundrel perk, and you can use your wily charms to influence people - each rank raises your Speech and Barter skills by 5 points. Provides a decent boost to diplomatic characters.
Scrounger Level 08, Luck 5 1 With the Scrounger perk, you'll find considerably more ammunition in containers than you normally would. Not required, as ammunition can respawn. It's recommended to place points into accuracy.
Silent Running Level 12, Agility 6, Sneak 50 1 With the Silent Running perk, you gain an additional 10 points to Sneak, and running no longer factors into a successful sneak attempt. Essential for stealthy characters.
Size Matters Level 08, Endurance 5 3 You're obsessed with really big weapons. With each rank of this perk, you gain an additional 15 points to the Big Guns Skill. Gives a good boost, but not required since those weapons generally inflict heavy damage even in unskilled players.
Sniper Level 12, Agility 6, Perception 6 1 With the Sniper perk, your chance to hit an opponent's head in Fallout 3/V.A.T.S. is significantly increased. Essential (aside from the bug), as head attacks are more damaging especially when they are critical.
Solar Powered Level 20, Endurance 7 1 With the Solar Powered perk, you gain an additional 2 points to Strength when in direct sunlight, and slowly regenerate lost health. It's on the late side - important only if your strength is below 7/8.
Strong Back Level 08, Strength 5, Endurance 5 1 With the Strong Back perk, you can carry 50 more pounds of equipment. Recommended for those who want to sell items in a single trip. More effective than a point to Strength, especially when it's maxed out.
Swift Learner Level 02, Intelligence 4 3 With each rank in the Swift Learner perk, you gain an additional 10% of total Experience Points whenever Experience Points are earned. Not recommended. You have a similar benefit from resting in your own bed, and you can simply get respawning monsters anyway. (Maximum level is 20, or 30 with the Broken Steel DLC).
Tag! Level 16 1 The Tag! perk allows you to select a fourth Skill to be a Tag skill, which instantly raises it by 15 points. Not essential, since untagged skills not improved by this point probably aren't going to be used.
Thief Level 02, Agility 4, Perception 4 3 With each rank of the Thief perk, you gain an immediate bonus 5 points to both Sneak and Lockpick skills. Gives a good boost in creating a stealthy character.
Toughness Level 06, Endurance 5 1 With the Toughness perk, you gain +10% to overall Damage Resistance, up to the maximum of 85%. Provides a bit of help in combat; although you may prever the Cyborg perk.
Hemotophage Perk Quest Completion - Blood Ties 1 Increases health benefit from bloodpacks to +20hp. Improves the health benefit from bloodpacks. Useful in a pinch.
Dream Crusher Quest failure - The Wasteland Survival Guide 1 Something about your presence dampens others' desires to exceed. Any enemy's chance of getting critical hits on you is reduced by 50%. You've convinced Moria through speech options not to complete the book. Not recommended in comparison to the Survival Guru perk.
Junior Survivor
Survival Expert
Survival Guru
Quest completion - The Wasteland Survival Guide 1 You've been tested in some of the most dangerous parts of the wastes. Varies - You get a permanent bonus depending on how well you performed in the waste land survival guide, and which path you took to completing the guide. The bonus increases your resistance to poison and radiation. You also get a bonus to Health, Medicine and Science skills, Damage Resistance, Speech and Sneak skills, or Critical strike chance.
Rad Regeneration Quest progress - The Wasteland Survival Guide 1 After an experimental treatment, intense radiation keeps your body operating at peak performance regardless of crippling injuries... right up until death. When you suffer from Advanced Radiation Poisoning, crippled limbs automatically regenerate. You obtained 600 rads on the radiation section of the guide.
Ant Sight
Ant Might
Quest reward - Those! 1 Your body has been genetically enhanced with the either the strength or perception and flame resistance of the Grayditch Fire Ants!
Wired Reflexes Quest - The Replicated Man 1 Advanced technology from the Commonwealth has increased your reaction speed, giving you a higher chance to hit in V.A.T.S. Available from getting the android to Dr. Zimmer.
Barkskin Quest - Oasis 1 You've been exposed to Harold's mutation and your skin is now as hard as tree bark. As a result, you've gained a permanent +5% to Damage Resistance.