Fallout 4 Eliminates Skills From Character System

Conrad Zimmerman

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Dec 24, 2013
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Fallout 4 Eliminates Skills From Character System

Character system detailed in developer update

If you thought the voiced protagonist in Fallout 4 represented a departure for the series, hold on to your New California Republic Ranger hat. A recent developer update from Bethesda Game Studios has outlined the character systems used in the upcoming game and they have done away with the series traditional Skills, instead folding them into a new Perks system.

In prior Fallout games, characters earned points with each gained experience level which could be spent to improve Skills, a statistical representation of competency in a variety of tasks. Perks were awarded at intervals, with the player able to choose from a list of new abilities or bonuses based on their attributes and Skill levels.

The character system in Fallout 4 only has Perks, which have been expanded to encompass the role Skills used to play. When a player gains an experience level, they earn a Perk which is selected from a chart (see below). These Perks are associated with the game's seven base attributes (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck; S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for short), and available to the player based on their ratings in those attributes.



Each Perk also features multiple ranks. Additional ranks of an already acquired Perk can make them more effective (such as in the case of Gun Fu, a perk that grants damage bonuses for targeting multiple enemies in V.A.T.S.). or provide new, related abilities. New ranks will become unlocked as the player gains higher experience levels, while additional perks can also be acquired from magazines found in the wasteland.

Based on the description, the system sounds as if it will streamline the process of character leveling considerably. When I think about all the time I've spent hemming and hawing over how to split up eighteen points across five skills, something with a little less busywork can sound appealing.

Source: Bethesda.net [http://bethesda.net/#en/events/game/fallout-4s-character-system/2015/09/24/31]

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hentropy

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Feb 25, 2012
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This is what happens when a bunch of nerds shout "SPECIAL isn't important enough!" over and over for years.

Really it doesn't sound so bad, so long as no system they come up with requires me to grind, a la "makes 100,000 leather bracelets to train the Smithing skill."
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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I liked being able to tailor each individual skill. I liked being able to max out Science, Lockpicking and Speech early on. This method , to me, seems like a mechanic to get people to keep going back and forth between locations. Can't unlock this safe? Go over here and do a side quest!
 

Scow2

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On one hand... this is a radical departure from the series.

On the other... maybe now High INT+AGI, Decent Luck, Dump STR, END, and CHA characters will not be best anymore.
 

zinho73

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Scow2 said:
On one hand... this is a radical departure from the series.

On the other... maybe now High INT+AGI, Decent Luck, Dump STR, END, and CHA characters will not be best anymore.
There will always be a best possible build do deal damage. The idea is to roleplay. Less options, less weird characters combinations that are fun to try.

Maybe. I am not sure at this point with so little details available.

I have to look at the system before pass any judgement, but I do not like this trend to simplify things too much, the chances of the system being dumb are higher. And I prefer an unbalanced system, than a system that does not require any effort on my end.

In an unbalanced but fairly robust system I can at least have the fun of discovering the best builds. If the system is too simple, the best builds will just fall in my lap, which is lame.
 

Fox12

AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
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This could work. I liked the builds in Skyrim a lot more, they actually changed the way I played the game. In Fallout 3 I just maxed out small guns, charisma, and lockpicking, and blew my way through the game. The only thing that changed was whether or not I killed a Super Mutant with a pistol or a mini nuke. Which still didn't matter, because the big guns did massive damage anyway.

In Skyrim there was a HUGE difference between the builds. I hope they do the same here.
 
Aug 1, 2010
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I hate to be that guy, but this is looking pretty bad.

Basically, if this is how it seems, the game will be significantly less of an RPG than its predecessors.

Unless they set up a perk system where you have to take proficiency perks to be able to use or be good with certain things, every character will be able to do anything like in Skyrim.

It's like how Yahtzee describes games that are RPGs vs games that have RPG elements. If I use a type of gun that's unlike any I've used or been trained in, I should be shit with it, plain and simple.

This looks like they're going the other way and making it a shooter at core with simple RPG elements around the edges.

It's too early to tell for sure, but this just gives me bad vibes.
 
Jan 12, 2012
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MarsAtlas said:
Far too often speech checks were based in speech only, meaning you could have a 10 Intelligence, 10 Charisma and 10 Perception character that can't pass a pretty simple speech check over something rather obvious.
This is true, but it's not necessarily a problem with the Skill system. For example, a lot of the times you could make a statement that was based off of another skill (like Science or Medicine) or off of a core SPECIAL stat. They both have the same problem, where you can't get a good option if the developers didn't plan for someone without a good speech/charisma to get to that point.

On a side note, there's some interesting stuff on Bethesda's website this blurb doesn't cover. For example, magazines now give you Perks, either advancing ones you can get through regular levels or unlocking totally new ones.

However, I'm a little surprised that there is no way to increase your base Special under this score. While you can respec your character when you exit the Vault to go to the Wasteland, it frontloads a lot of your big decisions. Now if you find out halfway through that you like being a sneaky sniper, you can't grind out your Stealth and Guns skills to compensate for your so-so Agility, you're stuck looking at those fun gun perks from the other side of the shop window.

It's a bit unusual to see that base rigidity in a game that is designed to be played for 60+ hours with one character.
 

Ticklefist

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Jul 19, 2010
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Here's what Youtuber and modder Gopher had to say on the subject a couple months ago. I'm in agreement.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOOz_fHHt0o

Basically, skills aren't very nuanced and removing them doesn't dumb down the game since the current system is pretty dumb to begin with. For instance, a person who has never used a mini-gun but maxed out their Guns skill for their rifles and pistols will be a mini-gun god upon picking one up for the first time.
 

Jacked Assassin

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Jun 4, 2010
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I wish they labeled the perks because I have no idea why guns are important to Strength.

I also wonder if they removed the ability to get them all up to 10 like in Fallout 3.
 

sonicneedslovetoo

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This all sounds fine on the surface, but like with what they did with Skyrim this is going to be a pain in the ass to mod into anything even resembling an RPG. Because unmodded Skyrim was fun for a wile until you realized that nearly every perk tree in the game was a sponge for soaking up perks in boring ways.
 

Lil_Rimmy

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You know, I really prefer this. As much as people may cry havoc over the fact that it is moving further away from the traditional P&P style of the old Fallouts, I think this is much better. It seems to give tangiable rewards for every level up, not just points.

What I mean is when I leveled up in Fallout, I went:
"Oh, points. I guess I'll do some more damage now (or rather, pour it all into speech and lockpicking to find all locations in the game)"
but for perks, it was more:
"HOLY SHIT PERKS YES! Which one do I want? Explode into bloody mess? Have a guardian angel!?"

Numbers are just numbers, but what I loved about perks (in any sort of RPG system) is the fact that they changed something. It's the same in a tabletop RPG. When I level in D&D, I really don't care that I got a few more hitpoints and +'s to hit, I fucking loved that fact that I could now cast "Fireball" or that I was now able to teleport through shadows or some new feature. It's an extra tool in the toolbelt, not just a bigger one. So my hope for this is because there are so many perks to replace skills, it should be a lot easier to make wildly different characters.
 

ZZoMBiE13

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I expected it would be similar to Skyrim's model. I liked the way leveling happened in that game. If you wanted to improve your sword skill, you use your sword more. Stealth, use that. Ranged, use that. Etc etc. I thought it worked well and it seems like the way to take their games mechanically going forward. Hopefully this lack of individual stats will be in service of a system that levels you up logically based on the skills you use.

As much as I enjoyed FO3 and FNV, you could use your points to become an expert in something you had never actually used like Energy Weapons or the like. If they move toward rewarding you for what you're doing then I think that could (COULD) be a good move.

Of course the truth is none of us will know until November. :)
 

vallorn

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Nov 18, 2009
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I utterly despise the trend of making games for the lowest common denominator which this and Skyrim represent. Give me Morrowind or Fallout 2 any day when it comes to how the actual mechanics work. Besides, Morrowind shows pretty well how to implement skills, it's not perfect but it's Bethesda's single best game ever made.
 

Aetrion

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I think getting rid of the skills is a great move, because of how broken they were in Fallout 3. They were not at all a character defining system, because by the end of the game it was pretty easy to have 100 points in everything. The whole point of distributing skillpoints should be to define your character, to determine what the character is good at and what the character is bad at, but that was only true for the skill system for the first dozen levels or so, after which your character pretty much became good at everything. Also the fact that getting 10 intelligence right of the bat was pretty much required to make a particularly powerful character made the game even less interesting on the character diversity front.
When you really think about it, all the actual uniqueness of your character in FO3 came from the perks and nothing else. Stats could be pretty much ignored except for a few and even on a non-optimized character all skills would eventually hover in the 80s or 90s. The only thing that set apart a character who was great with explosives from a character who was good in melee was perks. So in that sense, they took the thing that actually created interesting character diversity and cranked it up to 11 while dropping all the other superfluous systems.
Concentrate on what works, trim what doesn't. It's just a good design choice all around.
 

Atmos Duality

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Sounds like they're dumbing down the game even further.
Nothing unusual there; Bethesda's been doing that since Morrowind. *shrugs*

All the same, they don't really have anything to lose by eliminating or replacing skills entirely, because nothing in Fallout 3 really mattered or carried significant lasting consequence. Even mechanically, the hardest encounters were all towards the beginning, when you're more vulnerable, which depended heavily on your opening choices in character creation.

After a few levels, even my WOEFULLY optimized Culligan Man Crusader wielding a pool cue was crit-killing everyone in cold blood with VATS, and that was a JOKE character made to highlight how fucking awful FO3 was as an actual game.

One more reason to maintain my interest in FO4 at "morbid curiosity" rather than "might play it".
Far more fascinating to watch the hype train roll through once again to extol utter mediocrity.

EDIT: And to the a flurry of "Don't knock it til you've tried it" responses: While I can't see the future, I am capable of recognizing obvious patterns. Bethesda dumbing down their game for mass-appeal is their modus operandi for two "mega-games" running (nearly ten years).

The only way they can avert that trend is by creating content that has meaningful in-game consequence in execution (and hopefully, meaningful alternative methods of resolving them).
I sincerely doubt that will happen in FO4 because they've hit upon a grand-slam sales formula with Oblivion and there's no reason to put in the effort.
 

Gennadios

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Honestly, skills never had any business being in fps games, but it sounds like they're just obfuscating skills inside stats. Instead of needing stat + skill to deal max damage with a weapon, it'll now be just stat. Not great but the Bethesda Fallout system was clunky and cumbersome and filled with junk stats and items.

Honestly it doesn't sound like much of value is being lost (that wasn't already lost from the RPG to FPS transition.)
 

otakon17

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RatGouf said:
I wish they labeled the perks because I have no idea why guns are important to Strength.

I also wonder if they removed the ability to get them all up to 10 like in Fallout 3.
They did not, in fact there is no level cap and play long enough, you can get EVERY Perk to it's maximum rank and EVERY SPECIAL score to 10. Which is in fact required to get the Perks further down the line.

Honestly I want that poster though and can't wait to see a full list of stuff we can get. Sure there are "damage up" Perks but I hope they have some added utility beyond sheer numbers.