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Level up and SPECIAL perk card guide - Fallout 76

Learn all about the perk cards, leveling up, and what it means to be S.P.E.C.I.A.L. in Fallout 76.


In order to have a chance at overcoming the radiation soaked West Virginia of Fallout 76, players will need to spend a lot of time leveling up, picking perk cards, and ranking perk cards up. This deep leveling system will be overwhelming at first, but working out its complexities will result in a team benefiting from one another’s ranks.

How to level up

Players looking to level up quickly in Fallout 76 would do well to focus on completing as many quests as possible. Each quest rewards an impressive sum of XP, an amount greater than simply killing enemies or exploring randomly.

During the process of completing a quest, new locations will be discovered and enemies will be killed, all of which reward their own small amounts of experience.

After enough XP is earned, players will be able to open their Pip-Boy and select the “LEVEL UP” option to be taken to the level-up screen.

How leveling up works

Every time the XP bar is filled, another level is added to the character up to the level 50 maximum. This means there are only 50 level-up points available despite each attribute being able to reach level 15. This means players will need to think carefully about where they want to assign these points.

For each level up to 50 and beyond, a selection of perk cards are presented and the player can select one to keep.

But before a perk card is offered, players must decide what attribute they wish to increase by one level: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, or Luck. Increasing these attributes allows more perk cards and higher ranking perk cards to be equipped in a given slot.

As an example, having 8 points in Charisma means up to 8 points' worth of perk cards can be assigned to the Charisma slot. Two rank-3 perk cards and one rank-2 perk card could be equipped to a level 8 Charisma slot.

In some cases, players are rewarded a perk card pack that can be opened, rewarding a few common cards and potentially a rare perk card - as well as a stick of gum with a joke!


The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system is Fallout’s iconic leveling system where each letter represents a specific attribute. As mentioned above, these letters stand for: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, or Luck.

  • Strength: Affects the maximum carry weight and damage of melee attacks
  • Perception: Increase the V.A.T.S. hit chance and the range that enemies appear on the compass
  • Endurance: Linked with health, Action Points, and disease prevention
  • Charisma: Allows sharing of perks, rewards from group quests, and bartering with vendors
  • Intelligence: Durability of crafted gear, makes hacking easier, and increased gains from scrapping items
  • Agility: Responsible for sneaking and the efficiency of Action Points in V.A.T.S.
  • Luck: Helps with critical hits and the quality of looted items

How perk cards work

If leveling up is the entrée that whets your appetite, the perk cards are the main meal. Each perk card in the game has an effect that will alter some aspect of Fallout 76. Perk cards belong to one of the seven attributes (S.P.E.C.I.A.L.) and can only be assigned to that attribute’s slot. For instance, Inspirational is a perk card that can only be assigned to the Charisma slot.

The perk card screen is split into two distinct sections, upper and lower. The upper section of the screen shows the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and the perk card slots while the lower section of the screen displays all available perk cards. By selecting a perk card from the bottom section, it will be placed in the appropriate slot up the top, as long as the attribute is the correct level and there are enough slots.

The letter on the lower-left corner indicates what attribute it belongs to, as does its color. The effect of the perk card is listed in the middle, while the rank of the perk card is in the top left. A perk card that you are sharing will have a three-player icon and a perk card that another player is sharing with you will have a linked-chain icon over the top-left corner. In the event a perk card is a higher level than an attribute, it will have a lock over it – simply increase the attribute to the displayed level to be able to equip it.

How to rank up perk cards

Perk cards can also be ranked up to increase the potency of the effect they offer. As an example, the Happy Camper perk card can be increased from rank 1 to rank 2, which increases its effect (hunger and thirst slow-down while in a camp) from 40 perecent to 80 percent.

Ranking up a card requires at least two of the same perk card, but it doesn’t matter what rank they are. Once a perk card has been ranked up, the number in the top-left will increase, its effect will become stronger, and it will also require additional levels from the attribute. As an example, if your Charisma is level 2 and you rank up an Inspirational perk card from 2 to 3, you won’t be able to equip it until your Charisma is at level 3.

It is also possible to “inspect” a perk card to see how high it can be ranked up and how the effects change with each rank up.

Sharing perk cards

As mentioned above, it is possible to “share” the effect of a perk card with your teammates in Fallout 76. This is absolutely essential if teams want to tackle some of the more difficult areas or you just want a cohesive and productive squad.

To share a perk card, the level of your Charisma must be three-times the rank of the perk card you want to share. If the card you want to share is rank 1, you will need 3 Charisma, if the card is rank 2, you need 6 Charisma, and so on.

The leveling system in Fallout 76 offers a lot of customization to cater for every playstyle. A good strategy with the perk cards is to equip and unequip cards as needed, as having the Happy Camper card equipped isn’t so useful when out exploring. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the various perk cards, and rank up the cards wherever possible, as this will greatly improve the wasteland experience. Also start planning out how you want to assign points to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. slots, as there are only so many points to go around. Check out the Fallout 76 guide and walkthrough for more survival tips!

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can Tweet him: @SamuelChandler 

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