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Fallout 76 character customization will add card-based perks to SPECIAL system

Game director Todd Howard dives into how players will customize their Vault dwellers

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Fallout 76, the upcoming multiplayer survival game from Bethesda Game Studios, will employ a card-based system for character customization, game director Todd Howard explained at QuakeCon today.

Like other Fallout games, Fallout 76 will used the SPECIAL system that determines a player’s strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. As players level up in Fallout 76, they’ll be able to add points to each statistic. The number of points players allot to each statistic will determine how many perk cards they can use for that stat. Those perks are decided through a series of cards — Fallout 76 will include hundreds of cards, Bethesda said — that players will acquire as they level up through the game.

For example, Howard — who was joined by development director Chris Meyer and project lead Jeff Gardiner — showed off a Gladiator card that a player could place in the strength slot. Gladiator will add an increase to melee damage. The one-point version of the card will boost it by 10 percent, but the two-point version will boost it further and a three-point version even further.

The team showed off dozens of cards, including one called Quack Surgeon, which lets players revive others using liquor and others that let players build structures with fewer materials, carry more weight or hack terminals more safely.

Bethesda touched on how Fallout 76’s charisma-based perks will work in its multiplayer game. Many charisma cards appear to boost skills based on interactions with other players, including a card called Strange In Numbers: “Positive mutation effects are 25 percent stronger if teammates are mutated too.” Other charisma perks include the aforementioned Quack Surgeon, Happy-Go-Lucky (“Your luck is increased by 2 while under the influence of alcohol”) and Spiritual Healer (“You regenerate health for 5 seconds after reviving another player”).

Some perk cards will be focused on those who want to play the game from a single-player vantage, including one named Lone Wanderer, which offers a bonus to experience and damage.

Early on in the game, Fallout 76 will drop new packs of perk cards every two levels. Later, they’ll drop every five levels. Each pack will contain four random cards, as well as a stick of gum that players can chew to stave off hunger. Howard said that some cards may be higher than the player’s current level as a way to entice them to experiment with other character builds.

In terms of visual character customization, Fallout 76 will let players build their Vault dweller to their own specifications, and players will be able to revamp their look at any point during the game.

Fallout 76 is coming to PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One on Nov. 14. A multiplayer beta will be available in October.