clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fallout 76 mutations guide

Roam Appalachia with our favorite mutations for huge benefits

Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Fallout 76 asks you to rebuild America, but no one says that you can’t do that while also being a sweet mutant who can run super fast, jump super high and fall from great heights. Mutations are an excellent way to vary your character build and introduce new ways to play Fallout 76.

In this guide, we’ll run down how to get mutations, how to keep your favorite mutations, and the effects of every mutation in the game so you know which ones to use and which to shed to suit your goals.

How mutations work in Fallout 76

Mutations kick in when your character takes radiation. You can have more than one mutation at a time. The best and most efficient way to develop mutations is to find a toxic waste zone; these are especially common in the Toxic Valley region to the North, around Grafton.

Radiation blocks off your health bar, causing you to have a smaller health pool. You can take RadAway to regain access to that health, but it will also remove your mutation unless you also take the Starched Genes Perk Card and equip it. Starched Genes allows you to take RadAway without cleansing yourself. You can unlock Starched Genes very early on in the Luck tree.

If you want to remove your mutations, head to the Whitesprings bunker and use their contamination chamber. Even with the Starched Genes perch, that will clear your mutations.

Must-have mutations

These mutations are extremely powerful and are objectively worth taking, even when you consider their built-in drawbacks. Mutants with these abilities will have powerful advantages in PvP combat against other players, PvE, or both.

Healing Factor offers +300 percent health regeneration, but causes chems to have a -55 percent effect. Unless you’re rolling with a build that seriously relies on you taking drugs and booze to get in the fight, if you see Healing Factor pop up as a mutation, you’ll want to keep it. (Avoid Super Duper, Chemist and Chem Fiend in your Perk build.) If you need more of a boost, consider taking Endurance Perks like Cola Nut, Good Doggy, Ghoulish and Revenant.)

Marsupial grants +20 carry weight and increases your jump height dramatically, allowing you to clear most buildings. This breaks pathing for Scorched and Ghouls, allowing you to farm places like the Whitesprings Golf Course with ease. Marsupial is even stronger when combined with the next mutation. While your Intelligence goes down by 4, this is still one of the best mutations in the game for both PvP and PvE.

Speed Demon allows you to reload faster and gives you +20 movement speed. The drawback is that you will drain your hunger and thirst bars twice as fast, so stock up on Purified Water and steaks.

Grounded gives you 100 Energy Resistance, but hits your Energy damage by 20 percent. This is a fantastic defensive resistance unless you rely on energy weapons.

Electrically Charged supercharges you. Upon taking melee damage, you have a chance to shock your attackers, dealing damage and giving you some breathing room. You also take a small amount of damage, but when you’re dealing with hordes of Scorched or Ghouls, that’s worth the risk. The mutation Unstable Isotope is similar to this — it irradiates melee attackers and causes radiation, while also dealing damage to you. However, some enemies are immune to Unstable Isotope’s radiation.

Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Situational mutations

These mutations are strong for certain builds or situations, but they’re not universally good. Sometimes they restrict certain builds or cancel out certain Perks, while other times they’re only good against a specific type of enemy.

Bird Bones grants Agility and slows your falling speed, allowing you to negate falling damage. In return, you lose 4 Strength.

Eagle Eyes provides +4 perception and +25 percent critical hit damage. You do lose 4 Strength with this mutation.

Egg Head massively boosts your Intelligence by 6, with a loss of 3 Strength and Endurance.

Bird Bones, Eagle Eyes, and Egg Head all boost ranged characters, allowing snipers or rifle users to excel, but the loss of Strength hits melee characters hard, meaning that their positive effects only benefit certain builds. Make sure you’re using the right weapons and loadouts if you’re relying on these mutations.

There are also mutations that overwhelmingly favor melee. Never save these mutations on a ranged character, but they can help someone who uses fist weapons, spears or swords get the edge on their opponents.

Talons gives you a bonus to punching attacks. They now deal 25 percent more damage and cause a Bleed effect on enemies for 5 seconds, at a cost of -4 agility.

Twisted muscles grants +25 percent melee damage and boosts your chance to cripple enemy limbs. Your gun accuracy is hit by 50 percent.

Mutations with friends

Some mutations only work when you’re in a party; if you run solo with these mutations, you’re going to run into a lot of trouble.

Empath reduces the damage your teammates take by 25 percent at the cost of the mutant taking 33 percent extra damage. This is definitely at its most effective when you’re rolling with a full party to maximize the damage reduction on allies, since you always lose a flat 33 percent.

Herd Mentality gives +2 to all SPECIAL stats when you’re in a group. If you choose to run solo, you’ll lose -2 to all SPECIAL stats.

Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Risky mutations

These mutations could work for all builds, though they have have powerful drawbacks that you must consider. They can have strong positive effects, but they aren’t worth taking across the board unless you’re confident in your build. If you take these mutations by accident, they’re worth cleansing until you have a better grasp on them.

Adrenal Reaction increases your weapon damage and gives you health generation when you hit low HP. However, it hits your maximum HP by 50, so you become a glass cannon.

Chameleon is a good Perk for snipers and it’s tricky in PvP, but it requires you to play without wearing any armor, unless that armor specifically notes that it ignores the Chameleon mutation. You can also find Chameleon Legendary armor that doesn’t require a mutation or become negated by other armor.

Plague Walker gives you a poison aura that stacks with your diseases. You can have up to four diseases for a stronger aura. Plague Walker only works when diseased, and diseases can seriously hamper your gameplay — some of them drain your hunger or thirst, while others cause constant damage. Make sure you’re prepared to deal with the effects of disease before you run around with a fully active Plague Walker.

Scaly Skin gives you +50 Damage and energy resistance, which makes you a tank. The drawback is that your AP is also cut by 50, your ability to sprint is cut, and your access to VATS will be severely limited. What you gain in sheer defensive power, you lose in maneuverability and guaranteed accuracy; you’ll also have less access to crits, due to your limited VATS access.

Herbivore allows you to eat meat, but it no longer satiates your hunger. Vegetables give twice as much benefit and can no longer cause disease. Carnivore is the opposite: Meat is twice as effective and can’t give you a disease, but plants no longer fill your hunger bar.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon