Skills and perks
Before we discuss Wasteland 3‘s skills and the skills associated with them, let’s talk about the universal perks that are available to all characters as well as those that are unlockable depending on your choices and NPC encounters.
- Universal perks are available right from the start and you can grab them if you want.
- Special perks (this is just a term I thought of) come from specific NPCs or encounters in Wasteland 3. In a majority of cases, unique companions won’t be able to obtain them. But, many will be automatically applied to all custom Rangers once unlocked.
|Deep Pockets||+1 quick slots||Available from the start||All|
|Hardened||+2 armor||Available from the start||All|
|Healthy||+2 con/HP||Available from the start||All|
|Quick Reflexes||+5% evasion||Available from the start||All|
|Weathered||+10% crit resistance||Available from the start||All|
|Cyborg Tech||Allows you to equip Cyborg Tech utility items||From Vivisecto RN in the Machine Commune or the SSSK contraption in Yuma County.||Unlocked for the character that uses Vivisecto’s item or the one who uses the SSSK contraption. |
Ironclad Cordite starts with this perk by default.
|Investigative Eye||+1 Perception||VICI||Unlocked for all custom Rangers that are in your squad at the time.|
|Marshal Training||+2m. Leadership range||Frank Pappas||Unlocked for all custom Rangers that are in your squad at the time.|
|Ranger Survivor||+5% healing bonus||La Loca and Rook||Unlocked for all custom Rangers that are in your squad at the time.|
|Vehicular Combat||+5% bonus damage to vehicles||Randy Gett||Unlocked for all custom Rangers that are in your squad at the time.|
Now, let’s discuss the skills and perks you can assign in Wasteland 3. For this part, I’ve split up the perks based on their parent skill while noting the effects and practical application of the skills themselves.
Note: Skills require only one point to rank-up until rank 3, and then the costs will increase. Maxing-out a skill (rank 10) requires 28 points in total.
As a rule of thumb, make sure your initial characters in Wasteland 3 are using different starting weapons. On Ranger or Supreme Jerk difficulty, ammo will be very hard to come by, and having multiple troopers using the same weapons or ammo types will probably deplete your reserves often.
|Assault rifle and SMG hit chance|
|2||Puncturing Shot (5 AP)||Fires in a straight line; applies damaged armor|
|3||Gopher Hunter (passive)||Enemies have 25% less benefit from cover|
|4||Spray N’ Pray (5 AP)||Fires double the number of SMG bullets but with -25% hit chance; applies slowed|
|6||Reckless (passive)||+15% SMG damage when not in cover|
|7||Double Tap (passive)||When attacking the same target twice with an assault rifle, the second attack will always crit|
|8||Stormer (passive)||When moving more than 5 tiles, the next SMG shot costs no AP; once per turn only|
|10||Trigger Happy (passive)||Killing an enemy with an assault rifle or SMG gives +3 AP (once per turn)|
|Automatic Weapons is basically a go-to skill for maybe a couple of Rangers/companions anyway. Puncturing Shot, Gopher Hunter, Double Tap, and Trigger Happy are ideal picks.|
|Machine gun and flamethrower hit chance|
|2||Move Up (passive)||+0.5 combat speed during the first turn|
|3||Suppressing Fire (5 AP)||Attack consumes twice as many bullets; suppressed enemies have lower combat speed and hit chance for two turns; deals 300% damage to demoralized targets|
|4||Terrorizer (passive)||Flamethrower attacks lower the target’s hit chance by -15%.|
|7||Pressure Cooker (5 AP)||Deals 40% of vehicle’s HP as fire damage for two turns; prevents vehicle from taking actions.|
|8||Steady Shot (passive)||+20% evasion and hit chance when in low cover and using a machine gun|
|10||Wide Spread (passive)||+35% firing arc (cone) for machine guns and flamethrowers|
|Suppressing Fire and Steady Shot are good picks here, maybe Wide Spread too. Pressure Cooker is absolutely useless since you’ll rarely fight enemies in vehicles, and, in those cases, you’ve got the Kodiak with you to provide support.|
|+0.5 combat speed per rank; brawling weapon (fist weapon) hit chance; successful attacks on the same target generate one combo point|
|2||Shaolin Surprise (2 AP)||Gains bonus of +2 armor penetration and +10 damage per combo point; +100% damage to demoralized targets.|
|5||Extreme Combo (passive)||Maximum combo increased to 10x.|
|7||Deadly Combo (passive)||Increased combo crit chance by 2x.|
|10||Flurry of Blows (passive)||All brawling attack costs are reduced by -1 AP.|
|Brawling is a super weird skill because melee, in general, has you relying on COO (AP), STR (melee damage, HP, and armor requirements), and SPD (combat speed and evasion) to make the most out of your moves. |
I never planned on building any of my Rangers in this manner. However, one particular companion, Ironclad Cordite, will excel once you obtain him.
|Bladed and blunt weapon hit chance|
|2||Bleeding Strike (4 AP)||Deals extra damage that causes bleeding; has lower hit chance; +200% damage to burning targets.|
|4||Stunning Blow (5 AP)||Blunt attack that stuns target but has -15% hit chance; +100% damage to frozen targets.|
|5||Striking Distance (passive)||+0.5 combat speed when you have two melee weapons equipped.|
|6||Bloodsport (passive)||Stunned or blinded enemies are always critically hit by blunt weapons.|
|7||Hack N’ Slash (passive)||Attacking the same target with a bladed weapon twice in a row executes a free bonus attack.|
|8||Pursuit (passive)||If you move more than three spaces, your next bladed weapon attack had +25% crit chance; +100% damage vs. slowed targets.|
|10||Shrug It Off (passive)||+2 armor for every enemy that’s adjacent to you; must have a blunt weapon.|
|Same with the Brawling skill, Melee Combat is also an oddity given the distinction between blunt and bladed perks. |
Still, you have a companion, Fishlips, who might excel with this combat skill.
|Semi-auto pistol, revolver, pump shotgun, and auto shotgun hit chance|
|2||Shredder Shot (4 AP)||Fires a shotgun blast that causes bleeding and extra armor damage|
|3||Opportunist (passive)||The strike meter gains +5% bonus charge for each successful handgun shot|
|5||Trick Shot (4 AP)||The handgun fires a shot that has -50% hit chance. If it’s successful, you gain +3 AP and the strike meter is instantly refilled; bonus damage vs. marked targets|
|6||Clear Cover (passive)||Shotguns do 100% damage to cover|
|7||Draw (passive)||Your first attack after reloading a weapon with an empty clip costs no AP|
|8||Devastation (passive)||+25% damage for each enemy hit by the same shotgun attack|
|10||Counter-Offensive (passive)||Attacking an enemy that has hit you with a melee attack deals +50% damage|
|Small Arms has some worthwhile perks here. Shotgun users gain a lot from Clear Cover and Devastation due to the conal spread. |
Pistol users such as Lucia Wesson, meanwhile, gain a lot of benefits from Draw and, most importantly, Trick Shot.
Counter-Offensive is also useful is enemies get up close and melee you – just blast them in the face immediately.
|Sniper rifle hit chance|
|2||Mark Target (2 AP)||Marked enemy has -15% evasion and takes +50% damage from precision strike ability|
|5||Masterful Precision (passive)||Precision strikes with sniper rifles have a higher crit chance|
|7||Concentration (passive)||+10% hit chance with your sniper rifle if you don’t move for one turn|
|10||Chain Ambush (passive)||Ambush (overwatch) kills with a sniper rifle won’t end your ambush stance|
|Every perk here synergizes well enough for a sniper “class.” The custom Ranger I’ve created already has a ton of AP, so it’s all about chaining ambushes and shooting foes in the head (or shooting their fuel tanks if they have those).|
|Healing item effectiveness; HP bonus when reviving allies; usage of First Aid items|
|1||Emergency Response (passive)||When an ally is downed, gain +1 combat speed for 2 turns|
|5||Overhealing (passive)||Using healing items boosts the target’s max HP for 3 turns|
|7||Physical Therapy (passive)||Reviving allies has a chance to buff them (+6% per First Aid level)|
|10||Hypocratic Oath (passive)||+50% damage for 2 turns after reviving an ally|
|Ideally, you want every character to have First Aid 1. This will let them use various consumables including the all-important Med Pack — a consumable that you can equip via your quick slots, letting you heal your other teammates. |
Outside of that, you’ll only need one squad member to have a higher First Aid rank, and Overhealing is your best bet among all these perks.
|Disarm landmines and traps; explosive resistance and damage bonus|
|2||Duck and Cover (passive)||+20% fire and explosive resistance|
|3||Bomb Recovery (passive)||Disarming landmines has a 33% chance to let you pick up a grenade|
|4||Minesweeper (passive)||You no longer set off landmines when stepping on them|
|5||Mortal Blast (7 AP)||Target an area with your rocket launcher; the area will be bombarded one turn later|
|7||High Impact (passive)||Targets directly hit by rockets or grenades are critically hit|
|10||Blast Radius (passive)||+40% radius for explosives and grenade effects|
|You really can’t go wrong with this skill and its perks. Bomb Recovery already nets you extra grenades. Follow that up with Mortar Blast, High Impact, and Blast Radius and you’ll make your opponents go kaboom with ease.|
|Disable alarms; increased Perception, initiative, detection time, and sneak attack bonus|
|4||Second Chance (passive)||+1 second detection time|
|7||Close Call (passive)||50% chance for alarms and traps to malfunction when you set them off|
|10||Lights Out (passive)||+200% sneak attack damage|
|There’s no reason to grab Second Chance or Close Call because you’ll see mobs and traps/alarms from a mile away (most especially if you have some extra Perception). |
Lights Out sounds useful for that all-important sneaky first attack, but it’s not a mandatory pick, and you probably won’t go overboard with the Sneaky Shit skill during your Wasteland 3 playthrough.
|Increases energy, fire, and cold damage; usage of Weird Science items (high-tech energy weapons)|
|3||Overcharge (1 AP)||Empowers weapon to deal extra energy, fire, or cold damage; 5% chance that the weapon explodes in your face|
|6||Microwave Research (passive)||+0.5 bonus energy damage for every point of armor that your target has|
|9||Conductive Beams (passive)||10% chance for energy weapons to electrocute enemies; deals damage to nearby enemies for two turns|
|I’ve honestly never bothered picking up any of the Weird Science perks. Don’t get me wrong, the skill itself is okay if you want to RP as a “tech savvy” Ranger (combined with Nerd Stuff). But, the perks leave a lot to be desired. Even Microwave Research seems odd since you’re only gaining a few points of damage.|
|Tame animals; increased pet damage|
|3||Animal Training (passive)||Animal companions gain bonus con/HP and damage|
|5||Spirit Animal (passive)||Animal companions provide improved passives|
|7||Vengeful Bond (passive)||When an animal companion drops to 25% HP, gain +50% crit chance and +2 AP|
|You’re allowed one animal companion per character that has the Animal Whisperer skill (as long as they have the required level to tame the animal in the first place). Later, you’ll want to increase this skill to obtain some really awesome pets. The Animal Training and Spirit Animal perks are both decent.|
Lockpicking – Opening locks, gates, safes, and various containers. This skill does not have any associated perks. However, it’s singularly the most important general skill to have in Wasteland 3. There are so many doors and chests that are locked in this game that, by leveling up this skill, you’re guaranteed a smoother (and more rewarding) playthrough.
|Repair generators or machines; increased repair kit effectiveness; increased damage versus robots, vehicles, and synths|
|3||Structural Weakness (passive)||+20% damage to robots and vehicles|
|4||Handy (passive)||Deployable items gain +25% HP and damage|
|5||Reinforced Plating (passive)||Repairing vehicles or robots boosts their HP by +25% for 3 turns|
|7||Fortify (passive)||Repairing vehicles, robots, and deployables grants +5 armor for 3 turns|
|Mechanics is also another important skill to have in Wasteland 3 due to the sheer number of generators or machines that you need to fix. Additionally, you’ll find that deployables (turrets and bots) are very helpful during battles. |
As for the perks, you won’t ever need them unless you want one Ranger to RP as an “engineer.”
|Installation of armor mods|
|10||Tender Loving Care (passive)||All squad members gain +5 armor when this character is present|
|I mean, it’s Armor Modding; you only need to have one character that puts points in this, preferably a skill mule (explained in detail later). You’ll even get a unique companion later, Fishlips, who has this already leveled-up.|
|Installation of weapon mods|
|2||Scounger’s Touch (passive)||Field stripping has a chance of providing weapon mods|
|5||Powder Packer (passive)||+25% bonus ammo when looting; minimum of +1 extra ammo|
|7||Expert Disassembler (passive)||30% more scrap when field stripping weapons|
|You will find a lot of loot while exploring Wasteland 3‘s world. Many of these can be thrown away or aren’t useful for your builds. |
You can sell them to vendors or, better yet, field strip them for scrap and mods (Scounger’s Touch). Sell the leftovers and you’ll still make some money.
Oh, and Lucia Wesson, a unique companion you can recruit early in the game has a few levels in this skill already. Ideally, though, you should just level this up on a skill mule.
|Hacking terminals, computers, and robots|
|3||Targeting Override (passive)||Robots you hack will now be targetted by other enemies|
|5||Electric Leakage (passive)||Hacked robots emit an electrical AoE discharge every turn that does energy damage to nearby hostiles|
|7||Overclock (passive)||Hacked robots gain +2 AP|
|You’re bound to encounter a few robots here and there in Wasteland 3, so you might get them to support your squad during a fight. But, the skill’s main draw is hacking terminals and computers which lets you complete objectives or progress through areas in different ways.|
|Uh, repairing toasters|
|3||Toaster Expert (passive)||Fixing broken toasters yields extra loot|
|5||Breakfast Bandit (passive)||Toasters yield toast; this consumable heals you to full HP and gives +1 AP for 90 turns (or 15 minutes)|
|7||Heating Element (passive)||+25% fire damage|
|10||Toasty (passive)||Killing an enemy will have your next attack cause burning|
|Grab the skill on a mule, but don’t make leveling it a priority. Ignore the perks.|
|Avoiding random encounters on the world map; damage vs. mutants and animals|
|6||Big Game (passive)||+20% bonus damage to animals and mutants|
|10||Explorer’s Instinct (passive)||Instantly reveals the entire world map|
|Survival is good if you want to avoid the random encounters on the world map, but you won’t need any of its perks. If you really want to see the entire region, just take a look at the image below and save it on your computer.|
Hard Ass – Hard Ass (intimidation) speech checks; doesn’t have perks.
Kiss Ass – Kiss Ass (charm) speech checks; doesn’t have perks.
|Increased selling price; discounted buying price|
|3||Penny Pincher (passive)||Buying multiple items at a time provides a 20% discount|
|7||Antiques Appraiser (passive)||Junk items have a chance to be sold for 50x their value|
|Barter isn’t one of those skills you’d prioritize and cash is easy to come by due to all the loot and junk you’ll find. Still, if you want to make some dough, grab Antiques Appraiser when you can. This is better obtained and leveled-up with a skill mule. |
Additionally, as mentioned by Redditor Jackoberto01, there seems to be an exploit with Antiques Appraiser. The player repurchased the junk they just sold. Then, once they resold the items, Antiques Appraiser “procced” and gave thousands of gold. It was, however, hard to replicate, but you can try it on an alt Ranger with the Barter skill if you’d like.
|Increased hit chance of nearby allies; ally bonus on boss kill, multi-kill, and revive|
|3||Rally (4 AP)||+2 AP for all allies in a radius around you|
|5||Demoralize (2 AP)||-20% hit chance and -25% critical chance for enemies|
|Leadership is amazing due to the passive bonuses it brings to your squad. |
Its perks are also a godsend. Imagine popping Rally so your troops can get an extra attack (or maybe a quick reload so they can shoot next turn). Meanwhile, the debuff from Demoralize ensures that opponents will have a hard time taking you down.
Finally, it’s time to check out the last couple of traits you can give to your Wasteland 3 characters — it’s their backgrounds and quirks — as well as a detailed summary of my picks.