Wasteland 3: Best Perks

In this Wasteland 3 article I want to take a look at the best perks for Wasteland 3 and discuss just exactly what these do, which ones are the best and how you can use them effectively in and outside of combat. 

Wasteland 3: Best Perks

Not all of these will be available to every character because you have to at least have one point in each skill in order to see these but you can see them if you click the “show unavailable perks” look through them and see what you’re aiming for.

General Perks

First I want to look at the general perks, general perks are perks that any character can take without having spent any ability points. The first one I want to draw your attention to is Healthy. This increases your hit points by 35. This is a huge amount of 50% increase for most characters or 35% increase for a lot of characters. So if you find your character happens on the harder difficulties this is an absolutely great perk to take.

Automatic Weapons Skill Perks

Moving along to automatic weapons, the first I think you should take is called Gopher Hunter. This is going to make it so enemies gain 25% less benefit from cover when attacking. That is going to help you all throughout the game because enemies love to cover in this game, and this can really wreck your accuracy and damage so take advantage of this as soon as you can, because it’s passive it doesn’t cost you any AP or anything like that, it’s going to be used every time you fire, if you are using an automatic weapon.

Spray ‘n’ Pray and Puncturing Shot are both good choices but I don’t think you’re gonna want to take them early on. Your hit chance is already the lowest it’s going to be at the beginning of the game and Spray ‘n’ Pray lowers it by another 25% so you’re probably not going to gamble  like a 50% shot by adding another minus 25% or 70% shot down to 50.

Additionally Puncturing Shot seems great uh it is good but you have to have so many enemies on the screen to get best use of it usually at the beginning of the game where the you know the difficulty where high particularly on harder difficulties you’re going to try and destroy as many as with explosives as quick you can so you’re not going to get as much use out of it early on. 

Later in the game when there’s just tons and tons of enemies you’re going to make better use of that skill or perk Reckless. It is a great skill for submachine guns because usually you need to get close to your enemies to use these weapons. So you are going to run up blast them and then probably get into cover so you don’t have to fire from cover using this ability and indeed.

If you’re using a submachine gun which has a very short range, you’re probably not going to be firing from cover that often so this is a very good perk to pick up. Double Tap is an exceptionally good perk if you attack an enemy twice then the second attack is going to be critical hit which is bonus damage and you tend to attack targets twice.

When you’re using assault rifles this happens all the time you usually have the exact number of action points to fire twice in a given round so this is a very good perk to pick up.

If you’re using automatic weapons, Stormer is also great as I mentioned before with the submachine gun you’re going to have to try and close ground in order to use these very effectively and moving costs a lot of AP so this is going to allow you to move and then fire at no AP costs so this is going to be very, very useful if you’re going for like a run and gun type of build, and consider picking this one up if you’re using SMGs.

Trigger Happy is probably the best overall perk for automatic weapons gaining three ap once a turn. When you kill an enemy with an automatic weapon it’s kind of like executioner from divinity original sin 2 talent. 

We know how good that is it’s similar here and as far I know it should stack with the Serial Killer quirk, which also gives you three AP once per turn when killing an enemy at the cost of one action point. The thing about playing with Automatic weapons particularly SMGs, is that you have to commit. So you’re going to move up because enemies that are dug in cover, don’t tend to move up on them spending a lot of action points moving, and if you can spend all your action points to kill that enemy. Then maybe it’ll give you a few action points where you can fire again, or get into cover before your turn ends. This is just a really good perk.

Melee Combat Skill Perks

The first perk I want to draw attention to in the melee combat line is Stirking DistanceIt gives you 0.5 combat speed when you have two melee weapons equipped. One in your primary and one in your secondary slot. This is big for melee characters because combat speed reduces the amount of AP you spent to move. You have to close the distance to enemies when you’re playing melee and you don’t want to spend all your AP doing that. So you need to have high combat speed and this is going to make it better if you have melee each slot. 

If you take a look at the Bloodsport perk it makes it so that you attack with a blunt weapon it critically hits it critically hits stunned or blinded enemies this is a great perk to take if you’ve taken a Stunning Blow. Again, Stunning Blow is another one of those perks that reduces your hit so you’re probably not going to take it right out the gate, because your hit chances are going to be rather low early on, but once you have enough accuracy with melee combat, you’re going to want to pick that up. Because being able to stun with an enemy is huge, and maybe hit them with your fist or whatever you hit them with to stun them. Then you pull out a blunt weapon and just critically hit them. That’s a great combo right there.

Hack and Slash is phenomenal if you’re going to be using bladed weapons. It’s going to give you an extra attack that lets you attack twice in a row. Which is going to be pretty common if you’re a melee character. You’re going to move up and attack as many times as you can. Getting that bonus attack may kill that target for you. So this is an absolute must if you are going to be using bladed weapons as a melee character and you can even have a blade weapon in one slot and blunt weapon in another slot to take advantage of both of these perks.

Pursuit is an excellent perk because it’s going to make your next bladed weapon attack have a 25 critical chance plus 100% chance to slow targets. You move a lot as a melee character so increasing your critical chance by 25% is a huge amount and there are ways to slow targets with your ranged characters and since you can take turn in any order you want on your you could maybe slow an enemy first so that you go with that extra percent chance.

Shrug It Off is the last perk here and I just think it’s a little bit overrated. +2 Armor is nice for each enemy around you but ideally you’re not going to run into a group of enemies in melee if you have enemies all grouped up you’re probably going to want to shoot explosives in them or set the area on fire  so you’re probably not going to run into tons of enemies at once. There’s probably certain scenarios where this is going to be a huge payoff but I think more often than not you’re not going to get a whole lot of benefit out of this perk.

Big Guns Skill Perks

Taking a look at Big Guns perks, Move Up! is a great one this increases your combat speed which again makes it so you can move with less AP when you’re using a big gun your accuracy is usually pretty trash so getting close enough to your target where you have good enough accuracy is very important so this is going to help you accomplish that so I absolutely recommend taking that one.

I think Suppressing Fire is probably a bit overrated early in the game early on in the game. You want to try and kill most enemies as quickly as you can so suppressing them is not something you really need to do. But over the course of the game and it gets more difficult. Enemies become harder to kill and increase in number. This is something that will become very handy, especially with bosses or mini bosses type characters with tons of health and you are not able to burst them down in one or two turns. Keeping them suppressed is going to be crucial for that so it’s not something I would take early on in the game but look to get it later if you’re using like a heavy gunner type build.

It’s pretty much the same deal with Terrorizer, you’re reducing the hit chance of the enemy but ideally you’d rather be killing the enemy than just debuffing them. So you’re probably going to use this on really hard to kill enemies if you’re using a flamethrower but very situational

Pressure Cooker is a great perk for a heavy gunner. Part of your identity as a heavy gunner is taking out the heavy artillery or the other force or faction and this is going to disable their vehicles for a couple of turns and make them take damage over time while you can take apart vehicles tend to have rather large health pools so this is perfect for something like that but again its very situational but probably by the time you to seven and big guns you’ll probably want to start looking to take this perk.

Steady Shot is excellent perk for any heavy gunner giving you extra evasion and hit chance in low cover is perfect. This is exactly what you’re going to want to try to do with a heavy machine gun if you are using one. It is to get somewhere with low cover and then unload and having extra hit chance is just so much helpful with a heavy machine gunner because you’re always going to have accuracy issues with these guns. So being able to get that extra hit chance and evasion is going to make your heavy gunner who’s usually going to be in the direct line of fire stay alive much longer and be more effective.

Wide Spread is another great perk it’s going to increase the firing arc of heavy machine guns and flamethrowers by 35% that’s not a ton so this isn’t probably the best park in the line i think that’s probably steady shot but you’re going to want to pick it up anyway because being able to hit as many enemies you can with flamethrowers and heavy machine guns is what being a heavy gunner is all about.

Brawling Skill Perks

Taking a look at the brawling perks, Shaolin Surprise basically lets you spend your combo points to do an increased damage. Every time you hit your enemy with a melee attack that’s with fist weapons or fist you’re going to build up a combo and this basically uses those combo points to give you extra armor penetration and damage so this is how you’re going to spend that very effectively.

Extreme Combo allows you to build up your combos, even higher each time you attack you’re going to get more and more bonuses. And this is going to allow you to stack that even higher so you can do even more damage.

Deadly Combo increases critical chance by times two for each combo that point that you instead of you know whatever the regular percentage is so it’s gonna make it  so that you critically hit more the more you swing away.

Flurry of Blows reduces the brawling cost of each attack by 1 AP. Brawling attacks normally cost 2 thus reducing the ap cost by 1. Which means if you have a ton of AP, you could attack 8 or 9 times in a round which is a devastating amount of damage.

Small Arms Skill Perks

When it comes to Small Arms you want to take a look at Opportunist first this increases your strike meter charge by 5% for each successful handgun attack. This is going to allow you to build up your precision strike which is one of your more powerful attacks more quickly which is always great so consider picking up that one .

Trick Shot is another one of those perks that gives you -50% hit chance but gives you an extra 3 AP and your strike meter is instantly filled if you deal damage and it also deals 100 % damage against the marked target. The problem with it is I don’t know how many people want to gamble if they’re going to hit. I mean this is one of those where you  save scum and reload if you don’t get it. And I’m not a big fan of those types of abilities so it could be worth it but I don’t recommend taking abilities that are RNG based.

Clear Cover is an excellent ability for those who are using shotguns. It’s going to do cover damage to enemies that are in cover. Wrecking their covers so that other characters can hit them harder or even having better accuracy that can hit them easier. So this is a great passive one to take.

Draw! is phenomenal for a perk. Your first attack after reloading an empty weapon costs no AP. This is huge particularly if you use a shotgun that has like two shells . After two shots for four ap reload and then you get another shot so you definitely want to take this one no matter what sort of small arms character you are gonna be but can definitely consider taking it if you’re a shotgun user.

Devastation is another great ability for shotgun users plus 25 damage for each enemy hit with the same shot. The biggest upside of shotguns is of course their cones, they can hit tons of enemies in a cone in front of them. Increasing the damage for each enemy in that con which you’re already trying to maximise. Beautiful if you’re a shotgun user.

Counter-Offensive is interesting because it’s a way to deal with melee enemies that rush you and attack you. If you’re a shotgun user or a small arms user, you’re probably on the front lines anyway because you need to get close in order to have the best optimal range for those weapons so this is probably going to come in very very handy. You know, move in and get a couple of attacks, take damage from a melee enemy and then you just turn around and blow them in the face so definitely take this one if you’re using either of those type of weapons but it’s probably more handy for a shotgun user because the range is on those weapons.

Sniper Rifles Skill Perks

When it comes to sniper rifles Mark Target is much better on hard to kill enemies than regular enemies obviously but there just aren’t so many that are that difficult to kill early on in the game that you’re going to want to spend 2 ap marking them.Your accuracy isn’t usually so bad that you need it so this will come on handy a lot later in the game when there are more difficult enemies so I don’t recommend worrying about taking this one first even if you are a sniper build.

Masterful Precision is excellent for a sniper rifle. This makes your precision strikes have a higher chance of inflicting critical hits. You want to deal as much with these as you can and they already hit like a truck for a sniper so you definitely take this one.

Concentration is okay as a sniper you’re already going to have tons of awareness and hit chances because you’re going to be firing from the longest range possible. So gaining a 10% hit chance isn’t a lot and it means if you don’t move for a turn you don’t move a lot as a sniper anyway so you’re probably going to take this one but I think it’s a lot better on paper than it probably is in practice.

Chain Ambush is absolutely devastating for sniper build if you don’t use all your AP on your turn you can set up what’s called an ambush. It’s kind  of like overwatch in xcom. This makes it so that if you kill a target with your ambush then they move up and fire you will have another ambush queued up afterwards so let’s say like they all rush you and you just start blasting and kill them all. You tend to kill things very fast with sniper rifles in this game so this is just one of the most amazing perks in the entire game.

Moving on to the non-combat related perks in the Animal Whisperer category.

Animal Whisperer Skill Perks

Animal Trading allows your companion to gain bonus health and damage which is great. The animal companions are actually very useful in combat they’re very hard to kill so giving them extra damage is good they don’t usually  need extra con but sometimes they do get unloaded upon.

Spirit Animal provides you with better passive bonuses. i’m not sure what all the passive bonuses are of spirit animal but this could be particularly useful depending on what the bonuses are so you probably take this one depending on what spirit animal you’re using.

Vengeful Bond is absolutely amazing. It’s not going to happen all the time because frankly spirit animals are hard to kill and they have tons of health but just for the second sake this does happen to you a couple times very regularly 50% critical chance in 2 AP is a lot. If your animal companion drops below 25% the problem is you don’t really want your animal companion to die so you’re not going to like leaving them at 25% and they’re not likely to survive if they’re just sitting around at 25%. So it’s good on paper but i don’t know how much you’re going to use this in practice.

Barter Skill Perks

Moving on to barter. Buying multiple items instead of just one Penny Pincher provides a 20% discount. This perk is pretty good. Generally speaking when  you buy stuff, you’re going to buy multiple things at once so if you just wait to buy until you know you’re get at least one or two items this is essentially a 20% discount off items so it is very good.

Antique Appraiser is a 5% chance of being sold for 50 times its value. If you really want money this is not a bad one to pick up. At least one character on your team should have their skill being levelled up so that prices are better for you selling and buying so if you have that character this is not a bad pick.

Nerd Stuff Skill Perks

Moving along to Nerd Stuff, Targeting Override allows robots you hack to be attacked or they will attack enemies. This is okay obviously this is probably going to come in handy a lot later in the game when there are more enemies and robots. It’s not so useful early on.

Same with Electric Leakage. There isn’t a whole ton of enemies or robots to hack early on so if you’re considering getting these you’re probably going to want to get these a little bit later in the game. Not late game, but not at the beginning.

Overclock is going to give robots you hack an extra 2 AP if you’re planning on going down this route and getting all these perks you’re absolutely going to want to take this one and make robots your bitch. It just really depends on how committed you are to doing that, and that would really depend on your style of play.

Explosives Skill Perks

In the Explosives tree you disarm landmines a lot in this game and Bomb Recovery gives 33% chance to drop a  grenade is great. Grenades are super useful because they don’t have a hit chance. You lob it and everyone takes damage, which is always good because it destroys cover. So this is a good one to take particularly early on, because you’re going to get the most use out of it the sooner you take it.

Mortar Blast is an interesting perk to take and it’s very difficult to use effectively except in some circumstances enemies are dug in very deeply. The thing about explosives is generally in my experience particularly on the harder difficulty. Turn one your heavy ordinance user, the person who’s  gonna have explosives is going  to rocket launch into the middle of the biggest group of enemies they can. And this delays that launch by one turn for extra damage. Usually you can kill most of the enemies even on the highest difficulty in one rocket or get them so low that the rest of your team can pick them off, so I don’t imagine this is going to see a lot of use early on in the game. But maybe later on in the game when the enemies are tougher and you need that extra damage, if you can predict where they’re going to be this might be useful .

Blast Radius is absolutely the best perk in this skill line because you want your explosives to hit as many enemies as you can and a 40% increase is huge. So when you fire that rocket on turn one instead of maybe hitting 4 enemies you might hit 7 or 8. This is a no brainer if you’re going to be using heavy ordinance characters and you should be your character that uses heavy weapons that should have at least one slot as a rocket launcher so this should be great.

First Aid Skill Perks

When it comes to the first aid skill line there aren’t too many great perks here. A lot of them revolve around teammates going down, which is something you don’t really want to plan for, because the usual best case scenario is that everyone would be alive after a fight. But Emergency Response could be good in a melee character, in case somebody goes down you will gain combat speed so you can get off more attacks. It is worth considering on a melee character.

And Overhealing is pretty much good on any character who got first aid. Being able to boost your CON over the max is excellent when you heal which heal a lot in combat so that’s worth considering.

Physical Therapy and Hypocritic Oath again are depending on allies going down in combat which is something you never want to rely on or to possibly happen so I should consider not getting those.

Leadership Skill Perks

Rally is one of those perks that’s probably better on paper, than it is in practice because you are gonna use this turn 1 ideally. You’re all grouped up, you use it, everyone gets two AP and you lose 4. That’s great but after turn 1 you are not going to see much use for this at all, because you’re going to be spread out because you don’t want to get exploded to death, all grouped up. Adding 2 AP doesn’t add another attack for most characters so basically if it costs 4 AP and each character has 8 by default, you gave them some movement points or defensive points which I don’t think is worth sacrificing an attack for. You’d have to do that to several characters in order to make it work. It’s good for a one use every turn if that’s worth a perk point to you, or every combat then maybe consider getting it.

Demoralize is one of those abilities that I think is better later in the game, than early on. In the early game you want to try to kill things as quickly as possible, when that becomes harder and harder to do later in the game as enemies get tougher. Demoralize will come more into place so don’t get this one early on in the game consider picking it up in the midgame.

Mechanics Skills Perks

Moving along to mechanics, Structural Weakness is excellent with heavy ordnance characters. Giving them mechanics plus this perk increases damage to robots and vehicles which is already in line in what they normally do so this should be a no-brainer for anyone.

If your character likes to deploy things Handy is a great perk to take. This is a very situational perk because you don’t have to know how to summon tools normally so you are only going to this on a character that focuses on doing that.

Reinforced Plating is an excellent one to take on your mechanic or heavy ordnance character. Again it’s probably gonna be later in the game because you don’t have to fight with vehicles too much early on the game and you don’t really have a lot of robots either so unless you’re a character that’s hacking a lot of robots this is probably going to be a lot this going to be a lot less useful than it should.

Fortify is just not that great in my opinion. Giving 5 armor is not a ton of armor. It’s a lot of armor in the early game, but not so much late game that by the time you get this perk, you’re going to be probably somewhere in the middle to late depending on how fast you rush mechanics, which is something I don’t expect for most people. So by the time you would get it, it wouldn’t be as good as if you took it early on the game.

Survival Perks Skills

Big Game Hunter is another great perk that just gives you flat damage against mutants and animals. Anyone who has Survival should just take this. Anything that boosts damage in any way at any time is always a good perk because you want to try to kill things before it kills you.

If you manage to make it all the way to Big Game Hunter which is already a big investment into survival. Might as well go all the way to 10 and get Explorer’s Instinct. Revealing the entire world map and all its discoverable locations is just a huge bonus, it’ll make it easier for you to find and do everything you want. You would probably want to take this at some point on one character just to complete everything.

Toaster Repair Skills Perks

As far as Toaster Repair goes, the perks here basically deals with fixing toasters in the game. I think these just give you XP or bonuses. They are kinda scattered throughout the whole course of the game so this very much depends on whether you went that line or not. It’s always good to have at least one person with at least every skill maxed at some point on one character, so that you have 10 on every character.

So somebody is going to take this perk tree and if they’re taking it, you’ll probably would want to take a minimally the last one Toasty, but I don’t know if the other ones are absolutely necessary. Fire bonus damage is great if you’re playing with a flamethrower character or somebody that does explosive damage, but the other two I don’t think are absolutely necessary.

Weapon Modding Skills Perks

Moving now to weapon modding Scrounger’s Touch  is a very good perk. You should consider this one right away on one of your characters because it allows you to when you field strip a weapon, it gives you a chance of providing weapon mods.

If you install a weapon mod, I have not found a way to remove it as I haven’t found one. So you are gonna go through weapon mods fairly often and being able to get yourself a steady supply of those is good because they’ll boost your accuracy, crit chance or damage so  you absolutely want to take this one.

Powder Pack is also really good because it is going to increase the ammo you find when looting at a minimum +1 this means if you find a rocket you are going to get 2 rockets. You can never have too much rockets in this game so this is a very good one to have in order to get more ammo for those sorts of weapons.

Weird Science Perk Skill

Moving along to Weird Science, Overcharge is interesting because it allows you to do extra damage on your next attack, but it has a chance of blowing up your face. It is a very small chance, but it’s again one of those where I don’t like risking something bad happening to gain a benefit. 5% is rather low so you might consider taking it.

Microwave Research increases the damage of an energy weapon by 0.5 for each point of armor the target has. This is going to help you destroy heavily armored targets a lot faster. If you are using energy weapons you are definitely taking this one. It’ s just such a no brainer. Not everybody from your group is going to use energy weapons but the ones that do should be taking weird science and also this perk.

Conductive Beams is again a no brainer for an energy weapons character. 10% chance to electrocute dealing energy damage. Again not a big fan of RNG based abilities that have a negative effect but ones that only have a positive effect is a lot more to consider.

Sneaky Shit Perk Skills

Second Chance is a good perk if you are trying to make a very stealthy character. It adds another 1 second detection time that you can use to silence guards or enemies before they sound the alarm. This is definitely one if you’re trying to make like a total assassin type build.

Close Call is one of those where you’re never planning for failure so it might be good to have because you might make mistakes sometimes with traps.

Lights Out is absolutely one of the best perks in the game if you can pull it off. 200% damage when you sneak up on an enemy, and if you’re going for that assassin type build, taking this perk means this is going to make it so you one shot, or stealth takedown entire groups.

Armor Modding Perk Skills

There is only one perk and it is Tender Loving Care, all squad members gain +5 armor while this character is present. This is absolutely a no brainer perk plus 5 armor is a good amount of armor. It’s not a ton of armor at the end game but free armor for this person standing around is excellent. That’s just going to reduce how much damage your party takes.

Stay tuned for more Wasteland 3 Build Guides, as we explore just what sort of Builds you can make in this post apocalyptic CRPG. And be sure to check out the Official Wiki if you need more help with the game!


Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.

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