Some of the traits are more complicated than would initially appear at first glance. This guide will cover the traits’ uses, listed in the order I typically pick them up.
Every perk is useful, and none of them are explicitly bad. This guide is to detail the intricacies of some of the perks I’ve seen people not fully understand, but I have formatted it in a descending order of the order I typically pick them up to make writing easier and clickbait you into reading the guide. You fell for it!
Let me know if you have any information about the traits that I forgot to include, or maybe didn’t even know about at all.
Game Sucks Without Them
These two perks are always picked up before anything else, with the sole exception of if I’m extremely dedicated to doing something super specific such as farming weeklies.
Lightfoot is arguably the strongest perk in the game. Audio is everything in this game, and Lightfoot gives you so many tools to suppress the audio you make. It’s like four perks in one: you vault silently, you fall silently, you climb ladders silently, and most importantly you jump silently.
Because you jump & fall silently, this lets you move around in a rather unique way. By jumping, instantly starting to sprint, then stopping the sprint before you land, you’ll make next to no noise but move at sprint movespeed for the duration of the jump. If you jump too quickly you’ll make quiet grunts, but with proper timing you’re very quiet. All people will hear is the quiet ‘thud’ as you land on the ground, which is very difficult to track and almost impossible to wallbang based off of.
You can supplement this hopping movement with either crouchwalking or walking, although both will make noise. Walking will have you move very quickly, but you’ll still make the walking noise a lot of the time. Crouchwalking is very difficult to hear, but you won’t be nearly as fast.
AI aggro based on the volume of audio you make, so lightfoot hopping will aggro things from a much shorter distance than sprinting, and it prevents you from accidentally aggroing AI whenever you jump.
Kiteskin is one of the strongest perks in the game, and it only costs a single upgrade point. At a glance a new player might not see the use in reducing fall damage, but the reduction is enormous and there are many situations where you can utilize it. It allows you to quickly move around both in and out of combat, and take unexpected approaches.
Jumping out of second story windows deals anywhere between literally 0 and very little damage. Jumping off the top of tall ladders is likely to only break a small health chunk, at the worst. You can quickly retreat from a bad position, even while injured, where you’d be stuck dead without the perk. You can quickly push someone else who’s in a bad position. You can attack from weird angles, or even firing while airborne if you feel lucky or are using a shotgun.
These perks are universally useful and very frequently picked up after Lightfoot & Kiteskin.
Vigor does two main things: allow somewhat infinite healing, and grant massive stamina regeneration. These perks are great for both PvP and PvE. Quickly recovering stamina is very useful for conventional melee-based takedowns of bosses, and recovering health is great for mistakes made in PvE, or PvP when people aren’t pushing you. If the enemies are being passive and you aren’t in a rush, you can just dip behind cover and activate Vigor to heal off any non-lethal damage for no cost other than time. You can also do it without Vigor, but it’s far too slow for all but the most passive of situations.
Bringing two vitality shots until you get Vigor to replace one with a regen shot isn’t an uncommon strategy.
Assailant only costs one point, and it’s great. It’s very loadout dependent, but I bring throwing knives instead of a melee weapon so it’s perfect for me.
With throwing axes it allows the heavy attack to cleave groups of enemies like the heavy knife. You can combine this with the knuckle knife to get the best of both worlds.
With throwing knives it allows the melee attacks to actually deal damage, becoming just as good as the knife. The knife is extremely stamina inefficient so it’s a bad melee weapon and most of the time you’ll want to just throw a knife and pull it out as you pass over as usual. But in certain PvP situations you might not have time to briefly slow yourself to do the throw, or risk hitting the grunt’s arm, so having a normal melee for emergencies can sometimes be very useful.
Necromancer doesn’t always help, but when it does it is insanely useful. For only 4 points it’s well worth the investment. If your teammate dies in a bad spot and the enemies aren’t being aggressive, you can just stare at him while hiding for a few seconds and up he goes. Doing it immediately is expected and likely to just get him farmed, but if you wait a bit it usually works. You can also use Necromancer while moving, so you could do most of the revive then just as it’s going to finish run up and start jumping in front of him to try to bodyblock bullets aimed at him. This is very risky, but could work.
Just keep in mind that Necromancer makes noise while you’re reviving, your teammate will gasp as usual when revived, your teammate will get spawnkilled if you revive him infront of an enemy or in traps when he doesn’t have the proper effects, and reviving him injures you. It’s only 25 damage, so a regen shot + vigor or single use of the medkit will recover it. Or just waiting if you have a big health chunk.
Medkit heals super slow without Physician. Not much else to say, other than vitality shots being able to somewhat make up for not having this perk.
Weapon Specific (Important)
These traits are either useless or far less useful if you don’t have a certain weapon. But when you do have that weapon, they’re just as important as the traits in High Priority.
Whispersmith drastically reduces the sound you make for switching equipment, which is always somewhat useful. But I treat it like a bomb lance perk, since I did some testing and equipping the bomb lance without this trait is 14 decibels louder than a tornado siren. It’s a very bad idea to let the enemy know when you’re pulling out the powerful close range weapon.
Bolt Thrower doubles your reload speed with crossbows. Not much to say, other than it’s a huge increase for a cheap price.
For only 4 points Levering turns the Terminus into a oneshot spamming monster. Winfields become machine guns at closer ranges while still retaining their head popping ability with ironsights. The accuracy on non-Terminus levering is improved if you tap fire instead of hold, and if you hold still as you fire.
The Centennial is the only weapon where levering isn’t great. It’s still useful for dealing a lot of damage to a boss target, but it’s extremely unreliable in PvP. The firerate isn’t the best and the accuracy is dreadful.
Iron Repeater, Iron Sharpshooter, Iron Devestator, Deadeye Scopesmith, Marksman Scopesmith, and Sniper Scopesmith are all the same perk. They increase your firerate and make it easier to aim. Depending on the weapon the increase ranges from non-existent to extremely huge, but either way it’s only 2 points. Keep in mind that you don’t need to ADS for shotguns (and doing so is somewhat detrimental) unless you’re using slugs.
I might pick these up after getting most/all of the above perks.
The only reason Doctor isn’t higher is because of how expensive it is. Doubling the heal of a medkit both doubles the speed at which you heal and doubles the max amount of healing you can carry. Doctor + Physician makes you have a ton of healing that you can do very quickly, but having neither almost makes it so that you can’t use the medkit for healing in combat.
Quartermaster allowing you to bring a medium slot weapon instead of a small slot can be a great improvement, but the small slot weapons are already great. The Pax, the Scottfield Spitfire, the Uppercut, the Lemat, the Hand Crossbow, and the New Army/Officer are all very good choices. But it does let you get something like a shotgun, Mosin Obrez, Uppermat, or Bow.
Frontiersman gives +1 to the capacity of every tool. It’s already worth it just for the extra medkit, although 7 points just for that isn’t exactly a bargain. It granting an extra medkit in addition to an extra knife, extra axe, extra decoy fuse, extra four derringer shots, etc is what makes it worth grabbing.
Resilience letting you revive with 125 health is great. You do a weird get-up animation so people are likely to hit suboptimal regions like a limb or gut, and many guns can’t even deal 125 without a headshot. Once you revive you can immediately start doing evasive or offensive actions. It also lets you safely revive through most traps.
It doesn’t make reviving risk-free, but it greatly lowers the risk.
Packmule causing toolboxes and corpses to give twice as many items is often very useful. It can turn 1 medkit into 2 medkits. Turn a hive bomb into a hive bomb and a flashbomb. Turn a throwing axe into a throwing axe and a medkit. With the recent addition of a consumable toolbox that you can bring, this trait became even more powerful. If two members of your team have it, you can make a single consumable toolbox grant four items.
The best part is definitely getting more medkits.
Vulture lets you loot corpses two people already looted, which is for trio players and rats. I’m neither of those, so I never get it. But if you’re in a trio, one of you should be getting Vulture so that you can all resupply things like medkits off of hunter corpses.
Weapon Specific (Unimportant)
These are more weapon specific traits, with me picking them up at the same time as the Medium Priority traits.
Fanning is one of the best perks in the game. But, it’s expensive. And other small slot weapons can be very powerful with or without it. So I don’t really think it’s very necessary to rush obtaining it, but I still often will because it’s very fun to use. Like with levering, the accuracy can be greatly increased by tapping the fire button & holding still before firing.
Silent Killer removes the inhale charge sound for readying a heavy strike, and removes the scream when you perform any melee attack. Killing AI still causes them to make death noises, but those are much quieter than your screams, and not screaming also hides what you killed them with and your position. The removal of the inhale for readying a heavy attack could potentially help with meleeing hunters with something like a bomb lance or bayonet.
Dewclaw is Assailant, but for the Bow. It lets you replace your tool melee with a trait, as long as you’re already bringing a Bow. It also lets you have the only poison melee in the game, for whatever that’s worth.
Ambidextrous is pretty unnecessary. Akimbo weapons have so many bullets that you’ll often kill the people you’re fighting before needing to reload, and even if you don’t you’ll probably be able to safely reload without this perk. But if you really like paired weapons the extra reload speed isn’t too bad.
Steady Hand & Steady Aim gradually lower the sway as you stare through the scope which can make it easier to aim certain scoped weapons if you hold an angle, but keep in mind that aiming through a scope for a long period of time opens you up to attacks from unexpected angles. Overall the perk is far less important than the Scopesmiths since it provides no statistical advantage, and only sometimes has the ability to possibly make aiming a little easier.
Hundred Hands slightly increases the damage of the Bow, but I don’t actually use the Bow enough to say how impactful this perk is. The base damage is already very high, so the perk doesn’t seem too necessary.
These are traits I’m unlikely to pick up, and likely to replace with better traits.
Conduit gives 5 minutes of infinite stamina & a full heal whenever you pick up a clue. The full heal can be useful in doing things like tanking a meathead hit as you grab the clue he’s on, and the stamina boost helps you traverse the map. Grabbing a clue outside a boss lair before entering it will give you far more than enough time to kill the boss with infinite stamina.
Serpent can grab things that are dangerous, such as a clue guarded by a meathead, and also snipe bounties that are in undesirable locations. But bounties usually aren’t just left laying on the floor, and clues are only rarely guarded by very dangerous AI which can usually be dealt with anyways and Conduit could deal with in addition to its other effects, so I don’t usually get use of this perk.
I’ve heard that Pitcher is one of the best in the game, but I don’t even notice a difference in the range you can throw things outside of directly comparing the arc before and after picking it up off the floor. Maybe there’s something I’m not understanding.
Blade Seer lets you see throwing knives, throwing axes, crossbow bolts (both sizes), and arrows in dark sight. It can be helpful to recover them, but you should
usuallybe able to find them without this and just recover them from toolboxes/ammo crates when you can’t.
Not The Best
I never buy these perks and will usually refund them if I get them.
Determination lowers the delay before stamina starts regenerating by about a second. It can allow you to swap to throwing knives after becoming exhausted with a melee, throw one, then swap back to the melee with enough stamina for one heavy attack (throwing a knife does not pause regeneration). But with even a small delay in any of that you’ll have gotten the stamina back anyways without the perk.
If your health is incredibly low Adrenaline makes you get all your stamina back. If you revive without Resilience you can immediately start meleeing, but that’s not typically very useful.
Beastface lowers the range at which sound traps trigger, but they aren’t usually too difficult to avoid, and even when they do trigger it probably isn’t a big deal.
Magpie’s trigger conditions are so specific and buffs so ephemeral. When you pick up a bounty token, you gain regeneration, infinite stamina, and poison immunity for 2 minutes. What are the odds that within a short time of you grabbing a bounty you need to make use of these effects? Its best use case would probably be using the stamina bonus to just book it and try to run after snatching a bounty.
Tomahawk lets you throw world melees for decent damage, but the weapons you have are much easier to use and don’t require you finding a world melee first. It seems like a joke perk.
Decoy Supply lets you resupply your decoys at ammo boxes, but decoy fuses don’t count. Honestly I don’t even know if blankfire decoys count either, I never use this trait.
These can really help new players, but are made either far weaker or entirely pointless with more experience.
Bulletgrubber gives weapons that lose a shot while reloading slower reload animations that don’t lose the shot. But almost every weapon that it benefits doesn’t need it, since they can just reload immediately after a shot fired for free. The only exceptions are the Bornheim, which has so much ammo & pickup rate that a single shot discarded isn’t a big deal, and the Dolch, which it actually can be somewhat useful with.
If you’re struggling with reloading after firing a shot, you can hold the attack button without releasing it to not cycle the next round and give you all the time in the world to press reload. But you obviously shouldn’t just sit around with an uncycled & unreloaded weapon, and still press R quickly.
Gator Legs provides a large increase to your movement speed in water, which is great. But its greatness is vastly undermined by the ability to simply jump through water. If you jump as you’re about to enter the deep water, then spam space as you’re about to land so you hop again while in the water (do not jump a third time) you’ll retain your movement speed until you land after the second jump. For most bodies of water this will keep your speed for most if not all of the crossing.
Ghoul makes you heal when you kill AI, which can be great for a new player who keeps getting hit by the AI and doesn’t want to always be using their medkits to recover the lost damage. But once you get better it becomes a lot less useful. Perhaps sometimes you’re able to snipe an AI while fighting someone and get a heal mid-combat, but it’s far less reliable than other perks.
These are for YouTube videos.
If someone has a throwable, and they throw it at you, and they didn’t cook it long enough for it to explode before you can use Dauntless on it, and it’s a throwable that you can actually use Dauntless on, then you can make a cool looking play where you extinguish the bomb. But that situation almost never happens. Most throwables are flashbombs, which don’t work with this, and even when someone is throwing dynamite it’s probably going to be cooked to explode midair where going for Dauntless is extremely risky.
It can also disable your own bombs if you miss and they land at your feet, but just aim better :steammocking:
Poison Sense lets you see nearby poisoned enemies when you’re in Dark Sight. It’s fun to try to wallbang people, pretty cool and rather cheap. But it’s a gimmicky thing, probably more for fun than actually trying really hard.
These are cringe, so boring. “Oho, you used your Blue Eyes White Dumdum, but I had my trap card Pot of Bloodless face down in the defensive position!”. They do literally nothing if you don’t see someone use the very rare things they counter that nobody ever uses, and when someone does use those things you just counter them really hard without them even having the information that you’re countering them and they’re left to guess.
Bulwark says it reduces the damage you take from explosions, but in practice it usually does nothing at all because they added Steel Ball ammo to the Bomb Lance to allow people to use the Bomb Lance reliably since this perk exists, so no-one is going to harpoon you. If people used dynamite instead of flashbombs it might help against those.
Bloodless greatly reduces the effectiveness of arguably the strongest debuff in the game. Any bleed applies to you will always be light, and never moderate or intense, lowering the damage you receive and increasing the speed at which you can stop the bleeding.
Salveskin slows the rate at which fire burns you, which is probably the most common debuff since it also applies to your corpse that people might want to burn. Could help newer players with fighting Butcher. Lessens the effectiveness of fire crossbow & fire ammo, but I never see anyone use those.
Is Mithridatist even a word? It makes you poisoned for less time, but you shouldn’t be struggling with the AI poisoning you, and hunters almost never use poison. Even when they do use poison they don’t typically capitalize on its effect.
Hornskin is great for countering grunts and hunters chasing you down with the dusters or butt of their gun. Very dangerous foes.
Vigilant lets you see traps in Dark Sight, which can be very useful. But I don’t often see people use traps, and when they do use traps they’re always so predictable with them. It’s probably the best perk on this list along with Greyhound.
Poacher lets you place & disarm traps very quietly, but disarming traps making noise can be used as a bait to try to get enemies to push you thinking you’re distracted with the traps.
Greyhound lets you sprint longer before getting exhausted, and I believe the time it takes to fully recover your sprint stamina stays the same so it effectively increases your regeneration rate (correct me if I’m wrong). That isn’t technically countering something, but in practice it’s countering other people who have Greyhound so they can’t run away from you so easily.