Game Guides

The Outer Worlds Skills Guide

Master each of the various skills and their unlocks.

by Brandon Adams


Like any good Obsidian RPG, The Outer Worlds has skills that affect how your character will play and interact with the world around them. What separates the game from its contemporaries is the way in which they are distributed. In this guide we’ll be listing all the skills, their various unlocks, and discuss how to improve them. Cause, let’s be honest here, skills are how you pay the bills (I’ll see myself out).

The Outer Worlds skills and how to improve them.

There are seven core skills in which The Outer Worlds specialized skills are assigned: Melee, Ranged, Defense, Dialog, Stealth, Tech, and Leadership. Each core skill has two to three individual specialized skills within, but you can’t assign points directly to them until they reach 50 points invested.

Wait, what? Okay, keep up with me here: in The Outer Worlds you start by assigning skill points to a core skill (say, Melee), raising each specialized skill within that category by 10 points during character creation, and by 1 point once in the game proper

Once any one specialized skill reaches 50 points you can then dedicate skill points directly into it. Assigning a point to a core skill will no longer contribute to specialized skills that have reached 50 points.

As you invest points in a core skill, the passive stats assigned to each specialized skill under it will improve. Some core skills share a broad passive stat across their specialized skills (like Melee, where only crit hit chance is improved for one-handers and two-handers), and others have unique passive stats under each specialized skill (such as the Defense skills). Points placed in a single specialized skill will only boost the passive stats for that specific skill.

That said, each specialized skill also has unlocks associated with it that become available for every 2o points invested, with the first unlocking at the 20 point threshold. These unlocks, and later skill checks, are the reason you will focus on specific specialized skills after clearing the 50 point mark.

The Outer Worlds skills list and effects.

Below I am going to break down each of The Outer Worlds skills for reference, with the core skills effects followed by each associated specialized skill and its unlocks. I won’t be giving the exact stat breakdown, nor the starting amount for each specialized skill (because this is affected by your attribute distribution).

As you invest points the interface will tell you exactly what the statistical jump is for that specialized skill (for example, going from 9 in one-handed to 19 boosts the crit chance for those weapons from 24.2% to 54.5%). One last thing: Tactical Time Dilation (AKA Active VATS) will be abbreviated as TTD for brevity.


  • Melee: improve Critical Hit Chance with handheld weapons.
    • 1-Handed Melee (improved Crit Hit Chance).
      • 20 Novice – Unlock Power and Sweep Attacks.
      • 40 Competent: Unlock TTD Location Hit Effects.
      • 60 Adept: 1-Handed Melee Weapon Reach +30%.
      • 80 Expert: 1-Handed Melee Weapon TTD Drain -50%.
      • 100 Master: Power and Sweep Attacks Chance to Stun +25%.
    • 2-Handed Melee (improved Crit Hit Chance).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock Power and Sweep Attacks.
      • 40 Competent: Unlock TTD Location Hit Effects.
      • 60 Adept: 2-Handed Melee Weapon attacks are Unblockable.
      • 80 Expert: 2-Handed Melee Weapon TTD Drain -50%.
      • 100 Master: Power and Sweep Attack Chance to Knockdown +25%.


  • Ranged: improve Weapon Sway and Critical Hit Chance with ranged weapons.
    • Handguns (improved Crit Hit Chance and reduced Sway).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock TTD Location Hit Effects.
      • 40 Competent: Handgun Critical Damage +50%.
      • 60 Adept: Minimum Armor Penetration Damage +10%.
      • 80 Expert: Debuffed Enemy Critical Chance +20%.
      • 100 Master: Handgun Critical Hits ignore 100% Armor.
    • Long Guns (improved Crit Hit Chance and reduced Sway).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock TTD Location Hit Effects.
      • 40 Competent: Long Gun Critical Damage +50%.
      • 60 Adept: Long Gun Headshot/Weakspot Damage +20%.
      • 80 Expert: Deadly Focus: No Weapon Sway for 5s after each kill.
      • 100 Master: Long Gun Critical Hits ignore 100% Armor.
    • Heavy Weapons (improved Crit Hit Chance and reduced Sway).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock TTD Location Hit Effects.
      • 40 Competent: Heavy Weapon Critical Damage +50%.
      • 60 Adept: Heavy Weapon Reload Speed +30%.
      • 80 Expert: Heavy Weapon Frenzy – Critical Hits increase Rate of Fire +30% for 3s.
      • 100 Master: Heavy Weapon Critical Hits ignore 100% Armor.


  • Defense: increases ability to avoid damage.
    • Dodge (increases Dodge Distance and Harmful Status Effect Duration).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock the ability to Leap (dodge forward).
      • 40 Competent: Dodge Recovery Speed +100%.
      • 60 Adept: Dodge Protection – +30% Armor Rating for 5s after every Dodge.
      • 80 Expert: Dodge Force – After Dodging, your next Melee Attack gains Damage +50%.
      • 100 Master: Dodge Penetration – After Dodging, your next Weak Spot hit within 5s has a 50% chance to Ignore Armor.
    • Block (increases Armor Rating when using a Melee Weapon).
      • 20 Novice: Perfect Block – Block just before you get hit to Stagger your attacker.
      • 40 Competent: Weapon Durability Loss from Blocking -25%.
      • 60 Adept: Walk Speed while Blocking +100%.
      • 80 Expert: No Weapon Durability Loss on a Perfect Block.
      • 100 Master: Perfect Blocks weaken opponents, increasing the damage they take by +100% for 5s.


  • Dialog: improve your ability to talk with NPCs, both in and out of combat.
    • Persuade (conversation skill: can inflict Cower (crippling fear) when you first damage a Human target).
      • 20 Novice: Cower – Humans have a 20% chance to cower in fear for 2s after the first time you hit them.
      • 40 Competent: Cower Duration +7s.
      • 60 Adept: Cowered Target’s Armor -50%.
      • 80 Expert: Human Cower Chance +10%.
      • 100 Master: When a Human cowers, you gain +25% Armor for 10s.
    • Lie (conversation skill: can inflict Scramble (slowly attack allies) on an Automechanical when attacking you).
      • 20 Novice: Scramble – 15% chance Automechanicals will slowly attack other enemies instead of you for 10s.
      • 40 Competent: Scramble Duration +7s.
      • 60 Adept: Scrambled Automechanicals attack at their normal speed.
      • 80 Expert: Automechanicals Scramble Chance +10%.
      • 100 Master: Scrambled Automechanical Weakspot Damage +30%.
    • Intimidate (conversation skill: has a chance to inflict Terrify (flee for a short time) on nearby Creatures when you kill one).
      • 20 Novice: Terrify – 20% chance Creatures will become Terrified and flee for 10s after you kill one.
      • 40 Competent: Terrify’s Area of Effect +100%.
      • 60 Adept: Terrified Creature Movement Speed +30%.
      • 80 Expert: Creature Terrify Chance +10%.
      • 100 Master: Terrifying a Creature gives 10s Crit Chance +5% and Critical Damage +25%.


  • Stealth: improves your ability to get through and around security.
    • Sneak (reduces detection range while crouched: increase NPC awareness decay, unlocks Pickpocket and Sneak Attack, as well as boost Sneak Attack damage).
      • 20 Novice: Sneak Attack – Attack unaware enemies while crouched to deal bonus damage.
      • 40 Competent: Pickpocket – Steal from humans while sneaking.
      • 60 Adept: Crouch Move Speed + 25%.
      • 80 Expert: Sneak Attack Weakspot Damage +20%.
      • 100 Master: Sneak Attacks ignore +50% of the target’s Armor.
    • Hack (reduces hacking time and the number of Bypass Shunts needed for hacking, can also allow you to Hack an Automechanical).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock the ability to sell goods to Vending Machines.
      • 40 Competent: Unlock access to Restricted Items in Vending Machines.
      • 60 Adept: Hack Automechanicals: Turn them off for 3s.
      • 80 Expert: Automechanical Detection Range -30%.
      • 100 Master: Hack Automechanical Distance +2.5m (5m).
    • Lockpick (reduces unlock time and number of Magpicks needed for picking locks).
      • 20 Novice: Doors and Containers requiring 1 Mag-Pick to unlock are free to open.
      • 40 Competent: FInd +25% more Bits in the containers.
      • 60 Adept: Lockpick Preview – See what is inside locked containers.
      • 80 Expert: Lockpicking speed is increased to be nearly instant.
      • 100 Master: Find Pristine Item Chance +100%.


  • Tech: improves your knowledge of bodies, tools, and the universe.
    • Medical (increases Heal Amount provided from items in the Inhaler, increases the duration of effects, and opens extra slots).
      • 20 Novice: Unlock the 2nd Drug Mixing Slot for the Inhaler.
      • 40 Competent: Unlocks the 3rd Drug Mixing Slot for the Inhaler.
      • 60 Adept: Hostile Effect Duration on Targets +50%.
      • 80 Expert: Unlock the 4th Drug Mixing Slot for the Inhaler.
      • 100 Master: Damage Bonus vs Humans +20%.
    • Science (increases damage of Plasma and Shock damage weapons, improves the special effects of Science Weapons, ability to Tinker with weapons or armor in Workbench to increase their power).
      • 20 Novice: Tinker – Improve your weapons and armor in the workbench.
      • 40 Competent: Tinkering Cost -50%.
      • 60 Adept: Corrosion Damage +25% / N-ray Damage +25%.
      • 80 Expert: Tinkering cost for Science Weapons is capped.
      • 100 Master: Further Reduce TInkering Cost to -90%.
    • Engineering (reduces the Armor Parts and Weapon Parts needed to repair equipment).
      • 20 Novice: Field Repair – Repair Weapons and Armor in the Inventory.
      • 40 Competent: Break Down weapons and armor for a 20% Chance to extract a Basic Mod.
      • 60 Adept: 20% Chance items you Repair will become Pristine, increasing Value and Durability.
      • 80 Expert: Break Down weapons and armor for a 10% Chance to extract a Rare Mod.
      • 100 Master: Damage vs Automechanicals +20%.


  • Leadership: improve companion health and their abilities in combat.
    • Inspiration (increases damage inflicted by companions).
      • 20 Novice: Companion Abilities – You can order your Companions to do special attacks.
      • 40 Competent: Companions gain +20% Armor Rating.
      • 60 Adept: Companion Skill Bonus to Player Skills +100%.
      • 80 Expert: Inspired Precision – When Companions kill an enemy, the party gains Critical Hit Chance +20% for 5s.
      • 100 Master: When Companions kill an enemy, All Companion Ability Cooldowns -20%.
    • Determination (increases the maximum health of companions).
      • 20 Novice: The inhaler heals you and your companions, but they get 30% of the healing effect.
      • 40 Competent: Companion Critical Damage +20%
      • 60 Adept: Companions get an additional 25% of the Inhaler’s healing effect.
      • 80 Expert: Resolve – If a Companion is downed, party gains +50% Armor Rating and Damage +50% for 10s.
      • 100 Master: When Companions kill an enemy, they gain 50% health.

There stands a healthy amount of choice within The Outer Worlds skills: not only do you get base stat increases, but the additional passives and abilities that can be unlocked within each specialized skill allow you to fine-tune and round out your desired build. You can respec in-game (at an increasing cost), so don’t be too afraid to experiment as you play.

Increasing attributes via armor, consumables, and status effects can also increase or decrease the skill points within that attribute’s associated skills, but do bear in mind that these boosts do not apply towards the specialized skill unlocks. You’ll get the basic statistical boost and bonuses to skill checks, which aren’t bad, but don’t think you can use that +1 Strength melee weapon to push yourself into the next skill unlock: you will need to do that via skill points earned from leveling.

That’s all there is to it with The Outer Worlds skills. For more The Outer Worlds guides check out our guides page!

- This article was updated on:October 24th, 2019

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