Although one might normally assume that exposure to radiation would be a bad thing when it comes to getting by in a post-apocalyptic survival game, Fallout 76 practically encourages players to go bathe in the stuff. Doing so (or buying the relevant serum, if you're absolutely swimming in bottlecaps) will occasionally yield "mutations," which are status effects that offer a mixture of both benefits and penalties.
The thing is that some of them offer benefits that outweigh the consequences by an extremely wide margin, even before any penalty reductions are taken into consideration. If you're wondering which particular mutations offer the most bang for your buck, then you're in luck. Keep scrolling to check out the ten best mutations you should keep an eye out for while you're soaking up all of that delicious and healthy radiation blanketing Appalachia.
10 Eagle Eyes
Builds revolving around VATS and critical hits aren't exactly the most popular end-game builds, especially given that VATS isn't nearly as useful as it has been in previous Fallout titles. However, they're still extremely potent when set up correctly, and a significant part of setting them up correctly is snagging the Eagle Eyes mutation.
Eagle Eyes provides a flat 25% damage boost to critical hits, as well as a plus four bonus to Perception. For those running a VATS build, it's a no brainer. The sole drawback is a four point penalty to strength, which can hurt a bit, though the aforementioned builds won't mind.
9 Carnivore (& Herbivore)
Carnivore and Herbivore are hardly necessities to any build, but the bonuses they potentially offer can make a nice complement to practically any style of play. They double the benefits of their respective food type while eliminating any potential risk of gaining disease from them, no matter how raw or rotten they are.
You can, understandably, have only one or the other. Carnivore is generally the preferred way to go, as meat items tend to afford a wider variety of incredibly useful buffs that also benefit from the bonus, and it renders the otherwise useless heaps of glowing and ionized meat an incredibly effective food solution.
8 Bird Bones
Bird Bones slides down in the rankings due to its dependence on another mutation in order to truly shine. Alternatively, it also works really well when using a jetpack. Whichever you happen to get your hands on first should do the job.
The positive impact of Bird Bones is a plus four bonus to Agility and, more importantly, slower descent when falling. This not only reduces the instance of falling damage, but causes players to be able to get more distance when jumping. As mentioned, this is particularly useful in combination with a jetpack, or when already using the jump-enhancing Marsupial mutation.
Empath is totally useless for solo players, but if you find yourself almost constantly running with a group, then it can end up being a practical necessity. It increases the amount of damage taken by the player equipping it, but provides a hefty 25% damage reduction for every other party member.
While that's passably decent on its own, this can be made totally overpowered by having every other member of the party do the exact same thing. The net result is an incredible damage reduction for every party member. The trick, however, is getting three other people run it with you at all times.
6 Scaly Skin
Scaly Skin is simple, to the point, and entirely worth the low bar for entry. If you're running a build that doesn't rely heavily on VATS for its damage-dealing potential, then it's an absolute must have. Depending on how much AP you have to spare, it might still be worth it in that instance.
Getting this mutation provides the player with a flat fifty point bonus to both damage and energy resistances, which is hardly ever a bad thing. As for the downside, it's a paltry fifty point penalty to AP. It's a bonus that anyone without a pressing need for AP should be glad to have, especially if they're already a tank to begin with.
5 Twisted Muscles
Twisted Muscles is essentially a bread-and-butter mutation when it comes to melee builds. If you're doing melee damage, then you go entirely out of your way to get this mutation, period. It doesn't matter how many nuclear blast zones you need to go sunbathing in.
The benefit that makes this an essential component of any melee build is a juicy 25% increase to melee damage. However, that is if you utilize melee weapons exclusively. Using guns at all becomes entirely impractical, because this mutation's penalty is a brutal 50% reduction to projectile weapon accuracy.
4 Adrenal Reaction
"Bloodied" builds, which rely on perks, gear, and mutations that provide bonuses to statistics and damage that increase exponentially as the player reaches lower levels of health, are popular enough to be considered something of a meta right now.
Adrenal Reaction is directly up that alley, as it increases both health regeneration and damage done as the player reaches lower HP thresholds. This HP regeneration might seem self-defeating in that instance, but players can effectively "soft cap" their HP by purposefully taking radiation damage. It's a must-have if pursuing a Bloodied build, especially if combined with perks like Class Freak, which mitigates its associated fifty point penalty to maximum HP.
3 Healing Factor
Healing Factor is almost too much of a good thing (especially when paired with Class Freak) and practically any build can make use of it. That is unless you're running a build that absolutely necessitates a nasty chem habit, but that's a rare circumstance.
The benefit here is a staggering three hundred percent increase to health regeneration, at the cost of chems being less effective. As mentioned, this penalty can be mitigated considerably with the Class Freak perk, so the list of reasons why anyone wouldn't want this is incredibly short.
2 Speed Demon
This mutation is probably one of the most highly sought and commonly utilized among the entire roster of those available. It increases both movement and reload speeds by 20%, which has a much bigger impact than one would assume.
Speed Demon is practically all benefit. The only drawback it poses is an increase to the rate at which the player's hunger and thirst meters deplete, which is almost trivial. There's no practical reason to pass it up, especially as the player gets established with a steady supply of food and water.
Marsupial isn't the most powerful mutation, but it's one of the most all-around useful mutations to be had. It increases carry weight by a small sum, which is always welcome, but the real game changer is the immense improvement it makes to one's jump height. The drawback? A paltry four point penalty to Intelligence.
The increased jumping height fundamentally changes the way the player thinks about movement, especially when working with mutations like Speed Demon and Bird Bones. Leaping onto rooftops becomes second nature, opening up unreachable areas and rendering conventional obstacles trivial. Of course, you could always get a jetpack, but this is potentially free, and doesn't necessitate a cumbersome set of power armor.