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Legendary effects are to Fallout 4, what enchantments are to Skyrim. They are bonus effects found on weapons and armor that can open up new possibilities in combat and character builds.
Some of them are potentially game-changing (Let’s save the best for later), while others you’ll grow to despise (I’m looking at you, Junkie’s Pool Cue). There are dozens of legendary effects in Fallout 4, and they’re a lot to break down for someone new to the Commonwealth. Continue reading our Fallout 4 Legendary Effects guide and let us land you a hand when trying to understand legendary effects.
What are Legendary Effects?
Legendary effects are special modifications to weapons and armor pieces in Fallout 4. There are a handful of legendary effects found on both weapons and armor. Most, however, function in the either-or category.
Some of these legendary effects can stack with certain perks and abilities, and these effects tend to be stronger than the rest because of it.
What Weapons and Armor have Legendary Effects?
There are two ways to get your hands on weapons and armor with legendary effects: Legendary equipment and unique equipment.
The most legendary equipment you find in Fallout 4 will be from slain legendary enemies.
How Legendary Enemies Work
Most enemy types in Fallout 4, from Gunners to Super Mutants, mole rats to Raiders, have legendary enemies among their ranks. Legendary enemies are stronger than their non-legendary counterparts and more difficult to kill. If you damage them to below 50% health without killing them, they will mutate and regain all of their health back.
Upon killing a legendary enemy, you will most likely be able to loot a piece of legendary equipment from their corpse. While extremely rare, legendary enemies sometimes don’t drop any legendary equipment. In my latest playthrough, this has only happened once in 200+ hours.
Legendary Enemy Spawn Rates
The chances of legendary enemies spawning depend on two factors: your level and your chosen difficulty setting.
- Player Level 0-5: 0% spawn chance
- Player Level 6-20: 10% spawn chance
- Player Level 21-30: 12% spawn chance
- Player Level 31-40: 15% spawn chance
- Player Level 41-50: 18% spawn chance
- Player Level 50+: 20% spawn chance
- Your difficulty setting will increase or decrease the chance multiplier of running into legendary enemies.
- Very Easy: 0.25 multiplier
- Easy: 0.5 multiplier
- Normal: 1 multiplier
- Hard: 1.25 multiplier
- Very Hard: 1.5 multiplier
- Survival: 1.5 multiplier
How do I know if an enemy is a Legendary Enemy?
It’s easy to tell when you’re fighting a legendary enemy, as most have the legendary prefix in their designation and a star at the end. But this is not the case for all enemies. Rust Devils, for example, never have the legendary prefix. Instead, they only have the star.
How do Legendary Drops work?
Legendary equipment you find on legendary enemies is randomized. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all random. Each legendary enemy has a pool of possible legendary drops.
You can test this yourself by saving outside of an area (National Guard Training Yard building is a good test site), kill a legendary enemy, reload, and do it ten more times. You’ll quickly realize that the pool may have a lot of one specific item, such as a Gauss Rifle.
The enemy type you kill and the map cell you kill them in play a role in what possible loot you can get from them. It also plays a role in how big their loot pool is. The ghouls at the National Guard Training Yard never have more than five possible items for me to receive. It’s hard to keep track of it all, however. I once received a Plasma-infused minigun from a bloat fly. For that reason, the lives of all legendary enemies are forfeit. Don’t ignore a legendary rad roach because you think no good legendary item can come from a rad roach.
How do I know when I have received a Legendary Item?
The game tells you when you’ve gotten your hands on a legendary piece of equipment by automatically bringing up the inspection screen. You can sell legendary equipment, but you cannot scrap them.
Legendary items will always have a designated prefix depending on the legendary effect. These prefixes are words like Relentless, Lucky, Never-Ending, Sentinel, etc. Like legendary enemies, legendary items have a star at the end of their names.
What other ways are there to obtain Legendary Items?
Besides looting them off legendary enemy corpses, there are other ways of getting legendary equipment: Level 4 Traders and tribute chests.
There are 8 NPCs in the game that can become Level 4 traders at one of your settlements. Level 4 traders will sometimes have legendary items in stock. Tribute chests pertain to the Nuka-World DLC. Once you have raider-controlled settlements established, you can build tribute chests there. Legendary items will sometimes spawn in these chests.
Legendary items aren’t the only items with legendary effects, however.
Unique Weapons and Armor
Legendary weapons and armor are randomized, and you can obtain them more than once. Unique weapons and armor have legendary effects but are one-of-a-kind items.
For example, the Black Ops chest piece is a unique sturdy combat armor chest piece with the Fortifying legendary effect. You can find a legendary sturdy combat armor chest piece with the Fortifying effect, but it will never be a Black Ops chest piece.
Some unique weapons and armor also have legendary effects exclusive to them. The unique machete, Kremvh’s Tooth, has a unique mod known as the sacrificial blade. It is the only machete in the game to have this mod, but you can remove it from Kremvh’s Tooth and apply it to another machete.
There are many unique weapons and armor in Fallout 4. You can purchase some of them from various vendors around the Commonwealth. Others are given as quest rewards or found at locations in the wasteland.
Legendary Weapon Effects
Not including unique legendary effects and mods, there are 48 legendary weapon effects in Fallout 4 (The Medic effect is not accessible anymore). These effects can apply to all weapons or have restrictions like ranged weapons only, guns only, ballistic weapons only, and melee weapons only.
- Assassin’s: Does 50% more damage against humans
- Berserker’s: Does more damage the lower the player character’s armor resistance (Maximum of 200% more damage at 0 resistance)
- Blazing: Blocking has a 25% chance to set enemies on fire for 50 damage
- Bloodied: Does more damage the lower the user’s health is (5% additional damage per 5% HP lost)
- Cavalier’s: Reduces damage by 15% while blocking or sprinting
- Charged: 10% chance to deal 100 Electrical damage on a successful block
- Crippling: Does 50% more limb damage
- Deadeye: Time slows down for a moment while aiming (Does not stack with other time-slow effects)
- Defiant: The final round of the magazine deals twice the normal damage
- Duelist’s: 25% chance to disarm attackers on a successful block
- Enraging: Critical hits cause the target to frenzy
- Explosive: Bullets explode on impact, dealing 15 points of area-of-effect damage
- Exterminator’s: Deals 50% more damage against Mirelurks and bugs
- Freezing: Deals 10 points of cryo damage and freezes targets on critical hits
- Frigid: 20% chance to freeze the target when blocking attacks
- Furious: Damage increased by 15% after each consecutive hit on the same target
- Ghoul slayer’s: Deals 50% more damage against ghouls
- Hitman’s: Deals 10% more damage when looking down the sights
- Hunter: Deals 50% more damage against animals
- Incendiary: Sets target on fire for 15 points of damage
- Instigating: Does double damage if the target is at full health
- Irradiated: Deals 50 points of additional radiation damage
- Junkie’s: Does 15% more damage for each addiction the player character has
- Kneecapper: 20% chance to cripple the enemy’s leg
- Lucky: Critical shots do double damage, and the critical meter fills 15% faster
- Mutant slayer’s: Deals 50% more damage against super mutants
- Never Ending: Sets ammo capacity to the amount of ammo currently in your inventory
- Nimble: +75% movement speed while aiming
- Nocturnal: Deals increasing amounts of damage at night and less damage during the day
- Penetrating: Ignores 30% of target’s damage and energy resistance
- Plasma infused: Deals 10 points of enemy damage and can turn enemies into goo piles
- Poisoner’s: Target is poisoned for 10 seconds, suffering 3 points of poison damage per second
- Powerful/Mighty: Deals an additional 25% damage
- Quickdraw: Costs 25% fewer Action Points
- Rapid: 25% faster fire rate and 15% faster reload
- Relentless: Refills Action Points on a critical hit
- Resilient: +150 damage resistance while reloading
- Resolute: Slows time down when the last round of your gun is chambered
- Sentinel’s: Take 15% less damage while standing and not moving
- Staggering: Chance to stagger on hit
- Stalker’s: If not yet in combat, 100% increased VATS accuracy but 50% more AP cost
- Steadfast: +50 damage resistance while aiming
- Troubleshooter’s: Deals 50% more damage against robots
- Two shot: Fires an additional projectile but has 25% increased recoil
- VATS enhanced (Ranged weapons): +33% VATS hit chance, -25% VATS AP cost
- VATS enhanced (Melee weapons): -40% VATS AP cost
- Violent: Deals 25% more damage and limb damage, but increased recoil
- Wounding: Targets bleed for 25 additional damage spread over 5 seconds
What are the Best Legendary Weapon Effects?
The Explosive legendary effect is pretty overpowered, especially when it comes with the right gun. The minigun and combat shotgun are, without question, the best explosive weapons. The minigun’s excessive use of bullets equals maximum explosive carnage, and the explosive effect applies to every pellet you fire from the combat shotgun. The damage scales with the Demolitions Expert perk, making it even more devastating.
The traveling Bunker Hill merchant, Cricket, sells a unique submachine gun called Spray n Pray with the explosive effect, and it is extremely powerful. It’s easy to obtain early in the game, and its’ ammo is plentiful.
Visually speaking, the explosive effect is a discount version of the Bloody Mess perk. You blow enemies apart, and it is glorious to see.
Remember that scene in Batman v Superman where Bruce asks Clark if he bleeds? Well, with any wounding weapon, you’ll be able to reenact the scene in Fallout 4 when you come across any robot.
I couldn’t tell you how because I don’t understand it myself, but the wounding effect works on every enemy in the game. That includes robots and Synths with no blood. The damage also stacks, which leads to pretty ludicrous DOT.
Tailor-made for players with Luck or Crit-based builds, the VATS enhanced effect will make you an absolute killing machine with the right weapons. Combined with Luck perks like Grim Reaper’s Sprint, Better Criticals, and Four Leaf Clover, you can almost use VATS endlessly.
The Deliver is a unique silenced 10mm pistol with the VATS Enhanced effect, and it’s one of the better unique weapons in the game.
As with the VATS Enhanced effect, Lucky is perfect for Luck or Crit-based builds and can be flat-out broken. With Critical Banker, you can guarantee Lucky to proc, and with Better Criticals, your shots will likely be OHKOs. And that’s without factoring in sneak attack bonus multipliers, Ninja, or Mister Sandman.
Luck builds are considered the best in Fallout 4 for a reason.
A 15% damage increase per consecutive hit on the same target can scale pretty out of control on the right weapon. For melee builds, this is amazing for the Super Sledge or the Ripper. Automatic guns are incredible with the Furious effect, as are high-damage single-shot weapons.
Furious synergizes well with the Sentinel’s legendary effect, giving you a perfect balance of high offensive and defensive capabilities.
Kneecapper is the perfect solution for shutting down dangerous melee opponents like deathclaws or Yao guai. Not only does a crippled leg heavily reduce movement speed, but deathclaws are unable to perform their leaping claw attack while crippled.
Kneecapper is best on ranged weapons with a high rate of fire for better crippling proc chances.
99% of enemies you come across will be at full health when you engage them, so +100% damage against full health enemies is a pretty powerful effect. The instigating effect works best with any powerful single-shot weapon like the Gauss Rifle, Laser Musket, Fatman, etc.
Snipers benefit the most from the instigating effect. If you have every perk that scales sneak attack bonus damage, a weapon with the instigating effect can one-shot nearly everything.
One of my personal favorites is the rapid legendary effect. The rapid effect singlehandedly can turn subpar weapons into great ones. I hated the radium rifle when I first tried it out, as the rate of fire was terrible. Soon after, I got a rapid radium rifle, and it’s one of my top five favorite weapons to use.
Rapid also does wonders for the laser musket and significantly improves its’ combat viability outside of VATS.
If you want maximum durability for your Sole Survivor, a complete Sentinel’s loadout is the way to go. The Sentinel’s legendary effect is one of the few effects on both weapons and armor. Taking 15% less damage while standing and not moving doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize these effects stack.
A complete Sentinel’s outfit plus ballistic weave clothing and headwear can even put Power Armor to shame. Enemy attacks will barely tickle you.
One of the best legendary effects for semi-automatic weapons is the two-shot effect. It’s great for penetrating enemy armor and punching up in the early game. It fires two shots while only using one ammo, which is fantastic for weapons like the Fatman. Two-shot adds your weapon’s base damage and modified damage, then splits the damage between the two shots.
Two-shot is not recommended for automatic weapons or shotguns, as the recoil is ludicrous and makes aiming virtually impossible.
If you ever want to roleplay as Captain Cold or Mr. Freeze in Fallout 4, then the freezing gun is the perfect tool for the job.
The Freezing effect scales with numerous perks and is incredible for Crit-heavy builds. There’s no cooldown timer on the secondary effect, and with enough crits, you can freeze an entire mob of enemies.
As a slight downside, there are some enemies that you cannot freeze, like people wearing Power Armor or death claws.
The Never-Ending effect is a ton of fun at later levels when ammo is no longer a problem and can make some weapons insane.
The double-barrel shotgun is exclusively an early game weapon, as the limited ammo capacity is too much of a drawback to wield it for long. But with the Never Ending effect, a double-barrel shotgun is just a semi-automatic shotgun and pretty dang good.
The Never-Ending effect interacts hilariously with the Laser Musket, as it means you can crank it 1000 times and do enough damage to one-shot the Commonwealth.
Speaking from experience, a Never-Ending 10mm auto pistol is also a lot of fun.
Relentless is a fantastic legendary weapon effect for Crit-based builds.
If I had to choose between a Lucky or Relentless weapon, I’d go with the former. But the latter makes for a suitable substitute. You’re better off with a Relentless 10mm than a Lucky pool cue.
What are the Worst Legendary Weapon Effects?
The payoff isn’t worth the setup or the drawbacks of addiction. Junkie’s weapon playthroughs might be fun to watch as a challenge run, but they aren’t practical weapons.
Exterminator’s/Ghoul slayer/Mutant’s slayer/Troubleshooter’s, Hunter’s, Assassin’s
Exterminators, Ghoul’s slayer, Mutant’s slayer, Troubleshooter’s, and Assassin’s are too situational to be very useful to most players. You’ll be running into all sorts of enemies in the Commonwealth, and you ideally want to use a weapon that is effective against all enemies.
These effects have marginal use in the early game of a Survival playthrough where you need all the help you can get, but that’s it.
A lot of enemies in Fallout 4 are resistant or immune to poison. The DOT damage does not stack, and 10 seconds is a lot of time in combat for just 30 points of damage. Terrible, all around.
Incendiary is useful in the very early game, but as you progress, 15 points of fire damage won’t even put a dent in enemies. Like the Poisoner effect, the damage does not stack.
Does a 95% damage bonus at the cost of 95% of your health sound like a good tradeoff? No? I didn’t think so.
75% movement speed while aiming down sights is as useless as useless gets. In every scenario, better damage is the way to go. Consider yourself lucky if you never get a weapon with this accused effect.
Legendary Armor Effects
Legendary armor effects are significantly fewer in number and quality than legendary weapon effects. Not including unique legendary armor effects, there are 29 in total.
- Acrobat’s: Reduces falling damage by 50%. Fall damage immunity with two pieces.
- Assassin’s: Reduces damage received from humans by 15%
- Auto Stim: Automatically use a stimpak once every 60 seconds when you fall below 25% HP
- Bolstering: +4 damage and energy resistance for every 10% HP lost. Max of +35 damage and energy resistance
- Cavalier’s: Reduces damage by 15% while blocking or sprinting
- Chameleon: Enemies have a harder time detecting you while you are sneaking and not moving
- Fortifying/Champion: +1 Strength and Endurance
- Cloaking: Being hit in melee activates a Stealth Field once every 60 seconds
- Cryogenic: 10% chance to freeze melee attackers once every 20 seconds
- Cunning: +1 Agility and Perception
- Duelist’s: 10% chance to disarm melee attacker on hit
- Exterminator’s: Reduces damage received from mirelurks and bugs by 15%
- Ghoul slayer’s: Reduces damage received from ghouls by 15%
- Hunter’s: Reduces damage received from animals by 15%
- Incendiary: 30% chance to set melee attackers on fire once every 20 seconds
- Lucky: +2 Luck
- Martyr’s: Temporarily slows time down in combat when you are at 20% HP or less
- Mutant slayer’s: Reduces damage received from super mutants by 15%
- Poisoner’s: +25 poison resistance
- Powered: increases Action Points refresh speed
- Punishing: Reflects 10% of melee damage back onto the attacker
- Rad Powered: Increases Strength by 1 for every 133 rads
- Safecracker’s: Increases size of sweet spot while lockpicking
- Sentinel’s/Titan’s: Reduces damage by 15% while standing and not moving
- Sharp: +1 Charisma and Intelligence
- Sprinter’s: Increases movement speed by 10%
- Troubleshooter’s: Reduces damage received by robots by 15%
- Unyielding: +3 to all stats except Endurance when you are at 25% HP or less
- VATS Enhanced: 10% reduction in Action Points cost in VATS
What are the Best Legendary Armor Effects?
With a set of summer shorts and 4 Sharp armor pieces or green shirt and combat boots and 5 Sharp armor pieces, you can have a +8 Charisma outfit at all times. Great for Speech checks and lowering prices while bartering.
If melee builds are your thing, then Rad Powered armor pieces are what you want the most. Each piece can provide a maximum of +7 additional Strength. Wear army fatigues beneath, and you’re looking at +36 Strength. Get ready to one-shot behemoths.
The Sentinel’s armor set might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to how you have to engage in combat, but it has unmatched defensive capabilities.
A complete set of Sentinel’s gear (Including a weapon) is superior to Power Armor. Even deathclaw swipes won’t so much as do more than tickle you. Melee characters with the Rooted perk work best with Sentinel’s armor. Snipers can benefit from this effect as well.
Using VATS is the most effective way of killing targets while in Sentinel’s armor.
A single piece of Powered armor gives quicker AP refresh speed than every rank of the Action Boy perk. After knowing that, you can easily slot in one Powered piece and be happy with its performance.
Perfect for stealthy characters, particularly snipers. Unfortunately, Stealth Fields interact poorly with your Pip-Boy.
Anytime you’re invisible, from Chameleon gear, Stealth Boys, etc., your Pip-Boy menu is borderline impossible to see. I hope you have your weapon switches and stimpaks on hotkeys.
Auto Stim is a fantastic safety net for when you take more damage from enemies than you anticipated. These effects do stack, so with four pieces, that’s 100% HP recovery.
Auto Stim is very useful on Survival Mode as well. Using stimpaks makes you dehydrated on Survival Mode. But this does not apply to stimpaks via Auto Stim armor.
As you become tankier, Auto Stim’s value drops significantly.
Unyielding can be a decent set of legendary armor, but only when you are more towards the endgame. Early on, 25% HP isn’t much, but when you’re level 80, 25% of your HP is a significant amount. A complete set of Unyielding armor means +15 to all stats except Endurance. Not bad, eh?
You could use this as a better alternative to your Sharp +8 Charisma outfit for merchant tours around the Commonwealth. It will get pretty annoying, pretty quickly having to wait instead of sleep all the time, however.
The VATS Enhanced is great for builds centered around VATS. Being available on both weapons and armor is great for the player.
It is most effective in the early game while you’re waiting to get to a high enough level to select all the VATS-related perks.
Flat increases to your stats are always helpful, and these are great in the early game where +1 to stats like Strength, Endurance, and Agility are a pretty big deal.
Later in the game, you’ll probably want a little more from your armor.
Sprinter’s is useful on Survival Mode since fast travel isn’t available. A 50% movement speed bonus can go a long way to making trips quicker and more enjoyable.
I suppose you can get some use out of Sprinter’s outside of Survival Mode, but not much.
What are the Worst Legendary Armor Effects?
Poison damage is exceedingly rare in Fallout 4, and it’s only 25% resistance to poison. Poisoner’s armor is about as useful as a fork in Skyrim.
Low activate chances, long cooldown times, and niche use make all these blocking and disarming legendary effects horrible. They’re better than nothing but not by much.
Exterminator’s/Ghoul slayer’s/Mutant slayer’s/Troubleshooter’s/Hunter’s
These are simply too niche to be good. If you get a piece early in the game where you don’t have many options armor-wise, sure, put it on. But that’s the only time you’ll find yourself wearing these.
If this were Oblivion, the Safecracker’s armor would be the best in the game. But it’s Fallout 4, so this effect is laughably useless. Lockpicking hasn’t been difficult in Bethesda games for 15 years.
Question: Are there are legendary items harder to use than others?
Answer: Yes. Packed armor and Disciples armor can be a pain. Most armor sets require the usual suspects to modify: Armorer and Science! But Packed and Disciples armor require more perks for certain mods, like Scrounger and Sneak.
Question: What’s the best way to farm legendary items you want?
Answer: Save often, keep tabs of legendary enemy hotspots, and reload to see what pools the legendary enemies have. It can get tedious, but that’s the way it works.
Question: How long does it take to get equipment with every legendary effect?
Answer: You can spend hundreds of hours in Fallout 4 and not run into every legendary effect. I have multiple copies of the same legendary items but still haven’t found every legendary effect.
One Last Tip Before You Go
Be careful when storing your legendary items at occupied settlements.
When enemies attack your settlements, your settlers will fight back. But even if you’ve already given them weapons, they will go into the nearby workshop and take out different weapons to use. Starting with your legendary weapons. And they don’t even equip them, even if they have the right ammo for them.
I remember freaking out the first time I found my Never Ending 10mm pistol. I couldn’t find it after a settlement attack. I checked around, and that bugger Sturges took it alongside two more legendary 10mm pistols. Get back to hammering the wall, Sturges.
The Fallout 4 community is still running strong, and one of my favorite things to see is all the posts about new legendary weapons and armor Sole Survivors have found in the Commonwealth. Or experimental loadouts and armor setups.
I’m still waiting for the playthrough when I get a decent random legendary within the first 30 hours. It has to happen to me someday.
Anyway, what are your favorite legendary effects, weapons, and armor? Let me know, and I’ll see you out in the Commonwealth!