There are six attributes in the game, divided into three groups of two skills: Body (Strength and Dexterity), Mind (Intelligence and Perception) and Personality (Charm and Temperament). Each attribute has five grades, with the base being Average: Below Average (-1), Average (+0), Good (+1), High (+2) and Very High (+3), and at the start of the game you'll get six points to distribute among these attributes.
Each attribute governs a variety of skills and stats. An Average attribute grade will give your character no bonus - or penalty - to these skills and stats, increasing an attribute to Good, High or Very High will give bonuses, with the bonuses for Very High grade generally being greater than lower grades, while decreasing an attribute to Below Average will impose penalties that range from severe to crippling. Suffice to say, you probably shouldn't decrease any attribute to Below Average, regardless of your play style.
While the stat bonuses you'll gain from boosting attributes varies based on the attribute in question, the skill bonuses you'll gain depends entirely on how many points you've got invested in the attributes that influence said skills. The base value for all your skills before attributes are factored in is 6, and an Average attribute grade imposes no penalty or bonus to this. A Below Average grade imposes a -3 penalty to all influenced skills, a Good grade grants a +3 bonus, High gives a +7 bonus and Very High grants a +12 bonus. Your starting skills, then, are the collective total of your attribute bonuses and penalties added (or subtracted) to the base skill score of 6.
For example, if you start out with a High (+2) grade in both Intelligence and Perception your Long Guns score will be 21, while if these skills are both Average (+0) your Long Guns score will start out at 6. The skills each attribute influence and the exact skill points gained based on your attribute games are as follows:
|1-Handed Melee||1-Handed Melee||Long Guns||Handguns||Persuade||2-Handed Melee|
|2-Handed Melee||Handguns||Persuade||Long Guns||Lie||Lie|
|Heavy Weapons||Dodge||Hack||Heavy Weapons||Intimidate||Sneak|
|Attribute Grade||Starting Skill|
Strength affects melee weapon damage and the amount you can carry.
Strength influences your melee damage and carrying capacity, and honestly, unless you're devoted to a melee build, it's one of the more disposable attributes in the game. At its highest it'll boost melee damage by a whopping +30% and allow you to carry 140kg of gear, while at its lowest you'll suffer a 10% penalty to melee damage, be burdened with a measly carrying capacity of 60kg, and moving during TTD will consume twice as much of your TTD meter. The melee damage boost is vital for melee builds, but the carrying capacity is much less important - various perks can boost your carrying capacity well enough, regardless of your strength. While everybody can appreciate the carrying capacity Strength provides, only dedicated melee builds should bother investing in it.
|Attribute Grade||Melee Damage||Carrying Capacity||Tactical Time Dilation Move Time|
Dexterity affects melee attack speed and ranged weapon reload speed.
Like Strength, Dexterity is vitally important for melee builds, and significantly less important for any other character. At its lowest it'll impose a 10% penalty to attack speed with Melee Weapons, a 25% penalty to reload speed and your weapons will lose durability 30% faster. One hell of a case of butter-fingers. At its best, Dexterity will grant you a +30% bonus to attack speed with Melee Weapons and a +30% bonus to reload speed. This is huge for characters who want to hit things in melee, but for ranged characters, the reload speed probably won't make a huge difference. In Supernova difficulty the extra durability loss will be more of a nuisance than in other difficulties. If you're a melee build, Dexterity is a must-have attribute, if not... not.
|Attribute Grade||Melee Weapon Attack Speed||Ranged Weapon Reload Speed||Weapon Durability|
Intelligence affects Critical Hit bonus damage.
Intelligence only has one gameplay effect (aside from the skills it influences) but it's a good one, boosting critical hit damage. Since one of the benefits of boosting weapon skills is the critical hit chance increase, critical hits are a fundamental component of damage output, so your Intelligence stat will have an appreciable effect on damage. Since this damage is universal between melee and ranged weapons, it's a less disposable stat than Strength and Dexterity, and it also pops up in conversation from time to time. Intelligence is an excellent attribute to invest in.
|Attribute Grade||Critical Damage|
Perception affects Headshot and Weakspot damage bonuses.
Like Intelligence, Perception boosts damage - headshot and weakspot damage, to be specific - which might be less ubiquitous than critical hit damage, but for many builds (especially sniper/stealth builds) it still constitutes significant damage potential. It's also checked somewhat regularly during conversation, usually helping you spot when a character have an ulterior motive, making it another fine attribute to invest in.
|Attribute Grade||Extra Headshot/Weakspot Damage|
Charm effects Faction Reputation and Companion Ability cooldowns.
Charm primarily influences the rate at which you gain positive faction reputation and negative faction reputation, and if you want an easier time of reaching the "Revered" status with factions you'll want to consider investing in Charm. On top of that, charm also reduces the cooldown of companion abilities, indirectly contributing to damage output... provided of course your Inspiration (a skill Charm influences) is high enough to unlock the Novice perk. If all that's not enough, Charm is also checked in dialogue once in a while. If you want to make friends and get the most out of your companions, consider investing in Charm.
|Attribute Grade||Companion Ability Refresh||Positive Faction Reputation Reactions||Negative Faction Reputation Reactions|
Temperament improves your natural health regeneration.
A bit of an odd attribute, Temperament governs your health regeneration. How this is a "Personality" trait instead of a "Body" trait is open to debate... maybe it's the power of positive thinking? Whatever the case, it's a useful enough attribute, and the healing amount scales as your total health increases, ensuring a consistent rate of health regeneration. With an Average grade your Health will regenerate fully in about 250 seconds, Good in 142~ seconds, High in 100 seconds and for Very High 66~ seconds. As long as your Temperament isn't Below Average you should be fine, but losing any passive health regeneration affects gameplay significantly, forcing you to sleep or use consumables.
|Attribute Grade||Health Regeneration per Second|