Fallout 4's levelling system is totally different from previous games, but your handy dandy Perk Chart will keep you on track. Bethesda has put together a detailed post explaining Fallout 4's character advancement, along with a new video of how it all looks in action.
SPECIAL stats (like Strength, Perception, and Endurance) have always been the basis for Fallout characters, but the Perk Chart makes their influence easier to understand at a glance. On top of affecting basic RPG stuff like hit points and accuracy, your SPECIAL determines how deeply you can peruse the chart - and every Fallout 4 pre-order will come with a free Perk Chart you can hang up on your wall.
Each Perk is only accessible once you meet its stat requirement. That doesn't mean all the best stuff is at the bottom, just the most exotic: for instance, the first Perk for Agility (Gunslinger) gives you a baseline increase to all pistol damage, while the tenth Perk (Gun Fu) makes you deal more damage for each target you select in VATS. With the highest level Charisma Perk you can even intimidate lower-leveled enemies into doing your bidding just by pointing your gun at them.
You get one perk per level, and you'll be able to unlock 275 all together, including individual ranks and "training" perks that bump up their respective SPECIAL stat. You'll have to choose whether you want to specialize your character and go for those high-level perks, or make them more of a jack-of-all-trades… although Fallout 4 has no level cap, so theoretically you could unlock all of them if you play long enough. Don't forget to read in-game magazines to pick up their special Perks, too.
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