Best Grounded mutations: Tier list of all perks and effects

Grounded
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

While the odds are stacked against you in Grounded's danger-filled Backyard, you can even them quite a bit by making use of the game's mutations. These traits can be activated and swapped around at any time after you unlock them and provide stat bonuses and other benefits to players. You can equip up to five mutations at once after you fully max out your mutation slots, allowing you to buff yourself up in a wide variety of ways.

There are tons of different mutations in Grounded, but some are more useful and powerful than others. Therefore, we've created this guide that goes over each of the available mutations and what makes them good or bad compared to other options. Below, you'll find a complete tier list as well as a look at each mutation that includes details about what they do and how to unlock them.

Grounded: Mutations tier list

(Image credit: TierMaker)

While all of the mutations in Grounded are useful in one way or another, some are considerably better than others in most situations you'll find yourself in while crafting, building, exploring, and fighting in the Backyard. This tier list ranks all of the available mutations in-game based on their use in general gameplay.

Even if a mutation is ranked low on the list, it doesn't necessarily translate to a bad perk. It might be less useful overall than other mutations in a variety of different scenarios. In fact, there are several situations where it's better to swap out the best mutations for more niche ones, which we'll cover in the sections below.

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TierMutations
SMeat Shield, Coup de Grass, Parry Master, Buff Lungs
AMithridatism, Sharpshooter, Juicy, Smasher, Natural Explorer
BChopper, Fresh Defense, Ant-nihilator, Blademaster
CCardio Fan, Truffle Tussle, Javelineer, Assassin, Mom Genes, Spicy Safety, Guard Dog
DReliable Friend, Grass Master, Rock Cracker, Merteen
FDaredevil, Lil Fist, Barbarian

Grounded: How to get more mutation slots

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Regardless of which mutations you decide to use, you'll want to obtain more mutation slots so you can have more active simultaneously. You'll start the game with two mutation slots by default, but you can unlock three more for a total of five by purchasing them from BURG.L with Milk Molars in the Oak Lab.

The cost of each mutation slot increases as you purchase them. The first additional slot will cost three Milk Molars, the second costs four, and the final one costs five. That means that, in total, you'll need to find and collect 12 Milk Molars in order to get all five mutation slots.

Meat Shield

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Max Health by 30.
  • How to unlock: Purchase from BURG.L for 3,000 Raw Science

While the Meat Shield perk is incredibly simple, it's also incredibly effective at all stages of the game. Whether you're a novice explorer or a seasoned veteran of the Backyard, an extra 30 hitpoints can often help you survive in situations that would otherwise guarantee death. While you can safely swap it for something else in early-game areas, especially with better gear and other quality mutations, Meat Shield is a must-have when exploring new territory or fighting off dangerous creatures.

Coup de Grass

(Image credit: Windows Central )
  • Effect: Increases Critical Hit Chance by 10%/25%
  • Phase 1: Discover the 4 Leaf Clover landmark in the Flooded Zone
  • Phase 2: Roll a 20 with the 20-sided die at the Minotaur Maze's End

Critical hits are a great way to kill enemies quickly, and this mutation significantly increases the chance that you'll get these lucky strikes. It's effective with all weapon types, too, making the perk a fantastic choice regardless of what weapon type is chosen.

Parry Master

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  • Effect: Refunds stamina on a perfect block, amount increasing with each phase.
  • Phase 1: Perfect Block 20 times
  • Phase 2: Perfect Block 60 times
  • Phase 3: Perfect Block 100 times

Blocking is a core part of Grounded's combat system, and by blocking attacks just as they're about to hit you, you can pull off a Perfect Block. These special defensive maneuvers will cause the creature attacking you to become stunned momentarily, allowing you to score a few hits. The Parry Master mutation makes Perfect Blocking even more powerful, as it refunds your stamina exponentially with each successive Perfect Block. Not only does this make it less risky to continue blocking further attacks, but it also makes it incredibly easy to go on the offensive since you'll have plenty of stamina.

Buff Lungs

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Stamina by 50.
  • How to unlock: Purchase from BURG.L for 3,000 Raw Science. Requires Red Anthill BURG.L Chip.

Pretty much everything you do in Grounded requires stamina, so it makes sense that a mutation that provides you with a whopping 50 extra stamina points is considered S tier by most players. While you will have to venture into the Red Anthill in order to find the Red Anthill BURG.L Chip so that you can unlock this mutation, doing so is definitely worth it.

Mithridatism

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases resistance to Poison by 25%/50%/75%.
  • Phase 1: Kill 1 Wolf Spider
  • Phase 2: Kill 5 Wolf Spiders
  • Phase 3: Kill 10 Wolf Spiders

One of the most frustrating things about fighting Grounded's spiders is that their poison can do a fair amount of damage over time, making them difficult to kill. Since you can expect to fight a lot of spiders during your adventures in the Backyard, the Mithridatism perk that buffs your resistance to poison is a mutation we highly recommend.

Sharpshooter

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Bow attacks have a chance to root the target, temporarily stopping all movement entirely.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Bow
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Bow
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Bow

Creatures in Grounded can often move pretty fast, which generally makes it difficult to deal significant damage with a bow unless you're on high ground. The Sharpshooter perk solves that problem by giving your arrows a chance to pin them in place temporarily, buying time to line up additional shots for more damage and stuns. This mutation is fantastic in group play as well, as pinning targets allows teammates with melee weapons to pounce without having to chase them down.

Juicy

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Thirst Decreases 50% slower.
  • How to unlock: Discover all 5 Juice Boxes in the Backyard.

There's not a whole lot to say here; being able to craft, build, explore, and fight for 50% longer without having to worry about topping up your thirst meter is incredibly valuable, both because you won't have to drink as much of your water supply and because you'll be able to get a lot more done between beverage breaks.

Smasher

Grounded Smasher Perk

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  • Effect: Hammer attacks have a chance to daze the target, reducing their attack speed.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Hammer
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Hammer
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Hammer

Hammers are among the strongest tools and weapons available to you in Grounded, as they deal great damage and are generally effective against many creatures. The Smasher mutation only adds to that effectiveness by allowing you to daze your opponents, reducing your attack speed significantly. This minimizes the amount of time they're attacking you and maximizes the time you get to attack them, making this perk a must for players that prefer hammers.

Natural Explorer

Grounded Natural Explorer Perk

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  • Effect: Increases Sprint Speed by 3%/6%/10%.
  • Phase 1: Discover 5 Landmarks
  • Phase 2: Discover 20 Landmarks
  • Phase 3: Discover 50 Landmarks

Getting to where you need to go faster is always helpful, whether you're headed out to collect supplies or running away from a threat. While the small buffs to your sprint speed provided by Natural Explorer don't seem like they'd make much of an impact, the time you save by sprinting to and from locations faster really adds up over the course of a full in-game day. Therefore, this is definitely a mutation you shouldn't overlook.

Chopper

Grounded Chopper Perk

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  • Effect: Axe attacks have a chance to stagger the target, interrupting their current animation.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with an Axe
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with an Axe
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with an Axe

Axes aren't quite as effective as Hammers are in fights, but they're still a viable option and will come in handy when fighting enemies weak to Chopping damage. The Chopper perk gives you a chance to interrupt your opponent's animation while using an Axe, allowing you to keep up the pressure with attack flurries without needing to worry about counterattacks.

Fresh Defense

Grounded Fresh Defense Perk

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Resistance to gas, burning damage, and Sizzle by 25%/50%/75%.
  • Phase 1: Eat 1 Mint Shard
  • Phase 2: Eat 5 Mint Shards
  • Phase 3: Eat 10 Mint Shards

Damage from gas, fire, and the Sizzle status effect is relatively uncommon, but it's pretty deadly in the cases where you do run into it. You can mitigate it partially with items like Antlion Armor and Gas Masks, but the Fresh Defense skill also provides a huge additional layer of protection from these threats to your character. Whenever you're exploring the Haze, the Sandbox, or the BBQ Spill biomes, this mutation is a must-have.

Ant-nihilator

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  • Effect: Increases damage to Black Ants and Red Ants by 5%/15%/25%. Also increases Damage Resistance against Black Ants and Red Ants by 10% at Phase 3.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Black Ants or Red Ants
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Black Ants or Red Ants
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Black Ants or Red Ants

Ants, whether they're the red or black variety, are some of the most common enemies you'll encounter throughout the entirety of Grounded. As such, equipping the mutation that boosts your damage against them significantly is a great idea. With Phase 3, you also get a big 10% damage resistance buff against ants, which is great for exploring the Red Anthill and Black Anthill underground biomes.

Blademaster

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  • Effect: Sword attacks have a chance to reduce the stamina cost of the next combo of attacks.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Sword
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Sword
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Sword

Like Axes, Swords aren't considered the best of Grounded's weapons but are still more than viable. Their rapid attack speed can drain your stamina fairly quick, but the Blademaster perk offsets this by occasionally reducing the stamina cost of your next attack chain. This doesn't let you immobilize targets like Smasher or Chopper does, but it will help you keep up constant offensive pressure.

Cardio Fan

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Stamina Regen by 10%/15%/20%. Also decreases exhaustion time.
  • Phase 1: Exhaust the player 100 times
  • Phase 2: Exhaust the player 250 times
  • Phase 3: Exhaust the player 500 times

This mutation seems like it would be awesome at a glance, but in practice, its benefits aren't as helpful as you might think. While more stamina is always better, you'll rarely have trouble managing it as long as you don't go too crazy with block turtling or attack spamming in combat. This mutation is solid for inexperienced players in the early game, but seasoned Backyard explorers will likely get better value out of a different mutation.

Truffle Tussle

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  • Effect: Unarmed attacks have a chance to create a fungal explosion, damaging anything in its radius. This only occurs when striking a creature.
  • How to unlock: Kill the Infected Ladybug in the Haze Lab

To put it bluntly, unarmed builds suck in Grounded. They don't do much damage at all, and in the vast majority of cases, you'll be much better off with a good weapon. With that said, the fungal explosion you can create when using this mutation offers effective crowd control utility when fighting groups of mobs, making Truffle Tussle situationally useful.

Javelineer

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Spear attacks have a chance to lower the defense of an enemy.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Spear
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Spear
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Spear

Spears offer good range but less damage compared to other weapons, making them useful for controlling groups of small mobs and poking at enemies weak to Stabbing damage. They're far from being the best weapons available, but the Javelineer mutation helps to improve their effectiveness by occasionally weakening enemies and making them take more damage.

Assassin

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Dagger attacks have a chance to bleed the target, causing damage over time.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Dagger
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Dagger
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Dagger

Daggers are an decent weapon class with rapid attack speed, but short range. They can deal a fair amount of damage if you land lots of crits with them, and the Assassin mutation allows you to stack a bleed damage-over-time effect on top of your standard damage output. It's not super effective, but it's definitely helpful, especially against large and tanky enemies.

Mom Genes

(Image credit: Grounded Wiki)
  • Effect: Gives you a chance to spawn allied Spiderlings whenever you hit an enemy.
  • How to unlock: Kill the Hedge Broodmother

Mom Genes is one of Grounded's most interesting mutations, as it gives you a chance to spawn a group of allied Spiderlings each time you hit an opponent. These allies don't do much health or damage and will usually die pretty quick, but they will distract your foes and give you time to heal or move to a better position. Overall, this is a solid perk for solo play, but it's less valuable when you're grouped up with friends.

Spicy Safety

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Reduces damage taken from Smashing and Stabbing attacks. This also includes explosive damage.
  • Phase 1: Eat 1 Spicy Shards
  • Phase 2: Eat 4 Spicy Shards

Smashing, Stabbing, and explosive-based attacks are even less common than gas, burning, and Sizzle attacks, making Spicy Safety less useful than Fresh Defense overall. Even so, Spicy Safety is a good situational perk that we recommend using whenever you come across enemies that make use of these rare damage types.

Guard Dog

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)
  • Effect: Extra attack damage during Factional Raids or MIX.Rs.
  • Phase 1: Complete 1 MIX.R
  • Phase 2: Complete 4 MIX.Rs

Factional Raids against your bases are fairly rare, and MIX.R raid challenges are usually pretty easy. Therefore, the Guard Dog perk is a bit of a niche perk, though it still helps to guarantee that you and your base's defenses will stand tall when attacked.

Reliable Friend

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Player Revive Speed  by 25%/50%/75%.
  • Phase 1: Revive a Friend 5 times
  • Phase 2: Revive a Friend 15 times
  • Phase 3: Revive a Friend 30 times

While it's certainly nice to be able to revive friendly players easier, most players will be better off focusing on mutations that improve their build's effectiveness instead. If everyone on the team picks good mutations and has good gear, dying won't often be a problem. Feel free to use this mutation if you're having trouble keeping everyone in your group alive, though.

Grass Master

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Chopping Efficiency by 25%/50%/100%. Also refunds stamina used when harvesting grass.
  • Phase 1: Chop 50 blades of grass
  • Phase 2: Chop 200 blades of grass
  • Phase 3: Chop 500 blades of grass

This mutation is only helpful when you're collecting grass and other resources that require a tool with Chopping capabilities. It's completely useless whenever you're not doing this, so swap off it as soon as you're done collecting materials.

Rock Cracker

(Image credit: Windows Central )
  • Effect: Increases Busting Efficiency by 25%/50%/100%.
  • Phase 1: Bust 25 rocks
  • Phase 2: Bust 75 rocks
  • Phase 3: Bust 100 rocks

Rock Cracker is essentially the Busting version of Grass Master. Like that mutation, this one is worthless unless you're actively breaking down rocks or other resource nodes with a Busting tool. Switch off it as soon as you're done and use something more versatile instead.

Merteen

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Increases Underwater Oxygen Time by 10%. Increases Swim Speed by 15%.
  • How to unlock: Discover 3 underwater Landmarks

Merteen would be a better perk if Grounded had more deep underwater areas, but ultimately it's only worth using when exploring the Koi Pond. Even then, players can just craft and use a Bubble Helmet to double their underwater oxygen time, arguably making the effects of Merteen obsolete.

Daredevil

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Reduces Fall Damage by 50%. Falls that would be fatal normally leave the player with 1 HP.
  • How to unlock: Purchase from BURG.L for 3,000 Raw Science. Requires the Hedge BURG.L Chip

The reason why Daredevil is ultimately a terrible mutation is because it serves as a safety net rather than something that enhances your ability to explore or fight. The only time you should use this perk is if you're exploring a high-up area like the Picnic Table and you're having trouble falling off the edge to your death (which you shouldn't be as long as you're being careful).

Lil Fist

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Has a chance to give a 25%/50%/75% damage buff to unarmed attacks. 
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with fists
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with fists
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with fists

As we said before, unarmed builds in Grounded are awful, even with the power of the Lil Fist damage perk. Unlike the Truffle Tussle mutation that at least provides you with some situational crowd control, Lil Fist offers nothing of value to players since weapon builds are still far more effective. Avoid this mutation like the plague.

Barbarian

(Image credit: Windows Central)
  • Effect: Club attacks give the player a chance to enter Rage. While enraged, attack damage is increased but Perfect Block timing is desynchronized.
  • Phase 1: Kill 50 Creatures with a Club
  • Phase 2: Kill 100 Creatures with a Club
  • Phase 3: Kill 200 Creatures with a Club

Last and very much least on our list is Barbarian, which would be a solid mutation if it didn't make the best defensive ability in your toolkit unreliable. Perfect Blocking is incredible and makes many combat engagements in Grounded easier, and it's absolutely not worth giving up for some extra damage with Clubs. This mutation should never be used under any circumstances.


Grounded is officially out now on Xbox and PC for $30, and has quickly proven itself to be one of the best Xbox games of all time for fans of survival games thanks to its unique and creative theming, content-rich open world, and deep crafting, upgrade, and combat systems.

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Grounded

Over two years of development in early access have led to one of the most impressive survival games released in recent memory, and one of the top Xbox games of 2022. Grounded is an experience that simply shouldn't be missed, especially if you can play with friends.

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