Fallout 76 is a curious game. It’s changing a lot of things, trying a lot of interesting new stuff, all the while trying to retain the core identity of Fallout. It’s mix of old and new ideas has excited just as many people as it’s got worried. But the fact of the matter remains- it’s Fallout. The hype surrounding the game is fever pitch, and as we approach its launch date, that’s only growing with each passing day. In this feature, we’re going to take a look at fifteen of the biggest talking points about this game. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Fallout 76 is going to be the first game in the series, chronologically speaking, taking place twenty-five years after the end of the nuclear war that destroys the planet’s landscape and serves as the backdrop and narrative setup for the entire series. This is also a first for Bethesda, who have been making Fallout games set far, far into the future ever since they acquired the franchise. The game will take place in West Virginia, in an open world map called Appalachia.
Fallout 76 is a shared-world multiplayer centric title, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a narrative to speak of. Sure, it won’t be as much of a focus as it is in Bethesda Game Studios’ single player titles (not that it’s front and centre there either), but it’s still something. Bethesda have stated it will still feature a long, multi-part narrative. As players leave Vault 76, they are contacted by a character named Overseer, a woman who left the Vaults before anyone else, and left secret instructions that form the crux of the main story.
Fallout 76 will have a main quest, of course, while just doing whatever the hell you want to do in is open world is also going to eat up plenty of your time, but there’ll be other activities to indulge in yourself, activities that the game will provide for your itself. Events in the game will be like timed multiplayer quests. You’ll get distress signals from robots, who you’ll have to help out in some way or another, and if at the end of the quest you’re still alive, you’ll get the associated rewards.
Fallout 76 will also see the return of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, as you may have expected, but this, too, is going to be somewhat modified. Each time you level up, you will get SPECIAL skills, accompanied by perk card packs, which will be used to upgrade your character. Though you can decide which cards they want to pick, every few levels (two at first, five as you progress), you will receive random perk cards, making you potentially pick cards that you would not ordinarily pick. Once you hit level 50, you will no longer get SPECIAL skills, but will still continue to get perk cards.
Being a multiplayer experience (one that can still be played solo, but multiplayer focused nonetheless), Fallout 76 is obviously going to have PvP mechanics. But like with everything else, BGS are going to put their own unique stamp on it too, to make things more interest, and to prevent things like griefing. For starters, PvP will only be activated after you hit Level 5, after which point it will still be optional. How so? Well, you can mark yourself as a pacifist, or can even block other players so the two of you can’t see each other on the map.
MORE PVP DETAILS
If you see a player and want to engage in a PvP battle with them, all you have to do is take a shot at them. The first shot does very little damage, and serves more as an invitation. If they’re not interested, they can ignore that shot, but if they shoot back, they’re accepting the invitation. If one of you gets killed, you can always seek revenge against your killer, and doing so gives you higher and better rewards. If they ignore your invitation, though, and you still attack them and kill them, you get no rewards or XP. What you do get is a bounty on your head- the game marks you as a murderer, and marks you as a red star on the map for all other players. A bounty on your head means killing you will yield better and higher rewards.
NO HUMAN NPCs
NPCs are an important thing in any RPG (or any video game, for that matter), but Fallout 76 is going about having them a bit differently. There are going to be no human NPCs in the game (which makes sense, in context of its premise, both in terms of gameplay and narrative). Instead, the game will be populated by robot NPCs that will give players new quests. Additionally, Fallout 76 will do the bulk of its storytelling through holotapes and terminals scattered throughout the game world, in the absence of NPCs.
Fallout 76 is also looking to give players absolute freedom in terms of the role they want to play, which will be propounded even further in light of the aforementioned lack of human NPCs. For instance, you can be a trader, and you can decide what prices you want to sell your goods to other players at for yourself (get ready for some price wars, then). “You don’t need us to create the factions,” said Bethesda’s SVP of marketing and PR Pete Hines on this topic. “You create the factions. You don’t need us to craft those systems. The game will just allow you to do that. You go be who you want in this world.”
NEW MUTATED MONSTERS
Mutated monsters is something that we expect to see in any Fallout game in abundance, and Fallout 76 is obviously going to be no different. Interestingly enough, though, several of the mutated beasts we see in the game will be new creations- which should be interesting to see. Since Fallout 76 is the first chronological game in the series and so close to the nuclear war, the “mutations” and devastation should be, let’s say “fresher” than in any other game in the series. Additionally, several mutated beasts, such as the Mothman, will be inspired by West Virginia folklore.
If you’re making a game in today’s day and age, and it’s not open world, and it doesn’t have a photo mode, is it even a game? Fallout 76, as you might have guessed, will have a photo mode at launch, which is interesting because a) photo modes are inherently awesome, and b) they’re bound to be even more so when you’re taking group photos with your friends in the backdrop of a deadly nuclear wasteland.
NO PRIVATE SERVERS AT LAUNCH
When Fallout 76 launches, it’ll do so backed up by public dedicated servers. Bethesda, however, have also promised that private servers are in the pipeline as well, so that you will be able to play with only the people you want to play with. When these private servers will come is something Bethesda haven’t gone into the specifics of- but they’re coming, which is good to know.
Fallout 76’s beta will give players access to the entirety of the game – for a limited time, of course, but still. It will allow you to carry over your progress in the full game as well. On Xbox One, the beta launches on October 23, with PS4 and PC owners getting access a week later on October 30. Interestingly enough, Fallout 76’s beta (and the game itself) on PC won’t be available through Steam, and has to be accessed through Bethesda’s own website.
A NEVER-ENDING GAME
Post-launch support has become part of the way things work now, which is even truer for games-as-a-service title, which, incidentally, is exactly what Fallout 76 is. Though you’d expect Bethesda to support Fallout 76 for a few years after its launch, the way Bungie and Ubisoft have done with Destiny and The Division respectively, just as a few examples, BGS are actually going to far beyond that- at least that’s what they say. Apparently, they have plans to support the game “forever”. Forever is a long time, but even something along the lines of what Blizzard does with World of Warcraft would be excellent, especially if they can keep up a steady stream of enjoyable, meaningful content.
NO CROSS PLAY SUPPORT… YET
Cross-play has become an increasingly pertinent topic in the last few years, and recently, when Sony enabled crossplay and brought down the walls around the PS4, they opened the door for all major multiplayer games to get in on the action. As one of the most outspoken critics of Sony’s previous policies, you’d expect Bethesda to want to have cross-play in Fallout 76. As it stands right now, though, cross-play isn’t going to be included in the title, though Bethesda haven’t completely shut the door on that possibility- it might still end up happening eventually.
NEVER GOING TO BE AN OFFLINE TITLE
Fallout 76’s online-centric nature is very well publicized, but in spite of this, Bethesda have remained adamant that if you want to play the game solo, you’re going to be able to do that just fine. That said, if you were expecting that some time down the line there might be a version of Fallout 76 that doesn’t require you to be online, and just lets you exist in its world without any of its multiplayer trappings, well, don’t hold your breath. That’s not going to happen. “I don’t see us completely re-engineering it to somehow be an offline game that is entirely client based,” said Pete Hines on Twitter when asked about the possibility.