Among the many big releases coming in the next few weeks, Fallout 76’s Wastelanders might not be on everyone’s radar. However, despite all the memes emanating from the game since launch, Wastelanders looks to be a major step forward. It releases on April 7th for all platforms and will be completely free. What can you expect, especially since its release coincides with the game’s launch on Steam? Let’s take a look.
The first and most obvious change is the return of human non-playable characters. Like the classic Fallout games, you’ll meet all kinds of different survivors, interact with them, find out their respective stories, barter etc. The survivors are mostly split into two new factions – the Settlers and Raiders, each with their own motivations and goals. Other factions like the Blood Eagles and apparent Cult of the Mothman are also coming but let’s focus on the major two.
Settlers and Raiders
The Settlers are made of construction workers, arriving in Appalachia for the purpose of rebuilding. Located in Spruce Knob is their base, Foundation, where they’re led by Paige. On the other hand are the more violent Raiders, led by Meg. After hearing about people returning to Appalachia, they’ve decided to defend their former turf. Located at the Crashed Space Station in their base, Crater, meeting up with and possibly allying with the Raiders will apparently take some doing.
Human non-playable characters are only one side of the Fallout coin – Wastelanders will also see the return of extensive dialogue systems with branching choices. And the good news is that the system will emulate Fallout 3, with all of your responses listed in full, as opposed to Fallout 4. Of course, your decisions having an impact on the overall plot is also a sorely missed feature.
One major problem of NPCs with branching paths is how the game consolidates the online environment with your own personal choices. To that end, Wastelanders will have instances which only your character can be a part of. Any choices made will be personal to you and remain confined to your instance.
Choices and Consequences
The fact that there are two factions diametrically opposed in philosophy should have clued you in by now: You’re gonna have to make some tough choices. Bethesda has insisted that these decisions won’t be black or white but more morally gray. Can you wipe out the opposing faction or make them your permanent enemy? Will there be choices not related to either faction that bring consequences to your character? We’ll have to wait and find out.
As noted above, allying with either faction is possible but it won’t be easy. You need to take on work, completing daily quests to earn reputation for each. There are seven reputation ranks and as you rank up further, new items will be available on sale with each faction’s merchant. It’s also a given that increasing reputation will lead to story consequences so keep that in mind if you plan on playing both sides.
But wait that’s not all. Companions are also coming back in Wastelanders and they can be romanced. You’ll need to complete their respective side quests but once you’ve done that, they’ll be by your side. Each faction will have a major companion that you can romance and once you complete their story quests, you can begin accepting daily quests from them that will give more XP and loot.
Ally CAMP Items
If you help an ally enough, then you’ll unlock some special items for your CAMP. The ally will also join your CAMP and help defend it if any intruders come around. One particular example given was Beckett. Helping him will allow you to add Beckett’s Bar to the CAMP which Beckett himself will tend to. It’s just another touch that should foster some attachment to the new allies and companions.
Along with Foundation and Crater, players will explore some other new locations like Watoga Underground. Touted as the City of the Future, it’s essentially a large parking space that’s now abandoned. Screenshots indicate that a Raider gang may be holed up there so it should be interesting to see how they figure into the whole storyline. Of course, there’s also Vault 79 which figures into a new activity…
Map Fragments and Gold Panning
Map fragments must be collected in the Wasteland to locate Vault 79. What does the Vault hold and why is it important? Unclear but it should still make for a fun hunt (and hopefully lead to some good loot). It also seems that gold panning could be a new activity, as least judging by the fact that a gold pan has been found as one of the miscellaneous items coming with this update.
Revamped Main Quest
Since Wastelanders technically takes place after the Scorchbeast threat was eradicated in the base game, how exactly will the main story work going forward? According to Bethesda, the update will add a new main quest but also revamp the base game quest line. The revamped main quest will start after you leave Vault 76 and can be played either solo or with friends. Hopefully there are less audio logs to collect and listen to.
New Weapons and Armor
It wouldn’t be a new update without new weapons, armor and other items to unlock. Several new Gauss weapons like the Gauss Pistol, Gauss Shotgun, and Gauss Minigun are being added. There’s also the Plasma Caster and Compound Bow. A gauntlet with a saw for close encounters is also coming. If that weren’t enough, there’s new Power Armor – the Secret Service Power Armor – to earn.
If you thought the Wendigos were freaky enough, then say hello the Wendigo Colossus, an imposing creature with long legs that towers over you. Floaters will also be appearing, namely the Chompers, Flamers and Freezers and players will also deal with Mongrels owned by the Blood Eagles. Expect other new foes to make life difficult in Appalachia, especially if the apparent Cult of the Mothman turns out to be less than friendly.