Fallout has been an enduring franchise for as long as I’ve been PC gaming so with the success of Bethesda’s revival of the series with Fallout 3 Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4 there is always anticipation of what’s next for Fallout. It should be no surprise there has been a lot of speculation about Fallout 76 and what kind of game it would be.
An Online multiplayer world was what the recent post announcement leaks were suggesting and for the most part they were accurate although I admit I was worried it would be another Elder Scrolls Online type experience.
So at today’s Bethesda E3 2018 conference straight from the mouth of the Lord High Elf himself Todd Howard “You came here for one thing..”
So what is it?
Fallout 76 is an Online Multiplayer RPG Fallout prequel 4 times the size of Fallout 4, set in the hills of West Virginia.
In the first moments of the reveal trailer we see some familiar sights with our character strapping on an old school pipboy, passing Mr Handy robots and an in-world S.P.E.C.I.A.L and Choose Your Job character creation section through the Vault door and out into the world. It looks very vibrant and a lot less desolate of a color palate of the previous games. Anyone that has been running fallout 4 with mods will definitely see something they have probably modded in already.
They boasted new rendering, lighting and landscape engine, but the big question is “Will you finally be able to climb a ladder?” The new engine will have 16 times the detail of previous and has a full dynamic weather system.
Fallout 76’s game area will take place in 6 unique regions packed with Towns and Bunkers filled with government secrets and the Vault Overseer will send you on your quests. They also have dug into the local folklore of the area and as a result we will have some weird unseen before critters and mutants.
Apparently each character will be a real person to interact with, it is entirely online so I suppose that means no offline play, but they did confirm you can play solo. Todd did assure us that you can be who you want exploring the story and quests and leveling how you want as per previous Fallout games.
Bethesda has been thinking about and developing this for the last 4 years so there is a sense they want to do it right rather than just tack on the Games as a Service bandwagon that so many other publishers are going with.
How will it play?
The term Todd Howard used to describe the experience they wanted to provide was “Softcore Survival”. Death never means a loss of progression in Fallout 76 as there is nothing worse than just getting your roll on and then getting griefed by other players repeatedly.
Also you won’t see servers directly but you will always have the option of teaming up with friends to play with and join their games and all your stats and progression will carry over to that game. As far as numbers it won’t be thousands or hundreds of players per map but more like dozens. They promised 100 percent dedicated servers for years to come. But will it be a subscription service, we don’t yet have details on that.
Fallout 76 promises a wide open world with very few rules and the choices are yours for you to decide how things play out.
They included some information videos showing PVP with a sick hand loaded musket pistol, partying up to fight bosses like a Giant Cave Sloth and pose together for a group photo with your trophy kills. Todd Howard did stress that you can solo quest but it’s much easier to build together and make settlements for you and your mates to use and defend.
You can also do the equivalent of boss raids on multiple nuke silos around the map to get launch codes and even combine forces with other players to complete the codes to launch on an area, faction or rival. Then you and your party can move into the highly irradiated zone to collect the high level loot contained within, although with the high rewards there is high risk with the increased radiation.
It will have a B.E.T.A!
Break It Early Test Application
Todd Howard joked that he “read on the internet somewhere our games have one or two bugs” no, really Todd, it’s true, every glitchy bit of it. So this is a positive sign they want to make sure it launches in as much of a non-broken state as possible. It’s a bit of a meme how broken and glitched out Bethesda games are on launch and although annoying most people can see with something this massive you get a few loose bolts and short circuits. Hopefully this goes a ways to fixing this early.
There’s a Special Edition
This will include a Map which Todd excitedly pointed out “glows in the fucking dark”, some figures you can put on the map and a collectible life size wearable T-51 Power Armor helmet with a functioning headlamp and voice changer. Perfect for cosplaying or late night Macca’s drive-through runs and a canvas duffel bag to stuff it all in.
(UPDATE: It’s already sold out)
I’m still not entirely sure what the gameplay experience will be but it actually far surpassed my cynical “just a tacked on multiplayer mode on Fallout 4” that I assumed. Also unknown is what will become of the Fallout series combat staple V.A.T.S used to slow time and prioritize targets in combat, how will they, if at all, work this into Fallout 76?
This really looks like it might work if they can learn from where of Elder Scrolls Online fell short and provide a genuinely engaging co-operative Fallout experience.
Pre-order for B.E.T.A access
Release date: 14 November 2018