Fallout 76: Facts and Thoughts on What We Can Expect

From a tantalising teaser trailer to some serious ‘oh my gosh’ moments at E3, Fallout 76 has been one wild ride of discovery. When John Denver’s opening acoustic hits you and the sweet sound of ‘Almost heaven, West Virginia’ enters your eardrums, you can almost forget the huge change that has been made to our beloved franchise. Here are my thoughts on the latest installment of Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic series: Fallout 76.

Crawl out through the Fallout, baby

If you’re new to Fallout then never fear! It’s the perfect time to get stuck into the games and you can dive in at any point. Fallout features a post-apocalyptic United States of America where a nuclear war has ravaged the landscape, people, and life as you know it. Whether it’s New California and The West, the Mojave Wasteland or the Commonwealth and the East Coast, you will come across an abundance of interesting creatures, factions, fellow survivors and not so nice folk. Select people have been chosen by Vault-Tec to take refuge in Vaults underneath the ground. In each game, you emerge from your Vault for the first time in a new world. How you play the game is up to you! There is always the main quest line with a wide variety of side quests that can keep you amused for hours and hours.

Each game has its own interesting lore and a quirky dynamic world for unlimited exploration. Fallout 4 even introduces a fun settlement building mechanic that allows you to take settlers under your wing! Each game spans from 80 years after the bomb hits to 200 years and you find out all kinds of wacky, weird, tragic and interesting things that have happened during this time above and under the ground. Combine that with some of the best OST’s you have ever heard and it’s the RPG from your dreams. So now you’re hooked… let’s talk about Fallout 76.

It’s All Over But The Crying

The Facts – At the E3 conference in June 2018 we found out that Fallout 76 is a shared world multiplayer survival game. It is entirely online and is the earliest game in the series as you emerge from Vault 76 around 25 years after the bombs hit. All humans that you will meet on your journey will be real people. Each server will consist of around 12 players.

My Thoughts – My initial thoughts were a haze of confusion and it gave me a sinking feeling. After Bethesda had been an advocate for the ‘Save Player One’ campaign, I was somewhat puzzled about this direction. Even more surprised whenever their E3 conference spoke again about multiplayer for example – Prey. However, I felt a little more at ease when I found out the servers only consist of around 12 people. This gave me hope that I wouldn’t be constantly bombarded with hostile real life players when I’m trying to immerse myself in the experience.

Todd Howard did make it clear; you can play Fallout 76 solo but I do not believe this to mean offline solo. ‘Entirely Online’ to me merely meant that you can play on your own but if you come across a team of real life players you were not going to survive for long. I believe it would be much easier to play as a team and in fact, that is the whole point of Fallout 76. The encouragement to play together as you try and survive in this epic environment. However, if you aren’t an extrovert I can appreciate how this may not be to your taste.

Let’s Go Sunning

The Facts – Fallout 76 is set in West Virginia and you emerge from your Vault in 2102 on “Reclamation Day” in an attempt to re-colonise. This is around 25 years after the bombs have hit and the map contains six distinct regions that all feature very different styles. Todd Howard has confirmed it is a whopping 4 times bigger than Fallout 4, and considering I spent over 250 hours exploring The Commonwealth, this is a huge increase in exploration capabilities. Each region will embody the culture, locations, and legends from West Virginia itself. There will also be new creatures inspired by West Virginian folklore to worry about.

The world is described as being more ‘colourful’ than its predecessors and Bethesda has used an improved Engine to ensure the accommodation of a multiplayer world and gameplay. Further, still we should expect improved lighting, rendering, and terrain with 16 times more detail and a weather system that changes depending on climate. It will change across the whole map so players from high up or miles away will also be able to see the change.

My Thoughts – West Virginia intrigues me as we have become very familiar with a desolate Wasteland and this location, from screenshots, promises to be a luscious land of flora and forest. I do not expect the Earth to be completely void of wear and tear… a nuclear fallout will have a grave and devastating effect, however, since you leave the Vault merely 25 years after the bombs hit, my expectation is to see buildings that aren’t as broken down as we’ve seen before. This may lead to the buildings being more substantial regarding exploration and opening a wider range of materials you can acquire for settlement building. It may also lead to a wider variety of buildings rather than ‘generic house’ or ‘generic store’ over and over again.

The massive expanse of the map is exciting and puts my nerves at ease regarding multiplayer. If they keep to their promise of 12 players per server, the likelihood of meeting other real life people is reduced significantly. I have always found buildings, cities, settlements, and vaults to be the most interesting locations in the Fallout universe. I am hoping that the increase in map size does not lead to the increase in large areas of empty farmland or forest with no real purpose other than to fill out the map. The change in the engine will be wonderful to experience first hand although I have become so accustomed to the look of Fallout that even if the engine had not been improved I don’t believe I would have minded.

Keep A-Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)

The Facts – Settlement building is a huge part of Fallout 76 as you have the ability to build bases anywhere on the map. You will need to gather all kinds of resources to enable you to do this and you can even equip your build with weapons in order to defend it. However, once you log out of the game your base will be saved specifically to your profile. When you are offline it will be removed from the game world to avoid it being destroyed whilst you are unable to protect it personally.
Furthermore, although you can move your base anywhere, it can be attacked whilst you are online and exploring. Although, even if it is destroyed, it seems the base will be saved so you don’t need to worry about starting over.

My Thoughts – Fallout 4 seems to have been setting up this kind of game mechanic by allowing players to build a settlement during your time in The Commonwealth. I was not a massive fan of building; my time was mostly spent on exploration. It became a little frustrating having to acquire the materials as I didn’t pick up the items in the Commonwealth due to always being over-encumbered, and I mostly put weapons as a priority. With this in mind, I am interested to see how having this as a main mechanic in Fallout 76 affects how much you can carry, and accessibility to improving strength if needed. Will there still be a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perk system? I hope so!

New players or existing players may find this a bit too complicated so I do hope that there is an option for a default base which can be used and added to instead of building from scratch.

The thought of not losing all progress if a base is destroyed is very much welcomed by myself who have been panicking since the announcement about the loss of items and having to start all over again. Being able to pick up and take your base with you will come in very handy especially considering how large they plan the map to be.

Dear Hearts and Gentle People

The Facts – There will be no human NPC’s in Fallout 76. The only humans you will come across are fellow survivors in the form of real life players. Pete Hines has confirmed there will be a main storyline but it will be told through robots, holotapes, terminals and mostly environmental narrative cues. As a player, exploration will be your key to unlock the main story along with side quests and it is up to you to piece these together.

There is also the introduction of a new faction which has the appearance of zombie-like ghouls that are highly intelligent. These may serve as NPC’s as well but whether they are hostile or friendly is unknown.

Fallout 76 will focus on other real life players which can help you, hunt with you, attack you and cause you to fight over land for settlement space. This shared world seems to be the driving force for creating your own story. Co-op can be your way of playing or you can take an antagonistic approach. If you want to join a friend’s world then all progression will be carried over.

Plus, there is a multitude of new creatures, enemies, and wildlife which offer a new challenge and really get your heart racing. US gamer has deconstructed the Fallout 76 trailer to have a look into the various new creatures in the world. Read here.

My Thoughts – My first worry was with the lack of human NPC’s. In previous Fallout games, they have always been my favourite encounters, along with ghouls, as you meet interesting characters with completely unique personalities. They create a truly memorable experience whether it is Boone from Fallout New Vegas to Sulik from Fallout 2. Even certain NPC Super Mutants have given me joy such as Lily Bowen or Fawkes.

In the future there will definitely be robots it seems so I am placing my faith in Bethesda to create wonderful NPC’s along the same lines as Codsworth, ED-E, Victor or Yes Man! These bots always stick in my mind for shaping my experience in the best way.

Although I enjoy the thought of an interactive story being confirmed, I wonder whether reading terminals and listening to holotapes will get tiring or samey after a while. Of course, stories told through the environment will encourage exploration which I am all for but I am still hoping for that Fallout spark which we all love so much.

There will always be a dark cloud looming over my head about the multiplayer aspect of interaction. However, even if players do choose to go down a dark path, I am happy to report that you do not lose any of your progress or your items so you will not have to start over! Furthermore, players are not able to kill you over and over again as they will have a bounty placed on their head to deter them from continuing. It’s really positive to see Bethesda trying their hardest to accommodate the multiplayer aspect whilst also appreciating that people may want to be a Lone Wanderer.

The creatures really intrigue me, especially the prospect of having beasts flying in the air around you. These beings seem bigger and better than what we have experienced before and I am really excited to get hunting!

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Atom Bomb Baby

The Facts – One of the bigger announcements is the inclusion of Nuclear Missiles in Fallout 76. These appear as missile silos and can be used to fire a rain of terror across the map. I bet everyone let out an evil laugh at this prospect. All you’ll need to do is acquire launch codes with are hidden throughout the map. This missile attack will greatly alter the world by increasing the rarity of items, weapons, and gear. It will even give way to powerful enemies which will challenge even the most hardcore player. The damage this launch does to the map is still unknown.

Furthermore, there have been changes to the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S. Rather than this mode causing enemies to slow or completely freeze in order to target those sweet spots on their bodies, they will now move in real time. It has not been shown in the flesh yet but it seems very different to how we have seen V.A.T.S in any other Fallout game.

My Thoughts – The Nuclear threat is the biggest grey area for me so far. I am intrigued to see how much of the map it affects. A small zone may not make the slog to find the codes worthwhile but if the zone is too big it might affect players who are such a low level they have no hope to defeat what is unleashed. Will this zone affect NPC’s by destroying them or knocking them unconscious thus affecting another player’s progression? I am also weary about what happens after you have looted and killed and escaped champion. If the zone lasts too long will you need to join another server or will the map go back to how it once was? There are a lot of questions that need answering during the B.E.T.A.

Next, the change to V.A.T.S has not made a massive impact on me, although I am a nervous player and I have always relied on V.A.T.S to give me the composure I needed when a ghoul has jumped out from nowhere or if I’ve been charged by a Deathclaw. It gives you a moment to think about your shot and execute it. Real time would mean your decision would need to be drastically quicker whilst perhaps the constant movement would decrease the accuracy of the shot, especially if the enemy is fast moving. However, I remain open minded. I didn’t use V.A.T.S as much as other players probably did so I may not even notice but it still changes the gameplay dramatically as opposed to the rest of the series.

Fallout 76 comes to us on the 14th November (one day before my birthday, so thank you Bethesda for this lovely birthday present) and promises to be an experience none of us will forget. There will be a B.E.T.A, although there has been no confirmation of when that will be. If you have pre-ordered you will more than likely have already received your code. I am hoping that this is a sign it will be soon. Whether the B.E.T.A gives you access to the whole map or part of it is unclear, but it will give everyone a confident decision of whether this is the Fallout for them. All DLC in the future has been confirmed as free and the only purchasable items will be cosmetic meaning no one will have an unfair edge. Your hard work will be the key to obtaining a wide range of awesome guns and gear!

I trust I will be pleasantly surprised and I hope you are too… after all if Fallout has taught us anything it’s that war, war never changes.

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