Fallout 76, the latest installment in the open world post-apocalyptic RPG series Bethesda has carefully reared for the last 20 years, is set to drop on November 14, 2018, barring any last minute hiccups that may cause delay. It marks the first game in the cadre to not only support multiplayer functionality, but require it; and despite widespread reports of a buggy beta experience and noise pollution from other real, living players, fans of the franchise seem to be overjoyed with what the future has in store. This is what betas are for, after all.
You see, Fallout 76 is Bethesda Game Studios’ first online multiplayer game. It uses a modified version of their Creation Engine, designed to accommodate multiplayer play, and boasts a map four times the size of Fallout 4. The distinction between Bethesda Softworks, the publisher of the Fallout series, The Elder Scrolls, etc., and Bethesda Game Studios, the subsidiary of Bethesda Softworks responsible for in-house development of games, is important.
For those who may have been under a rock or otherwise preoccupied or uninterested during its announcement and subsequent hype, Fallout 76 is actually a prequel to the original Fallout game, and as a result, the entirety of the series. Set in the cultural region of “Appalachia”, specifically within West Virginia in the year 2106, a mere 25 years after The Great War, our protagonist and the other residents of Vault 76— a vault housing America’s brightest minds of the time— exit their temporary habitat on Reclamation Day as part of a plan to re-colonize the now barren and aptly named Wasteland.
Other players on the server assume the role of fellow vault dwellers, all vying for survival, and there are no human NPCs in Fallout 76. Players may play individually or with a party of up to three others. All servers for the game are reportedly dedicated to instances of the game, with each player being automatically assigned the best server for their region and connection. Instead of the usual characters, players will receive their quests and world events from robots and other non-human NPCs, a feature which Todd Howard, game directory of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, feels will help players recognize the freedom to build their own narrative. Some of these non-human NPCs include new mutated monsters such as corporeal West Virginia’s own Mothman and Flatwoods Monster legends.
After acquiring the necessary launch codes, players will be able to use nuclear weapons to shape the world around them. We’re not just talking main storyline nukes either, arbitrary nukes. There is not yet additional information surrounding criteria for setting off a nuclear device in-game. The prospects of an online world shaped by nuclear mayhem are intriguing, yet frightening to say the least. Enjoying an online game can be difficult when other people have different goals than your own. The good news is that Bethesda has plans to grief griefers in the form of bounties on their player, so worry not at the idea of being repeatedly targeted by the person you got off on the wrong foot with.
The SPECIAL system and VATS both return triumphantly and with reported improvements. This time, SPECIAL manifests itself in the form of trading cards. Each card has a value and the player can unlock or upgrade perks equal to their respective value; eg. five points for a five point perk or upgrade. The player can also merge similar cards together to create more powerful— albeit more expensive— perks.