During Bethesda’s E3 press conference, we got the goods everyone was waiting for. Since the random stream that went up a week or so ago of a jolly Vault Boy figurine in front of a “Please Stand By” screen, there has been speculation about what the game could be.
Its been 3 years since the announcement and release of Fallout 4, so the timing could have been right for Bethesda’s next main-line Fallout title. However, soon after the stream ended, the rumors started to fly in. One that everyone was talking about was from news editor at Kotaku, Jason Schreier, who posted on Twitter:
From what I’ve heard, Fallout: 76 is an online game of some sort. Developed by BGS in both Maryland and Austin (formerly Battlecry) https://t.co/gUmNYtDXDS
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 30, 2018
This stemmed the expectation that it was going to be a game much like Fallout 4, and people started to pull apart the eventual ‘Country Road’ trailer we got before the E3 conferences. Now, after Bethesda’s conference has finished up, the above rumor has been confirmed by Mr. Todd Howard himself, and most of the questions we had have been answered. Most.
So, what is it?
Fallout 76 is set 25 years after the dropping of the nuclear bombs that forced them all underground. You’re in Vault 76, which is set to open its doors on Reclamation Day, 20 or so years after the war has started. When the doors open, it’s time to take back the land.
It’s set in West Virginia with a map 4 times as big as Fallout 4. It’s also strong in the real life, West Virginian folklore which is outlined with collectibles and quests. What was also discovered was that the other vault dwellers who emerge from Vault 76 are all, in fact, other players.
The whole game is entirely online. Any other vault dweller you see out in the open is another player, playing somewhere in their lounge room. However, it’s not a battle royale like many other games have announced, but an open-world survival RPG. Instead of the game having 100 players dropped into the world, it’s more like “dozens”.
Now, what they haven’t told us is how the drops are working out. Via gameplay they showed at the conference, you seem to start off in the vault itself on Reclamation Day, and venture outside to see the world. Do you all start in the vault? Do you get littered around in multiple vaults? Is it all a giant game of hide and seek? Something tells me that the other players leave a kind of instanced base. If you’re all in the same one, what makes finding another person special?
All of that aside, despite it being an always online experience, you can play it as a single player. Your vault overseer gives you quests to complete, and when you go out into the world, you can play as you want. Passive; aggressive; a builder; a destroyer. Todd Howard also mentioned that death was not the end of our progression through West Virginia. Where do we end up? Not sure. Do we lose anything? Probably! I told you he only answered most of the questions.
Playing with friends and strangers can be a possibility, too, with all your stuff going with you wherever you go. This poses another question: will the West Virginian landscape you enter every game have the same layout every time? I’m thinking that the zones are the same every time but the nuclear missile launch zones (mentioned later) and perhaps Vault 76 itself changes on each log in.
Nevertheless, partnering up with friends seems to have its benefits, as it becomes easier to take down large enemy mutants. Making enemies, however… perhaps it’s best to avoid doing that. As I mention above, Mr. Howard thought it wise to add multiple nuclear missile launch zones to the map. Acquire the code to these missiles by killing the ghouls and mutants who may have them (or other players) and launch an attack anywhere on the map. The resulting explosion could unearth some rare materials, however the fallout can kill.
Of course, base building is involved, but this time you don’t have to stay in the one spot your whole playthrough. Using a kind of Minecraft-like crafting table, called C.A.M.P., you can bring your base with you. Tactically, this is a great feature but, like everything else in this game, it can be destroyed, forcing you to rebuild again.
Lastly, Todd talked about how, sometimes – and especially with online games – they can become broken very quickly. So, to try and counter this, a beta is opening up soon, or the B.E.T.A (Break It Early Test Application) because, as the big guy said himself, sometimes things just don’t work.
So, personally, I am very excited for Fallout 76. I didn’t play anything before Fallout 4 due to, really, not being able to, however when I got into the lore, I LOVED finding out about the different vaults and living in the world after the bombs dropped. Yeah, it’s not a mainline game, and yeah, after some time it may fall flat and fizzle out, but it’s worth a try.
November 14th, prepare yourself. I’m going to thinking about you a lot.