When Bethesda launched a live stream hinting at news in the Fallout universe, excitement was high, but initial reactions to rumors the game would be an online survival game were mixed. Hot takes came thick and fast, with many worried that such a drastic change to the Fallout fans know and love was a surefire recipe for failure, despite knowing little to nothing about how the game would be executed.
With Bethesda’s E3 presentation in the rear window, we now have actual information about the game to base our opinions on — and everyone expecting Fallout 76 to bomb have YumYum Deviled Egg on their face.
This is shaping up to be a totally new Fallout experience, one that we’ve never seen before. And it’s going to be great.
Solo-Play is Still Around
The loudest complaints following the teaser for Fallout 76 revolved around transforming the solo series into a collaborative one. As Bethesda’s Todd Howard was quick to point out, there’s nothing forcing you to team up in Fallout 76.
Players intent on clinging to past iterations can still experience the entirety of Fallout 76‘s plot without ganging up, enjoying all of the environmental storytelling in prior games have excelled and avoiding the horrors of human co-operation.
So, what’s different? Instead of the fine details of the world being rounded out by stilted NPCs, your world will be shaped by dynamic interaction with other real players building their own civilizations to explore, interact with, or attack!
So we’ll be getting some of the best of both worlds, which is a win-win.
Your Friends Can Join the Fun, Too
Just because you can complete your quests alone doesn’t mean you have to, though. Fallout 76 will allow you to join up to three friends on your wasteland pillaging, and your activities together can range from your standard post-apocalyptic warfare to building a nice quiet camp and having a jam session together.
Gone are the “joys” of your allies running into walls or shooting the dirt absentmindedly. Now, when you run into a snag in your questing and just can’t seem to get past a difficult section, you can call in the help of your friends and take it on as a team. Replacing NPC sidekicks with real, living allies allows for significantly more nuanced strategies when tackling tasks, as your teammates are no longer bound by the limited options available in their AI.
If you want to revel in more of the same old Fallout you know and love? Great. That’s still there. But if you want something more than that, Fallout 76 is here for you.
That’s a huge plus.
No Closed Servers Makes Group Play Easy
A common element of online survival games is the binding of your character to a specific game server. While this does offer benefits such as maintaining a consistent world which your character lives in, it also means that if your friend is playing on a different server, you can’t simply cross over and join up for some fun together.
That’s a major flaw for anyone looking to do some social gaming.
Fallout 76 will be played on dedicated servers but no characters will be bound to any specific one, which means that if you’ve spent tens of hours building your character and discover your friend is playing as well, neither of you has to start over to join up with the other.
This is great news for gamers, and bad news for, well, nobody. Simply join together in a party and get out there! Those Super Mutants aren’t going to fight themselves.
Well, they may, but it’s more fun when you do it.
Death is Only a Temporary Problem
Watching an enemy rob you of your final bits of health in an online survival game is often a heartbreaking experience because it means starting anew and losing your progress. Sitting quietly in place for minutes on end waiting for a patrol to pass is boring. Attacking the building they’re patrolling around to see what’s inside is fun, and some would argue that having fun is an important element of gaming.
In Fallout 76, dying may cost you some of your recently acquired gains, but won’t set you back to square one, meaning you don’t have to avoid exploration for fear of regression. See something interesting on the map? Go find it, and if you die trying, try again!
Games should always encourage players to push the limits and enjoy themselves, and with soft survival elements, Fallout 76 is set up to do just that.
One of the primary characters in every Fallout game is also, mostly, an absentee actor in prior games — your friend the nuclear bomb! Although Megaton prominently featured an (initially) undetonated nuke at the heart of town, and the Fat Man allowed players and foes alike to launch mini-nukes, prior editions have taken place at a time when the earth was good and scorched already.
Fallout 76 serves as a prequel to all prior games; set sometime between 2077 and 2102, it is more mid-apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic.
So, in addition to players exploring a world that is more lush and living than fans are used to, vault escapees are also released into a world where nuclear missiles are still a viable threat to be fought over — and utilized. By getting your hands on a full set of keys, you can launch a nuke which not only levels a settlement to the ground but creates a fallout zone ripe for looting of its rare and valuable materials. This is a brand new playground that Fallout players have never had access to, and it is sure to deliver.
Building Just Got Better
Perhaps the biggest innovation in Fallout 4 was the building system. No longer were the tiny trinkets you looted from the vaults and towns you explored mere junk, instead they were base elements for your construction projects. From defenses to protect your civilizations to the raw structures required to build an entirely new town, build mode let players unleash their inner architect and it yielded some truly stunning creations.
In Fallout 76, this build mode will be taken to a new level, with players able to carry a portable Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform (C.A.M.P.) out into the world with them. You no longer face restrictions on where you can build. Players are restricted only by their own creativity and if the past is any indication, this new building system is going to lead to the construction of playgrounds that even the game’s designers couldn’t have imagined.
Anything which opens the door to innovation for players is a certified check in the “positives” column.
There’s More to Explore Than Ever Before
Where all of Bethesda’s open world games are at their best is when you’re out on the open road encountering the many stories and secrets hidden around the map. Who hasn’t booted up a Fallout or Elder Scrolls with a quest already active, only to spend three hours wandering the map without completing it because you kept finding new leads to chase on your way to the original destination?
Fallout 4 raised the bar for Bethesda maps, with an area nearly double that of Fallout 3‘s Capital Wasteland — but that’s nothing compared to what Fallout 76 promises. Howard announced that the West Virginia mountains would comprise an area that is four times as large as its Boston-based predecessor.
It’s hard to see how any Fallout fan’s mouth didn’t begin to water at the thought of exploring such an expansive world. You’d have to be a hater to not be excited to get out on those country roads as soon as possible.
A Beta Means a Less-Bethesda Launch
Bethesda’s open world RPG games are known for a great deal of positive traits which carry over from release to release, but not everything we’ve come to expect from their titles is a good thing. Just as sure as each new game will most likely ship with a vast world full of interesting characters, it also comes with a dazzling array of glitches and goofs which have escaped detection.
The announcement of a Beta prior to launch is great news to fans for two reasons. First, there is the potential for early access to the game prior to its November 14 release, and who wouldn’t want to get their hands on this one early? If you miss out on the Beta, however, you’ll still benefit from the bug detection it offers as it should allow Bethesda to produce a cleaner, consumer-ready game on launch day. Everybody wins!
All of this should have fans excited for what’s to come when Fallout 76 drops. So, what do you think? Are you ready to put in your pre-order yesterday, or are you still in the camp which will spend the next five months swearing that Bethesday has killed Fallout, then quietly go pick up a copy at your friendly local game store this November?