Fallout 76 had its first beta yesterday and it actually ran relatively smoothly despite Bethesda’s warnings to the contrary. There was a lot to do and tons to explore — far too much to cover in only a four-hour testing window.
There will be future tests though, including one this weekend, and I look forward to them.
So how does this newly post-apocalyptic wasteland compare to previous Fallout entries? It’s still beta, but I am fairly impressed so far.
Fallout 76 Gameplay
Let’s get this out of the way first: Fallout 76 is like a survival-lite online version of Fallout.
Aside from mutants, mirelurks, and mercenaries, you also have to worry about hunger and thirst. Although that’s mostly the extent to any real survival, it’s an interesting new wrinkle to the typical “Where am I getting Rads from?” formula, which, by the way, is still present.
If anything, the world of Fallout is even more dangerous now.
What are Fallout 76 Events?
Fallout 76 events are optional quests that pop up all around the world. They only last for a limited amount of time and every player in the area can contribute to the cause, getting credit for them upon completion.
Events already seem like a great way to keep the game feeling fresh — and making it so that players always have something to do. This ties into the MMO-lite qualities we already knew were present in Fallout 76.
Fallout 76 Leveling and Perks
S.P.E.C.I.A.L and Perks are back this time around, but they work differently than they did in Fallout 4 and Fallout New Vegas. You still get a point to put into your stats whenever you level up, but Perks are now equipped via Perk cards.
The way you unlock them is also different. Some Perks come from leveling up, but you can also get Perk Card packs that give you random perk cards.
Each card is worth 1-3 points. On top of that, you can only equip cards that are the same level or lower than your current stat in that category.
For example, if you have two points in Intelligence, you can equip two Level 1 Intelligence perk cards or one Level 2 card, but no Level 3 cards.
Interestingly (and it’s not entirely clear yet if other Perks have qualities like this), if you level Charisma up enough, you can actually share some perks with teammates. This is an interesting wrinkle that will make co-op play more dynamic and depending on team composition, easier.
Fallout 76 Multiplayer and the World
One thing that separates this entry in the Fallout franchise from all the others is the ability to play with, or against, other players. This is something I have always wanted in a Fallout game. Although I did not play with anyone during the first beta session, I saw plenty of others and know there’s going to be lots of opportunity in the upcoming session on October 27.
Having other players in the world changes the game completely, especially in regards to how you build your character.
For example, if you have a dedicated group of people to play with, you can plan out who’s going to level certain stats and traits. Some will have higher Intelligence while other will have higher Strength values. One would be better at Hacking while another is best at Combat.
The dynamism here is effectively off the charts if you’re a Fallout fan.
There are many different ways you can go about it, but the point is you don’t have to worry about missing out on anything if you can’t personally get a certain skill. I think that’s a really cool way to socialize and plan with other players — and a cool way to shake up the traditional RPG formula.
Not knowing who you will run into, or who may be an enemy, adds another level of tension in an already intense game. Luckily, Bethesda eases you into that danger by disabling PvP until Level 5.
One thing that did feel odd, though, is that during this time, I didn’t interact with any other human NPCs. Based on the story so far, I hope that we eventually meet other humans besides players. Perhaps it was part and parcel for this particular beta phase …
Building in Fallout 76
Fallout 4‘s building is back, but now you can build almost anywhere on the map via your C.A.M.P. You can even combine multiple build objects into a blueprint for easy building later.
I think this is a great way to make you feel like you have your own home, but can also move it if you feel like it. That was one of the shortcomings of building in Fallout 4: you always felt anchored in place, constantly building the same things over and over again.
It seems Fallout 76 has learned a lesson or two.
Mutations in Fallout 76
This is another new feature that stands to be a great new addition. Whenever you take radiation damage, you have a chance to get a Mutation.
This will give you a positive or negative effect that is semi-permanent. You might receive, for example, +50% disease resistance or get a debuff from eating a certain type of food.
Whenever you remove radiation, there is a chance the Mutation will go away.
All of this opens up new avenues of play, especially when coupled with the Perk system.
Issues with Fallout 76 (So Far)
There wasn’t much that went wrong during the first session aside from a main story quest that froze, keeping me from progressing.
There was also the occasional disconnect, freeze, or glitch, but nothing unexpected or overly frustrating. There’s no telling how things will be when the game launches and there are many more people playing, but overall, the beta seems to be chugging along just fine.
And although I had a perk that allowed me to target different limbs during V.A.T.S., I couldn’t do it when I tried.
Overall View (So Far)
Fallout 76 feels like a Fallout game, though sort of empty without NPCs. For me, the ability to play with other players makes up for that and there’s still a story I’m interested in seeing.
There’s new mechanics and a mobile building system, so I’d say Bethesda is on the right track.
Only time will tell how this game pulls it off, but for now, I’m very excited to get back to playing. I can’t wait to start playing with friends and seeing how the game is at a much higher level.
Want to know more about Fallout 76? Be sure to check out our everything we know rundown.