The Fallout gameplay experience that fans have wanted for years is almost upon us. At least that's what Bethesda is hoping to achieve with Fallout 76. It's a fully-multiplayer apocalyptic RPG where players can join their fellow vault dwellers in the massive open-world wasteland, taking on quests, Super mutants, and more. It sounds very promising on its own, and with the details already confirmed by the devs, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
That said, with recent online-only titles facing their own personal struggles (some more than others), there's an unsurprising initial hesitation. In addition, concerns of reduced depth, minimalized story elements, and even questions of how multiplayer hurts the series' very identity, considering much of is so tied into being a "lone survivor."
Nevertheless, with an upcoming beta in October and a November release date, there's still time for fans to get a clearer picture of what Fallout 76 will ultimately look like. For now, it's time to go through the rumor mill, list off which ones have been confirmed, and go through the ones that hopefully won't come to fruition.
This is an ambitious title, so there are plenty of features that could lead to a disappointing overall experience. Then again, if developer Bethesda Games Studio is able to make this transition to online smoother than Elder Scrolls Online, we'll have a game worthy enough to keep players logging in for years to come.
Here are Fallout 76: 10 Rumors Confirmed To Be True (And 10 We Hope Aren't).
20 Confirmed: No NPCs
There won't be any NPC's in the entirety of Fallout 76. Bethesda has instead chosen to eliminate any in-game NPCs in favor of filling the world with only real players.
If you see anyone out in the wasteland, it will be a real player.
Quest-giving is going to be quite different previous titles. Detailed by the site PCGamesN, you will receive quests through holotapes, notes, and terminals.
A deal-breaking revelation for some players, this design choice places 76 even further away from other FO titles. Should Bethesda have stuck with the standard NPC system? It's up to the fans to decide.
19 Hopefully not: Simplified combat
An immediate thought that came to fans' minds upon this game's reveal was how this much-beloved feature could possibly make it into combat. Game director Todd Howard detailed the "real-time" nature of 76's version of V.A.T.S. Instead of slowing-down time, the system will serve more as an aim-assist. Players will still be able to target specific body parts, but it won't be the slow-mo version players remember.
This fact further reinforces the concern of over-simplified combat that no longer feels RPG-like. Without a true version of V.A.T.S., it then starts to just look like a first-person shooter. An entertaining shooter, granted, but something decidedly more shallow than previous installments.
While the smoothness of gunplay is satisfying to see, the lost strategic element is disappointing.
18 Confirmed: You CAN play solo
While co-op is highly encouraged, you can trek through the wasteland as a lone wolf. Quest systems and base-building are still just as available to you as any player faction. Although it's plausible that specific missions may be near-impossible without multiple players, no content is blocked off from any individual vault dweller.
That said, in order for players to get the most out of the game, you will likely need to do some socializing.
Player-made factions are, from the sounds of it, readily available to join at all times, so you're free to go solo or grab some friends. Any main quest is designed for any player count to take it on, even if it's the power of one. However, Fallout 76 really isn't meant to be a solo venture.
17 Hopefully not: Abandoned story mode
With seemingly all of the proverbial development eggs in the multiplayer basket, it's all too easy to grow a bit worried about the lack of campaign discussion. Trailers and footage have established Vault 76 as the first vault (making this a prequel), but little else. Who is your player? Why do you go out into the wasteland? Not much has been brought up, and it's easy to get anxious.
After all, other strictly-multiplayer titles rarely even bother with an impressive central storyline. Developers end up designing these titles as an outlet for players to tell their own stories, rather than offering up a story of their own.
Considering how story-driven Bethesda titles are, it'd be unfortunate if this is true. It would reduce a lot of the game's value, especially for those who don't have several friends to play with.
16 Confirmed: No offline play
Since FO76's major appeal comes from the online component, there was an immediate follow-up question: can it be played offline? Todd Howard answered this question with a definitive "you will not."
In Geoff Keighley's interview, Howard explained that even if you are solo-ing through the game, you will still see other players roaming around.
Surely anyone with a somewhat unreliable internet connection just sighed heavily.
With no actual NPC's in the game (more on that later) and all of the activities being based around online play, offline mode is not on the horizon. Even those who hope that they'll add in the mode post-launch are out of luck as this game's lack of non-online features make the game sound unplayable without a network connection. Only time will tell if this design option will come back to haunt Bethesda.
15 Hopefully not: Weak content at launch
A major point that serves both as positive and a potential negative is the labeling of Fallout 76 as a "service" by game director Todd Howard. In that same E3 interview, Howard stated that the launch day goal for the game is to establish a strong foundation. In terms of recent online-only projects, this statement isn't exactly original.
Games like Sea of Thieves and Star Wars Battlefront II both had this same "build on the foundation" mentality. While adding to a complete experience isn't a bad thing, it can be a PR selling point used to cover up an unfinished product. SoT had plenty to do, but gameplay was very shallow and the story was minimal. BF2 was hampered by micro sanctions and reduced content.
There will likely be plenty of content in 76, but its quality is no guarantee.
14 Confirmed: Player mutation
Plenty of mutants infest the wasteland, and you may end up being one of them. Courtesy of a Gamespot interview that dug deeper into the game's Perks system and mutations, players will mutate as playtime extends.
These mutations open up opportunities for players to utilize mutation-specific skills that would've otherwise not been available.
If you're someone who doesn't want to deal with these internal and external effects of mutation, you can cure all mutations. Internally, you'll get Perks that offer a positive and negative effect. Externally, being subjected to a substantial amount of radiation could lead to some nightmare fuel for any player unlucky enough to get a close look at your character.
The gameplay differences sound relatively minor, but they could end up being the edge you need in closely-contested battles.
13 Hopefully not: Microtransaction-heavy systems
As was discussed in the "Lack of content" section on this list, Fallout 76's content quality isn't a certainty. Something that is a certainty, though, is the presence of microtransactions.
They are in the game but will be based purely on cosmetics.
According to a statement made by Chris Mayer, the Development Director at Bethesda, these microtransactions will not affect gameplay. Perk cards and player progression (as far as we know) is not available for purchase.
Mayer discussed how the company plans on utilizing income brought on from microtransactions to improve the game and its servers. Yet, it's still unclear how these payment services will work or how prominently they will be featured. If they're more substantial than advertised, it's doubtful Bethesda would want to promote that.
Here's hoping Bethesda does microtransactions correctly and avoids turning to the dark/greedy side.
12 Confirmed: Player-player nuclear warfare
Player griefing is a staple of online games, but Fallout 76 has raised the bar tremendously. While you'll always have to be on the lookout for fellow players sniping you from the distance, there are far more destructive methods of wiping out fellow players. Once you've progressed enough and you discover the right spots, you'll be able to send out full-blown nukes.
This will lead to the blast zone hit by the bomb being completely destroyed beyond recognition. You can then go to the affected area and look for rare loot available in the wreckage. However, there will be threatening enemies in the area created by the blast that you must fight off.
It remains to be seen if you can protect your base or what recovery methods are available. If you can, avoid making too many resourceful enemies.
11 Hopefully not: Online Pass requirement
For both Xbox and PlayStation players, paying for the ability to play online is nothing new. Although memberships can be pricey, they allow gamers to experience every aspect of games with both single-player and multiplayer elements. However, if your ability to play a game hinders entirely on whether you have an active membership, that could lead to a significant hit in sales.
Though still unconfirmed, Fallout 76 may not be available to those without a PS+ or Xbox Live account.
The issues here are of the exclusionary variety. Many players wouldn't be able to play the game without paying a mandatory initial fee (beyond the initial $60 price of the game). Many of these players likely would end up skipping the game in favor of spending even more money than they typically have to.
10 Confirmed: Better base-building
Base-building was a mixed bag in Fallout 4. On one hand, it offered players endless amounts of time to creatively customize a home base where you could house survivors and companions, as well as your plethora of loot. On the other, it didn't offer much outside of that as base attacks felt random and most activities for the base felt insignificant overall. The system worked, but it felt like it needed a greater purpose.
Well, if Bethesda's base-building E3 video is anything to go by, the purpose of bases has been found that purpose.
It's teasing the ability to build anywhere and almost anything-- the possibilities are truly endless.
Add in the easy interactivity between players and their personal strongholds, and these fort invasions seem considerably more epic in scale and tension. Rather than random enemies attacking, this will be player-on-player shootouts that function more like raids.
9 Hopefully not: Rampant griefing
The world of online multiplayer is an unpredictable and chaotic one. Intelligent A.I is one thing, but actual players are even more difficult to predict and plan against.
With the previously-mentioned warfare options, there is a huge risk of major player griefing. The base that you spent days finalizing could be destroyed in an instant. You could be immediately shot every time you go to a place you shouldn't have.
Bethesda surely has a big task on its hands here.
Thankfully, Bethesda does seem aware of this. Whether it's establishing bounties on those who attack innocent players or giving players an initial "warning" shot, Bethesda has done some work toward remedying griefing options. Yet, it's only inevitable that players will find a way to grief anyway. Then, when considering bases and nuclear options, concerns over annoying playing experiences aren't completely nullified.
8 Confirmed: No Steam release on launch day
In a surprising confirmation coming from QuakeCon, Fallout 76 will not be releasing on Steam. Concerns were raised when Bethesda said the beta wouldn't go to Steam, and this likely upset numerous players. Perhaps in a simple attempt to promote its own site, PC gamers' only option is buying directly through Bethesda.net.
There's also a likelihood of trying to avoid the financial fees of putting a game on Steam. Regardless, it looks like those who game exclusively on Steam have to wait much longer than others if they want to play the online RPG. I
t's possible this move will only end up alienating players, but the company will no doubt appreciate the lack of Steam fees.
7 Hopefully not: No crossplay
As has become infamous due to the Fortnite controversy, Sony isn't very keen on crossplay. With the mentality of keeping its online experiences in-house, the company's developed a certain reputation. Todd Howard comments on Sony's unwillingness to cooperate only further establishes that reputation.
With a game so dependent on its online player base, Fallout 76 needs everything it can get to maintain success.
If every player can game alongside people from any system, then there's plenty of incentive to keep playing.
However, on PlayStation, they may run out of players to fill the sessions. Xbox and PC gamers would still have each other to play with, so the player base will always be more consistent. If Sony doesn't shift its position on this matter, then Fallout 76 will have a far shorter lifespan for any vault-dwellers on PS4.
6 Confirmed: Free DLC
It's difficult for gamers to look at Fallout 4's $60 season pass and see it as a good value. After all, no matter the content, that price tag means the extra content is worthy of being a full game itself. Any substantial price tag for DLC will always make players anxious about committing.
This is why Bethesda's announcement that FO76's DLC will be entirely free is so promising. Online games infamously try to get as much money as possible from their players, so this is a great player-friendly move. Bethesda confirmed that microtransactions will take the place of paid DLC.
That said, it's important to note how much pressure that puts on those cosmetic sales. If they don't end up selling well, this promise may be one that Bethesda may have to take back.
5 Hopefully not: Over-crowded sessions
One of the Fallout series' most striking qualities is how alone it can make the player feel. In each game, you're typically the lone survivor of a Vault, so you go out in the world entirely solo. This is a staple of the series, and few games are able to replicate it. That's why the very idea of a co-op Fallout game is almost entirely against the series' identity.
Bethesda does recognize this fact, so it has taken measures to keep the Fallout experience intact. Rather than having a hundred players in a session, there will be 24-32. This way, no session will be overloaded with survivors.
After all, an apocalyptic wasteland should never feel too populated.
That said, you never know how players will interact within an online session. Thankfully, it seems like there's plenty of map to keep everyone spread out.
4 Confirmed: West Virginia is 4x the size of Fallout 4's Boston map
If there's a category of game design that Bethesda never fails in, it's in map size. None of its titles are ever lacking in areas to explore. Fallout 76 only continues to raise the bar on their worlds as Todd Howard confirmed a map four times bigger than Fallout 4. The vastness of FO4's map makes this news even more intimidating.
The size of the world mixed with the standard Bethesda amount of content is certainly enticing. What better way to buck the trend of online multiplayer games not having content than offering multiplayer with tons of content?
As most know, map size isn't directly correlated to map quality. Even so, the map at least promises plenty of alone time for players.
3 Hopefully not: Bases with little functionality
As previously discussed, player-designed bases could be Fallout 76's greatest strength or one of its lingering issues. In this installment, it'll be even more time-consuming, expansive, and less optional. This is why it's more important than ever that they nail this aspect.
If it feels pointless and ultimately not worth the player's efforts, then the game's biggest feature may be what holds it back.
From what was shown so far with base-building, adding real people automatically gives it greater use. Real people invading your base rather than non-threatening A.I enemies also offers extra incentive to strategize. However, if there isn't enough interactivity options outside of invading or hanging out, then proceedings may grow dull quickly.
2 Confirmed: Revamped Perk system
For series veterans, it looks like you'll have to get used to another version of the Perks system. This time around, players will be collecting cards tied to the standard Strength, Endurance, Charisma-type traits. These cards have a 1-5 level attached, which determines their effectiveness and value.
As you continue collecting cards, repeats can then be compounded into stronger, higher-level abilities.
Discussed thoroughly in this GameSpot interview, this version of the system was designed to help balance out extreme differences in levels between players. It also is meant as a more-suitable Perk system for the online setting rather than the standard single-player "play until you max out."
It's unclear how well-received this system will be by fans, but it further illustrates 76's unique nature.
1 Hopefully not: Big open world with little depth
The toughest aspect of open world design is filling it with things to do. Without a good ratio of map space and activities, adventuring can get boring quickly. Revealing an open world that's four times the size of the previous title without detailing what there is to do is worrying. How many quests can there possibly be to keep you busy in a map of this size?
Without a strong main quest line, there's only so much you can really do before things get old. Anytime a game relies on people having friends to consistently play with almost always results in a mixed bag.
If it ends up feeling like a bunch of samey side quests where you either fight a Deathclaw or attack a stronghold, then there's going to be little reason for players to stick around.
What are you most looking forward to about Fallout 76? Let us know in the comments!