Fallout 76 is the latest installment in the long-running Fallout video game franchise from Bethesda Softworks. It's a prequel set long before all the other chapters in the series and takes place much closer to the Great War that ravaged the planet.
It comes three years after Fallout 4 released, and takes the franchise in a new direction as an online multiplayer title with survival elements similar to H1Z1's Just Survive. While there is still a lot that isn't known about the game, Bethesda Game Studios has revealed enough to get fans (and series newcomers) excited for the new installment.
Fallout 76 Release Date
Bethesda Softworks slated Fallout 76's release date for November 14, 2018. That's the same week that Fallout 4 released in 2015, in keeping with franchise tradition in releasing new installments in the middle of fall, leading into the holiday season. While there is no other triple-A game releasing on that same day, Fallout 76's release will come on the heels of other major story-driven titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Hitman 2 - but that doesn't mean they will impact each other's sales all too much.
Fallout 76 Is An Online Multiplayer Game
Fallout 76 takes the long-running franchise in a new direction by being an online multiplayer experience compared to a traditional single-player title. Game director Todd Howard revealed at E3 2018 that Fallout 76 is "entirely online," with full dedicated servers being implemented to support the game for many years to come. What's more, real-life gamers will make up all the characters in the universe. There are no NPCs this time around, which means every survivor from Vault 76 will be another player. Of course, there will still be robots, terminals, and holotapes to push the story forward. While this will certainly be different for the Fallout franchise, it isn't unprecedented in the gaming industry.
Since Fallout 76 will be a fully online experience, that means the game will have an inherent PvP component, including a bounty system. But Bethesda is combating PvP bullying by making sure players don't see dying as a negative aspect. That means no losing equipment or XP (progression) by being killed. This isn't a Battle Royale game, after all. The studio wants players to see the game as a challenge and dying as simply another step in getting over that hurdle, but it's worth pointing out that Fallout 76 will have core survival elements. Furthermore, just because Fallout 76 will release as a multiplayer title, that doesn't mean Bethesda won't add single-player options to Fallout 76 down the line; it's something they're already looking into.
When Does Fallout 76 Take Place?
Fallout 76 is a narrative prequel to the rest of the series, and it takes place 25 years after the nuclear war - in 2102 (175 years prior to Fallout 3) - in West Virginia. It sees players exiting Vault 76 - one of the many fallout shelters from the franchise, but only one of 17 vaults that didn't perform experiments on its population - on Reclamation Day in order to repopulate the nuclear Wasteland. Since the game is a multiplayer title, each person will play as one of the residents from Vault 76, who are tasked with reconstructing society. Unfortunately, not too much has been revealed about the game's story apart from its setting and a handful of gameplay details.
Fallout 76 Gameplay Details
Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer game with a map 4 times bigger than Fallout 4 - and it can be played alone. Players can either traverse the Wasteland by themselves or up to a party of three and on either public or private servers, though private servers will be added sometime after launch. Furthermore, being a multiplayer game means that traditional Fallout gameplay mechanics will be altered or removed altogether, such as the V.A.T.S. system that was introduced in Fallout 3. Instead of slowing down time and targeting enemies, players will only be able to target enemy body parts; it will now be a real-time system. That doesn't just apply to PvP either, it also works for PvE gameplay against beasts, ghouls, and the like.
Fallout 4's crafting and base building mechanics will also return in Fallout 76 in an even bigger way. In addition to crafting weapons, armor, and more, players will use the C.A.M.P. system - which includes categories such as turrets, walls, traps, etc. - to create and establish their own base in-game. While these things will obviously be affected by being an online game, players' progression will not be. Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.A.L. ability system makes its return in Fallout 76, along with the new addition of Perk Cards, which are similar to perks from other triple-A games. In the game, players will choose one of three perks and upgrade them via perk points, going from a one-star ranking to two-star and three-star.
Fallout 76 Has Free DLC
Fallout 76's post-launch DLC will all be free - a trend that's becoming increasingly more common in the industry nowadays, with games such as DICE's Battlefield V and BioWare's Anthem - thanks to microtransactions. Bethesda Softworks has been known for having overpriced bonus content that adds little to nothing to the overall gaming experience, which is something they are looking to change with Fallout 76. This time around, the studio will rely entirely on microtransactions to support the game post-launch; that means free DLC.
Fallout 76 Beta & Crossplay Details
Bethesda Softworks may not have a promotional deal with Microsoft, but Fallout 76's beta will come to the Xbox One first before heading to PC and PlayStation 4 at a later point. Of course, it is possible that the two companies have established a marketing deal with each other in the same vein as Activision's deal with Sony PlayStation. But, regardless of a potential agreement, the plan is for Xbox One users to get Fallout 76's beta first later this fall, ahead of the game's November release.
Interestingly, Bethesda is also interested in doing crossplay for Fallout 76, but game director Todd Howard admitted that Sony is holding them back. Sony's unwillingness to participate in crossplay with Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on a variety of games has become a topic of anti-consumerism amongst gamers. However, perhaps Bethesda and Microsoft will work out a way to at least support crossplay between the Xbox One and PC at some point after launch.