Believe it or not, Fallout 76 is releasing in less than two months and will be playable in beta form in just a few weeks (and your progression will carry over to the full release). Unless you've been looking for it, or followed along with Bethesda's QuakeCon event, the title has remained relatively under-the-radar since its big marketing splash at E3 2018 in June.
We expect this to change very quickly as the fall video game season ramps up and the big triple-A titles begin to take the spotlight. Alongside Fallout 76, there's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, Just Cause 4, and Forza Horizon 4, to name a few. Of all of these, Fallout 76 offers the most radical departure from its franchise.
Fallout 76 is the first game in the long-running series that is multiplayer. It's an entirely online survival game that takes the RPG elements, lore, and aesthetic of the mainline Fallout games and puts it all together in something we can only describe as DayZ, but from a triple-A developer. There's everything in there from the VATS system and crafting, to leveling up characters with the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and... nukes. Oh yes, nukes are big part of this.
What's especially interesting about this game, and so many like it embracing the games-as-a-service archetype, is that Bethesda has no end game in mind for Fallout 76 - even if this isn't the blueprint for future Bethesda releases. Comparing this project to the long-running success of Morrowind, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, Bethesda Softworks vice president and PR lead Pete Hines expects and is planning for Fallout 76 to last "forever." Speaking with Metro at Gamescom, Hines explains how serious he is:
I’m not being ironic. Like, forever. Because other people have said, ‘Is your timeline two years or five years?’ And I said, ‘Well, they’re still playing Morrowind and you go online and look at how many people are playing Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Those games have been out for four and seven years, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of people playing those games every single day, every single month.
So Fallout 76, our timeline is in perpetuity. Now what that content is gonna be, and what that’s gonna look like, I’m not sure. Part of our thing is we need to get people in the game and see how they respond. We’ve even taken this approach for past DLC. I don’t know if you remember Fallout 3? The big consumer reaction when we launched that game was that they were all upset that it had an ending. And we were like, ‘All the previous games had an ending! We thought we were sticking to what that franchise is…’ But they didn’t want an ending and we had a couple of DLCs in the works but the third one we did we were like, ‘Well, we need a DLC that removes the ending of the game and allows you to continue on’.
So 76 is going to be like that. We have some ideas for this and that, but let’s see what people want more of. Let’s see what they respond to and support that.
This is assuming the player base sticks around it, and given the longevity of all of Bethesda's RPGs, that's a safe bet - especially one as fluid as an online-only survival game that'll constantly grow and evolve, financed by cosmetic microtransactions (not loot boxes, Hines also confirmed).