Fallout 76 may not be out yet, but there’s already a documentary that details how Bethesda came up with and designed the online survival game.
YouTube channel Noclip has a 40-minute deep dive into Fallout 76, and it’s packed with information about what you can expect from the game. According to the documentary, Bethesda started conceptualizing Fallout with multiplayer around 2013, during the creation of Fallout 4, but it ended up shelving the idea to focus on the single-player experience. Around 2015, the studio picked the idea up once more and found that configuring Fallout to support multiplayer was a painstaking process, turning even simple elements like “how do quests work” into puzzles for the development team. Things got particularly interesting once development started rolling and the studio could focus more on what was going to be in the game, however.
Below, I’ll summarize some of the most noteworthy tidbits from Noclip’s investigation, though the documentary is worth watching in full.
- Bethesda started Fallout 76 by making the map. The development studio decided that it would have to be way bigger than anything in the mainline games to support multiple players, and it eventually settled on West Virginia for the setting. This locale was picked because it was a more rural area unlikely to get nuked in a war, giving Bethesda room to create a natural landscape that was less barren and flat than players are used to seeing in Fallout games. Bethesda did warn players not to expect a 1:1 re-creation of the state, however, as it has taken some creative liberties to make for a better map.
- Fallout 76 is full of all sorts of monsters, some of which have historical or paranormal significance. These include the Grafton monster, the Flatwood monster, Snallygaster, and yes, Mothman. (Mothman will apparently be involved in multiple “stages,” one of which might feature it stalking the player.) There are also intelligent plants and unusual versions of familiar monsters. The game takes place not long after the bombs dropped in the Fallout universe, so Bethesda reasoned that all sorts of mutations might have cropped up and then died out before the events of the main games.
- While the game couldn’t support raiders at this point in the story — the only people around are vault survivors — there will be “scorchers.” It sounds like these might be the poor souls who didn’t manage to get to safety once the bombs dropped.
- The location of Fallout 76 also allows for more varied landscapes and biomes, including huge mountain ranges and extensive greenery. The game also has a number of big landmarks meant to help players situate themselves, like watchtowers. Although it isn’t a 1:1 version of West Virginia, its map still sounds big enough to get lost in.
- Many fans are worried about if Fallout 76 will feel like a “real” Fallout game, but based on this documentary, Bethesda has given it a lot of thought. The trick for the studio was balancing what players expect versus making a fun game that went somewhere new. Already, though, we know there are some elements included in the game that seem to lend themselves to Fallout-esque stories: West Virginia has a radio quiet zone for military intelligence, and it is also home to the presidential bunker.
- Radiation will cause you to mutate in Fallout 76, and these special abilities will function similarly to traits in Fallout 1 and 2. You can cure mutations if you want, or you can make them permanent. And yes, the SPECIAL character-building system makes a return, too.
- Bethesda is aware that online survival games can be prone to griefing, but the game has systems built in place to make sure it doesn’t go too far. You can still expect some drama, though — part of the appeal of the game is deciding how you’ll interact with other people, if at all. You can apparently see where other people are on the map, which should help anyone who wants to steer clear of other players.
- Good news for people who were worried that Fallout 76 would be full of people going wild with nuclear detonations: nuclear bunkers are a part of Fallout 76’s end game. They are a gameplay mechanic meant for people who are high level and have run out of things to do, not a toy that anyone can pick up. If you launch a nuke, the point of impact will change and make the enemies stronger. The things that pop up in nuked areas will depend on where you are launching the bomb, so it sounds like there will be some variation. Over time, these radiated areas will start to clear up.
- There will be microtransactions, but Bethesda assures players that they will only be for cosmetic elements.
- Fallout 76 will have free updates “for years to come.” Bethesda also sounds committed to tweaking the game depending on how things go, as the company considers it a “live” title.
Beyond this, there are a few more tidbits that have come out since Bethesda’s E3 presentation. We already know that there will be private servers, and mod support will eventually come to Fallout 76. There will still be VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), but it will work in real time, rather than allowing players to slow battles down to a standstill as in previous games. And while there are no human NPCs, there will be robots and holodecks that can dole out stories for the player.