Monday, 11 June 2018

Bethesda confirm that FALLOUT 76 is an online-only game, for release in November 2018

In a major showcase event at the E3 video games conference in Los Angeles last night, Bethesda Game Studios confirmed that their new Fallout game, Fallout 76 will be an online-only game set in West Virginia. The news surprised many commentators, as previous comments had suggested that Fallout 76 might still be a single-player-focused RPG with some kind of optional co-op or multiplayer component.

Fallout 76 is set in 2102, just 25 years after the nuclear war that wiped out civilisation in the Fallout universe, and long before any of the other games in the series (Fallout 4, by comparison, is set in 2287). The game casts the players as residents of Vault 76, a nuclear fallout shelter in West Virginia. The game opens on Reclamation Day, with players setting out to re-colonise the surface by building new settlements, defeating monsters and coming into conflict with one another.

A more in-depth and fleshed-out versions of the settlement-building mechanics from Fallout 4 is present, with a strong focus on players working together to build up impressive outposts, forts and possibly entire towns in the wasteland.

Something that has elected a lot of praise is the map and environmental graphics. Although still using the positively decrepit Creation Engine (originally the GameBryo Engine and first used by Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, released in 2002), the engine has been revamped to allow for larger forests. The game map is huge, a full four times the size of the Fallout 4 map, and covering the entire state of West Virginia. Players will be able to visit the ruins of the State Capitol in Charleston in the south-west of the state, the Greenbrier Resort (which in real life has a nuclear fallout shelter in the basement) in the far east of the state and West Virginia University in Morgantown, on the far northern border of the state. Point Pleasant, the site of the mysterious Mothman sightings of 1966-67 (a creature in the game appears to have been inspired by the fictional entity), and the New River Gorge Bridge are also present.

During the presentation, Bethesda Game Studios boss Todd Howard suggested it would be possible to play the game solo, but later confirmed that there are no human NPCs in the game. Instead, everyone you meet will be another player, with the only computer-controlled entities being monsters. Apparently the game will have some quests and missions in the game, likely assigned by the Vault 76 Overseer, but otherwise the best single-player gamers can likely expect is radiant AI quests generated at settlements, as seen in Fallout 4 (of the infamous "another settlement needs your help!" meme).

The decision to make Fallout 76 an online-only game has proven controversial, especially among those who hadn't been keeping up with the rumours and had been expecting a proper follow-up to Fallout 4 in a similar fashion to how Fallout: New Vegas was a follow-up to Fallout 3. The online-only nature of the game also elicited a negative response from the modding community, as the game will likely not allow substantive modding. Previous Bethesda games have been released in a buggy or subpar state and it's fallen to modders to fix the games and add new gameplay features whilst waiting for Bethesda to release official patches.

Fallout 76 will be released on 14 November 2018 on PS4, XB1 and PC.

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