The countdown to Fallout 76 has begun. The next addition to the Fallout universe is only a few weeks away, and fans of the post-apocalyptic series are eager to see what the end product ends up being.
Set in post-apocalyptic West Virginia, USA, Fallout 76 acts as a prequel to the previous games in the franchise. But there's one big difference: it's entirely online.
Players will have the chance to build their very own settlements and team up with friends, interacting with dozens of other players on the same server along the way.
Speaking of players, servers and settlements, you can expect the game world of Fallout 76 to be four times larger than the world of Fallout 4 – making this the largest Fallout Bethesda has ever made. Also different is the way you'll build your character.
This time through the wasteland, you'll use S.P.E.C.I.A.L. card perks that help differentiate you character from the thousands of others online. Some perks will allow you to build with fewer resources while others give bonus damage to one-hand or laser-based weapons. You'll trade cards to friends and your super crew can always swap cards out depending on what mutant threat you face.
All said, it's a very different Fallout game from the usual single-player fare, but one that could serve to shakeup the series for the better.
Here's everything we know about Fallout 76 so far.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new online entry in the Fallout franchise
- When can I play it? November 14, 2018
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4, and PC
Fallout 76 release date
Fallout 76's teaser trailer in May didn't give many details, but we now know the game will be shipping out from November 14 this year. This fits in with previous Fallout release windows, which have largely followed a similar pattern of mid-year announcement and October/November release.
Amazon is already accepting pre-orders for the game's PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One versions.
Fallout 76 trailers
The two most important explanation trailers – how to build/craft and how S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perks will work – have recently been released. Catch them below to get an idea of what to expect when the game hits later this year.
Not sold on the multiplayer component? This video might not change your mind.
During the Xbox showcase at E3 we got another, longer and more detailed, look at Fallout 76 and you can watch it below:
The announcement trailer for Fallout 76 shows a shiny Fallout world that hints a lot about what we might see in the final game but doesn't give much in the way of specific details. You can pore over it yourself here:
Fallout 76 news and rumors
We know the storyline
In an interview with Game Informer, game director Todd Howard clarified the general story outline, which sees the Vault 76 overseer leading players through six distinct regions of West Virginia, all distinct from each other.
“She left before everybody,” Howard says. “She left secret instructions for you, and that’s kind of the jumping-on point for what we call the main quest. At the end of it, you launch the nukes. The nukes are a game system, but they are also part of the main story.”
The story isn't just early padding to get you used to the game's systems, either. It requires level progression to advance to the story's final moments, so you should have something of a combined experience between natural online encounters and preset quests.
There'll be timed events for all players
In the true spirit of the 'games as service' model, Bethesda have confirmed there'll be limited-time events at different points throughout the calendar year. Hines said that players would be able to fast-travel to live timed events, and that "when you get near one, it starts broadcasting for help. It's like a timed multiplayer quest".
Perks will work differently
The perk system in Fallout games usually requires you to make fixed choices about how you want your character to develop. Fallout 76 does away with that for a more flexible slot system, meaning you can customize your own S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perks through hundreds of cards that confer alterations to your character – such as percentage boosts to melee combat or enhanced stealth abilities.
Different cards become available as your progress to higher levels – and can be found in 'card packs' that come with four cards and a stick of gum to stave off hunger. There will also be themed cards linked to timed events.
Fallout 76 won't be available on Steam
Bethesda has confirmed Fallout 76 won't be available to buy on Steam at launch. According to the FAQ for the beta test of the game, the PC version will be available "via Bethesda.net only” – at least for now.
Bethesda has not specified why it has chosen to sell Fallout 76 directly, rather than through Steam, but it's likely to have better control over sales and to avoid paying a cut to Valve. Fallout Shelter had a similar route, with the PC version being launched exclusively on Bethesda.net and only becoming available on Steam almost a year later.
It's a big, big game
At E3 2018 Bethesda boss Todd Howard took to the stage to tease a little more information. He confirmed the game's West Virginia setting and told the crowd that the game is a prequel to all other Fallout titles, but will stand at around four times larger than Fallout 4. Now that's big.
In terms of new technology, Fallout 76 will feature new rendering, lighting and landscaping technology, and "16 times the weather systems". The game also incorporates the folklore of West Virginia into the mutants of the area (keep an eye out for a giant mutated sloth).
Todd Howard describes the game as softcore survival. Fear of overcrowded areas? "You'll never see servers at all, and there'll only be dozens of characters on a server, not hundreds," Howard said on stage at Bethesda's E3 keynote. "You can build your settlement wherever you want and then you can move that wherever you want."
On the map, you'll find nuclear silos that, according to Todd Howard, "you can do whatever you want with". These weapons can be used to attack your neighbors and generally help you stay alive in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Howard also announced a special edition of the game that includes a glow-in-the-dark map of the game world and power armor – yes, really – that will be available alongside the base game on November 14, 2018.
So what is Vault 76?
There have been brief mentions of Vault 76 in a couple of previous Fallout games, including on a Vault-Tec terminal in Fallout 3, in that game’s Mothership Zeta expansion, and in a news broadcast played at the start of Fallout 4.
According to Fallout lore, Vault 76 was one of 17 'control vaults' with standardised living conditions – i.e. not subject to social or genetic experimentation – and its community kept safe underground while the Great War obliterated much of the American landscape and population.
The vault was intended to be the first to reopen in 2097, 20 years after the atomic dust had settled on the conflict, with the intention of working to rebuild human society.
We know when the game is set
The Pip-Boy wrist computer in the earliest trailer clearly tells us the year is 2102. To start, this would make it the earliest period we've ever seen in the Fallout series, a full 60 years earlier than the very first game, and 175 years prior to the events of Fallout 3.
The vault was decorated for a 'Reclamation Day' celebration, on the tercentenary of the United States and the date marked for the vault's inhabitants to return to the outside world. A poster in the trailer, however, sets this date in 2097, meaning five years appear to have passed since the Vault doors were meant to have opened.
Here we'll be in the world not long after the nuclear bombs devastated the nation – so it looks like we'll be the ones building. We've already seen some distinct creature design in the gameplay footage so far, so it looks like there'll be earlier iterations of the irradiated animals of other Fallout games. (We're holding out for a tiny Deathclaw.)
There will be crafting and camps
So far, we know camps will play an integral role in your exploration of the Wasteland- offering shelter, hydration, food and the ability to treat infection. To expand, you will need to scavenge resources or mine materials.
The ability to create and expand your own settlements in Fallout 4 was one of the standout features of the game, and the positive player response has made it a central part of the upcoming game – though we're hoping it'll offer something more engaging than the fetch quests that Fallout 4's settlement-building was reliant on.
In addition, there will be a lot more items and materials to work with and you'll be able to pay to move your settlement as you please – using the C.A.M.P. workshop. The C.A.M.P. workshop also offers the ability to craft implements which can be sold for caps.
There'll be a large focus on rebuilding civilization, with the potential to create your own settlements and communities instead of playing the lone wanderer. The first teaser trailer sums it up nicely: "When the fighting has stopped and the fallout has settled, you must rebuild."
Yes, all the online rumors were right
In early 2018, gaming site Kotaku claimed to have heard on good authority that the upcoming entry would be an 'online survival RPG', built from a prototype multiplayer mode originally envisioned for Fallout 4 and utilizing the base-building mechanics that were introduced in the 2015 game – and which propelled the huge success of its tie-in mobile game, Fallout Shelter.
Bethesda had shown interest in the online space with its ongoing The Elder Scrolls Online MMO – and its acquisition of Battlecry Studios (now Bethesda Game Studios Austin), who indeed went on to assist in the online multiplayer aspect of Fallout 76. We're sad to see a Fallout game that doesn't use the strategic VATS shooting system, though we can't imagine it working well for the fast-paced nature of an online shooter.
Will there be a beta for Fallout 76?
Yes, definitely. To gain access to the game's beta when it launches in October – exact date TBA – you simply have to pre-order the game. Xbox One players will have access to the beta before those on PS4 and PC, though it's not clear just yet how long this period of timed exclusivity is.
Bethesda has effectively confirmed the beta will be the full game and your progress will be carried over to the purchased version.