For those that don’t know Fallout 76 is releasing on 14 November 2018 on PS4, Xbox One & PC. In a first for the franchise, Fallout 76 will be played entirely online and every human character that you encounter in the game will be a real person. Of course there will be loads of different AI monsters roaming the open world wasteland of West Virginia and the game will feature dozens of quests and offer hundreds of hours of gameplay similar to what the series is known for.
Back in 2008 when Fallout 3 first released, and online gaming was a fairly new and exciting concept, I wondered and discussed with some of my friends whilst playing what the game would be like if there was other players online playing along with me. I did question what this type of game would be like if every NPC character was a real person and you could in fact role play these different roles within the game world. Be a quest giver, merchant, bounty hunter hunting down giant creatures assisting other players with taking down touch enemies or completing tricky quests they were having trouble with.
I played Fallout 3 multiple times during the last generation and did the same with Fallout: New Vegas, the reason being that I could upgrade different abilities that opened up new areas of the game to me that I needed those particular skills to gain access to. Such as upgrading my hacking abilities to open locked doors or take control of robots and have them assist me in combat for example during one playthrough where I decided to focus on building a really cool tech wizard character. I wondered what if other players had all these different abilities and we were able to team up and combine them.
Bethesda has been promising much of the above with Fallout 76. A shared open world with dozens of other players, according to the recent No Clip documentary on the making of the game it’ll either be 24 or 32 but they haven’t finalised the player count just yet. Soft core survival elements will also be present but Bethesda haven’t disclosed any details on what that means exactly.
They’ve said they want players to use their open world sandbox and role play as any character they want. If they want to just set up a shop and be a trader they can go and do that. Which they’d have to go do tough quests in high level areas to obtain great weapons and equipment people will want to buy from them. Maybe you’ve discovered the location of some really tough enemies guarding high level gear but they’re too tough for you to tackle on your own so you set up a camp nearby and try to find some other players to help.
Bethesda also said they are letting players create their own factions in the game rather than choosing from ones they’ve created so players will form their own allegiances to team up with others and perhaps battle against other factions created by another group of players for large scale player vs player warfare. Or they could potential team up to form huge teams to take down every enemy in sight and build out their settlements together.
The main thing that worries me is that, and I’m going to write an unwritten rule that seems to be in every online game that allows for players to kill each other, if you can kill other players people generally will and hardly anyone talks. Taking Sea Of Thieves as an example 99.9% of the time when you encounter another player they will try and kill you. Then you have a battle and one of you dies and respawns. Hardly anyone uses voice chat more often than not because they are in a party with friends and therefore can’t hear you using the in game chat.
How Bethesda is going to tackle PVP in Fallout 76 will be for me one of the biggest hurdles. Perhaps they will limit PVP only to certain areas like in The Elder Scrolls: Online or The Division. However this would break the uncertainty on encountering other players. Unfortunately usually what happens is two players meet or two groups of players and both think the other is going to shoot them so one of them shoots first and one person or group dies. I don’t know whether limiting PVP to certain areas so if you go in there you’re going to fight others and if you go everywhere else you want to team up removing that element of uncertainty entirely might not be the best solution.
I quite like how The Division handles it where in The Dark Zone you’re still fighting AI enemies but other players are there and can engage you if they so choose but if they do kill other players they go rogue and have a bounty on them that every other player can see and track them down. Some thing similar to this could work well in Fallout 76 and if you don’t want PVP you just stay out of those areas and everyone you meet will be friendly and might team up with you and there will be no fear of other players turning on you. Incentivise team play in the PVP areas by having tough AI monsters in there that are very challenging to take on solo or in small groups and give huge rewards if you team up with others to beat them.
I think Bethesda will just have to find the right balance to encourage players to play cooperatively as well as competitively. Hopefully they can pull it off and Fallout 76 will be the online Fallout game I thought about when it launches in a few months time.
If you want to pre-order Fallout 76 you can get it here on PC for £33.99 at cdkeys or from Amazon on either Xbox One or PS4 for £54.99.