Excellent news, Fallout fans — Fallout 76 is now well on its way, and when it does arrive it’ll be bringing a whole new host of cool features with it.
On Sunday, Bethesda took a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the latest instalment of the Fallout franchise at QuakeCon 2018, the first we’ve heard since E3’s comprehensive unveiling of the game.
Set for release on 14 November, Fallout 76 will take the experience entirely online, meaning you’ll be able to roam the wasteland and fight mutants with other players for the first time ever — every character you see on screen will be a real human.
We already know the game is set in West Virginia, there’s plenty of new mutated critters roaming the landscape, and that players will take on the role of the first vault dwellers to step out of their comfy confines into a nuclear wasteland on “Reclamation Day” in the tricentennial year of 2076.
But there were a few more little tidbits revealed in Sunday’s Bethesda panel with game director Todd Howard, development director Chris Mayer, and project lead Jeff Gardiner chatting to associate director, global content Gary Steinman in a Q&A.
They really got into the nitty gritty of the game, and unveiled a few new tools, so if you don’t want to watch the whole hour panel, here are the highlights…
1. You’ll be able to share S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perks with others.
Developing your character with perks has always been a core Fallout franchise feature, but there’s a few tweaks to how you can level up this time around.
Bethesda debuted a new Vault-Tec tutorial video in the classic Fallout style, educating players on how to gain S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, luck) character points, which can be cashed in for associated perks in Fallout 76.
As detailed by the panel, perks come in the form of cards in this game, and you can make perks more powerful by doubling up on the same card. As well as the cards you select when you level up, you’ll get random perk card packs every few levels to distribute among the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. categories — these delightfully come with a “joke and a stick of gum,” because card packs.
In the video and the subsequent QuakeCon Q&A, it becomes clear you’ll be able to “share your newfound knowledge with others for great benefit.” This has to do with the Charisma stat (the C in S.P.E.C.I.A.L.), as players who invest time and cards in Charisma can share them with other players. If you’re working in a team, a player who has high Charisma perks will be able to distribute these cards to their fellow teammates. There’s apparently one or two Charisma cards for single players (one is called “Lone Wanderer”) but investing in Charisma seems to be aimed at team players.
Plus, characters will potentially experience mutation from radiation in the game — the video uses the example of “gaining the unique abilities of a marsupial, in exchange for a mild neurological impairment.”
2. There’s a photo mode, complete with filters and poses.
There’s a photo mode in Fallout 76, debuted at QuakeCon as part of the character customisation process, but also usable in the wasteland. As the panel explained, you’ll be able to use the photo mode to take your vault ID badge, with tools for picking your pose (whether giving a Vault Boy-style thumbs up, showing off your Pip Boy, or just taking a general stance of “confidence,” “chic,” or “champ”) and expression (afraid, amused, awed, concerned), but also more conventional camera tools like depth of field, zoom, and of course, filters and frames.
According to Gardiner, you can also use the camera tool out in the wild, with enemies (dead or alive), and with your teammates. Plus, Bethesda has added the feature to its loading screen, so you can see your snaps pop up while fast travelling.
Feel like changing up your hairstyle, skin colour, gender or freckles halfway through the game? You can change it. Howard noted that you’ll be able to swap out any aspect of your character during the course of the game.
3. PVP will work kinda like starting a bar fight.
Want to engage some players you’ve come across in the wasteland? PVP (Player vs Player) combat will be instigated kind of like a bar fight.
As seen in the videos shown at E3, Howard notes that when you shoot someone in the game, you do a slight bit of damage, but not full damage. “It’s like slapping somebody in a bar,” said Howard, suggesting the damage was more of an invitation to engage. Once you engage, it’s full damage all the way, and you’ll get cap rewards based on the level your player is at and the player you’re fighting.
Been killed? Revenge is a key part of the game, Howard went on to explain. “After each one of [the players] dies, you can seek revenge, which doubles the incentive,” he said, noting that you’ll get more XP and caps for successfully avenging your own death.
PVP doesn’t start until Level 5 either, so you have a little time to settle into the game.
4. Kill somebody who didn’t want to fight you? You’ll become a “wanted murderer”.
Someone comes up to you in the game and tries to engage you in a little PVP fight, and you’re not keen? Things can get complicated.
Howard explained that if a player tries to engage you, say, by shooting you in the game, the Bethesda team has developed a few ways you can get out of a battle. But, that player who has tried to engage you can actually still kill you.
Howard acknowledged that this looks pretty bad, but said,”We like to turn that into a dramatic moment, so, the player that kills somebody that didn’t want to engage in it then becomes a ‘wanted murderer.'”
You get no reward, no caps, no XP for becoming a “wanted murderer,” and Howard explained this as a strategy to address the “social incentives people have online to be assholes, which evidently, there’s quite a few.”
Wanted murderers appear on the game map as a red star for all to see (although they can’t see any of the other players on it), and they’ll have a bounty on their head. Best bit? “That bounty comes out of their own caps,” said Howard. Boom.
5. You drop your junk when you die, but keep everything else.
If you die in the game, there’s a couple of things that occur. First of all, you drop all your junk, which is useful material to build your camp or upgrade your weapons. Mayer makes the point that you’ll have to make a call whether that pile of junk is worth going back to collect, as it will remain in the game where you died. Your best strategy will apparently be to keep putting your junk in your camp stash, which nobody can raid.
But, good news, you get to keep your power armour and any guns or weapons you’ve collected in the game.
6. Blueprint your camp lest it be nuked.
Nuclear missiles are casually part of the Fallout 76 world, and when launched can destroy and irradiate areas but increase loot and enemy levels. But what happens if you’ve painstakingly built a camp, just to see it nuked by the game?
“We don’t want it to be overly burdensome to a player to lose all their stuff,” said Mayer. “When you nuke a camp, it does destroy the structures, but we’ve created something called a blueprint system, so that if you spend hours making a really cool house with lots of detail, you can blueprint that house so it’s very easy to replace it in the event that it gets destroyed.”
You can also move your camp to a different part of the map by packing everything up and using the blueprint in another location.
Though the game is ready to land on 14 November, the beta version of Fallout 76 will be ready to play in October. Is it time yet? Yet?