Up and atom in the multiplayer apocalypse
Finally it’s time to leave the vault and populate the wastelands of Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic MMORPG, but we have some concerns. First, is 25 years really long enough for the nuked, irradiated world to be habitable? And, mainly, are we really going to allow other gamers to trample over our precious Fallout experience? As we start playing one thing’s clear: the game mostly looks and plays like Fallout 4, except for there being other players milling around. You start in a group of four, in instances of up to 24, but if you prefer solo play you can go off on your own at any time. There are no human NPCs – the idea is that you are the first humans back out on the surface, and missions are acquired through interacting with the world (holotapes, robots, and so on) while every human you fight or trade with is a real person, fresh out of the vault.
We still find plenty of mutated creatures, ghouls, and other familiar foes, and running squad skirmishes with super-mutants is a new but logical experience. You can swap out acquired Perks at any time, to balance squad strengths. Aside from missions, there are sporadic events; we fight a Scorch Beast – a massive dragon – that is way too high a level for us. If you thought Deathclaws were brutal, these things are terrifying. The VATS targeting system returns, but in real time. It’s trickier too, and will require Perks and practice to make it optimal.
The map is huge, four times the size of Fallout 4. We find a water park, explore a mine, fight ghouls on a golf course, and blow up a mutated bear in a garage. We also pick up mutations of our own. Alongside radiation damage, you have a random chance of changing. Having deliberately poked around in radioactive material, one of our group develops the Marsupial mutation, allowing him to leap like a kangaroo.
PvP is also a big part of Fallout 76, but the devs have gone all-out to ensure griefers won’t ruin your game. Kill another player who’s not fighting back and you become a murderer, with a bounty (from your own caps) for other players to claim, and your weapons receive a debuff. It’s a great bit of game design that punishes while providing a dramatic wasteland event. Or, if you prefer, a ‘pacifist flag’ will turn off all human damage.
Despite the multiplayer angle, the single-player promises to be just as gratifying as the previous games, with Bethesda confirming to OPM that there are hundreds of hours’ worth of quests outside of the main path. Enough to keep even the most rabid Fallout fan as happy as a bloatfly in radioactive muck.
“THE IDEAS IS THAT YOU ARE THE FIRST HUMANS BACK OUT ON THE SURFACE.”
Top The VATS system is back but now plays in real time to accomodate the online co-op direction of Fallout 76.