A rotten Appalachia
Kids! Rehearse your inevitable future with this post-apocalyptic gaming phenomenon!
released OUT NOW! Reviewed on Xbox One
Also on Ps4, PC Publisher Bethesda
Watched a few post-apocalyptic movies and think you’d have a better chance than most in that scenario? Fallout 76 is your chance to test that. A prequel to the Fallout series, this huge, first-person online role-playing game sees you emerge from a bunker-like vault, years after an atomic war, to reclaim the scorched plains of West Virginia. Full of radioactive wastes, crumbling cities, skinless ghouls, and other players as likely to kill you for your laser pistol as help you, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper.
How you save mankind, or yourself, is up to you. That’s Fallout’s thing: the world is the star, and while there are plentiful missions to work through, you’re free to explore however you fancy. You can upgrade skills to favour combat, scavenging and other abilities, and there’s enough openness and scale to ensure that there are no right answers, just yours. In a first for the series, you now also play with up to 23 other people. Or not. Again, it’s down to you whether you get involved and team up, or just take the classic lone wanderer route.
The game uses its West Virginia setting beautifully, taking full advantage of the local folklore, with real-life cryptids like the Mothman, snallygasters and the Flatwoods Monster joining the game’s more traditional “Danger, Will Robinson” robots, giant insects and super mutants (basically what you’d get from an atomic-powered Hulk breeding programme that added guns and an even worse temper).
It’s a lovely place to explore, built from ’50’s “World of Tomorrow” ideals of what the future would be: atomic cars, clunky vacuum tube tech, and a gee-willikers sense of comic book optimism that persists even when you’re in an irradiated diner full of skeletons, rifling through pockets for bullets and food. Survival is a big element, from finding the supplies needed to stay alive through to building a camp where you craft food, weapons, armour and more. Thirst, hunger and radiation all need to be managed as you travel the wasteland. If you can keep your skin on and your remaining functional organs on the inside, you might be humanity’s only hope. Leon Hurley
Takes full advantage of local Virginia folklore
Tourist websites for West Virginia reported enormous increases in traffic after the game was unveiled in May.
Someone didn’t get the memo that you couldn’t bring pets.