A rot­ten Ap­palachia

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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.

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