Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer game. It is also a role-playing game. But it's hard to call Bethesda Softworks' new project, coming out on October 23 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, a massive multiplayer online roll-spinging game (MMORPG). At least not in the way we recognize it in games like World of Warcraft.
I played Fallout 76 last week during a preview event that Bethesda hosted in West Virginia (GamesBeat paid for his own travel accommodation). My three-hour demo focused on the earlier parts of the game and you can read my impressions of that experience here.
Online multiplayer games require longevity to thrive. For many, endgame is the real game. For something like World of Warcraft, this focuses on group content like Dungeons and Raids. These are cases that have more players coordinate to fight through challenging bosses and earn new loot (armor and weapons).
Fallout 76 does not have Raids. It has caves and instances of content that you can call dungeons, but not in the traditional MMO sense where you have five or so players fighting through bosses. You and your friends can discover a cave and explore it, but that experience is much like it's in single player games like Fallout 4. Your group can fight enemies and discover quests and objects. But do not expect a kind of Raid-like scenario where you and 20 other players shoot a giant supermutant or something.
So, without Raids, does the look of Fallout 76 look like?
Nuke to Win
"Things in there right now are the loophole, which is a final scenario," Fallout 76 design director Emil Pagliarulo GamesBeat said during a round table at the Bethesda event.
Nukes has always been a major part of Fallout Lore. In Fallout 76, players can hunt for nuclear launch codes. If a group of players combines codes, they can start a moment. This hunt for codes and then the effect of launch make up the Fallout 76s playoff. At the end of the preview, Bethesda launched a nose right next to us, giving an idea of what the experience might look like.
"You have a taste of what an atomic event is," continued Pagliarulo. "But when you get to higher levels, and you can get reach codes and actually set one off, that does, it changes the region you enjoy into a high level. The creatures glow. The Flora is different. This is where you can get some of the highest levels of recipes and ingredients to make the best weapons in the game. We see it as a repeatable content loop. It's the big endgame content. I know we've talked about future expansion-type stuff. "
Get comprehensive recipes – allowing you to make things like weapons, clothes, and new decorations and furniture for your camps – will be the biggest reward system and incentive to keep people that plays. According to Bethesda, Fallout 76 has about 700,000 different recipes.
Fallout 76 is more of a sandbox than the more rigid online games like World of Warcraft. If you play World of Warcraft's newest Battle of Azeroth, you probably have the same experience as most other players in your faction. You go through the same quests until you hit the maximum level, then you play through Dungeons and Raids. Fallout 76 attaches importance to building bases and design, so recipes can replace equipment as the main system for progression.
"Fallout 4 showed us that people loved the collection dynamic and building dynamics," added Pagliarulo.
Will the pursuit of nudes and missions in the radiant wilderness they make is enough to keep Fallout 76 players engaged? We do not know until months after the launch. But it does something different, and it alone can pique the interest of the players.