I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Atlantic City, New Jersey. So Fallout 76’s upcoming expedition looks like it’ll be the best shot I have to experience life in America’s Playground, and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint.
We got a first look at Fallout 76’s upcoming Atlantic City expedition, playing through the first of two missions alongside art director Jonathan Rush, lead quest designer Joshua Moretto, and senior-level designer David Dobert. I was tasked with playing through The Most Sensational Game, a masochistic game show controlled by one of the three ruling groups of Atlantic City, the Showmen.
Landing on the beaches of New Jersey in front of an abandoned and decaying Boardwalk, our welcoming crew consisted of the crabby Mireluks and the swamp thing look-alike Overgrowns. Before starting the first mission, we had to make our way to the Batsuuri twins, which meant making swift work of the welcoming party. After some bloodshed and an accidental grenade, which I may or may not have let off twice, we met with the twins and began our journey to the grand aquarium to start the mission.
Swimming with the fishes
At first glance, the aquarium doesn’t look like anything too peculiar; located by the side of the ocean on the pier, it blends in with the derelict and abandoned buildings that it stands opposite. However, once you enter through the creaking front door, you finally discover that Atlantic City isn’t as desolate as you may have first thought.
Inside the aquarium lies the Showmen’s lair. Brightly lit with glittering fairy lights, the entrance is everything you’d expect from an eccentric and blood-thirsty gang of apocalyptic survivors. “We wanted to create something unrealistic that wouldn’t make sense in the real world,” Dobert said. There are tons of nooks and crannies to search and explore, some hosting fun arcade games like pinball while others hide helpful items. Unfortunately, there’s not a massive amount of time to explore it properly, as The Most Sensational Game begins as soon as you enter through the front door. The aim is simple: stay alive in your fight against the numerous other show contenders and complete various small tasks like finding objects or protecting NPCs.
Even at level 210, I found the onslaught of enemies tricky to keep up with. However, as long as you have at least two other relatively high-level players at your side, this mission shouldn’t give you too much trouble. After traversing through the underwater aquarium and slaughtering our opponents while stepping over the carcasses of dead narwhals and sea creatures who had died long ago, we finally got to the end of the mission.
Our victory was rewarded with confetti and balloons, which I, unfortunately, missed as I was knee-deep in a pool full of blood looking for dropped ammo, but I was told it was a sight to behold. After being congratulated by the leader of the Showmen, Mother Charlotte, we were transported out to the pier, where we could go through the whole ordeal again if we wanted to.
More than a tourist trap
Instead of slaughtering various gameshow contenders again, I decided to walk around the Atlantic City pier and see what else I could find. As I was walking around the abandoned seafront, Moretto explained that while The Most Sensational Game is going on, players won’t be able to see any civilians wandering around. However, Bethesda plans to allow players to visit Atlantic City in the future to freely explore, complete quests, and interact with residents.
Atlantic City has a bizarre history, much of which lends itself brilliantly to the Fallout franchise. Rush explained how the American government actually lost a nuclear bomb near the shores of Atlantic City. In 1958, a C-124 en route to Delaware suffered a loss of power in the engines and, as a consequence, dropped but did not detonate two nuclear bombs. “Maybe the radiation from this created the Overgrown,” Rush joked. There’s also the creepy pine wood forests surrounding Atlantic City; while these may have been one of the reasons why the city has been left somewhat standing after the Great War, it no doubt hosts some eldritch horrors.
The Most Sensational Show was a terrific experience that reminded me why I love Fallout. It had bizarre and quirky antagonists, a beautifully apocalyptic setting full of incredible world-building, and an atmosphere of dread and awe that few games can replicate. It looks like Atlantic City is exactly what Fallout 76 needs.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.