Announced just before E3 2018, Fallout 76 is the latest game in the Fallout series which will act as a sequel to all of the other games. Set in West Virginia, players will create a character and play in an always-online world where they'll have the chance to build their very own settlement and interact with dozens of other players on the same server.
Read everything we know about Fallout's foray into the online world below.
[Update: Before it's released on November 14, there will be a beta for Fallout 76 and Xbox One users will be able to access it first. Revealed on the official FAQ for the game, Bethesda has said that the beta will launch for Xbox One before coming to the PS4 and PC at a later date. There's no indication just yet as to when the beta will launch for any platform, how long it will last or how long it will be exclusive to Xbox One. Gaining access to the beta is simply a matter of pre-ordering the game.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new entry in the Fallout franchise
- When can I play it? November 14, 2018
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PS4, and PC
Fallout 76 release date
Fallout 76's teaser trailer in May was scant on details, though we now know the game will be shipping out from November 14 this year. This fits in with previous Fallout release windows, which have largely followed a similar pattern of mid-year announcement and October/November release.
Amazon is already accepting pre-orders for the game's PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One versions.
Fallout 76 trailers
During the Xbox showcase at E3 we got another, longer, look at Fallout 76 and you can watch it below:
The announcement trailer for Fallout 76 shows a shiny Fallout world that hints a lot about what we might see in the final game. You can pore over it yourself below:
Fallout 76 news and rumors
Microsoft at E3
We thought we might have to wait until Bethesda's conference to hear more about Fallout 76 but, during the Xbox Showcase, Todd Howard took to the stage to tease a little more information. Howard confirmed the game's West Virginia setting and told the crowd that the game is a prequel to all other Fallout titles, but will stand at around four times larger than Fallout 4. Now that's big.
After this, Bethesda spoke for itself:
In 76, you are one of the first to emerge from the vaults after the disaster. There were two new trailers which you can watch below - one that sets the stage for the game and the other that gives us our first look at gameplay.
In terms of new technology, Fallout 76 will feature new rendering, lighting and landscaping technology, and "16 times the weather systems."
As for the plot synopsis, the quest the overseer sends you on will take you through six regions of West Virignia - each of which will feel different and distinct from one another rather than a seamless gray/brown landscape that we've seen in past titles.
The game incorporates the folklore of West Virginia into the mutants of the area. There's one big twist - Fallout 76 is online. You can still play the game solo - just like you would with any other Fallout title - but the team at Bethesda is encouraging online multiplayer.
Todd Howard describes the game as softcore survival. Fear of overcrowded areas? "You'll never see servers at all, and there'll only be dozens of characters on a server, not hundreds," Howard said on stage at Bethesda's E3 keynote. "You can build your settlement wherever you want and then you can move that wherever you want."
On the map, you'll find nuclear silos that, according to Todd Howard, "you can do whatever you want with". These weapons can be used to attack your neighbors and generally help you stay alive in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Howard also announced a special edition of the game that includes a glow-in-the-dark map of the game world and power armor - yes, really - that will be available alongside the base game November 14, 2018.
So what is Vault 76?
There have been brief mentions of Vault 76 in a couple of previous Fallout games, including on a Vault-Tec terminal in Fallout 3, in that game’s Mothership Zeta expansion, and in a news broadcast played at the start of Fallout 4.
According to Fallout lore, Vault 76 was one of 17 'control vaults' with standardised living conditions - i.e. not subject to social or genetic experimentation - and its community kept safe underground while the Great War obliterated much of the American landscape and population.
The vault was intended to be the first to reopen in 2097, 20 years after the atomic dust had settled on the conflict, with the intention of working to rebuild human society.
We know the time and place the game is set
The clearest indicator of when the game is set is at the start of the trailer on the iconic wristband computer, the Pip-Boy, which tells us the year is 2102. To start, this would make it the earliest period we’ve ever seen in the Fallout series, a full 60 years earlier than the very first game, and 175 years prior to the events of Fallout 3.
The vault we see in the trailer also seems to be decorated for a 'Reclamation Day' celebration, on the tercentenary of the United States and the date marked for the vault's inhabitants to return to the outside world. A poster in the trailer, however, sets this date in 2097, meaning five years appear to have passed since the Vault doors were meant to have opened.
The inclusion of John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads was a glaring clue as to the setting, which we now know for certain is in the state of West Virginia. The terminal in Fallout 3 we mentioned also placed in the vault in the nearby DC area, though Bethesda may avoid overlapping with the exact territory used in Fallout 3.
It's a different world from what we’re used to
Most Fallout games have seen a protagonist travel to other vaults and settlements long after disaster has struck, leaving you to piece together a narrative from the remaining corpses, monsters, tapes, and terminal logs.
Here we’ll be in the world not long after the nuclear bombs devastated the nation - so it looks like we'll be the ones building. We've already seen some distinct creature design in the gameplay footage so far, so it looks like there'll be earlier iterations of the irradiated animals of other Fallout games. (We're holding out for a tiny Deathclaw).
There will be crafting
Given when the game is set, there’ll be a large focus on rebuilding civilization, with the potential to create your own settlements and communities instead of playing the lone wanderer.
This was hinted at by the television broadcast in the first teaser trailer, saying: "When the fighting has stopped and the fallout has settled, you must rebuild.”
The ability to create and expand your own settlements in Fallout 4 was one of the standout features of the game, and the positive player response has made it a central part of the upcoming game - though we're hoping it'll offer something more engaging than the fetch quests that Fallout 4’s settlement-building was reliant on.
Yes, all the online rumors were right
In early 2018, gaming site Kotaku claimed to have heard on good authority that the upcoming entry would be an ‘online survival RPG’, built from a prototype multiplayer mode originally envisioned for Fallout 4 and utilizing the base-building mechanics that were introduced in the 2015 game - and which propelled the huge success of its tie-in mobile game, Fallout Shelter.
Bethesda had certainly shown interest in the online space with its ongoing The Elder Scrolls Online MMO - and its acquisition of Battlecry Studios, who had their eponymous online arena shooter ‘Battlecry’ axed early last year.
The studio has now been re-branded as Bethesda Game Studios Austin and have been assisting in the online multiplayer aspect of Fallout 76. We’re sad to see a Fallout game that doesn’t use the strategic VATS shooting system, though we can’t imagine it working well for the fast-paced nature of an online shooter.
Will there be a beta for Fallout 76?
Yes, there absolutely will. To gain access to the game's beta when it launches (the date of the launch is as yet unknown) you simply have to pre-order the game. Xbox One players will have access to the beta before those on PS4 and PC, though it's not clear just yet how long this period of timed exclusivity is.