It's only a few months until we get our hands on the latest addition to the Fallout series - Fallout 76. Set in post-apocalyptic West Virginia, USA, Fallout 76 acts as a prequel to the previous games in the franchise. But there's one big difference - it's entirely online.
Players will have the chance to build their very own settlements and team up with friends, interacting with dozens of other players on the same server along the way.
Here's everything we know about Fallout 76 so far.
[Update: Bethesda has confirmed the PC version of Fallout 76 will not be available on Steam at launch, with the developer deciding to directly sell the game itself instead.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new online 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 didn't give many details, but 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 and more detailed, 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 but doesn't give much in the way of specific details. You can pore over it yourself here:
Fallout 76 news and rumors
Fallout 76 won't be available on Steam
Bethesda has not specified why it has chosen to sell Fallout 76 directly, rather than through Steam, but it's likely to have better control over sales and to avoid paying a cut to Valve.
Despite not being available on Steam at launch, this doesn't mean we won't ever see Fallout 76 on the platform. Fallout Shelter had a similar route, with the PC version being launched exclusively on Bethesda.net and only becoming available on Steam almost a year later.
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, Bethesda boss 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.
In Fallout 76, you're one of the first to emerge from the vaults after the disaster. There were two new trailers which we've embedded above – 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 everything being 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 (keep an eye out for a giant mutated sloth). There's one big twist though: 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 on 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 Pip-Boy wrist computer in the trailer clearly 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 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 shown interest in the online space with its ongoing The Elder Scrolls Online MMO – and its acquisition of Battlecry Studios (now Bethesda Game Studios Austin), who indeed went on to assist 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, definitely. To gain access to the game's beta when it launches in October – exact date TBA – 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.
Bethesda has effectively confirmed the beta will be the full game and your progress will be carried over to the purchased version.