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Fallout 76 hands-on impressions: dragons, multiplayer and more

By Shawn Knight · 15 replies
Oct 8, 2018
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  1. The first thing Engadget’s Jessica Conditt wants you to know about Fallout 76 is that it isn’t Fallout 5:

    I represent Fallout 76 design director Emil Pagliarulo's nightmare scenario.

    "I think a lot about the players who want Fallout 5, and this isn't Fallout 5," Pagliarulo said in a roundtable interview after the hands-on session. "Are they gonna be happy? Are they still gonna enjoy playing this game even though it's like -- I actually think we've pushed a lot closer to a much more Fallout 5-ish, single-player-friendly game, but it's still not. ...I worry about that."

    Fallout 76 is an online-only game. This is a departure for the series -- previous Fallout entries have been story-driven, single-player RPGs without multiplayer modes. Fallout 76, meanwhile, is packed with real-person players and it strongly encourages team-based adventuring. In fact, every human character in the game is another actual player, while the robots, mutants and creepy creatures are computer-generated NPCs.

    Despite being an all-new game, Andrew Webster from The Verge ensures us that it’ll feel familiar to fans of the franchise:

    It looks the same, set in a gritty world of brown and grey, and the basics of playing are also similar, right down to the controls.

    As with Fallout 4, it’s a first-person shooter with a big focus on collecting junk and repurposing it into new weapons, armor, food, and other things that make life in a nuclear wasteland a bit easier. Your Pip-Boy serves as the game’s menu, where you do everything from swap out weapons to take radiation pills. And yes, it still has a radio, so you can listen to old songs about the end of the world as you try to survive it.

    That sense of familiarity extends to the game’s structure, at least early on. Fallout 76 takes place in 2112, in a massive open world set in West Virginia. This is just 25 years after nuclear war decimated the planet, making it the earliest entry in the series chronologically. (Fallout 4 is set more than a century later, in the remains of Boston.) It’s open in the sense that you’re free to go wherever you want once you leave the vault, though you’re gated somewhat by high-level monsters, which can make it impossible for brand-new players to access certain spots.

    GameSpot’s Alessandro Fillari dishes on combat mechanics:

    With the new online focus, some returning mechanics have seen some changes. For instance, Fallout's iconic V.A.T.S.--allowing you to target enemies and fire off precisely-aimed shots--now operates in real-time. It acts more like a real-time lock-on--with your weapon's hit-rate adjusting depending on the enemy's movement or their surroundings. This style of V.A.T.S. definitely took some getting used to. Mostly to the fact that enemies move around often, and combined with the awkward focus of the V.A.T.S. camera, it was jarring to actually use it during a fight. Because of this, I mostly stuck with standard aiming and shooting, which felt more reliable during engagements. While you can upgrade V.A.T.S. with perks to make it more effective, it feels more like an option that should be used sparingly.

    Dylan Bishop with PlayStation Lifestyle talks PVP combat:

    Player-versus-player combat works a little differently than it does in most games. When one player attacks another, the victim takes reduced damage until they retaliate. In a sense, this means true PvP duels must be reciprocated and won’t break out in every situation. It’s a drawback for the initiator: you’ve revealed your position and intent, and the second your victim shoots you back, you’ll take full damage—meaning they’ve already turned the tides on you. While this is an odd system, it adds an interesting meta-layer when considering team-wide conflicts. Some teams might send single members into a fight as bait, waiting in the tall brush or dense forests as enemies snipe out their friends. This is entirely possible too: the foliage and beauty of Appalachia make for the perfect espionage action zone.

    Of course, the other player may not retaliate. In such a case, it’s possible to continue dwindling a player’s health down and kill them. If you kill a player without taking damage from them, this is known as murder (hopefully this sounds familiar to the real act, for all sound-minded readers). If you murder another player, you’re labelled as such. All players disappear from your map, while you are heavily marked on theirs. You become a giant red blip, and are slapped with a hefty bounty that, should you fall in a subsequent firefight, will be paid from your own pocket.

    Christopher Livingston with PC Gamer was one of the few to encounter Mothman:

    I'm apparently one of the few in attendance at the Fallout 76 hands-on event to have seen a Mothman (or the Mothman, if there is just one—perhaps there are Mothmen). And it was only for the briefest of moments while running around alone in the dark.

    While exploring a hilltop alone, I heard an ominous music cue. That's when I looked to my right (or left) and saw him. Mothman! Well, to be completely honest, I didn't really see Mothman. I saw the words "Mothman" on my screen, thanks to Bethesda's continued insistence on identifying every enemy you look at by displaying their name in red capital letters, even if you've never met them before or if you haven't technically spotted them with your actual eyeballs.

    Which in some respects is a bit of a buzzkill. Creepy music and glowing eyes in the darkness: spooky as hell! Creepy music and the instant text-based identification of a Mothman you can't actually see: well, it was still pretty exciting, but perhaps not the best way to introduce what may be the most mysterious creature in the game. I called to my teammates, but Mothman, who I didn't really see, was already gone.

    Liana Ruppert with ComicBook got to tussle with a dragon:

    When exploring the beauty that is West Virginia, one Bethesda developer asked my squad if we felt up to taking on a radiated dragon. Of course we said "hell yes" enthusiastically and continued to do so even though I repeatedly got my *** kicked which you can clearly see for yourself in the video above.

    As for the dragon, you can clearly see that he was massively superior to us in level and superior to me in cajones since I kept hiding - and dying - until about the second half of the video. No shame though, I got to see a freakin' dragon and as a huge lover of the more fantasy-side of RPGs, it was a pretty awesome blend of gaming experiences.

    Owen S. Good with Polygon covers Bethesda’s patch schedule and modding:

    “We have an aggressive patch schedule,” said project lead Jeff Gardiner. “We have some really great ideas for post-launch content that we can’t show or talk about, but we’re hoping between the uniqueness of the game and our fan base, we’ll keep players in, keep them engaged. All the [post-]launch content that we have planned, that I can’t talk about, we plan on making free as well.”

    And then there’s modding, which is broadly discussed as something that will be supported eventually, although no one is hazarding even a ballpark figure at when it will arrive. Hines, regarding human NPCs, hedged his answer there a little further by suggesting that when modding arrives — which will be dependent on private server support — that might be the time human NPCs come to Fallout 76, in the form of community mods that players may insert into their games should they wish.

    Fallout 76 launches on November 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC with the beta taking place later this month.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,452   +455

    I absolutely love the Fallout franchise, but I'm afraid this one is going to be a hard pass for me.

    - Online only mode? Nope, I travel too much and have spotty internet often.
    - No way to disable PvP? Nope again, even if it is diminished damage, it is still forcing PvP on me.

    IF they have PvE only servers available, or preferably allow us to host custom servers, I may consider it at a later date. But no offline play = no way I'm paying anywhere close to the AAA price I'm sure they will be asking for at launch.
    m4a4 and Morris Minor like this.
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,114   +1,589

    You'll be hard-pressed to find a bigger Fallout fan than I am. Not only have I played all the games, but I have hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars invested in Fallout game memorabilia, clothing and artwork.

    But like Vrmithrax, I'm really stand-offish on 76. I've played a couple of MMORPG's and frankly, they weren't that fun. Dealing with grief players, grinding tiresome tasks to level or craft, adjusting your real-life schedule (often inconveniently so) to venture with game companions, etc.

    Lastly, most MMORPG's have some big lore story-line to drive the game. I haven't heard of anything like that in Fallout 76. From what I can tell, it's a typical Fallout wasteland where you craft, collect and hunt. If there's nothing more than that, if there's no purpose, it's going to get tiresome in a hurry.

    Although I'm sorely tempted to buy this game simply because of the Fallout brand, for now my wallet is safely in my pocket until there's a lot more information and reviews about it.
    Vrmithrax and Evernessince like this.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,267   +3,682

    No single player .... NO SALE!
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,903   +3,350

    Wow, they somehow made the AI and stuttering worse then the main series. That AI though, is the online permanently set to easy mode?
  6. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,427   +992

    Eh, I don't usually do PvP, and I certainly don't buy games that focus on PvP (even if it supports mods and private servers).
    So still a pass.

    But I fully expect the next Fallout game to make up for the "disappointment" from single player gamers.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  7. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,178   +648

    Is no one going to talk about the DRAGON? I mean, seriously? Who OK'd that? Like a dev took a dragon from Skyrim and dropped it into 76 as a joke while testing something, and some PM said "No. I like it. Keep it. This is a great idea and totally fits within the Fallout universe"

    I was cautiously interested in Fallout 76, and now I am actively disinterested in it.
    TomSEA and Namtrooper like this.
  8. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 567   +246

    Wait till they mod Trolls and Giants into 76.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  9. paytonpenn

    paytonpenn TS Rookie

    Is that not for the click bait? Is the dragon supposed to be the Scorchbeast which looks more like an oversized bat sending echolocation sounds?
  10. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,178   +648

    It looks exactly like a Skyrim dragon to me - and what is this supposed to have come from lore-wise?
  11. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,178   +648

    I thought those were the BOS and Super Mutants that are now all of sudden occurring right after the war.
  12. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 755   +372

    So if people who want SP fallout wont buy it, what is the intended target? I mean yea some people will be curious and will buy it, but what about fan base who wont be 100% interested in the very first fallout without any story mode?
  13. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 755   +372

    Good luck to them getting good money for this title.
  14. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,662   +2,418

    I am so torn on this game. Love Fallout, love open world survival, but this whole thing just feels...wrong. I expect the worst and have a feeling I won't be disappointed (well, I won't be *surprised* is what I should say). The inability to completely disable PvP is really the red flag for me. And dragons. WTH...?
  15. Cab1209

    Cab1209 TS Rookie

    It is a giant mutated bat.
  16. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,178   +648

    That moves and looks just like a Skyrim dragon, with some textures and model features changed.

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