'The Nuke Loop' is Fallout 76's endgame, lead designer explains

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Fallout 76 is less than two weeks away from launch, but we already know a lot about it. One thing we don’t know is what the endgame is going to entail. Every MMORPG has a hook that keeps players interested and playing long after they max out their character.

Bethesda has previously indicated that the endgame somehow involves nukes, but the question remains: how does nuking each other increase the longevity of the game? The studio revealed a little more about it at a preview event in West Virginia last week.

Most MMORPGs add high-level content to keep long-time players satisfied. Typically this will involve things like dungeons and raids with super-powerful bosses that need to be taken down by multiple players. The rewards are usually rare weapons, armor, and items.

Venture Beat attended the preview event and learned a little more about Bethesda's hook for high-level players, and it’s not like other MMORPGs. There are no raids — there are no dungeons. There are caves you can explore and there are beasts to battle in them, but you can still solo them if you want.

So what’s the deal? What is going to keep people playing?

The endgame boils down to what Fallout 76 Design Director Emil Pagliarulo calls “the nuke loop.” As we already knew, players can gather launch codes to set off warheads. Once an area has been nuked, a couple of things happen.

“As you get to higher levels and you can get the nuke codes and actually set one off, what that does is it changes the region that you nuke into a high-level zone,” said Pagliarulo. “The creatures are glowing. The flora are different. That’s where you can get some of the highest level recipes and ingredients to craft the best weapons in the game. We see that as a repeatable content loop. That’s the major endgame content.”

Unlike Fallout games from the past, most of your gear will be crafted rather than found. Although Fallout 4 had a fair amount of crafting, it was primarily modding of existing equipment. It will be different for 76. Remember, these are the first vault dwellers to emerge after the war. Everything is destroyed, and they (you) have to rebuild from scratch.

Recipes are the primary means of obtaining weapons, armor, and other items, and there are about 700,000 different craftable items. You can expect the blueprints within the nuked zones to be more powerful, but also more dangerous to retrieve.

Will this be enough to keep people playing long term? We’ll have to wait and see, but Bethesda has indicated that it is not relying solely on endgame play for longevity. It plans to release content down the road.

“[The development team has] talked about future expansion type things,” said Pagliarulo without going into detail.

Fallout 76 hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on November 14.

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Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member
This whole game is a question in "why?". What's the point to get higher level gear? To beat the brain dead AI faster? To collect junk faster to build a settlement which does nothing?

Absent of challenge and RPG character building, this game looks to be a mindless grind.
Yes. I remain skeptical to this, what I call, experiment. I'm really not sure if this is a winning formula. I would like it to be, but the way things have been described just does not convince me it will work.
 
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BlackCatRokusho

TS Rookie
It reminds me of Diablo 3 in a sense.
In that you get more materials, more recipes, improve upon yourself, then increase the difficulty in some way.
Then you get more materials, better recipes, improve upon yourself, then increase the difficulty in some way.

I think a lot of people that like Diablo style games might enjoy this, I know I'm willing to give it a try.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Yes. I remain skeptical to this, what I call, experiment. I'm really not sure if this is a winning formula. I would like it to be, but the way things have been described just does not convince me it will work.
I'd rather they just add co-op to an existing FO game. Love playing FO, just don't want the disadvantages of a korean MMO.
 
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BSim500

TS Evangelist
This whole game is a question in "why?". What's the point to get higher level gear? To beat the brain dead AI faster? To collect junk faster to build a settlement which does nothing?

Absent of challenge and RPG character building, this game looks to be a mindless grind.
^ I'm pretty sure the reason for the mindless grind is that you'll be constantly offered ("maximising consumer engagement") "time-saving DLC" (pay2degrind / pay2levelup MT's). Personally I intend to engage the ultimate in time-saving with this game by not buying it in the first place...
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
^ I'm pretty sure the reason for the mindless grind is that you'll be constantly offered ("maximising consumer engagement") "time-saving DLC" (pay2degrind / pay2levelup MT's). Personally I intend to engage the ultimate in time-saving with this game by not buying it in the first place...
I don't think they would do that unless they made it f2p. The game already has a cosmetic shop. If they did do this it would be a ghost town (if it isn't already!).