Fallout 76 has been surrounded by excitement and anticipation, but not without a fair share of confusion from the gaming community. The E3 presentation seemed to raise more questions than it answered. In the weeks following the announcement, the community voiced concern about how the multiplayer aspect of the game would operate, especially when it came to PvP and potential griefing. We finally got some answers last weekend at QuakeCon in Dallas, Texas. Chris Meyer, Jeff Gardner, and Todd Howard hosted a Q&A session for over an hour on Saturday morning where they dropped plenty of new info on Fallout 76 and answered some questions from the community.
PvP and Griefing
We’ve all slogged through the seemingly endless supply of “PvP Hardcore Survival” games, so we know how volatile they can be. One moment you’re having a great time with your friends, but minutes later you’re handcuffed and being force-fed bleach by a group of ten naked strangers as they take all your hard-earned gear. While this can be fun for some people, this kind of high-stakes gameplay isn’t for everyone.
Bethesda has recognized this and seems to be making Fallout 76 a more accessible entry in the genre. At the Fallout 76 Q&A panel at QuakeCon, they touched on many of the concerns players had about the online aspects of the game. Bethesda has several mechanics and systems planned to prevent griefing and unwanted PvP.
The initiation of PvP will be a choice in itself. PvP is initiated when one player shoots at another. However, until the victim shoots back, the shooter’s damage will be reduced drastically. Todd Howard compared this to “slapping somebody in a bar.” Once the victim returns fire, they enter a full-on PvP engagement, but weapon damage will still be normalized to prevent high-level players from easily killing whomever they want. The winner of the engagement is rewarded with a reasonable amount of Caps and their victim’s Junk, which they will drop and lose when they die. When a player dies, they can either choose to respawn back at Vault 76 for free or at any other point of interest for a small fee.
Also announced was the Pacifist system, a toggle for people who do not wish to engage in PvP at all. When you flag yourself as a Pacifist, your weapons do no damage to other players, preventing any accidental PvP in hectic firefights. This also serves the purpose of preventing people from jumping in front of other player’s bullets on purpose, which would then put players in a fight they might not have wanted to take.
The possibility of blocking other players also came up. The idea would be that you could block a particularly aggressive player and it would remove you from their in-game map. It was implied that it will still be possible to run into these players after they’re blocked, but they will have a much harder time tracking you once you are removed from their map.
Wanted dead or alive… actually, just dead.
You might be asking “Well, what if I never fire back?” Bethesda has an answer prepared for this situation as well. With enough persistence, it will still be possible for a player to kill another without them ever agreeing to PvP, despite weapon damage being heavily reduced. Killing another player in this fashion results in no rewards for the shooter, and the victim suffers no penalty except having to respawn.
The murderer also becomes flagged as “Wanted,” and a bounty is placed on their head. When a player enters Wanted status, they can no longer see any other players on the map. However, every other player can see the Wanted player on their map as a red star until he is killed and the bounty is collected. The bounty will be a large sum of Caps that will be taken directly out of the Wanted player’s wallet. This makes griefing hardly ever worth it, which should discourage people from murdering anyone they see. Of course, there will still be people who will try to grief other players, but that’s okay! The wasteland isn’t meant to be a safe place, and these players will help insert a sense of danger and drama into the game.
Players familiar with the Fallout franchise will feel right at home with the character progression in Fallout 76. Perks and the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system are back again, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any changes.
Perks are now contained within a card-based system, where each perk has a cost associated with it. This cost comes out of your pool of S.P.E.C.I.A.L points. For example, if the Bloody Mess perk is a Strength card with a cost of five, you must have invested at least five points into Strength before you can use it. You can use as many cards as you want, as long as you have enough points to pay the cost on each card.
The cap on S.P.E.C.I.A.L points has been raised to 15 to accommodate this new system. Every time you level up, you will receive one point to allocate as you please. Players will receive one S.P.E.C.I.A.L point every level until level 50. This means it’s only possible to max out two categories on a character. It was not specified if players can reallocate their points or if those choices are permanent.
Perk Cards and Packs
Once you lock in your points, Fallout 76 will also give you several perk cards to choose from that belong under that S.P.E.C.I.A.L category. Perk card packs will be earned every two levels until players reach the tenth level. Packs will be awarded every five levels after this threshold. In a card pack, players will receive a random assortment of four Perk Cards. According to Todd Howard, card packs can sometimes give out cards that are a slightly higher level than the player. Todd explained this was implemented to give players an opportunity to experiment with cards they may not have selected otherwise. Similar perk cards can also be combined to create more powerful versions of that card.
Players can swap Perk Cards in and out at any time to accommodate different play styles. This allows players to easily switch from solo to group-based builds when necessary. Speaking of group play, Charisma-based perks will allow for players to share their perk bonuses with other players in their group. It was not specified if these perks would stack with others. For example, does stacking four instances of a +10% damage perk result in a +40% damage increase for the group?
Mutations, evolutions your character can experience through prolonged exposure to radiation, were also confirmed. The Mutations will provide unique perks to your character, but with a drawback. The developers were playing their hand close to their chest on this topic, presumably because they want players to discover these on their own. Bethesda’s video on the subject provided us the example of a Mutation that gives the player the characteristics of a kangaroo. It was not explicitly specified, but we can assume this will give the player added jump height and possibly extra inventory space. The downside to this mutation would be “mild neurological impairment,” which probably translates to a reduction in your Intelligence points.
VATS will make a comeback in Fallout 76. We did not see any gameplay footage of VATS in action, but we get details on how it will operate. Todd Howard specified that it will no longer slow down time and that targeting limbs will not be unlocked out of the gate. The ability to target specific limbs will be unlocked after choosing a specific Perception perk. Todd also specified that VATS will get better as the player invests more points into Perception.
Modding and private servers were also confirmed for Fallout 76. The developers were not ready to announce specifics just yet, but Todd Howard stated, “It’s a complicated problem, but it’s one we are 100% committed to solving.”
Fast Travel will be in the game but will cost players in-game currency. Players can travel to the nearest point of interest or back to Vault 76 free of charge.
Players will easily be able to rebuild or move their C.A.M.P. bases via a blueprint mechanic. Walls and structures will also be destructible, so you cannot be trapped inside a prison built by another player.
Composer Inon Zur is returning to score Fallout 76, and the game will feature the most licensed music to ever be put in a Fallout game. The iconic radio station feature, a fan favorite, will also be making a return.
That’s pretty much everything! If you missed it, you can watch the entire panel for yourself here! Fallout 76 releases November 14th for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
For more news out of QuakeCon 2018, check this out