Fallout is back, but probably not as you know it. Prepare to enter the Wasteland not-quite-solo in Fallout 76, the new multiplayer survival RPG from Bethesda Game Studios.

The many iterations of Fallout have mostly subscribed to a similar formula (with the exception of the base-building game Fallout Shelter): RPGs that incorporate crafting, talking to NPCs, questing, building a base, killing mutants, and getting killed by Deathclaws. The most recent entry in the main series (released three years ago) was Fallout 4, but with this year’s instalment, Fallout 76, Bethesda is shaking things right up.

In Fallout 76, you will emerge (no guesses here) from Vault 76, a full 25 years after a devastating nuclear war. Players are members of the country’s best and brightest who have been sheltered away, tasked with one day replenishing the Earth – once it is fit to do so: “When the fighting has stopped, and the fallout has settled, you must rebuild.” The mission is to venture out and re-colonise the planet on Reclamation Day – it’s party time!

As a member of Vault 76, players must seek out the Overseer, the vault’s original leader, who has already left to explore West Virginia. Normally a quest like this would be given to you by an NPC, but Fallout 76 has none. Instead, it’s necessary to gather information from robots, terminals, and the environment around you in order to piece together a story, and find your next main objective or side quest. Incredibly, Fallout 76’s map is a whopping four times the size of Fallout 4’s, so there won’t be any shortage of adventures to be experienced. And that’s without even mentioning the other people in the game.

Fallout 76 is an online game. There are between 24 and 32 people on your server at any given time, any of which can interact with you in any number of ways – or simply choose to leave you alone. You can crusade around with a squad of up to four people, taking down the wasteland as you please, and your squadmates can also revive you for a short period of time if you’re killed.
Worried about the lethal potential of other players on your server? Be not afraid of PvP. You might get lucky and find a friendly fellow wanderer out in the Wasteland, and decide to venture out into the unknown together. If you do cross an adversary, the enemy player firing at you will not rack up the damage unless you elect to engage and fire back at them – then it’s an even playing field. An enemy player that sees you choose not to return fire and continues attacking you anyway will eventually be able to kill you, but will then appear as a wanted murderer on the map, and have a bounty placed on his/her head. Being killed doesn’t mean you lose all your stuff, either. You simply spawn back at your last checkpoint with your gear, minus your junk (building/crafting materials). It’s not the end of the world – that’s already happened.

In the game world, you’ll be able to pick up everything from med packs to new guns and armour, and you can use your C.A.M.P. (Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform) to set up a base anywhere you like, with the added bonus of being able to simply pack it up and move it to another location if you want to. You can also work with other players to construct huge C.A.M.P.s. Think of it as a big, radioactive slumber party.

The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perk system returns for Fallout 76, but with a slight change. Your perks are now chosen by cards for each specific skillset, which you can gain in a number of different ways. In certain circumstances you can even share perks with your teammates, but you can’t share actual perk cards.

Of course, what’s a game about nukes without actually ever getting to launch any yourself? Thankfully, Fallout 76 is letting us live our lifelong dreams of turning those keys and pushing those buttons to let the bombs fall. They’re not easy to obtain; you first have to gather launch codes and then find a launch facility. You can only target areas of the map to hit, not specific people, and anyone in the zone will be notified that they are in danger. Once the bombs have fallen, the affected areas become full of radiation, high-level monsters and loot for a limited time – you could almost look at nukes like public events. There’s a great risk and reward to the system, but you wouldn’t want to be under one of those shells when they drop.

Fallout 76 serves as a prequel to all other games in the already massively populated Fallout universe, and as such will have both creatures you are familiar with as well as a host of new baddies (and goodies) for you to discover. While it’s certain to attract fans of Bethesda’s already beloved series who want to see what the Wasteland is like with friends, fans of multiplayer games will likely also be drawn to this new venture for the studio. In Vault 76, our future begins.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi