Fallout 76 Hands-On: Everything That Happens In The First Three Hours
Ever since Bethesda announced its newest game in the Fallout series, it's been difficult to get a sense of what Fallout 76--an online-only RPG--is all about. While the concept of an online Fallout experience is enticing, it also comes into conflict with the series' typical brand of role-playing. Though Fallout 76 does lessen those traditionally single-player details to a noticeable degree, it offers up an alluring opportunity to explore uncharted, irradiated territory with other players online.
With the pivot to multiplayer, Fallout 76 focuses a lot more on exploration and survival in West Virginia's Appalachia, with all its regional oddities and newfound horrors coming in large doses. Recently, we played three hours of the game ahead of the game's upcoming October beta, and spoke with developers from Bethesda Game Studios about the particular challenges of making a different kind of Fallout.
Set only 25 years after the bombs dropped--making it the earliest game in the series' timeline--Fallout 76 gives itself plenty of distance from previous games to show off the freshly devastated wilderness. In traditional fashion, you leave the safe confines of the Vault to venture out into the wasteland--bringing with you a sense of determination, and also the naïveté that can come from living in somewhat comfortable isolation. After a quick introduction, you create your character, get accustomed to the new controls and systems, and venture out to the surface. However, what sets this game apart from the others is that you're one of many survivors. And once you're outside, it's every Vault Dweller for themselves.
During the first hour, I got my bearings by taking a tour around the immediate area, even joining a group to take in all the sights. Fallout 76 has the familiar RPG mechanics and sense of exploration that the series is known for, but it also has more of an amusement park vibe--with several key attractions and locales clearly highlighted on the map, such as The Greenbrier Resort and the Top of the World ski-slope. While exploring Fallout's take on West Virginia, which is several times larger than the Commonwealth of Fallout 4, I got the feeling that I was sort of experiencing the greatest hits of all things Fallout. First came the familiar weapons and armor found from previous games, then came the feral ghouls, the Super Mutants, and references to the Brotherhood of Steel and Enclave.
Still, the new location in West Virginia feels totally different from Fallout 4's Capital Wasteland and the Mojave from New Vegas, which quickly introduces its own brand of locales and strange monsters that reside there. Along with weird monsters like enlarged ticks, three-headed possums, and even Mole Men, there are other monsters that reference West Virginian urban legends. This includes the headless, hulking Grafton Monster and the enigmatic Mothman, the latter of which is revered by the hostile cabal of Scorched, heavily irradiated humans who eventually evolve into ghouls of sound mind.
For the most part, combat and general movement handle similarly to Fallout 4. However, the new mechanics and survival systems at play felt somewhat overwhelming to get a handle during our introduction. In 76, much of the tutorial happens in a trial by fire scenario in the open world, where you'll have to follow the early moments of the quests closely in order to learn the new mechanics, all while fighting off enemies and scavenging resources. While I appreciated the quick pace at which players are whisked out of the vault, picking up some meager supplies along the way, I felt that the on-boarding process could be a bit more detailed--it made me feel mostly unprepared as I was scrambling to find any weapon I could get my hands on.
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.
Fallout 76's survival mechanics take many cues from Fallout 4's more challenging Survival mode. In addition to keeping your character well fed on a regular basis, you'll also have to avoid ailments and diseases--such as contracting the oddly named but still troubling Rad Worms. Some enemies and locations even carry specific diseases, which create added risks to watch out for when exploring. These illnesses range from diseases that sap your maximum health, action points, and the general damage resistances for your character, to even increasing your susceptibility to radiation.
With a large emphasis on survival, nearly every item and resource you can get your hands on feels much more valuable. Nothing really lasts too long in Fallout 76--even the buffs from Bobbleheads and skill magazines only last a short time--so every tool you have will inevitably be discarded for something new. As you're scavenging through the open world, you'll find junk items, scraps, and crafting plans that can be turned into new gear and building materials for your constructions. Some of these materials can create bizarre weapons like the Heated Pitchfork or Ski-Sword--a single ski sharpened to form a blade. But over time, weapons and armor will eventually need to be repaired or broken down into materials for other items. Moreover, cooking and chem stations now have a greater importance, allowing you to prepare meals and craft support items.
Character growth is still the core part of Fallout 76, and it offers an impressive amount of variety and flexibility. After leveling up, you can place points into the familiar categories of the SPECIAL system, each of which boost areas of your character's raw stats. Eventually, you'll acquire a pack of Perk Cards that can offer special buffs in their assigned categories. For example, the Gladiator perk card is a Strength card which increases damage with melee weapons, while Lead Belly can decrease the radiation from drinking contaminated water. The more points you have in a category, the more Perk Cards you can potentially slot in, giving you a whole suite of added buffs. At any time, you can swap out your set of Perk Cards to readjust your character, to better prepare for different challenges.
In keeping with the game's focus on pioneering, the building mechanics from Fallout 4 also return. Now known as the C.A.M.P. system, you have in your possession a mobile construction device that allows you create a building at any time--provided that it doesn't overlap with existing structures. You have free rein to construct whatever you like, whether that be subtle safe-houses for you to stash supplies, or even larger mega-structures that house turrets and a dedicated place to relax. If you ever want to pack up and move elsewhere, you can save your structure as a blueprint and dismantle it. This can come in handy if your chosen spot becomes too popular with other players.
The biggest point of contention with Fallout 76's online nature is its lack of NPCs and slimmed down story, now serve to highlight the focus on moment-to-moment engagements with enemies and other players. This lack of traditional interactions and storytelling felt more noticeable the deeper we dove into the world. While you're certainly free to play solo and avoid other players--and we definitely took the opportunity to strike out on our own, leading to those familiar moments of solitude and wanderlust, you'll always be a potential target within the online world.
Having said that, I couldn't help but feel intrigued by the re-focus here. Lore and smaller doses of story are still in surprisingly ample supply, but told passively through the environment and journals scattered about. While there are no active NPC characters to find--with exception to roaming robots that can offer trades and intel--you'll eventually stumble across the bodies of long-dead survivors who have had a notable presence in the world. In their possession are special holotapes known Survivor Stories, detailing the last moments of their lives in the irradiated wilderness.
These stories told some interesting tales for the characters in Appalachia, which had some poignant and heartfelt moments to them--which was reassuring given the fragmented nature of the storytelling in 76. Speaking with design director Emil Paglliarulo, he elaborated on their refocus to make Fallout more about engaging with others players.
"We started off with the premise where the only other people you see are the ones that came from the vault," he said. "We've also never had the opportunity to do a game that's set twenty-five years after the bombs fell, it's always been two-hundred something years after. Now, we have the stories of the people that survived the initial war, and we've never been able to tell those stories before. Of course without NPCs or no dialog trees--which was a huge adjustment for our quest designers, as they were used to doing it a certain way--and now the lore-heavy stuff comes from holo-tapes, which now has its own tab in the Pip-Boy. That's been really interesting for us. And what ended up happening is that we ended up having a much more lonely story than in Fallout 4. All of these people that you do [learn about] are dead already, and it's almost like a weird ghost story. We didn't expect that."
Whether you want to play solo or within a group, player interaction is a big part of the game. Encountering another person after rounding the corner or reaching the end of a dungeon creates some genuinely tense feelings--not knowing what intentions the other player in front of you has. To communicate with others, Fallout 76 features a variety of in-game emotes to use and proximity based voice-chat. During our session, however, we used Xbox Live's party chat client to stay in constant communication with our group--which won't be the case for most players online.
When playing in groups, communication is important, and the emotes and proximity chat are a great way to get your point across. This is especially vital when grouping up for some of the more active quests that task you with overcoming some bizarre obstacles, such as finding the keys to an armory in a makeshift town built out of a destroyed aircraft, or finding out a mob of "unruly golfer feral ghouls" at a ritzy resort that's still maintained by protectotrons. This can lead to some humorous and equally tense moments where players are scrambling to rely on their team's special skills to progress further.
Once you reach level 5, Fallout 76's PvP systems open up. When you encounter another player that's over level 5, you can fire your weapon at them to let them know of your intentions. If they return fire, then you'll both engage in a duel, with the loser dropping their current haul of junk items--no caps or gear is lost after a defeat. When shooting at a player that hasn't engaged in response, all damage will be cut in half, which gives them enough time to react. It's possible to kill another player who is not into the idea of fighting, and appropriately enough, this backhanded approach will mark you as a murderer, painting a massive target on your back for all players in the world to see.
Our group of level 5 explorers tried to take down a level-58 player in power armor in similar fashion, but it didn't go over well at all as he easily decimated the group with a high-powered Tesla Rifle. While damage calculations scale for enemies, allowing low-level players to potentially take out monsters several levels ahead of them, it does not for PvP engagements. However, if you wish to avoid PvP, or if a player is bugging you too much, you can block them or fast-travel to safety fairly easily. So far, the system in place is a thoughtful way to overcome the potential harassment that can often spring up with this type of game.
To cap off our hands-on time, the developers launched a nuke, which obliterates specific areas of the map. We all had front row seats to the explosion, and then proceeded to jump into the ensuing fallout--with its heavy radiation promptly killing us off one-by-one. As one of the larger end-game goals in Fallout 76, activating a nuke can lead to new events in the irradiated areas, revealing rare materials and dangerous enemies to fight. It also highlights the more dynamic nature of Fallout 76, with many of its narrative touches informed by the player's decisions in the world.
The scale of Fallout 76 seemed impressive based on the first few hours. The location of West Virginia--and all its oddities--was exciting to dive into, which felt refreshing after coming off of Fallout 4's Commonwealth. However, much like previous Fallout games, there were a number of odd bugs and large frame-rate dips that occurred throughout. This was especially noticeable during larger fire fights against large groups of enemies, which brought overall performance down to a slog. The developers we spoke to, however, assured us that the performance will be improved in time for its November 14 launch.
76 certainly isn't like other Fallout games. After our three hours, I got the impression that Bethesda is taking a risky approach with the series in regards to its lore and its core gameplay. With its heavy focus on survival gameplay and the online experience, I suspect that this largely experimental take on Fallout will become a rather polarizing entry. Though the mechanics were somewhat overwhelming to get a handle of, I can't deny that I enjoyed exploring the large map and engaging in the mysterious, post-apocalyptic take on West Virginia. Fallout 76 looks like it can flourish in the long-term, and I'm interested in what can come about after many hours in its off-kilter and ever-changing setting.
TKC servers are well run and every attempt is made to ensure a fun gaming environment. No racist or rude behavior is tolerated on any of our servers. TKC tries to have round the clock administration for it's servers but obviously sometimes a server will have no admin playing so if you witness any abuse for any game please attempt to report the offending players nickname, and if possible GUID here: "Server Vistors Complaint". Just give as many details as you can remember such as what the player was doing/saying. In addition cheating is not tolerated on our servers. We are protected by any of a number of different cheat tools at any given time including; VAC, steambans.com, pbbans.com, ggc-stream.com, metabans, pbscreens.com and punkbuster, depending on the game. If caught cheating your information will be submitted to the appropriate cheat tracker and you will be added to their database which will ban your Steam ID, PB GUID or EA GUID depending on the game and website.
When available we also offer ways for players, in-game, to contact admins to report bad behavior. These come in the form of game server plugins. Players will, if the server has the option available, have the option to report a player using, @report [player] [reason] or @admin [reason] to call an admin to the server. If an admin doesn't respond in a timely manner, please use the @report option so we can follow up on it later or use "Server Vistors Complaint" as mentioned above. If an admin is not available, we also try to give the players the opportunity to use @votekick [player] or @voteban [player] [reason]. This allows the guests to our server the ability to kick or temporarily ban a player who is breaking rules.
Profanity - Many of the games we play have very bad language, some don't, that should make a difference in how we enforce our rules. For that reason we are going to implement a new rule, which will seem strange at first, but there is reason behind it. Bad language will only be tolerated on Teamspeak channels for games where there is bad language in the game. In other words, since there is bad language in Bad Company 2, bad language will be acceptable in the Bad Company 2 Teamspeak channel and on the Bad Company 2 servers. On our Half-Life 2 DM Teamspeak channel and game server, bad language will not be allowed. Future games will also be handled in this manner. The reason, we do not want to exclude members with different beliefs. If I buy a game and one of the selling points for me was the fact that it did not have bad language, that should be respected. I do not want a father or grandfather having to explain bad language to their children or grandchildren because they heard profanity on a TKC Teamspeak channel they thought was free of such things.
How to deal with with Mic/Text spammers - No one wants to listen to a lot of unrelated chatter either on the game server, or Teamspeak. No one wants to see a lot of text spamming either. It's distracting to some, and in the case of Bad Company 2, causes lag problems when the text log gets too long. If someone is talking or typing too much, respectfully ask them to stop. If they continue, you may have to mute or kick them, and if they continue after that, a ban might be in order. When on Teamspeak, a certain amount of "visiting" is fine, but the gamers who want to communicate tactical information to others playing shouldn't have to constantly interrupt talk about the latest CPU, or talk of what's going on at school. If someone is talking too much and you don't feel like you want to address it, PM a clan leader and we can handle the situation.
Team Switching - In some games this is a big no-no and if you are admin for one of those games, ask the player to go back, if they don't and you have the ability, move them back manually. If you continue to have problems, kick/ban them. In other games, like Bad Company 2, team switching usually isn't as big a deal. Sometimes friends or clan members might want to play together, in that case, try to facilitate them and swap some people around. This will show you to be respectful of community and they will probably be very appreciative of your efforts. If there is a mass exodus of people from a bad team to a good team, you can mention in-game that people need to stop. If someone is ignoring you and continues to unbalance the teams, just kick them off the server. For a game like Half-Life 2, teams change after each round, so trying to put clan members together is just a waste of time, that is why team switching is considered bad.
Hacking/Cheating - This is the most overused excuse for kicking someone off of a server. Players are unjustly booted off servers all the time simply because they were too good. That is not fair. Do not base a decision on cheating on a single round, if it isn't really ridiculous score-wise, sometimes people just have great rounds. But if they continue to have an unbelievable K/D ratio, then you might need to ban them. Sometimes it might be necessary to ban someone just because they are killing the server. For me, this is the thing I hate to do the most. That person might be doing nothing wrong, other than being really good at a game. Try to put yourself in their shoes and only ban guys who are really obvious. I don't want to see anyone being banned for an aimbot because they went 29-0. I and many others have had a better score than that, it DOES happen. You have to consider how the person is playing the game. Are they playing as recon? Are they in the heli with a really good pilot? Sometimes, if you are unsure, it might be best to ask the opinion of a clan leader. Remember, visitors to our servers have the ability and a forum to complain about unjust behavior from our server admins. If someone complains about you, you want to know that you did everything by the book.
Soldier Names/Nicknames - We will not allow names that are offensive to anyone. I think we can all use our best judgement here, but if you are unsure, ask another admin what they think of the name and come to a consensus before taking action. Players using racist names should be perm banned immediately. It does no good talking to someone like that because they're only goal is to cause trouble.
Banter and Trash Talking - Now its okay to joke around, but if several players are going at it constantly on the mic or in chat just nicely ask them to stop. If it continues warn them again that if they don't stop they will be kicked, if for no other reason that mic/text spamming. If they ignore this warning then go ahead and kick them. A certain amount of this is fine as long as it's good natured, however sometimes this can lead to hard feelings so you have to use your best judgement of when something is going too far or things are starting to get out of hand.
Racist/intolerant behavior - This is a subject that we will show no mercy on. If someone is being a racist, and that means they are hating on blacks, whites, browns, yellows, whatever the case may be, they get perm banned. No warnings, no kicks, just ban them. We don't need that kind of intolerant behavior on our servers. I don't care if the person is joking, I don't care what his real intent was, if he's spewing hate speech, he's gone. This also applies to someone who is spewing hate speech against a group of people, like Muslims, Christians, agnostics, atheists whoever. We are a gaming clan. This is our hobby and it's supposed to be fun. Everyone who comes to a TKC server should be respected and able to play the game hassle free. Not everyone believes the same, and if someone can't get over it and comes to our server with an agenda that includes racist or intolerant speech, I expect you guys to bring the hammer down swiftly.
Metabans - We will use Metabans only for cheaters and will verify each ban using Cheat-O-Meter. This will ensure that we are not forcing our Metabans followers into banning players we have banned for breaking rules other than cheating. If we deem you are cheating and Cheat-O-Meter doesn't really indicate cheating and we can not find information about you or your clan tag, meaning there is no website or previous information on you as a player or clan that we can cross reference, we will ban you on our servers, but not Metabans. Clans must have a website that we can find and access to be considered legit, otherwise we will view your tags as hogwash and your suspect behavior will be deemed as cheating. Again, we will not add a ban that is not supported by Cheat-O-Meter to Metabans.
We want everyone to have the best time possible so do your best to maintain a good gaming atmosphere, then everyone can have a good time.
To join TKC you only have to read our "Code of Conduct" and then apply for membership by filling out an online application. After submitting your application you will become a "member candidate". You will be allowed to wear our tags but only as (tkc), all letters in lowercase. As you progress, as seen by our members, you will be advanced to (Tkc), then (TKc) and then finally (TKC). You will receive emails at each step with detailed instructions on what you need to do. To obtain your full membership and the right to wear the (TKC) tags, you will have to pass a vote by the TKC members. Only those members who have gotten to know you will vote. An 80% yes vote will be required for full admission. Please keep in mind that full membership takes 8 weeks.
For you to be accepted you will need to display good manners, sportsmanship, and the ability to follow our rules. This applies to all game server activitiy and forum participation. If you do not feel you can meet our requirements we respectfully ask that you not apply as we have many who want to join and we can not waste time on gamers who are not serious about membership.
So now you're a member of TKC congrats! It is important for you to note that membership in TKC is not a lifetime privilege. Only the clan founders Big Flem and Squidward have lifetime membership and can not be removed. Clan leaders expect it's members to participate in clan activites when they can, and to be an ACTIVE member in the clan. We consider active members to be members who regularly post on the forums, participate in clan activities when possible, and communicates and develops friendships inside the clan. We do NOT consider a member to be active if they only ever play on our servers and nothing more. The leaders of this clan work hard to organize events and if you can't support these activities, can't check and post on the forums at least once or twice a week, then you are not TKC material and eventually you will be kicked from the clan. If you do not think you can meet these requirements as a member of TKC, then please don't attempt to gain entry into the clan as you will only waste your time, and ours.
Beyond administration positions such as "Clan Leader", "Division Leader", etc, the answer is no. However we do have achievable military style ribbons and medals that can be won for various acts. You may see each members ribbon and medal "Display Case" by going to the "Members" tab and under each members profile clicking the "Awards" icon. Below is each award and how you obtain that award. Note that medals also have an associative ribbon:
Ribbons(Hover over information icon for description)
In the past TKC had too many admins on our servers and things got a little out of hand. We are not looking for any new admins, however if we feel you will make a good addition to that team we will ask you. Being a server admin is not fun and games. It requires you to WORK, and follow server administrator rules which are well defined once you become an admin. Our admins are forced to stop playing whatever game they might be playing, and work to secure and maintain server tranquility reguarly. If you are an admin that does not mean you will get to run willy nilly and ban, kick, and torture at will. Admins who do not follow our rules will be stripped of admin duties and power. In addition there are more requirements of admins such as, reguarly checking our server admins forum. Once you become an admin you will be given access to this forum and you must check and read it quite often. It is a way for admins to help one another by posting their thoughts on what is going on, who to watch closely, etc. Do not ask us constantly to be an admin, that is the surest way I know to never become an admin. Our leaders will identify the best candidates for admin duties if we think it necessary.
No. In order to have an official TKC server it must meet certain standards. In addition, we might not want a server for a particular game, and if you aren't an admin, then you shouldn't have admin authority on any server. Official TKC servers have to be setup as close to identical as possible. This means that the clan leaders must have all access to any of it's servers including the ability to restart that server, gain access via FTP and game panel. It means that the clan leaders can setup the server with it's normal settings and add the usual addons. In short, if you want to have your own server then that is fine, but don't try to name it "Boom Boom Room" or tie it in any way to TKC.
Clan TKC maintains several servers that are open to it's clan members and the public. In addition TKC has other expenses that require money. To pay the bills TKC relies on it's members and visitors to donate. Without these donations, TKC will cease to exist. Please consider donating money when you can. We do our best to use the money wisely, to invest in TKC, to invest in PC gaming.
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