Three years after Fallout 4 arrived, Bethesda is ready to continue its postapocalyptic sci-fi RPG series. Fallout 76 is the first primarily multiplayer entry in the franchise. In this game, players will have to band together to survive and rebuild in the wilds of West Virginia.
Now that the game is out, you can arm yourselves with a great deal of information. It might just save your life out in the wasteland.
What is Fallout 76?
Fallout 76 is a multiplayer survival game in which players must cooperate in order to stay alive. After creating your character, you'll set off into a ruined (but still fairly wilderness-heavy) West Virginia, where you'll be able to craft your own structures. From there, you can band together with other players, gather useful equipment and resources, and find quests to undertake in the huge world.
What's the story?
Like other Fallout games, Fallout 76 takes place far in the future, after a nuclear war ravaged the United States. Survivors tucked away in vaults manage to avoid most of the fallout (see what they did there?), then emerge decades (or centuries) later to explore and rebuild. Fallout 76 will take place in 2102 — the earliest time yet explored in the series — and focus on survivors from Vault 76 as they try to rebuild what was best about the United States without repeating the country's mistakes.
When did Fallout 76 come out?
Fallout 76 came out PC, PS4 and Xbox One on Nov. 14, 2018. The game costs $60 for a standard version.
What about special editions?
It wouldn't be a major Fallout release with some kind of ridiculous special edition. This time, the iconic Fallout gear involved is the helmet from the franchise's signature suit of power armor. (It's been on the cover of just about every Fallout game so far.) This edition costs $200 in the United States and came out at the same time as the regular version of the game. In addition to the helmet, the collector's edition comes with a glow-in-the-dark map, 24 Fallout figurines, a steel game case and some in-game loot. However, now that the release date has come and gone, finding special editions will probably be a little more difficult.
What is the gameplay like?
Like other Fallout games, players explore a massive world, picking up quests as they go. This time, though, the quests come from robots or data terminals — every other human in the game is a real person. Combat happens in real-time, although players can still improve their odds a bit with a modified VATS system from previous games. Over time, players can upgrade their equipment, improve their stats and collect a variety of perks to customize their characters and make the challenges they face a little easier to manage. There are also systems for base-management and building settlements as you collect resources.
What about nukes?
Through intense and prolonged cooperation, players in this game are able to unearth the launch codes for unused nuclear missiles at silos throughout the state. They can then use these missiles to eradicate other players' bases, or perhaps just use the threat of nuclear war as leverage. For a series that has been relatively unflinching about portraying the consequences of nuclear armament, this is a jarring move.
Is the game any good?
Not really — at least not yet. Most critical and user reviews so far have panned Fallout 76 for its uneven marriage of multiplayer survival and traditional Fallout elements, in addition to its online instability and lackluster narrative. Some players who have stuck it out through the rough patches insist that there's a great game underneath, just waiting for some patches to clean things up. But it's also possible that the "multiplayer Fallout" concept was simply a bridge too far.
Does war ever change?
You probably already know the answer to that one.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.