James Finney | Tech Editor
New gameplay footage of “Fallout 76” was released on Oct. 8 by a group of journalists and YouTubers who were invited out to a play session in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Bethesda game studios hosted the event in the real-life fallout bunker built under the famous Greenbrier hotel. Players were given three hours to explore the wilds of West Virginia, and were accompanied by high-level Bethesda employees sitting comfy back home in Maryland.
Players began the session when they were woken out of their beds in Vault 76, after a long night of partying. The story of “Fallout 76” begins on reclamation day, the day that the residents of Vault 76 rise from the ashes of the irradiated Appalachians to rebuild American civilization.
“Fallout 76” follows the example of “Fallout 4” in both form and function. The character creation system works exactly the same way it does in “Fallout 4,” except for that once the player is done modeling their character to be, they are given their first chance to use the new photo mode unique to “Fallout 76.”
Here’s the cute part, photos that players take in “Fallout 76” will reappear as a part of their loading screens in future play throughs. It’s a fun and sentimental way of attaching players to their new lives in West Virginia.
Speaking of which, the mountain state is modeled with loving attention to detail. As players began to exit the vault, some still wearing their party hats, they were treated to the stunning visuals of the West Virginian wilderness, albeit with a dose of radiation and post apocalyptic destruction thrown in.
While the game was a feast for the eyes, players did experience several drops in frame rate and the occasional issue with short draw distances. It should be noted however this play session took place on a version of the game that was completed sometime before the current beta build that will be dropping on Oct. 23 for Xbox and Oct. 30 for Playstation and PC.
As players hiked through abandoned towns and took their first look at the refurbished, and much more colorful map design, they also got their first taste of combat in “76.”
Combat against NPC’s is largely unchanged until you enter V.A.T.S, the “Fallout” franchise’s iconic, time-stopping targeting mechanic. V.A.T.S can no longer slow time due to how it would effect multiplayer combat. Now, it serves as more of an auto shooting mechanic that removes the burden of aiming from players who struggle with the shooter part of ‘Shooter-RPG’ experience. That being said, the system looks clunky and is kind of an eyesore.
Fighting against other players has been a point of major anxiety for many members of the “Fallout” community who were already skeptical of how a “Fallout” game could go multiplayer. They will be relieved to hear that committing murder in “Fallout 76” is much more of a burden for those who perpetrate the act then those who suffer at the hands of griefers.
For one, players will do very little damage against anyone passing by until they decide to return fire. Combat is also level-balanced so that a level five player will at least have some semblance of a fair fight against a level 50. If however someone does get away with killing another player, a bounty is placed on their head that will be payed out of the killer’s pocket. These players will also be unable to see anyone else on the map, but everyone else can see them.
In other words, they’ll have a target on their back.
Leveling up has been a big point of confusion within the community as well, and while the system has been clarified, some people might still find it a little confusing.
Perks have now been turned into a sort of card system. When players level up, they have the choice to invest a single point into one of their S.P.E.C.I.A.L categories and then select cards to equip. Each card has a number value that signifies its strength and can be equipped so long as the number value of the card is below or equal to the value of the trait category it is assigned to.
The session was wrapped up when the Bethesda team gather all of the players at the top of Vault 76 to witness the launching of a mini nuke. It was one of the end game activities that players can set their sites on.
As the bomb went off, most of players did what any reasonable person would do, and walked into the radiation cloud to see what would happen. Naturally, they all died, and everyone got to have a laugh of it afterwards.
Fallout 76 releases on Nov.14 on all platforms. Anyone interested in playing the beta or accessing unique goodies at the start of the game should pre-order their copy as soon as possible.