“Fallout 76” is a Fallout game you can play with others. Or at least that’s how Pete Hines, senior vice president of Bethesda’s global marketing, describes the game when I ask him for a one-line breakdown.
Despite the relatively simply and completely accurate description – one that was detailed during the company’s theatrical E3 press conference – Hines believes that people still aren’t quite understanding what this latest Fallout will be.
“I think some people get it and and some absolutely do not,” he told Variety. “They think it’s straight up PVP. They think it’s running around and shooting folk or that you can’t play by yourself, or that nukes are going off every minute or that you can grief people.
“They are judging it based on other things that say ‘online’ or ‘post apocalyptic.’”
But game director Todd Howard and his team have been working hard to ensure it doesn’t fit neatly into any stereotype or, really, genre and Hines believes the more that is revealed about the game, the more people will start to get exactly what it’s going for.
“Some will say, ‘I get it’ and some will say ‘I get it, but that’s not for me.’”
He’s not as concerned with players deciding that “Fallout 76” isn’t the type of game they want to play, but wants to make sure they make that decision after they understand it.
“The whole theme of this game is that you emerge and the world is a blank canvas, it’s your job to rebuild the world and everything that means,” Hines said.
That doesn’t mean that the game’s landscape is completely bare, there are still going to be the same sort of places and set pieces found in previous Fallout titles, but now players can build anywhere. They can also choose not to build, if they want to.
“If you want to be nomadic and never puts roots in one place you can totally do that,” he said. “You will find workshops, you can trade or not trade. Its entirely up to you.”
A driving force behind the creation of this game, Hines said, was that the team wanted to give players a way to share their game experiences and creations with others inside the game.
“All of the experience that everyone has shared has been over the water-cooler,” Hines said. “‘It hasn’t been, ‘We were in the game and did this thing together.’ You can build together together, but it can also be, ‘I don’t want to build, I want to do squads with my friends.’ Then go do that.”
While the core mechanics of the game seem locked down, there also appears to be a lot of nuance still being worked out. For instance, Bethesda hasn’t said how many people can be in one instance of the game. Howard said during the press conference that it would be dozens of people on the map, not hundreds and not thousands. Hines reiterated that.
“This is not an MMO and this is not a battle royale,” he said. “It’s supposed to feel like they just left the vault.”
The tech behind how this will be handled will be invisible to players. Hines says it will run on dedicated servers, but that players will never be asked to join any particular server when a game starts, they’ll just hit play. If you want to play with a friend, then you can join them or they can join you.
In terms of your building efforts, the concept is that when you’re building a settlement you’re blueprinting it, Hines said. So you can quickly remove and move your settlement without having to manually dismantle you place, pack it up and physically carry everything.
Hines also wanted to make it clear that while players can attack players, it won’t be a completely lawless free-for-all.
“It is important to note this is not just a full on PVP game,” he said. “Where you get in the world and everyone shoots everyone. It’s more like a challenge to another player.”
He said the game also has systems in place that prevent in-game bullying or constant harassment. But a lot of this is still being figured out, he said.
“You can’t just let things go unfettered,” he said.
Death in the game won’t cause a player to lose progression and when you come back into the world you won’t reappear where you died unless you want to.
“You don’t get all your shit looted if they kill you,” Hines added. “There is a revenge thing you can opt into and try to go head-to-head.”
One of the things the team is still working on is how to balance allowing players to play the game how they want to, but also delivering that sense of trepidation when they see another player show up on the horizon.
“We’ve come up with a couple of different iterations,” he said. “But we’re still trying to figure out how you make it feel like there is some still tension. We’ve tried different versions. I think the one we have now is pretty close.”