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‘Fallout 76’ Nukes ‘Not Fun,’ Say Nuclear War Experts

Bethesda’s upcoming multiplayer role-playing game “Fallout 76” lets you drop nukes on your enemies in the Appalachian Wasteland, and some nuclear war experts aren’t happy about it.

“ICBMs are not fun. Or funny,” Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Navy War College and the author of “No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security,” recently told Motherboard.

Variety got the chance to see one of the nukes during a recent preview event in West Virginia. After experiencing the game’s opening moments and engaging in a little player vs. player combat, journalists got to watch Bethesda drop a nuke into the game world. Some even rushed toward the mushroom cloud, their digital avatars melting from the radiation.

Fallout 76” development director Chris Mayer told Variety getting the necessary codes to launch a nuke in-game is a “difficult, team-focused process.” Players won’t see one in the early days, he said, because it’s a game-changing experience. “As you get high level, get the nuke code and set it off, it changes the area into a much higher level area,” he said. “We see that as a repeatable new content loop.”

This isn’t the first time Bethesda has launched a nuke in the “Fallout” universe. “Fallout 3” infamously let players decide whether or not to destroy a town with one. But, their use in “Fallout 76” is leaving an especially bad taste in the mouths of experts who say nuclear war shouldn’t be trivialized.

“I have always been somewhat ambivalent about ‘Fallout,’” Martin Pfeiffer, an anthropology PhD student at the University of New Mexico, told Motherboard. “I would argue that a focus on the aesthetics of nuclear warfare rather than the human toll descends into spectacular #NukePorn … navigating a post-nuclear wasteland for fun, well. That line between satire and an aestheticized and fun post-apocalypse can get awful thin.”

“It’s one more reason I won’t be playing the game,” Nichols said. “ICBMs are not fun … they created the hellish world your player is in. Launching them for laughs is a complete violation of the sense of the game.”

“Fallout 76” comes out on Nov. 14 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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