Feature Article

Fallout 76: Review, Guide, Power Armor, And What You Need To Know

Here's what we know so far about Bethesda's upcoming online action-RPG.

Only a few years after Fallout 4's release, Bethesda surprised fans by officially announcing Fallout 76, the next entry in its beloved post-apocalyptic RPG franchise. The new game was revealed in a trailer after a series of teases, and Bethesda discussed it in more detail at E3 2018 and at QuakeCon 2018. We even got an opportunity to play the game at a recent hands-on preview event. But the game is out now, and we've only just began to make strides in Bethesda's sprawling adventure.

To ensure you're kept up to date on everything there is to know about Fallout 76, we've compiled all the information we have on the game so far: the platforms it's on, its online functionality, its anti-griefing features, and where the game falls in the series' timeline.

If you've been playing the beta, you'll be happy to know that the game is receiving a launch day update containing a ton of new content. In the meantime, be on the lookout for our full review, as well a slew of guides to help you get started in the game.

Our Fallout 76 Review

"Bethesda has stated it intends to continue supporting the game for a long time, but at launch, Fallout 76 is a poor experience. There are echoes of the series' admirable qualities, but look past that facade, past the cute Vault Boy animations, past the familiar radio tracks, and you'll find no heart--just an inconsequential wasteland doomed to be nuked over and over again." Read our review.

What is Fallout 76?

Fallout 76 is a prequel to all of the previous Fallout games. Set in 2102, you play an inhabitant of Vault 76 who emerges from the shelter 25 years after the bombs fell on America. Your task is simple: explore what remains of post-apocalyptic America and rebuild civilization.

Longtime fans will likely recognize Vault 76; although it's not a place we've visited before, this isn't the series' first mention of it. Both Fallout 3 and 4 reference it and, according to the Fallout Wikia, this West Virginia-based vault was occupied by 500 of of America's best and brightest minds. Unlike the more grotesque experimental vaults in the Fallout universe, Vault 76 is a control vault intended to be opened 20 or so years after a nuclear war. But if the Vault was supposed to open 20 years after the bombs fell, why have 25 years gone by? The story has a few surprises in store for those willing to tackle its myriad challenges.

Fallout 76 uses the Creation Engine, the same engine used to make Fallout 4, but it will purportedly feature much more graphical detail than its predecessor. Game director Todd Howard has said that Fallout 76 has new rendering and lighting technology, which allows for "16 times" the detail.

Who's Developing It?

Bethesda Game Studios, the Maryland-based developer responsible for the Elder Scrolls series and both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, is at work on the game. In addition, Bethesda Game Studios Austin--formerly BattleCry Studios--assisted in fine-tuning the Creation Engine to support multiplayer functionality.

Is It An Online Survival Game?

Fallout 76 is a much different sort of game from its predecessors. It's "entirely online," but don't worry, you'll be able to play it solo too. According to Bethesda, the idea to take this approach to open-world survival came four years ago, when it started to work on building a multiplayer Fallout experience. Howard described the game's approach to survival as "softcore," which means death doesn't equal loss of progression.

You can form a party with up to three other players. You won't be able to manage your placement in servers when you login, as you'll automatically be inserted into a session with others upon booting up the game. Of course, you also have the option simply join alongside your friends and play together.

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Howard commented that Fallout 76 will have dedicated servers that will support the game "now and for years to come." At launch, there will only be public servers, but Bethesda plans to introduce private servers that will allow players to invite friends to play in order to prevent undesirable behavior.

Some classic mechanics from past games will be changing to accommodate the shift to online play. For example, V.A.T.S has been reconfigured to work in real time, while still allowing players to target specific enemy body parts. But this time around, it has been updated to be more of a tool that allows you to spot out dangers in the environment.

How Big Is The World?

According to Howard, Fallout 76's world is four times the size of Fallout 4. There are six different regions to explore, and each has its own unique style, risks, and rewards. Confirmed areas include the West Virginia State Capitol, The Greenbrier, Woodburn Circle, New River Gorge Bridge, and Camden Park. Contained within each area is a variety of new creatures to encounter, some of which are based on West Virginian folklore. You can take at the full map in the image below.

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What Can You Do?

Like previous games, players spend the majority of their time exploring and completing quests. However, Fallout 76 does not feature any human non-player characters, as all surviving humans are controlled by active players. Instead, the game uses a combination of robot NPCs, collectible recordings, and environmental storytelling in order to give players what they need to piece together quests and the story at large.

Given the game's premise of rebuilding the world, there's base-building elements similar to Fallout 4. You're able to set up a bases anywhere using an item called the Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform, or C.A.M.P. These can be placed down in the world and allow you to construct an impromptu camp. We got to see the player laying down walls and decorating the base with pool tables, toilets, and other household objects. As the "mobile platform" part of the name implies, your CAMP can also be picked up and relocated, allowing you to move your base anywhere in the world.

No Caption Provided

While you can help build the world, you can also destroy it. If you have the necessary nuclear launch codes, it's actually possible to access a missile silo to fire a nuke at any point on the map. Doing so irradiates the chosen area, but it also allows for the opportunity to discover rare weapons, gear, and items. Be wary; nuking an area also causes more powerful enemies to show up, making it more difficult to survive. But don't be discouraged by this, the C.A.M.P. blueprint system makes it easy for players to quickly rebuild their homes, and if they're privy to an incoming threat, they can pack their things and move to a new location.

As an online experience, player choice is incredibly important, going as far as giving players the freedom to choose who are the heroes and who are the villains. Early footage showcased multiple players engaging in combat and participating in friendly activities, which seems to indicate that players have the freedom to choose their paths in the world of Fallout 76.

How Does Character Creation And Progression Work?

There are similar character creation tools as Fallout 4. However, you're free to change your appearance at any point. In addition, you can also utilize the game's new photo mode during the creation process to better see how your character looks, as well as snap some shots you can share on social media.

The SPECIAL system returns and it's a bit different. Like previous games, SPECIAL encompasses the following stats: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck. You're given one point to put into any of those stats every time you level up. The first thing you do when you emerge from the vault is pick a SPECIAL and then you pick a perk in that particular SPECIAL. Essentially, every SPECIAL is a pool of points for your perks.

But unlike previous games, perks are now cards you can equip and unlock as you rank up in a given SPECIAL; though, you're free to swap cards out at any time if you want to alter your build. Each SPECIAL characteristic you develop has a perk card cap of 15. These perk cards can be enhanced further from one to five points to increase their power.

You can obtain additional perk cards via Perk Card Packs (four random cards), which you earn every two levels initially (1-10), and then every 5 after that. You can also pick one perk card per level, usually from your SPECIAL choice. There are hundreds of Perks cards you can unlock, so naturally SPECIAL ranks cap out after a while (you gain a rank up in a SPECIAL each time you level up). At level 50, you'll stop increasing SPECIAL ranks, but you'll still get card packs.

How Does PvP Work?

When you shoot someone you do a little bit of damage, which can be equated to lightly slapping them in order to challenge them to a duel. In response to this, the other player can choose to ignore or engage. If they engage in a battle with you, they'll start to take full damage. The one who is killed in this consenting PvP match has the option to seek revenge. Doing so gives that person the opportunity to get double the rewards granted they're successful.

If you'd rather choose to ignore a PvP match, there's no way to escape being killed--despite the small damage dealt to you during the initiation phases. However, if you are killed by a player under these circumstances, that player becomes a Wanted Murderer and will receive no rewards from having killed you.

A Wanted Murderer is marked on the map as a red star and a bounty is placed on their head. Players looking to cash in on this bounty aren't visible on the Murderer's map. If the murderer is killed, the money from that bounty is taken out their stock.

In order to give players time to properly acclimate to how Fallout 76 plays, PvP won't be available to players until level five. And if you perish from any PvP encounter, the only thing you'll lose is the junk you've been collecting, which can be reclaimed after death if not already picked up by other players. You can always store junk in stashes found around the world, so as to safeguard a portion of your stock. Armor and weapons are retained in your inventory after death.

How It Plays: Our In-Depth Preview

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We recently got a hands-on with a build of Fallout 76. It plays similarly to Fallout 4, but it features some new additions that subtly shift the paradigm established by past entries in the series. We got to experience three hours of the game, exploring a decent chunk of the opening area while taking on quests and generally working cooperatively with the players around us. There's a lot to unpack about how the upcoming multiplayer open-world RPG, so be sure to watch the video above and read our full thoughts in our in-depth preview detailing what we got to play.

Any Voice Chat?

It's possible to chat with your teammates and even strangers you discover out in the world. It's area-based so your ability to hear other plays will vary. But if you want nothing to do with strangers, it's possible to mute their voices entirely.

Guides And What To Do First

Fallout 76 is a massive game that just might overwhelm you right at the start. To help ease the pain of emerging from Vault 76, we've gathered together some recommendations of where to go first. But if you want a full rundown on stuff you should know before starting, check out our Fallout 76 beginner's guide. In addition, we have guides on Perk cards and Power Armor locations.

Release Date

Fallout 76 is being developed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and is currently scheduled to be released on November 14. Unfortunately, there's no word about a Nintendo Switch release, which didn't seem out of the question after the Skyrim re-release made it to that platform.

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Now Playing: Fallout 76 Gameplay: Watch The First 20 Minutes

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

mrblondex

Chris Pereira

Chris Pereira is GameSpot's senior editor and global head of news. He likes Twin Peaks, The X-Files (before it was bad), and serial commas.

Fallout 76

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GoingPewPew

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Let me give you the biggest and bestest tip. Don't buy and don't play this game.

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thomas01

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Without NPC's this game really sounds boring.

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fraga500

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screw this game lol. rip bethesda

3 • 
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Cashmoney007

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I can’t stop making fun of this game. It is getting ripped on Metacritic.

Bethesda: We have a big open world for players to explore. It will be great! We promise!

3 • 
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ecurl143

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Well, if the user reviews on metacritic are anything to go by, this game is heading towards a world of hurt.

https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/fallout-76/user-reviews

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neatfeatguy

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@ecurl143: What do you expect from people these days? Well thought out, personal reviews or simply an out for them to bitch because they want to feel important?

There are very few actual scores and write-ups from users that actually takes time to explain pros/cons. Most of the entries from players are:

1) Best F'ing game EVER! EVER! All praise the most honorable Bethesda!

Or....

2) Worst Fallout EVER! Bethesda is stupid. Bethesda sucks. Where is Fallout 5? Fallout 76 is bad!

Do yourself a favor, ignore all the lovers and haters of the game. Read up on reviews, check out some gameplay footage and decide if the game is good for you or not.

2 • 
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RonThallsBalls

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So pumped for this game. Whole time I was playing Fallout 4 I was like, “man, this game would be so much better if there were no npc’s, more base building and a buncha mmo fetch quests instead of story missions”. Hopefully they really cram this release with microtransactions and make the building mechanics even more cryptic and tedious than fallout 4’s were so everyone can give it a 9 outta 10.

7 • 
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Johnnyboy787

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Not supporting this game or Bethesda anymore, this its just an excuse game to push sweet microtransactions, Bethesda looks like wants to follow EA steps.

5 • 
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batsu336

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Edited By batsu336

@johnnyboy787: You must be related to Trump, making wild claims with no facts to support your assertion. Bethesda has already stated that any microtransations for the game would be cosmetic only.

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Xiomata

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@batsu336: But they did push microtransactions, so johnnyboy787 is actually right

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devilwaersprada

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usually i pre-order games however as much as i would like to buy fallout 76 i dont think it would be a good idea everybody pretty much knows that bethesda have doubled down on fallout 76 on their online idea i mean whats not to like pubg, fortnite and the like have really cashed in on it however this kind of marketing strategy has a drawback of course sales and profits are great news for the company however in the end it might hurt bethesda and the fallout ip in the long term so its a great short term idea but i dunno about the long run it might hurt the company more anyway i might get it after the dust settles hopefully it will still be worth it

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Pyrosa

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@devilwaersprada: Wow... I mean, there's thing called a "period" you could throw in there every once in awhile. It's cool that you have a lot to say, but please make it a little less painful to read.

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Redsyrup

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When a game is sold as a service [that won't function 5+ years down the line] because the servers have been decommissioned it should cost $10 max. Push your bs monetary DLC and micro transactions all you want but don't charge full price for game that will eventually be broken by the publishers own neglect.

2 • 
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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

@Redsyrup: Subscription models for individual games lost years ago. Some offer it as a tiered model, but no investor would back that now.

Bethesda knows they can get away with their own accounts, their own launcher, and $60 entry fee. If this ends up killing it (which it apparently already has, so sayeth the silent majority), then expect it to continue.

BTW, how many games have you played consistently for 5 years? Not series -- specific games. Sure, we all come back and replay some games, but when it's not based around an SP campaign focus in the first place... Bot many.

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Redsyrup

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@Pyrosa: According to BGS Fallout 76 is also a Single Player Game. Anyone who buys it as such should have permanent offline access to play it as such. Do you disagree or are you okay with Single Player Games given 5 year life spans?

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Marky360

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Man with all the hate surrounding this game its likely gonna bomb bigger then Hiroshima lol. Bethesda what on earth possesd you to take one of your biggest SINGLE PLAYER RPG franchises and make it multiplayer focused? You shoulda known these ppl were gonna be pissed about this.

4 • 
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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

@Marky360: Don't let the noisy few fool you.

A few thousand haters versus a million downloads and counting...

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Marky360

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Edited By Marky360

@Pyrosa:

Naw dude this game is gonna bomb when you got prominent Fallout YouTubers and Fallout modders even saying they're not getting it. This game is doomed.

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batsu336

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@Marky360: Gonna be fun watching all the people who say it's going to bomb have to back-pedal and try to make excuses for why it doesn't.

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Marky360

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@batsu336:

I don't know this game in my honest opinion looks like this year's No Man's Sky and will likely bomb big time in its release.

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Tuf

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Many of you need get the dildo's out of your asses, stop being so butthurt, and realize that Bethesda was never going to make a true Fallout sequel so soon after the release of 4. This is something new and experimental for them. Surviving with friends in a Fallout world is a fun and plausible idea. Don't worry basement dwellers you'll get ES6 soon.

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MisterVulpes

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@tuf: I think it’s more that this looks to be a push towards genres littered with MT nonsense and “games as a service BS”

As soon as I hear anything along the lines of “it’s about the stories players make for themselves” I’m instantly cynical. It comes across as lazy.

6 • 
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siarhei

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Edited By siarhei

@mistervulpes: the lines of “it’s about the stories players make for themselves”

I hate when devs say that, it puts me on high alert immediately

4 • 
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TheMegolith

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@tuf: Spot on. So many people complaining about a game they haven't even seen in action let alone actually played. This game is the perfect format for an MMORPG.

3 • 
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se7en1989

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@tuf: Everyone's allowed their own opinions. Stop crying about it.

8 • 
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lithus

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“Howard described the game's approach to survival as "softcore," which means death doesn't equal lost progress.”

Great, combine this with the light damage troll “slapping”...this will be a griefers paradise.

4 • 
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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

@lithus: There will be pacifist servers online before the kids hit Xmas break. Count on it.

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springdaddy

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Nope.

6 • 
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Redsyrup

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RIP Fallout. Maybe after playing Cyberpunk BSG devs will feel inspired to make another great single player RPG?

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Tuf

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Edited By Tuf

@Redsyrup: Bethesda has been making great single player RPG's long before CDPR's first Witcher game released in 2007 so your comment about inspiration is completely invalid. If Cyberpunk was never a thing Bethesda would still continue to make great RPG games. I feel you've only played Fallout 3, NV, and 4 and have no idea what you're talking about.

2 • 
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willhen50

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@tuf

I don't understand the statement where Bethesda said Fallout 76 can be played in SINGLE PLAYER mode, but you have to play on their SERVER with other players.: They also said MODS can be created and used in the game. The one thing I object to and what a lot of Multiplayer Games are doing, is making available items or upgrades for PURCHASING with real $$$$$$$$ on top of the $80 price for the game.

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CALPWN7

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Cancelled my preorder yesterday

7 • 
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Pyrosa

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@calpwn7: LOL... You never had a preorder... Nothing came out yesterday other than a download link for a not-yet-runnable download of the BETA.

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CALPWN7

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@Pyrosa: This comment was a month ago, you sound stupid

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Abdulrahman1981

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@calpwn7: why?

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TheMegolith

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Edited By TheMegolith

@mindyrvelasquez: Become a bounty hunter. It proves you're better than they are and you get to collect resources directly from the griefer. Sounds like fun to me.

4 • 
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Pyrosa

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Edited By Pyrosa

@themegolith: I am aaaallllll over that. As soon as I get my 3 main workbenches built, and the usual 10 turrets posted around the CAMP, I'll be doing nothing but mopping up Griefer asses.

...and that's with a build solely focused on INT-PER-AGI. They'll just hear the one sound...

2 • 
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elusive_mg

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i will be getting it, especially cuz exploration, quests, dungeons, raids etc

2 •