Fall(ing)out

First up, everything that Jason Schreier from Kotaku reported was true: Fallout 76 is an online survival RPG. Second, my Concern Meter has been dialed to 11 since the E3 presentation.

As I said before, I am all onboard with a Fallout survival game. Exploring the wasteland and looting all the things consists of about 80% of my gameplay in this series, and I am currently on an extreme survival game kick the likes of which I have not experienced since my high school JRPG days. All of that sounds fantastic to me.

What was considerably less fantastic was this bit:

Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Skyrim and Fallout 4, welcome you to Fallout 76, the online prequel where every surviving human is a real person. Work together – or not – to survive. Under the threat of nuclear annihilation, you’ll experience the largest, most dynamic world ever created in the legendary Fallout universe.

That is direct from Bethesda marketing material, and you can hear Todd Howard say it several times during the E3 presentation. Oh, and here is Todd with the final nails to finish that RPG coffin:

“You cannot [play offline]. Even if you are playing by yourself doing quests, you will see other players.”

There are no NPCs. […] There are still robots and terminals and holotapes.”

“We want a little drama there [with PvP/griefers] without it ruining your game.”

Sometimes I wonder whether any of these people have ever played a videogame before.

So there it is. Apparently there will be private servers at some point in the future, complete with modding capabilities. Considering that would likely compete with their own (presumed) microtransactions, I won’t be holding my breath. I haven’t actually heard anything about microtransactions, for the record, so maybe they will surprise us by keeping things honest. Howard did admit that the modding scene is always where their games end up in the long term.

In the Reddit thread where I found the interview clip above, there was this amusing exchange:

So what do you do then?

Do quests and build stuff with friends.

Quests from who? Doing what? With no NPC’s who’s going to give a quest, or at least one that’s meaningful. How am I supposed to give a fuck about the quests if theres no reason in behind them

It’s a fair question, especially if someone has never played a survival game before. The answer: it doesn’t matter. ARK has no NPCs or quests and I racked up 136 hours playing by myself on a local server. For reference, my /played time on Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 are 128 and 96 hours, respectfully. Granted, the quality of those gameplay hours differs significantly – I can recall specific quests and epic moments from the Fallout games in a way I couldn’t describe cutting down the thousandth tree for wood in ARK – but the point is that entertainment can occur without there being a reason for it.

Plus, you know… Minecraft. That is a thing that people do.

Based just what we know today and random musings, here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Basically Fallout ARK minus the taming
    • Ghouls/robots/etc = dinosaurs
    • No human NPCs
  • Overseer quest is extended tutorial to get you to visit all six maps
    • Each zone unlocks specific progression crafting stations/items
    • Overseer is a robot/AI and possibly the Navi to your Link
  • All quests are passive, e.g. go here, find this, activate X, defend Y
    • No direct quest giver NPC, no factions
    • World boss spawns, and public group quests are frequent
    • Radiant-esque quests via Note Board or similar
    • Might find magazines/notes that lead to mini-dungeons
  • The six zones are not contiguous; fast travel at the edges/specific locations
  • Looting/scavenging is a big deal for building supplies, main motivator for exploring
  • CAMP system will reduce base griefing a little bit
    • Pack up your base before logging off; crops (etc) probably won’t grow though
    • Unable to spam buildings across the map to block locations
    • A ton of people setting up hostile turret bases near newbie areas though
  • XP and levels and Perks and Skills, like normal Fallout
  • “Jobs” in the trailer correspond to group-based roles (scout, tank, etc)
  • Always “dozens” of players per map, per server
  • Expect a lot of activity near best resource spawn locations
  • Nukes aren’t necessarily for griefing – they create endgame locations
    • Getting codes to unlock nukes is its own mini-progression
    • Extra hard enemies/bosses spawn in nuked area
    • Some kind of endgame resource spawns only there
    • Radiation requires loot/crafting grind just to survive brief trips inside
  • No private servers at launch
    • “Progression follows you” means getting OP on private, then griefing public
    • Or farming Power Armor quickly, then handing it to your friends
    • Alternatively, allow private servers but character cannot migrate

Most of that is idle speculation, but we can come back to it once more details have been released.

[Edit: Updated Youtube link, since first interview was taken down]

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Posted on June 11, 2018, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Apparently on reddit and elsewhere the current term for my feelings on this is “a hard pass”. When I saw the teasers for this I was assuming it’d be in my gaming future since I have a close friend who has played all the solo games avidly. But since he’s just as against survival PVP as I am, it’ll be a no until the private server option arrives. That said, for me survival sandbox games have no real appeal either so as there’s no real story to play I doubt he’ll drag me into it even then. That’s fine, I have no big investment in the franchise so I’m not annoyed by this announcement, but I can empathise with those who are against it.

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    • Not interested in the Fallout series generally?

      I was fine with the idea of there not being much story, as long as I had the ability to just wander about exploring the WV countryside (I actually grew up there) and doing Fallout-ish things like scavenging and such. Knowing there are people out there competing with me and possibly shooting on sight puts a significant damper on things.

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  2. On the story with no NPCs: You played The Forest right? That had a pretty awesome story without a single NPC. And that’s an indie game with far far more limited resources than what Fallout76 has. Give me 5-6 The Forest stories in 76, along with the expected hundreds of mini stories or interesting details around the world, and I’m good.

    I’m curious how the ‘you can solo’ and ‘you will see other players’ part works out. Does ‘seeing’ others mean ghosts or the effects of others? Or do the literally mean you can’t play without other people being around, and the ‘you can solo’ is strictly limited to ‘some of the quests can be done solo’. Again if its the latter, that’s a massive bait-and-switch, and would honestly really surprise me if it was the case.

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    • Ironically, I am playing The Forest right now. I had last played a year ago for ~10 hours when it was still in Early Access, so it was fun running around and then being surprised that there was suddenly a massive sinkhole. In any case, I don’t think I’m technically far in the “story,” having just gathered the Rebreather and the Climbing Ax, so I can’t really say if it’s successful in its storytelling. I will say that it will be a struggle for me to finish the game though, because I find the caves to be unfun and incongruent with the gameplay everywhere else.

      I’m not disparaging the “found stories” in the Fallout franchise, for the record. The Father in the Cave story from the Honest Hearts expansion was brilliant and touching storytelling. That said, since there are no NPCs, that means there aren’t any choices that matter from a story perspective, so this isn’t something like a normal Fallout game. Which is fine, as long as everyone understands that going in.

      We’ll get more details soon – I think there’s going to be a Behind the Scenes Youtube going up later tonight – but I don’t see how you can watch the linked interview (I updated the Youtube link) and not come to the conclusion that you’ll be playing with strangers that can kill you 24/7, “solo” or not.

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      • Main story progresses (or starts, really) once you begin the final cave. You need a few items (don’t want to spoil it, but easy to look up) to do that, but it can be done fairly quickly, especially if you already have the Rebreather and the Climbing Ax.

        The ‘side stories’ like the movie set camp, the yacht, and others I found were pretty interesting in the details. Some of the imagery in the caves (once you have the brightness up) was also very good.

        I watched that interview, and I’m still not convinced PvP will be ‘always on’. I think they want to force some kind of interactions between players (at least until they enable private servers with mods), but they don’t know yet how to do that without it being a gank-fest. Beta I’m sure will give them a better idea, and most likely, we will end up with ‘PvE’ servers because we all know people are really, really good at griefing otherwise.

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