Split Baby

Have you ever seen a friend or coworker make a terrible decision in what felt like slow motion? Like they asked for your advice, you said “No, that’s a terrible idea,” and then they do the thing anyway? Then they stop back by, tell you the terrible result, and then detail their even worse plan for “fixing” things?

Welcome to the Fallout 76 PvP Show. Todd Howard is your host, and tonight he’ll be splitting a baby.

QuakeCon just ended, and there was an entire panel on Fallout 76. A transcript/summary of sorts is up on Reddit and that’s where I’m getting the following information:

Question: PVP. People are concerned. What’s the deal with griefing? How can we we enjoy our own game or ruin somebody else’s?

  • Todd jokes, “This is why I don’t go on reddit!”
  • The game is designed to be both PVE and PVP as part of the core experience. They want you to have a sense of danger around other players, but (and he muses here that it’s weird to say), they want that sense of danger without griefing.
  • When you shoot another player, you do only a small amount of damage to them, not full damage, akin to an annoyance or an invitation to PVP. If the other player shoots you back and engages, the kid gloves come off and everybody is doing full damage.
  • There’s a cap reward for killing another player; the higher their level, the bigger their reward. After you die, you can choose to “seek revenge”, which doubles the cap value that the enemy who killed you is worth.
  • Even if you do not engage the enemy, they can eventually kill you with that reduced damage. “Which sounds terrible…” but if you do that to somebody who doesn’t want to fight, you get no reward, you become a wanted murderer.
  • When you become a wanted murderer, a bounty is placed on you and is sent out to every player on the map. When a wanted murderer is killed, they pay the bounty out of their own cap supply (there was a large applause here).
  • A wanted murderer loses the ability to see other players on the map.
  • A wanted murder is always visible on the map to every player, even when sneaking.
  • Their goal was to turn players who are trying to ruin other players’ experiences into interesting content, and they are really happy with how it works.
  • As a side note, when you see other players on the map, you don’t get their exact location, only the general area.
  • Jeff shares that during the last play session, somebody became a murderer. He had just finished building a high-power sniper rifle when he got the notification of the bounty, and set out to take him down. He stalked the area until he came across the murderer exiting a building, where he popped his head clean off with his sniper. He looted some of the junk used a dance emote, took a picture over the body, and logged off.

Later on, there were two additional notes of… er… note:

  • You can choose to ignore specific players. If a player kills you, a button prompt appears allowing you to ignore them for that session. If you ignore them, they can’t see you on the map, which makes it pretty much impossible for them to mess with you due to the size of the map.
  • They’re also working on a pacifist flag that you can activate, so your stray bullets will never harm another player by mistake. They mentioned how players who were trying to egg other players on would wait for them to shoot a creature, then run in front of them in order to grief them, and the pacifist flag was born.

So, let’s recap. If you’re out in the world, you cannot be instantly killed by a sniper griefer. That’s good. Griefers can, apparently, keep poking you with bullets until you are near-death though. And if you were in the middle of fighting off a pack of feral ghouls…? Question mark. If they outright poke you to death, the “wanted murderer” status kicks in and they’ll be a big target for everyone else while also losing the ability to see other players coming for them on the map. It’s not specified whether or not this status persists if they log off, or lasts until they are killed, or what. The griefer will also lose Caps directly from their own pocket, although it isn’t specified what happens if they don’t have the amount of Caps available.

Or, you know, what happens if the griefer has a buddy or alt account. Account A kills you, gets Wanted status, Account B kills A, and then hands the bounty reward back over to A.

And just think about this PvP system for a moment. You “poke” them with bullets, and if they return fire, then the match is on. If you’re looking for a fight, there’s no reason not to just fire off a few rounds at everyone you see. I mean, the only way you can even find consensual PvP is by firing at other players. Presumably you would only start fights from an advantageous position, and being ahead on HP is already good. So we’re absolutely in a “shoot first, ask questions later” state.

Plus, death penalties are back. You don’t lose your weapons or armor, but you drop your “Junk,” which I’m assuming means generic crafting materials. Considering that that is probably why you are out exploring in the world in the first place, it’s pretty important. Unless, of course, you want to engage in some PvP, in which case you likely aren’t carrying around any Junk with you, since you drop it all on death.

So, we have two classes of players. The ones who want to fight and will have nothing to lose, literally, for just shooting you several times… and then everyone else just trying to get on with their day. Instead of, you know, just making PvE and PvP servers. This convoluted nonsense is what happens when you split a baby.

None of this is even what really worries me about Fallout 76. What worries me is the incredible lengths Bethesda is going through to prop up this pillar of specific gameplay. Which means this was an arbitrary, top-down design decision that they are willing to bend the whole game around just to make it work. “Every NPC is a human player!” You can still do that in a PvE server. So… why? Why bullet pokes instead of emotes, or raising a flag on your map marker, or just having PvP servers?

The simplest explanation is that they feel there’s nothing else worth doing in the game. Getting more powerful so you can kill your human opponents though? That’s a perpetual hamster wheel that will be spinning until the heat death of the universe, no further dev time required.

Posted on August 13, 2018, in Fallout and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Spot on analysis. All that didn’t make me think “oh great, these devs are really thinking hard about the problems of griefing”. It just made me feel tired that yet another game is hanging their flag on PVP without any real concession to those who want true PVP-free gameplay. . So many hoops to jump through to try to assuage fears when the solution is so simple (but not within their narrow focus).


  2. Agree overall, especially the part about PvP being a locked in decision, and everything else being warped around it. What’s weird is I have a hard time imagining a Bethesda Fallout game where the PvE isn’t good enough to stand on its own, and they feel the game will collapse without PvP. Imagine if F76 comes out, the whole PvE experience is on par with Fallout 4, and then everyone is basically annoyed because the occasion PvP-fleeshooter interrupts you? How is that BETTER than what F4 did?

    On the other side of the coin, is PvP even going to be fun? I mean why boot up F76 to shoot people on a large map over PUBG? I can already say the gunplay is going to feel worse in F76, as will the overall game balance. Maybe, maybe F76 has more ‘progression’ than PUBG for PvP, but then again maybe not if F76 plays it safe and goes mostly towards cosmetic rewards/progression, which is exactly what PUBG has right now.


    • What I’m kinda worried about is how everyone’s character still appears on the map at all time… unless you’re sneaking. So even if the chances are low that any particular player you encounter is going to want to grief you, the “optimal” strategy will be crawling along the ground at 50% speed the entire time. And/or checking your map every 10 seconds to see if someone is coming your way. It’s just going to get very annoying, very quickly.

      Like you said, if people want fun PvP, they’re going to be playing Counter-Strike or CoD or whatever else. The only people looking for fights in Fallout 76 are the dedicated griefers.


  3. What’s even more surprising is that Devs never seem to learn. How did mixing PvP and PvE work for Sea of Thieves? What about Worlds Adrift, where they finally cracked and announced PvE servers? Which recent PVE-oriented game did benefit from having a “griefer-free” PvP offer bolted on?


    • Yep. And Todd Howard already said that there will be private servers and modding later on, and I guarantee that one of the first mods out there will be one that disables PvP entirely. They could do that right now… but won’t, for whatever reason.


  4. They are being retarded. The reason is that they put in PvP without giving players any legitimate reason to PvP, besides being a jerk. I mean you don’t PvP in League of Legends because you want to be an ass, but because that’s the only way to win the game. The opponent has every reason to be alert and want the same.

    But is there “in character PvP” in Fallout 76? Is there a reason for your character to attack another character? I’ve seen none.


    • That’s an extremely good point. Everything that the devs have stated is that they want encountering other players to “have a sense of danger,” presumably similar to what would occur after a real apocalypse. “Will that guy be peaceful and trade, or will he kill me?” That would make sense… if every single human in the game didn’t come from the same Vault. In-game, it would seem like people are just psychopaths.

      Nevermind the fact that you only drop Junk as loot (not weapons/armor), Junk will infinitely respawn everywhere like every survival game, and you can respawn for free near your corpse.

      So, really, the devs seem to just want the feeling of danger, rather than be committed to some kind of actual PvP system. Or, splitting the the baby.


  1. Pingback: Fallout 76, griefing and the concept of “productive PvP” – Greedy Goblin

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