Like the vaults themselves, Fallout 76 has become a curious social experiment. Since launch, the initially egalitarian West Virginian wasteland has slowly been splitting its community with microtransactions and premium conveniences, which reached their zenith last week with the launch of Fallout 1st (opens in new tab), a premium membership subscription. Now some players seem to be gearing up for a class war.
"Fallout 1st players are being targeted in adventure mode," claims a player on Reddit (opens in new tab). The Fallout 1st icon and fancy gear makes them stand out, apparently encouraging other players to grief them. While some seem to think Fallout 1st players are fair game, others see it as harassment of innocent players over Bethesda's business decisions.
It's not like West Virginia was a peaceful commune before Fallout 1st, however, and players hunting down their fellow survivors is nothing new. PvP is also largely opt-in, and you can't be killed by another player unless you're hostile. Generally, there aren't that many ways for people to get under someone's skin.
We've even got what looks an awful lot like someone pretending to be a subscriber riling people up on the other side. "We need to assemble and build gated communities for ourselves," reads Potato_Seduction's call to arms on Reddit (opens in new tab). "Piss poor 76ers are targeting us!" The day before, however, they were calling the game a cash grab, so this is clearly a double agent. So much intrigue!
I doubt we're going to see a bloody uprising of disenfranchised players, but there's undeniably a lot of frustrated players looking to vent. Lots of games have players split into subscribers and free players and don't get criticised for splitting the community, but in most cases they either launched that way or were originally exclusively subscription-based. In Fallout 76, the subscription came out of the blue. Every time a utility item was added to the cash shop, there was a great deal of grumbling, so the reaction to a $100 per year subscription hasn't been a surprise.