The Fallout games have always been about the horror of nuclear weapons, about how they could potentially destroy most of the world and leave the rest an irradiated crapsack. Fallout 76 gives players the chance to drop a nuke if they want to, and you might think you'd never want to do such an awful thing.
This feeling lasts about five minutes into the actual game, at which point you encounter other players chewing noisily over open mics and jumping around crafting stations in their underpants. Thermonuclear punishment suddenly seems justified.
But it's a long road to getting your finger on the big red button. Naturally, there are Fallout 76 spoilers below.
First of all you'll need silo codes, which can only be found on scorched officers and ghouls of the officer variety. They're easy to spot because they wear backpacks with an antenna that has a flashing red light on top and also makes a beeping noise that only stops after the code has been looted from their corpse (as seen and heard in the video above).
You might even find an officer who has already been killed (sometimes by other monsters hostile to ghouls), and since multiple players can loot the same body in Fallout 76 you'll still be able to nab a copy of the code for yourself. Officers usually hang out with gangs of either scorched or ghouls, and can be found randomly all over West Virginia. Try Uncanny Caverns in the Forest, Mount Blair in Ash Heap, Abbie's Bunker in the Mire, and Grafton in Toxic Valley. (The one in the video above all by his lonesome was spotted between the Charleston Fire Department and Belching Betty, which is a mine on Mount Blair).
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie
You'll need to keep looking for a while, because you need eight of these code fragments to unlock a silo. Furthermore, there are three nuclear silos (Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie, which will be marked on your map as soon as you find a relevant snippet of code), and each officer randomly drops code to unlock a specific one of them. If you've got four fragments of Alpha's code and your next scorched officer drops part of Bravo's, then keep looking. Don't take too long, though—after a week they self-destruct to prevent hoarding.
To even reach the point where you can use those codes you'll need to gain access to the silos, which means passing a hand-scanner in the elevator that leads down to them. To get clearance for that you'll need to join the Enclave faction and get promoted to the rank of general. You may have spent hours in Fallout 2 and 3 fighting those evil government jerks, but now you're going to have to grit your teeth and join them. Since this is all in service of activating a nuclear bomb, it's not like the moral high ground is yours anyway.
This questline starts at the Abandoned Waste Dump, near Harper's Ferry in the east of the Mire. You'll find a holotape in a deathclaw nest which will lead you to a nearby Senator's bunker, and from there to another bunker in Whitespring run by an Enclave AI named MODUS. Working for MODUS—which is definitely not a supervillain name—gets you into the Enclave, but to rank up you'll need to go to Camp McClintock in the Forest, pass basic training to become a soldier, and then earn 10 commendations either by completing Enclave Events (public quests that appear on the world map), or by killing three-star epic creatures or scorchbeasts.
Only after you've turned in 10 commendations at the Enclave terminal will you be promoted to general and given clearance to enter the missile silos. Even that's not the end, as there's a final code-breaking puzzle to solve. If you don't want to figure it out yourself, head over here for a guide to cracking it.
Finally, you can choose who to drop a bomb on and scavenge some sweet irradiated loot. By this point you'll have been playing for long enough to have made enemies with someone worth nuking to hell and back. Like that one guy who keeps jumping in circles around the crafting station in his underpants while you're trying to turn junk into scrap.