Everything we know about Fallout 76

At their press conference at E3, Bethesda finally dropped some major bombs about Fallout 76, the next game in the Fallout series which they've been teasing since the end of May. These revelations include its release date, what kind of game it is, and some details about the world and what you'll be able to do. In the days since then, developer Todd Howard has elaborated on several other details in the game, which we've captured below. 

Here's everything we know so far about Fallout 76. 

What is Fallout 76's release date?

November 14, 2018. That's the date Bethesda announced for Fallout 76 at E3, though there was another interesting bit of information revealed: there will be a beta for Fallout 76, available to those who pre-order the game. We don't yet know when that beta will begin, but we'll update you when we find out.

Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game

As rumored, Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game in the vein of DayZ or Rust. That's quite a departure from Fallout's traditional singleplayer roots, though Bethesda confirmed that Fallout 76 will have a storyline and quests to complete as in its singleplayer RPGs. 

And unlike some other online survival games, you'll be sharing the world with relatively few other players. There won't be hundreds of players per server, but dozens. On Fallout 76's sprawling map, it sounds like you won't be running into other players every time you turn around. When you die, you won't lose your progress, either. 

"This is not an MMO and this is not a battle royale," Bethesda's Pete Hines told Variety. "It’s supposed to feel like they just left the vault."

It will feature a base-building system that look similar to Fallout 4's settlement construction features and sentry defense systems. Those bases, as shown in gameplay footage, can be attacked and destroyed by enemies. According to Bethesda's Todd Howard, you'll be able to build your settlement anywhere on the map you desire, and you'll even be able to pack it up and move it elsewhere.

Bethesda plans to support mods, but not at launch

Mods have been a major part of Bethesda's RPGs, providing new content, tweaks, fixes, and hundreds of extra hours of enjoyment through user-created content. The revelation that Fallout 76 being an online-only game had everyone wondering if it would be moddable.

"We love mods, and so we are 100 percent committed to doing that in 76 as well," Todd Howard said speaking to Geoff Keighley at E3. "We will not be able to do that at launch though. Our goal for launch—this is really new for us—is have a well-running, robust service, and then some period later, we're currently still designing what that service looks like, you'll be able to have your own private world and be able to mod it and do all of that."

That in itself isn't the clearest statement, and it sounds like even Bethesda isn't yet sure exactly how modded content will work. But other online survival games, like Ark: Survival Evolved and Rust have mod support, so there's clearly a way to make mods work online without jeopardizing the game. It just won't be right away.

Where and when does Fallout 76 take place? 

Fallout 76 takes place in West Virginia. It's also a prequel to every other Fallout game: your character is among the first of the vault dwellers to leave their vaults and venture back into the world in the year 2102.

According to computer logs found in Fallout 3 and a mention by the announcer at the start of Fallout 4, Vault 76 was one of 17 'control' vaults, designed to house 500 inhabitants and scheduled to automatically open 20 years after the war. By forcing its residents to re-enter the world, their success could be studied and compared against other vaults that remained locked.

You'll be able to play it solo, and it's not 'full-on PVP'

For singleplayer fans, this is probably the biggest concern: will we be able to play Fallout 76 on our own? According to Bethesda, yes.

"Of course you can play this solo," said Todd Howard. "You'll be who you want, exploring a huge world doing quests, experiencing a story, and leveling up."

Isn't exactly easy to believe, however, considering the footage we've seen, that you'll be able to survive successfully on your own. Fighting not just enemy mutants, monsters, and robots but other human players sounds like it could be quite an ordeal. However, as we've seen in other online survival games, it's possible that dedicated servers may support a PvE-only environment, and not just PvP. We hope to find out more about this in the near future.

There are no NPCs

Everyone human you meet in Fallout 76 will be a player, and while there are quests in Fallout 4 they won't be coming from human NPCs, because there aren't any in the game.

"There are no NPCs," said Todd Howard, talking to Geoff Keighley at E3. 

"So that's one of the big differences that we really leaned on, which is, every human, every character you see is a real person," Howard said. "But there are still robots, and terminals, and holotapes. If you see a lot of the quests we do in Fallout 4, that is part of this found world quest thing? We still do all of that."

The map is 4 times the size of Fallout 4

Fallout 76 boasts an enormous world, 4 times as big as Fallout 4, according to Bethesda. This world was built with new tech as well. "We always start with the world, and this time it features all new rendering, lighting, and landscape technology," Todd Howard said at E3.

The world of Fallout 76 will feature six different regions, each with their own distinct flora and fauna. 

What kinds of enemies are in Fallout 76?

Some of the enemy creatures you'll meet are based on the local folklore of West Virginia, such as the Wendigo (seen above) and the Mothman, which can be glimpsed flapping its giant wings in the trailer.

You can launch nukes and irradiate entire areas of the map

The West Virginia of Fallout 76 is home not just to mutants and monsters (and players), but missile silos. A video shown at Bethesda's E3 press conference described how player can obtain the launch codes for those nukes. They're scattered around in the world, and when defeating enemies you may come across a partial code. 

When combined with other fragments of the same code (which may require teaming up with other players) a complete launch code can be pieced together and a nuke can be launched. It appears as if you can fire the nuke at any location on the map, resulting in a massive mushroom cloud and the irradiation of the area. If you want to reduce other players' bases to rubble just like Megaton in Fallout 3, that's a thing you can do. And then you can go in and loot them.

It's currently unclear entirely how long the effects of the nuke will last. But it definitely sounds like you don't want to get caught in the blast.

Here's Fallout 76's E3 gameplay 

Bethesda's Todd Howard took to the stage to explain how Fallout 76 works, why they wanted to make a multiplayer game and more. Here, you can see the longest video of Fallout 76 gameplay available so far, and check out the game's sharper graphics technology. 

Fallout 76 will feature VATS

VATS, the Fallout series' method of precision aiming is returning in Fallout 76, but it's not quite the same as it used to be. You now use it in real time. "It doesn't slow time," says Bethesda's Todd Howard in an interview with Geoff Keighley. "But it lets you target and pick parts and all of that, but it's in real-time. It still works great. It's different, obviously, because it's real-time, but the basics of it, which are, 'I can't really—I'm not that good of a twitch shooter' … You can kind of picture how it works. Like, I'm not as good as lining up someone and getting a head shot, but I've made my character good at VATS, and now I can do that." It sounds like a stat you level up, in that case, to compensate when you're not landing the kills you want in the game. 

It's based on scrapped plans for Fallout 4 multiplayer

"Fallout 76 is the multiplayer design from Fallout 4," Todd Howard said in a documentary about the making of the game. "While developing Fallout 4, Bethesda wondered: "Hey, should we do multiplayer? 'Probably not.' What would it be? 'OK, it would be this.' Let's talk it through. 'OK, that's pretty awesome.'"

While it was ultimately decided not to include multiplayer features in Fallout 4, Bethesda kept discussing the idea, which originated as far back as 2013. Eventually, they decided to make a separate game around the idea of online play with the help of Battlecry Studios, a subsidiary of Bethesda's parent company Zenimax (Battlecry recently re-branded to Bethesda Game Studios Austin).