Fallout 76: beta, release date, perks and everything we know

Fallout 76 is a multiplayer survival game, and it has a release date, a beta launch window—and it's not launching on Steam. This will be the largest 3D Fallout game ever, and among other things, it'll let you nuke other players with pals. 

At QuakeCon 2018, Bethesda Game Studio's Todd Howard revealed more information about PvP, the game's new perks system, a new photo mode and tons more. You'll find all that information 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, and it will be preceded by a beta (or B.E.T.A) for Fallout 76, available to those who pre-order the game. 

Fallout 76 beta starts in October, and the game won't launch on Steam

Pre-ordering the game at a 'participating retailer' will get you access to the Fallout 76 beta, which is coming in October, after the beta launches first on Xbox One. The game isn't launching on Steam. Instead, you'll have to use Bethesda's launcher. "The PC version of Fallout 76, for both the B.E.T.A. and the launch, will be available only via Bethesda.net, not on Steam," says Bethesda

Progress from the beta should carry over to launch. "Our current plan for the B.E.T.A. is it will be the full game and all your progress is saved for launch. We hope you join us!"

Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game

As rumored, Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game. 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. Just the junk in your inventory, which you can choose to go back and retrieve.

"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 camps, 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.

Your camps can be blown up by nukes, too, but a blueprint system in the game means that reconstructing them shouldn't be a huge deal.

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, given the change in style of game. 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."

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."

At QuakeCon 2018, Todd Howard reiterated the studio's commitment to private Fallout 76 servers that players can mod, while explaining that providing this is a "complicated problem that we're one-hundred-percent committed to solving."

Fallout 76 can be played in singleplayer, but has optional PvP and a griefing solution

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."

As for PvP, you can't be killed if you're under level 5. This is the point where PvP begins in Fallout 76. "We want this element of danger, and it sounds weird to say, without griefing," Howard said at QuakeCon 2018. When you initially shoot a player who hasn't started a conflict with you, you do a small amount of damage, compared by Howard to "slapping someone in a bar." If a fight begins between two willing players, there's a cap reward based on the level of the target. Getting revenge on a player who has previously killed you will double the reward.

You can label your character pacifist if you're looking to avoid griefers, and if someone starts a fight anyway, you can choose to ignore or block that player. If someone kills you and you didn't want to participate in that fight, they'll get no reward. In fact, they'll become a wanted target, with a bounty coming out of their own caps, plus they'll be marked on the map with a red star and won't be able to see the other players on the map coming to get them. Sounds like a pretty decent griefing solution for an open world game. GTA Online could learn a thing or two.

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.

There are no NPCs

Everyone human you meet in Fallout 76 will be a player, and while there are quests in the game 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."

Fallout 76 has a new perks and progression system

Fallout 76's new card-based perks system gives you a new perk at every single level. In the trailer above, you can see a load of these new cards, of which there will be "hundreds" offering different buffs. Examples include Grease Monkey, which makes workshop items 30% cheaper to repair, or Mystery Meat, where using a Stimpak may generate edible tissue (and the chance is improved based on how irradiated your character is). 

Each card is attached to one of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats and has a point cost, which is linked to how high the stat in question is. The higher the stat, the more points you can spend equipping cards relating to that stat. These cards can also be upgraded as you level up, but they'll cost more points to use as a result. Until you reach level 10, you'll get a perk pack for every two levels, providing four random cards, which will let you experiment outside of your chosen progression path. 

You can also share perks with other players, by levelling up your charisma stat. You might offer your squad a weapons boost, for example. Solo players shouldn't worry, either: expect some perks to work in your favor.

With each level, too, you'll put a point into one of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, up to level 50. If you're playing with others, having a mixture of specialties will naturally be of benefit. You can retool your character at any time if you fancy a different build, plus you can alter your character's gender or appearance.

Your character can also mutate with enough exposure to radiation. As the trailer above explains, you can usually expect one aspect of your character to be buffed, while another is impaired. Their example is a higher-jumping character who loses a little intelligence. 

Fallout 76's map is 4 times the size of Fallout 4's

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' camps to rubble just like Megaton in Fallout 3, that's a thing you can do. And then you can go in and loot them.

Nukes can destroy camps, but you can rebuild these elsewhere using the aforementioned blueprints. Expect nukes to remain infrequent, however.

Here's Fallout 76's gameplay 

Bethesda's Todd Howard took to the stage to explain how Fallout 76 works at E3, 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. 

Below, meanwhile, is the complete Fallout 76 QuakeCon 2018 panel. Head to the 55-minute mark to check out the game's fun new photo mode in action.