Fallout 76: release date, perks and everything we know

Fallout 76 is a multiplayer survival game, it has a release date—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 your pals. You can watch 30 minutes of Fallout 76 gameplay footage above, and learn loads more about the game below. 

If you're looking for info on the Fallout 76 beta, we have you covered on that front, too. 

Read more: Fallout 76 review

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 B.E.T.A for Fallout 76, available to those who pre-order the game. 

Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game

Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer survival game. That's quite a departure from Fallout's traditional singleplayer roots, though it 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—about 24 to 32, apparently. On Fallout 76's sprawling map, 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."

Fallout 76 has its own version of 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, given the change in style of game. You now use it in real time...but don't get too excited. Chris tried it out (video above), and VATS in Fallout 76 ends up having a kind of magic bullet effect. To begin with, VATS simply shows how likely you are to score a hit, before giving you a result based on those values. You can level up and use perk cards to unlock the option to choose specific parts of an enemy's body. 

In what we've played, though, the bullets just find a way to hit enemies even if your gun isn't pointing at them, which is kind of strange. It might make more sense with a controller, but with a mouse and keyboard it's hard to figure out exactly how we'll use it.

Fallout 76's base-building is really important

Fallout 76 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. You can put your camp down wherever you want, and append it with useful stuff. It starts off pretty simply, but with better materials and blueprints, you can start purifying your water and adding workbenches. Discovering new parts of the world will help you improve your camp.

Since your base is portable, you can take it with you, which means no backtracking if you want to craft extra stuff. Camps aside, you'll want to keep an eye out for workshops in Appalachia. These let you build almost anything, and something you'll need from these are extractors, which are machines that generate important materials while you play. You can't put extractors anywhere else except with workshops, so you'll need to guard these spaces from other players, using turrets and the other available defenses.

There will be server-wide events 

While playing you may encounter different kinds of events.  “When you get near one, it starts broadcasting for help,” Todd Howard told Game Informer. “It’s like a timed multiplayer quest.” 

Chris noted during his hands-on with the game that there are 'lots' of server-wide events in Fallout 76. He describes a typical one as "escorting a robot through a town utterly swamped with feral ghouls," which he failed almost instantly as a solo player. You'll be able to fast travel to these events, though, so don't worry about wasting time sprinting across the map only for the thing to be over once you arrive. 

The world is zoned by level

The world of Falllout 76 is a hostile place, and some areas are far more hostile than others. If you planned to explore the map freely in all directions as a new player, you might find that extremely difficult.

“It’s more of a zoned game and more level-jumped than our previous stuff,” Howard told Game Informer. “Some of the feedback we’ve gotten is, ‘I’m just going to run across the map. I died. It got hard.’ There’s a reason for that. We have higher-level zones.”

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 PvP and punishments for griefing

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 up to level five 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. 

That said, there is also a dedicated way to start a mutual fight in Fallout 76. It's a game inside the Pip-Boy called Hunter/Hunted, which Bethesda's Jeff Gardiner describes as "a really cool game of assassination." If you 'opt in' to the game, you become an assassination target, and get to hunt others who have chosen to opt in too. If PvP is your thing, this might be a fun way of trying it out in Fallout 76. The exact rewards for participating aren't clear yet. 

There's also damage resistance scaling for PvP, so a lower level player won't necessarily be destroyed by a higher level player. If the opposing player has better equipment, though, this'll factor into how the fight plays out.

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 quests but no NPCs or dialogue options

Every 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.

"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."

Austin Wood, playing Fallout 76 for us, says he didn't even notice the lack of NPCs in the world. You'll acquire new quests from examining objects or by entering new places, so don't worry about being short of things to do. 

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. This is really important. You might offer your squad a weapons boost, for example. But you might also share a card that has a 5 percent experience boost—with three charisma, you can afford to share this with your entire party. Then if you upgrade the card so it offers a 10 percent XP boost, you'll need six charisma to share it, and so on. Obviously that offers huge scope for strategising with fellow players, and an incentive work work in a team. Solo players shouldn't panic, though: 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. You'll still get new perks after level 50, however. 

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. The overall world is known as Appalachia, much as how Fallout 3's world was referred to as the Capital Wasteland. 

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.

Fallout 76 has nukes: see one in action

The West Virginia of Fallout 76 is home not just to mutants and monsters (and players), but missile silos. Nukes are scattered around in the world, and when defeating enemies you may come across a partial code. See what a nuke looks like in the video above. 

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.

Fallout 76 gameplay: get an extended look at how Fallout works in multiplayer

We finally got to play Fallout 76 in October, and above is 30 minutes of the game in-action. Only Xbox One code was available, unfortunately, but it'll give you a good cross-section of what a typical stretch of exploring Appalachia looks like. Below, you'll find the game's various reveals from across 2018, starting with the E3 trailer. 

Also, here are the opening couple of minutes of the game, in which we are shown a scene-setting video that covers the founding of Vault 76.