Fallout 76's Skyline Valley update expands the map into new beautiful areas, but I'm just happy to have more cults to fight and weird stories to uncover

Power armour standing in front of a vault door
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Instead of releasing an expedition like the last couple of Atlantic City updates, Skyline Valley expands the map, diving into the south to uncover new quests, points of interest, and violent inhabitants. And boy, did I have my work cut out for me during my hands-on as somehow I managed to encounter every single cult under the sun. 

Skyline Valley expands into the Appalachian Shenandoah Valley, which will make up the new bottom of the map. After dropping into the new location, it didn't take long for me to figure out that something wasn't quite right, even by Fallout's standards. Just look up at the sky—clouds aren't meant to look like that. 

Character looking at the sky

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Amidst the 20 new places of interest to explore and 12 new quests to complete, there's a story for you to journey through. The epicenter of the strange storm that has engulfed the Shenandoah Valley leads to Vault 63, and here lies Hugo Stoltz, his family, and his army of ghoulish employees called lost engineers, all of whom aren't very happy to see you and wield electric batons and guns. But to get to the bottom of this strange ecological disaster, you'll either have to befriend or betray Hugo and solve the mystery for yourself. 

"The expansion of the map is amazing," lead producer Bill LaCoste says. "The story behind the lost [engineers], Hugo, Cassidy, and how the weather is changed in that area by the weather machine that causes all these issues within the vault. We've all been playing in Appalachia for so long, and now we have something really, really new here." 

It certainly seems like a cool story to latch onto for this update, but that's far from the only exciting aspect of Skyline Valley. I opted to spend a lot of time in my hands-on session doing what I always do: exploring the map and digging deep into any small tidbits of information I could find, whether that be from following strange trails or hacking terminals. My travels took me to the spooky Dark Hollow Manor, the historical Rapidan Camp, and a communist brainwashing site at Camp Liberty, as well as pretty much every other point of interest on the map. 

Rocking up to Camp Liberty, I expected to find a couple of old derelict huts and maybe some good loot, but instead, I stumbled upon a classified experiment. Full of mostly female members, everyone was acting as if they were in the heart of communist Russia, with old Soviet uniforms and ushanka hats. I was only planning on passing through but then one of the recruits called me a capitalist pig and began shooting at me, so I decided to take a quick detour. 

Vault 63's door lying in rubble

(Image credit: Bethesda)

After fighting every single communist soldier in the camp including a communist commander—even unleashing a legendary yao guai on them—all my work was done and I began rooting around for any clues as to why this camp existed. After finding some loose documents and hacking into their terminal, I found out that these people weren't actually Russian communists who got stranded in the US after the bombs dropped and managed to keep the collective flame alight. It turns out that this camp was part of an experiment set up by the US government to see how easily citizens could be brainwashed, to then try and figure out how it could be undone. While this mission may just sound like therapy with extra steps, it's these kinds of strange stories and quirky residents that make me love Fallout so much. Skyline Valley is full of them. 

Wandering down the dimly lit cave system alongside eerie music was enough to make me a little cautious despite my high level.

After carrying on a bit further down the map and stopping by the Slumber Mill Motel to fight some angry lost engineers and read through the business' complaints log, I ventured into the wilderness and eventually came across the Old Crimora Mines, where I fell down a rabbit hole, literally. The cave system was full of intertwining pathways and small gaps to shimmy through, and just to make things more interesting it was also brimming with Mothman cultists. 

Fighting these worshipers wasn't too difficult as I'll admit I did have some incredibly overpowered weapons but it was still surprisingly creepy. Wandering down the dimly lit cave system alongside eerie music was enough to make me a little cautious despite my high level. It wasn't big enough to get lost in but the various levels did get a bit confusing. I'd follow the path down into the cave killing cultists as I went, and suddenly I'd be standing above the area I'd just come from. But my clueless exploring was rewarded at the end with a comfortable bone chair and a couple of cool shotguns. 

I had a great time exploring Shenandoah Valley, and slowly discovering a bit more about this new map expansion. It feels like a deliberate move in the right direction with all the new quirky locations plus an interesting story which expands on what we already know about Vault Tech as well as Vault 63. Skyline Valley is also the start of some more exciting developments for Fallout 76, not only will we be able to play as a ghoul, but Bethesda is also adding escort missions so you can join members of the Blue Ridge Caravan party while they run routes through Shenandoah. There's actually a great deal to look forward to, and I'm excited to see what else the team has to offer. 

Elie Gould
News Writer

Elie is a news writer with an unhealthy love of horror games—even though their greatest fear is being chased. When they're not screaming or hiding, there's a good chance you'll find them testing their metal in metroidvanias or just admiring their Pokemon TCG collection. Elie has previously worked at TechRadar Gaming as a staff writer and studied at JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs about Smash Bros. or any indie game that crossed their path.