While the internet continues declaring Fallout 76 the greatest disaster in videogames, players are quietly getting on with making their own fun. Their latest creation is the Nukashine challenge.
When the brewing and distilling update arrived, it added a new drink called Nukashine that causes blackouts. When you drink it you spend a couple of minutes watching Appalachia change colors like it's being digitally graded by a movie director who has just discovered the effect, and then you wake up in a random location.
The rules of the Nukashine challenge are simple. First you strip naked, stashing all your clothes and equipment except for a knife, a can of food, and one purified water. Then you drink a bottle of Nukashine. Wherever you wake up, you have to journey back to your CAMP without fast-travel, crafting new gear, accepting help from other players, or accessing any stashes.
I modified the Nukashine challenge's rules a little. After reading about people waking up right next to where they'd placed their CAMP I decided on Vault 76 as a reasonable home to return to instead, with the added bonus that I might get to streak past some noobs. And I replaced the knife with a cane wrapped in barbed wire because I didn't have a knife. Then, I visited the speakeasy to cook up some hooch.
Actually, first I visit a farm to harvest corn and razorgrain, the two ingredients I was missing. Is Nukashine some kind of bourbon? Back at the speakeasy I bust out a tune on the piano because another player is there and my rule is that I have to entertain other players when I can. Then I get to distilling.
Alcohol needs time to ferment after being crafted, but when I look in my inventory I realize I already have some vintage Nukashine right there. Forgetting what's in my inventory is a bit of a theme for me.
I duck over to a stash, strip down to underpants and Pip-Boy, and put away everything I own except the allowed food, water, and my barbed cane. Then I drink the Nukashine and crawl around some rubble watching the world cycle through blue and red for a while.
When I wake up it's to the sound of a "new region discovered" notification, which is not a good sign. I've got one high-level character I've been playing since the beta and another who is only level 10 I use to bum around the starting area. That's the character I chose for this challenge, so when I wake up on a raft floating in The Mire just north of Valley Galleria, it's the first time I've been this far east with him. I shouldn't be in this area till I'm at least level 30.
There's a teddy bear and an empty jug with me on the raft and not much else. Last time I drank Nukashine I woke up next to a toy bear as well, but there were also two garden gnomes and a skeleton. When there are no NPCs around to party with I guess you have to make your own fun.
The first problem I face in the Mire is that water's radioactive and I'm on a river. A mad dash for the bank leaves me only slightly ticking, but also attracts a swarm of bloodbugs. The mutant mosquitoes are level 10 so I figure I can take them, but hiding in the middle of the gang is a legendary bloodbug who drops my health to a quarter while I flail about with some wire on a stick. Not for the last time I run away, splashing through the swamp until I lose the buzzing jerks.
Then I drop into a crouch, and just in time. A level 40 Hulking Mega Sloth looms over a ridge above me, roaring and grumbling.
It doesn't see me as I sneak away through the grass, which is lucky. I get lucky again immediately afterward, finding a chem box with some goodies in it, but then get distracted by brahmin falling from the sky. Dead two-headed cows plummeting to the ground is unusual, but it could just be a bug making them spawn at the wrong height. However, in a nearby power station there's a fight going on and I can see a huge Gulper rampaging around. Maybe it tossed the brahmin over here? Whatever is happening I do not want to hang around to find out.
West of the Mire is the Savage Divide, a mountain range full of super mutants I stay as far away from as possible. Snacking on my food and drinking my water gives me back a slither of health, but it's not enough to make me feel good about having to stealth past super mutants, or the high-level feral ghoul officer pinging away because he's got a nuclear code on his back.
Avoiding buildings and camps keeps me out of trouble, but also prevents me from finding any healing items, weapons, or, you know, pants. I found a pickaxe in the Mire but it's 35 levels too high for me to swing. After a while I get brave enough to investigate a farmhouse, and though I don't find anything except a radroach, I do recognize the place. This is the farm I came to for the corn and razorgrain I needed to make Nukashine. I'm getting close to home.
Encouraged by this, I sprint out into the open and immediately get attacked by mole rats. They're harder to run away from than other enemies because they burrow into the ground and emerge at my feet wherever I am, so I club them all to death with my cane, getting bitten a couple of times for my trouble. Frantically rummaging through my inventory to see if any of the berries I grabbed along the way have healing properties, I remember the chem box back I looted in the Mire. There's been a full-strength stimpak in my inventory this whole time. I told you I forget things.
Now back at over half health, it's an easy jog up the mountain, braining a few more mole rats on the way to Vault 76. There's not a single other player in the area to see me posing triumphant in my underpants, however. I haven't seen anyone else since the speakeasy. It's a lonely old game sometimes, just me and my booze and the one teddy bear who is apparently my drinking buddy.
Still, I achieved what I set out to and only nearly died doing it. It's emboldened me, this nude run across the countryside. If I can survive with basically nothing I can get buy without being weighed down by dozens of spare chems, ammo for guns I don't have, and fragmentation mines I never use. I'm going to stop carrying two spare backup pistols in case one breaks and another runs out of ammo.
I'll keep the Nukashine till it ferments though, for the next time I get bored.