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Everything we know about Fallout 76 private servers

The moment Todd Howard announced Fallout 76 as an “entirely online” post-nuclear RPG at E3, you could hear question marks bouncing around the showfloor like bullets out of a minigun. How many players will share a world? What about mods? How does PvP work? Can I play Fallout 76 on a private server? Am I going to get nuked (again)? VATS?

Will Fallout 76 get private servers?

Yes! At QuakeCon 2018 on August 11, game director Todd Howard confirmed again that private servers are part of the plan. "That is definitely something that we are doing. We are committed to it. It's not just having a private server, it's being able to mod it," he said in a Q&A panel. "It's something that, given the online nature of it, is going to be very, very complicated, but we're committed to it and we've been starting to design what that system is going to look like. It's a complicated problem but one that we're one-hundred-percent committed to solving."

This reiterates, with a little more detail, what Howard said earlier this year in an interview with Geoff Keighley during E3. “Our goal at launch—this is really new for us—is to have a well-running, robust service,” he said. “And then some period later, we're still currently 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.”

On August 27, Pete Hines stated on Twitter that while you will eventually be able to set up your own private server, the hosting will always be through Bethesda. You won't be able to host your own server on your own hardware, as can be done with a game like Minecraft.

When will Fallout 76 get private servers? 

Fallout 76 private servers will come sometime after launch. We now have a slightly better idea of when that will be. In an interview with Gamespot, Hines mentioned that mods may not be supported until at least November 2019—so we could have a long wait in store. "It's going to be a lot of work. But mods and private servers are definitely coming," he added. 

Will Fallout 76 servers have admin tools?

Nothing concrete yet, but expect some degree of control in adjusting the severity of PvP interaction with the fellow wasteland wanderers you invite into your realm. “We don’t want [PvP] to be griefy but we want to have some drama,” Howard told Keighley in the same interview. 

Bethesda’s Pete Hines backed up that sentiment in an E3 interview with, saying, “I understand when you hear 'online' or you hear 'multiplayer' or 'PvP' that people jump to, 'Well, it's an MMO,' or, 'It's a free-for-all where everybody's just shooting each other,' or, 'I'm gonna get griefed constantly by other players.' And the fact is, this just doesn't fit into the mold of anything else, because that's what Bethesda Game Studios does. We aren't the type of company and they're not the type of developer that looks at what somebody else is doing and says, 'Oh, we're just gonna do that.'"

You can use mods in Fallout 76 private servers, right?

Right. In fact, it’s looking like non-public worlds will be the only space where mods are allowed to flourish given Howard’s explanation. That’s subject to change, of course, as Bethesda is largely still figuring out the best course to take with custom content in an always-online environment with multiple player interaction. We’ll be happy as long as we can replace the launchable nuke with a Thomas the Tank Engine skin, but our guess is NPC packs and PvP-disabling toggles will be the most popular downloads.

Will Fallout 76 private servers still be online-only? 

Looks like it, though there hasn’t been any tech-side specifics involving how exactly private sessions will be hosted (PC-hosted servers, main server connection requirement, etc.). When asked about the possibility of offline play, Howard had this to say: “You cannot [go offline]. You will see—even if you’re playing by yourself doing quests—you will see other players, and you can interact with them, you can ignore them, because there is a quest line.” But who knows what modders will come up with?