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Fallout 76 Wastelanders: Everything we know

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Shortly after Fallout 76's release last year it became clear that one very pivotal part of Fallout was missing: the humans. Talking and negotiating with other folks trying to make it in the wasteland is a large part of Fallout's charm, players felt. Bethesda agreed, apparently, and began working on the foundations for the Fallout 76 Wastelanders update shortly after the original game launch in November 2018.

The Wastelanders update will deliver a new story quest, branching dialogue, choices and consequences, and unique companions, as players will meet and interact with two new human factions: settlers and raiders. Things are about to get a lot more lively in Appalachia. 

Fallout 76 Wastelanders was revealed at E3 2019, and here's everything we've learned so far.

What is the Fallout 76 Wastelanders release date?

The Wastelanders update for Fallout 76 was originally scheduled to release sometime in the last months of 2019. After realizing that it would need more time to "make sure the work we’re doing hits our quality bar, and yours," Bethesda announced that the update would be delayed until the first quarter of 2020. 

It will be a free update for Fallout 76, and if it's anything like the Wild Appalachia update, Fallout 76 Wastelanders won't appear all at once but will be spread out over a few months, with major updates every few weeks and smaller patches interspersed between them.

You can see the Fallout 76 Wastelanders E3 trailer above.

It will bring human NPCs to Fallout 76

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The original idea for Fallout 76 was for the players to be the only living humans in Appalachia. The only NPC contact would be through holotapes, terminal entries, notes, and robots.

But players missed having conversations and a dialogue system, and as it turns out, so did the developers. "We realized in hindsight that what we do best is NPCs and talking," Jeff Gardiner, project lead for Fallout 76, told us at E3. So they began working on bringing NPCs and dialogue back to the game shortly after launch in November of 2018.

How will the human NPCs work?

Fallout 76 Wastelanders

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The dialogue system will be similar to Fallout 3, though you're mostly going to be seeing these NPCs in instanced areas.  "Obviously, if I kill [an NPC] in the game, other people need to be able to interact with that NPC," said Gardiner. "So they will be in closed areas, frankly, and other areas where we can control the environment better than an exterior."

In other words, these NPCs won't just be strolling around freely on the map, but you'll have to go visit them in specific regions that are separated from the rest of the world.

You'll be able to align yourself with either the settlers or the raiders, though that doesn't necessarily boil down to a simple choice between good and bad. "There will definitely be shades of gray," said Gardiner.

Dialogue is meant to be experienced between a single player and an NPC, as opposed to an entire team talking to that NPC together.

"The group system is, if you're on a team, the team leader will be ultimately the one driving the conversations," Gardiner said. "However, if you're outside and you want to talk to NPCs to advance your quest, you're gonna have to do a one on one, because we want to make sure everyone is experiencing the story, making the decisions and not just sort of following along with the team leader."

There will be companions you can romance

The settlers and raiders will each have unique companions available, and you'll be able to romance them and win their favor through dialogue and by completing their personal quests. As is Fallout tradition, your companions will have opinions on your actions and may approve or disapprove of the things you do.

The companions, however, won't be able to follow you everywhere in world of Fallout 76. "The following part, right now, they're basically going to be in your camp," Gardiner said. "Or in towns. We have technical limitations there, frankly."

NPC dialogue will be 'more like Fallout 3' than Fallout 4

Fallout 76 Wastelanders

For a lot of fans, this is welcome news. At the Fallout 76 Quakecon 2019 panel, project lead Jeff Gardiner said 76's dialogue system would resemble Fallout 3, with a list of fully written responses. That's in contrast to the simplified dialogue of Fallout 4, which truncated responses into four options that didn't always accurately preview what the character says.

There will be new weapons, armor, enemies, and activities

Fancy panning for gold? A shot in the E3 trailer shows someone doing just that in a river—potentially a river that's not irradiated, because they seem pretty casual about it. We also get a glimpse at a horrifying new monster stalking around in the wilderness on long, fleshy legs, though we don't know exactly what that creature is yet. We're also told there will be new weapons and gear to acquire, but we don't have details yet on what it will be.

We will update this article as we learn more about Fallout 76 Wastelanders.