Shortly after Fallout 76's release in 2018, 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 delivers a new story quest, branching dialogue, choices and consequences, and unique companions, as players meet and interact with two new human factions: settlers and raiders. Things are a lot more lively in Appalachia.
Fallout 76 Wastelanders was revealed at E3 2019, and here's everything we've learned since then.
What is the Fallout 76 Wastelanders release date?
We got to play a Fallout 76 Wastelanders preview prior to launch and found it a definite improvement, even if the new human inhabitants are very, very eager to tell you about themselves.
Fallout 76 Wastelanders launched on April 14, 2020.
It was originally scheduled to arrive sometime in the last months of 2019, but 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.
The second planned release date (April 7th) got pushed back amidst Bethesda's transition to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic. "We've done everything we can do minimize the delay and can't wait for everyone to play. A special thanks to all our Private Test Server players for all your help," Bethesda said.
It's a free update for Fallout 76 and you can check out the official trailer above.
Here's the new story trailer for Wastelanders
The new trailer for Fallout 76 Wastelanders hits on some of the main plot points and characters—mainly the turf wars between peaceful farming settlers and the raider faction. Both are hoping to make a life in Appalachia, just in their own ways.
Fallout 76 is now on Steam too
The factions of Wastelanders aren't the only ones moving in. Fallout 76 is now on Steam also. It's previously only been available on Bethesda's own launcher.
Players who own the game on Bethesda's store are able to claim a free Steam copy by linking their Bethesda and Steam accounts on Bethesda's site.
Bethesda has extended the deadline to link your accounts and claim a free Steam copy of the game until April 28th.
Watch 17 minutes of Wastelanders gameplay
Bethesda recently showed off over 17 minutes of Wastelanders gameplay at Bethesda Game Days. The presentation mostly focuses on conversations, which intentionally mimics the pre-Fallout 4 system that gives players more dialogue options.
Wastelanders will bring human NPCs to Fallout 76
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.
Fallout 76's original main quest has been 'revamped'
In addition to new quests coming as part of the Wastelanders expansion, the original main quest of Fallout 76 has been revamped. "Uncover the secrets of West Virginia by playing through an all-new main quest as well as a revamped original main quest line – with friends or solo – starting from the moment you leave Vault 76," Bethesda says.
How will the human NPCs work?
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."
NPC dialogue will be 'more like Fallout 3' than Fallout 4
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 are also Fallout 3 and Vegas-style stat checks in dialogue based on your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills. As in singleplayer Fallout games, you'll be able to intimidate or convince folks during dialogue or just get plain lucky.
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."
Here are the two new faction bases
The Wastelanders update will allow players to divide their allegiances between different factions. Bethesda shared images of two new settlements occupied by NPCs. One is a reclaimed construction yard called The Foundation, while the other is an abandoned space station occupied by raiders called The Crater.
You can side with the raiders if you want, but it'll be a bit more complicated than walking through the front door. "They’ve set up a rather formidable base of operations at the Crashed Space Station that they call 'Crater' and outsiders who drop by unannounced aren’t going to get a warm welcome," the announcement post reads.
Here's how the reputation system works
There are two main human factions in the Wastelanders update—settlers and raiders. Naturally, neither will trust you from the outset.
"The more you do to help a faction by offering information, taking down their enemies, and completing quests, the more you will prove you’re someone they can rely on and your reputation with that faction will increase," Bethesda says. "Eventually, you will rise through seven different reputation 'ranks', from Hostile or Cautious, to Neutral, Friendly, and Ally, among others."
It's not exactly a revolutionary system, but there are seven levels of reputation to get through so that seems to indicate it will keep us busy for a while.
There will be a main reputation story line for both along with daily quests for faction rep. As you climb the ranks, aligned merchants will offer you new types of goods from their stores.
You may need to move your C.A.M.P.
Fallout 76's new human folks have moved in and set up their own settlements. If your camp is currently built where they'd like to be, you'll get the boot. Bethesda says that you'll be able to relocate for free if you're living in one of the new no-build zones.