At Bethesda's E3 showcase, Fallout 76 fans got a look at the reveal trailer for Wastelanders (opens in new tab), the big update coming to the game this fall. It will add human NPCs to the game along with branching dialogue, new quests, and 'unique companions' from the two NPC factions: the settlers and the raiders.
But if you're expecting your companion to obediently follow you everywhere on the map like Nick Valentine from Fallout 4 or Fawkes from Fallout 3, it's not really going to work that way in Fallout 76.
"We're going to keep the companion details loose, I'll be honest with you," said Jeff Gardiner, project lead for Fallout 76, when we spoke with him E3. "But the general gist of it is: they'll be romance-able, you'll be able to get quests from them, advance their storyline."
But even if you romance them, they won't trail you around the entire map. "The following part, right now, they're basically going to be in your camp. Or in towns. We have technical limitations there, frankly."
The new human NPCs in Wastelanders won't really be wandering around outside in general, either, but will typically be stationed in instanced areas like towns, due to the multiplayer nature of Fallout 76. "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."
Unlike the exterior world, your companions will be able to accompany you on small quests in these instanced areas. "There will be little bit of that," Gardiner says, "but it won't be like Lydia carrying your burdens."
Gardiner wouldn't say if companions could be leveled up or if you'd be able to give them some of your gear—"We're working those out right now," he said—but companions will approve or disapprove of the actions you take as in earlier Fallout games.