If you have been completely disconnected from gaming media then you may not have known there was a pretty significant announcement yesterday from Bethesda, or at least a very tantalizing teaser. The truth is this started several days ago when they began a live stream that simply focused on a color test pattern with a vault boy bobble head beside it. During the stream various weird things happened and you can see a run down of these clips over on Polygon. There were apparently over 2 million people who at least watched some of the stream and at the very end… we were treated with a teaser for a new game called Fallout 76.
This morning I am going to dig into some of the details of the trailer. It opens on an old pipboy setting off an alarm that plays Take Me Home Country Roads which gives us I believe the location of the vault… as 76 was rumored to be a “control” vault in Virginia. The song itself says West Virginia… but the majority of the topography that it describes is actually in Western Virginia. As the image continues to slide into frame we can see a clock denoting that it is October 27th of 2102… 6:34 in the morning if that matters. This is significant because this places Fallout 76 is the earliest fallout game to date. Here are some important dates in the fallout universe…
- The Great War – Saturday October 23rd 2077
- Fallout 76 Trailer – Monday October 27th 2102
- Fallout 1 – 2161
- Fallout 2 – 2241
- Fallout 3 – 2277
- Fallout New Vegas – 2281
- Fallout 4 – 2287
Basically Fallout 76 is taking place 25 years after The Great War that started and ended the same day as the bombs fell. In theory Vault 76 was supposed to open 20 years after the destruction of the world so that folks could go reclaim the wastes. So we are left with a conundrum… because if you see the scene with the Reclamation Day celebration, it does not look like those are leftovers from 5 years ago. If you look at the balloons there are some with air and some without… so unless balloons work vastly different in the post apocalyptic world that would lead me to believe this is a few days after the Reclamation Day party…. which would make a sort of sense given that it would be 5 days after the 25th anniversary of the Great War.
There is a poster on the wall showing that Vault 76 was created to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the United States, which syncs up with the Mothership Zeta references from Fallout 3. Past that I am not sure what else can be gleaned about it other than I just think its cool to see all of the things we have found from other games still in a relatively new state. Granted 25 years have passed but I think in the most part we are seeing a vault before the systems start to break down. In truth probably the same Overseer is in place that was put there the moment the folks went into the vault, and most of the administration is likely all the same. Sure there might have been some children of the vault in that time frame but for the most part the people who are exiting are the ones who entered in the first place. According to the Citadel records there were supposedly 500 individuals in the control vault giving you a nice big number of potential people to go out exploring the wastes as.
In this shot you see Jangles the Moon Monkey and on the bed is a fedora and a fully loaded backpack, which tells me that we are seeing the player character just about to embark out of the vault, gathering up their stuff. This syncs up with the final shot in the trailer of a person in a Vault 76 jumpsuit slapping on a pipboy… likely the one from the table and preparing to leave. Again most of these establishing shots seem to exist for fan service, so we can see what the vault looks like before things start going to hell. All of the things we regularly pick up as junk are shown… from an Abraxo box to some Sugar Bombs… and of course the ever present Nuka-Cola.
There is a trophy case that is way too blurry to read at 1080 p or lower resolution, but I was able to crank the video up to 4k and capture a decent shot of what at least one of the awards says.
Outstanding Achievement Award
In appreciation for your commitment and dedication to our isolation program. Sacrificing many so some can live.
The Excellence in Bravery award is a little harder to read but it seems very similar… and you can notice at the top of the shot an award for the “Annual Vault Halloween Costume Contest” which I guess might explain why there is the head of what looks to be some sort of a gopher mascot character on the top of the bookcase in the image with the 1776-2076 poster.
So ultimately what does all of this mean? This is a new Fallout setting that is far enough out of band with the rest of the games… as to give it some legs to stand on its own. This is set 59 years before Fallout 1 the earliest entry in the franchise and 185 years earlier than Fallout 4 the latest incarnation. Jason Schreier the Game Developer Whisperer mentioned yesterday that the game would have some sort of an online component, and that this is what the Battlecry team in Austin has been working on.
A follow up tweet provides some additional details…
To make things even weirder… there is an Anonymous redditor on December 28th of 2017 posted “Fallout 76, a fallout themed rust clone coming soon”. This was largely ignored by the community however because who the hell trusts an anonymous poster on reddit? There have been so many things supposedly leaked there that turned out to be complete bullshit. However in hindsight… the person got the title right and if you combine that with the various comments from Schreier it has a little more weight to it. I guess the ultimately question is… is that a game I really want to play? I have never been a huge fan of the Rust/Ark/H1Z1 competitive survival game genre, so I think ultimately for me… it will depend on how much forced player versus player interaction is in the game. If there are straight PVE servers (or the ability to roll custom servers)… then yeah I will probably be happy as a clam to play this game.
Unfortunately I think I would have rather had just a straight MMORPG conversion of the Fallout universe ala Elder Scrolls Online than some sort of a survival building game. If I was putting on my wishing hat and going for broke… I would have loved for Fallout 76 to be a small scale group/solo game along the lines of Destiny/The Division set in the Fallout universe, where you roam around a big open world wasteland with MMO style player progression but a more drop in/drop out sort of ethic and seamless 10-20 player instanced pockets. Sure base building would have been probably a big part of that given they have really amazing tech to let us have essentially “player housing” but the focus would be on exploration and completing of story content rather than on killing other players. I really hope the progression is not based on killing other players.
I’ve devoted entirely too much time this morning to tearing into this… so what are your thoughts? Are you excited for the June 10th pre-E3 Bethesda press conference? Are you excited about the prospects of Fallout 76? Are you afraid this is going to be another fucking Battle Royale game? I have some mixed thoughts after more additional information has come out about it, but that said… I will still be watching on twitch as the official announcements are being made.