Bethesda’s popular Fallout series has been successful with their player vs. environment (PvE) style games in their previous titles. However, with Fallout 76, Bethesda is entering into uncharted waters by making it player vs. player (PvP).
If Bethesda has been so successful with the PvE style in their games, why would they change it? The only answer that I can think of is that they think they can bring their game to a whole new level with PvP. So this begs the question, is multiplayer the future of the Fallout series?
In order to get an idea of Fallout’s future, we must first look at the past and go from there. I am only going to look at the main games in the series, not any of the spinoffs. This post will look at Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76.
The original Fallout game, released on Windows and Mac in 1997. It was released by Interplay Entertainment, who would later sell the Fallout franchise to Bethesda Softworks. This game sets up the story for the rest of the Fallout series, so I feel it is important to take a little bit of time to set up what is known as The Great War.
As non-renewable resources, such as oil and uranium, become scarce, a “Resource War” is started among the nations. During this heated time, one thing leads to another and on October 23, 2077, nuclear war breaks out, mainly between China and the United States. Most of the major cities around the world have been destroyed and the only survivors are those who made it to one of the vaults in time or those who happened to be far enough away from the nukes to survive in a now desolate wasteland. This nuclear war is known as The Great War.
The game begins in 2161 and follows a survivor from Vault 13 who is tasked with the job of finding a water chip to replace the one inside of their vault. The survivor must do this before the reserve runs dry. The player, referred to as “The Vault Dweller,” is able to pick up to four companions and sets out on the journey.
Each of the Vault Dweller’s companions has an area of expertise that may come in handy later in the game. For example, one companion is a former wasteland ranger, while another one was a member of a gang like group and has useful connections. They provide the Vault Dweller with support along the way and help him complete his mission to save his vault.
Fallout 2 was released in 1998 for Windows and Mac and was published by Interplay Entertainment.
The game takes place in 2241, 80 years after the original game, and follows the descendant of the Vault Dweller, known as the Chosen One. He is asked to go out and try to find a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK) because the Chosen One’s town is facing the worst famine ever recorded. The GECK can create a flourishing environment out of the barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland.
The game features a main villainous group seen in the future games known as the Enclave, the remaining members of the United States Government, prior to The Great War. They capture the citizens of Arroyo, the town where the Chosen One grew up. So along with finding the GECK, he must also save them.
Like the original game, the player can choose from a couple of supporting characters to accompany him in the game. However, unlike the first game, the NPCs (non-playable characters) are more advanced and can aid the player further.
Fallout 3 was released in 2008, this time by Bethesda Softworks. After Interplay Entertainment went out of business, Bethesda bought the rights to the Fallout series from them. It was released on Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Fallout 3, although not a direct sequel to Fallout 2, is set 36 years after the events of Fallout 2 in the year 2277. The game follows the Lone Wanderer as he searches for his father and further to complete a water purification project for those in need. The project is known as Project Purity. Through battles with the Enclave, the Lone Wanderer, his father James, and some other characters, he must fight to finish the mission that was started by James’ wife.
During the game, players can choose to be accompanied by NPCs, who mostly assist in combat. You meet these characters on your journey throughout the game, based on which missions you choose to do and which places you decide to explore. The addition of a companion allows you to have extra backup in combat, which can become very useful.
The most recent installment in the Fallout series, Fallout 4, and was released in 2015 by Bethesda Softworks. It was released on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Set in Boston, Massachusetts, Fallout 4 takes place in the year 2287 and is 10 years after the events in Fallout 3. Just 210 years after The Great War, the beginning of the game flashes back to the day the bombs dropped and introduces the survivors of Vault 111. The game follows a player known as the Sole Survivor who sets out to find his son. His son was taken from Vault 111 when he was a little boy and his wife was murdered.
Like Fallout 3, this game features players that can accompany you throughout the game. There are 13 different characters to choose from along the way. For the first time in the Fallout series, the NPCs can interact with the environment, helping you accomplish a task you may not be able to do alone, such as pick locks. Players can also choose to side with 4 different factions–the Brotherhood of Steel, the Institute, the Minutemen, and the Railroad– during the game that offers additional support and rewards.
So, should Fallout be multiplayer?
Wow. I am so glad you asked! I had two main goals in looking back at the history of the Fallout series. The first was to fill in any gaps that may be missing in your Fallout timeline, just for general knowledge and to help everyone have a full perspective of the series. The second was to specifically show the growth of the use of companions in the games.
If you think back to the beginning of the article when we discussed the original Fallout game, you’ll remember that players can pick up to four companions to join them on their journey. In the second game, players can also choose from characters to accompany them in the game. They are more sophisticated than they were in the first game and provide greater help.
The trend continues in Fallout 3 and 4, becoming more advanced. By Fallout 4, there are 13 different players to choose from, who can actually offer help interfacing with the environment.
What I am trying to show here, is that all throughout the series, Fallout has had a multiplayer aspect to it. Players are not traveling alone, but with a companion, sometimes multiple. Their NPCs are not merely just someone to talk to along the way, but aids them in combat and uses their skills to help the player advance further in the game.
By introducing NPCs that interact with the environment in Fallout 4, I believe that Bethesda was opening the door to making a multiplayer-focused game. They saw how well the NPCs worked in their previous game and decided to go all in for their next game. The NPCs have reached their pinnacle in Fallout 4 and the series is jumping into a new style of game that has been woven into the game all along.
What does this mean for Fallout 76?
To be honest, we cannot know yet. There is so much that is still unknown about how multiplayer works within the game and a lot will continue to be unknown until the game releases on November 14th. All that we know right now is what Todd Howard, the game’s lead director, has said about it.
During E3, he said that this is something they have wanted to do for a long time with their games, and were really excited about. It seems they have been planning this for a long time. So while they were making Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, they likely had an idea that they eventually wanted to transition into a multiplayer style game.
Howard also revealed at the E3 conference that Fallout 76 would be four times the size of Fallout 4 and that the servers would be filled with dozens of people, not hundreds. So, the game is not going to be like a game of Call of Duty, where you’re wandering around a small map with a group of people and dying every 10 seconds. There is going to be a huge world to explore that has a few other players in it.
It was also revealed that “death doesn’t mean loss of progression.” So, even if you do die, it isn’t like you have to start all over. You will still have all of your stuff and perks. You will have to rebuild your base, but since the bases are saved as a blueprint and materials are easy to obtain, it isn’t going to be hard to rebuild your base.
It seems clear to me that Fallout 76 isn’t your traditional multiplayer game. Bethesda has made it unique to fit their style of game. It is still a traditional Fallout game, but has a completely new aspect to it. It is almost like the NPCs are being replaced by real players. Just like the previous games, you can have someone accompany you to complete the story and quests, except that this time, they will be real people, not NPCs. This idea has been in the Fallout games all along.
I have taken you briefly through all of the old Fallout games and taken a look at the latest Fallout game that is coming out this November. I tried to show you how the idea of a multiplayer Fallout game has been woven into the game ever since the first game. I also tried to show how what we know about Fallout 76 currently, should make for a solid multiplayer experience, and isn’t traditionally like a multiplayer game.
Of course, we will not fully know how the game plays until it comes out. All we can do is speculate and talk about the information that we have been given. Hopefully, Fallout 76 turns out to be a fantastic game and can take the franchise in a different, better, yet familiar direction.
Andrew is a college student who loves to keep up with the gaming industry. His favorite character of all time is Mario. You can find him on Twitter @_andrewtsmith.