Only a couple years after Fallout 4‘s release, Bethesda surprised fans by officially announcing Fallout 76, the next entry in its beloved post-apocalyptic RPG franchise. The new game was revealed in a trailer after a series of teases, and Bethesda discussed it in more detail at E3 2018 and at QuakeCon 2018. We even got an opportunity to play the game at a recent hands-on preview event. While there’s still so much we do not yet know about Bethesda’s upcoming game, the company has offered some clarity on Fallout 76’s most curious features and additions to the Fallout formula.

To ensure you’re kept up to date on everything there is to know about Fallout 76, we’ve compiled all the information we have on the game so far: our in-depth preview, the platforms it’s on, its online functionality, its anti-griefing features, and where the game falls in the series’ timeline.

What is Fallout 76?

Fallout 76 is a prequel to all of the previous Fallout games. Set in 2102, you play an inhabitant of Vault 76 who emerges from the shelter 25 years after the bombs fell on America. Your task is simple: explore what remains of post-apocalyptic America and rebuild civilization.

Longtime fans will likely recognize Vault 76; although it’s not a place we’ve visited before, this isn’t the series’ first mention of it. Both Fallout 3 and 4 reference it and, according to the Fallout Wikia, this West Virginia-based vault was occupied by 500 of of America’s best and brightest minds. Unlike the more grotesque experimental vaults in the Fallout universe, Vault 76 is a control vault intended to be opened 20 or so years after a nuclear war. But if the Vault was supposed to open 20 years after the bombs fell, why have 25 years gone by? The story likely has a few surprises in store.

Fallout 76 uses the Creation Engine, the same engine used to make Fallout 4, but it will purportedly feature much more graphical detail than its predecessor. Game director Todd Howard has said that Fallout 76 has new rendering and lighting technology, which allows for “16 times” the detail.

Who’s Developing It?

Bethesda Game Studios, the Maryland-based developer responsible for the Elder Scrolls series and both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, is at work on the game. In addition, Bethesda Game Studios Austin–formerly BattleCry Studios–assisted in fine-tuning the Creation Engine to support multiplayer functionality.

Is It An Online Survival Game?

Fallout 76 is a much different sort of game from its predecessors. It’s “entirely online,” but don’t worry, you’ll be able to play it solo too. According to Bethesda, the idea to take this approach to open-world survival came four years ago, when it started to work on building a multiplayer Fallout experience. Howard described the game’s approach to survival as “softcore,” which means death doesn’t equal loss of progression.

You can form a party with up to three other players. You won’t be able to manage your placement in servers when you login, as you’ll automatically be inserted into a session with others upon booting up the game. Of course, you also have the option simply join alongside your friends and play together.

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Howard commented that Fallout 76 will have dedicated servers that will support the game “now and for years to come.” At launch, there will only be public servers, but Bethesda plans to introduce private servers that will allow players to invite friends to play in order to prevent undesirable behavior.

Some classic mechanics from past games will be changing to accommodate the shift to online play. For example, V.A.T.S has been reconfigured to work in real time, while still allowing players to target specific enemy body parts. But this time around, it has been updated to be more of a tool that allows you to spot out dangers in the environment.

How Big Is The World?

According to Howard, Fallout 76’s world is four times the size of Fallout 4. There are six different regions to explore, and each has its own unique style, risks, and rewards. Confirmed areas include the West Virginia State Capitol, The Greenbrier, Woodburn Circle, New River Gorge Bridge, and Camden Park. Contained within each area is a variety of new creatures to encounter, some of which are based on West Virginian folklore. You can take at the full map in the image below.

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What Can You Do?

Like previous games, players will spend the majority of their time exploring and completing quests. However, Fallout 76 will not feature any human non-player characters, as all surviving humans will be controlled by active players. Instead, the game will use combination of robot NPCs, collectible recordings, and environmental storytelling in order to give players what they need to piece together quests and the story at large.

Given the game’s premise of rebuilding the world, there will be base-building elements similar to Fallout 4. You will be able to set up a bases anywhere using an item called the Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform, or CAMP. These can be placed down in the world and allow you to construct an impromptu camp. At E3, we got to see the player laying down walls and decorating the base with pool tables, toilets, and other household objects. As the “mobile platform” part of the name implies, your CAMP can also be picked up and relocated, allowing you to move your base anywhere in the world.

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While you can help build the world, you can also destroy it. If you have the necessary nuclear launch codes, it’s actually possible to access a missile silo to fire a nuke at any point on the map. Doing so irradiates the chosen area, but it also allows for the opportunity to discover rare weapons, gear, and items. Be wary; nuking an area also causes more powerful enemies to show up, making it more difficult to survive. But don’t be discouraged by this, the CAMP blueprint system makes it easy for players to quickly rebuild their homes, and if they’re privy to an incoming threat, they can pack their things and move to a new location.

As an online experience, player choice is said to be incredibly important, going as far as giving players the freedom to choose who are the heroes and who are the villains. Early footage showcased multiple players engaging in combat and participating in friendly activities, which seems to indicate that players have the freedom to choose their paths in the world of Fallout 76.

How Does Character Creation And Progression Work?

You’ll have similar character creation tools as Fallout 4. However, you’re free to change your appearance at any point. In addition, you can also utilize the game’s new photo mode during the creation process to better see how your character looks, as well as snap some shots you can share on social media.

The SPECIAL system returns and it’s a bit different. Like previous games, SPECIAL encompasses the following stats: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck. You’re given one point to put into any of those stats every time you level up. The first thing you do when you emerge from the vault is pick a SPECIAL and then you pick a perk in that particular SPECIAL. Essentially, every SPECIAL is a pool of points for your perks.

But unlike previous games, perks are now cards you can equip and unlock as you rank up in a given SPECIAL; though, you’re free to swap cards out at any time if you want to alter your build. Each SPECIAL characteristic you develop has a perk card cap of 15. These perk cards can be enhanced further from one to five points to increase their power.

You can obtain additional perk cards via Perk Card Packs (four random cards), which you earn every two levels initially (1-10), and then every 5 after that. You can also pick one perk card per level, usually from your SPECIAL choice. There are hundreds of Perks cards you can unlock, so naturally SPECIAL ranks cap out after a while (you gain a rank up in a SPECIAL each time you level up). At level 50, you’ll stop increasing SPECIAL ranks, but you’ll still get card packs.

How Does PvP Work?

When you shoot someone you do a little bit of damage, which can be equated to lightly slapping them in order to challenge them to a duel. In response to this, the other player can choose to ignore or engage. If they engage in a battle with you, they’ll start to take full damage. The one who is killed in this consenting PvP match has the option to seek revenge. Doing so gives that person the opportunity to get double the rewards granted they’re successful.

If you’d rather choose to ignore a PvP match, there’s no way to escape being killed–despite the small damage dealt to you during the initiation phases. However, if you are killed by a player under these circumstances, that player becomes a Wanted Murderer and will receive no rewards from having killed you.

A Wanted Murderer is marked on the map as a red star and a bounty is placed on their head. Players looking to cash in on this bounty aren’t visible on the Murderer’s map. If the murderer is killed, the money from that bounty is taken out their stock.

In order to give players time to properly acclimate to how Fallout 76 plays, PvP won’t be available to players until level five. And if you perish from any PvP encounter, the only thing you’ll lose is the junk you’ve been collecting, which can be reclaimed after death if not already picked up by other players. You can always store junk in stashes found around the world, so as to safeguard a portion of your stock. Armor and weapons are retained in your inventory after death.

How It Plays: Our In-Depth Preview

We recently got a hands-on with a build of Fallout 76. It plays similarly to Fallout 4, but it features some new additions that subtly shift the paradigm established by past entries in the series. We got to experience three hours of the game, exploring a decent chunk of the opening area while taking on quests and generally working cooperatively with the players around us. There’s a lot to unpack about how the upcoming multiplayer open-world RPG, so be sure to watch the video above and read our full thoughts in our in-depth preview detailing what we got to play.

Any Voice Chat?

It’s possible to chat with your teammates and even strangers you discover out in the world. It’s area-based so your ability to hear other plays will vary. But if you want nothing to do with strangers, it’s possible to mute their voices entirely.

When’s the Beta?

Fallout 76’s beta will be available exclusively to those who preorder the game. Bethesda said that it will begin selecting participants from the pool of pre-orders on October 23 on Xbox One first. The plan is to start small and expand over time with PS4 and PC to follow on October 30. For more details, you can check out Bethesda’s Fallout 76 FAQ for more details on how to redeem your code.

Release Date

Fallout 76 is being developed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and is currently scheduled to be released on November 14. Unfortunately, there’s no word about a Nintendo Switch release, which didn’t seem out of the question after the Skyrim re-release made it to that platform.

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