This is the plot of Fallout 76, the new role playing game in the Fallout universe, which functions as a prequel to previous Fallout games.
Up to 24 players can join the game on the same server at once. The game’s map layout offers players a lot of freedom; for instance, players can band together in groups of up to four people to complete tasks together. Individual players can also choose to stray through post-apocalyptic West Virginia alone – where they’re unlikely to encounter other players.
The first few tasks in the game are fairly straightforward, and should be seen as a type of tutorial for getting into the role-playing game. Your character has to eat and drink at regular intervals, so these first tasks are there to teach you how to sterilise water and how to make rump steak.
You also learn how to dismantle objects you’ve collected so that you can reassemble them to be used as weapons.
The overarching goal is to find one of the bunker’s overseers, who is looking for the launch codes of some remaining nuclear weapons.
However, you will never meet her, as the developers have set an interesting premise for the game: any human character in the game must be played by and actual human player – so there are no NPCs.
This has some downsides. If you enjoy going about games alone, then this premise will make the game pretty boring for you, because the only way to drive the story without NPCs is by having robots and computers tell the story for you.
Of course, there are still enemies to beat, as well as animals and zombies to encounter, but they just aren’t the same as having a West Virginia landscape populated with NPCs to meet, talk to and who will send you off on a quest. There is no dialogue, at all.
Another downside of only having audio recordings to tell the story is that players can – and will – constantly interrupt the recording with their own chatter. There are few things more annoying than wanting to listen to the interesting storyline, but instead having to endure some other players’ pointless drivel. This also takes away a lot of the otherwise fairly dense atmosphere of Fallout.
The test version also has a fair number of bugs, such as animals floating unnaturally, robots getting stuck and tasks being incomplete.
A huge failure of the game is the PC control system: developers simply translated console buttons to keyboard buttons, and seemed to forget that computers can, and should be able to, use a mouse – a mistake that Bethesda has said it plans to correct.
Coming to the actual in-game mechanisms, Fallout 76 has some interesting concepts.
The role-playing elements work in a progression system. Characters have seven different attributes, which can improve over time as you level up. The different attributes all have perks if you work to improve them; for instance, a character with a high level of charisma is better at negotiating and can buy cheaper robots.
This system also works well in a group, as you can have different players with different attributes take on roles that suit them best. So one player can be in charge of craftsmanship, while another is responsible for close combat.
If you have a fixed group of people to play with, you will probably enjoy Fallout 76, because this is the best way to actually benefit from the role-playing elements.
A lot depends on who else is playing on the server – they can be hostile, friendly, helpful and anything in between. YouTube streaming star Many A True Nerd has created a welcome booth on his server, where new players can go to get a starter pack, including a weapon.
Another interesting concept is that players can attack each other without warning – but if the opponent doesn’t respond, then the fight can’t take place. So both players must consent to any battle.
Fallout 76 has lost some of the previous versions’ mechanisms that many multi-players are likely to miss. If you’re playing alone, the world seems pretty empty, and at times the graphics just aren’t that great. But, if you make your way to West Virginia with some friends, then you’ll probably end up having a great time.
Fallout 76 is available for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One and costs around US$60 (RM250). – dpa