QuakeCon 2018 hosted a Fallout 76 panel today, and it was chock full of tidbits of information about the upcoming game.
The panel was composed of Development Director Chris Mayer, Project Lead Jeff Gardiner, and Game Director Todd Howard. Split evenly between a talk about the game’s leveling system and a longform segment where the team answered common questions about the game, the panel was very informative about what the actual experience of Fallout 76 is going to be like.
You can watch the full video here, or you can read my distillation of all the fun facts below. Note that you need to skip 40 minutes into the official video to see the panel.
Here’s some of the stuff we learned.
- They showed a short Vault-Tec explainer video about leveling up and mutations followed by more elaborate explanations by Howard and Gardiner. Each level up gives you a single point to dedicate to a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat, and for each point in a stat you can assign a certain perk. Perks are chosen from a bank of options. If that sounds confusing, well, I think it is. Watch the video above if you want the best explanation possible.
- Since perks are assigned, you can swap them out based on what you need in the moment. For example, if you’re doing some heavy PVP with friends, you might want an increased damage perk. If you’re scavenging, then you might want more carrying capacity. As Howard said, “you’re swapping a thing out here or there.”
- The game’s level cap for attaining S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points is 50, but you can continue to accrue new perks beyond that.
- You are susceptible to mutations at certain levels of radiation, and it doesn’t seem like you have a choice about it. Gardiner told a story about getting a surprise mutation called “Bird Bomb” that increased his jump height while decreasing his strength.
- The game has a photo mode that can be used with friends, enemies, and everyone in between. We saw a little bit of how it worked during character creation, but not how it functions in the open world.
- Player versus player combat is opt-in. To initiate it, you shoot at someone and it does a small amount of damage. Howard likened this to “slapping someone at a bar.” If that person wants to do PVP with you, they fire back, and then weapons do full damage. Winning a PVP battle gives you some caps (the game’s currency) and some experience points based on your levels.
- If you kill a player who never accepts your invitation to do PVP, you become a “wanted murderer.” You get no caps or experience.
- Players are incentivized to hunt down wanted murderers. The murderers are marked on the map and players are encouraged to hunt them down. As Howard said, the mechanic “turns assholes into interesting content.”
- PVP does not start until level 5.
- You can ignore and block other players in a session, preventing them from interacting with you, and you can flag yourself as a pacifist if you don’t want to deal with the PVP mechanics.
- PVP combat numbers are normalized between players. Howard claimed that a low-level player could fight a high-level player in power armor, although obviously it’s going to be hard and the higher level will have the advantage.
- When you die, you keep all of your equipment and caps. You will drop your “junk,” an upgrade material that you use in your camps for building objects and equipment. Upon death, the key question for a player is “is it worth it to go back and get my junk?”
- Another death thing: when you die, you have the option of respawning close to your death point or back at Vault 76 for free. You can also respawn at other locations for the cost of caps, with that cost increasing the further away from your death spot that you want to respawn.
- When a nuke goes off, camps are destroyed, there are higher level enemies, and the map’s loot changes.
- But fear not! Camps have a blueprint system, so if you make a building you like, you can “blueprint” it so that you can easily construct a replica somewhere else. So if your replica of Hagrid’s Hut gets nuked, you can build it somewhere else as long as you’ve blueprinted it.
- The blueprint system also allows you to easily deconstruct and relocate your camp to other places in the map. The panelists said this was a fairly common thing for people to do during internal testing.
- You can make musical instruments. Todd Howard pretended to play an invisible tuba.
- There is team voice chat as well as area-based public chat. You can mute it if you want to.
- Inon Zur is doing the score. There are more radio tracks in this game than any previous Fallout title.
- The VATS system is still in the game, but it is real-time, and you cannot target body parts unless you have the perk. It is unclear from the panel how exactly this works, although Howard clarified that putting points into the Perception stat will make you more accurate.
- There will be private servers as well as mods. Howard said that mods in particular are difficult to implement due to the game’s online nature, but that it is a problem they are “100% committed to solving.”
And that’s it! It’s kind of a rollercoaster of Fallout 76 information, but it’s the biggest information splash that we’ve had about the game since E3, and it gets me thinking about two dozen other questions I have about how this will actually work in practice.