When Bethesda announced Fallout 76 with a teaser trailer this morning, promising more information at E3, it was easy to assume that the new game would be a traditional single-player role-playing game. But Fallout 76 is in fact an online survival RPG that’s heavily inspired by games like DayZ and Rust, according to three people familiar with the project.
Those people, speaking anonymously so as not to damage their careers, confirmed that Fallout 76 is an experimental new entry in the longrunning post-apocalyptic series. When Bethesda first teased the game on Tuesday morning, fans and pundits speculated that it might be a Fallout 3 remaster or a New Vegas-style spinoff in a new location, but as Kotaku reported that afternoon, it is in fact something completely new and completely different. The teaser might lead Fallout fans to believe that this is a traditional entry in the series, but according to our sources, that’s not the case.
Originally prototyped as a multiplayer version of Fallout 4 with the goal of envisioning what an online Fallout game might look like, Fallout 76 has evolved quite a bit over the past few years, those sources said. It will have quests and a story, like any other game from Bethesda Game Studios, a developer known for meaty RPGs like Skyrim. It will also feature base-building—just like 2015's Fallout 4—and other survival-based and multiplayer mechanics, according to those sources. One source cautioned that the gameplay is rapidly changing, like it does in many online “service” games, but that’s the core outline.
The game is named after the series’ Vault 76, which has been mentioned in both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. According to Fallout lore, Vault 76 was meant to open just 20 years after the nuclear war, allowing for a far less civilized setting than previous games. Fallouts 3 and 4, which are full of cities and settlements, both take place over 200 years after the war, after much of the population has had time to reconstruct human civilization. Fallout 76 will feel very different. As the narrator of the trailer says: “When the fighting is stopped, and the fallout has settled, you must rebuild.”
Fallout 76 is in development not just at Bethesda Game Studios’ main office, in Maryland, where the likes of Skyrim and Fallout 4 were made, but also at the company’s newest branch, in Austin, according to our sources. That Austin studio, formerly known as BattleCry Studios, had been working on an online hero combat game called BattleCry before that game was canceled. “We have concerns about the BattleCry game and whether it is meeting the objectives we have for it,” Bethesda told press in the fall of 2015. “We are evaluating what improvements the game needs to meet our quality standards. The studio remains busy during this process on multiple projects.” In March, Bethesda announced that BattleCry Studios had become part of Bethesda Game Studios.
Bethesda did not respond to a request for comment. We’ll see more of Fallout 76 at the publisher’s E3 press conference on June 10.