Bethesda held the internet in its palm yesterday, and all it took was several hours of a static video of a Fallout bobblehead. When we finally got the Fallout 76 teaser trailer this morning – emphasis on “teaser” – it didn’t give us anything in terms of concrete gameplay details, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun speculating!
We can make a few solid, educated guesses from the trailer. The game will be based around Vault 76, which appears to be releasing its dwellers into the wild. According to lore established in other Fallout games, Vault 76 was a “control” vault – i.e., there were no experiments – with 500 occupants, set to open 20 years after the bombs dropped in 2077. In the video, the date is October 27, 2102. It’s “Reclamation Day,” and a radio voice declares that “When the fighting is stopped, and the fallout is settled, you must rebuild.”
That opens up a whole range of possibilities, and we’ll explore them here, along with – this being MMOBomb and all – the likelihood of any of them being free-to-play games. One thing I don’t think it will be is a new installment in the mainline single-player Fallout series. We’re fewer than three years removed from Fallout 4’s launch, and that seems too soon.
Fallout 76 is … a survival game?
This would seem to be the most natural application of the Fallout universe. You’ve already got your post-apocalyptic setting, and the video seems to establish that a bunch of people will be venturing out into it to “rebuild,” ostensibly contending with raider gangs, giant irradiated bugs, and super mutants along the way. That’s all classic survival game fare.
On the other hand, the survival genre is in a bit of a funk right now. Conan Exiles seems to be doing all right following its formal launch, but there’s not much else out there in terms of high-quality – read not “early access cash grab” – survival games out there. (We won’t even talk about whatever state DayZ is in.) Maybe that’s the sort of thing that would scare away a big company like Bethesda, or maybe it’ll be seem it as an opportunity to secure what once was – and could be again – a wildly popular genre. Maybe the “rebuilding” won’t just be in the game itself, but of the survival genre as a whole.
Here’s a thing, though: If it takes place just 25 years after the bombs fell, a lot of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure should still be in pretty good shape, minus whatever got hit directly. That might minimize the amount of rebuilding that actually needs to be done.
Chance of being F2P: 1/10. Survival games typically don’t go this route.
Fallout 76 is … a battle royale?
This, on the other hand, is the big deal nowadays and would be as easily adaptable to the Fallout universe as a straight-up survival game. You’re all thrust into a harsh and unforgiving environment, there are weapons and other supplies lying around, and “control vault” lore be damned – the real purpose of Vault 76 was to release its denizens into the wild and set up contests to see who could be the last one standing as the radiation clouds slowly drifted in.
The main thing that dissuades me from this viewpoint is the video itself, which paints a somewhat more optimistic view of things. The fighting certainly doesn’t stop, and there’s not a whole lot of reclamation or rebuilding that goes on in a battle royale. This could just be another typical case of Vault-Tec deception, however, with a shiny and bright trailer yielding to the harsh reality of the wasteland.
Chance of being F2P: 5/10. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale have shown that either a P2P or F2P implementation is valid, and I could see Bethesda going either way.
Fallout 76 is … a hero shooter?
Like survival, here’s another genre that was huge a couple of years ago but has failed to produce another big hit for a while. It doesn’t perfectly fit the lore of Fallout, which leans more toward “open world” than “instanced,” but it could serve to modernize (i.e., not rely on Quake and its various incarnations) Bethesda’s esports portfolio.
Fallout 76 is being developed both by Bethesda’s main office in Maryland and by Bethesda Austin, formerly known as Battlecry Studios, which was previously working on the hero shooter of the same name. Hero shooters are generally known for having characters with a wide variety of abilities, however, and every playable character in Fallout is a human. That’s nothing a little Vault experimentation or Wasteland radiation couldn’t cure, so Bethesda could get pretty creative if it wants to go this route.
Finally, the trophy in the video is for “Annual Vault Halloween Costume Contest – 1st Place,” which clearly means that Fallout 76 will offer/sell skins. I know, that’s a reach, but it would fit a hero shooter better than just about anything else on this list.
Chance of being F2P: 7/10. Very few hero shooters have thrived as non-F2P games over the past few years, but the Fallout universe is one of the few IPs out there that might have a chance of breaking through and convincing people to pay a box price.
Fallout 76 is … a full-fledged MMORPG?
Here’s the pipe dream. Following a rough start, The Elder Scrolls Online is doing pretty well, and those of us who knew Bethesda was working on an MMORPG before ESO’s announcement thought there was a decent chance it would be Fallout Online. People are starving for a high-quality MMORPG, and Bethesda’s one of the few studios left with the resources to make one, so … why not?
Any of us could probably come up with a million reasons “why not,” mostly revolving around the general dissatisfaction with MMOs, a lack of faith in Bethesda, or the dim prospects of a post-apocalyptic game in general being the “WoW killer” – or, at this point, let’s just say, the “WoW competitor.” Speaking of competition, would Bethesda want to put out another MMORPG to compete with its own product? Probably not. But hey, we can all dream, can’t we?
Chance of being F2P: 2/10, unless ESO is doing worse than we all thought.
Fallout 76 is … a collectible card game?
No. Just no.
Chance of being F2P: 9/10. If it were anyone else, I’d label it 10/10, but Bethesda might think Fallout is a big enough game to charge a fee to get in the door. But please be “no.”
We’ll learn more about Fallout 76 during the Bethesda Showcase at E3 on June 10. In the meantime, what do you think (or hope) it will be?