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Fallout 76: More Info, More Confusion

Details gained during Bethesda’s E3 conference confirmed Fallout 76 to be an open-world multiplayer capable survival game, but still a game that “can” be played in first person. The stage conference and successive interviews shed plenty of light on how the title will function, but with every question answered came two more unanswered mysteries. It’s sure to be an interesting game, if only by how much of it seems so damn confusing.

  1. Why Bother With V.A.T.S.?

Interviews after the conference have confirmed that V.A.T.S. will still be present in the game as a mechanic, which is good, since its one of the only ties remaining between modern First or Third Person Fallout experiences and the game’s RPG-heavy roots. But the addition of open-world multiplayer bring with them some necessary nerfs to traditional V.A.T.S. – nerfs so strong that the entire mechanic feels next to useless.

Obviously, the traditional stop-time-and-choose-targets that’s been in every title fallout thus far, the game’s biggest link back to a turn based style mechanic, can not work with more than one player in a possibly-PvP environment. Imagine going about your day in Fallout: 76, only for your game to freeze while another player activates V.A.T.S. from half a mile away, queues six bullets into your head, and then ends the process. Time unfreezes and you fall dead. Not a fun time.

In Fallout:76, developers have stated that V.A.T.S. will be preserved… without the time-slowing. Time churns along at a regular rate of 1 second per second, but players will still be able to use the targeting system to take aim at individual body parts. Which, in an FPS, does absolutely nothing.

You could already aim down your gun’s sights to take pot shots at whichever body part you choose, so having a neat green filter over those body parts wouldn’t do much unless there was some kind of other benefit, like Aimbot-esque powers or a damage buff. And at that point, why call it V.A.T.S. at all? V.A.T.S. was intended to simulate a turn-based experience in third person, but this iteration seems like a re-branded version of a sort of damage boosting drug. In any case, its a far cry from what its meant to do, and its inclusion in this form is an odd choice at best.

2. The Biggest Fallout Yet… Filled With What?

According to details from the stage show in addition to interviews and overviews published by Polygon and other video game journalism sites, we know that the world of Fallout 76 is four times as large as the original. And in most cases, a bigger world means a room filled with more activities, but now we’re not so sure.

Between the release of Fallout 4 and Fallout: 76, there’s no way the team at Bethesda had time to produce quadruple the amount of content as was in the previous title addition to the franchise. Add to this one particularly memorable developer quote during the show’s time on the E3 stage, something about the birthing concept for Fallout: 76 being based on the idea that every person encountered in the wasteland was another player.

To encounter this dream, every non-bandit non-opponent being in the wilderness would need to be a player. Even if this isn’t literally the case, it does hint that NPC life in the 76 wasteland will be limited at best. In addition to a lot of empty space that need to be filled with…something…this also puts a big question mark over the viability of Fallout’s non-combat skills and social specializations. Unless a high charisma stat can literally prevent a trolling player with a Fat Boy from blowing you to oblivion, we’re seriously doubting the viability of the social pariah player in Fallout: 76.

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