Fallout:76, the upcoming multiplayer survival title set in the Fallout universe, looks to take what is traditionally a single-player experience and adapt it into a field where multiple people can craft their own stories in a massive and expansive wasteland.
When speaking about the title, Bethesda has stated that it hopes to give players the choice of what to do with their time in the wastes: Will they open a shop and trade with other players, cooperate and form hunting parties to kill bandits and radioactive beasts, or will they become a hunter that assaults people and steals their precious materials?
And while this all sounds well and good, Bethesda seemed to be ignoring one constant fact about multiplayer gaming: Some people just wanna watch the world burn.
But today, Bethesda revealed the systems and methods that Fallout: 76 will use to counter players intent on ruining the fun of others by running around and killing helpless others who aren’t interested in a fight. Their methods sound… interesting. Certainly interactive, and a lot more integrated than what we would have expected. According to a Gamespot interview with Bethesda’s Todd Howard, here’s what they’re going to do…
Howard says that your first shots on another player won’t deal full damage – at least not until they start shooting back. This prevents cheap long-ranged kills from out of nowhere, but also makes an agreement to PvP more of a 2-player thing.
This damage reduction will stay until the second player retaliates. At this point, they have agreed to the terms of the fight, and the conflict is legal by the game’s terms. Howard equates the first strike to lightly testing someone at a bar to see if they want to fight.
But this damage reduction doesn’t prevent people from killing other people – it just makes it a bit more difficult. If a player does manage to kill another player who clearly wasn’t interested in fighting, however, there are some fairly nasty things that will happen in-game.
The killer will become marked as a red dot on the minimap, designated as a “Wanted Murderer” to other players. In addition, the game will automatically put a bounty on their heads for others who take them down – and the murder gets no damage reduction or chance to say no to the oncoming PvP.
In addition, the generated bounty is zero-sum. The game doesn’t generate the bounty caps out of nowhere, they’re taken out of the murderer’s pool. That means when a murderer is taken down, they’ll pay other players the bounty – for taking their own life.
PvP is inactive by default until level 5, and even then, there are certain other options players can take to disable it completely. This will likely impose further reductions on damage taken by other players, or may even flat-out disable it.
But we’ve got a few worries with this system. Many Anti-Griefing systems such as this one are often taken advantage of by players looking to mess with others, and there’s a couple ways one could seriously screw with this one.
For example, the system makes it very clear that he who kills the innocent is the bad guy – but what happens when the innocent wants to be killed?
When you die in Fallout: 76, you only lose your crafting materials on your character – but you can stash those at resource depots to keep them safe. This allows you to essentially go out into the world with nothing on your character that would be lost on death, allowing you to die without worry if need be.
Next, let’s say you intentionally use the game’s RAD system to lower your maximum HP to basically zero. (In the Fallout games, eating irradiated food or exposing yourself to radiation will increase your RAD counter, which lowers your current and maximum health)
Finally, you approach another player and open fire – with a twist: You miss every shot. If the player getting shot at is interested in PvP, they might assume you’re trying to hit them and fire a shot or two back. If they hit you, congratulations – You’ve played the system.
Having almost no health, you’ll probably die in just one hit – maybe one of the warning shots the other player threw out. And when you die, the other player will be marked a “Wanted Murderer”, because by missing every shot, you never damaged them to consent to the PvP kill. Now, that player will have a chunk of their caps put into a bounty – and caps are much more valuable than the crafting materials lost upon regular death.
Still, despite these loopholes, its good to see Bethesda putting time and thought into creating a system that encourages people to play well together. Even if some find ways around it, the key part it that those loopholes are complicated – and avoidable if you know where to look. In the abovementioned one, for example, you still can’t be marked as the killer if you don’t shoot back. So rest that trigger finger, let the other player’s hapless fire whiz by, and enjoy the relaxing vista of Fallout: 76’s Nuclear Wasteland.