After a seven-month wait underscored by security issues and cheap nylon, Fallout 76 players may be able to get the collector’s edition bags they were promised.
Gather round, children, and let me tell you the saga of the collector’s edition Fallout 76 bags. The fancy-pants $200 Power Armor edition of Fallout 76 was supposed to come with a canvas bag, but players got nylon bags instead. They were not happy, and our own Luke Plunkett referred to them as “nylon trash.” Bethesda promised replacement bags, but we haven’t heard much about when they’ll arrive until now. To make matters worse, customer support for people who wanted these bags accidentally leaked their names, phone numbers and addresses. If I were to ever buy what amounts to a $200 bag, I would hope that it 1) is made of literally anything other than nylon and 2) does not dox me.
But the Bag Saga may finally be coming to a close. Today, Bethesda tweeted that they’ll be sending out replacement bags starting next week.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that next week is also E3, where Bethesda will be having a press conference and will want to foster goodwill from their fans. I just hope that whatever the resolution is, it will not require a fifth article about these freaking bags.
Mikael Hertell really wanted a pet Deathclaw. He wanted one so bad he spent hours searching through Fallout 76’s broken wilds in search of one he could tame. He named it Steve. Steve was a good boy. Some might say a very good boy. That is, until Hertell went to sleep, woke up the next day and found Steve dead, killed by a glitch. That wasn’t the first time this happened to Hertell, either.
Before, Steve there was a Mega Sloth. There was also a gun—a legendary TSE (two-shot explosive) .50cal machine gun. Both disappeared. The gun vanished, Hertell believes, because of a glitch, something many players on the game’s subreddit have shared experiences of. What happened to the Mega Sloth is less clear, but Hertell, a YouTuber and musician who lives in Finland, thinks it died because of the unstable way campsites occasionally load in the game.
“What is the point of having near impossible to find weapons in the game if [Bethesda] won’t even acknowledge a bug that just deletes your most beloved guns from your inventory?” Hertell wrote in a frustrated May 1 Reddit post. “And I’m also out of my tamed sluggish mega sloth that i server hopped for ages [to get]…logged in and poof no sloth in my camp anymore.”
“I’m afraid to log back in, I lost my pet and my favorite gun i can’t afford to lose anything else :/”
What happened to the Sloth? Hertell still isn’t entirely sure.
“I logged in and I noticed that there was no sound from the sloth but all the enemies that spawned were dead, looked around for a bit and found him hanging from the ceiling of one of the pre-existing buildings that existed inside my camp boundaries,” Hertell told Kotaku in an email. “To this day I have no idea what killed him because the only enemies there were low level mole rats.”
Whatever the bug was that took his first pet’s life, Hertell remained undeterred in his quest for an irradiated buddy. “I’m a huge pet lover irl and currently have three cats and a ball python in the house so it just felt like something was missing from my camp unless it had a pet in it,” he said.
The mysterious nature of pets in Fallout 76 also appealed to him. Nothing in the game tells you that you can tame wild animals. Even the game’s official strategy guide only mentions it in passing when discussing the perk card for Wasteland Whisperer, the skill that makes it possible to pacify wild creatures, and even then it doesn’t specify that these animals, if properly tamed, will follow you back to your campsite and hang out with you till death do you part.
Hertell crowdsourced information from random Google searches, equipped Wasteland Whisperer, and went out hoping for the best. The creatures have to spawn alone, and even then it doesn’t always work. Yesterday, after weeks of preparation and server hopping, Hertell finally found a lone Deathclaw and managed to woo it over to his side. He was elated. He posted about it on the game’s subreddit.
“God I hope this one doesn’t die like my megasloth…” he wrote.
Then today he logged back onto the game, and it had died. “Well that lasted a whopping 12 hours, I logged in and somebody was checking out my camp and he told me that a Supermutant killed my pet…” he wrote in a follow up post.
This time, the culprit was clear: bad loading times.
Ever since Fallout 76’s Wild Appalachia update arrived at the beginning of April, loading into the game has become a slightly more wonky affair. It’s hit people with elaborate campsites the hardest, as different parts of the game world appear to occasionally load in at different times. This is what Hertell believes happened to him, and why Steve is now dead. “The problem is that now when you log in to the game the game loads you into the game world quite fast and then loads enemies relatively quickly or agonizingly slow depending on where you are spawning,” he told Kotaku.
“Same goes for camps,” he continued. They take a minimum of around 1.5-2 minutes to fully load into the world so you are stuck there waiting for them to load. My issue with the pet was that for some reason while my camp took a long time to load into the game (and as almost everything is client side in the game this holds true to every visitor I get) my pet deathclaw steve would load the same second you spawned near the camp along with enemies.”
Before Hertell could do anything, Steve was dead. A super mutant had killed him. Since pets in Fallout 76 don’t scale to match the level of the player they belong to, it doesn’t always take much to kill them, even if they’re a dreaded Deathclaw. And the pets don’t respawn. Once they’re gone they’re gone for good. If Hertell’s camp turrets had spawned in more quickly, they might have been able to save Steve. “I’m just pretty pissed really, i spend so much time getting the pet only for it to be killed in a matter of hours,” he wrote on Reddit.
The tragic story of Steve might seem like a strange, isolated incident, but it’s indicative of a broader tension within the game and its community. It’s possible to get a pet to get attached to in Fallout 76,, but almost everything about the world, going down to the very code its built on, seems intent on trying to extinguish that relationship at a moment’s notice. The subreddit is full of postswith people requestingan overhaul to the pet mechanic, or a little more attention for itso that more players can give it a try for themselves.
Based on his recent experience, Hertell warns players against trying until the feature is fixed, or at least the load times for campsites become more stable. “What good is taming a cat when it dies to the first radroach that decides to attack your camp,” he said. “[It] would be cool for Bethesda to actually make it work instead of leaving it in a sorry state that its in now but I feel like the only things that get patched are the ones that get a lot of public outcry and the pets aren’t that well known so I really don’t see them making any significant improvements to them in a while.”
Slowly but surely, pet taming might finally be starting to get the attention it deserves. There’s already a meta memorial service for Steve going on in the game’s subreddit, with some players calling on one another to celebrate the Deathclaw’s legacy in some way at their own camp.
“May the legend of Steve live on in campfire tales,” wrote one player.
Without stuff to kill, the masses in Bethesda’s online survival game Fallout 76 tend to get restless, taking aim at one another when nothing else worth their time is available. Fortunately, this week’s update has offered up a fine distraction in the form of a public quest called Project Paradise.
The quest is located in a series of man-made biomes used for genetic testing in a new area under the Arktos Pharma plant, just south of Morgantown. Project Paradise becomes available every so often, drawing players from far and wide into the bowels of big pharma to complete experiments in exchange for rare loot. It works well in part because it’s a multi-step mission inside a vast new underground environment but also because successfully completing it really does require strangers coming together and working as a team.
The first phase of the quest involves activating an experiment that unleashes three test subjects into their respective biomes. From there, whoever is around has a limited amount of time to kill nearby livestock and harvest plants to fill each biome’s trough with the proper food. After the feeding period, players then need to defend the creatures against enemy attacks that come in three waves. This means having at least one player in each biome to fight off invading ghouls and robots.
The entire place is teeming with level-50-and-above Assaultrons who enjoy blasting you at point-blank range with their giant face lasers The group I was with spent most of our time running back and forth trying to revive one another while trying to take cover behind broken machinery. At one point I was critically injured and called for help, only for someone to come over, stare at me for a brief moment, and then decide to eat me to regain their health. Sometimes you got to take one for the team. (It only takes seconds to respawn nearby and rejoin the fight.) The social aspect and the large-scale destruction go a long way toward making Project Paradise a lot more fun than last month’s more solo-oriented Burrows dungeon.
The event also guarantees players a three-star boss who drops a three-star legendary item if all of the animals are fed as much as possible, making it worth everyone’s while and encouraging teamwork to get the best possible result. It makes me wish Bethesda could go back and add similar mechanisms to trigger more difficult and rewarding versions of other public quests.
So far, the only real downside to Project Paradise, outside of the occasional bug (which currently seem more common in the underground biomes than the rest of the game), is the lack of a server-wide alert for when it’s happening. Many players have taken to constantly bringing up their map to check if the event is active as a result, with lots of calls from the community for Bethesda to add some sort of more obvious notification.
Slowly but surely, Fallout 76’s would continues to feel a little bit less empty, thanks not just to new quests like Project Paradise but also the recent addition of player vending machines, which players can use to sell items to other players. On one server, a player had set up their camp right outside the Arktos Plant and was selling low-priced healing items to help the adventurers heading inside—Fallout 76’s version of a lemonade stand. Maybe Appalachia can get rebuilt after all.
Marc “DeeZire” Stafford is a modder who’s been building additions to his favorite games for a long time; in his words, “pretty much my entire life.” These projects have ranged from things like his series of popular mods for the classic Command and Conquer real-time strategy series, to the “Things To Do In San Andreas ‘Till You’re Dead” mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which is one of the top-rated mods for the game. Lately, he’s been focusing his efforts on Fallout 4, which brings us to his current project: transporting the entirety of Fallout 76‘s setting, Appalachia, into Fallout 4. But he’s not just taking a scalpel, slicing Fallout 76 open, and grafting its skin onto the single-player game that came before it. Fallout 4 is set nearly 200 years after Fallout 76, so Stafford has decided to bring its setting even further into the post-apocalyptic future.
“The ultimate aim is to recreate the entirety of Appalachia as it is represented in Fallout 76, but in Fallout 4, and therefore around 185 years later,” Stafford told Kotaku in an email. “The best way to describe my vision for this would be to say that it will be instantly recognizable and familiar to those who know it, yet different and distinct enough to have its own unique look and feel… A big source of inspiration was Far Cry: New Dawn that realized the same world space after the events of Far Cry 5, so that effectively did what I’m doing here.”
It’s common to see modders try to bring settings from past games into new ones (see, for example, Skywind, Skyblivion, and The Capital Wasteland project, all for other Bethesda games). But this mod will do the reverse. Stafford’s mod is bringing Appalachia forward in time, despite its perch on the shoulder of an older game.
It’s an intriguing conceit born, in part, of limitations. Bethesda doesn’t make it easy for modders to port assets between games, so Stafford went into this project with the understanding that he couldn’t just replicate Fallout 76‘s version of Appalachia 1:1. He’d have to get creative.
“There are locations in Fallout 76 that I will simply not be able to fully realize, as there’s nothing like those assets in Fallout 4,” said Stafford. “So those locations will look quite different, but in a way that can be explained logically and consistently with Fallout lore and canon. The exterior of Vault 76 is a good example of this, instantly recognizable and familiar yet different. There is a backstory to uncover that tells of how the Vault was forcibly entered at some point in the past, thus explaining the now-exposed entrance and the alarm sound. As strange as it may seem, I actually like that imposed limitation, as it keeps me motivated and stimulates innovation.”
He offered another example involving Fallout 76‘s Vault-Tec Agricultural Research Center. There are no assets for fertilizer storage containers in Fallout 4, he said, but the location is still present and fully realized in his mod’s trailer. What he did, he explained, was take ice coolers from Fallout 4 and rotate them just so. “With a bit of ingenuity and creativity, a lot is possible,” he said. “There are also a surprising number of assets in Fallout 4 and its DLCs that were never used, but that did end up in Fallout 76. So by utilizing those, I can remain close whilst still giving players something new and different that they haven’t experienced in Fallout 4 before.”
Broadly speaking, Stafford’s goal is to make Appalachia look more weathered and war-ravaged than the relatively pristine version that players encounter when they’re fresh out of the Vault in Fallout 76. He’s doing this by using the “post-war” versions of Fallout 4 assets and swapping out textures, a process he says is “fairly simple.”
“I’ve found the hardest part is doing the landscaping,” he said. “Trying to make land appear less lush and more distressed without making it bland and repetitive is trickier than it sounds, especially when you’re trying to re-create the topography as close as you can. The cliffs are particularly tricky, so I can see this recreation being more hilly than rocky in some areas.”
Stafford isn’t just trying to paint inside the lines of Fallout 76‘s setting. He’s also taking into account actions performed by players—for example, that whole nuke-dropping thing they love to do so much.
“Currently, I’m considering making the Cranberry Bog very similar to Fallout 4‘s Glowing Sea, since that is where most players launch their nukes,” he said. “We as players know what they do (or did) in Fallout 76, but as somebody visiting there 185 years later, you have no idea, so you can piece a story together… I’m constantly having to think, ‘How did this place end up like this?’ So I’m also thinking that the Whitespring will be little more than a crater, as that’s another favorite nuke hotspot, and it would be very difficult to convincingly recreate in Fallout 4.”
If all goes according to plan, there’ll be story elements in the mod for players to uncover. These new additions draw on another oft-remarked upon element of Fallout 76, which is that its world feels less like a traditional Fallout setting and more like a Roomba lovers’ convention, given that it’s inhabited exclusively by robots (Bethesda had hoped other players would take the place of NPCs). In Stafford’s story, people continued to war as players do in Fallout 76, ultimately splitting into factions. One faction that originated in Fallout 4, the Rust Devils, came to dominate the region by using the most abundant available resource of all: robots.
“That story can be discovered through the environment, NPCs, notes, and terminal entries,” Stafford said. “I think [it] provides a good backstory for the origin of the Rust Devils and how their need for resources led them outside of Appalachia—and eventually into the Commonwealth. One thing Bethesda [does] well is environmental storytelling, and it will be very much like that here… There’s a surprising amount of unused or cut dialogue and NPC interaction scenes in Fallout 4, which I’m trying to integrate here.”
There are many longtime Fallout fans who have scoffed at Fallout 76 as both a game and an entry into the series canon. Stafford is not one of them. He still logs in every day to farm Mr. Fuzzy tokens, play instruments, take photos in silly outfits, and just generally soak up the space. He appreciates the game on its own merits, even though he feels like “it’s not a good Fallout game.”
“I’ve seen comments along the lines of [the upcoming mod] being ‘the Appalachia we should have got,’ but I’d be clear in saying that this did not come about as a result of any disappointment or frustration with Fallout 76,” he said. “I think what everyone could agree on is that, with Fallout 76, Bethesda created a great world space to play in, which is what they do best. So bringing that to Fallout 4, but in a much more traditional post-apocalyptic Fallout style, was the primary driving force for me.”
At this point, the project only has a few months of progress under its ornately studded post-apocalyptic bandit belt, and Stafford, an experienced modder, knows there’s still plenty of uncharted territory ahead. He’s breaking the map up into chunks that he’s working on instead of doing the most exciting sections first, so as to avoid losing interest. Still, Stafford is already encouraged by the interactions he’s seen between Appalachia and Fallout 4‘s role-playing systems.
“I’m exploring the wasteland of Appalachia with Nick Valentine as my companion,” he said, recounting something that happened during a recent test. “I turn to him and ask him for his thoughts, and he replies, ‘What do you suppose did this place in? The bombs or the people after the bombs?’ I smiled from ear to ear. It was as if Nick Valentine knew what I was trying to convey and achieve here. I’m using that quote in a trailer.”
New holotapes have led players on a hunt for clues about one of Fallout 76’s most recently-added vaults, and what connection the gamemight have to the rest of the series.
Fallout 76’s May 7 update added a number of new features, including player-owned vending machines and a new vendor for legendary items at train stations. It also added something that wasn’t in the patch notes: mysterious new orange Vault-Tec boxes with holotapes inside that hint at a computer system gone haywire deep in the bowels of Vault 51.
The first, discovered just south of Morgantown, consisted of a man appearing to come out into the wasteland for the first time, stunned by his surroundings. “Where… the hell… am I?” he says. “Doesn’t matter. Where was the other one again? Tower. River. Fork.” Those last three clues led players to a second orange box near the Flatwoods radio tower. “This part of the world is over. Might as well be the entire world from the looks of it,” the man says this time. “I swear on every soul it took. Every soul I took. That I’m gonna unplug that goddamned bucket of bolts.”
He concludes the second holotape by saying he has to go north for Reclamation Day, presumably to Vault 76. In the woods just south of that vault, players found a corpse. There was no Holotape this time, just a simple, hand-scrawled checklist:
X Distract him
X Stash the rest of the supplies
X Jump in the other crate
X Pray to god I survive
X Find anyone from 76
ZAX is the name given to a series of supercomputers developed by Vault-Tec to help various parts of the government analyze complex data. It first appeared in Fallout 1‘s West Tek Research Facility. In Fallout 3, President John Henry Eden, the leader of the Enclave, is also revealed to be a ZAX artificial intelligence. Now that it’s been mentioned in Fallout 76, players are wondering what that will mean for what’s inside Vault 51.
The vault, one of several unopened ones currently in the game, was added in a March update. This is the first time that Bethesda has given any clues about what might be inside. While some players had hoped that there might be non-player characters hiding in some of the Vaults, the newly discovered holotapes seem to indicate that Vault 51 is home to, at least, a rogue AI.
Whether it’s something players will have to team up together to fight, or part of a different sort of quest, the discovery has some people wondering if the ZAX unit in Vault 51 will end up connecting Fallout 76 to Fallout 3 in some way, possibly providing clues as to how the ZAX AI in the latter became self-aware and powerful enough to take over what remained of the U.S. industrial complex later on in the series’ timeline.
Of course, we won’t know anything for sure until the vault finally opens, which will likely be sometime before the end of the year based on the game’s 2019 roadmap. Even so, having new mysteries in the game that help tether what has been a somewhat disappointing Fallout game to others in the series has been a nice reward for players who have continued to stick with 76.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
Fallout 76’s world is lonely. Despite being a multiplayer game, it hosts just a couple dozen people around a sprawling map in any session you play. Other Fallout games might have a lot of computer-controlled civilians to chat with. Not this one. All of the non-player characters died long ago, or mutated beyond recognition. This limits the game’s drama, but the more I play Fallout 76 the more I’ve come to appreciate what it gains from being so empty.
I had this epiphany thanks to the game’s newest quest, Bucket List, which adds a new playable object to the game: a film-based camera. This is distinct from the game’s photo mode, which requires players to open a seperate menu and temporarily disables their character. The new camera, a ProSnap Deluxe, lets you capture moments with the ease of zooming down the sights on a gun, one of the most natural instincts in any shooter. Ever since getting the camera I’ve been eagerly snapping pics.
To begin the quest you first have to find the corpse of a tourist, one which wasn’t in the game prior to last week’s update but now randomly spawns at any number of locations across the world. I found mine after climbing up through the Landview Lighthouse. Looting a skeleton draped across the wrought iron railing at the top I learned it belonged to Anne Litzinger, a college student who moved from San Francisco to go to school in West Virginia and didn’t like it at first. “I thought this place was antiquated, filled with ignorant hillbillies. I hated it,” she says in a holotape. “Eventually, I guess I got over myself. It turns out, people are people. Brains aren’t regional and our birthplace doesn’t define us. I decided that once I graduated, I’d really explore West Virginia.”
Even though Fallout 76’s world doesn’t have living non-player characters, their ghosts continue to haunt the world, imbuing it with low key melancholy that makes it feel like one of the most relatable in the series. As Litzinger tried to mine through Appalachia’s cultural and architectural heritage the bombs fell. Her sightseeing list became a bucket list instead, knowing the radiation would kill her before she could finish it. She asks that whoever finds her body does so for her.
It’s not enough to loot Anne’s corpse and start taking pictures of the locations that remain on her list. You first have to repair her broken camera and make some film for it. I was missing some of the aluminum and crystal necessary to do so first before going back to my camp I made a detour into the Morgantown high school. The cafeteria pantry is full of cans and the classroom has microscopes, both of which could be broken down into the ingredients I needed. I couldn’tt help but think about the students told to duck and cover under their desks when the alarms went off as I walk the hallway of broken lockers.
One of the places on Anne’s list is the Red Rocket Mega Stop, a 1950s-style gas station and diner for vacationers coming in off the highway. Another is the Pumpkin house, an old Victorian home surrounded by jack ‘o lanterns where a robot programmed to harvest the orange gourds continues to do so in perpetuity. It’s inspired by a real world location in West Virginia where people carve and display thousands of pumpkins every year.
At the end of the quest the Fallout 76 gods dump a random legendary weapon and an assortment of other lesser loot directly into your inventory for your trouble, since neither Anne nor anyone else is alive to give it to you.
Fallout 76’s landscape is dotted with so many strange, decaying monuments to space age Americana that I can’t help but marvel at them, especially when one unexpectedly catches my eye as it peeks out over a tree line or from around the side of a mountain range. But some part of me also feels compelled to take pictures to document the beautiful parts of a disappointing game so many people will never get to see. It’s a sentiment that’s also subtly reflected in the Bucket List.
Games fit into the various nooks and crannies of our lives in all different ways, and where Fallout 76 failed as an ambitious new type of story-driven multiplayer sandbox, it’s performed admirably as a destination for virtual camping trips and strange archeological hikes. I’ve come to fall in love with the sounds and sights of Fallout 76’s post-apocalyptic Appalachia in the dozens of hours I’ve spent combing through it. Players might never be able to rebuild it as Bethesda once suggested, but even as a graveyard for the victims of a nuclear war it’s the one I keep returning to.
Fallout 76 received its first new dungeon yesterday: the Burrows. It takes players into a maze of underground sewers, but unlike Bethesda’s other recent additions to the game, it’s short-lived and underwhelming.
The dungeon is part of the ongoing Wild Appalachia expansion, whose updates began trickling out in March. While Bethesda has added new items, quests, and seasonal events, this is the first new player-vs.-environment space. Players thirsty for more endgame content that doesn’t revolve around shooting one another on the Survival servers have been looking forward to it. It’s not quite what some people expected, though. It can be completed in well under half an hour playing solo—even less if you’re playing with a high-powered group—and is light on interesting secrets or tense fights.
The new dungeon is located underneath the town of Harper’s Ferry on the eastern side of the map. It’s accessible via two separate manhole covers in the streets above, each leading to a different part of the underground waterway. Inside is a holotape to be looted off a dead man’s body that explains how a Brotherhood sortie was sent to investigate reports of military robotics in the sewers but never returned. As you make your way deeper into the tunnels, you eventually find your way into the pump station. It only takes a little bit of exploring to see what all the fuss is about, and while I won’t spoil it, I will say that it’s cool for the few moments it lasts. It just doesn’t do enough to elevate the rest of the ordeal.
That’s partly because the Burrows as a location doesn’t feel fully integrated as a natural part of the world it now exists in. Unlike the Nukashine Speakeasy that kicked the Wild Appalachia off expansion off, which was full of personality and helped build out the pre-bombing backstory of Morgantown, the Burrows is drab and doesn’t offer up many nuggets of new lore. “The reasoning’s pretty simple: The mean guys always win, Maude,” someone says on one of the discoverable holotapes. That’s basically the extent of it.
The Burrows isn’t much of a challenge, either. “The Burrows is balanced to be a challenge for 2+ level 50+ Vault Dwellers, but truly brave (and well geared) souls may be able to tackle it alone,” Bethesda wrote in a preview of the new content from last week. In reality, any party of two or more people in the level-40-to-50 range are likely to cruise through it. It’s more challenging solo, especially if you’re under level 50 or lacking in strong weapons and armor, but even then it’s short on thrills. Most of the enemies I encountered were some variation of ghoul—Feral Ghoul, Charred Feral Ghoul, Legendary Diseased Feral Ghoul—and were fairly easy to deal with.
Rather than feeling like a new endgame activity to tackle with friends, the Burrows feels like a low-key dungeon for newer players to grind for experience points and mid-tier loot. In that regard, it’s a perfectly fine addition to the game. It pales in comparison to some of the game’s other new events, though. March’s Fasnacht Parade, Fallout 76’s post-launch high point so far, offered interesting collectibles, a fun backstory built into the history of the real West Virginia, and a reason to team up with other players. Even the recent Lying Lowe quest, while disappointing in its conclusion, took players out into the wilderness and cast the locale in a somewhat different light. By comparison, the Burrows just feels like another checkpoint to blast through.
Fallout 76 is supposed to be getting longer group raids this summer in the Nuclear Winter expansion. That’s when Vaults 96 and 94 will be opening for players to explore in groups of up to four. For players who have been waiting since last November for a new, exciting dungeon, that still feels a ways off.
Late last week Bethesda announced a new item would be coming to the game soon: repair kits. Rather than waste resources repairing weapons and armor, players will be able to use these kits instead. There’s a hitch. Players will only be able to buy them through Fallout 76’s microtransaction store.
“Repair Kits are new utility items that will help you spend more time looting and shooting, and less time toiling away at a workbench fixing your gear,” Bethesda announced in its latest Inside the Vault post updating players on the state of the game. “We’ve received lots of requests for Repair Kits, and we’re excited to add them in the weeks following Patch 8.”
Gear deteriorates over time in Fallout 76, and the new repair kits will act as consumables that take busted equipment and restore it to 100 percent of its operating capacity. They’ll also only be available to purchase through the Atom Shop, an area separate from the main game where players can spend real money to buy Atoms to buy stuff like clothing and furniture to customize their characters and campsites. Players can also earn a small amount of Atoms by completing daily and weekly challenges.
Since Fallout 76 came out in November, the items added to the shop have always been purely cosmetic with no effect on gameplay outside of the delight of occasionally discovering someone else’s lavishly decorated home out in the wasteland. Repair kits would change that.
Bethesda’s announcement says that the repair kits will let players fix their get “anytime, anywhere” without using crafting materials. If so, a purchased repair kit would make paying players’ lives easier by cutting down the amount of time players spend scavenging for the materials needed to repair their favorite weapons and Power Armor. It would also possibly give those players a competitive edge against others. Players who could instantly repair their armor and guns while engaging in PVP would be able to carry on a fight longer than their peers who have to go find a workbench to do so. It’s not the same as being able to spend $10 to buy one of the most powerful guns in the game, but it augments the overall balance of power.
Bethesda hasn’t yet revealed how much the repair kits will cost but it appeared to suggest they might only be the first in a long line of other utility items to come to the Atom Shop.
The studio wrote:
“We read tons of feedback and suggestions from the Fallout 76 community, and Repair Kits were a popular request that we wanted to get into players’ hands. We also felt we could try out something new with these, both in-game and in the Atomic Shop. As we look to the future, we’re exploring ways we can bring other community-driven ideas to the game as well, such as refrigerators for C.A.M.P.s, ammo and food converters, and even the ability to send scrap to your stash without having to head home.”
Bethesda called for players to offer their feedback, and they did not hesitate. “DANGER SIGN: Repair kits (Non-cosmetic item) will be purchasable with Atoms only,” read the title of a thread posted by Reddit user ScientistRickSanchez that blew up over the weekend with thousands of upvotes. “This game was built on our trust. Bethesda promised us cosmetics only. We trusted them, and stuck through all the bad press and bullshit bugs. And then they decide to betray us,” the person wrote.
Prior to Fallout 76’s release, Bethesda told NoClip documentarian Danny O’Dwyer that the game’s microtransactions would “only come in the form of cosmetics.” This was reiterated in an August tweet by Pete Hines, Bethesda’s VP of communications who responded to a fan asking if guns could be purchased in the Atom Shop with “No. Only cosmetic.”. Hines also said the same during an October 2018 interview with Microsoft’s Lawrence “Larry” Hryb. Bethesda did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the apparent reversal.
There’s already been so much discussion about the topic on the game’s subreddit that the mods there announced they will be archiving posts about the new repair kits that are over 48 hours old to stop them from crowding out other conversations.
Fallout 76’s launch last year was fascinating for all sorts of reasons. And while the developers received all sorts of feedback, one fan expressed their feelings about bobby pins in a rather creative way.
At the game’s launch, one of Fallout 76’s biggest problems was weight. Characters could only carry so much, and with limited stash sizes, the weight of every little item became a massive deal. One hairpin that weighs 0.1 pounds might not seem a big deal by itself, but when you’re carrying 100 or 200 lockpicks, then suddenly your lockpicks are more of an encumbrance than your armour.
Bobby pins are something that Fallout 76 has patched and re-patched since launch. And around the time of the game’s launch, when the player base was at its largest and crankiest, one fan had a very passive-aggressive way of making their point.
“Some people send letters; some of those are very creative,” executive director Todd Howard said at the Bethesda Game Days Fallout 76 panel. “I got a box of bobby pins the other week that said, ‘Weigh these.’ Whoever sent that, that was the most creative letter I got,” Howard explained.
“I’m a little worried,” I overhear someone say while we wait in line for Bethesda’s fan event at PAX East. “There’s a live Q&A.”
The line-waiter was talking about an upcoming panel discussion with some of Fallout 76’s developers, including director Todd Howard. But the live panel came and came and went without incident. No one asked awkward questions. No one heckled. No one threw a plastic Fallout 76 bag loaded with rotten tomatoes at the developers. Whatever people on the internet might say about Fallout 76, or Bethesda in the wake of its terrible launch, the fans at Bethesda’s Game Days event haven’t lost faith.
“From what I heard, it sounds like they’re making Fallout 76 into a game I actually want to play,” Nadav Kolodner, a fan and modder of previous Fallout games told Kotaku at the event while sitting at the bar. He abandoned the game after only playing for around six hours the weekend the game launched and doesn’t remember the period fondly.
“People were crashing servers, and taking game-breaking items and bringing them into starter areas, and setting off nukes that blew up the whole map to crash servers,” he said. Kolodner was referencing an incident from the first weekend when a number of players who had reached the end-game from playing during the beta period crashed the server they were on by launching too many nukes at once.
“I was online when that happened and that was not a fun experience,” he said. People were like, ‘Oh, that was so cool,’ and for the people who did it that was a pretty cool thing, but for me as someone who had just started the game it was kind of like, ‘Oh, everything is frozen, my game is crashing.’”
Kolodner, like a bunch of people, was turned off by how unstable Fallout 76 was when it launched, and all of the disparities between the vision Howard had shared on stage at Bethesda’s E3 press event and the actual experience people were able to play.
“When a studio comes out and they say that a game is going to be one of the greatest they’ve ever made, when they say it’s going to be open world, when they say it’s not going to be broken, that it’ll be balanced, and we’re going to be able to have hours and hours of fun and you’re going to be able to have this occupy maybe a year of play time, and then it comes out and it’s a buggy mess and servers are crashing and they didn’t iron any of this out in the beta, then it’s just kind of puzzling to me,” he said.
This is the second year that Bethesda has hosted a fan event adjacent to PAX East. Across the street from the Boston Convention And Exhibition Center, a motley collection of gamers descends on an Irish pub and the comedy theater above it to pay homage to the company responsible for some of the best open world role-playing games ever made. Or to play the hands-on demos for Rage 2. And in some cases, just to snag the free T-shirts Bethesda gives out. There’s also free booze and food for anyone who happens to show up, which is part of why the event attracts a line that snakes out into the lobby of the adjoining hotel.
Whether it’s the Fallout and Elder Scrolls-themed cocktails or the piles of hamburger sliders and baked macaroni sun-bathing beneath pale heat lamps, the people I talked to inside were, for the most part, all onboard with what Bethesda is doing with Fallout 76 going forward. Those plans, best summarized in a year-long roadmap that Bethesda released in February, revolve around rolling out timed seasonal events, slowly adding new gameplay features, and eventually introducing dungeons, four-player raids, and more story content.
In the over 100 days since it came out, Fallout 76 has received seven numbered patches and plenty of hotfixes. Some have improved stability and removed bugs, while others have done just the opposite. The latest updates have also been adding new content, though, which has given players something more positive to focus on. In the update titled Wild Appalachia, the highlight so far has been the Fasnacht Parade, a time-limited event where players teamed up on the main street of Helvetia to take down a legendary sloth and earn rare masks. It’s brought people together in a way the game’s existing public events and end-game nukes hadn’t. It’s also shown that the Fallout 76 experience can meaningfully evolve from whereit began.
“It doesn’t really force you to do any teaming up,” said another player, Jaime Galvin, explaining the reasons he fell off the game. “You’re kind of just doing a solo game with other people there.”
Galvin came to the event with his friend Derek Tee, who said he sees events like Fasnacht as a way out of that. “If it’s meaningful in the world in some way and has other players coming together for a common goal, I see that as a good option,” he said.
The loneliness in the game goes beyond just the options for engaging with other players, though. Everyone I spoke with at the event was also desperate for Bethesda to add non-player characters to the world.
“I’d prefer NPCs instead of just little robots everywhere,” said Rachel King, who has put over 100 hours into the game. “The other Fallout games, I got really into the story. This game, if I didn’t have a group to play with, I probably wouldn’t be playing anymore.”
Michael Southwell, who arrived to the event decked out in a faux-leather Fallout 76 jacket, agreed. “I think if they just add more stuff to do, more NPCs,” he said. “When you listen to the radios or the holo tapes, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I want to know this person,” but then it’s either they’re dead or they’re a robot or something.”
The panel discussion at PAX East made him more confident about the future of the game, he said.. “I think the fact that they’re acknowledging that it’s been a bumpy road—like, a really bumpy road—they’re not just like, ‘Oh, whatever, we’ll get past it.’ They’re actually paying attention and listening,” he said. “That makes me feel a lot better.” Southwell said he was talking specifically about a moment early in the panel discussion, when director Howard talked about the game’s “ups and downs.” For the Bethesda diehards, that’s apparently enough.
Another fan, Jessica Kelley, said she is so happy with where Fallout 76 has gotten to after its rough start that she’s started spending more money on it. Her first big spend was upgrading her account to the $80 Tricentennial Edition, which netted her the celebratory Vault Boy saluting emote.
While Kelley agrees that the beta could have gone on longer and things could have been handled better, she wouldn’t have wanted Bethesda to delay the game to fix its issues..
“I think if it was released now, people wouldn’t have been as upset, but I think you’re always going to have a vocal minority that are going to be very loud and very angry about things they didn’t like,” she said.
For Kelley, it’s been a great experience, despite the bugs. “I’ve met more women in this game than I have in any other game,” she said. “How crazy is that? It’s like The Sims with murder.”