Tomatoanus, one of the best Fallout speedrunners on the planet, will be playing at January’s Awesome Games Done Quick under a different name after reaching an agreement with organizers.
He’s actually already played at six Games Done Quick events in the past under the name Tomatoanus, but several of those had not displayed his runs publicly because it was thought that, hey, at an all-ages event for charity, maybe having a name with “anus” in it wasn’t a great look.
Fallout 4 first came out in 2015, and it shows. In the base game, you can only pet a single dog—your dog, Dogmeat—and you can only do it once, during a cut-scene. 2019, emboldened by the Can You Pet The Dog Twitter account, will not stand, sit, lie down, shake, or roll over for that. Thankfully, modders have once again corrected developers’ sins against canine kind with a mod that lets you pet all dogs.
The “Pet Any Dog” mod, created by Fallout 4 fan Sagittarius22, is not the first to let you voluntarily pet a dog in the game, but it is the first to let you pet any random NPC dog, of which there are many. Some are mangier and more mutated than others, but they all deserve pets.
There are, however, a few stipulations. First, you need at least the first rank of the “Animal Friend” perk. Second, you cannot pet your dog with nuclear arms, nor any other kind of armament, for that matter. If you have a fist or weapon out, no fluffy fistfuls of fur for you. If you’re wearing power armor, you also can’t pet dogs, which is good, because if you tried, you’d probably crush them.
All of this means that if you’re in combat with a dog, you cannot pet it. This makes me sad, because I feel like gentle physical affirmations followed by immediate friendship should be a viable solution to all video game combat scenarios involving dogs.
Good Smile Company’s newly announced Nendoroid Vault Boy action figure includes four different faces and several arm and leg pieces for Fallout’s famous mascot. Seems like a waste to me. They had me at angry middle finger.
Just look at that face. The brow. The frown. The entire posture just screams sass.
I am not even that big of a Fallout player, but I must have him. I shall stand him facing Optimus Prime on my work desk, his diminutive form defying the leader of the Autobots in perpetuity.
As I mentioned earlier, there are three other faces available, in case annoyed defiance isn’t your bag. There’s also car salesman, vacant happiness, and my second-favorite, chewing on a leg. Or arm.
The new Vault Boy Nendoroid is available for preorder now through October 10 on Good Smile’s website for around $50, with a planned release in March of next year. After that, you’ll probably be able to find him in that weird video game collectible section of Target.
Nothing says fall to me like a good fair. Something about fried foods and prized hogs just makes me want to roll in a pile of falling leaves and, best of all, wander in a corn maze. We’re not quite up to fall fair season in real life, but if you have Fallout 76, one player has made sure that fall has officially arrived in Appalachia by creating this corn maze in the game.
“The maze really is a maze with dead ends and little things to see along the way,” Jcoffill, the player who built the maze, said on Reddit. “Last night a few ghouls had wandered in and surprised a few trick or treaters. Open to visitors on PS4 just about every evening. My vendor in the maze is stocked with seasonal fun things.” Jcoffill also said that they’ve had a few “backwards trick or treaters” visiting the maze in costume, who then left gifts in the maze instead of taking them.
It may still be too early for hayrides and hot apple cider, but it’s always fall in Fallout 76—at least if you can survive the ghouls in the corn maze.
The first time Jaret Burkett played Fallout 76, he fully expected that everyone in the game would want him dead. The moment he exited the safety of Vault 76, where every player of the online survival game begins their journey with little to defend themselves, he was attacked by robots. Barely able to take them on, he could’ve been doomed—until he was saved by a random high-level player who killed the robots, dropped some gear for him, and waved goodbye. That act of goodwill, along with many others, would keep Burkett playing a game he might have otherwise abandoned—and eventually, he’d end up making a tool that would pay it forward.
“I was sure he was going to try to kill me, but he didn’t,” Burkett told Kotaku in a Discord chat. “I played all day long for a week and was constantly on my guard worried people would attack me, but it never happened. Every person I ran into was extremely friendly and would craft some armor for me, give me tips, and even help me level up. I have made a lot of really good friends in the game. They are what really keep me playing.”
Burkett is the intrepid player behind a tool for Fallout 76 players called Map 76, an exhaustive and still-growing map of Fallout 76’s rendition of West Virginia that details where you can find just about anything in the game’s post-apocalypse. It’s an exceedingly useful tool, because Fallout 76 players have increasingly taken to the game as a crafter’s paradise, a place to build communities and hunt for unusual items. Trouble is, it’s way too hard to do.
“There are quests that you could search for hours looking for things that are required and never stumble upon them organically,” Burkett said. “ A lot of things you need to find and do are simply not ‘stumble-uponable.’ For instance, in many challenges you need to take pictures of things. Yet the only way to get a camera is through an extremely rare spawn at only a few points on a huge map.”
This frustrated Burkett. A 34-year-old software developer from Austin, Texas, Burkett doesn’t really consider himself a gamer; he’ll go years without touching a game. But he is a Fallout fan, and Fallout 76, despite its reputation for being a frustrating, buggy game, made an impression on him, largely due to the kindness of the game’s community.
After one particularly involved search for some extremely rare crafting plans that sent Burkett hopping from server to server in order to up the odds that it might spawn, he began making a personal database of where crafting plans would spawn on the map, incorporating tips he’d found from other players who had formed trading groups. Since this manual process was extremely time-consuming, he began thinking of less labor-intensive ways to make a resource more comprehensive than his own de facto database. Having seen some maps built on datamined location data, Burkett decided to try his hand at making his own.
Map 76 is the product of Burkett’s last several months of work, and on theFallout 76 subreddit, it’s been very well-received, with 2,000 upvotes over the last 24 hours. Much like his initial experience playing the game, Burkett was pleasantly surprised to see his first foray in making a community tool was warmly welcomed.
“I am not sure what I was expecting. I mean, I always expect the hateful responses, I did post it on the internet after all,” he said. “I just know that I am obsessed with this game. I know a lot of others are as well. I built this map for myself because I needed it. It was something that I needed to exist for me to continue enjoying the game. I assumed there would be people out there just as happy to have it as I am.”
Burkett’s not the only person making Fallout 76 maps; he was also inspired by a project called Mappalachia. But he isn’t sure whether the proliferation of player-made tools like his are how the developers at Bethesda Game Studios want players engaging with the game. He is growing increasingly certain that there may be a widening gulf between how the developers want the game to be played and how the game is actually played.
“I feel they think everyone wants to go around killing each other all the time, which is why they spend so much time on the different PVP modes they keep coming out with,” Burkett says. “But in my experience, the people who keep playing this game are people like me. I am a treasure hunter. I like the hunt for rare items, I like trading, and I like the community. The people I meet in the game are always friendly and always searching for something. The community is friendly and has no desire to kill you. I don’t think Bethesda understands this. Their recent updates seem to point that they are trying to move away from those aspects. More and more content cannot be traded. More PVP modes.”
All things very different from what got Jaret Burkett into Fallout 76—a kind stranger who helped him out in his earliest in-game moments, and the kinder people he’s met since.
At QuakeCon 2019, Bethesda announced some new content coming to Fallout 76 later this year, including a new map for the Nuclear Winter mode and new raids. They also released a new updated roadmap for summer 2019.
Nuclear Winter, Fallout 76‘s 52-player battle royale mode, is getting a new map. It is based on the area of Fallout 76 called Morgantown and it will include more verticality and will be set in a more urban environment. The current map is more rural, filled with trees and barren hills. The new map is coming in September alongside some quality of life improvements for the mode.
Bethesda’s Fallout 76 panel.
Coming sooner is a new Vault raid. Set in Vault 94, the new raid will feature three missions that will rotate weekly and will support 4 player groups. Completing these missions will reward players with new armor and social rewards. Bethesda also confirmed they are working on another raid, but didn’t give any specific details on that raid.
Beyond these two bigger pieces of new, Bethesda shared a bit more information about the upcoming Wastelanders update. This is the update that will add NPCs into Fallout 76. It was confirmed at the panel today that players will talk to these NPCs using dialogue trees that are, according to Bethesda, more like Fallout 3 than Fallout 4. Bethesda is planning on releasing the Wastelanders update in November of this year.
Bethesda also teased private servers coming to the game “sooner than you think.” What does that mean? I have no idea. I didn’t expect them anytime soon, so that really doesn’t mean anything to me. But who knows, maybe next month private servers will be supported in Fallout 76? But probably not.
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.