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"Fallout 76": A Small State in a Big Game

By Caleb Zopp
On December 6, 2018

Many players were rightly skeptical before release.
Photo Courtesy of PC Gamer


Near the end of May of this year, I remember seeing a teaser trailer for the next addition to the “Fallout” franchise: the post-apocalyptic RPG series from Bethesda Game Studios. The video showed the inside of a Vault-Tec vault with a new rendition of the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” playing. There was no possible way that “Fallout 76” could take place in wild and wonderful West Virginia, could it? Witnessing the next reveal trailer, my jaw dropped as I saw the camera pan across to the rolling hills and mountains of Appalachia, the New River Gorge Bridge, the state capitol, West Virginia University (WVU), and The Greenbrier.

Being a Fallout fan is quite rewarding when you find out that West Virginia is the next setting for the series. During Bethesda Softworks’ E3 2018 conference, Todd Howard, executive producer and director at Bethesda Game Studios, gave “Fallout” fans a great surprise - a fully online “Fallout” game that you can play with friends to help rebuild West Virginia after the bombs have brought ruin. Many players were skeptical about the game once release day came, and rightly so. Creating a huge online game can bring many bugs and issues, which is understandable. But after holding “Fallout 76” in our hands, I can cheerfully say that I’m satisfied.

No NPCS! This seems to be the biggest concern for “Fallout” fans, which I find ridiculous. The way “Fallout 76” plays is different than “Fallout 4” and there really are not any NPCs. The lack of NPCs actually makes the world more interesting.

Aside from NPCs, the role-playing mechanics from the previous games (specifically “Fallout 4”), are similar. If you have played “Fallout 4,” then there is very little learning curve. Similar to “Fallout 3” and “Fallout New Vegas,” Bethesda brought back weapon and armor degradation, meaning you have to repair your armor to survive. Like other survival games, your character also must eat and drink continuously, and even your food can go to waste over time, so make sure you keep some Sugar Bombs and Nuka Cola handy.

Each time you level up, you can choose from a set of perks in the form of cards. Much like in previous titles, you select what route you want to take starting from strength to luck in an acronym group called S.P.E.C.I.A.L. With each perk, the cards stack on top of each other. This gives you bonuses, such as weapons having 20 percent less chance of breaking or each person in your team gaining 10 percent more experience. Playing in a team becomes more fun than playing alone.

Playing “Fallout 76” with my fiancé has been such a treat. We both get to enjoy our home state together. My fiancé and I are levels 19 and 21 respectively and still have yet to explore much of the wild state. We have seen Point Pleasant, my hometown of Lewisburg, and Seneca Rocks, just to name a few iconic locations, and for some we can say “I’ve been there.”

I recommend “Fallout 76” even though it is still taking baby steps to get to where everyone wants it to be immediately after release.

So even if you want to wait a little before jumping in, the water is warm with promises of it getting warmer. The game has already received updates, with talks of more updates to come. I see improvements, and we will continue to see improvements in the coming year.

After all is said and done, I get to come home every day and relax to an entertaining evening of “Fallout 76” and learn more history about this wonderful state, something I never thought I would get out of a “Fallout” game. To me, it is not just a game, as I am glad to say that I am proud to be a West Virginian!

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