As you might recall, BattleCry Studios was originally opened to create a free-to-play multiplayer team action game (eponymous with the studio itself). However, in late 2015 Bethesda acknowledged that the development was not going well. We haven’t heard much about BattleCry for over a couple years; only recently it was revealed that the studio had been renamed to Bethesda Austin.
Once Fallout 76 was revealed as an online game, speculation that Bethesda Austin had been playing a major role in the development began circulating. This was confirmed in the Fallout 76 ‘Making Of’ documentary published by Noclip yesterday; in particular, the experienced online developers (including some that worked on Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies) at Bethesda Austin added multiplayer support to the Fallout 4 engine.
The documentary also revealed a wealth of information on the upcoming title. Servers will support between 24 and 32 players each (the number has to be finalized yet). People will be able to group up and find dynamic events while roaming the world, depending on the situation and the time in the area. Public workshops can be claimed by a group of players.
Crafting will be very deep. Mods, ammunition, food, water, power armor, and a lot more. There’ll be survival elements, players will have to eat and drink to stay alive, but it won’t be too much of a burden.
The map, which had been confirmed by Todd Howard himself to be four times bigger than Fallout 4’s, is divided into six different areas and each one of these features unique biomes. The areas also pose different challenges to the players in terms of threats and monsters.
Being set in 2102, only 25 years after the nuclear bombs of the Great War fell, Fallout 76 has many more mutated creatures than previous titles and the roster includes intelligent and hostile plants, for the first time in the franchise, as well as a faction of intelligent ghouls called The Scorched who can use weapons.
The new dynamic weather system can impact the players as well, especially when radiation storms get in your way. Tech improvements included a vastly improved dynamic lighting model, subsurface scattering, and far more complex animations for the creatures.
Fallout 76 also features player mutation, which occurs when enough radiation has been absorbed. Mutations can unlock certain traits, similar to older Fallout games, which have pros and cons. These traits do impact gameplay (though some are only visual), they are temporary but can also be made permanent in some way if you so choose. They can be cured, too.
Leveling up unlocks perk cards, of which you can have only a limited amount active at any given time. These cards can be sold to other players (the team is exploring the possibility to allow the setup of a robot vendor in a hub area) or just shared with friends in your party.
Activating nuke missiles is an endgame activity which results in the bombed area’s fauna and flora to become irradiated and therefore spawn higher level drops and materials. The fallout will fade over time, obviously.
To combat PvP griefing, there’ll be Wanted levels for aggressive players, while an emote wheel and voice chat will help with communication. Post-launch, there will be a focus on expanding those features that are played the most. The developers have promised free DLC updates for years to come; microtransactions are going to be cosmetic only and can be earned through gameplay as well.
This paints a much clearer picture of Fallout 76, though there’s still a lot we’d like to know. There’ll be plenty of time for Bethesda to share more details ahead of the game’s launch, due on November 14th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.