E3 2019: Bethesda is Invested in Player Agency for the Future of Fallout 76

Last year at E3, Bethesda announced Fallout 76, an attempt to bring multiplayer to the acclaimed post-apocalyptic franchise along with additional survival elements. It was released to a pretty lackluster reception, with our own review calling it a game with “some interesting ideas that don’t come together in an enjoyable or meaningful way”, and the title ultimately receiving our Most Disappointing game of 2018 “award.” The controversies surrounding the game didn’t end there, with potential lawsuits and a promised canvas bag as part of the collector’s edition instead being replaced with a cheaper nylon bag causing most of the conversations surrounding that game to be highly negative.

Nonetheless, Bethesda has forged onward with updates for its small but loyal community of players, with three extensive free updates planned for 2019 featuring new quests, modes, features, raids and events. After the Wild Appalachia update earlier this year with a Survival mode, Fallout 76 developers took the stage at Bethesda’s press conference to further detail the two remaining updates. The first, Nuclear Winter, is available now, and adds a battle royale mode of the same name pitting 52 players against one another with the crafting elements and creatures that are known to inhabit Fallout games. Meanwhile, the Wastelanders update will finally bring NPCs to Fallout 76, with the promise of dialogue trees complete with meaningful choices and a less lonely wasteland to explore.

In a conversation with Executive Producer Todd Howard about the past and future of Fallout 76, Howard admits to regretting how the team went about the beta process, wishing they had conducted a lengthier beta period with an easier way for more users to access it, such as providing all Fallout 4 owners the opportunity to try it out. The success of the rollout of the Wild Appalachia update brought new hope for Howard and the teams at Bethesda, as the developer is looking for more ways to encourage people to connect, such as the addition of player vending systems. Private servers and mods remain key tenants of the future of Fallout 76, as well as other means of player agency which was a key influence of the upcoming Wastelanders update.

With some key pieces of advice from the Elder Scrolls Online team at Zenimax on how to keep regular updates flowing after launch, and four teams across Bethesda to continue plugging away on those updates (when they’re not working on Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI), the future of Fallout 76 looks far from bleak, with the game available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.