It turns out the leaks were mostly accurate. Fallout 76, as confirmed by Todd Howard during Bethesda’s E3 presentation, will be an always-online “softcore survival” RPG – similar to games like Rust and Ark. Fallout 76’s release date is set for November 14th, 2018.
76 is a prequel to every other Fallout and is set to take place in West Virginia (not too far from where Fallout 4 takes place) roughly 190 years before the events of Fallout 4. “The Great War” has just happened and the first survivors are finally emerging from their places of refuge, like Vault 76. Players are then tasked with rebuilding not only the wasteland but the society that once existed in it. It’s said that 76 will feature a map that’s 4x the size of Fallout 4’s and will feature 5 different biomes players can explore.
Always-online means you’re always going to need an internet connection to play, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume there will also be solo and invite-only modes where you can join a private server and have more control over who can join. Completely “private worlds” are rumored to be a thing eventually, but definitely not at launch. Otherwise, Fallout 76 will consist of dedicated servers similar to what you would find in Rust where “dozens” of players are running around doing their own thing; the major difference being you’ll never have access to a server list and instead you’ll be automatically placed in one. What that means for a player’s buildings popping in and out of the world when they join/leave a server wasn’t directly addressed.
According to Howard, “softcore survival” means that dying does not equal a loss of progression; this means you won’t drop items or money and can’t be looted if you’re downed. At the same time, your base will be open to raiding by other players and even NPC enemies so it probably won’t be a good idea to keep too many shiny things stockpiled away.
To make things even more interesting, there will be numerous nuclear missile silos that players can use to drop nukes anywhere on the map, like someone’s base for instance. Nukes aren’t only for destroying things, though; the resulting nuclear fallout will leave both rare enemies and loot in its wake. To activate a silo, you’ll need to hunt down multiple parts of a code that can be found around the map.
Human NPCs have allegedly been all but removed from 76 and the majority of quests and tasks you’ll undertake will come from random terminals, holotapes, and things like that.
Similar to Fallout 4, Fallout 76 is going to have a $199 MSRP special edition that comes with some wearable merch. Only this time it’s not a PipBoy, it’s a T-51B power armor helmet. The Power Armor Edition also comes with a small duffle bag, a map that glows in the dark, bonus in-game items, some collectible figurines, and a few more misc collectible items. But, if you’re reading this, then the Power Armor Edition is already sold out. The same thing happened with Fallout 4 as people buy numerous to resell them on places like eBay, etc; expect to see them selling for $600-$800 each in a few months.
There will be a beta at some point between now and the November 14th release (probably during the summer) but it wasn’t stated whether it would be completely open, closed, or just open to preorder holders. It’s worth noting that Bethesda allegedly has more people working on Fallout 76 than they’ve had on any other project in the past and they plan on supporting 76 well into the future.