Fallout 76: what it is, when it's out - and why it's dividing opinion

Photo: Bethesda
Photo: Bethesda
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Fallout 76, the latest high-profile game in the highly successful Fallout franchise, has been unveiled by Bethesda Softworks.

As some had predicted, the post-apocalyptic adventure will be an online multiplayer title.

Photo: Bethesda

Photo: Bethesda

It's fair to say the trailer and announced features, revealed at E3 2018, are causing some controversy. Here's what we know about Fallout 76 so far - and why it's dividing opinion.

What is Fallout 76?

Like previous iterations in the gaming series, Fallout 76 is an open world action-RPG set in a post-apocalyptic America, years after nuclear war devastated the surface.

Unlike other Fallouts, however, in 76 "every surviving human is a real person" - and you can "work together, or not, to survive". Players create their own character and can then team up with each other to contend with the challenges of the world, go it alone, or presumably fight one another for resources and territory.

Photo: Bethesda

Photo: Bethesda

While recent entries have taken place in Washington DC, Boston and Las Vegas, 76 is set in rural West Virginia; a place of wild wilderness, mountains, forests and rivers. It is billed as the largest, most dynamic world yet to grace the franchise, with hundreds of locations and six distinct regions.

Announced gameplay features so far include base-building, crafting and trading, as well as the ability to unlock and use nuclear missiles.

There will be an early access 'BETA' version of the game available to those who pre-order it. You can find details here.

Oh, and the game will also feature giant radioactive sloths.

Photo: Bethesda

Photo: Bethesda

Why is it causing controversy?

The reveal that the game will essentially be a multiplayer experience is dividing Fallout fans.

This is partly because Fallout 76 will be 'always online' - requiring an internet connection at all times to play - and partly because some feel the presence of other human players will dilute and cheapen the classic single-player Fallout experience of story-driven exploration, looting and questing, and interactions with AI non-player characters.

There is also a growing sense that immersive single-player experiences are increasingly rare, with online multiplayer now dominant in mainstream gaming.

Some have also pointed out that mechanics and gameplay that have become integral to the modern Fallout titles could be impossible when other players are added to the mix, such as the action-pausing VATS system.

What do Bethesda have to say?

Todd Howard, the game director at Bethesda Game Studios, argues that the chance to share the Fallout or Elder Scrolls experience with other players has been something many have called for in the past.

"We’ve been asked forever to bring multiplayer to one of our worlds. And once we had this idea, we knew it was perfect for Fallout."

While it could be argued that it is the option of co-operative multiplayer that appeals rather than a multiplayer focused landscape, others have pointed out you can still play solo in 76. (Though how exactly that will work, given the multiplayer-driven design, remains to be seen).

Then there are those who are just happy they can contend with those aforementioned sloths. And bring a friend along to do so.

Is there anything else to note?

The modern Fallout games have tended to offer tongue-in-cheek satire on Americana and US nationalism. And 76 certainly looks to do the same: the trailer featuring prominent use of the song Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver.

The name 76 itself actually refers to the anniversary of the United States' founding as a nation, in 1776. The 'vault' (nuclear shelter) that players emerge from is the decidedly patriotic Vault 76, which - in the game's lore - was officially unveiled 300 years after that date.

The events of the game kick off on 'Reclamation Day'. 25 years after nuclear war devastates America, you and other players emerge to re-take the land.

Other Bethesda games revealed or showcased at E3 included shooter sequels Rage 2 and Doom Eternal, space adventure title Starfield and - perhaps most excitingly for many - The Elder Scrolls VI, the follow-up to colossally successful fantasy RPG Skyrim.

Details on Elder Scrolls VI are sparse at the moment, however, and there are suggestions it might not see release for several more years. Starfield is likely to land first, and that is billed as a 'next gen' game.

When's it out?

Fallout 76 will be released on November 14 this year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.