Today marks the launch of Fallout 76, the first online-only, multiplayer-focused entry in the post-apocalyptic series. Given its massive size and ever-evolving world, instead of a traditional review, we’ll run a series of journal entries chronicling our adventures in Bethesda’s devastated version of West Virginia. Expect to see new entries every other day for the next few weeks.
I wake up, and I’m so excited. It’s Reclamation Day! I finally get to leave this vault.
When I open my eyes, I immediately hear a familiar voice over the vault’s speaker system. It’s the overseer, the leader of this underground bunker, and she’s reminding everyone about the special occasion. Reclamation Day is the time we’ve all been waiting for. The world outside has been decimated by nuclear war, while the residents of Vault 76 stayed safe. Now, it’s time to head back out and rebuild America.
Only, I seem to be the only one still around. I must’ve overslept. I grab my Pip-Boy, a wrist-worn computer, and get going. The vault is a mess — we had a big party last night — but there are signs pointing me toward the exit, as if I’d forget. Along the way, the overseer has also set out some tables with useful items on them. I grab some stimpaks, building supplies, and, for some reason, a party hat. There’s also a strange new device called a C.A.M.P. that apparently lets me build my own campsite. It sounds useful, so I grab it, too. The overseer’s voice continues on a loop, while all of the helpful Mr. Handy robots around the vault spew out cheerful advice. But I’m not really listening. I’m just focused on finally getting out of here.
My name is Tricks, and this is my first day in the wasteland.
It’s eerily quiet out on the landing area of the vault, a series of large steps and viewing spots that lead down to Appalachia, what we call this irradiated version of what was once West Virginia. It’s so very autumn out there. There are red and yellow leaves on scraggly trees and a hazy fog hanging in the air above the mountains. If you squint, it almost looks like the old world, before the bombs. But then, I run across a dead body just 20 feet from the vault’s blast door. It makes me wonder what horrors happened out here while I was locked inside. It also makes me thankful: there’s a pistol in the corpse’s jacket, and I don’t want to be out here unarmed.
Without much else to go on, I use my Pip-Boy to follow the overseer’s signal. It seems she’s set out ahead of everyone, though I’m not sure why. I make my way down the long steps toward the road, a ripped and gouged hunk of concrete. It’s night, so I flip on my Pip-Boy’s flashlight, which emits a soft green light. There doesn’t seem to be much out here. I stumble across an old fishing spot, though the water is so toxic that I can’t imagine anything still lives in it. There’s a toolbox on the dock, and inside, I find some old tools and, for some inexplicable reason, a machete. I take it all just in case I need it. Near the water, there’s a scraggly, scarred squirrel walking in circles. I use the machete to quickly and quietly put it out of its misery. I pocket the meat.
Not far from the dock, I see a yellow light in the distance that turns out to be some lamps outside of a rundown cabin. It’s incredibly quiet as I walk up to the building... but then a pack of dogs sleeping on the porch notices me, and everything gets a bit hectic. Not content with just scaring me off, the mutts seem intent on killing me. I wave the machete around erratically, and before I know it my pursuers are all dead. I feel a bit guilty, but I’m also glad for all the meat.
Near the cabin, all I can hear is a wind chime constantly ringing out, so I turn on my Pip-Boy’s radio and listen to the Beach Boys instead. The wasteland is a touch less lonely with music. Unfortunately, the house has nothing useful inside. But in the backyard, I find a pot resting over a fire. I turn my kills into some freshly cooked meat, stuffed it in my bag, and continue to follow the overseer’s signal.
It leads me to a campground, where I see my first other live person out here in the wasteland. He’s wearing a blue-and-gold Vault 76 jumpsuit, just like me, but he doesn’t have much to say. He just sits over a pot stirring some kind of meal. After a few minutes, he gets up and silently walks away. At the campsite, I find some important instructions from the overseer. I learn how to make some very basic armor, but first, I need to find some leather.
Just down the road are the remnants of a small town, which, luckily, includes some farmland. There is a small group of brahmin — imagine really muscular cows that occasionally have two heads — and they’re as docile as can be. They don’t even seem to notice when I sneak my way inside their pen. I feel horrible when I bring the machete down and butcher two of them. The sun is starting to come up as I head back to the camp, and I head to a workbench where I fashion two leather shoulder pads. I even manage to turn some old tools into throwing knives.
With my new gear in tow, I continue to follow the overseer’s directions. I’m instructed to head back to the town, which, in the light of day, could almost be described as bustling. Most of the buildings are boarded up, but there are other people, including some in their Vault 76 suits, running around. Everyone seems very busy, so I keep to myself. The big focus for everyone is the church, which has doubled as a place for new wasteland dwellers to learn some basic survival training.
It’s a tedious process that involves reading lots of journal entries on terminal computers, finding a few dead bodies, and collecting wood and water. But by the end of it, I know how to purify water and cook a proper steak, so it seems worth the effort. Behind the church, I find a number of graves, and one of them has an old army helmet resting on top. I put on the helmet, along with a new mechanic jumpsuit I found, mostly so I don’t look like I’m so new to this world.
My Pip-Boy is now pushing me to a nearby airport, and as I get closer, I pick up a radio signal from the people there: apparently, they’re under attack from creatures called scorchers. It sounds urgent. The walk over is long and exhausting. After all of that work in town, it’s night again, and walking along the street in the dark is unsettling. I keep worrying that some kind of monster is going to pop out of one of the burnt-out cars that have become permanent fixtures of the landscape.
But instead of wild, toxic animals, I keep getting attacked by murderous robots. There are ones that walk and threaten me in a distorted voice, and others that float around silently. Despite looking so advanced, they aren’t much of a match for my rusty pistol. Curiously, I then hear someone talking, the first live human voice I’ve heard since I left the vault. But it isn’t actually a human after all: it’s some kind of mutant, a hulking trader who keeps worrying aloud that this grim world is actually a dream. I don’t have much to trade, so I move on.
As I near the airport, my computer picks up yet another signal; this time, it’s someone calling himself the mayor who wants me to meet him in a nearby building. It hasn’t been long out here, but it seems like everyone needs help. I could use a break, but the vault door has closed, so I no longer have somewhere safe and quiet where I can go and get my bearings. But then I remember the C.A.M.P device I picked up. Maybe it’s time I build myself a new home.