When Fallout 76 was announced, fans of the open-world role-playing series worried that making the traditionally solitary franchise into a multiplayer game would ruin the experience somehow. Wouldn’t griefers be inevitable? Do you really want random jerks doing strange things in your game? Now that Fallout 76 is out, however, the most common player behavior seems to prove that Bethesda knew exactly what it was doing. People are actually being nice.
Perhaps the most high-profile documentation comes from veteran Fallout player Many A True Nerd, a YouTuber who has made a name for himself by doing things like beating the games without ever healing himself. In Fallout 76, he’s picked up a new schtick: welcoming new players. The game officially launched last night, but before that, there was a beta that allowed players to carry their progress into the main game. So by the time Fallout 76 went online, Many A True Nerd was already well-leveled and stocked. Players leaving the vault for the first time, on the other hand, barely have anything to their name. So Many A True Nerd decided to build a camp specifically for newbies.
You have all of the basic necessities there: a purified water pump, a cooking station, and various workbenches to craft supplies. This, on its own, isn’t difficult to find in the overworld or even make yourself, but Many A True Nerd went further than that: anyone who walks by his camp gets offered free bespoke weapons, armor, and even free ammo. It’s wonderful.
Many A True Nerd is not alone in this sort of generosity. Last night, I was going around offering free beers to players around me. Other Fallout veterans, like Reddit user omnipsycho, are welcoming new players by building communities where people can meet and group up.
While there are definitely people out there who want nothing more but to cause trouble, overall, my Fallout 76 experience has been a friendly one. Last night, tons of new players on my server were clustered around the opening areas, and not once did someone try to shoot me. Mostly, people seemed interested in grouping up to take on new challenges. Sure, there was some unexpected weirdness:
But even so, these shenanigans didn’t ruin the experience. Actually, other players make Fallout more exciting. By the end of Fallout 4’s DLC, I was feeling weary of the current state of the game. Even as Bethesda continued crafting interesting stories and levels, I felt so inundated by Fallout content that “good” just didn’t move the needle anymore. Actual human beings change everything, though. You never know how someone might behave, and that’s exciting.
Fallout 76 hasn’t even been out for a whole day yet, so the community hasn’t solidified. Maybe it’s easy to be friendly at the start. Some higher-level activities in the game are more player-versus-player oriented and will likely invite more conflict between fans. I’ve already seen chatter about people role-playing as Raiders, too.
If Fallout games are about surviving in the wasteland, they are fundamentally about lawlessness and lack of oversight. They ask one central question: when there’s no government or authority to keep humanity in check, what will people do? Bethesda has done a great job of answering that question, but it seems obvious to me that real people who want to be creative will likely provide the most interesting answers.