Fallout 76 is 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. You can catch up on them right here.
It’s a long trek to the top of the world.
After setting out for the huge glass dome that’s located in the western side of Appalachia, I soon realize that it’s pretty far up a mountain. In fact, it’s so high that I can’t actually see the top from where I stand. Along the way, I come across a non-functioning ski lift that leads to exactly where I’m headed. Before this place was decimated by nuclear bombs, it must’ve been a scenic, snowy spot. At the very least, the lift still has working lights, which makes the nighttime climb a bit less spooky. It’s pretty quiet, though, and I come across nothing but rocks and trees on my way up the mountain.
As I get to the top, the sun is starting to rise. To my left is a quaint little ski village with small cabins that have a perfect view of the West Virginia landscape below. To the right is a large wooden lodge. At the top of the glass dome is a huge red needle, and that’s where I find myself standing right now. The dome isn’t some kind of research station, as I first imagined, but the center of an (I assume) once-bustling ski resort. It’s not long before I learn that it remains a popular spot after the apocalypse.
The area around the base of the needle appears to be the former home of a large gang of raiders. Raider corpses are everywhere, along with a very appropriate-looking sign declaring that a new slope called “cutthroat crag” is coming soon. The raiders seem like a single-minded bunch: as I loot the empty camp, all I find are bullets and beers. There’s a skeleton swinging in an old tire, perhaps as a warning. Given the state of the base, it doesn’t seem to have worked too well.
After scouring the camp for anything useful, I move on to the ski lodge, which, unfortunately, is still occupied. As I approach, bullets start whizzing past me, and a group of short, stocky mole people run out and start chasing me down. I try to take refuge in the nearby cabins, but they’re home to a gang of vicious super mutants and their guard dogs. As both sides close in, they seem to lose track of me after they notice each other. An all-out war breaks out, and I manage to sneak back to the raider camp and head toward the elevator. I take it up one floor to the mezzanine level.
Once the doors open, I can’t help but be impressed by the sheer scale of the raiders’ operations. The mezzanine was once what looks like a big mall. It’s round, and there are shops and restaurants all around the outer rim — or at least, there were. Now, the whole space is filled with small defensive structures and areas packed with supplies. Not long ago, it must’ve felt like a truly safe space for the raiders. I wonder what happened to them. It probably has something to do with the warring mutants and mole people below me.
The floor isn’t completely empty, though. There are a handful of scorched fighters, curiously all separated from each other. I find one in each room, which makes it a lot easier to get rid of them. They’re really only dangerous in packs.
There’s not a whole lot of useful stuff up here, unfortunately. I do meet a Mr. Handy robot who is in surprisingly good spirits, considering it’s been stuck in this building with murderous, gun-toting creatures for who knows how long.
I head back to the elevator to check out the observatory, but I don’t seem to have access. Then my Pip-Boy computer alerts me to an incoming radio signal. I tune in and learn that there’s someone locked in a room here, presumably on the observatory level, and she won’t let me up until I bring plans for some sort of signal-boosting device. At least she tells me exactly where to find them: the schematics should be at a nearby motel.
The motel isn’t far away, but it takes a long time to get there. Walking through the mountains, tripping over fallen trees and climbing tall rocks, seems to take forever. It’s also weirdly quiet again; there’s no wildlife here at all, which has me a bit on edge. I keep expecting something to jump out. “Mr. Sandman” comes on the radio, and the footstep sounds at the beginning of the song completely freak me out. The only good thing about the lengthy walk is that I’m able to find all kinds of wild plants, stocking up on blackberries and carrot flowers.
Like everything else in Appalachia, the motel is completely run-down. I can’t even look inside since all the rooms are boarded up. There are a few ghouls, but not enough to cause much of a problem. Finding the schematics doesn’t take long at all; they’re located on a body on the motel’s second floor. As I head back to the stairs, a small swarm of bees flies toward me. I scare them off with a few swings of my axe, but more keep coming.
At the bottom of the stairs, I see the source: some kind of horribly mutated bee queen, with a giant hive fused to her back. The bees just keep pouring out. The queen is surprisingly docile. She just stands there while I fire off dozens of shotgun shells, not fighting back at all. Her swarms are the real nuisance. But as soon as the queen is dead, they disappear. Now I need to find the parts that match these schematics so I can finally head to the observatory.