War. War never changes.
But over time, the Fallout franchise does. Which is exactly why so many theories are being thrown around in regard to the newly announced Fallout 76, ever since the trailer dropped on Wednesday morning.
Let’s look at the exciting stuff first!
Vault 76 is a known game location referenced in Fallout 3 and 4. It’s a “control vault”—one of only 17 known vaults to be considered “control” vaults. But what is a control vault and why is it exciting that one is being featured in the new game? Let’s talk a little bit about the backstory behind the Fallout series.
Ostensibly, the Vault-Tec vaults were designed to keep people safe from nuclear fallout. But if that was the case, why did they only build 122 vaults, which could house only a tiny fraction of the population? In reality, the vaults were meant to conduct eccentric social experiments. Only 17 control (as in, experimental control) vaults were actually built to the specifications that were released to the public. The others had different, often very strange, variables built into them. Vault 101, famously, was meant to analyze the effects of prolonged isolation and was never intended to be reopened. Vault 12 was designed so the door couldn’t close all the way in order to study how the inhabitants responded to being exposed to radiation. Vault 106 started pumping psychoactive drugs into their air supply after the doors had been closed for 10 days.
Most of the vault dwellers encountered in the previous games have been from one of these vaults, many of which were purposefully designed to fail. The prospect of getting to know an entire community from a control vault, where things may have actually happened the way they were supposed to happen, is very exciting!
Vault 76 was designed to reopen 20 years after a nuclear war. Since the Great War was in 2077, it should have been scheduled to open in 2097. The PipBoy in the trailer tentatively dates the new game as taking place in 2102, only a few years after it should have opened up. That would also make Fallout 76 the earliest game in the franchise’s continuity, taking place about 60 years before the original game and well over 150 years before Fallout 3, 4 and New Vegas. All of this suggests a game that focuses on trying to survive the wild frontier of the Wasteland. Perhaps we’ll also get to participate in piecing together some semblance of the new society that will eventually grow into the factions we’re familiar with from the later games.
The geographical location of Vault 76 also isn’t known for sure, but the music in the trailer seems to hint at possibly West Virginia. The east coast, from New England down to the Capital, is pretty well-tread territory in the existing games, but farther south than that is largely uncharted. I’m hoping to get a look at somewhere new!
But what about the game mechanics? Perhaps we’re looking at a classic first person RPG like the other major Fallout games—but what fun is a new trailer without some wild speculation?
Many fans have already expressed their fear that it will be an improved version of the Fallout Shelter mobile game or otherwise focus primarily on settlement building. It doesn’t totally make sense to me that they would want to focus on a piece of gameplay that was such an unpopular part of Fallout 4, although if the game has been in production for a long time, it’s possible they overestimated how crowd-pleasing it would be and Fallout 76 could be an unfortunate remnant of that.
But maybe some of the rumors aren’t just wild speculation. Kotaku reported that the new game will have an online component and potentially be a survival-focused RPG, more in the vein of Rust. Could this finally be the long-rumored Fallout MMO? Some fans have been jumping on the Kotaku announcement as proof that it will be massively multiplayer, but Jason Schreier pulled a quick “I didn’t say that” on Twitter so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Yes, wild speculation is fun, but it looks like we won’t have to do it for too long—Bethesda promised we’d get more information about the game at their E3 showcase on June 10th. In the meantime, get on the goddamn hype train because I’m throwing a party in the sleeper car. What are you expecting to get out of Fallout 76? Tweet us your thoughts at @SidequestZone!