Fallout 76 Isn't Fallout 5, And I'm Glad

Bethesda's newly-revealed spinoff takes the venerable RPG franchise in an interesting new direction.

In some ways it feels a little cruel for Bethesda to get our hopes up like this. Just when we were resigned to waiting another decade for a new Bethesda RPG, a teaser for a new Fallout game abruptly drops and makes us excited all over again. It's not Fallout 5, though. It's not even New Vegas. And you know what? That's fine. Better than fine, even.

Instead we're getting a game called Fallout 76, which is rumored to be a new survival game in the style of ARK: Survival Evolved and Rust. Naturally, some fans are lashing out on Twitter and other forums.

I get the disappointment that we're not getting another RPG. In this era of instant gratification, a five-year wait is almost unbearable. All we can do is play Skyrim for the hundredth time on our toaster, or maybe pray for a Fallout: New Vegas reboot while we wait. When one finally does appear, we can't help tearing it apart, nitpicking it to death while forgetting the larger joy of stepping into what feels like a holodeck. It's a brutal cycle.

But the more I hear about Fallout 76, the more excited I get. If rumors are to be believed, Fallout 76 will take the series online while dramatically expanding the settlement-building portion of Fallout 4. The phrase I've been seeing is "Rust Clone in the Fallout universe."

You may recall that I adored the settlement building in Fallout 4. Limited as it was, it let me take some measurement of the Commonwealth Wasteland. I took control of a local gas station and turned it into a home for my companions. I had water farms that turned out almost unlimited credits. I even built a castle with armed sentries and artillery because, hey, why not?

If Fallout 4's building tools had a failing, it was that they didn't have enough pieces. I cycled through the entire range of wall decorations more than once. Furniture was lacking. Mods filled in the gaps; but if you were playing on the PlayStation 4, you were out of luck.

So hearing that Fallout 76 will potentially expand on my favorite aspect of Fallout 4 is music to my ears. It will apparently have quests and a story—everything you would expect from an RPG. It may even have a gun rack out of the box this time.

The major difference will apparently be online play. If reports are to be believed, multiplayer will be a major component of Fallout 76, putting it roughly in line with the aforementioned ARK and Rust. I'm admittedly less excited about this aspect, since I've never been all that keen on cooperating with other players (or dealing with trolls). But with everything under the sun becoming an online platform, I suppose Fallout was bound to be taken in a more persistent direction at some point.

Whatever Fallout 76 turns out to be, it will be a decidedly different turn for one of Bethesda's flagship franchises. It signals a willingness to experiment and expand beyond the base RPGs that have enjoyed so much success over the past decade. It also feels faithful to the franchise, unlike The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and other cynical attempts to repurpose classic games from niche genres.

It will be the boldest step forward for Fallout to date, matching the ambition of Elder Scrolls Online. Fallout Shelter was just the start, it seems. Fallout was apparently always destined to become a fully-fledged settlement-building game.

If Bethesda wanted, this could be just the start. Fallout Tactics could certainly use a proper reboot. A return to the old isometric style would be nice. As long as Bethesda doesn't try to turn Fallout into a battle royale game—something I legitimately feared for a hot second—there are plenty of options for the series outside of the traditional RPG.

As for those pining after a proper Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 5... well... be prepared to wait. While Elder Scrolls 6 is definitely under development, Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard has said more than once that it's a long way off. That puts Fallout even further down the line. We almost certainly won't see a new Fallout RPG until the next generation of consoles comes around.

That's a bummer for anyone who genuinely loves Bethesda's worlds, even knowing that such worlds take a lot of time and effort to craft. But chin up, Fallout fans. You may not be getting a "proper" Fallout game for a long time to come, but Fallout 76 seems like the next best thing. And this is the sort of innovation the series needs.

We don't have a release date for Fallout 76 yet, but it should be out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year. Stay tuned for our coverage as Bethesda formally reveals it at E3.

Tagged with Bethesda, Opinions, PC, PlayStation 4, Role Playing Games, Xbox One.

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