The Wastelanders update for Fallout 76 makes Bethesda's shared-world RPG into something closer to previous Fallout games, namely by way of populating the world with NPCs. One thing NPCs didn't really do in past games, however, was steal players' loot while they're incapacitated or not looking. "Bug" or not, Bethesda says it's looking into the issue.
While the Wastelanders update debuted last week to an overwhelmingly positive response from the Fallout 76 community, a few oddities have emerged since then that have players fearing they'll lose some items for good. In a roundup thread on the Fallout 76 subreddit, a few stand out as particularly nasty: it seems players can sometimes buy items not listed for sale by other players, and wearing the coveted Stealth Suit can lead to Power Armor pieces disappearing when players wear both at once.
The complaints about NPCs looting players, though, are a bit amusing and might not even be "bugs," per se. Players are reporting that NPCs are walking off with their guns after they die, and it looks like Vendor bots can hoover up precious ammo. For this stuff to happen at all it seems like picking up items or taking them out of players' inventories has to be an intended feature at some level. Still, it seems extremely unlikely Bethesda wants players to grind for hours to obtain a weapon, only to lose it to some Johnny-come-lately NPC who happens upon a corpse.
Bethesda put out a statement in response to the roundup, saying it's "actively investigating" every issue outlined in the thread. "In our next hotfix, we are planning to include a fix for the issue where NPCs can occasionally take a player's weapon when they die," the statement reads. "The remaining issues mentioned in this thread are all still active investigations, and we want to resolve them as soon as possible. If they can be addressed in time for our next hotfix, we will definitely include them."
There's no definite ETA on the hotfix yet, which is definitely understandable given current circumstances. The Wastelanders update had to be pushed out by one week since Bethesda's Fallout 76 team is, like most other major game studios, adjusting to remote work given the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, in the meantime, if you're playing Fallout 76 you may want to keep a close eye on your most precious items lest they be scooped up by a greedy NPC. Considering how much players have benefitted from killing and looting friendly NPCs in past Fallout games, maybe it's fitting that the tables have turned for a little bit. Assuming Bethesda gets that hotfix out soon, it also doesn't seem like these issues will be enough to take the wind out of Fallout 76's sails—it's still sitting at a "mostly positive" user rating on Steam with over 2,300 reviews at the time of publication.