Fallout 76's long-awaited flesh-and-blood NPCs won't be arrive in West Virginia this year. Bethesda has delayed the free Wastelanders update into early 2020, leaving players alone in the post-apocalypse with each other for a few months longer. But there's a silver lining to this mushroom cloud. Private Worlds finally arrive in Fallout 76 next week, giving survivors the option for some much-needed permanence.
Calling it "one of the largest expansions we've ever done", Bethesda announced that Wastelanders would be pushed back from its planned autumn 2019 release in a blog post today.
It always was a bit puzzling how Fallout 76 lacked human NPCs of any kind. The work had gone in - you had voice acted quests from ghosts, and various factions formed of well-placed skeletons in the dirt - but the only flesh-and-blood inhabitants of West Virginia were feral ghouls and fellow players. Wastelanders was set to fix that, bringing in a whole catalogue of quests for human actors a la every other Bethesda Fallout.
Bethesda are have pushed Wastelanders back to give it a bit more polish before kicking it out the door. Their post claims the team have "continued to re-evaluate and change our processes to make sure the work we’re doing hits our quality bar," and will need a few more months to get it right. Given Fallout 76's spicy reception, who'd blame them?
Even if you're still stuck in West Virginia with a handful of real-world players for a few months longer, at least you'll soon have more control over who's inside your server. Bethesda have finished work on Private Worlds, bringing player-run servers to Fallout 76 next week.
Private Worlds should lend some much-needed permanence to Fallout 76. Despite being structured like a DayZ or Rust, you're currently at the mercy of whatever server the game demands you enter on each session. There's simply no room for the interesting powerplays and politicking that other multiplayer survival games enjoy when you're never sure if the neighbourhood will be there next time you log in.
It sounds like you'll have to shell out for private servers, though. It's hard to tell right now what this looks like, and whether this would apply for everyone who wants in or just the server owner.
"Our goal for players who purchase this service is to offer something for everyone, not just those who want a private server."
Eventually, you'll be able to mod up Private Worlds, and I reckon that'll lead to folks setting up specialist servers for folks who want bespoke hardcore, roleplay, PvP or wacky mod experiences.
The rest of today's blog post dives into concerns over Fallout 76's paid currency, Atoms. After going for pure cosmetics at launch, Bethesda started dabbling in paid repaid kits, food storage and other gameplay advantages. They're now looking at ways to close the gap between big spenders and folks who've never spent a penny over retail.