Bethesda are hoping to repopulate Fallout 76. The newly released Wastelanders update brings human NPCs to their irradiated Appalachia, and the game finally launches on Steam, too. A whole year has passed in-game since the vaults first opened. The world has gained warring factions to side with, as is traditional in Bethesda games.
I probably played Fallout 76 more than most of you. Alongside my BFF, Tom, I set up shop on Whitespring golf course and spent my evenings cursing mirelurks, worshipping owl gods, and hunting down cat paintings for my base. The Wastelanders update has me reinstalling Fallout 76 for a number of reasons.
I’m eager to see if the new missions it brings are better than the previous pile. A few of the story lines in 76 outstayed their welcome (Rose’s fetch quests took way too long to do), so more things to do are always welcome. My main hope is that they’ve learned that smaller quests are probably better when you don’t really have a quick-save to fall back on. I also hope that the new human element in the form of NPCs will bring some nuance to the missions. I killed a lot of things in the original iteration of 76, and it would be nice to have a few more options available to me.
I’m more intrigued than excited by the new Reputation system. You can build up your standing with the new factions, the Settlers and the Raiders, by taking their missions and ranking up. The problem is that I like shooting raiders in the face in Fallout games, so I’m a tad worried that my trigger-happy reaction to them might mean I never get to the stage where I'm welcomed with anything beyond naked hostility. What if they shoot first? Am I really to blame? There's also a point of no return when it comes to faction reputation, meaning I'll eventually have to decide who to side with.
I’m most interested in the NPCs you can recruit. There are people in the Wasteland that you can befriend and make room for in your base. They’ll provide daily quests for you to fulfil, which would fit nicely into the way I previously played: I logged on, fiddled with a few things, went for a wander, and hoped to uncover an interesting piece of loot. I made my own fun back then! I did do the main missions, but they were something of a time sink. A daily quest system doesn’t sound too complicated. Plus you can get all kissy-face with your new housemate. Although I doubt if they can deliver anything as compelling as Fallout 4's sad robot gumshoe Nick Valentine. Hope springs though, eh?
The game’s unpacking as I type this. I know what I’ll be doing tonight.