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Fallout 76's Wastelanders expansion looks promising

Negative speech checks! Cities! A ghoul called Mort! More!

Bethesda has shown off gameplay of the upcoming Fallout 76 Wastelanders expansion - and it looks like it makes some significant improvements to the game.

In the video below, Bethesda developers show off a raft of new locations, NPCs, conversations and a quest.

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Much has changed in the massively multiplayer online game - and perhaps the most significant change is the addition of NPCs you can talk to. Upon leaving Vault 76 you'll bump into a couple, and some areas once dead are now alive with people.

Expect to see NPCs as soon as you leave Vault 76.

The video shows how the developers have remade the initial location you get the first Overseer's care package from into a bar called The Wayward. Inside is the bartender, a character called Duchess, who you can speak to. Of note, there are lines of dialogue to choose from - and sometimes more than four options, too. Fallout 4 was heavily criticised for letting you choose from just four options in dialogue, so this is a marked improvement.

The Wayward bar.

You'll get dialogue options based on your S.P.E.C.I.A.L.S., as Fallout fans will be familiar with, but there are also negative speech checks. These can often result in funny lines of dialogue, the developers said, as your character displays their stupidity.

Negative speech checks will often result in funny dialogue.

Also inside the bar is a ghoul character called Mort, who, it turns out, is voiced by Jason Mewes, aka Jay from Jay and Silent Bob. Mort will teach you about building, which is a much more natural way of learning camp construction.

Mort, one of the new NPCs in Fallout 76.

Bethesda has also gone back to old robot characters and given them dialogue, too. For example, Wastelanders lets you have a proper chin-wag with the Grafton mayor.

Wastelanders adds instances, team-only interiors in which you make important story choices that have significant consequences. These private areas are unique to your character, and should help make Fallout 76 feel much more reactive, story wise.

There are two new cities, and Bethesda showed off one of them: Foundation. Here, settlers built a civilisation at Spruce Knob - the highest point in West Virginia. Wastelanders adds two main quest lines the player picks from, but you can dip into both until a point of no return decision must be made to help either out. This feeds into the new reputation system Wastelanders adds to the game.

Foundation is one of the new cities in Fallout 76.

Elsewhere, there's a new bow and arrow weapon, which Bethesda showed off via a quest to escort a caravan through some tunnels infested with raiders. The difference here is the caravan includes human NPCs, so it's not just some brahmin and the players skulking about. Eagle-eyed fans will spot new power armour, the new Blood Eagles raider faction and the plasma caster weapon from Fallout 1.

Wastelanders adds a new weapon, the bow.

Overall, Wastelanders looks like it significantly improves Fallout 76. As someone who played the game at launch for review, I wish all this stuff had been in the game back then. Will Wastelanders all of a sudden fix Fallout 76? I doubt it. I'm sure there will be huge swathes of post-apocalyptic West Virginia that will remain the same despite this new update. And the NPC facial animations are... well... they're very Bethesda. But I'm liking what I've seen of Wastelanders so far and I'm excited to dip back into Fallout 76 when it launches in April.

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