Many questions about Fallout 76 were answered during a QuakeCon 2018 panel today, including how potential griefing and player versus player combat will work. Remember, Fallout 76 is an online game where the wasteland you explore will be populated by other players, who you can attack and who can attack you.
The way it works is if you initiate combat - you start shooting somebody - you only do a little bit of damage, said Todd Howard, game director. You don't do full damage. It's like slapping someone in a bar, he said, and if the person you're 'slapping' fights back - engages you - then you do both do full damage.
If you die, you do not lose all your stuff, you only lose the junk you're carrying, so your weapons and armour are safe. But as junk will be valuable for crafting and making camp, there's an element of danger in carrying around too much.
If you kill someone, you are also rewarded with caps. How many caps you're rewarded with depends on your enemy's level. There's no level cap in Fallout 76, Howard said, so it's theoretically possible for a level five character with a knife to come up against a level 80 character with a minigun and power armour. But Fallout 76 normalises, or flattens, the power difference between characters in PvP - but not PvE - so the level five character stands a chance. And if the level five character wins, the reward, owing to the level difference, will be great.
You can respawn anywhere you've discovered in the world, but you can only respawn for free back at Vault 76. If you choose to respawn anywhere else then there will be a cost depending on distance. When you respawn after dying to someone else, you can choose to seek revenge for double rewards.
If you're being 'slapped' by another player and do not want to engage, "we have a lot of ways you can get away from them", said Howard. But it is possible for the aggressor to kill you, to grief you. Fallout 76 has a clever way of dealing with this, though: the griefer gets no caps, no XP, no junk, no nothing for the killing, and is also labelled a wanted murderer by the game. "We turn the assholes into interesting content," said Howard.
Wanted murderers appear on everyone else's map as a red star, so everyone else playing knows their rough location, and they have a bounty on their own head which comes out of their own stash of caps. What's more, the wanted murderers can't see where the other players are on the map. It becomes a hunt. Neat, huh?
Other key areas Todd Howard and the Fallout 76 team talked about (and briefly showed) included the way Fallout 76 handles perks and character customisation as you level up. This is a card-based system. When you level up you get a perk point you can spend on perk cards in SPECIAL skill categories. Cards have five levels of strength.You power them up by buying a perk card again and combining two together. You stop earning perk points at level 50, but you keep earning Perk Packs.
Yes, Fallout 76 has what appears to be random-chance packs of perk cards. It is not yet known if you can buy these using real money - the group on stage did not mention it and there was no opportunity to ask them. (UPDATE: VG247 asked Bethesda's Pete Hines whether you could buy the packs with real money and he said "no".)
Initially you earn perk packs every two character levels, but as you progress further you earn perk packs every five levels. There are hundreds of cards apparently, and the point of the perk packs is to broaden your pool enabling you to experiment more, as you can swap perks at any time as well as share them with your group, so you can tailor your build for different situations - and you're encouraged to.
VATS will be in Fallout 76 and works in real-time. You won't be able to target individual body parts initially but you will via a perk. VATS will be based on your Perception ability so it won't feel powerful until you invest in it.
Fallout 76 will have the kind of deep character creation system you've seen in other single-player Fallout games so you can tinker with the way you look for absolutely ages. You will also be able to completely change how you look at any time while playing the game - gender and all.
Fallout 76 has mutations which can significantly - and hilariously - change your character, possibly temporarily (there was a lot of information being thrown out very quickly so excuse my confusion). The example project leader Jeff Gardiner gave was getting Bird Bone when he had a lot of rads and so was susceptible to mutations. Bird Bone suddenly made him over-encumbered but also gave him the ability to jump very high.
Nukes are one of the glitzier features in Fallout 76 - you can eventually unlock a nuke and destroy other people's camps they've built, and more powerful monsters spawn there. But what happens if it's your camp destroyed? Bethesda has implemented a blueprint system to tackle this. It acts as a kind of save-state for your camp, allowing you to replace structures like your house if they're destroyed, or if you want to move locations. Apparently camp destruction was only added to the game to stop people imprisoning other players.
Fallout 76 has a photo mode, for which you can make characters strike poses and apply a whole Instagram's-worth of filters and effects to spruce up your snaps. It means you have, at hand, a powerful tool for capturing the moment you wrecked someone else, or made a horrible pig's ear of things.
Charisma will be in Fallout 76, but it won't work as in single-player Fallout games, whereby you can influence NPCs. What it does instead is allow you to share perk cards with your group while you play together.
Bethesda is committed to doing mods in Fallout 76... somehow. "It's a complicated problem," said Todd Howard, referencing the online nature of the game whereby a mod changes everyone's experience not just a solo player's, "but one we're 100 per cent committed to solving." Private servers are something Bethesda is doing for Fallout 76, too.
Those are the major points I gleaned during the panel. You can watch it for yourself embedded in the article above.
Fallout 76 launches 14th November on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, with a beta due some time in October.
This article is based on a press trip to QuakeCon. Bethesda covered travel and accommodation.
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