We already knew for sure Fallout 76 will be a departure from the story-heavy RPGs the series is known for, but now we know just how extreme that shift will be: While you’re playing, you won’t encounter any NPCs at all.
Todd Howard confirmed as much in an interview with Geoff Keighley as part of the E3 Coliseum livestream, leaving little room for misinterpretation. “There are no NPCs. So that’s one of the big differences that we really leaned on, which is every character you see is a real person. But there are still robots and terminals and holotapes,” Howard said.
While terminals and holotapes do offer some room for storytelling, it’s unclear exactly how robust this side of Fallout 76 will be. Fallout games do sometimes allow you to converse with robots, but it’s hard to imagine that 76 will just have an army of friendly bots out there in the world sharing lore about everything and giving out quests. It’s equally unlikely there will be enough terminals and holotapes scattered around the game world to piece together a full campaign experience.
Bethesda has said the game will feature quests, but Howard told Keighley that “they’re kind of a found world thing,” implying that they may not play too much of a central role in the experience.
What’s obvious is that Bethesda wants to emphasize player-created stories the way other survival games do. Building and defending your own settlements against other players and AI creatures could be plenty fun, deep, and engaging. Whether it’s enough to satisfy players expecting a full Fallout experience remains to be seen.
The details we’ve learned about Fallout 76 during E3 do shed a bit more light on what to expect. We know that the game features a very specific (if apparently repeatable) endgame scenario, as well as cosmetic microtransations. We also know that some form of V.A.T.S. will make an appearance, though the specifics are sketchy.
Finally, we learned that even if players are disappointed, they’ll have a chance to improve the game, since Fallout 76 will add mod support after launch.
Fallout 76 arrives November 14th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.